Middle East&North Africa

Published on April 18th, 2016 | by Lidija Bojčić


The inability of the OIC in achieving political unity

During the 13 summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul, came out in a political conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the form of the final statement at the conclusion of the summit in condemning Iran’s foreign policy toward other countries and “continued support terrorism.” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was not present at the closing of the summit in protest.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hosted the more than 30 heads of state and governments of Islamic countries at the 13th Summit of Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul April 14 to 15, whose goal was overcoming differences and the Muslim world. OIC is the second largest intergovernmental organization after the United Nations. It counts 57 Member States on four continents covering 1.7 billion Muslims.

Turkey took over the rotating presidency of the Organization of Egypt. The focus was on the Palestinian issue, the conflicts among the member states of Syria and Yemen to fight terrorism. The summit was held under the theme “Unity and Solidarity for Justice and Peace”.

However, the summit dealt primarily with attempts added condemnation of Iran and Hezbollah in the final statement of the summit declaration.

The draft declaration was prepared during the meeting of the OIC at the expert level in February in Saudi Arabia in Jeddah. The meeting was not attended by Iran’s representatives as a result of failure to obtain a visa.

The draft declaration was included in the final declaration, although the Iranian side managed to carve out not to be read at the closing of the summit. Four paragraphs relating to the condemnation of Iran, and one to condemn Hezbollah.

  1. The Conference stressed the need for the cooperative relations between Islamic States and the Islamic Republic of Iran to be based on the principle of good-neighborliness, non-interference in their domestic affairs, respect for their independence and territorial sovereignty, resolving differences by peaceful means in accordance with the OIC and the UN charters and the principles of international law, and refraining from the use or threat of force.
  2. The Conference condemned the agressions against the missions of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Tehran and Mashhad in Iran, which constitute a flagrant violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, and international law which guarantees the inviolability of diplomatic missions.
  3. The Conference rejected Iran’s inflammatory statements on the execution of judicial decisions against the perpetrators of terrorist crimes and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, considering those statements and blatant interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a contravention of the United Nations Charter, the OIC Charter and of all international covenants.
  4. The Conference deplored Iran’s interference in the internal affairs of the States of the region and other Member States including Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, and Somalia, and its continued support for terrorism.

  1. The Conference condemned Hezbollah for conducting terrorist activities in Syria, Bahrain, Kuwait and Yemen and for supporting terrorist movements and groups undermining the security and stability of the OIC Member States.

Such harsh statements have so far been unprecedented, imposed in undiplomatic tone that was not used between Member States.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Wednesday at the Council of Foreign Ministers and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in his speech on Thursday accused Saudi Arabia to use OIC to achieve their political goals, which strikingly resemble the efforts of the former regime of Saddam Hussein against Iran during the Iran-Iraq the war in 1980.

Rouhani in his statement pointed to the great history of Islamic civilization and the present situation of division between the countries that lead to the intervention of foreign countries. He called on the delegates to avoid send a message about divisions between countries of the OIC:

“History is repeating; Islamic world is under a multidimensional political, economic, cultural and religious attack by means of Takfiri and extremist groups, which whole world knows how they have been formed and by whom and how they are supported; their violence and savagery is Victimizing Islam and its values. This is not what the Islamic world deserves; Islamic world deserves the highest situation and this is not possible if we do not reconsider our current situation; It is our measures and actions that forms the basis of judging Islam among the people of the world; how we can speak of unity and defend Islamic beliefs when we ourselves fuel the extremism?”

On Friday, the final day of the conference, Iranian President Rouhani and his delegation boycotted the final session of the summit of the OIC.

Before the event there was a diplomatic initiative of meeting Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the summit. The meeting was proposed by Turkey, which has long been trying to establish a “message of positive mood” between the two sides. It is for Turkey could be a great diplomatic success.

Try the Turkish initiative is endorsed and some foreign diplomats including the United States, according to the Egyptian newspaper Ahram.

The meeting is supposed to be very simple, just to break the ice, sit down and talk together. But the meeting did not happen, even to the common greeting when meeting in the passage. It was not the will nor the Iranian nor the Saudi side.

Saudi Arabia broke diplomatic relations with Iran after the Iranian public reaction to the execution of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr in January. Then they attacked the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and Consulate in Mashhad.

This development, unfortunately, reflects the deep polarization that today reflects the Muslim world. If this is the level of trust among the world’s largest Muslim forces, the signs are not good. Possibilities of further sectarian division are significant.

Intolerant relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, two Muslim forces turned into a full diplomatic war with consequences in trade, oil prices, sports, pilgrimage to Mecca. While Tehran expressed conciliatory foreign policy after the nuclear agreement, the Saudis have not refrained from its efforts to kick start the sectarian conflict. Kingdom expressed unfounded fears of re-entry of Iran on the world stage. Instead, additional complicating its relationship with Iran, Kingdom should seriously think about their behaviour. From today’s perspective, Iran is now closer to the international community as a reliable regional player than Saudi Arabia.

13 summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation is a good opportunity for discussion at the highest political level between Muslim states, especially in the Middle East to find ways of resolving the current crisis. However, the organization has not been able to create unity and cooperation among the member states at the summit. On the contrary, Saudi Arabia continued to practical steps in the diplomatic war against Iran in its attempt to isolate him politically.


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