UAE minister calls for ‘Arab solutions to Arab issues’ at UN talks

Minister of State Khalifa Shaheen Al Marar discusses opportunities in artificial intelligence, clean energy and space exploration

UAE Minister of State Khalifa Shaheen Al Marar on Wednesday issued a call for “Arab solutions to Arab issues” and less foreign meddling in the region at high-level UN Security Council talks.

Mr Al Marar, a Minister of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, said crises in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, Somalia and the decades-old dispute between Israelis and Palestinians had “imposed high political, economic and humanitarian costs” on the region.

Addressing Security Council talks on boosting co-operation between the UN and the 22-nation Arab League, Mr Al Marar said the global community would do well to listen to Arabs and “consider their views”.

“These countries can present a unique perspective to the council on ways to break the current stalemate in various political processes,” the diplomat said in New York.

“We stress the importance of working according to the principle of seeking Arab solutions to Arab issues. This requires, first and foremost, demanding an end to foreign interference in Arab affairs.”

He also called for bigger roles for women in regional politics, combating extremism and creating economic opportunities, particularly for young people, who make up about 60 per cent of the Arab world's population.

Investment in high-tech sectors such as “artificial intelligence, outer space and renewable energy … can unlock promising opportunities for the region and help it to get away from conflict and war”, said Mr Al Marar.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine has affected farmers across the breadbasket region that threatened wheat importers in the Middle East and beyond.

Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen import “at least half of their wheat” from Ukraine and Russia, he said.

“Food, fuel and fertiliser prices are skyrocketing,” said Mr Guterres.

“Supply chains are being disrupted … all of this is hitting the poorest the hardest and planting the seeds for political instability and unrest around the globe.”

The escalating bloodshed in Eastern Europe is “draining resources and attention” from other crises, including Yemen, where a UN funding appeal last week secured “less than a third” of the $4.3bn needed this year, added Mr Guterres.

On Iran, Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Tehran's involvement in the Arab region was “not welcome”. He highlighted concerns about Iran's development of nuclear weapons and missile technology.

“In Yemen, the [Iran-backed] Houthi militia continues to refuse political settlement and negotiation,” he said.

“Instead, they threaten their neighbours … through drones and ballistic missiles.”

Council members were expected to adopt a statement on improving ties between the UN and the Arab League.

The UN said the two organisations share a “common mission” to push for peace, raise economic opportunities, get more people involved in politics and promote human rights. The two bodies signed a first co-operation agreement in 1989.

The session was one of three key meetings hosted by the UAE during March, when it holds the UN Security Council’s monthly rotating presidency.

The UAE also hosted sessions on climate change and protecting women in war zones.

The Emirates and four other countries joined the council for two-year terms beginning on January 1.

The council meets regularly on threats to international peace and security and makes the ultimate decisions on resolutions to impose sanctions, authorise the use of military force and launch peacekeeping missions.

Updated: March 23, 2022, 9:34 PM