Cairo summit to demand swift transition in Syria

Updated 06 February 2013

Cairo summit to demand swift transition in Syria


RIYADH/CAIRO: Leaders of Islamic nations will call for a dialogue between the Syrian opposition and government officials “not involved in oppression” to end two years of civil war when they attend the summit of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Cairo today, a draft of the communique says.

On behalf of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, is leading the Saudi delegation to the summit in the Egyptian capital, where more than 30 heads of OIC states and high-ranking officials will sit together with an exhaustive agenda rich in political content.

A number of top Saudi officials including Prince Saud Al-Faisal, foreign minister, are accompanying Crown Prince Salman, said Alauddin Alaskary, deputy foreign minister for protocol affairs.

A draft communique, due to be issued after a two-day summit of 56-member OIC starting today, does not mention President Bashar Assad and pins most of the blame on his government for continued violence.

The text discussed by foreign ministers at a preparatory meeting yesterday came after Syrian opposition leader Moaz Al-Khatib offered to meet Assad’s deputy to negotiate a way to end the bloodshed.

“We strongly condemn the ongoing bloodshed in Syria and underline the Syrian government’s primary responsibility for the continued violence and destruction of property,” the draft communique said.
“We express grave concern over the deteriorating situation, the increasing frequency of killing which claims the lives of thousands of unarmed civilians and the perpetration of massacres in towns and villages by the Syrian authorities.”
The summit draft called on Syrian opposition forces to speed up the formation of a transitional government “and to be ready to assume the political responsibility in full until the completion of the desired political change process.”

The 12th OIC summit will review major issues concerning the OIC states as well as crises in certain states such as Syria, Mali and Palestine, said Alaskarry. He pointed out that the foreign ministers of the OIC member states met in Cairo again yesterday to finalize the preparation for summit meeting today. Prince Turki bin Mohammed bin Saud Al-Kabeer, deputy minister for multilateral relations, headed the delegation of the Kingdom to the ministerial meeting in Cairo yesterday. The summit will be held under the rubric "the Islamic world: new challenges and growing opportunities".

The UN, the African Union, the Arab League and the Non-Aligned Movement will also participate in OIC summit besides some other countries that have been either in the capacity of observer states or guest countries. Some of them include Kosovo, the Russian Federation, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Central Africa and Thailand. "Kosovo will be exerting all efforts to seek recognition from the OIC states and to become an OIC member state eventually," said Kosovo Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Rexhep Boja, yesterday

Boja, who is in Cairo, expressed his hope that more OIC member states will recognize Kosovo as an independent country. Boja, while speaking via phone from Cairo, said that only 31 of the organization's 57 members have granted recognition to Kosovo. Hoxhaj said the last country to recognize Kosovo was Pakistan. "Hence a Kosovar delegation led by Prime Minister Hashim Thaci is here in Cairo to lobby for recognition and support," he added.
On the other hand, a rift between the two OIC member states — Sudan and Uganda — has come to the fore even before the summit begins. Sudanese government has voiced its objection to Uganda’s election to a senior panel of the OIC following the ministerial meeting in Cairo yesterday. In fact, Uganda was elected as member of the OIC commission's office with Palestine and Pakistan besides Egypt, which was elected as president of the office.
Sudan’s representative at the OIC Abdel-Hafiz Ibrahim, who is also its ambassador in Saudi Arabia, said that he has made his views known in writing on Uganda’s ascension to this position calling it a violation of the organization’s charter. Asked whether the agenda has been finalized for the OIC summit, a diplomatic source said that the topics of discussions broadly include Jewish settlement in Palestine, conflict in the Islamic world, Islamophobia and humanitarian situation in the Islamic world.
Other topics that will be taken up for discussion include economic cooperation among OIC member states and promoting scientific, cultural and technological cooperation in the Islamic world. Among the political issues, the summit will mainly discuss the situations in Syria, Mali, Somalia, Afghanistan and Sudan. The Syrian crisis, the conflict in Mali and the Palestinian issue will figure high at the summit, said a report released by the OIC yesterday.
It said that the Cairo summit is a good opportunity to break Syria deadlock and put an end to the crisis and the military conflict in the Islamic country. Important heads of states to be present in the meeting are Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who becomes the first Iranian president to visit Egypt since Iran’s 1979 revolution snapped diplomatic ties between the two most populous countries in the Middle East.
Ahmadinejad is leading Iran’s delegation to the summit in Cairo. The trip follows a visit by Egypt’s President Mohammad Mursi to Iran in August last year, when the two leaders agreed to reopen official embassies. Asked about the OIC presidency, the report said that the Senegalese president will hand over the presidency of the Islamic summit to President Mursi on the concluding day of the summit.

