ISTANBUL // A major summit aimed at overcoming differences in the Muslim world condemned Iran on Friday for supporting terrorism and meddling in the affairs of other countries.
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, who had been at the two-day Istanbul conference along with over 30 other leaders of Islamic countries, did not attend the closing meeting in protest at the criticisms.
“The [Organisation of Islamic Cooperation] Conference deplored Iran’s interference in the internal affairs of the states of the region and other member states including Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, and Somalia, and its continued support for terrorism,” said the summit’s final statement.
It also “condemned Hizbollah for conducting terrorist activities in Syria, Bahrain, Kuwait and Yemen and for supporting terrorist movements and groups undermining the security and stability of OIC member states”.
The Arab League declared Iran’s ally, Hizbollah, a “terrorist” group in March after the GCC did the same earlier in the month over the movement’s support for the Damascus regime in Syria’s war.
Sheikh Saud bin Rashid, Ruler of Umm Al Qaiwain and Supreme Council member, led the UAE delegation to the OIC conference.
He was accompanied by Dr Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and Rashid Al Mualla, Chairman of the Rashid bin Ahmed Al Mualla Award For Holy Quran and Islamic Culture.
On Thursday Sheikh Saud told the summit: “Today, the Muslim world faces great challenges represented by foreign attempts to interfere in its countries’ internal affairs and internal risks represented in groups that have goals which are far from the national interests.”
“The volume of the challenge facing us requires effective measures to deal with these dangers, particularly to protect the youth of the Islamic nations from falling prey to the subversive propaganda of terrorist groups and to try to dry up their supportive sources,” he added, according to UAE state news agency, Wam.
The summit also pledged to combat terrorism in all its forms and condemned ISIL for its use of chemical weapons in Iraq.
At the sidelines of the summit, Turkey and Saudi Arabia signed a memorandum to create a bilateral cooperation council. The two countries are aligned in their support for rebel factions opposed to the government of Syrian president Bashar Al Assad.
Meanwhile, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who chaired the final session of the summit, lamented the fact that Muslim countries who are “the heirs of a civilisation that was built on columns of peace and justice are being remembered more for wars, armed conflict, sectarianism and terrorism.”
“As Muslims, we cannot overcome our difficulties without achieving unity in spite of our differences,” said Mr Erdogan during the closing ceremony.
He added that the establishment of an international arbitration body in Istanbul is part of the OIC 2025 action plan and welcomed a decision reached on Thursday to create a Turkey-based police coordination centre aimed at increasing cooperation against terrorism.
On the summit’s sidelines, Turkey and Saudi Arabia signed a memorandum to create a bilateral cooperation council. The two countries are aligned in their support for rebel factions opposed to the government of Syrian president Bashar Al Assad.
Iranian president Rouhani is due to meet Mr Erdogan in Ankara on Saturday.
* Agence France-Presse