King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has called for the Extra-ordinary Session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on 14-15 August in Makkah Al-Mukarramah. OIC meetings are routinely held without ever creating even a ripple in world politics as nobody takes it seriously, not even the member states, let alone the world powers that matter. So, one more meeting, routine or extra-ordinary, shouldn't be of any special concern to any one.
Nonetheless, the wording of the agenda for this upcoming meeting -- "to examine the situation in many countries of the Islamic world, intensify efforts to confront this situation, address the sources of discord and division therein, reunify the Islamic Ummah and promote Islamic solidarity" -- deserves attention in view of the person/country calling for the meeting.
There are 56 Muslim countries, a few with the word "Islamic" on their government stationery. That is where Islam begins and ends for them, though Saudi Government has gone a step forward with the inscription of the article of Islamic faith on its national flag and convenient implementation of Sharia law -- e.g., flogging and beheading for general public vs interest-based banking for all. Practically, in matters of governance, all Muslim governments are as Islamic or non-Islamic and as good or as bad as any other non-Muslim government. Keeping this in view, I believe of all the Muslim governments, Saudi government (as against their people), given its history, is the least entitled to talk about the set agenda; all it stands for is incompatible with the name and message of Islam and the concept and implications of the word Muslim Ummah. Read on.
Saudi Arabia is not like any other Muslim country. It is the birth place of Islam, it holds the two holiest mosques, and it is the birth and resting place the Prophet of Islam. All this makes it very special for every Muslim irrespective of sect or any other consideration. Naturally Muslims look up to it with lots of expectations and hopes both in matters of religion and worldly problems facing Muslim Ummah. Does it stand up to those expectations?
Well, if speaking about facts honestly warrants throwing away our age old "cake of custom,' so be it.
The very fact that the country is a monarchy run exclusively by a single clan that has appropriated not just the national resources but even the very name of country to its own clan designation -- "Saudi" Arabia after Muhammad ibn Saud, the founder of present ruling dynasty -- is in stark contradiction to Islam! A clan government of hundreds of princes and princesses perpetuating itself on the force of gun and living their lives off the national resources is antithesis of Islam. Pristine Islam has no space for rule by usurpation or for inequality before law -- be that pauper or ruler.
Conducting Umrah and annual Hajj pilgrimage for tens of millions, distributing copies of the Qur'an and giving money for the construction of mosques for a particular Muslim sect is all that the recent crop of Al Saud family has been doing to continue their emotional sway over close to two billion Muslims world over. This has helped them build a large constituency of well wishers among the Muslims masses, predominantly ignorant though about how the family manages to continue their hold on power and about their legendary ostentatious and, if you believe Wikileaks disclosures, abhorrent life style -- again, both at absolute cross with the Islam as well as an insult to the title of the King as the "custodian of Islam's two holiest mosques."
Saudi Government's, which obviously means The Saud Family, story doesn't end with their un-Islamic occupation of Government or their un-Islamic life style. The manner they have been using their political and financial clout in cahoots with Western Governments against other Muslim countries is gnawing at the very foundations of Islam and unity among Muslim Ummah. It is an open secret how it, along with its Kinglets and Sheiks of GCC, opened its ill gotten treasure troves to help Nato destroy Libya and kill Gadafi. Now Nato (through mercenaries at the stage) is in Syria and the King and the Kinglets are shoulder to shoulder with them. Ensuring democratic governance for Libyans and Syrians is sanctimonious Islamic duty but democracy for their own people -- well, bad for desert Bedouin! And damned be Palestinians' no rights to life! Reportedly the King Abdullah has guts to bang down telephone on Medvedev over Russian support to Bashar Al Asad but can't express one word of indignation, forget protest, to Obama over Israel's daily murders of innocent civilians in Palestine or their eviction from property or over four-year- long siege and regular bombardment and target killings. He hasn't uttered one word on the Government-sponsored killings and ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. He sees "potential" nuclear Iran as a threat but not the already nuclear Israel! And he is out there to reunify the Islamic Ummah and promote Islamic solidarity! Wow!
What is King Abdullah going to discuss with, say, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Perhaps tell him, "C'mon, I have finally decided to heed your leader Ali Khamenei's repeated calls for Muslim unity and I have decided to resolve our religious difference through dialogue.' Or, perhaps tell him what he has been scheming lately with Obama, Hillary, Panetta, Cameroon, Hague (Oh! the moment I hear him talking, shepherds tending herds in Scottish Highlands suddenly come to my imagination), Natanyahu and Ehud Barak to bring Iran on heals or preferably annihilate for good? Is he going to discuss with Ismail Haniya the Saudi role in sabotaging Palestinians in general but Gazans in particular by helping the West destroy Syria -- which means automatic decimation of Hezbollah and Hamas -- and letting Israel rush unhindered towards its goal of Greater Israel? Is he going to discuss with Omar al-Basher why fragmentation of Sudan wasn't a Muslim concern? Or, is he going to tell the gathering why Saudi and other GCC countries are helping American economy and war machine with the purchase of missile defense shield and other arms worth scores of billion dollars when it is destroying one after another Muslim country.
