At Islamic Summit, King Salman slams terror, extremism

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OIC leaders pose for a group photo in Makkah. (SPA)
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rown Prince Mohammed bin Salman receives Egyptian President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi. (SPA)
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rown Prince Mohammed bin Salman receives Lebanese Premier Saad Hariri. (SPA)
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Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir and OIC Secretary-General Yousef Al-Othaimeen address a press conference. (SPA)
Updated 02 June 2019

At Islamic Summit, King Salman slams terror, extremism

  • Monarch expresses support for ‘legitimate rights’ of ‘brotherly Palestinian people’
  • Says OIC restructuring and reforming crucial to address the challenges facing the Muslim world

MAKKAH: Extremism and terrorism are “the most serious scourge” facing the world, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman said on Friday at the 14th Islamic Summit, organized by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Makkah. 

The summit’s theme was “Hand in Hand Toward the Future,” and was chaired by the king, who received leaders and heads of Muslim-majority countries.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal also received the guests.

In his speech, King Salman thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his efforts as chairman of the previous summit.

The king also thanked OIC Secretary-General Yousef Al-Othaimeen for his efforts to promote Islamic cooperation.

“The Palestinian cause is the cornerstone of the OIC’s work, and is the focus of our attention until the brotherly Palestinian people get all their legitimate rights,” King Salman said.

Efforts must be made to combat extremism and terrorism, expose their supporters, and dry up their financial resources in all available ways, he added.

FASTFACT

 

• The OIC secretary-general has congratulated King Salman on assuming the presidency of the Islamic Summit.

• The OIC Summit denounced US moves to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem and recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

• The OIC called for a ‘boycott’ of countries that have opened diplomatic missions in the city.

• The OIC condemned the inhumane situation of Rohingya Muslims, urging a halt to violence.

“During this holy month (of Ramadan), commercial vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, were subjected near the UAE’s territorial waters to terrorist sabotage. This poses a serious threat to the security and safety of maritime traffic, and to regional and international security,” he said.

“Also, two oil facilities in Saudi Arabia were attacked by drones launched by Iranian-backed terrorist militias … These subversive terrorist acts not only target the Kingdom and the Gulf region, but also the security of navigation and world energy supplies,” he added.

“It is painful that Muslims make up the highest proportion of displaced people and refugees worldwide due to unrest, wars, and a decline in safe living opportunities in their countries,” King Salman said.

“Emanating from this, Saudi Arabia has been seeking to reconcile different viewpoints to serve Islamic countries and their peoples, while continuing to provide assistance … through humanitarian and relief efforts in order to maintain the sovereignty, security and stability of Islamic countries.”

Restructuring, developing and reforming the OIC is crucial to address the challenges facing the Muslim world, the king added.

“Through its presidency of the summit, Saudi Arabia will endeavor to work with OIC member states and the OIC General Secretariat … to achieve (people’s) aspirations,” he said.

Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir said the Kingdom has always worked for the stability of all Arab and Muslim peoples.

“It always tries to build bridges of investments, commerce, empower women and youths. It continually does its best to create an environment where technology and innovation prevail, not only in Saudi Arabia but also everywhere in the Muslim world,” he added.

Al-Othaimeen said he received a cable message from Chinese President Xi Jinping that read: “The OIC represents a symbol of solidarity among Muslim countries, and it has been making important contributions to promote cooperation among its member states for 50 years, and that is really appreciated.”

The message added: “The Chinese side attaches great importance to its friendly relations with Muslim countries, and the OIC is an important bridge for cooperation between China and the Islamic world.”

The cable continued: “We are also keen to work with Muslim countries to promote mutual political trust, promote practical cooperation, intensify civilizational dialogue, open up wider horizons for friendly relations between China and the Islamic world, and contribute to build a society of common destiny for mankind.”

Al-Jubeir said the Islamic world is facing many challenges, but “there are even more opportunities to develop. The challenges are in extremism, terrorism, sectarianism and conflicts.”

