by Mowahid H. Shah
The foreign ministers of the 56-member Islamic Conference
(OIC) held a 4-day conference at Kuala Lumpur. As usual, it
went through the motions of harping over old resolutions and
dawdling over reports whose relevance and readership, if
any, is dubious. Apparently, the only damage done was to the
Crucially, on Iraq, there was no attempt to develop a
consensus to lift the sanctions. The Saddam regime is
atrocious but so are U.S.-directed sanctions under the hijab
of the U.N.
More odious, however, is the lackadaisical and supine
response of Muslim elites. An arson attack on the al-Aqsa
Mosque in Jerusalem sparked the founding of the OIC in 1969.
With Faisal of Saudi Arabia as its driving spirit, the
Islamic Conference reached its zenith when it met in Lahore
in February 1974, shortly after the Arab-Israeli War of
October 1973 -- one of the most intensely fought contests of
modern times. Following the suspicious circumstances of
Faisal's assassination in March 1975, the OIC gradually lost
its focus and elan becoming, in effect, a rubber stamp for
the moneyed Arab Establishment. Leadership was by mouth
rather than by example.
Presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, ex-UNSCOM chief
inspector Richard Butler, and the Vatican have condemned the
sanctions on Iraq. Even aggressive U.S. inspector Scott
Ritter told the New York Times that there are hardly any
weapons of mass destruction left in Iraq. Hence, the stated
purpose of the sanctions has become redundant.
But quietly flows the Islamic Conference. In a backward
step, OIC Secretary General, Morocco's Ezzedine Laraki -- who
preferred to live in his Maghreb homeland rather than in the
Jeddah HQ -- will be replaced by another Moroccan, Abdelouhed
Belkiz, despite protests that under the principle of
rotation (and of balance), it was Asia's turn for the job.
At a time of great turmoil in the Muslim world, OIC has come
across as flat. Sometimes, 'do nothing' organizations have
the effect of smothering the emergence of bona fide
Muslim organizations, constantly bogged down in non-issues,
infighting, and finger-pointing at the external 'enemies of
Islam,' would do well to occasionally pause and hold up
their own elite structures to closer scrutiny. They may
instructed as was a general long ago who, deputed to do a
study on the enemy, came up with a terse finding:
"Gentlemen, we have met the enemy. And it is us."
[Mowahid H. Shah is a member of the District of Columbia
bar, former law partner of Sen. Abourezk, and a writer on