Syria, Egypt and the GCC states have expressed support for the PLO-Israel peace talks, calling them ‘a first step’ along one of several ‘tracks’ toward a ‘just and comprehensive peace’. The eight Damascus Declaration countries also strongly condemned Iraq and backed the UAE in its sovereignty dispute with Iran.

A joint statement issued on 10 January after their meeting in Damascus made no reference to earlier plans for direct Syrian and Egyptian military involvement in the GCC’s security. It only expressed ‘satisfaction’ with the implementation of political and economic recommendations at the previous meeting of the eight in June in Abu Dhabi.

The statement’s reference to the PLO-Israel talks as one track is a reminder of Damascus’ insistence on an Israeli-Syrian settlement as a precondition for overall peace in the Middle East. The Syrian side also influenced the declaration on the Iran-UAE dispute, giving it a milder tone than an earlier statement on the issue by the GCC states themselves (MEED 14:1:94).