Arab League Calls for Protecting Arab Heritage amid Rising Regional Chaos

Cairo – Arab League Chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit called for the protection of Arab heritage in light of the chaos ravaging the region, stressing that “Al-Aqsa Mosque is purely related to Islamic and Arab heritage in accordance with the decision of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).”

The “Arab Document Day” plays a vital role in advocating the historical rights of the Palestinian people and shedding light on the theft, forgery, and distortion the Palestinian heritage is subjected to, added the chief.

Arab Document Day is an annual celebration held to highlight the status of the Arab document that keeps in its records Arab national rights.

This year’s theme was “The Palestinian Cause: 100 Years of Balfour Declaration and 50 Years of the Israeli Occupation.”

A large number of officials, Arab culture and heritage academics partake in the event.

Aboul Gheit explained that preserving the Palestinian identity and its documents is to preserve the Arab identity from attempts to distort it, to blur its features and to falsify historical facts.

The Arab League Chief referred to the importance of the achievement of Palestinian reconciliation in terms of strengthening the Palestinian position both internally and in dealing with the outside world.

He also called on parties to end the division which long affected the Palestinian cause over the last decade, and worked to the Israeli occupation’s best interest.

Addressing the ceremony, Aboul Gheit called for maximizing efforts to protect Arab cultural heritage from destruction, plunder, and theft which increased over the recent years during internal wars and conflicts in some Arab countries.

“The current Arab situation; suffering conflicts and wars, led to an unprecedented state of instability, division, and chaos experienced by some of the Arab countries–These disputes have resulted in extremist terrorist organizations igniting sectarianism,” criticized Aboul Gheit.

“Terrorist and extremist groups have destroyed valuable human heritage in countries experiencing wars,” he said.

He also urged collectively working to develop a model Arab law to protect heritage and cultural archives from degradation and loss—in addition to establishing legal frameworks to protect them from exploitation.

Aboul Gheit: Formation of Arab Peacekeeping Force a ‘Very Good Idea’

Cairo- Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit has warned that terrorist organizations “represent a threat to the stability of Arab countries,” welcoming the idea of a joint Arab peacekeeping force.

“What’s happening in Syria and Iraq is frightening. There are threats to Jordan that lies on the border of these two countries,” Aboul Gheit told a delegation from the Nasser Higher Military Academy (NHMA).

The Iraqi army is trying to end the war on ISIS and the battles in Syria are nearing to achieve their objectives, he said.

“The current situation allowed foreign troops to be present on Arab land,” Aboul Gheit told the delegation.

He also condemned Iran’s threats to Gulf states, saying “some countries are talking about hegemony and control over Arab capitals, and are seeking to expand to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.”

The Arab League chief also criticized statements on “religious divisions” and a Shi’ite-Sunni race.

He stressed the organization’s rejection of “any foreign interference in Arab territories,” calling for an understanding to the new challenges and ways to beat them.

There comes the role of the Arab League in bringing countries closer and uniting their viewpoints.

“When you decide to take group action to confront these challenges, we will be here as Arabs,” he said, adding that forming an Arab peacekeeping force “is a very good idea.”

But such a move “requires the appropriate circumstances and a unified Arab will.”

“Currently, Arab countries do not believe that a proposed joint Arab force is necessary,” Aboul Gheit said.

He added that the Arab League would be ready to act when the organization’s Council decides to build such a force militarily.

Egyptian FM Says Eliminating ISIS ‘Isn’t the End’

Cairo — Egypt warned against the dangers of achieving what Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry put as “an incomplete victory” over terrorist organizations in the region.

Shoukry pointed out that eliminating ISIS is not the end, stressing the importance of enhancing cooperation among coalition countries to counter any financing or support being pumped into terrorism.

His remarks came during a meeting on Wednesday with Brett H. McGurk, the United States special envoy to counter ISIS.

Shoukry stressed the importance of strengthening cooperation among countries partaking in the anti-ISIS international coalition in terms of ending any activity related to financing or supporting terrorism, under the guise of charity and activism.

Shoukry reviewed Egypt’s efforts in the framework of the international coalition against ISIS and its various offshoots, highlighting efforts exerted by Egypt and its religious institutions in combating radical ideology and closely reviewing religious discourse and abolishing that used by terrorist organizations particularly content used to influence the minds of young people.

Egypt’s foreign ministry later said in an official statement that Shoukry and McGurk exchanged views on assessing the situation against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and what has been achieved on the ground in so far–including ways to deal with the post-ISIS era in Iraq and how to strengthen progress has been made on the ground.

