Attacks on Al-Aqsa mosque will cause new wave of agression in Muslim world: OIC secretary general (Interview)

Azerbaijan, Baku, Oct. 28 / Trend U.Sadikhova /

The Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Countries, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, spoke in an exclusive interview with Trend in the run up to his Azerbaijan visit.

Trend : How do you assess the role and participation of Azerbaijan in the Organization of the Islamic Conference? What are the future plans of the OIC to expand cooperation with Azerbaijan?

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu: Azerbaijan joined the OIC in 1992 and since then it has been planning to be an active member of the Organization, for which I commend Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is now playing an effective role in the OIC and has hosted numerous OIC's important meetings and gatherings. In 2006, Azerbaijan hosted the 33rd session of the Council of Foreign Ministers and during its chairmanship it did a great job specially in fostering understanding among nations and cultures. Azerbaijan, as an OIC Member, can also play as a bridge between Europe and Asia to promote cooperation.

Q: The OIC condemned Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan, and adopted several resolutions on the conflict. Considering the role of the OIC in the international arena, what are your views on the solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? What steps can the Islamic countries take to reach a peaceful settlement?

A: As its firm and principled position, the OIC has condemned the Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan and would continue its solidarity with Azerbaijan on the conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh. The OIC has also supported all efforts of Azerbaijan for a just and negotiated peaceful settlement of the conflict and rejected Armenian activities in the occupied territories. Now, for a peaceful settlement of this dispute, we should stick to the international law and regulations. International laws as well as those resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council on this conflict have clearly reaffirmed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and also the inviolability of international borders and the inadmissibility of the use of force for the acquisition of territory. We, in the OIC, have demanded the strict implementation of these resolutions and urged all OIC member states to use such effective political and economic measures as required to put an end to Armenian aggression and occupation of the Azerbaijani territories and to enable the displaced persons to return to their homes in safety, honor and dignity.

Q: In the recent statement you said that attacking the holy Al-Aqsa mosque would bear grave consequences, and called on the Muslim Ummah to take steps to defend its holy sites. What kind of negative consequences may arise as a result of attacking al-Aqsa, and what steps should be taken by Ummah to protect the Muslim sanctities in Jerusalem?

A: Al-Aqsa Mosque is a major concern of Muslim Ummah and attacking it would lead to unpredictable dangers on regional stability and international peace and security. Definitely, it would not be a reaction-free move. It would inflame the already heated feelings in Palestine and send enormous waves of anger across the Muslim world. Opening the Pandora's Box would unleash many evils on the region that is already suffering from hatred and violence, and thus lead to enhancing the argument of extremism in the region and other parts of the world. The hopes for reconciliation and rapprochement reflected in President Obama's speech in Cairo would evaporate if there is no serious effort exerted to find a just solution to this thorny question.

The Muslim Ummah which is now more than 1.5 billion has immense economic potentials and capabilities that could empower it to protect its interests and defend its sanctities. At the financial and economic level, there is much that Muslims can do. All vital sectors, including education, health and housing, in Al-Quds are in dire need for immediate support.  It should be recalled that there was a call by the Third Extraordinary Islamic Summit, which was held in Makkah in 2005, to support Al-Quds by the donation of one dollar from each Muslim. If this support could be materialized, the steadfastness of Al-Quds would be enhanced, thus the Muslim interests therein would better served. At the political level, the Ummah has to keep the issue of Al-Quds at the top of its agenda. There should be a constant work with the international community to support the Palestinian rights. There should be an international recognition that regional stability and peace are best served by a just solution based on the UN resolutions that require and insist on  the full withdrawal of Israel to the borders of June 4 1967, and the realization of the Palestinian national rights.

The cause of Palestine and Al-Quds is a top agenda item for the OIC. It has been at the center of all our political and diplomatic endeavors. The meeting of the OIC Executive Committee next week comes as a timely response by the OIC and will consider all measures to defend the Muslim holy places in Al-Quds. Similar to our initiative during the latest aggression on Gaza, when we called and worked for having an international investigation for Israeli crimes, we will devise an Islamic coordinated effort at the international level to confront the aggression on Al-Aqsa Mosque and Al-Quds in general. On November 1st, the Executive Committee will consider proposals for supporting the steadfastness of the city at a diversity of levels.

Q: How can the Muslim countries and Islamic organizations participate materially and politically to bring political stability in Iraq after the withdrawal of coalition troops?

A: The OIC and its member states had continuously and firmly supported Iraq's sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and national unity.

They also reiterated their support for the reconstruction of Iraq and reaffirmed the Iraqi people's right to control its natural resources freely and to manage them through the elected government and to ensure the mobilization resources towards the reconstruction of the national institutions, the improvement of the living conditions of Iraqi citizens and the development of the national economy.

The OIC Ministerial meeting in Damascus (May 23-25, 2009) called upon all member states to provide all forms of support and assistance to meet Iraq's needs.

The OIC Ministerial meeting in Damascus welcomed the pledge by the Paris Club which led to an huge reduction of Iraq's debt and called on other States to follow that example.

Q: Could the OIC create a special contingent of peacekeeping force to deploy them in the conflict zone in Muslim countries?

A: Unfortunately, today most conflicts and trouble spots in the world are situated in the Muslim world. This sad reality obviously needs to be decisively tackled if the aspirations for unity, peace, stability, development and progress of the Member States are to be achieved. The OIC, as it is called by its member states, must therefore assume its rightful place and play a leading role in the maintenance of international peace and security. The OIC has so far adopted concrete actions aimed at conflict resolution and management as well as post conflict reconstruction and diffusing humanitarian crises in conflict affected parts of the Muslim World. During the last session of the Council of Foreign Ministers in Damascus in 2009, I presented a concept paper for the future role of the OIC in maintaining security, peacekeeping and conflict resolution in the Member States which was welcomed by the Session. We are now collecting views of Member States on the issue and hope that an expert group would soon meet to consider a plan of action to be submitted to the next session of the Council of Foreign Ministers.

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