The OIC, a group of 57 Muslim-majority countries that aim to be the ‘collective voice of the Muslim world’, faces criticism for its ‘weak and feeble’ response to Israel’s brutal attacks on Palestine.
JEDDAH – The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has once again come under heavy criticism for failing to come up with a strong response against the Israeli violence targetting Palestinians.
The OIC was formed in 1969 in response to an Israeli arson attack on the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.
“It was founded based on the fact that Jerusalem is a holy city for the entire Muslim world, and it has to be protected and it has to come back to the fold of Islam,” Sami al Arian, the Director of the Center for Islam and Global Affairs at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University, told TRT World.
“Yet we see today that there is an attempt by the Israeli government and by the settlers to take over the Al Aqsa mosque. We have witnessed this throughout the entire month of Ramadan. And OIC has not responded at all.”
“If you look at the actions of the OIC and the countries it is very feeble, it is very weak,” he said.
According to the OIC’s charter, the port city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia will be the body’s temporary headquarters “until the liberation of the city of Al Quds (Jerusalem) so that it will become the permanent headquarters of the organisation”.
The OIC’s charter clearly shows how deeply embedded the Palestinian issue is in the existence of the Muslim body. It also highlights Saudi Arabia’s role in it.
But the Gulf nations of yesterday are very different from what they are today.
In recent years, since Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) wielded a strong influence over the Saudi monarchy after becoming the Crown Prince in 2017, questions regarding the ability of the OIC to craft intelligent policies in support of the Muslim causes, such as Palestine and Kashmir, have only grown louder.
Saudi Arabia’s close ally the UAE unashamedly normalised relations with Israel in September last year. Riyadh has not made any statements to counter the UAE’s move.
As the UAE’s foreign policy contradicts with the OIC’s charter, its impact was clearly visible in last year’s OIC meetings. The UAE thwarted attempted by Pakistan at the OIC to investigate India for committing human rights abuse against the Muslims of Indian-administered Kashmir, and for allowing rightwing Hindu mobs to lynch Indian Muslims with impunity.
Under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed, the absolute Gulf monarchy has bolstered its links with India’s Hindu nationalist far-right Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.
Fed up and frustrated with the OIC’s changing priorities that are alien to the body’s principles, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi last year warned the OIC that it could part ways with the organisation if it continued to remain silent on issues surrounding Palestine and Kashmir.
According to al Arian, the professor at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University, Turkey, as a member of the OIC, has been urging the international community to do “something collectively” to stop Israel from committing massacres of Palestinians.
But since the OIC’s leadership is based in Saudi Arabia, the body does not echo Turkey’s sentiments.
“It refuses to actually do or take any strong position towards this. Or at least bring the pressure of the international community on the state of Israel,” al Arian said in an interview with TRT World.
Some regional experts have already voiced concerns about the diminishing role of the OIC in taking up the causes like that of Palestine.
In an opinion published in TRT World, Thomas Parker, an expert in Islamic Political Thought, last year argued: “the Muslim world’s desire for autonomy and real change is not going away anytime soon. Saudi Arabia and the OIC would do well to recognise it or risk being replaced by new actors.”