In April, US President Donald Trump said during a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi that Cairo and Washington would fight militants together.

The meeting discussed ways to strengthen coordination between Egypt and the United States in the field of combating terrorism, as well as in international forums and the United Nations.

As for Iraq, Shoukry praised the sacrifices made by the Iraqi army, supported by the international coalition, and the victories it achieved in liberating the previously ISIS-held land.

Reviewing effects entailed by the Kurdistan referendum for independence, Shoukry points out to the importance of not allowing any internal variables to negatively affect efforts countering ISIS, noting the need to provide international support Iraq so desperately needs to fully complete its mission in liberated areas and advancing national reconciliation efforts.

Shoukry Stresses Need for Comprehensive Solution to Save Yemen

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry at a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow.

Cairo- Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Shoukry underlined the need to reach a comprehensive political solution to the Yemeni crisis in order to avoid the dangers of sliding into an extended conflict.

His comments came during his meeting on Monday in Cairo with his Yemeni counterpart Abdulmalik al-Mekhlafi.

Sources told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that the meeting was held in light of the current political stalemate, despite the legitimate government’s readiness to resume negotiations with the Houthis and the supporters of ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The sources stressed that the rebels in Sanaa have begun to “move away from the basic references to the settlement, namely the Gulf Initiative, the outcome of the Yemeni national dialogue and Security Council Resolution 2216.”

They added that the Egyptian foreign minister has voiced his concern over the deteriorating humanitarian and health conditions in the country.

Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson, Ahmed Abou Zeid, said that Shoukry stressed Egypt’s continuous support to Yemen’s unity and stability, highlighting the urgent need for a “comprehensive political solution that avoids the dangers of sliding into an extended conflict and alleviates the sufferings of the Yemeni people.”

For his part, the Yemeni foreign minister expressed his thanks and appreciation for the political support that Egypt has always provided to Yemen in various international forums.

He praised, in this context, efforts exerted by the Egyptian diplomacy to back the Yemeni file, particularly the efforts made by the Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations in Geneva, which is currently heading the Arab group in the Human Rights Council.

The two officials also discussed issues related to the bilateral relations and the situation of Yemenis residing in Egypt.

Mekhlafi also briefed Shoukry on the latest developments in the Yemeni political and security scene and the results of his consultations with various regional and international parties.

Egypt ‘Deeply Concerned’ about Kurdish Referendum, Aboul Gheit Calls for ‘Containing Repercussions’

Cairo – Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit expressed his “regret at the insistence of the Kurds to organize the independence referendum, despite intensive Arab and international efforts to prevent moving forward with the step, to avoid the aggravation of the situation” in the region.

“It is still possible to contain repercussions of this [referendum] if concerned parties acted with wisdom and responsibility,” Aboul Gheit said.

“Interests of the Kurdish people in Iraq will only be achieved within a united, federal, democratic Iraq based on the respect of the Constitution, equality, and citizenship,” he added.

Mahmoud Afifi, the secretary general’s spokesman, said that the League Council at the ministerial level had decided in its session held on September 12, “to support the unity, sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Iraq, and the need to respect and adhere to the Iraqi constitution.”

He stressed that Aboul Gheit renewed his calls on the Iraqis to engage in dialogue “to avoid any potential clash that could pose a serious threat, not only to Iraq but to regional security and stability.”

Cairo expressed “deep concern” about the possible negative repercussions of the referendum.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry stressed in a statement on Tuesday, “the need for all parties to exercise restraint, and to avoid taking any unilateral actions that may further complicate the situation, destabilize Iraq and feed a climate of chaos and tension in the region.”

The ministry called for dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad to reach a “comprehensive and satisfactory settlement,” reiterating its support for Iraq’s unity and territorial integrity.

Meanwhile, member of the Supreme Committee for the Referendum and former Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, said that Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani “will communicate with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Arab League to resolve the current differences with Iraq, and to inform them of all the future details and the rational means to deal with any case of anger.”

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, Zebari said: “The referendum is an internal Kurdish means to unite the ranks and restore the work of Parliament in the province… We will remain brothers, friends, and neighbors and we will take into account mutual interests as well as the need to maintain security and stability of the entire region.”

Arab League’s Afifi: India’s Position on Supporting Palestinian Cause ‘Has not Changed’

Cairo- Arab League Chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj agreed on the importance of strengthening cooperation between Arab states and India in political, economic and cultural fields.

