Final Communique of the 41st GCC Summit

- The 41st session of the Supreme Council of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC), which was held in the Al-Ula Governorate in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the participation of Their Highnesses and Excellencies heads of the delegations participating in the session, issued its final communique.

The final communique affirmed the keenness of the Supreme Council on the strength and cohesion of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the unity of its members which are linked by special relations and common features based on the Islamic religion and the Arab culture, the common destiny and the unity of purpose that unites its peoples, as well as its common desire to achieve more coordination, integration and interdependence in all fields, in order to fulfil the aspirations of the GCC citizens, confirming the unity of all GCC countries in the face of any threat to any of the Council's members.

The final communique praised the sincere efforts and good endeavors exerted by late Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to heal the rift among the member states, expressing thanks and appreciation for the efforts made by HH the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and the friendly United States of America in this regard.

The Council welcomed the signing of "Al-Ula Declaration" which aims at strengthening the unity of ranks and cohesion among the GCC countries, restoring the joint GCC action to normal track, and maintaining security and stability in the region.

The council expressed deep feelings of sorrow and sadness over the death of HM Sultan Qaboos bin Said bin Taimur of Oman and the late Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah who passed away last year. The council praised the achievements of both leaders and the contributions they made to their respective countries, as well as to the Arab and Muslim world. The council also expressed its sadness and offered its condolences to the Kingdom of Bahrain over the death of Prime Minister of Bahrain HRH Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, paying tribute to the efforts he made in advancing joint GCC work.

The council also welcomed HM Sultan Haitham bin Tarek of Oman and HH the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, expressing full confidence in their abilities to advance the work of the council, and lead its citizens towards further stability and prosperity.

The cabinet also congratulated HRH Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud for chairing the 41st meeting of the council, expressing their appreciation for his opening speech, which reflected the commitment to activating cooperation among the council's member states in all fields. The council also expressed their appreciation to the efforts made by HH President of the UAE Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan during his chairmanship over the 40th session and the important achievements he oversaw during that time. The council then congratulated HM King Hamad bin Eissa Al Khalifa after the Kingdom of Bahrain assumed the chairmanship of the 41st session, wishing the country well in its efforts to enhance joint cooperation among the members in all fields.

The Supreme Council stressed their commitment to the strength and cohesion of the GCC, citing the special relations and common traits they share in terms of the Islamic faith and the Arab culture, in addition to the sense of common destiny and the unity of purpose that unites its people. The council praised the honest efforts by the late Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah of ending the differences between the member countries, expressing thanks to HH the Amir of Kuwait and the United States for their efforts in that regard. The council also welcomed the signing of Al-Ula declaration, which aims to enhance unity and solidarity among the member states, and return joint GCC work to normal in order to maintain the region's security and stability.

The Supreme Council congratulated the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the success of the G20 summit it hosted virtually in 2020 under the presidency of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The Council expressed their appreciation to the exceptional efforts made by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during its presidency of the G20, as it proved its leadership and pivotal role In the preparation and management of the summit and the meetings that took place at all levels, despite the health precautions imposed by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and resulted in important decisions in the health, economic, political and social fields, which will positively reflect on supporting and strengthening international cooperation in facing crises and working for a better future for everyone.

The Council also commended raising the level of the Presidency of the Saudi-Bahraini Coordinating Council to the level of their Royal Highnesses Crown Princes in the two countries, and welcomed the positive results of the Coordination Council meeting on Dec. 24, 2020 on developing joint bilateral cooperation in a way that enhances integration between the two brotherly countries.

The council also welcomed the UAE's launch of a mission to Mars, adding that such projects reflects the interest in science, technology, alternative fuels, and space exploration. The council stressed the importance of exchanging expertise between member states in those fields. They also stressed their support to the UAE in its efforts to host the 2020 Expo Dubai, adding that they are committed to ensuring the success of the international event that strengthens the region's status as an international business hub.

The council took note of the decision of HH the Amir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to hold Shura Council elections in October, praising the move and stressing the importance of coordination between the GCC legislative bodies. They also congratulated the State of Qatar on the election of HE Speaker of the Shura Council Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud as President of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC) from 2019 to 2021. The council also praised the State of Qatar's preparations for hosting the World Cup 2022, reiterating their commitment to supporting Qatar to ensure the success of the World Cup. They also welcomed Doha's hosting of the International Association of Horticultural Producers' (AIPH) Expo 2023 under the theme of "Green Desert, Better Environment."

The council also congratulated President elect Joseph Biden on winning the presidential elections, adding that they look to enhancing historic and strategic ties with the US further during his term in order to establish peace and stability in the region and the world. The council also expressed their hope of further prosperity and progress to the American people under his leadership.

The council then discussed their efforts to tackle the Coronavirus pandemic, and thanked frontline workers for their efforts in that regard. The council also reviewed the precautionary health measures taken, praising the policies of the designated authorities for their efforts in limiting the impact of the virus. They also praised citizens and residents for their cooperation with the measures, and stressed the importance of cooperation in limiting the spread of the virus. The council also praised the economic and social measures taken that were meant to help alleviate the suffering of those impacted by the virus. They stressed the importance of cooperation with regional and international organizations, in order to exchange expertise in the field of combating the Coronavirus pandemic and addressing its economic and social impacts.

