CONTOURS of Arab-Islamic-American summit were defined during the speeches of President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdul Aziz. President Donald Trump accused Iran of fuelling “the fires of sectarian conflict and terror”, and held Iran responsible for training armed groups in the wars in Syria, Yemen and Iraq. Saudi King Salman in his speech called Iran “the spearhead of global terrorism” and called for containing it. President Trump in his keynote address said: “The nations of Europe have also endured unspeakable horror. So too have the nations of Africa and even South America. India, Russia, China and Australia have been victims.” He intentionally skipped the name of Pakistan, which has lost more than 70000 people and more than 6000 army personnel while fighting terror. To make it worse, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was not invited to address the conference.
In fact, the conference became the launching pad for bashing Iran. Of course, both Saudi Arabia and Iran were involved in proxy wars in other countries. In Pakistan, the banned organizations Sipa-i-Sahaba and Sipa-i-Muhammad were reportedly supported by them respectively. Unfortunately the differences between Arab countries and Iran over fiqa date back to 1400 years, as both sides believe in the righteousness of their cause. Both sects have co-existed during this period; however with sharpening of contradictions between Saudi Arabia and Iran the Muslim world stands divided. Moreover, the US and the West had fuelled the sectarian fracas by supporting Iraq in its war against Iran. With the funding by Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries, Iraq had emerged as the most powerful country in the region posing a palpable threat to Arab countries as well as Israel.
After Iraq had attacked Kuwait in August 1990, the UN Security Council passed a resolution on November 29, 1990, to take military action against Iraq. In 2003, once againthe US and its allies formed a ‘coalition of the willing’ and attacked Iraq. Pakistan did not join the coalition, as it was not mandated by the UN. Their next target was Syria where they played the sectarian card and provided arms to Syrian sunni rebels. Of course, Arab countries actively supported the rebels to overthrow Bashar al-Assad government. But with the emergence of IS, the situation became complex, and Iran helped Iraq and Syria in their fight against the IS militants. With signing of agreement over nuclear programme, the US attitude towards Iran changed; and former president Barack Obama had once said that Saudi Arabia should give some space to Iran.
But President Donald Trump has decided to strengthen economic and defence relations with Saudi Arabia. To showcase its power, Saudi Arabia had formed 34-countries alliance against terrorism, and now by holding Arab-Islamic-American summit convinced the US that it is leader of the Muslim ummah. KSA support sunni rebels in Syria and Iran supports the Houthis (rebels) to change the elected Yemeni government. In fact, both are to blame for their acts of adventurism and violation of UN principals. The sorriest part is that the fraternity itself is the most bleeding quarry of the rabid extremism of the fanatical clans. No Muslim polity is at peace with itself. Almost all are in turbulence and turmoil in varying degrees. They are being ruined and ransacked by ever-widening sectarian divide and blighted by confessional antipathies being whipped up by the divided fanatical strands. Unfortunately, most Muslim countries are deviating from the ideological track and are following shadows of opportunism or adventurism. And the present state of affairs is the result of profligacy of unimaginative rulers in majority of the Muslim countries.
One does not see a semblance of Islamic brotherhood so far as the foreign policy pursued by them is concerned. In the past, majority of the Muslim countries had supported Pakistan’s just stance on Kashmir i.e. to implement the UN resolutions that gave the right of self-determination to Kashmiris. Now they advise Pakistan to resolve the issue through bilateral negotiations with India. In case of Palestine also, the OIC did not put serious efforts in persuading the international community to help implement the UN resolutions. Unless the UN resolutions bestowing on the Palestinians right for an independent state are fully implemented, there would be no peace in the region.
In fact, the OIC is divided on sectarian basis. Saudi Arabia and majority of Muslim countries are on one side, and Iran, Iraq and Syria etc., on the other. The simmering conflict can lead to a full blown war. Unfortunately, the Muslim fraternity is its own enemy, as its leaders have not tried to discover the verities of freedom, equality and solidarity, which is why some Muslim countries have become breeding grounds for extremists and criminals. Indeed, Islam stands for love and affection, peace and amity, moderation and enlightenment. However, the shenanigans of the fraternity’s extremist strands have given handle to the compulsive detractors of our religion to depict it as a creed of violence and bloodletting.
Those involved in the 9/11 tragedy definitely brought no victory but only outright hostility of the world community to the predominantly moderate Muslim fraternity. Muslim countries are paying the price of their follies, as they have been playing into the hands of imperialist powers. Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries support the rebels in Syria but demand the world community to support the rebels in Yemen. Saudi Arabia and Iran should wean off internecine conflicts otherwise Muslim Ummah as a whole would suffer immensely.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.