In this context, AL Secretary-General Aboul Gheit stressed that the relationship between Arab countries and India two sides in the light of the great and distinguished balance of historical ties and their common interests and the priority accorded by the Arab side to this relationship.

The AL looked forward to the continuation of India’s strong support for Arab issues, especially the Palestinian cause. This was the focus of the message Secretary-General Aboul Gheit recently relayed to India’s Swaraj following the visit of the Indian Prime Minister to Israel and his visit to occupied Palestinian territories.

AL spokesman Mahmud Afifi pointed out that Aboul Gheit explained to Swaraj that Arabs expect the current Indian government to affirm its clear and public support for a two-state solution and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, foremost of which is their right to establish its independent state.

He stressed the need to urge Israel, which enjoys good relations with India, to return to negotiations with Palestinians, and not to overlook Israel’s negative behavior in failing to abide by internationally-recognized resolutions.

Afifi noted that the Indian minister referred her country’s full understanding of the Arab position and that her country’s relations with Israel would not be at the expense of its important and multidimensional relations with Arab countries, pointing out that India’s position on supporting the Palestinian cause “has not changed.”

United Nations, Arab League Agree to Activate Cooperation

Cairo- Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit and UN chief Antonio Guterres have agreed to activate the cooperation agreement signed between the two organizations last year.

Aboul Gheit met Guterres at the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Cairo-based organization’s spokesman Mahmoud Afifi said.

Afifi added that the agreement comes in the framework of seeking to strengthen UN-Arab League cooperation in several areas, such as preventing and settling disputes, combating terrorism, preserving, building and making peace, protection of human rights and assisting refugees and those displaced.

The officials also discussed developments in a number of important international and regional issues, especially those related to the Palestinian issue and the crises in Syria, Libya, Yemen and the situation in Iraq.

Aboul Gheit and Guterres agreed that the coming period demands more efforts to be exerted by the international community in order to pressure Israel to respect resolutions issued under international legitimacy and return to the negotiating table with the Palestinians.

International efforts need to be exerted to push for a political settlements for crises in Syria, Libya and Yemen, especially in light of the rising phenomenon of terrorism and extremism, and the effects and implications of humanitarian cases worldwide.

Aboul Gheit stressed that the Arab League seeks to re-engage strongly in dealing with the crises experienced by some Arab countries, while welcoming the positive role that the United Nations can play in dealing with them.

Arab Quartet: Doha Doesn’t Want Solution…Continues Funding Terrorism

Arab foreign ministers meet during a regular session in Cairo.

Cairo- A sharp debate took place on Tuesday among Arab senior diplomats and ministers during the 148th ordinary session of the Arab League (AL) at its headquarters in Cairo over charges against Qatar of supporting terrorism.

During the meeting, the representatives of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain accused Qatar of financing terror groups and interfering in other countries’ domestic affairs.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Cairo Ahmed Qattan and Bahrain’s ambassador to Cairo Sheikh Rashid bin Abdulrahman Al Khalifa said that they have proofs of Qatar’s involvement in supporting terrorism in their countries.
For his part, Qatari Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Saad al-Muraikhi rejected the accusations as baseless and inaccurate, charging the four Arab states that imposed a blockade on Qatar of attempting to infringe on the sovereignty of his country through their blockade.

Muraikhi referred to Iran as an “honorable country” and said ties had warmed with its neighbor since the blockade.

In response, Qattan said: “Congratulations to Iran and soon, God willing, you will regret it.”
Qattan said the four Arab states have taken the sovereign measures against Qatar because of its wrong policies in terms of supporting and financing terrorism and hosting those involved in terrorism on its territory, spreading hatred and interfering in the internal affairs of other states.

“The 13 demands made by these countries and the six principles are in fact meant to highlight the Qatari violations and call on it to abide by previous agreements,” he said.

On Qatar’s rapprochement with Iran, Qattan said “this is a sovereign decision, but the embrace in the arms of the Iranians and others will only lead to ruin and destruction and will have a negative effect on them.”

“Everyone knows the reality of the destructive Iranian role toward the Arab states, especially the Gulf states, with its interference in internal affairs and destabilizing and undermining the security of the GCC states,” he said.

“If the brethren in Qatar think they may have a benefit in their rapprochement with Iran, I’d like to say that they have this evaluation wrong in every way. The Qataris will be held responsible for such a decision.”

