Sunday 10th of December 2023

Istanbul Suggestions and Future of Organization of Islamic Cooperation
Ajay Mohan
Region : Middle East-North Africa ,
Issue : Energy Security, Security, Terrorism,
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed dozens of leaders to Istanbul for a summit. Organization of Islamic Cooperation is a second largest Organization after United Nations. Turkey will take over the bloc’s chair for the next two years during the summit, which will be held under the theme “Unity and Solidarity for Justice and Peace” It is a platform of 1.7 billion Muslims. Its organization’s relevance increased when Middle East is burning and Syria has become the centre of conflict. Istanbul summit is a process to establish peace and harmony among the nations. No doubt we need of “Cooperation and solidarity” in the Middle East. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the summit was being held at a time when “the Islamic world is experiencing many disputes within itself.”
This Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit was also special because Turkey was hosting the proceedings for the first time in the history of the institution despite the country's diplomatic and economic ascendance over the last decade-and-a-half. Furthermore, the diplomatic community in the Islamic world was perfectly aware of the frank and bold style of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who prefers to speak openly about major problems. In his speech President Erdogan said that terror is one of the gravest problems facing the Islamic world, he decried the devastation of Afghanistan, in which hundreds of thousands Muslims were killed and millions of them were mistreated by al-Qaeda. Now ISIL, which controls certain places in Iraq and Syria and tries to get control of Libya, serves the same dirty plans. We see Boko Haram and Al Shabaab, which conduct terror attacks in Africa, in the same category. Apart from a few attacks for show, all these terror organizations oppress and harm all Muslims,” President Erdogan stressed. Erdogan maintained that these terror organizations do not represent Islam. “Our religion is a religion of peace and compromise,” .
Actually, the leading countries of the Islamic world could not resolve the vital problems in various conflict areas, including Libya, Iraq, Syria and Yemen. While Indonesia and Malaysia are distant and indifferent to the problems of the Middle East, the leading countries of the region have brought competition forward. The political vacuum left by the U.S. could not be filled in by the regional countries with an agenda focusing on cooperation. Therefore, a regional order could not be constructed. While an authoritarian regime returned in Egypt, Syria became the black hole of the entire region.
OIC members include members of regional groupings such as the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), African Union and Arab League. On top of that, it is no secret that there are serious diplomatic differences, border disputes, geopolitical turf wars and regional dominance struggles among some of its members, which make matching real interest configurations and the idealism of the ummah ( is an Arabic word meaning "community") doubly difficult.
Radical terrorist groups formed a basis for the proxy wars and sectarianism to profoundly influence the entire region. Making use of the competition between the regional powers, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and Egypt, the super powers had an opportunity to pursue policies that limit each power in the region and understand the genuine problems in the region.
While classic alliances such as the U.S.-Saudi Arabia and the U.S.-Turkey have been dissolved, the new convergences do not have the quality to found an order. For instance, the conciliation on nuclear power did not develop the U.S.-Iran relations to a further phase, while the joint support provided to Bashar Assad did not add a permanent and stable dimension to Iran-Russia relations.
Also, the destructive competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran contributed to the sectarianism that is deeply rooted in the region. In such an atmosphere, the opening remarks of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who took over the term presidency of the organization, during the summit, depicted the expectations of the OIC. He gave new suggestions to turn the OIC into a genuine association. Departing from the observation that Muslims are the only aggrieved parties in the conflicts, Erdoğan's suggestions reflect the willpower to protect one's own future. These suggestions are:
1. Sectarian temptations must be overcome; alliances, instead of controversies, must be nourished.
2. We must intervene in terrorism and similar crises in the Islamic world by ourselves. We must found new institutions within this scope (such as the Police Cooperation and Coordination Center, an international arbitration institution and a women's council.)
3. A joint effort must be exerted to overcome the injustice of representation at work against Islamic countries in global decision-making and the implementation bodies such as the U.N. Security Council.
Those suggestions constitute a call to turn the OIC into a new platform for the Islamic community. It is a suggestion to give priority to the affairs of the Islamic community before all national interests. It is not yet certain how this call will be responded to. We could be hopeful if the regional powers have come to a point to realize how the current chaos and conflicts endanger the perpetuity of each. Turkey's call may mark a new start in the process of overcoming the crisis if it can be noticed how the "Salafi radicalism" and "pro-Shiite expansionism" are turned into destructive instruments threatening the region in the hands of major powers. Otherwise, Erdoğan's suggestions are the primary expressions of a new wave in which the peoples of the Middle East will say "enough." Finally he very well said that “My religion is neither Sunni nor Shia. My religion is Islam,” said Erdogan.
Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of FORE INDIA.

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