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Gulf leaders announce joint naval, police forces - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A general view of the meeting of leaders during the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Doha on December 9, 2014. (AFP Photo/STR)

A general view of the meeting of leaders during the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Doha on December 9, 2014.
(AFP Photo/STR)

Doha, Asharq Al-Awsat—Leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states concluded the 35th session of the GCC Supreme Council summit in the Qatari capital of Doha on Tuesday, agreeing to the formation of joint naval and police forces.

The GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif Al-Zayani delivered the final communique in which he announced the start of a new era for the oil-rich organization based on greater cooperation on political, social, economic and security levels.

Zayani thanked Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani for chairing this year’s summit and praised his efforts in strengthening GCC cooperation in all fields.

On the issue of fighting terror, the meeting reiterated the GCC’s firm renunciation of “terrorism and extremism in all its forms and manifestations whatever its motives and justifications and whatever its source,” pledging to continue efforts “to drain its sources of financing.”

The final communique stressed “the commitment of the GCC countries to combating the ideology upon which terrorist groups are founded,” affirming that Islam as a religion is “innocent of such ideology.”

The GCC leaders also welcomed the outcome of the International Conference on Combating the Financing of Terrorism, held in Manama in November, appreciating its effective role in curbing terrorism.

In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Zayani said: “GCC countries are considering holding an international conference with the countries concerned with combating terrorism in order to coordinate efforts.”

On the military level, the meeting agreed to create a unified GCC naval force based in Bahrain, which is also currently home to the headquarters of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

The GCC already possesses a land-based joint military force, known as the Peninsula Shield Force, which is currently based in Saudi Arabia.

In a step aimed at boosting cross-border security coordination, the communique also announced the launch of a joint Gulf police force, GCC-POL, dubbed a “Gulf Interpol,” to be headquartered in Abu Dhabi.

As well as being aimed at terrorism, media reports said the new police organization will also be tasked with tackling drug trafficking, money laundering and cyber-crime.

On Egypt, the communique affirmed the full support of the GCC member states for the Egyptian people and the political roadmap drawn up by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

The summit praised President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s efforts to maintain security and stability in neighboring Yemen, demanding the immediate withdrawal of all militias affiliated with the Houthi movement from the territories they have occupied.

GCC leaders also called for the restoration of state authority across Yemen, urging the Houthi movement to surrender control of military and government buildings in Sana’a to the Yemeni government.

With regards to the Syria crisis, the summit expressed deep dismay over the continuing suffering and the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country. The council praised the efforts of the UN’s Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura to reach a political solution to the crisis.

During a press conference held after the summit, Qatar Foreign Minister Khalid Bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah spoke about international efforts to fight terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq.

“Combating terrorism cannot be done through military operations from the air but through [military] presence on the ground,” the Qatari minister said.

Saudi Arabia’s delegation was headed by Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz, who passed on the greetings of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to the leaders of the member states.

The Crown Prince invited Gulf leaders to the GCC’s 36th summit next year, which will be hosted in Riyadh.

Oman has apologized for not being able to host next year’s summit due to the health conditions of Sultan Qaboos Bin Sa’id, an Omani source who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Mirza Al-Khuwaylidi contributed reporting from Doha