Report tells how Saudis undermined KL Summit

Dr Mahathir Mohamad flanked by Turkey’s president Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian president Hassan Rouhani at the KL Summit last December.

PETALING JAYA: The Saudi Arabian government launched a media campaign to belittle the KL Summit in December attended by the heads of their staunchest enemies, a London-based news outlet alleged.

Citing documents it obtained, the Middle East Eye said the Saudi media ministry compiled a series of messages which local media organisations and commentators were instructed to issue.

It also targeted newspapers, websites and television channels in countries including Pakistan, Indonesia and several Arab states.

According to the documents, the objective of the campaign, apart from deriding the December summit, was also to highlight the role of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the aid that Saudi Arabia had given to the Islamic world, especially Palestine.

The KL Summit – described as a game changer in the Muslim world’s relations with Saudi Arabia – was attended by Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Qatar head of state Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.

The summit also made headlines after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan cancelled his trip at the eleventh hour.

MEE said documents confirmed that Khan’s absence was the result of diplomatic arm-twisting of cash-strapped Pakistan, after “strenuous Saudi efforts were made to stop him from attending”.

The Kingdom also instructed its journalists to highlight Khan’s withdrawal from the summit.

The Saudi ministry also told journalists to write that the convening of the KL Summit could “encourage the creation of similar blocs among other Islamic states”.

It also instructed columnist to criticise “any grouping formed for the purpose of achieving narrow political objectives outside the OIC.”

The OIC has its headquarters in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

MEE said the document also lists a number of foreign media organisations at which the propaganda campaign was to be carried and this included ones from Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Indonesia and India.

The site said it had contacted the Saudi ministry of media and the Saudi embassy in London but had not received a response.