In the name of Allah the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Brothers, Your Majesties and Highnesses,
Ladies and gentlemen,

May the peace, mercy, and blessings of Allah be with you.

It is with pride and pleasure that we meet today in our second country, the sisterly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to pursue the blessed drive of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf.

I am also pleased to extend to my brother, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, the Government of the sisterly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its people, profound thanks and gratitude for the warm reception and cordial hospitality accorded to us.

We wish to Saudi Arabia, the bigger sister, further well-being and permanent prosperity under the wise leadership of my brother the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.

We are confident that your wisdom would enrich the action of the Council, and your leadership would strengthen the drive of our Council to achieve the aspirations and hopes of our peoples.

I would also like to express sincere appreciation to His Excellency the Secretary General of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, and the Assistant Secretaries-General and all the staff of the General Secretariat for their tireless efforts in following up the implementation of decisions of the previous session and the good preparation for this summit.

Your Majesties and Highnesses,

We meet today against the backdrop of delicate circumstances, rapid changeable conditions and serious challenges facing the world in general and the Middle East in particular, thus casting further responsibilities on us.

I am confident that our Council is able, with God’s help, to tackle these challenges, thanks to our solidarity and joint cooperation in all political, economic and security fields, etc., in order to protect our communities, maintain our gains, achieve the aspirations of our peoples and consolidate security, stability and prosperity in our countries.

Perhaps you will agree with me that the achievements realised through our Council, in spite of their importance, are no match for the bigger aspirations of our peoples; so we are required to double the efforts to achieve those aspirations, since we do not lack potential or capability.

Your Majesties and Highnesses,

Terrorism has become one of the most dangerous challenges facing our world today and threatening international peace and security. Its pace has accelerated recently under false pretexts and slogans. The criminal operations that have targeted many countries are the best proof that this abhorrent lesion is cross-border, and that its danger besets all peoples and countries without any discrimination between victims, because of their colour, race, religion or doctrine.

In this regard, the international community today is required more than ever to double the efforts to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and eliminate its real causes by all available means and capabilities, while taking into consideration the distinction between terrorism and the legitimate right of peoples to struggle against foreign occupation.

Terrorism that targets innocent civilians is a real problem that must be confronted by all states. The first and foremost responsibility of a state is to maintain the security of its citizens. But, in order to avoid replacing a form of terrorism with another that is worse than its predecessor, we must address the root causes of terrorism that feed on violence against people in conditions of despair, lack of any way out and loss of hope in reform through peaceful means.

However, those who are lurking around with ill intentions against Islam take terrorist groups’ acts as a pretext to attack and distort the image of Islam, and hold all Muslims accountable for acts that they have nothing to do with – but are rather their first victims. This requires us to stand up to address these fallacies and highlight the genuine spirit and tolerance of Islam and its respect for one another, and educate the youth of the Umma that it is not enough to take pride in the attributes of our religion, which generally converge with human virtues and which are synonymous with high ground ethics – but we also must exercise them.

Your Majesties and Highnesses,

Despite the tireless endeavours made by the GCC countries and the international community’s efforts to bring about a just peace in the Middle East and establish an independent Palestinian State with its capital in Jerusalem (al-Quds al-sharif), this has not been achieved so far and the prospects for a just solution remain completely blocked. This is because of Israeli intransigence and continued aggressive Israeli practices aimed at changing the demographic and geographic facts of the occupied Palestinian territories through expanding settlement construction, repeated and systematic attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the unarmed Palestinian citizens, in addition to the continued siege on the Gaza Strip and prevention of its reconstruction.

It is not acceptable that the Palestinian cause remains unresolved and held hostage by racist Israeli policies.

The continued inaction of the international community towards Israeli occupation will lead to disastrous consequences for the Middle East region and the entire world. It is our right, or rather our duty to call on the international community to obligate Israel to end its occupation of the Arab territories and not obstruct the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian State with its capital in East Jerusalem on 1967 borders.

Your Majesties and Highnesses,

The continuation of the Syrian crisis has the international community facing a historical, moral and humanitarian responsibility.

The repercussions of this crisis have extended beyond the Syrian and regional boundaries to pose a threat to global security and stability. Accordingly, we as Arabs, and as part of the international community, should act to put an end to this disaster, protect regional and international peace and security, take all measures and actions to spare the blood of the Syrians, ease their suffering and strive in earnest to implement the decisions of Geneva (1); this will fulfil the aspirations of the Syrian people and their hopes to preserve their dignity and their right to exercise their free will, determining their country’s future without coercion or compulsion by a local, regional or international power.

On this occasion, we commend the invitation of the sisterly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for all the Syrian political and armed opposition groups to come to Riyadh for consultation on the delegation representing the Syrian people in the Vienna negotiations.

Through this invitation, the Kingdom provides further proof of its support for the Syrian people.

And in these circumstances, under which the Syrian people are subjected to crimes of displacement and mass annihilation, we call upon the Syrian opposition parties to live up to the level of responsibility and take advantage of this valuable opportunity to close their ranks and coordinate their steps beyond the formation of a negotiating delegation.

Your Majesties and Highnesses,

Regarding the Yemeni situation, we reiterate our concern about the stability of Yemen, its unity and territorial integrity, and emphasise our support for legitimacy and our rejection of all attempts to forcibly impose control by a faction over Yemen; and we condemn these attempts, which will fail with the will of Allah and by the stance of the Yemeni people and solidarity of the Arab coalition. We stress the need to complete the political process in accordance with the Gulf initiative, the outputs of the national dialogue conference in January 2014, the declaration of Riyadh in May 2015 and the Security Council resolution No. 2216.

Also, the security and stability of Iraq, its national unity and territorial integrity, are of critical importance for us in the Gulf Cooperation Council States and for our Arab nation in general. Therefore we call for supporting and backing Iraq in its war against terrorism, which has become a threat to its security, stability and entity.

We stress that consolidating stability after defeating terrorism is dependent on surpassing political factionalism and militias, and laying down the foundations of a patriotic state based on equal citizenship for all Iraqis irrespective of their sectarian, religious or nationalist affiliations.

Regarding the Libyan situation, we look forward to the brothers in Libya to be able to overcome the current difficulties, achieve comprehensive national reconciliation and proceed with a political process that achieves unity and stability and maintains security for the brotherly Libyan people. There is no solution in Libya except a political settlement.

Your Majesties and Highnesses,

The unity and integration of the GCC countries, and strengthening consultations and collaboration among their leaders, are indispensable conditions for promoting the security and stability of the region, as well as achieving economic growth and cooperation in all fields. This is a question of consensus for our people and our communities.

In conclusion, I pray to God Almighty to culminate our efforts in success for the good of our peoples and our countries.

May Allah’s Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon you.