With the dust finally settled post US-Saudi Muslim summit in Riyadh, experts and analysts are wondering how things are going to shape in the conflict-prone and terror-hit Middle Eastern region.
Much has also been talked about Trump’s total ignoring of real victims of terrorism in the Muslim world. Trump, in his keynote speech at the summit, singled out various countries being the victims of terrorism. Also, his direct attack on Iran also sounded bad omens for the Muslim world.
Trump not only called Iran a financier of terrorism, but also asked all Muslim countries, and the international community, to boycott the country. This statement would have sent the Saudi regime on Cloud 9 as the Saudi Royal family has, over the years, tried to politically isolate Iran in the Global arena. The statement also came on the back of Trump receiving the Kingdom’s highest civilian honour, for achievements and actions unknown to everyone.
Many in Pakistan were also annoyed with the fact that Trump also bracketed India with major victim states of terrorism, solely because based on number of casualties and losses, India is the least affected South Asia state when it comes to terror attacks. Pakistan, on the other hand, has not only lost more than 50,000 lives, but has also suffered monetary losses of over 100 billion dollars.
Trump’s advances in the Gulf and his anti-Iran coalition with the Saudis will shape up the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
In simplicity, the OIC, over the years, has become a toothless body. The effectiveness of the OIC was already dented with invasions in countries like Libya, yet, the Gulf bloc allying with the US against Iran also means that the OIC, on the whole, is nothing but a rubber stamp body for the Muslim states.
In October last year, Hamid Ansari, Vice President of the OIC, had severely criticised the OIC for slowly becoming an ineffective and irrelevant body. This ineffectiveness was witnessed in cases of UAE, where the Kingdom showed support towards India in recent times, and backed any actions taken by the country against terrorism.
Also, in April last year, Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan in his speech at the 13th summit of the OIC called on the Muslim states to support Ukraine and the ‘its occupied Muslim territories of Crimea’. This was an interesting turnaround for the OIC, which was previously used as an ‘Islamic Cooperation’ body, but has now turned into a political charged body, with most of the leaders furthering the agendas of the alliance blocs they are a part of.
Interestingly, the same summit of the OIC was also attended by Mustafa Jemilev, adviser to the Ukrainian President on Crimean Tartar affairs. Where Crimea, having Muslim population, is now considered a part of Russia, participation from a representative of Ukraine, a non-Muslim majority European country, indicated towards the new political outlook of the OIC. The United States is thus using Ukraine as a proxy and even trying to place it in the OIC, a Muslim bloc, to pit it against Russia. Crimea, where a significant number of population exists, by not being a part of Ukraine anymore disqualifies it from seeking membership of any Muslim bloc.
With this new outlook of the OIC, one thing is for sure; the Muslim bloc is not as united as it is promoted or thought to be. There is an obvious bipolarity between the Shia and Sunni states. The Sunni states, especially those in the Gulf, are now partnering explicitly with the USA to fight their nemesis in Iran.
Now the tricky part comes for Pakistan. If Pakistan, while in the OIC, supports the Saudi bloc and other pro-US measures such as inclusion of Ukraine in the Muslim body, it would not only irk Iran but also negatively affect Pakistan’s newly built trust with Russia.
Also, by attending the US Saudi summit, Pakistan has also made a diplomatic error as it now seeks to convince to Tehran that its presence at the summit was on neutral grounds. With the summit explicitly turning out to be an anti-Iran affair, Pakistan’s participation is supposed to negatively impact its ties with Tehran.
In any case, only time will tell whether Pakistan will commit itself to an alliance that is anti-Iran in nature, considering it enjoys fruitful ties both with Tehran and Riyadh. If Pakistan fails to keep a balance in its ties with Iran and Saudi Arabia, it might have to brace itself for sectarian tensions both on local and transnational levels.