Sultan to attend OIC Summit

The two-day Fourth Extraordinary Islamic Summit in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, will begin today and His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam will be attending as one of the Heads of State of Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) countries.

The preparatory meetings for the summit began with the foreign ministers meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, yesterday. His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, attended the meeting.

Topping the agenda is the Palestinian issue, the situation in Syria, and developments concerning Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar as well as the deteriorating situation in Mali, according to the OIC web site.

Other issues include countering intolerance and extremism, combating terrorism, and promoting intercultural and inter-religious dialogue.

The summit, under the theme 'Islamic Solidarity', will also address economic development in the Muslim world and science and technology.

The Extraordinary Summit has been called by Saudi King Abdullah who is pushing to mobilise support for the Syrian rebellion.

"The Syrian issue will be a top priority", according to Akmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Secretary-General of the OIC, AFP reported.

War-ravaged Syria will not be represented in the summit, the head of the Jeddah-based 57-member organisation told AFP, adding that a preparatory meeting of OIC foreign ministers on Monday is expected to "announce the suspension of Syria's membership as recommended by member states".

The two-day summit convenes as fighting rages over Syria's northern city of Aleppo between rebels and troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, 17 months into a countrywide conflict that has cost more than 21,000 lives, according to monitors.

But the Saudi effort to reach agreement over a solution to the deadly crisis is not expected to be smooth sailing, as Iran's leader is a staunch ally of Damascus, while Tehran has repeatedly accused Saudi Arabia, as well as Qatar and Turkey, of arming and financing the rebels.

"The world today is in a very sensitive situation," Ahmadinejad told reporters on Monday just before leaving Tehran for Saudi Arabia, according to the Fars news agency.

"Different groups are at work and the enemies are actively pursuing their aims and a great deal of energy is being spent by Islamic governments and groups on arguing with and confronting each other," he said.

"I hope that the summit will focus on increasing unity and lowering antagonism," he said. Tehran last week held its own 29-nation conference on Syria attended mostly by ambassadors from like-minded countries, notably Russia and China, two other strong allies of Damascus. Saudi Arabia shunned the meeting.

"Saudi Arabia has called for the meeting after exhausting all possible means to solve the Syrian crisis," said the head of the Gulf Research Centre, Abdulaziz Sager.

The Saudi analyst said the summit "should adopt a resolution for a peaceful transfer of power in Syria, including the departure of President Assad and the formation of a national union government".

Meanwhile, the head of the Syrian opposition in exile called on the summit to adopt a "firm position to end the daily killing and force the regime to quit".

Abdel Basset Sayda, who heads the opposition Syrian National Council, told AFP that the rebels need the imposition of "two no-fly zones, one in the north, close to the Turkish border, and another in the south, close to the border with Jordan," in addition to "safe places for refugees and humanitarian corridors".

The Syrian opposition was not invited to attend the Mecca summit.

On Sunday, ministers of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council met in Jeddah to "coordinate" their position ahead of Tuesday's summit, said the GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif al-Zayani. - Borneo Bulletin (14 August 2012)