Syria, Mali crises to overshadow OIC summit tomorrow

February 05, 2013 - 4:43:50 am

CAIRO: Leaders of Organ-isation of Islamic Cooperation states are to meet in Cairo tomorrow to tackle crises ranging from the French-led battle against Islamist militants in Mali to the Syrian civil war.

Foreign ministers began a two-day meeting in the Egyptian capital yesterday to prepare for the summit, which will include leaders of 26 of the OIC’s 57 states. Egypt’s first Islamist President, Mohammed Mursi, will assume the OIC’s rotating presidency.

The summit had been scheduled to take place in 2011 but was postponed due to the regional uprisings that overthrew four dictators, including Hosni Mubarak, the OIC’s Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said. The summit “will discuss the major conflicts in the Islamic world,” the former Turkish diplomat said.

“Personally, I am very concerned about violence and religious extremism in Islamic countries, which face economic problems and political corruption, as is the case in Mali,” he said. “We must respect the borders and territorial integrity of African states,” he added.

The conflict in Syria, suspended from the OIC in August 2012, will also cast a shadow over the summit, which is expected to include President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in the first visit to Egypt by an Iranian president since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.  “We can no longer be silent about the massacres and destruction in Syria and the international community’s impotence in stopping the bloodshed,” said Ihsanoglu.