On the vision of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the council expressed its satisfaction regarding the progress made in that regard and called on all GCC authorities and ministerial committees to intensify their efforts to complete the remaining steps on schedules in order to complete all the necessities for economic unity, the joint defense and security system, and develop a united foreign policy. The supreme council also requested that the general secretariat prepare a comprehensive report on the progress made in implementing the vision.

On joint GCC work, the council was updated on the implementation of the proposal of the late Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on moving from the cooperation phase to the union phase. The supreme council directed that efforts continue in that regard. The council reviewed the developments of joint GCC work, and stressed the importance of maintaining the gains. The Supreme Council praised the efforts of the GCC countries to enhance integrity and efficiency mechanisms, governance, transparency and accountability in government agencies, and fight corruption. It also directed that the designated GCC authorities and organizations intensify cooperation efforts in that regard.

The council also adopted a general framework for a public health plan to respond to emergencies, and directed the designated authorities to implement the plan in cooperation with the ministries of health of member countries. The council also adopted the establishment of a GCC center for protection and combatting diseases. It also agreed to extend work with a unified law to empower people with disabilities. They also adopted the GCC strategy in the field of civil service and human resources for 2021-2025. The council also adopted a system for precautionary measures from communicable diseases, and agreed to work with the law for two years.

On economic integration, the council stressed the importance of focusing on strategic economic projects. The most prominent of which were the requirements of a customs union, establishing a joint GCC market, and a railway project. The council also stressed on the importance of working on establishing food and water security, adopting the fourth industrial revolution goals in the field of information technology and artificial intelligence.

The Supreme Council also reviewed the report on the follow-up to the implementation of the work program of the Economic and Development Affairs Authority, and directed the speedy implementation of what was agreed upon in the Road Map, and the completion of studies and projects to reach economic unity among the countries of the Cooperation Council by 2025.

On joint military and security work, the Supreme Council approved the amendment of Article 6 of the Joint Defense Agreement changing the name of the command from Al Jazeera shield forces to the unified military command of the GCC. The council also ratified the decisions of the joint defense council in its 17th session on military integration. The council also praised the success of the joint military exercise Arabian Gulf Security 2 that was hosted by the UAE in February 2020.

On counter-terrorism, the supreme council reiterated its position of rejecting terrorism regardless of its motives. The council also praised the efforts of the international coalition that is led by the United States in its efforts to fight ISIS, saying the latter has tarnished the image of Islam. It also condemned any cartoons that undermine the prophet Mohammed saying it was a clear hate crime and a form of racism, stressing the importance of promoting a culture of tolerance and peaceful coexistence. The council also welcomed the US decision to label Al Ashtar and Al Mokhtar Brigades in Bahrain as a terrorist organization, which are supported by Iran. It also praised the decision of some countries to label Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, reflecting the commitment of the international community to tackle all forms of terrorism.

The Supreme Council also reviewed a host of regional issues. On the Palestinian issue, it reiterated its firm position of supporting the Palestinian cause as it remains the most important issue for Arabs and Muslims. It also reiterated its support for a Palestinian state based on the borders of June 1967 with East Al Quds as its capital, while also guaranteeing the rights of refugees in line with the Arab Peace Initiative. The council condemned the Israeli occupation's demolishing of Palestinian homes in East Al Quds, calling on the international community to interfere and end the targeting of Palestinians in the city. It also rejected any moves to annex the illegal settlements in the West Bank to Israel, saying it was a severe violation of the UN Charter and UN Security Council resolution no. 2334 for 2016.

On Iran's occupation of three UAE islands, the council repeated its condemnation of the islands and said that the UAE must have full sovereignty on all of them, and that any actions taken by Iran there do not change the historical and legal facts that show that UAE must exercise full sovereignty over the islands, and called on Iran to respond to the UAE's efforts to resolve the issue either through direct negotiations or through the International Court of Justice.

The council also renewed its statement regarding the importance that Iran must commit to the UN charter, resect other countries' sovereignty, and avoid interfering in their internal affairs. The council also stressed the importance of building trust between the GCC and Iran, based on the principles set by the council and of which Iran was informed. The council also expressed its rejection of Iran's interference in the internal affairs of other countries in the region, and condemned all terrorist attacks carried by Iran with the goal of instigating sectarian strife. They also called on it to stop supporting sectarian and terrorist organizations, by providing them with ballistic missiles and drones that target civilians. The council also stressed that any negotiations with Iran must ensure it changes its behavior that has destabilized the region, in addition to its ballistic missiles and nuclear program. In that regard, the council condemned Iran's failure to honor its commitments with the International Energy Agency (IEA). The council also welcomed the United States decision to consider the revolutionary guard a terrorist organization. The council also expressed its support to all measures taken by GCC countries to protect themselves from Iranian intervention and its support for terrorism.

