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Summit of 57 Muslim Nations Convenes in Makkah for Talks About Syria, Jerusalem, and Rohingya Muslims



From left to right: Sa'ad El-Hariri, Hamad Bin Jassim, and King Abdulla, in Makkah, before the start of the Islamic Summit, August 14, 2012 (Arab News).  


Muslim leaders stream into Kingdom

 Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visiting the Prophet's Grave in Medina (left), wearing Omra (short pilgrimage) clothes in Makkah (right) before attending the Islamic Conference (SPA)

Siraj Wahab, Arab News Staff

Tuesday 14 August 2012


 Heads of some of the most important Muslim countries of the world began streaming into the Kingdom yesterday answering the call of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to attend a two-day Islamic solidarity summit that begins in Makkah today.

The leaders were accorded red carpet welcome and fitting protocol on their arrival in Jeddah and Medinah. Prominent among those who arrived yesterday were Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Libya’s General National Congress head Muhammed Yousuf El-Mugaryif, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Bangladeshi President Mohammed Zillur Rahman, Senegalese President Macky Sall and Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.

Foreign ministers of almost all the 57 member states of the Organization of Islamic Conference were in attendance at the meeting at the Conference Palace yesterday.

As the world leaders and their entourages made their way out of the airports, they headed straight to the various palaces. All the main roads leading to the Conference Palace in Al-Hamra District were closed to local traffic. Securitymen and traffic patrol vehicles were manning the main streets to ensure a smooth flow of the leaders’ cavalcades to the palace.

Hundreds of journalists from the across the Muslim world have descended in Jeddah to cover the conference which has assumed significance in view of the unprecedented political convulsions in the Arab world, and especially SyriaIn the first signs of the Makkah summit succeeding in its express purpose of uniting Muslims worldwide, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi heaped fulsome praise on Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for convening the Islamic solidarity summit in the heart and cradle of Islam.

“The summit comes at a timely when there is a dire need to reunite the Muslim Ummah and to consolidate cohesiveness among Islamic countries,” he said at the Conference Palace yesterday.
“I am here and I feel a.m. at home. I had once lived in Jeddah for a period of four years (at the OIC),” he said. “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a sacred country. I wish all success, fortitude and peace to the Saudi people and the Saudi government.”

On the recent developments in the region, he said: “At the end of the day, we are sure and trust that the end result will be in the best interest of the Islamic nation ... We have to appreciate Saudi Arabia’s proposal to reunite the Islamic nation and to consolidate Islamic unity and to shun divisionism.”

Iranian President Ahmadinejad arrived in the Kingdom to take part in the summit. He went to the holy city of Medinah yesterday and visited the Prophet’s Mosque. Vice President General for the Affairs of the Prophet’s Mosque Shaikh Abdulaziz Al-Faleh and a number of officials received him and his accompanying delegation at the mosque.

There were reports in some sections of the media that Ahmadinejad might cancel his visit in view of the devastating earthquake in Iran.


“The world today is in a very sensitive situation,” Ahmadinejad told reporters just before leaving Tehran, according to the Fars news agency.

“Different groups are at work and the enemies are actively pursuing their aims and a great deal of energy is being spent by Islamic governments and groups on arguing and confronting each other,” he said. “I hope that the summit will focus on increasing unity and lowering antagonism.”

Makkah summit aims to shore up Muslim strength

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah holds talks with Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani and former Lebanese Premier Saad Al-Hariri in Makkah. (SPA)

SIRAJ WAHAB | Arab News Staff
Tuesday 14 August 2012

In the most significant outcome of the two-day Islamic solidarity summit that begins in Makkah today, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) late last night agreed to suspend Syria in view of Bashar Assad regime’s unrelenting bloodbath against its own people.

The suspension completes the discredited Syrian leader’s total isolation in the Muslim world.
“Yes, the resolution to suspend Syria from the OIC was adopted by a majority vote during the meeting (of the Council of Foreign Ministers at the Conference Palace) ... Everyone was relieved,” OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu told Arab News. “This is what most of the members wanted, and there was very little opposition to the move.”

Ihsanoglu appealed to Assad to listen to the collective voice of the Muslim world. “I would like to tell him that it is the duty of leaders to sacrifice for their people ... He should leave for the sake of his own people,” he said.

