Tuesday,25 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1291, (14 - 20 April 2016)
Tuesday,25 September, 2018
Issue 1291, (14 - 20 April 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Closing ranks before overwhelming challenges

Palestine and post-Arab Spring turmoil top the agenda at the OIC Summit in Istanbul, writes Sayed Abdel-Meguid

Al-Ahram Weekly

All eyes are on the moment Egypt hands over the presidency of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to Turkey, which will serve as OIC head for the next two years. Media reports have appeared suggesting Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri will attend this week’s OIC Summit in Istanbul though Cairo has yet to confirm who will head the Egyptian delegation.

Indeed, some delegates, led by Deputy Foreign Minister for Multilateral Affairs Hisham Badr, arrived in Istanbul on Monday. Badr will take part in the two-day meeting of member states’ foreign ministers at which he is scheduled to deliver an address. Observers saw even this level of representation as a step forward. The original intention appears to have been to send the acting ambassador in Ankara to the OIC Summit.

OIC Secretary-General Iyad Madani, a former Saudi minister of pilgrimage, worked hard to up Egypt’s level of representation. The visit to Cairo by Saudi monarch King Salman, who is now in Turkey, may have also helped to smooth over tensions between Cairo and Ankara, perhaps to the extent that Shoukri himself attends the 13th session of the OIC to hand over the presidency to his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.

The accumulation of grudges and disputes mean it will be difficult to inject any real warmth in Turkish-Egyptian relations, but this shouldn’t be allowed to overly complicate matters on the eve of the OIC Summit. The ball, in any case, is now firmly in the court of decision makers in Ankara.

More than 30 heads of states and government will take part in the OIC Summit. They will focus on finding solutions to the domestic and foreign problems facing the Islamic world that have emerged in the wake of the Arab Spring.

Under the  banner Unity and Solidarity for Justice and Peace attendees will discuss, among other pressing issues, current conditions in Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, Somalia, Mali, Jammu and Kashmir and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Participants will also address the ramifications of the violation of the ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan in connection with the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

A resolution is expected on Palestine that will set priorities for political action to champion Palestinian rights and affirm OIC support for international efforts to revive the peace process within a set timetable with the goal of ending the Israeli occupation. The summit will also consider supporting an international peace conference to end the Israeli occupation, the establishing of a ministerial liaison team on Jerusalem and approval of a strategic plan for the development of the city.

According to an OIC statement leaders are expected to issue resolutions and launch practical initiatives to advance joint Islamic action and enhance the role of the OIC on the regional and international stage.

The summit is expected to adopt a resolution approving the ten-year plan for 2015–2025. This strategic vision establishes fixed priorities when it comes to peace, security, counterterrorism and extremism, the renewal of religious discourse, the enhancement of human rights, support for development, the elimination of poverty and communicable diseases and the rights of women, children and the family in the Islamic world.

On the sidelines of the conference, the wives of the heads of state of participating members will convene a special session to discuss efforts to fight cancer in OIC member states.

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