Solutions to refugee problem, ties with Iran, Yemen crisis discussed at Doha Forum

Stephen O’Brien, UN undersecretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency relief coordinator.

:: Participants at the 17th Doha Forum on Monday focused their attention on several major crises in the Arab world including the refugee problem, the situation in Syria and Yemen, and the relationship between the Arab Gulf states and Iran.

In the session titled “Developments in the Gulf-Iran Relationship,” Mohammed Al-Messfer, a political science professor at Qatar University, said the Gulf states see no glimmer of hope of improving relations with Tehran, but only escalating Iranian threats nowadays.

Al-Messfer called on the Gulf states to confront the present-day “Iranian transgressions” by uniting their foreign policy’s diplomatic and strategic aspects.

He also called for “a military unit with a clear military doctrine regarding adversaries, as well as for a unified source of armaments.”

Al-Messfer suggested that the GCC countries expand their “security circle to include Jordan, Yemen, after the restoration of its legitimate government, Sudan and Iraq after it eliminates the sectarian quota system.”

In the session titled “Changing Global Political Landscape,” Riad Hijab, chief coordinator of the Syrian opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC) demanded a firm international position that helps Syria achieve peace and end the global security threat posed by the spillover of the Syrian crisis across the borders.

Stephen O’Brien, UN undersecretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency relief coordinator, said the humanitarian crisis in Syria can only be resolved if the Syrian parties come to the realization that there is no military solution to the conflict.

In the session titled “Political Crises and Their Implications for the Stability of the Middle East,” Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, UN secretary-general’s envoy to Yemen, said that reaching a truce in Yemen during the month of Ramadan “is one of the main points we are focusing on now.”

Replying to the question whether allowing the former Yemeni president to remain is the reason for the crisis, Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said: “If the Gulf initiative had been fully implemented, the situation might have changed.”

Nickolay Mladenov, UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said, “the Arab Spring is not over yet,” adding that the division in the Arab world allows foreign forces to interfere in its affairs and manipulate its population.

Turkish member of Parliament Emrullah Isler said that “Iran must see the destruction and chaos resulting from the expansionist foreign policy it pursued in the last decade and should reconsider that policy.”

During the second day of the 17th Doha Forum, the session about “Political challenges in the Far East and the Indian Subcontinent” reviewed several topics related to the Asian continent, particularly the nature of the Indo-Gulf relations and the recent changes they underwent.

Brian Lee Crowley, managing director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, Canada, said the geopolitical situation in the Asian region makes it incumbent on Asian countries to deal with their problems consensually and avoid conflicts to serve some countries in the region.

Khin Ma Ma Myo, founder and executive director of the Myanmar Institute of Peace and Security Studies, addressed the problems facing her country, saying that the biggest challenge for Myanmar is “the spread of hate speech” and the lack of a role for institutions there.

The participants in the third plenary session, which discussed the second axis of the Doha 2017 Forum under the title “The Political and Economic Impact on Refugee Issues,” concluded that it will take many years for the social and psychological effects of the refugee problem to be erased, but that the international community has to work toward solving the refugee problem.

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