On Yemen, The Supreme Council affirmed its firm position regarding supporting legitimacy in Yemen, represented by HE President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and his government, to end the Yemeni crisis and reach a political solution, in accordance with the references represented by the Gulf initiative and its implementation mechanism, the outcomes of the comprehensive national dialogue conference, and Security Council Resolution 2216 in a way that preserves Yemen's unity, integrity, sovereignty, and independence They thanked UN envoy Martin Griffiths, for the efforts he exerted to reach a political solution in accordance with those references.

The Supreme Council praised the sincere efforts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that resulted in the signing of a mechanism to accelerate the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement between the legitimate Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council on July 29, 2020.

The Supreme Council welcomed the arrival of the Yemeni government to the temporary capital, Aden, on December 30, 2020, to carry out its work and launch the wheel of development in the liberated areas, in order to achieve the aspirations of the brotherly Yemeni people and restore security and stability throughout Yemen. He condemned the terrorist attack that targeted the government upon its arrival at Aden airport, which resulted in many innocent civilian casualties.

The council also praised the achievements made by the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Center through its field branches in the Yemeni governorates, and the development projects implemented by the Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen in the Yemeni governorates. The council noted that humanitarian and developmental aid provided by GCC member states to Yemen reached $13 billion since 2015. The council also praised the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for hosting a donors' conference for Yemen, that raised $1.35 billion to humanitarian agencies operating in the country. The funds would enable those agencies to respond to the urgent humanitarian aid to contain COVID-19.

The Supreme Council condemned the Iranian-backed Houthi militia blocking the arrival of the United Nations technical team to conduct inspection and maintenance of the floating oil tank (Safer) in the Red Sea off the coast of Hudaydah, which contains more than a million barrels of crude oil, which could cause an environmental and economic disaster And dangerous humanitarian impacts far beyond Yemen.

On Iraq, the supreme council reiterated its commitment to the unity of the country, and its support to it in the face of terrorist groups. The council echoed the same sentiment with regards to Syria, adding that it supports a political resolution based on Geneva 1 principles, and UN Security Council resolution no. 2254. The council also voiced its support of UN efforts to help Syrian refugees return to their cities, and provide them with support in their city of refuge. The council also renewed its condemnation of the Iranian presence in Syrian land, and its interference in Syrian affairs. The council called on all Iranian forces and Hezbollah and other sectarian militias to leave Syria.

On Lebanon, the council said it was following developments in the country and remains committed to its security and stability. The council expressed hope that the people of Lebanon can respond to the challenges facing the Lebanese state.

On Egypt, the council expressed appreciation for its counter-terrorism efforts. The council also expressed its support to Egypt in its efforts to resolve the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

On Jordan, the Supreme Council stressed its commitment to the country's security and stability. The council also called on intensifying efforts to implement the agreement of strategic cooperation between the GCC and Jordan.

On Libya, the council stressed its firm support of a political resolution that maintains the unity of the Libyan land and guarantees security and stability. It also expressed support for all efforts made to combat ISIS. The Supreme Council also welcomed the ceasefire agreement in Libya, expressing hope that political talks between all Libyan parties will be successful.

On Sudan, the Supreme Council congratulates the people and leadership of the country on reaching the Juba peace agreement, stressing that GCC member states are keen on supporting efforts that maintains Sudan's unity and safeguards it from foreign intervention. The council also welcomed the US lifting of Sudan's name from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism, expressing hope that the country can move to a new stage of progress and prosperity.

On Afghanistan, the Supreme Council renewed its position of its commitment to the security and stability of Afghanistan. The council expressed appreciation to the efforts of the State of Qatar in signing a peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban Movement in February 2020, and the launch of the Afghan peace negotiations in Doha in Sep. 2020, expressing hopes that these efforts can yield a permanent ceasefire and regain security and stability to Afghanistan.

On the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, the council condemned the treatment of Rohingya Muslims and of other minorities in Myanmar, that included savage attacks and systematic displacement. The council also highlighted the humanitarian aid provided by its member states to Rohingya Muslims and Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

On strategic partnerships, the council directed the Secretary-General to prepare regular reports on the progress of negotiations on a free trade agreements with China, India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and other countries.

The Supreme Council directed to intensify efforts to strengthen the strategic partnership with the United States of America, in all fields, praising the efforts made by the United States to strengthen its presence in the region to enhance the security of the region, waterways and freedom of navigation.

The council also directed to enhance cooperation relations and strategic cooperation with the UK, France, Russia, the European Union, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), South America's Southern Common Market (Mercosur), and other organizations in Europe and the Americas.

The Supreme Council directed to take the necessary measures to complete the implementation of the action plan on the African continent and the joint action plans for cooperation with the states and organizations active in them.

The Supreme Council extended its deep appreciation and gratitude to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, his wise government, and to the people of the Kingdom, for the hospitality and warm welcome that the meeting had.

The Supreme Council agreed that the 42nd meeting takes place in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. (QNA)