The six-member Gulf Co-operation Council has strongly condemned Islamic State jihadists in Iraq and Syria and their extreme interpretation of Islam as it opened a meeting in Saudi Arabia.
“We denounce vehemently the practices of those who use Islam as a pretext to kill and displace en masse Iraqis and Syrians,” Kuwait Foreign Minister Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah said in Jeddah on Saturday.
He added that the regional body, consisting of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman, supported a UN Security Council resolution earlier this month aimed at weakening the jihadists.
IS has declared an Islamic “caliphate” in large swathes of territory under its control in Iraq and Syria.
The resolution in mid-August called “on all member states to take national measures to suppress the flow of foreign terrorist fighters”, and threatens sanctions against anyone involved in their recruitment.
The minister from Kuwait, which holds the rotating GCC’s presidency, also said the body welcomed a ceasefire on Tuesday that ended a deadly 50-day war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
Mr Al-Sabah called for “international protection for the Palestinian people” and a lifting of Israel’s blockade of Gaza, as well as reconstruction in the devastated territory.
He also made a plea for the resumption of a lasting peace settlement to “establish a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital based on the 1967 borders”.
The GCC ended on Saturday without a clear way out of a monthslong diplomatic spat with Qatar, although some envoys signaled that progress had been made.
Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar in March in an unprecedented public protest largely believed to be spurred by the tiny nation’s support for Islamist groups in Egypt, Libya, the Gaza Strip and elsewhere. They accused Qatar of interfering in their domestic affairs and failing to uphold a security pact drawn up last year.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia have little tolerance for Muslim Brotherhood-linked activity and perceive the Islamist group as a threat to their political systems.