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Opinion

OIC creates divisions, not unity among Muslims

Catherine Shakdam

There has been little cooperation forthcoming from an organization whose name is a misnomer: Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). As a mere tool in the hands of the Najdi Bedouins, it cannot achieve anything.

Members of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) met in Istanbul, Turkey last month (April 14–15) to discuss issues that have plagued the region pulling and tugging at the very socio-political fabric of the Muslim world: terrorism, mass migration, and Palestine. It was the 13th summit of the OIC heads of state and attended by a number of kings, amirs, presidents, and an assortment of other potentates.

Founded in 1969 and consisting of 57 member-states, the OIC claims to speak as “the collective voice of the Muslim world” and to “safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony.” While these are laudable goals and the organization could certainly have served as a powerful catalyst for peace, unity, and solidarity between Muslim countries to help foster positive change, it has become a tool in the hands of a few countries, primarily Saudi Arabia and some of its Arabian allies.

True, there are differences among member-states in terms of policies and outlooks. No two countries have identical policies anywhere but such differences should not be escalated to the point of being blown into full-fledged enmity. Unfortunately, this is what the Najdi Bedouins in the Arabian Peninsula have been doing for many years. The OIC has been turned into a political tool in their hands.

The Muslim East (aka the Middle East) is scarred by wars, terror, and crippling socio-economic hardships but the OIC chose to play up sectarian divisions and indulged in political theatrics to please those patrons that the Western powers have chosen to champion so that their joint agendas could be imposed on the Muslim world. If the flames of war are burning brightest in the Muslim East and North Africa (MENA) region today, it would be unwise to assume that the rest of the Muslim world would be spared these imperialist machinations. Still the OIC preferred to indulge in political pettiness instead of fulfilling its role to foster unity.

According to its charter, the OIC aims to preserve Islamic social and economic values; promote solidarity among member states; increase cooperation in social, economic, cultural, scientific, and political areas; uphold international peace and security; and advance education, particularly in the fields of science and technology. Unfortunately, these goals have been turned into empty slogans and reduced to the imperious agenda of the Najdi Bedouins.

Arash Karami, political analyst specializing on Iran noted in a report for Al-Monitor, “Before the April 14 summit began, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif publicly objected to Saudi Arabia’s attempt to introduce what Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) called ‘four anti-Iranian resolutions and one resolution against Lebanon’s Hizbullah in the draft declaration of the OIC.’ Zarif said such a statement would contradict the ‘spirit of Islamic unity and is in the interests of the Zionist regime’ and warned that such destructive actions would have consequences.”

Long before the OIC member-states met, the Bedouin kingdom sought to manipulate the narrative against Iran. It projected the Islamic Republic’s genuine efforts in the Muslim East as nefarious, offering itself as the only worthy partner for stability. While such clumsy attempts to rebrand political realities might seem foolish, the Saudi regime’s ties with terror groups are so widespread and well known that nobody can really ignore them. Even their godfather — the US — knows this reality too well. Money, however, has been used to spread corruption, thus robbing the Muslim world of its one shot at unity — through the OIC.

The OIC’s final declaration — released to the media but not read out at the closing session — left little room for dialogue, much less political reconciliation. The organization’s statement and tone acted as an echo chamber for Riyadh’s ire against Islamic Iran and beyond — the Axis of Resistance — as embodied by Hizbullah, the Houthis of Yemen, and all those individuals and groups that have risen over the years against imperialism, tyranny, Zionism, and Wahhabism.

In what can only be described as one grand display of hypocrisy, the OIC condemned Iran and Hizbullah for backing what it calls terrorism as well as blaming Iran for the attack on Saudi diplomatic posts in Tehran and Mashhad. That these were mobs enraged by the Saudis’ execution of Shaykh Nimr al-Nimr in violation of all Islamic and international laws was conveniently ignored.

Needless to say Tehran took strong umbrage. “The language of the final draft resolution in the 13th summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation is invalid and illogical and in doing so, Saudi Arabia has gone much beyond meddling in the domestic affairs of Muslim countries and this is against all international regulations,” said Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, in comments to the press.

According to Abbas Araqchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, the draft declaration was prepared during an expert-level meeting of the organization in the Saudi port city of Jeddah on February 2016, long before the OIC summit took place. It was quite revealing that Iranian officials were prevented from attending because the Saudi regime denied them visas to travel to Jeddah.

If Saudi Arabia’s intentions are self-evident, one might add that they are predictable as well. Discrediting Islamic Iran is intended to somehow prevent its return to the international arena as a full and equal member. Further, it is also an attempt to frustrate its rise as a regional economic, political, and military power. The role of the imperialists and Zionists in refusing to admit Riyadh’s destructive nature and role are adding to the problem.

Far from being the destabilizing force the Kingdom likes to portray Iran to the world, Tehran has acted both as a strong barrier against terrorist groups as well as a stabilizing influence in the MENA region. From its role in opposing, fighting, and defeating terrorist groups in Syria while defending its sovereignty, to its role in bringing warring factions in Yemen to the negotiating table, Tehran has acted both as a peace broker, and a peacekeeper.

When Riyadh and its patsies have played terrorism, mass migration, and the Palestinian issue as weapons of mass political destabilization, Iran has worked to reclaim pluralism as strength so that unity could be forged in the Muslim world. While the Najdi Bedouins try to achieve their designs through corruption, perversion, and destruction, Islamic Iran calls for empowerment, cooperation, and resolve against tyranny, anchoring itself in those principles that have strengthened its institutions.

If the OIC once claimed to speak for the entire Muslim world, today it appears to have lost its voice altogether. This is largely because of the manipulation of its agenda by some of its members for their own selfish ends. What credibility is left when those in league with terror are painted as the keepers of legitimacy and those supporting freedom are painted as dangerous dissidents?


Article from

Crescent International Vol. 45, No. 3

Rajab 24, 14372016-05-01


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