JEDDAH (AFP) – The Saudi-based Organisation 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 Muslim militants, led by the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) 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 Nuri al-Maliki of “stirring” up 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 allegations that Saudi Arabia should be held responsible for militant financing and crimes committed by insurgent groups in Iraq.
“These accusations are ridiculous,” said Faisal. “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 2003-2006, prompting many militants to flee to neighbouring 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 minimising the role of ISIL, designated by the Sunni-dominated kingdom as a “terrorist” organisation, through highlighting the role of Sunni tribes and other armed groups in the insurgency in Iraq.
On neighbouring Syria, the 57-member OIC condemned “terrorism in all its forms” and denounced the international community’s “failure’ to find a solution to the Syrian conflict.
In another statement, dubbed the “Jeddah Declaration,” the meeting rejected polls in June that saw Syrian President Bashar al-Assad re-elected despite an uprising against his rule that left tens of thousands dead across the country.
“The ministers rejected the presidential elections held recently in Syria and their entire results as they contravene the Geneva Communique” about a democratic transition in Syria, it said.
The declaration also “expressed concern over the developments in Libya and called on all Libyan parties to enter into a comprehensive and inclusive national dialogue to arrive at a compromise solution that will end the crisis” there.
It also “condemned the violent activities of the extremist Boko Haram group and reaffirmed unwavering solidarity and support to the people and government of Nigeria.”
And it called for “an immediate end to all forms of violence against Muslims” in the Central African Republic, the site of fighting between mainly Muslim ex-rebels and Christian militias.