platform was inaugurated in Kuala Lumpur recently to discuss issues related to
Muslim countries. Visualised by Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Muhammad as
a 'mini Islamic summit', the forum was to be launched by a 'core group' of five
countries – Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Qatar and Pakistan.
just a few months ago, this idea occurred to the leaders of Malaysia, Pakistan
and Turkey during meetings on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. After
that, Qatar, Indonesia and Iran were included and the leaders of all these
states confirmed their attendance.
some more Muslim countries to invite their leaders, Malaysian Foreign Minister
Saifuddin Abdullah went to Oman but Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and the
United Arab Emirates were not included for the time being.
elaborated by Dr Mahathir, "We (the summit) select small countries that
will have the time and effort to find solutions that is why we choose these
first phase, the membership of the new forum was exclusive in order to set its
direction and agenda. Once it was established, more countries were to be
invited to join and the forum would be renamed the Perdana Dialogue.
when the KL Summit finally took place, only Turkish President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan, Iran's President Rouhani and Qatar's Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani
participated. While Indonesia's President Joko Widodo had excused that he was
unable to attend due to 'exhaustion', Pakistan's PM Imran Khan had cancelled
his visit to Malaysia just days before the summit.
confirmed his attendance just days ago, it was obvious that something unusual
had happened to prevent the premier from arriving in Kuala Lumpur. According to
some reports in the media, Riyadh had pressurised Islamabad not to participate
in the KL Summit but the situation remained unclear.
would Saudi Arabia feel threatened by the new Muslim alliance?
the KL Summit was perceived as a potential threat to the Organization of
Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as it was similar enough to be an alternate platform.
However, it is to be more broad-based, modern and in line with democratic
norms. Erdogan called for a revisit of the terms of reference of the OIC during
his opening speech at the forum.
Riyadh was not on the best of terms with most of the countries included in the
core group at the inaugural session of the KL Summit, a backlash could be expected.
summit members announced the launch of a common currency called dinar between
the participating Muslim states. Meanwhile, both the OIC and the GCC Summit
have not been able to propose a common currency due to difference of opinion
that the new bloc has no competition or rivalry between participating states,
it could prove more effective than the OIC in the long run.
summit, Saudi King Salman had phoned Mahathir to say that issues of the Muslim
world should be discussed only through the OIC. According to Malaysian media,
Riyadh pressurised Mahathir to cancel the summit but he refused to back down
and insisted that the KL Summit was not being held to replace the OIC and
create a new power bloc.
meantime, Khan confirmed his intention to attend the summit on November 29.
After that he paid a quick visit to Riyadh just three days before leaving for
Kuala Lumpur in order to alleviate Saudi concerns but they were not convinced
and on his return home, the Pakistan Foreign Office announced the PM would not
participate in the summit.
why Khan could not attend the KL Summit, President Erdogan has recently
revealed that Pakistan gave in to Saudi demands as Riyadh threatened to
withdraw billions of dollars deposited in its State Bank and also expel four
million Pakistanis working in the kingdom if Khan went to Kuala Lumpur.
that, he implied that Indonesia was also pressurised as it is suffering from
these claims as 'baseless' and that, Saudi-Pak ties were cordial and did not
warrant the use of any threatening language, the Saudi Embassy immediately
issued a statement denying Erdogan's allegations. In tandem, Pakistan's Foreign
Office also explained that Islamabad did not send any representative to the
summit as it wanted to maintain neutrality.
did not participate in the Kuala Lumpur summit because time and efforts were
needed to address the concerns of major Muslim countries, regarding possible
division in the Ummah," it said in a statement.
outburst from the Turkish President, the situation became embarrassing for
Islamabad and a lot of criticism was faced at home. Apparently, the invite from
the Malaysian PM had been accepted by the Prime Minister's Office despite
cautionary advice from the Pakistan Foreign Office that attending the summit
could have major implications.
seems to have felt uncomfortable after Erdogan's allegations and the Saudi
Foreign minister arrived in Islamabad.
purpose of this visit was to convey the gratitude of the Saudi leadership for
not attending the summit in Kuala Lumpur keeping in view the kingdom's
reservations. Additionally, this was a gesture of solidarity in face of Turkish
to an Arab diplomatic source, "The Saudis also want to dispel the
impression, which was reinforced by Erdogan's allegations that their attitude
towards Islamabad is patronising."
whole, Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud stressed on the significance of the
fraternal bond and re-affirmed Riyadh's "steadfast support to Pakistan's
core national interests."
that the Kashmir issue was discussed at the KL Summit in Pakistan's absence had
made matters worse for Islamabad and Riyadh has often been criticised in the
past for its silence over India's actions there.
been one of the main reasons why the KL Summit had found strong support in
as an olive branch, the OIC is now prepared to play a more effective role in
lessening the plight of the residents of Indian-held Kashmir. In April 2020, a
ministerial level OIC meeting is to be convened to discuss the Kashmir
situation as well as the anti-Muslim citizenship law enacted by New Delhi.
Siddiqui is a foreign affairs journalist, lawyer and geopolitical analyst
specialising in modern China, the Belt and Road Initiative, Middle East and
Does Saudi Arabia feel threatened by the new Muslim alliance?
Source: The Al-Araby