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The President of Djibouti told Asharq Al-Awsat: The challenges are great, and the Jeddah summit strengthens Arab action


The President of Djibouti told Asharq Al-Awsat: The challenges are great, and the Jeddah summit strengthens Arab action

While all eyes are on Jeddah, western Saudi Arabia, on Friday, when the Arab summit will start in complex geopolitical conditions and multiple Arab crises, topped by the Sudanese armed conflict in Sudan, Ismail Omar Guelleh, President of the Republic of Djibouti, said: The Arab peoples are counting on the summit to come out with decisions that contain the crisis situations in the region and strengthen Joint Arab action, referring to the continuous Saudi efforts to restore security and stability in Yemen.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Ghaila acknowledged that the Arab world is not isolated from the emergence of new global blocs in a manner that does not contradict joint action and the constants of the international community, stressing the centrality of Saudi Arabia in strengthening the Arab decision and unifying the ranks, disclosing that work is currently underway to establish joint projects. between his country and the Kingdom in the field of maritime and air transport and the establishment of a free zone.

Ghaila added, “The Saudi-American initiative is making tremendous efforts to contain the Sudanese crisis in the Jeddah Declaration, and we are ready to start effective mediation to contain the Sudanese crisis, and we hope that the (IGAD) initiative will contribute to finding a solution to the worsening crisis.” and development in the region and enhance joint Islamic action.

Ghaila stressed the progress made to end the Syrian crisis and lift its political isolation to restore its security, stability and development, noting that extremism, terrorism and illegal migration are the most important challenges to maritime navigation and the security of the Red Sea, expressing optimism that the Renaissance Dam crisis will be resolved and an understanding that satisfies the parties concerned, indicating that his country supports the efforts aimed at. To end the Russian-Ukrainian crisis, warning of a slide into a nuclear war.

Here are the details of the interview:

Ismail Omar Guelleh, President of the Republic of Djibouti

* The Arab Summit will be held in Jeddah on Friday… What is its most important expected agenda?

– The Arab Summit is being held in light of multiple and complex geopolitical changes and critical circumstances that some brotherly Arab countries are going through, and this is what distinguishes them and gives them special importance. The most prominent thorny files and hot issues in the Arab world, as well as the various geopolitical developments in the region.

* But what are the main challenges that this summit will face?

Challenges in the Arab world are many and complex at the present time, and it is known that many brotherly countries are going through critical conditions, such as Sudan, which is witnessing a very deteriorating and dangerous situation, as well as Yemen, with our praise and great optimism for the Saudi efforts to solve the crisis, put an end to human suffering and place, and restore security and stability in The happy Yemen”.

In Palestine, the Israeli attacks on Islamic and Christian sanctities in occupied Jerusalem have continued in recent periods, such as the Israeli occupation police storming and desecrating the Gate of Mercy chapel, which is an integral part of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as raising the Israeli occupation flag on the roof and walls of the Ibrahimi Mosque in the city of Hebron. This is a flagrant violation of international law, the Geneva Conventions, and the resolutions of international legitimacy, and a provocation to the feelings of the Islamic nation, and there are many brotherly countries that face various challenges to restore their position, after they witnessed many unrest, unrest and wars, such as Libya, Syria and Somalia.

We hope that the current Arab summit will come out with recommendations and decisions that will contribute to resolving the crisis situations and critical conditions that the Arab world is going through, in a way that guarantees the preservation of unity and solidarity among brothers, and achieves prosperity and prosperity for the Arab world away from unrest, security disturbances and wars, and contributes to strengthening Arab action. subscriber.

Plumes of smoke rise above buildings after aerial bombardment during clashes between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and the army in Khartoum (Reuters)

Q: How will the Sudanese file be dealt with, especially since Djibouti is part of the IGAD countries?

