By Siraj Wahab
JEDDAH — Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal has called on the international community to intervene in Syria and end the suffering and displacement of its people.
Speaking at the 41st session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Jeddah on Wednesday, he said the Syrian crisis has taken a turn for the worse after the failure of the Geneva 2 meeting.
“The failure (of Geneva 2) has resulted in an upsurge of violence and genocide, perpetrated by the Syrian regime against its defenseless population,” he said.
The deliberations took place at Qasr Al-Motamarat or Conference Palace, which overlooks the Red Sea. The serene Red Sea was in sharp contrast to the churning and turmoil in the Muslim world under discussion by delegates.
Prince Saud said the overwhelming power of the Bashar Assad regime on the ground was based on the human and material support it receives from outside parties, which amounted to foreign occupation. He was clearly referring to Hezbollah and Iranian fighters actively engaged in killing Syrians.
“(All these) call for an urgent international response, regardless of political considerations and international rivalry,” he said.
Prince Saud said the fallout from the Syrian crisis has further destabilized the already precarious internal security situation in Iraq. “The sectarian approach in Iraq has fragmented the components of Iraqi society,” he said. “This has paved the way for the shattering of Iraq’s national unity and the destruction of its Arab identity.”
He described the situation in Iraq as grave. “There is an ominous threat of a civil war … the consequences of which on the region no one can predict,” said Prince Saud.
In attendance at the meeting among others were Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Iran’s First Deputy Foreign Minister Morteza Sarmadi, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Pakistan’s Sartaj Aziz.
Meanwhile, as if to vindicate Prince Saud’s stark assessment of a civil war in Iraq, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in Tehran that his country would do whatever it takes to protect Shiite holy sites against Sunni fighters.
On Egypt, Prince Saud said the Egyptian people have chosen their leader. “Our support for Egypt is based on our deep conviction that a stable Egypt is important for a stable Arab and Muslim world,” he said.
On Palestine, he said national reconciliation and the formation of a consensus government of Fatah and Hamas was an important step toward an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
“The issue of Al-Quds represents a big challenge to the Islamic Ummah, as Israel continues to tamper with the identity and heritage of this holy city, seeking to alter its geographic and demographic nature, and subjecting worshippers at the holy mosque to all forms of provocation and harassment,” he said.
Prince Saud said the Islamic world was still bleeding and Muslims across the world are being affected by various disasters and crises. “Our noble religion and our Prophet (peace be upon him) are targeted by insults and aggression perpetrated by entities, individuals and media outlets, either out of ignorance of the reality of Islam or because of prejudice and hatred,” he said.
In his address, OIC Secretary-General Iyad Madani called for action to combat Boko Haram, which has unleashed a reign of terror in Nigeria. “This separatist movement adopts violence, intimidation, and murder … and it needs to be divested of its assumed Islamic identity,” he said. “Most of its victims are Muslims and it destroys mosques.”
Referring to other crises and conflict areas, he said the people of Kashmir are still deprived of the right of self-determination. “We hope that the political leadership that emerged from the recent parliamentary elections in India will not increase their hardship,” he said.
As he spoke, the Kashmiri delegates at the meeting — Sardar Ateeq Ahmad Khan, former prime minister of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, and Ghulam Muhammad Safi of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat Jammu and Kashmir — slammed the Indian government for not allowing their counterparts from the Indian-administered Kashmir to attend the OIC meeting.
“The OIC had sent invitations to All Parties Hurriyat Conference (G) Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani and the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (M) Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Asiya Andrabi of Dukhtaran-e-Millat, but the Indian government denied them travel documents to attend this meeting,” said Safi. “This is highly condemnable.”
Sardar Ateeq said India’s move was highly regrettable. “They (the Kashmiri leaders) should be allowed freedom of movement not only to travel to Saudi Arabia but to any part of the world to explain their position,” he said. —ARABNEWS