It is painful that Muslims make up the highest proportion of displaced people and refugees worldwide due to unrest, wars and decline of safe living opportunities in their countries.

King Salman

The Islamic world has tremendous natural resources, he added. “The Muslim world makes up a third of the whole world, but unluckily there are some parties that work on hindering these opportunities and damaging the Muslim world’s capabilities,” he said.

“Some others spread sectarianism, while others do their utmost to support terrorism. Others provide terror militias with ballistic missiles and drones,” Al-Jubeir added.

“The country that does that all is Iran ... The GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) states, Arab and Muslim countries will never accept such acts and behaviors,” he said.

“The whole Islamic world is now saying to Iran: Adopt policies that lead to respecting other people if you want to be respected,” he added.

“Supporting terror militias, bombing embassies, making clandestine terrorist cells, and smuggling weapons and explosives to other countries — these cannot be the behaviors of a country that wants to live peacefully and gain its neighbors’ respect,” he said, adding that Iran is the world’s top sponsor of terrorism.   

The solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “should be based on international resolutions, the Arab Peace Initiative, and the establishment of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital,” Al-Jubeir said.

Jerry Maher, former CEO of Radio Sawt Beirut, told Arab News: “Arab and Muslim countries will review their policies and relations with Iran if it continues to escalate tensions in the region. Confrontation is possible.”

He said: “The message from the Arab and Muslim worlds to Iran is clear: That 1.5 billion Muslims stand behind Saudi Arabia and its leadership. They also reject these continuous threats and attacks against civilian areas (in the Kingdom).”

He added: “They (Tehran) didn’t expect the Arab and Muslim worlds to respond that quickly. Iran’s foreign minister and his deputy are visiting countries in the East and West in an attempt to find a solution, after they realized that something unexpected could happen.”

Saudi columnist Khalid Al-Sulaiman told Arab News that the Kingdom “is looking for active roles to be played by (Muslim) countries … to counter challenges in the region.”

He said: “Saudi Arabia has warned against Iranian expansionism, but that warning wasn’t taken seriously. Now Saudi Arabia is putting the Muslim world face to face with its responsibilities. Saudi Arabia today is the last line of defense for the Arab world.”


Tokyo summit discusses ‘strategic response’ to Saudi Aramco oil attacks

Taro Kono denounced the recent attacks on Aramco sites in Saudi Arabia. (AN Images/Kevin Hammontree)
Updated 45 min 40 sec ago

Tokyo summit discusses ‘strategic response’ to Saudi Aramco oil attacks

  • Shinzo Abe says it is Japan's mission to reset transparent, rules-based international order
  • Goldman Sachs' chief Japan strategist says closing gender gap can greatly boost global GDP

TOKYO: The attacks on Saudi Arabia grabbed all the headline attention at the G1 Global Conference in Tokyo, but the day-long think-in in Tokyo was more than just a survey of the dramatic headlines and images that had dominated the weekend media.

The event is now in its ninth year, as a global leaders’ conference conducted entirely in English on the big themes of international affairs, business, culture and society from a Japanese perspective.

One of the organizers called it the “Davos of Tokyo,” and while it may have fallen short of the famous Swiss Alpine gathering in numbers and glamour, the Sept. 16 event certainly rivaled it in the breadth and ambition of the agenda.

Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan, set a high bar in an opening video address in which he said it was “Japan’s mission” to lead the world in resetting the transparent, rules-based international order that has been weakened by the populist waves in the US, Europe and elsewhere.

On the theme of “sustainable innovation in times of disruption”, the G1 followed a familiar pattern of plenaries, breakouts, workshops and networking, in the functional setting of the Globis University in downtown Tokyo. What it lacked in Alpine splendour, it more than made up for with the convenience of a one-day colloquium.

But first, the weekend’s news stole the show at the opening plenary, and was an elephant in the room for the rest of the day.

Taro Kono, the Japanese defense minister, declared the attacks on Saudi oil installations and the threat to global oil supplies the “most worrying scenario” in the world today.

He was backed up by John Chipman, director general of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, who criticized the failure of the US and its allies in the Middle East and elsewhere to counter Iranian expansion in the region.

