The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), founded to support the Palestinian cause, protect Jerusalem and stand against the tyranny of Israel after the arson in al-Aqsa on Aug. 21, 1996, has had many ordinary and extraordinary summits so far. Yesterday, another one was held after the call of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. As I wrote these words, the final communiqué of the meeting had not yet been declared. However, it must be known that today the Muslim world is being tested with the Jerusalem issue.
What the OIC has achieved
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, being the biggest intergovernmental organization after the UN with 57 Muslim countries as members, has definitely showed the success of surviving as an organization for 48 years. To what extent it has been able to implement its principles has always been debated. In short, the OIC has not been able to find any permanent solution for any issues of the Islamic world. Despite this, it is successful. Because the OIC, its only common idea being “Islam,” has managed to create an “Islamic World” though they have not been able to achieve anything politically so far.
Of course, Islam “unifies; orders unity, solidarity and brotherhood. However, looking into the history of Islam, this has not been solely achieved through values and the Islamic principle of “Muslims are brothers.” “Power” has always been the element that has ensured “unity and brotherhood” in the history of Islam. In this regard, the Muslim region, which got out of hand after the Ottoman Empire and was disjointed after two world wars, once again deserves to be called “the Muslim world” thanks to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, whether we like them or not.
What the OIC has not achieved
It is a story of success to make the world feel its presence after every great crisis even though the OIC has failed to realize its slogan: “the collective voice of the Muslim world,” which complements the name of the organization. In fact, this summit which was decided to be held after the call of the President Erdoğan –even though some leaders did not attend- is the largest group showing its stance on the issue of Jerusalem. Actually, the OIC has faced many problems, created not by the Muslim world but by the world itself, such as Kashmir, East Turkistan, Myanmar and the problems of Muslims in other places, but has not been able to come up with a solution. The OIC failed to stand with Turkey who was, without a doubt, in right about the Cyprus issue. The organization also failed to bring peace to the Muslim world which is being dragged to sectarian wars. It could not solve the chaos Libya was in and save the people of Yemen who were victimized by neighboring Muslim countries. But let’s not forget; on one side of these problems, there are arms dealers and large states that are stronger than the OIC. Also, even the UN has not been able to solve these problems.
The weak stance the OIC has shown against the illegal declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which is contrary to international laws and UN decisions, is not in accordance with the main reason the organization was established for. In fact, the Al-Quds committee which was founded with the decision of the OIC Council of Foreign Affairs to protect the rights of Palestine, has failed to do what is required. This committee of the OIC was tasked to defend the rights of Palestinians, protect the heritage and sanctity of Jerusalem and defend its Arabic-Islamic identity. If this committee, which was founded to defend the rights of Palestinians and develop politics against the alteration of the Jerusalem’s status, had been successful with their objectives, the agenda of today’s summit would be other issues that did not include dispute. This committee, which emphasizes the fact the issue of Jerusalem is at the center for all Muslims, has promised to make every effort to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands since 1967 and support the Palestinians in establishing an independent state with the Jerusalem as its capital. So what have they been able to do so far?
Standing behind the UN decisions and the framework of international legitimacy, the OIC has displayed a unified Islamic stance in the Muslim world for a fair and holistic solution of the Palestine issue. Also, almost all of the members, especially Turkey, helped the Palestinian victims with various aids and stood with them to maintain their resistance despite differences. In order to end the illegal settlements of Israel in Jerusalem, Turkey called on the international community, which always went unanswered It is clear that the plans and goals of the OIC have proved inconclusive. This is probably due to the lack of approach, understanding and tactics, not due to wrong plans or objectives. So this summit is a new beginning. A new hope.
How can the OIC be efficacious?
No matter what decision will be taken at the OIC summit or how it resonates in the Muslim world ensured by the OIC, there are two conditions for it to be effective. The first one is the requirement for a powerful political will and the second is the necessity to reassess the understandings regarding the agenda of the Muslim world. A powerful political will can only be provided by the support of a joint defense industry, not just a joint army. In today’s Islamic world where Muslim states can only buy most of the defensive equipment manufactured in developed countries, while not being able to manufacture even one of them themselves, it is not possible to establish a powerful political will.
Of course it is an important step and historical milestone for the Muslim world to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Palestine. However, if necessary steps are not taken to manufacture the equipment and tools to defend it, progress is not possible. The Muslim world can be a real powerhouse only after making use of the experience Turkey has in the defense industry and combining it with its own resources and potential. This shall be the next mission of the OIC.
Of course, in order to adapt such a mission current approaches need to be reassessed. There’s no need for verbiage. How many of the 57 countries pay the deserved attention to the issue of Jerusalem, the biggest problem of the Muslim world today? Jerusalem will be the capital of Palestine only after it is on the agenda of all Muslims in the world, not just the Middle East and North Africa, with the same significance and approach.