His Excellency Khalifa Shaheen Al Marar, Minister of State, headed the UAE delegation to the 159th Ordinary Session of the Arab League Council of Ministers held at the Arab League headquarters on Wednesday.
On the sidelines of the meeting, His Excellency attended the meeting of the Arab Ministerial Quartet Committee, chaired by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which manages follow-up on developments concerning Iran.
His Excellency also attended the Arab Ministerial Committee meeting regarding follow-up on Türkiye and is chaired by the Arab Republic of Egypt.
His Excellency attended the Arab Ministerial Committee meeting dealing with measures to end Israeli provocations in the occupied city of Jerusalem, chaired by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and attended by the UAE as an Arab member of the UN Security Council.
His Excellency Khalifa Shaheen Al Marar, in his address to the Arab League Council, expressed the UAE’s solidarity with the Syrian Arab Republic and the Republic of Türkiye, extending his sincere condolences and sympathy for the victims of the devastating earthquakes that recently struck the two countries.
His Excellency reiterated the UAE's stance alongside the two countries in the face of this tragedy.
His Excellency underscored the UAE’s humanitarian duty in immediately responding to the disaster, noting that the country continues to do so following the launch of the “Gallant Knight / 2" Operation in which the UAE established an air bridge to deliver search and rescue teams, relief supplies, shelter items, medicines, treatments, and field hospitals.
By March 5, the operation sent 210 flights, in addition to 12 aircraft from the International Humanitarian City in Dubai, including 145 aircraft to Syria. His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President, allocated USD 150 million to assist those affected, including USD 100 million for Syria. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, donated AED 50 million.
The UAE also launched the "Bridges of Good" campaign to collect monetary and in-kind donations. This campaign has so far collected AED 180 million, of which AED 50 million came from Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, and this campaign is ongoing to provide Syria with four planes carrying assistance daily by air and sea.
His Excellency said, "We must praise the solidarity of Arab countries with the Syrian people, which affirms Syria belongs in the Arab fold, and there is no alternative except for Arabs to embrace Syria and allow it to recover. We underscore the importance of maintaining this momentum of Arab solidarity and interest in the cause of the Syrian people in order to realize their aspirations, thereby leading to the return of Syria to the Arab fold.”
His Excellency stressed "the importance of building upon Arab solidarity with Syria following the earthquake and taking this opportunity to agree on an effective and determined Arab role to seriously contribute to the political settlement of the Syrian crisis and reject regional interference in Syria.”
Moreover, His Excellency stated: “We have seen a disturbing escalation in the Palestinian territories, which threatens to undermine the two-state solution and block the peace process to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict.
While we were optimistic about the outcomes of the Aqaba meeting on 26 February 2023, the situation was once again pushed towards escalation and violence that threaten to spiral the situation out of control, prompting us to once again address the United Nations Security Council in a closed session with the aim of returning to normalcy.”
“The path of calm, de-escalation, and combating extremism must prevail. We succeeded on 21 February 2023 in issuing a unanimous Security Council statement condemning the construction and expansion of Israeli settlements, which would affect prospects for a two-state solution in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The statement stresses the importance of creating a political environment that brings the parties back to the negotiating table. This statement is the first in the Security Council in favor of Palestinian in six years.”
His Excellency stressed: "The UAE supports all regional and international efforts to advance the Middle East Peace Process based on the two-state solution, leading to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the 4 June 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital in accordance with international resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative."
The UAE expressed its appreciation for the role of Arab countries and the creation of an appropriate environment that will allow a return to serious negotiations leading to a just, comprehensive, and lasting peace.
The UAE also commended the Arab Republic of Egypt and Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in this regard.
His Excellency added: "The international geopolitical scene has not changed significantly since the 158th session began in March 2022. Rather, the state of polarization and division in the international system has intensified. Therefore, it is necessary to reiterate that the UAE expresses its concern over the impact of this situation on peace, security, and stability.
Regionally and internationally, we believe it is necessary to reaffirm our conviction in the importance of respecting the principles and rules of international law, the United Nations Charter, multilateral action, settling international disputes through peaceful means, respect for the sovereignty and independence of states, and non-interference in their internal affairs.
We also firmly believe that diplomacy remains the only effective way to resolve crises and note that dialogue and negotiations are an indispensable tool for resolving existing conflicts regionally and internationally.”
His Excellency also underscored that "the state of insecurity and the rise of tensions in the international arena multiply the unprecedented challenges facing Arab countries, requiring us to intensify cooperation; accelerate Arab coordination, cooperation, and joint action; and expediently resolve regional crises to restore optimism and hope.
