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Middle East

World Muslim body vows to fight sectarian policies

  • A picture released by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) shows Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal (R) and Iyad bin Amin Madani (L), the secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), chairing a ministerial meeting of the Islamic bloc in the Saudi Red Sea port of Jeddah on June 19, 2014. AFP PHOTO/HO/SPA

JEDDAH: The Saudi-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which represents more than 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, affirmed Thursday a commitment to unity in combatting sectarian policies.

OIC members will stand “united in combatting sectarian, confessional, and exclusion policies that have led to sedition in some countries and threatened their security and stability,” said a statement issued at the end of a two-day meeting in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

Sunni militants, led by the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) and including supporters of executed dictator Saddam Hussein, have overrun a large chunk of northern and north-central Iraq in the past week.

The statement, read by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, did not explicitly name Iraq, although many countries, including Saudi Arabia, have said the sectarian policies of the Shiite-led government are to blame for the successes of the Sunni insurgents.

Speaking to reporters, Faisal accused Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of “stirring” trouble in his own country and said he was behind “the deterioration of the situation in Iraq.”

His comments came in response to a question on Baghdad’s allegation that Saudi Arabia should be held responsible for militant financing and crimes committed by insurgent groups in Iraq.

Faisal called the claim “ridiculous,” saying: “My advice to Maliki is to follow a policy similar to that of Saudi Arabia in fighting terrorism.”

Saudi authorities launched a massive crackdown on Al-Qaeda following a spate of deadly attacks from 2003-06, prompting many militants to flee to neighboring Yemen. There they established Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, now considered one of the global network’s most formidable affiliates.

Saudi media has been minimizing the role of ISIS, designated by the Sunni-dominated kingdom as a terrorist organization, highlighting the role of Sunni tribes and other armed groups in the insurgency in Iraq.

On neighboring Syria, the 57-member OIC condemned “terrorism in all its forms” and denounced the international community’s “failure” to find a solution to the conflict.

In another statement, dubbed the “Jeddah Declaration,” the meeting rejected President Bashar Assad’s re-election amid an uprising against his rule that has left tens of thousands dead, claiming it contravened the Geneva Communique calling for a democratic transition of power.

The OIC also expressed concern over the unrest in Libya and called for “a compromise solution that will end the crisis” there.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 20, 2014, on page 9.
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Summary

The Saudi-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which represents more than 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, affirmed Thursday a commitment to unity in combatting sectarian policies.

Sunni militants, led by the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) and including supporters of executed dictator Saddam Hussein, have overrun a large chunk of northern and north-central Iraq in the past week.

The statement, read by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, did not explicitly name Iraq, although many countries, including Saudi Arabia, have said the sectarian policies of the Shiite-led government are to blame for the successes of the Sunni insurgents.

Saudi media has been minimizing the role of ISIS, designated by the Sunni-dominated kingdom as a terrorist organization, highlighting the role of Sunni tribes and other armed groups in the insurgency in Iraq.


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