“The strategic response to this has not been properly considered, and now Saudi Arabia’s most important strategic asset has been attacked,” he said.

The attacks on Saudi oil installations also featured prominently in a later session, conducted behind-closed-doors under the Chatham House Rule, at which security experts debated the origins and impact of the attacks, including the appropriate level of response from Saudi Arabia and its allies.

Chipman also spoke frankly about the confrontation between the US and China over trade, technology and digital strategy. “The US and the West has only just woken up to China’s strategic rivalry,” he said.

Referring to the Soviet space launch in the 1950s that stirred the US into a space race with the USSR, Chipman said: “China wants a unipolar Asia in a multipolar world, and that is a ‘Sputnik’ moment for the Americans,” he said.

There was skepticism that US President Donald Trump was the man to lead an effective rule-based order against Chinese expansion.

Mieko Nakabayashi, professor of social sciences at Waseda University, who spent many years in the corridors of power in Washington, said: “A lot of people say that Trump is a disaster, but he also has a lot of supporters. He might win next year’s election, which would make for a very adventurous four years to come.”

Given the East Asian venue and focus of the event, the threat from China, and its relations with neighbors such as Japan, Korea and the Southeast Asian countries, were recurring themes of the day.

A session entitled “Geo-politics: US-China hegemony in Asia” had two experts from opposite sides of the issue. Abraham Denmark, American director of the Asia program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said the US was in the middle of the biggest debate about foreign policy since the end of the Cold War.

Although recent polls suggested that a large number of Americans still support an active role for the US in trade and global affairs, it was also apparent that the old rules of engagement with the rest of the world were no longer sufficient.

“We used to believe that engaging with China was a good thing in itself. Now we have to balance competition and co-operation, and will co-operate only on matters of mutual self-interest,” Denmark said.

Zha Daojiong, of the School of International Studies at Peking University, said there had been some “positive momentum” in recent weeks with both sides pulling back from higher trade tariffs, adding: “What is the antagonism between China and the USA? It is about primacy, and somebody has to be number one. They are like two 800-pound gorillas rising and falling under their own weight.”

Lynn Kuok, of the IISS, gave a Southeast Asian perspective on the issue. “Trump’s insistence that other countries have to ban Huawei means that the USA is saying ‘you have to chose between USA and China,’ but it should not be a choice between two countries but between rules and non-rules based orders.”

The session turned into a barbed exchange between the US and Chinese representatives. “If you give technology to Huawei, you’ve got to assume it will end up with the People’s Liberation Army,” said Denmark, who also complained about Chinese state subsidies to corporations.

Zha Daojiong responded with allegations about subsidies to US defense manufacturers such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin. “Where is the state, and where is the company with them,” he said. Taking a swipe at US financial policy, he said: “Negative interest rates are not very capitalist.”

The G1 was not just about high matters of geopolitics, however. One big theme was the progress towards achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals in environmental, social responsibility and corporate governance.

Also high on the agenda was gender equality. In a session entitled “Womenomics and Gender Equality in Entrepreneurship,” Kathy Matsui, chief Japan strategist at Goldman Sachs, produced recent research showing a direct link between economic growth and greater female participation in the global workforce. “I believe that if you close the gender gap, you could actually boost global GDP by as much as $5 trillion,” she said.

The Tokyo gathering also focused on events that will put Japan in the global spotlight and boost tourism. The Rugby World Cup begins next week, and the country is hosting the Olympic Games in 2020.

In a session headed “How to evolve into a unique and sustainable tourism super-power,” experts discussed Japan’s ambitious plans to increase the number of international visitors and get them to spend more while on holiday. The government wants 40 million visitors next year.

About 75 per cent of foreign visitors to Japan come from four Asian countries — China, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong — and the government would like to attract more Americans, Europeans and Australians, who tend to stay longer and spend more.

This year a 30 per cent drop in the number of Korean tourists is expected as Japan and South Korea square off amid a trade dispute sparked by events dating back to the  Second World War.