Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard, led the Saudi delegation to the 17th session of the Supreme Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The three-day summit, held in Doha, Qatar, was chaired by Qatari Emir Sheik Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani. The following are excerpts of the final communiqué issued on December 9, 1996.
After reviewing GCC achievements in the political, security, military, economic, social, information, and legal arenas, as well as reports and recommendations of the ministerial council, the GCC reiterated its determination to advance the welfare march and to reinforce security, stability, and prosperity to meet the aspirations of its peoples.
Regarding the Iraqi compliance with the UN Resolutions pertaining to its aggression against Kuwait, the Supreme Council regretted the continued Iraqi manipulation over the implementation of its international obligations including: elimination of weapons of mass destruction, release of the Kuwaiti detainees as well as those of other countries, mechanisms for compensation for and restoration of Kuwaiti belongings, and refraining from aggressive and provocative acts against neighboring countries in compliance with UN Resolution 949. In this context the Council confirmed anew its support for the UN committee assigned to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, declared the GCC ready to provide financial and political support for that committee, and called upon the international community to follow suit.
While sympathizing with the Iraqi people, the Council held the Iraqi government fully responsible for the deterioration in the living and health conditions of its people. In this regard the council calls on the Iraqi government to show serious and sincere cooperation with the UN to ensure accurate implementation of Resolution 986. Regarding the recent developments in Northern Iraq, the Council expressed concern over their possible implications for the region, and confirmed an unwavering stand of maintaining the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and safety of Iraqi lands against the intervention of neighboring countries.
Regarding relations with Iran, the communiqué deplored the successive Iranian measures affecting the three islands belonging to the UAE and expressed concern over the Iranian determination to impose a de facto policy in violation of UAE rights, thereby endangering the security and stability of the entire region. The Council expressed full support for all measures and peaceful means to be adopted by the UAE to restore sovereignty, calling on Iran to end occupation of the islands, refrain from unilateral measures, and pursue a peaceful settlement of the conflict based on the principles of international law. The Council also expressed grave concern at Iranian deployment of land-to-land missiles in the Arab Gulf including the three islands, as well as at its continuing efforts to possess and build weapons of mass destruction and enhance conventional and non-conventional arms capabilities beyond its legitimate defense needs. The Council again called on the international community and organizations to exert efforts to transform the Gulf region into a zone free from weapons of mass destruction.
On the Middle East, the Council viewed and rejected the policies of the Israeli government as a threat to peace prospects and warned that should there be a return to tension and violence the GCC would reconsider steps taken towards Israel. The Council also stressed the importance of realizing a just and comprehensive peace in line with UN Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 425 and reiterated its support for the land-for-peace formula, and called on the Israeli government to honor its agreements and commitments with the Palestinian side and resume talks on the final status stage. The Council also called on the Israelis to withdraw from Jerusalem and refrain from demolishing houses, changing the nature of Islamic sanctuaries, and expanding settlements in consolidation of the occupation. The Council also called for the resumption of talks on the Syrian track and full Israeli withdrawal from Golan and from southern Lebanon, and wished success for the European efforts in the economic and political sphere.
Concerning terrorism, the council renewed its condemnation and rejection of fanaticism and violence as dangerous to regional peace and stability, calling on the international community to coordinate efforts in that regard, to ensure that those who commit these acts are brought to justice, and to deny fundamentalist groups the use of the land of any country for financial or armed purposes or for exploiting the media to incite terrorism.
While denouncing terrorist acts in Al-Khobar and in Bahrain, the Council avowed not to allow such acts to jeopardize the security and the progress witnessed by the member states.
In the defense and security arenas, the Council approved recommendations from the defense ministers regarding military cooperation and the building of a collective capability targeting defense integration among member states. The council also expressed satisfaction at the distinguished levels of cooperation and coordination in the security field in view of recommendations made by the interior ministers.
Concerning economic cooperation within the Gulf region, the Council resolved to meet the goal of a customs union and a unified tariff towards a common Gulf market, and approved measures including standardization of commodities. Regarding the mobility of manpower between member states the Summit approved the resolutions of the ministerial committees in that regard. The Council also approved measures to check smoking risks, the amended formula of the GCC joint agricultural policy, and the Muscat document passed by the GCC justice ministers on a unified legal system on personal status as a guiding law for a four-year period.
Finally, the council pointed to the importance of the GCC media continuing to keep up with international developments in the field, using them as a unifying factor and to transmit an accurate image about member states.