Well, presence of a few "odd' people in the meeting hall and then listening them could be a little unpleasant for the King but there are many -- like GCC Kinglets, King Abdullah II of Jordan (And this small King is worried about the "plight" of Israelis!), King Mohammad VI of Morocco, Asif Zardari of Pakistan, Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, Mehmood Abbass of PA, Mustafa Jalil/Ali Saleem of Libya, Mansour Hadi of Yemen, Abdullah Gul/Recep Erdogan of Turkey, and several other "Abdul America' -- who, like the King himself, are wearing common US collar and Israeli blinkers -- will have lot of common things to share and scheme. And don't be surprised if it emerges later that Obama and Hillary Clinton were watching live the proceeding of the meeting in the Oval Office.
Despots can't be expected to expend their money and time for ushering democracy in other countries. Nourishing such thoughts on the Saudi role in the current US-Israel-sponsored "induced crisis' in Syria betrays ignorant understanding. Saudi involvement in Syria is determined by the same consideration as it was in its involvement in Afghanistan's war against Soviet occupation or in the liberation of Kuwait from Saddam's occupation and Libya from Gadaffi. Then and now, it is simply implementing US commands -- in return for safeguarding its illegitimate despotic rule from any potential internal and external (always American) demand for democracy. It is this very limited but fundamental consideration that has made Saudi government shut its eyes and ears to Israeli depredations in Palestine and the utter barbarianism US army displayed in Iraq and is displaying in Afghanistan. Islam and Muslims have been the least concern of Saudi government. Had the Kingdom been not wholly Muslim populated, it is for sure the clan would have long pushed Islam, along with false expectation of ignorant Muslims around the word, out of its borders in favor of secular dictatorship.
What is more shocking (definitely for me) in all this is the quiet acquiescence of Saudi religious leaders. They seem to have preferred preserving their life and perks over their religious obligations to stand up against The Royal Family's un-Islamic rule. Aren't they regularly reading and reciting Qur'an, which is in their own mother tongue! They may not be in the know of behind the doors or foreign moral depredations of the Saudi Royal Family, they definitely would be aware of the super-opulent life style this extended clan lives at the cost of national exchequer. They would be aware about their Government's role in the slaughter of Muslims by American drones across the Kingdom's border in Yemen. Surely, they must be fully aware about the King spending money to destroy Libya and now Syria. It is past limiting their obligation to reciting the Royal Family-scripted prayers to Allah for welfare of Palestinians and Ummah. Time they stand up and give others courage to confront the Royal Family to stop working with anti-Muslim powers. Their obligations demand hard striving for stopping injustice and much more.
Returning to OIC meeting, there are already reports that talk of US being convinced that mercenaries fighting in Syria do not stand a chance against Asad's half-million well armed and trained military, and direct military strike remains the only option if an Iraq-type long civil war, that could destabilize larger neighborhood, is to be avoided. While direct American/Nato military strike, with or without UNSC nod, would be seen by ordinary Muslims as yet another war of crusade against Islam, getting more-than-willing Turkey do this dirty work is more likely. One Muslim country attacking another has less possibility of rousing tempers in the Muslim world than an American/Nato attack. Therefore, the upcoming OIC meeting appears designed -- of course at US prodding -- to prepare favorable opinion with the Muslim Government leaders. Turkey, though considered favorably in the Muslim world, can not achieve this on its own whereas Saudi Government, with its standing among Muslims as outlined in the preceding plus holding purse strings for many a Muslim Governments, is well qualified.
Sunni Turkey attacking a Shia Government is potentially loaded with every chance of escalating and entrenching the current Shia-Sunni sectarian/political divide that West has been playing up and Saudi government helping since American war on Iraq to the detriment of Muslim unity. It has already created wide gulf between Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon on one side and GCC countries on another. Enter Turkey to put last nail to the coffin of Muslim unity, like it did to the institution of Muslim Caliphate last century. Upcoming Extra-ordinary Session of the OIC is only to "intensify efforts" to that end.
One final point. Keeping this in perspective, the timing and venue of the meeting 26-27 Ramadhan (14-15 August) can't be less depressing for any Muslim. It is time when Muslims everywhere and the Holy Mosque in Makkah in particular would be celebrating through their prayers the first revelation of the Holy Qur'an, which is full of lessons and commands for unity. Outside the Mosque, leaders of their governments would be scheming precisely against those lessons and commands!
Hurray! Long live the Muslim Ummah.