In his opening statement during the inaugural session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Extraordinary Summit in Mecca on Tuesday, King Abdullah bemoaned the current and ongoing violence in the Middle East.
“The Islamic world is living a state of discord and disunity, which led to the bloodshed of its people,” said King Abdullah.
According to AFP, the summit preparation session held on Monday and attended by foreign ministers of the 57 member states recommended the suspension of Syria from the OIC, a recommendation approved by an absolute majority with objections only from Iran and Algeria.
AFP reported that it obtained a draft final statement saying that the summit in Mecca “approves the suspension of Syria’s membership.” The draft explained the reason behind the suspension was “the obstinacy of the Syrian authorities in following the military option.” The statement also demands Assad’s regime to end all acts of violence immediately and to defend Syria’s unity, independence and sovereignty.
Iran, an ally of the Syrian Alawite President Bashar El-Assad, criticised the recommendation. AFP reported that the Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said the suspension would not resolve the conflict and was not in line with the OIC charter. He added that negotiations between the government and rebels might be the only way out of the crisis.
Fayeq Fahim, former media minister plenipotentiary in Sudan and the Arab League said that he does not support further pressuring the Syrian regime. “This will lead the regime to fight viciously because when you are under that kind of pressure you either win everything or destroy everything,” Fahim said.
He explained that Syria is following the Iraqi scenario, where the regime will be removed but the people will continue to suffer the splits and struggles between different powers.
“We don’t sacrifice a country to bring down one man. Saddam Hussein died but Iraqis are still suffering, and so will be the Syrians who have Lebanon and other countries already penetrating their territory.”
Along with Syria, the summit’s agenda included discussions of the Palestinian Israeli conflict, the situation in Mali and the violence against the Rohinga Muslims in Myanmar.
Reuters reported that during the extraordinary summit, Saudi state television showed King Abdullah Ben Abdulaziz welcoming leaders with Iranian President Ahmadinejad standing next to him. The two leaders, who were engaged in a war of statements and bids to assume leadership of the region, were seen laughing and talking together.
King Abdullah suggested establishing a centre for dialogue between Islamic sects based in the Saudi capital Riyadh whose members would be appointed by the OIC through a proposal from the Secretariat and the Ministerial Council.
“Such centre could help quell conflicts and achieve unity between different Islamic sects,” said Fahim. “In Christianity there are Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants and many others. That never stopped the West from being united.”
He added that Arabs should start looking after their own interests, strengthening ties and seeking unity.
“Ahmadinejad standing at the side of King Abdullah should come as no surprise, that is how neighbours and friends should act and that is what will make them both stronger,” Fahim said.
Fahim believes that restoring and strengthening relations between Iran at one side, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt at the other might be a threat to the United States and Israel.
The extraordinary summit concluded its work late Wednesday with the next meeting scheduled for early next year in Egypt. Egypt will be heading the OIC for the next three years.