We are following the bloody events in brotherly Sudan with great concern, and the “IGAD” group was proactive in presenting its initiative for mediation to resolve the current crisis. The three heads towards Khartoum remains dependent on the cease-fire and the steadfastness of the armistice, which is witnessing breaches. We are ready to start effective mediation, and we hope that the IGAD initiative will contribute to finding an urgent solution to the worsening crisis since mid-April. We also salute the current mediation by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States of America in the “Jeddah Dialogue” for a cease-fire.

Regarding the role of the Republic of Djibouti in particular, throughout history we have been – and still are – in solidarity with brotherly Sudan, based on the depth and strength of the relations that bind us with it. As the Republic of Djibouti was known for its honorable roles in sponsoring peace and reconciliation in the Horn of Africa, it contributed to conciliatory efforts to bring the parties of Sudan closer together in previous stages, including the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that we sponsored in late 1999 between the Sudanese government and the opposition Umma Party, in the presence of the former President of the Republic of Sudan, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, and the head of the Umma Party, former Prime Minister, Sadiq al-Mahdi, and that agreement contributed to resolving many of the problems and conflicts that existed at the time, and put the parties on the path of peaceful coexistence and the primacy of the supreme interest.

And do not forget that the Republic of Djibouti ceded in late November 2019 to brotherly Sudan the current presidency of the “IGAD” organization, as a gift from Djibouti to the brotherly Sudanese people and as support for them in their current path. This, if anything, indicates that the Republic of Djibouti is committed to supporting Sudan and standing by it in overcoming all challenges facing it, and supporting it through international forums. Currently, the Republic of Djibouti is monitoring the developments of events that the sister Republic of Sudan is going through with great care and concern, and is expressing its readiness fully, through its membership in many continental and regional organizations, to do everything to preserve the stability and unity of the beloved Sudan, and to achieve the interest of its brotherly people.

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal al-Miqdad attending the meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Jeddah (AFP)

* Damascus returns to the Arab League from the gateway to the Jeddah Summit. How will the Arab countries deal with the Syrian file?

The Arab nation is like a single body in its interdependence and the strength and durability of its relations. Undoubtedly, “the vacancy of the seat of an Arab state and its absence from the Arab consensus and decision” is unfortunate, and the Syrian file has witnessed many international and regional negotiations since the outbreak of the crisis, and we were and still are sticking to that the only solution to the crisis It is a political solution that meets the aspirations of the Syrian people, and supports efforts aimed at achieving a political settlement that ends the suffering of the brotherly Syrian people, and based on that, we welcome the progress made towards ending the Syrian crisis, which lifts the political isolation of brotherly Syria, ends the suffering of its dear people, and fulfills its aspirations for security stability, development and prosperity.

* The Jeddah summit is taking place amidst global geopolitical changes and blocs. Where will the Arab countries stand in this regard?

– Theorists talk about a new geopolitical map according to a new world order that has become stronger in appearance than ever before, but that does not mean a sudden radical change in the locations of countries and their geographical borders, as this is fairly constant since the Treaty of Westphalia and subsequent global agreements, but it is natural At the same time, the emergence of new global blocs, and the Arab world is not isolated from the developments the world is witnessing in this regard, and it is natural for any Arab country to cooperate with any bloc, whether economic or military, and the like, in which it sees its interest, in a way that does not contradict joint Arab action. principles of the international community.

Q: What about the American and Chinese race towards the African continent?

– If the US-Chinese competition in Africa is in the interest of development, then this is a positive matter that we welcome.

How do you view the Russian-Ukrainian crisis and the Russian-Chinese rapprochement and their effects on the region?

– The Russian-Ukrainian war has entered its second year, and it is unfortunate that there is no imminent end to it on the horizon, and it is certain that its negative effects are not confined to a specific geographical area, but it is a global crisis that casts a shadow over the entire world and impedes economic growth, and increases the rate of inflation as a result of the impact on the movement of exports and imports in the world, We do not hope that the situation will deteriorate further and slide into a nuclear war. Rather, we renew our support for international efforts aimed at ending the crisis politically, and we also hope that the parties to the conflict will accept negotiation.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, his Iranian counterpart, Hussein Amirullahian, and Chinese Foreign Minister Chen Gang during the signing of the agreement between the two countries, April 6, in Beijing (AP)

* The region has witnessed rapid changes in the recent period, most notably the Riyadh and Tehran agreement. How will this agreement be reflected in the region?

