Erdogan takes veiled dig at OIC in speech at KL Summit

Turkish strongman Reccep Tayyip Erdogan at the KL Summit today.

KUALA LUMPUR: Turkey’s President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan today joined Dr Mahathir Mohamad and fellow leaders from Qatar and Iran at the KL Summit, which has come under attack from Saudi Arabia and allies.

“We will have the opportunity to talk freely about our issues, from Islamophobia to terrorism, divisions, internal fights ravaging our region, and sectarian and ethnic conflicts,” Erdogan told the summit on its first day.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said it was against the interests of the Islamic community to convene meetings outside the Saudi-based organisation, which has for decades acted as the collective voice of the Muslim world.

Both Mahathir and Erdogan have been frustrated by the OIC’s past record of hand-wringing and failure to take firm action in support of Muslim causes.

Without mentioning the OIC by name, Erdogan said the biggest problem that platforms bringing the Islamic world together faced was a lack of implementation.

“We still haven’t made any progress regarding the Palestinian cause, we still can’t stop the exploitation of our resources, we still can’t say ‘stop’ to the fragmentation of the Muslim world over sectarianism, that’s why,” said Erdogan.

The other two leaders attending the gathering today are Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamid Al-Thani.

Some analysts suspect that Saudi Arabia’s reluctance to attend stemmed from fear of being diplomatically isolated by regional rivals Iran, Qatar and Turkey, all of whom are attending the summit.

Worried about taking sides, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan opted to stay away from the Kuala Lumpur summit.

“Pakistan wants to become part of the solution and not part of the problem,” Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan told reporters in Islamabad.