Arab peoples should be offered a better future by focusing on efforts to promote peace, stability, development, and prosperity.”
His Excellency Al Marar noted: "This was the goal of the consultative summit of heads of state and government held in Abu Dhabi on 18 January 2023 to discuss ways to address the challenges facing the region.
A number of challenges lie ahead, including recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, global food insecurity and its impact on Arab countries, climate change and water scarcity, security and stability, and combating extremism and terrorism, all of which require serious joint Arab action and smart, rational, and innovative solutions.”
On climate change, His Excellency praised the success of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), hosted by the Arab Republic of Egypt last November.
His Excellency Al Marar said in this regard: "We are looking forward to the next Conference of the Parties (COP28), which my country will host in November 2023 at Expo City Dubai. The UAE has begun preparing, including through the announcement by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President, that 2023 is the Year of Sustainability.
This is based on our belief in the importance of international cooperation and inclusion of all in climate action. We are counting on our ability to build consensus to turn words and pledges into action, and we are working to make COP28 an inclusive conference for all stakeholders.
The interest of governments, the private sector, youth, and civil society organizations is to realize the international agenda for climate action and energy transition and to make concrete progress in various areas.”
His Excellency added: "The UAE is committed to achieving climate neutrality by 2050 through an ambitious national strategy, developing regional and international partnerships, and building bridges of international cooperation based on the UAE leadership's vision of climate action as an opportunity to diversify the economy in various sectors.
We look forward to the participation and contributions of Arab countries to make COP28 a success as we work to serve the future stability and prosperity of the region and address existing climate and environmental challenges.
With regards to current challenges in the Arab world, His Excellency Khalifa Shaheen Al Marar stressed that "it is necessary to make progress in strengthening the Arab role in resolving Arab political crises, enhancing inter-Arab relations, bolstering bridges of communication and joint action, and restoring rules-based Arab security and solidarity in the face of regional crises and international geopolitical uncertainties.”
The UAE expressed its "hope to overcome the conditions that the region is facing so that Arab peoples can enjoy security, stability, and a high standard of living.”
His Excellency Al Marar continued, "We in the UAE focus on building bridges of communication and identifying political and diplomatic solutions to disputes between countries.
We once again urge Iran to respond to our repeated calls for a peaceful resolution to the issue of the three occupied Emirati islands—Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, and Abu Musa—through direct negotiations or recourse through the International Court of Justice.”
On the situation in Yemen, His Excellency said, "We reiterate our support for the Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council and the central role of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in leading the Arab Coalition to achieve a political process in Yemen and resolve the crisis in the interest of the Yemeni people."
He also reiterated the UAE’s support for the United Nations and its Special Envoy to Yemen, as well as other efforts aimed at agreeing upon a lasting ceasefire and the establishment of serious dialogue to achieve a sustainable political solution to the Yemeni crisis.
He added, "We express our concern over the intransigence of the Houthi militias and their continued attacks on civilian and oil facilities, as well as threats to international shipping lanes.
We stress the importance of applying pressure on the Houthis, holding them accountable for exacerbating the humanitarian and economic crises in Yemen, and urging them to agree to peace and end the suffering of the Yemeni people."
On Libya, His Excellency stressed that all Libyan parties must call for restraint and dialogue and prioritize the national interest to restore security and stability.
He also reiterated the UAE’s position on resolving the conflict in Libya through a political process led by Libyans and noted the UAE’s support for the UN Special Envoy to Libya and international efforts to achieve security and stability in Libya to fulfil the aspirations of the Libyan people for development, stability, and prosperity.
On the situation in Iraq, His Excellency stated: "The UAE reaffirms its support and solidarity with Iraq in addressing the challenges facing the country, hopes for a stable and prosperous Iraq, and supports all efforts that lead to its security, stability, territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence."
On Sudan, His Excellency said, "The UAE supports efforts and initiatives that are in the interest of the Sudanese people in terms of achieving unity, development, and the establishment of a new phase in which Sudan will enjoy stability and prosperity.
We express confidence in Sudan's ability to successfully manage the transitional phase and reach a sustainable political settlement."
On Somalia, His Excellency Al Marar said, "The UAE stands by Somalia in overcoming various challenges and supports the Somali Government’s efforts to fight the Al-Shabaab terrorist movement and other terrorist organizations so that the Somali people can enjoy prosperity and well-being."
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation.