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Saudi Arabia: OIC opposes military intervention in Syria


JEDDAH, (Arab News): The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is firmly opposed to any international military intervention in Syria and has called for a negotiated settlement of the conflict through regional means, Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said on Sunday.

“We have seen the disaster and turmoil brought by international military intervention in more than one place, be it Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia or any other place. So, we fully oppose the idea of any such intervention but are open to dialogue and regional endeavors to resolve the conflict and to stop the blood-shed in Syria,” Ihsanoglu said.

The OIC chief called for the reforms promised by the Syrian leadership to be implemented in order to meet the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people, and for security and stability to return to the country.

He further said that the OIC was waiting for the report of the Arab League monitors already in unrest-hit Syria to take stock of the situation and that it will not send a fact-finding mission of its own to Damascus, “because there is no need to duplicate a similar effort already under way.”

“We will wait for the Arab monitors' report and study it threadbare and then chalk out our future course of action,” he said.

However, the OIC chief assured that the group had already conceived a contingency plan to put in action if the situation further deteriorated in Syria, but refused to divulge its details.

A team of Arab League monitors arrived in Syria on Monday night. The 60 Arab League monitors, who began work Tuesday, are the first Syria has allowed in during the nine-month anti-government uprising. They are supposed to ensure that President Bashar Assad's regime complies with terms of the Arab League plan to end crackdown on dissent. The UN says more than 5,000 people have died in the uprising since March.

When asked whether the OIC was keen to play any role in facilitating talks between all the stakeholders in Afghanistan, Ihsanoglu said, that Taleban's inclusion is the main factor for the success of any peace process in war-torn Afghanistan. “The OIC is in touch with all the stakeholders in Afghanistan conflict through its ambassador in Kabul and if needed willing to take up any responsibility in this regard.”

While speaking about the Middle East crisis, Ihsanoglu condemned the approval given by the Israeli occupation authorities for the construction of 130 new settlement units in the Gilo Settlement in East Jerusalem. He also blasted the Quartet for its complete failure.

Ihsanoglu deplored the bill declaring Al-Quds “a capital of Israel and of the Jewish people,” calling it a direct aggression against the Palestinian people and their inalienable rights.

While addressing a press conference, the OIC chief highlighted the achievements of the group in 2011 and called it “very satisfying”. He touched upon many issues arising from the Arab Spring and what it means to the region. He also focused on Muslim-West relations, economic development and progress in science and technology in the Muslim world and the projects and initiatives undertaken by the OIC on these issues.

Ihsanoglu disclosed that an initiative was taken by the OIC to achieve national reconciliation in Somalia besides its humanitarian efforts launched early August.

“We achieved many milestones in 2011. For example, we were able to agree on changing the name and new charter of the group after 40 years. We were the first to react to Libyan crisis. When the uprising took place in Benghazi on Feb. 17 and in just five days on Feb. 21, the OIC gave its support to the legitimate aspirations of the Libyans.”

On humanitarian front, the OIC chief said the group has sent a mission to Mindanao in the Philippines in the wake of last month’s devastating storm. It also raised a considerable amount of money to help flood victims in Pakistan and drought-hit Somalia.

Ihsanoglu highlighted the efforts made by the OIC in alleviating the suffering of the victims of “Sendong” in the cities of Caganyan De Oro and Illigan where close to 3,500 families (approximately 21,000 people) received food and non food items through the OIC in cooperation with the relevant governmental authorities.

On the domestic front, Ihsanoglu lauded the role of Saudi Arabia and noted that Custodian of the Two Holly Mosques King Abdullah has donated a plot of land for the construction of a new OIC headquarters, adding that the OIC is waiting for the royal decree to start construction soon.

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