He added that “the coming days will prove them wrong because we know that the Qatari people will never accept the Iranians to play a role in Qatar”.

During the speech delivered by the Qatari delegate to the AL, Shoukry interrupted him and described the Qatari speech of being “nonsense and inappropriate words.”

“We all know Qatar’s historic support for terrorism and what has been provided for extremist factions, and money in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Egypt that has led to the death of many of Egypt’s sons,” Shoukry said.

UAE’s Gargash said the Gulf crisis continued “due to Qatar’s unwillingness for peace.”

“Their direction needs to change and we will continue our policies until Qatar changes its policies of aggression against the four boycotting countries and as long as Doha supports and funds terrorism and intervenes in the Middle East countries’ internal affairs,” Gargash said.

Earlier in June, the four countries led by Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Qatar and cut off sea, land and air links to the tiny rich Gulf nation, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism, interfering in their internal affairs and seeking closer ties with Iran, a Saudi rival.

Qatar strongly denied the charges and rejected a list of 13 demands put forward by the bloc for resuming diplomatic ties, including the necessity for Qatar to cut off ties with Iran and shut down its Al-Jazeera TV channel.

International, Regional Efforts to Solve Libyan Crisis

arab_league-emblem- Libya

Cairo– Arab League Sec-Gen Ahmed Abul Gheit called for the coordination of international and regional efforts aiming at solving the Libyan crisis, adding that all parties should work to overcome the points of disagreement of Sukhirat accord.

The quartet group concerned with Libya will convene in New York on the sidelines of UN General Assembly later this month to discuss the results of Libyan Reconciliation Conference in Brazzaville.

The quartet formed of Arab League, UN, African League and EU will also discuss proposals and ideas of Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Ghassan Saleme.

Earlier, the Arab League participated in the High-Level Committee of the African Union on Libya convening in Brazzaville and reaffirmed the importance of coordination with the African Union on the Libyan crisis.

Abul Gheit assigned Ambassador Salah Eddine al-Jamali to attend the meeting and encourage Libyan parties to reach agreements and execute the remaining steps agreed on in the Libyan political agreement Sukhirat accord. These steps will pave the way for a referendum on a new Libyan constitution and set a date for the presidential and legislative elections.

President of Congo Denis Sassou Nguesso and chairman of the committee offered a new proposal to help the Libyan parties overcome their differences.

The meeting was also attended by Head of the Presidential Council Fayez al-Sarraj, HoR Speaker Aqilah Saleh and the Head of the High Council of State Abdul Rahman al-Sweihli.

The summit aimed to find a common ground for the upcoming comprehensive dialogue to be held in November in Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa.

Aboul Gheit Calls for Strengthening Federal State to Guarantee Iraq’s Unity

IRAQ-KURDS-ARAB-LEAGUE-DIPLOMACY

Cairo– Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit underlined the need to preserve Iraq’s unity and to hold direct and open dialogue between the different Iraqi components.

Aboul Gheit concluded his visit to Iraq on Saturday evening, after meeting with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and president of Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani.

The Arab League chief called for consolidating the concept of a strong democratic federal state that guarantees the unity of the Iraqi state.

During the 24-hour visit, the secretary general discussed with Iraqi officials the referendum to be held in the Kurdistan region on September 25 and its possible repercussions, both at the national level and in the Arab region as a whole, taking into account major challenges facing the country, especially the threat of terrorism represented by ISIS and foreign interference in Iraq’s internal affairs.

Aboul Gheit’s spokesman, Mahmoud Afifi, said that both Abadi and Barzani have welcomed the Arab League’s keenness on maintaining talks about the referendum and the future of Iraq, noting that the Arab official underlined the need for all parties to work together to contain the situation, in order to preserve the unity of the Iraqi state and secure the interests of all Iraqi components by safeguarding the principle of citizenship.

Afifi added that the Secretary-General touched upon the weakening trust between Kurdistan and the central government in Baghdad. He expressed concern over both sides “despite the joint cooperation that led to great victories over terrorism”.

Aboul Gheit urged the leaders to hold an urgent, direct and open dialogue in order to restore the lost confidence, according to the spokesman.

In response to Aboul Gheit’s request to postpone the vote “for a period of time”, Kurdistan’s Rudaw news agency quoted Barzani as saying that it was not an individual’s decision to delay the referendum.

The Kurdish president said the decision to hold the independence referendum belonged to the people and political parties of Kurdistan.