Leave Syria, GCC urges foreign forces to leave
UAE Sheikh al-Maktoum attends the meeting. REUTERS photoGulf Arab leaders meeting in Kuwait yesterday called for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from war-ravaged Syria, and praised Iran’s new government for its shift in policy.
The leaders of the six Gulf monarchies also approved the formation of a joint military command, but postponed a decision on a proposed union apparently over differences.
The declaration came at the end of a two-day summit in Kuwait City of the Gulf Cooperation Council led by Saudi Arabia.
Adopting a firm position on Syria, the GCC “strongly condemned the continued genocide that (President Bashar) al-Assad’s regime is committing against the Syrian people using heavy and chemical weapons.”
It called “for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Syria,” in a clear reference to Iran-backed Shiite militias from Iraq and Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement which are supporting al-Assad’s troops against Sunni-led rebels.
The GCC backed the rebels’ position that al-Assad plays no role in any political transition agreed to in talks scheduled for next month in Geneva, while urging the opposition to attend the meeting.
Interim deal welcomed
The monarchies meanwhile “welcome the new orientation by the Iranian leadership towards the Gulf Cooperation Council and hope it will be followed by concrete measures that would positively impact regional peace,” said the concluding statement.
They also “welcome the interim deal signed by the P5+1 and Iran as a first step toward an inclusive and lasting agreement on Iran’s nuclear program that would end international and regional concerns.” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif moved last week to assure Gulf states the nuclear deal was not at their expense and called for a new page in relations as he toured the region.