The Syrian crisis earlier dominated discussions at the preparatory meeting of the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers at the Conference Palace in Jeddah.

Foreign ministers from more than 50 mostly Muslim countries were giving final touches to the resolutions to be adopted at the summit.

It is at the invitation of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah that presidents, prime ministers and foreign ministers of the world’s leading Muslim nations have converged on Saudi Arabia.

The foreign ministers discussed a number of proposals, issues and challenges that confront the Muslim world during a closed-door session.

Possible solutions to the tragedy of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and united response to Israel’s nefarious attempt to erase the history surrounding Al-Quds Al-Shareef and the targeting of the Islamic identity of Masjid Al-Aqsa were under discussion at the meeting.

In the absence of Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, who is convalescing in a hospital following a minor surgery, the meeting was chaired by Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah.

He read out Prince Saud’s address to the foreign ministers.


Muslim leaders meet in Makkah for unprecedented Syria talks

By William EDWARDS (video) News Wires (text)


Muslim leaders were on Tuesday to mull proposals to suspend war-hit Syria from the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), an action which is strongly opposed by Iran.

The OIC represents 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide and that it is holding a meeting Tuesday night in Makkah, the holiest Islamic city, is of particular significance -- the 26th of the holy month of Ramadan is the night when the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed, according to Muslim tradition.

Foreign ministers who held a preparatory meeting on Monday recommended the suspension of Syria's membership, the OIC chief Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose country has openly criticised the push to suspend Syria, is attending the extraordinary meeting.

It was proposed by Saudi King Abdullah, who is pushing to mobilise support for the Syrian rebels.

Tensions had been simmering for months between Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia and Shiite-dominated Iran, as both long-standing regional rivals had taken opposite stances on the uprising in Syria, which topped the summit's agenda.

The United States said that Rashad Hussain, its special envoy to the OIC, would take also part in the Makkah summit as an observer and hold meetings with other delegates on the sidelines.

His attendance "demonstrates the United States' commitment to working with our partners in the international community to support the aspirations of the Syrian people and bring additional pressure to bear on the Assad regime," a State Department statement said Monday.

Iran is the Syrian regime's biggest regional ally and has pledged its full support for embattled President Bashar al-Assad in his fight to remain in power, though it denies providing him with soldiers or arms.

Earlier this month, ISNA news agency quoted Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi as saying that "retired" members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards and army are among 48 Iranians taken hostage by rebels in Syria.

Tehran, however, accuses Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey of arming and financing the mainly Sunni Syrian rebels against Assad, who hails from the Alawite minority -- an off-shoot of Shiite Islam.

Meanwhile Saudi Arabia, which hosts the headquarters of the OIC based in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, has openly called for arming Syrian rebels.

Salehi on Monday assured reporters that "we are on track for increasing and improving the level of relations with Saudi Arabia."

However, the Iranian minister criticised the move to suspend Syria's membership of the OIC.

"We certainly do not agree with the suspension of any OIC member," Salehi said after the meeting.

"The suspension of its membership does not really resolve the issue and is not in line with the OIC charter," he said. "We have to look for other ways, means and mechanisms for resolving conflicts and crises."

Salehi called for "paving the way for a meeting between the opposition and the Syrian government so they can negotiate with the help of others to reach a Syrian-Syrian solution."

But apparently, most OIC members disagreed with Iran.

"The decision has been agreed upon based on consensus with an absolute majority" in favour of suspending Syria's membership, Ihsanoglu said.

It will be put to heads of state at their summit in Makkah, which will continue on Wednesday, for "final approval," he added.

Sources close to the meeting said that only Iran and Algeria were against the recommendation. Syria had no representatives at the meeting.

Meanwhile, Mohammed Ahmed Taieb, a top Saudi foreign ministry official told AFP that "some delegates" were calling for further steps against Damascus by "demanding that the current president step down and preparing for a post-Assad transition period."

Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafiq Abdessalem hailed the suspension as "a strong message to the Syrian regime on the importance of listening to the will of the people and their demands for freedom, justice and dignity."

The 17-month conflict in Syria has killed more than 21,000 people, according to monitoring groups.

In addition to the Syrian crisis, the leaders were also to discuss the Arab-Israeli conflict, the violence against the Muslim Rohingya minority in Myanmar, as well as the unrest in Mali.

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