Abdul Latif Al Zayani, Secretary-General, GCC, on promoting continued regional cooperation: Interview

Abdul Latif Al Zayani, Secretary-General

Interview: Abdul Latif Al Zayani

In what way does the GCC ensure regional security in collaboration with others?

ABDUL LATIF AL ZAYANI: Regional security poses a great challenge, not only for the GCC states but for the entire region, particularly given the ongoing conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, and the threats posed by extremist ideology and terrorist organisations. The GCC has intensified its efforts to ensure regional security based on two main principles.

The first principle relates to security cooperation and integration between the GCC states, including the adoption of strategies and programmes that achieve the highest level of joint coordination and information sharing. The aim is to provide a safe and stabilised environment where terrorism, extremism and organised crime are marginalised.

The second principle relates directly to the wider aspects of regional security and is aimed at enhancing joint cooperation with regional countries, friends and allies with a view to fostering greater cooperation, coordination and intelligence sharing between like-minded nations. The GCC’s work here is well known, with examples including diplomatic efforts to restore peace to Syria and campaigns to fight Daesh and ease the conditions in Libya and Iraq.

In order to boost such activities, the GCC has established a GCC Unified Command Headquarters, a Maritime Coordination and Control Centre, and will soon establish the GCC Academy for Strategic Defence and Security Studies, which will allow cross-fertilisation of ideas, doctrine and information at a senior level between GCC and allied officers and officials. Two additional relevant and important security institutions have also been established: the GCC Anti-drug Information Exchange Centre, which is based in Doha, Qatar, and the Gulf police force known as GCC-POL, based in the UAE. Both centres ensure cooperation and coordination between the GCC authorities and allies within these areas. In addition, work is being undertaken by the GCC and our allies with a view to discouraging GCC youth from being radicalised.

What are the most challenging aspects of monitoring the GCC Customs Union?

AL ZAYANI: Within the context of the GCC Customs Union, the most important point is that duties are levied on foreign imports only once, at the point of first entry into the GCC Customs area. To ensure fulfilment of all the requirements of the Customs union from transitional phase to final union, the GCC Supreme Council endorsed the setting up of the GCC Customs Union Authority on January 1, 2012. The most important issues addressed by this authority are the adoption of a mechanism for sharing and distribution of Customs revenues among member states, Customs protection, protection of the local agent, unification of Customs procedures, and treatment of national manufacturers in the free zones. At its summit held in Riyadh in December 2015, the GCC Supreme Council endorsed all steps taken, including the direct electronic transfer of shared Customs revenue, and the unification of the requirements and procedures for imports at the first point of entry.

To what extent can the GCC member states support and improve IT solutions to help combat cyberfraud in the region?

AL ZAYANI: The GCC ministerial committee concerned with e-government announced at its meeting in March 2015 that it was launching the GCC Electronic Networking Interconnection project. The project aims at interconnecting GCC e-government programmes with a reliable secured data network to ensure high and secure performance. Such a network would further allow the GCC e-government networks and agencies to exchange government data securely on matters relating to Customs, health, education and training, traffic offences and so on.

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Abdul Latif Al Zayani

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