– The recent agreement between Riyadh and Tehran to restore bilateral relations after a continuous break since 2016, its positive results will undoubtedly be reflected in the development of both Saudi Arabia and Iran in the first place, and both of them benefit from the political rapprochement that will cast a positive shadow at the same time on the development in the entire region. Accord and cooperation always benefit all concerned parties, and any rapprochement and cooperation between two countries of the weight and size of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Iran will undoubtedly contribute to laying the foundations for stability and development in the entire region, and will enhance joint Islamic action.

* Djibouti has a distinguished relationship with Saudi Arabia, and there is talk of increasing cooperation between the two countries?

– It is true that relations with Saudi Arabia are strong and deep-rooted, and they are ancient. Communication between the two brotherly peoples across the coasts is very old, and there is a strong similarity between them in many customs and traditions. On the official level, Saudi support for Djibouti dates back to before independence, as Saudi Arabia stood by the Djiboutian struggle and supported it through various international and regional forums. The two brotherly countries are stronger and stronger day after day, and harmony in political visions towards various files. In terms of continuous cooperation and coordination, there are several committees, including security and military ones, and there is the Djiboutian-Saudi joint committee, which represents a general framework under which the bilateral cooperation between the two countries in various fields falls, in addition to the existence of a joint council for Djiboutian and Saudi businessmen.

And based on the tremendous development that we have achieved during the past two decades in the field of ports in terms of quantity and quality, we look forward to strengthening cooperation between the two brotherly countries in the field of maritime transport, logistics services and ports, and work is currently underway to establish joint projects in the field of direct sea and air transport, and to establish a free zone and warehouses Especially for Saudi exports and products within the international free trade zone in Djibouti, which contributes to enhancing the flow of Saudi exports to the African continent.

An archive photo of the meeting of foreign ministers of countries bordering the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden (Asharq Al-Awsat)

* And what about the Council of States bordering the Red Sea, whose charter was signed in Saudi Arabia in 2020?

The strategic importance and political and economic advantages of the Red Sea were known thousands of years ago, as it is distinguished by its location in the middle between the eastern and western seas, or between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean more specifically, and it resembles a floating bridge between the north and the south, and between the east and the west, in addition to being a sea The long coast, which translates geopolitically by saying that the long coasts have a tyrannical ability to control the sea water and navigation in it, and as a result of this, the countries bordering this sea that control its coasts play a fundamental role in any conflict around it, and thus control this political and military artery And the economic one that connects east and west with the shortest navigational route.

Based on the extreme importance of this sea, the responsibility placed on the countries bordering it is very great, and Saudi Arabia was one of the first countries to take steps in this context, as the idea of ​​​​Red Sea security dates back to the “Jeddah Pact” signed on April 21, 1956 between The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen. This charter is the first call for establishing a “joint security system” in the Red Sea.

And since our country (the Republic of Djibouti) is distinguished by its unique geographical location on the Red Sea, overlooking the Bab al-Mandab Strait of great strategic economic and political importance, we play a pivotal role in the efforts to maintain international security and stability through coordination and cooperation with major powers to protect maritime navigation. Fighting terrorism and confronting the security challenges plaguing the region and the world at large.

As for the Council of Arab and African States bordering the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, its charter was signed by the member states in January 2020, and we were among the first countries to ratify its charter, and we also suggested early on that the council’s headquarters be in Riyadh, the Kingdom. This was agreed upon later, and it is expected that the Council will begin to play its role in coordination and cooperation among Member States. They are: Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, Somalia, Yemen and Eritrea, and studying ways to achieve this in the political, economic, security and environmental fields, and I would like to stress that this council is very important for securing maritime navigation economically and politically, as the region is surrounded by many challenges, including Extremism, terrorism and illegal immigration can be overcome with global and regional solidarity.