The OIC and the simmering Palestinian issue | By Ayaz Ahmed


The OIC and the simmering Palestinian issue

THE Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has been in the limelight due to its active role in normalizing the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan; all this has been actualised chiefly owing to the proactive diplomacy and immense contribution of Pakistan.

However, the Muslim bloc has miserably failed to liberate the long-persecuted Palestinians from the bestial yoke of imperial Israel.

The organisation of the divided Muslim countries has only issued rhetorical statements in favour of Palestine, without any practical substance.

On its part, Pakistan has always contributed to affording political, diplomatic and economic assistance to Palestine.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi held a meeting with Palestinian counterpart Dr Riyad al-Maliki on the sidelines of the 48th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the OIC, which Pakistan recently hosted in Islamabad.

Tweeting about the meeting, Qureshi said Pakistan was pleased to continue to offer Palestinian students seats in its educational institutions and military courses.

“We will also offer positions in junior and advanced diplomatic courses in Pakistan to Palestinian diplomats,” he added.

Undoubtedly, the Muslim bloc has failed to live up to its solemn promises in terms of providing self-determination to the hapless Palestinian.

The OIC has only issued rhetorical statements which are visibly bereft of effective practical measures.

Prime Minister Imran Khan lamented while delivering his keynote address at the OIC summit, “We have failed both the Palestinians and the people of Kashmir”.

Since 1948, unbridled and imperial Israel has made the most of the highly anarchic international system by steadily taking over Palestinian territory.

The West, and particularly the US, has extended all-out military and economic assistance to Israel to expedite the Israeli occupation of more Palestinian lands and making the Zionist state’s security forces invincible against the paranoid regional Arab monarchies.

Like the League of Nations, the UN is also powerless to clip the disruptive imperial wings of Israel.

The OIC has thus far held grand conferences on the Palestinian issue without any fruitful result.

It has always lacked discretion to craft a pragmatic mechanism to implement the findings of its plethora of conferences held time and again since its inception in 1969.

Now, it seems that the Palestinians will face more problems and persecution because the Middle East is gripped by political turmoil, rampaging militants and an ongoing Shia-Sunni schism.

Such issues will make the OIC more impotent and divided, thus making it unable to resolve the lingering Palestinian independence issue.

The Israeli state will take advantage of the polarisation and divisions among the Muslim countries to further expand its imperialistic designs in Palestine.

Why has the OIC failed to find a viable solution to the long-lasting Palestinian issue Historically speaking, two major regional powers, Saudi Arabia and Iran, were the US’s strategic and economic partners till 1979.

In the meantime, some Zionist political, economic and military lobbies used effective tactics to influence US congressional legislative acts against the independence of Palestine and in favour of Israel’s regional expansion.

As a result of Jewish lobbying, the US kept providing economic and military incentives to both Iran and Saudi Arabia, while dictating to them to avoid taking the Palestinian cause seriously.

Moreover, the US also used its sway to stop all of its European partners from extending the required diplomatic support to Palestine.

So, the lack of well-intentioned and earnest support to Palestine from Iran and Saudi Arabia, at the meetings of the OIC, hindered any practical solution.

The year 1979 brought about the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the fateful Soviet invasion of unfortunate Afghanistan.

The House of Saud became apprehensive about the Iranian revolution and its spill-over effects on the Middle East.

The Saudi fear resulted in sabre-rattling, bellicosity and regional assertiveness between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Since 1979, Iran and its regional Shia supporters have been at loggerheads with the Sunni bloc led by Saudi Arabia.

The divergences and differences between these two blocs have been a major hurdle at the meetings of the OIC, organised to discuss the festering Palestinian issue.

The OIC is an ineffective gathering for Muslims leaders to have some recessionary activities.

Unlike NATO, it is not incumbent upon the OIC’s member states to consider an attack on any member as an assault on the organisation and respond accordingly.

The organisation also does not have a well-trained army with deterrent capability against any threat.

Due to these underlying reasons, the US, Israel and India have annexed Muslim countries with impunity.

The OIC did not and does not have the courage to respond militarily to the continuing Israeli occupation of the Palestinian lands.

The Arab Spring, the rise of the rampaging Daesh and the Abraham Accords ( between Israel and some Middle Eastern states) have further widened the increasing gulf between the Sunnis and the Shias, thus further complicating the Palestinian matter.

Saudi Arabia and the autocratic government in Egypt deem Hamas to be a terrorist group, aligned with the Egyptian Muslims Brotherhood.

On the other side, Iran and Hezbollah provide both military and financial assistance to Hamas against Israel.

Moreover, the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia over the Syrian civil war, Yemen crisis and instability in Iraq have instigated more obstructive issues for the OIC in resolving the Palestinian issue.

Now the question is: what should be done to empower the OIC so that it can help sort out the Palestinian independence problem?

The organisation should be restricted so as to make it powerful and effectual in all spheres of international affairs.

On the political front, the organisation should be restructured in line with ASEAN. On the economic front, the European model should be adopted. On the security front, the OIC’s base should be under girded on the premise of NATO.

More importantly, all Muslim countries should shun acrimony amongst themselves and gather the courage to work together to sort out their underlying issues.

Leaders of OIC members should bear in mind that cowardice many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once.

—The writer is former senior researcher at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) and now an editor and commentator based in Karachi.


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