New Iraqi coalition ‘in three days’

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, left, meets with Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr in Baghdad early Sunday. Al-Sadr, whose coalition won the largest number of seats in Iraq's parliamentary elections, says the next government will be "inclusive." (Iraqi government via AP)
Updated 21 May 2018

New Iraqi coalition ‘in three days’

  • The Sairoon alliance led by the powerful Shiite leader Muqtada Al-Sadr won the May 12 election with 54 parliamentary seats.
  • While Al-Sadr can not become prime minister, he is playing a key role in the talks.

BAGHDAD: Iraqi political forces have made “remarkable” progress in talks to form the largest parliamentary bloc in preparation for a new government, politicians involved in the negotiations told Arab News.

The Sairoon alliance led by the powerful Shiite leader Muqtada Al-Sadr won the May 12 election with 54 parliamentary seats.

Talks aimed at forming a new government started immediately after the official results were announced late on Friday.

The parliamentary alliance is expected to be announced in the next few days, and while Al-Sadr can not become prime minister, he is playing a key role in the talks.

Dhiyaa Al-Assadi, the head of Sadrist Parliamentary bloc, told Arab News they have initial agreements with several key political players including the current prime minister Haider Al-Abadi and his Al-Nassir coalition and the prominent Shiite cleric Ammar Al-Hakim and his list Al-Hikma.

He added they also have basic agreements with Vice President Ayad Allawi and his Al-Wattiniya alliance along with several Kurdish parties.

“The post of prime minister is not our main goal,” Al-Assadi said. “Our goal is to make the required reforms and correct the mistakes that dominated the political process since 2003.”

Shiite politicians involved in the talks said the nucleus of the alliance is Sairoon and Hikma and negotiations are underway with Al-Abadi and the pro-Iranian Al-Fattah list to join.

“The details are supposed to be settled soon and the coalition supposed to be announced within 72 hours,” Hikma spokesman Mohammed Al-Maiyahi told Arab News. 

The talks have focussed on deciding the form of the next government, its principles and program, sources involved said. 

Abandoning the power sharing government, which has been adopted by political parties since 2003, is the most prominent issue agreed by the negotiators.

“We have agreed to form a national majority government. A government that represents all of Iraq's contents (Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds) but does not include all the winning parliamentary blocs,” a senior Shiite politician told Arab News.

Rejecting foreign intervention in Iraqi affairs, writing a clear government program and pledging to implement it according to certain time limits, are also principles agreed between negotiators.

They decided not to nominate anyone for a ministerial position considered to have failed in previous posts or who has been involved in corruption. 

“The government program is initial and the nominated prime minister has to be committed to its details and its time limits,” the politician said. 

“He (the nominated PM) would be fired after a year, if he fails to meet the items of the government program and its time limits.”

The victory by Sairoon, an alliance of candidates from various affiliations, came amid low voter turnout with many Iraqis jaded by corruption and the lack of progress under recent governments.

Al-Fattah, which is headed by Hadi Al-Amiri, the commander of Badr Organization, one of the most prominent paramilitary groups, won 47 seats and came second. Al-Nassir came third with 44 seats, but its leader, Prime Minister Al-Abadi is still in a strong position to keep his job.

The negotiations need to form an alliance that consists of no less than 166 seats - half of the total in parliament plus one.