Abbas, Sartaj Aziz in Jeddah for OIC meeting
Foreign ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states will discuss a number of issues, including the security crisis in Iraq and the political developments in Palestine, at their two-day meeting that begins in Jeddah on Wednesday.
Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas and Sartaj Aziz, adviser on national security and foreign affairs to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, arrived in the Kingdom on Tuesday to take part in the deliberations. He will deliver a statement at the opening session along with Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal and OIC Secretary-General Iyad Madani.
This is the 41st session of the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM). It is held every year. It has assumed significance this year because Saudi Arabia is hosting it. The last time Saudi Arabia hosted this gathering was in 1989 in Riyadh.
The meeting comes at a critical juncture in the Muslim world. There is a rising tide of extremism and volatility in Muslim and Arab nations and much of these issues will be reflected in the two-day deliberations.
The 57-member body has been reduced to 56 states because of Syria’s suspension. This is the first time that such a gathering is being held under the auspices of the new secretary-general.
Iraq is on top of the meeting’s agenda. There was no word on Tuesday about Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari’s presence at the meeting. “Yes, he has been invited like other foreign ministers of the OIC member states, and we are hearing that he would attend,” a diplomatic source told Arab News late on Tuesday.
At the time of finalizing the agenda two weeks ago, Iraq was not a priority. “The agenda has to be sent to the respective members in advance for consent and since the meltdown in Iraq happened only four days ago, it was not on the list of items for discussion at the Jeddah meeting,” top sources told Arab News. “Now it is on top of the agenda.”
On Monday, the OIC secretary-general expressed concern over the situation in Iraq, especially the events in Mosul over the past few days.
Madani called on the Iraqi leadership to take steps to solve this critical situation because it may have serious consequences for the security and stability of the whole region.
Madani called on all Iraqi parties to hold talks to achieve real and comprehensive national reconciliation. He reiterated the OIC’s willingness to support these efforts with regional and international parties.
All members of the Arab League are also members of the OIC. Arab League Secretary-General Nabil El-Arabi confirmed in Cairo that foreign ministers of the member states would meet on the sidelines of the OIC summit to chart the next course of action on Iraq.
Addressing an extraordinary meeting of the permanent representatives of the Arab League in Cairo on Monday, El-Arabi expressed deep concern at the escalating attacks on the Iraqi people.
The OIC was formed in 1969 to protect the interests of the Palestinian people.
The meeting has not enthused political observers.
“This (OIC) meeting is going to be of no use because people have little trust in these organizations,” said prominent political analyst and columnist Hussein Shobokshi.
“They only indulge in rhetoric.”
He said the situation in Iraq demands a robust response “not merely statements.”
Despite all the criticism, the OIC remains the only collective voice of Muslims in the diplomatic world.