Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit has called on the UN Security Council and other relevant agencies to establish a strategic working partnership with the pan-Arab bloc and its member states.
Aboul Gheit’s remarks came during his speech before a high-level Security Council session on cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations. This cooperation would work towards maintaining international peace and security.
He said that this partnership will contribute to establishing the foundations of security, stability, and sustainable development in the Arab region.
He added that the meeting comes due to the crises and challenges facing the region, due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It was also convened due to the exceptional circumstances that have imposed enormous burdens on states and societies across the Arab world.
“The pandemic has come to hit our Arab region, which is already burdened by wars, armed conflicts, refugees, internally displaced persons, and other structural challenges that affect the security and stability of many of its countries,” Aboul Gheit said.
He stressed the need to redouble efforts to address the roots of these crises and to put an end to the fighting that is tearing apart the societal fabric of the countries in conflict. Aboul Gheit emphasised the importance of maximising international solidarity, to deal with the repercussions of the pandemic.
“The war in Syria has entered its tenth year, and the suffering of the Syrian people continues as a result of fighting, asylum, displacement, and unprecedented external and regional interference in this important Arab country,” he said, “We realise that the chances of extricating Syria from this terrifying cycle of conflict will continue to erode with the passage of time, and that the cost of rebuilding what the war has destroyed will increase day-by-day.”
The risks of unrest spreading to neighbouring countries will remain unless a comprehensive and radical political settlement is reached for this crisis, he added.
Regarding Yemen, Aboul Gheit said, “The Yemeni people are suffering from a human tragedy that has become the largest in the world, due to the intransigence of the Houthi group and its rejection of all settlement attempts made over the past years.”
The last of these attempts is the Saudi initiative supported by the Arab world. As a result of regional interventions, Yemen now threatens the security of its neighbours in the Gulf, as well as energy facilities and sea lanes in the region.
Regarding developments in the situation in Libya, Aboul Gheit said, “There is optimism as a result of the positive developments in Libya, since the signing of the ceasefire agreement, the selection of the new executive authority, and the stabilisation of the date for national elections at the end of this year.”
He expressed his confidence that further joint efforts could be made to boost Libyan efforts, through coordination with the UN mission, as well as through the Quartet.
Aboul Gheit said that a high-level meeting will be held, on Tuesday, involving leaders of the UN, the Arab League, the African Union (AU), and the European Union (EU).
With regard to Somalia, he renewed the Arab League’s commitment to supporting efforts for security, stability and recovery in the country. He also noted the organisation’s commitment to helping Somalia’s exit from the political situation it is going through.
Aboul Gheit expressed his hope to promote joint work with the Security Council to support the important transition process in Sudan. This would also work to consolidate the Juba Peace Agreement between the government and the armed movements.
As for the Palestinian issue, Aboul Gheit affirmed, “It will remain, above all, a priority for the Arab League and the agenda for joint Arab action.”
He emphasised the Security Council’s primary responsibility to reach a just peace for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, based on the two-state solution.
Aboul Gheit demanded the implementation of all the decisions previously adopted by the Council itself to end the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian lands, and to reject settlement activities, which are all condemned and in violation of international law.
He stressed the need to return the political process to its desired path to open the horizon for Palestinians towards freedom and independence.
At the end of his speech, Aboul Gheit welcomed “the presidential statement approved by the Council regarding maximising joint work with regional organisations, and it is the approach that the League will continue to be committed to pushing in its handling of crises and issues on our common agenda.”