Conflict between Morocco and Algeria at the UN General Assembly over Western Sahara

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NEW YORK: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday strongly opposed external involvement in Arab affairs, pledging to counter the “scourge” of violent extremism wherever it occurs.

UAE Foreign Minister Khalifa Shaheen Almarar also said on the last day of the UN General Assembly that the Middle East must be a region free from weapons of mass destruction.

“To be successful in our efforts to end the cycle of conflict in the Arab region, gross regional interference in Arab affairs – particularly in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Iraq – must be halted,” he added.

“The illegal interference has hampered political processes, exacerbated humanitarian crises and undermined regional and international stability.”

These regional problems, as well as transnational challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, require coordinated and cooperative action by Arab countries and the international community, he said.

“We need wise leadership to advance multilateralism and develop a common international position to address all common global challenges. It is also essential to have real political will to overcome this difficult historical period, which requires putting aside differences and strengthening relations between states, ”he added.

“We must primarily provide international impetus to prevent conflicts and avert political crises before they escalate.” One of the conflicts that require concerted action is the war in Yemen.

“We have seen real initiatives in this direction, the most recent of which was presented by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to end the war in Yemen. For these efforts to be successful, all parties need to show commitment and determination, ”he added, noting however that“ the Houthi militias continue their provocative and aggressive actions ”.

Almarar also called for an independent Palestinian state along the 1967 border with East Jerusalem as its capital and called on Israel to stop building settlements on Palestinian land.

However, he praised the era of reconciliation ushered in by the Abrahamic Accords, which established relations between the United Arab Emirates and other Arab countries on the one hand and Israel on the other.

These agreements, made a year ago, “stimulate economic growth and promote prosperity and stability in the region, especially for the younger generations, who deserve to look to the future with optimism and hope,” he said.

The young people are threatened by the penetration of extremist groups in the region, he warned. “Groups like the Houthis, Daesh, Al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hezbollah continue to recruit new generations of young people,” he said. “As such, we will not let up in our efforts to meet these scourges wherever they exist.”

Energy supplies, free navigation and trade routes must also be protected, Almarar said, adding that the Middle East should be a region “free of weapons of mass destruction”.

In this regard, an agreement with Iran that would effectively address the concerns of the regional states was essential, particularly because of the country’s advanced weapons programs.

“We cannot ignore the development of the Iranian nuclear and ballistic missile program or its interference in the region,” he added.

“Therefore, any future agreement with Iran should address the shortcomings of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action … and must involve the countries of the region.”

Three islands that Iran illegally occupied in 1971 would also have to be returned to its land. “The United Arab Emirates will never cease to claim their legitimate sovereignty over these islands,” he said.

Almarar also pledged to continue to fight climate change, which “remains one of the most pressing challenges”.

The United Arab Emirates, he said, is looking forward to the COP26 climate conference, hosted by the United Kingdom in Glasgow later this year, which will be vital in developing a “global response” to the challenge.

“The UAE is trying to work with its partners to find solutions and explore ways that will reduce the effects of climate change, including hosting the COP28,” he added.

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