Wind of change at OIC?

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A veteran Muslim activist writes exclusively for Salaam Blogs, “A wind of change is blowing again in the Muslim world’s organization of foremost importance – the OIC. As the current incumbent of the office of the secretary general Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu (69) clears the desk after completing his two terms stint as the head of Muslim world’s super coalition, Muslim capitals are buzzing with rumours as to who is going to succeed him. 



Whether by design or default, the OIC failed miserably to achieve its full potential. Since the signing of its charter on 25th September 1969 it has just managed to keep its head above the parapet. In fear of incurring the displeasure of world powers Muslim nations never allowed it to take any meaningful role. Even the name itself is enough to underscore such fear. The current Secretary General attempted to bring some change to the name, it is now called ‘the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’ – a slight improvement of its original rather confusing original title ‘the Organization of Islamic Conference’. It is intriguing why it did not take what could have been the most natural name of an organization of 57 nation states – ‘ The Organization of Islamic Countries’. The funny name coupled with its chronic inability to become which it set out to be at the time of establishment, ‘ a collective voice of the Muslim world to safeguard the interests and to ensure the progress and wellbeing of the Muslim countries’, became a butt of jokes to the Muslim young people who interpret the name as – ‘oh – I see!’.

A world coalition of 57 nation states could have played a powerful role; indeed it could easily claim the mantle of the United Nations of Muslim states. Some even say that if the OIC could be bold enough to demand a permanent seat with veto power in the Security Council for one of its members, rotated through internal OIC election every four years, the UN would have no choice then to comply with it. The UN of course occasionally makes fulsome praise as did Ban Ki Moon at September 2010 UN General Assembly calling it, ‘ a strategic and crucial partner of the United Nations’ that ‘plays a significant role in helping to resolve a wide range of issues facing the world community’.

Returning to the change of the Secretary General, until last year the consensus view was that will be the turn of Africa to take the office and Dr. Qutub Seni, the current minister of international relations of the Guinea Conakry was widely canvassed and accepted, including by the Saudis. Dr. Sani is well liked, speaks French, Arabic and English fluently; he has two PhDs in Islamic Jurisprudence and Islamic Economics. However, it now seems he is probably unlikely to get the job as the host nation, Saudi Arabia suddenly became interested to field its its’ former information minister Dr. Iyar Al Madani .

It is said that senior Saudi diplomats and ministers are touring Muslim capitals to canvas for Madani. However, there is just one problem: just like the UN, the OIC charter prohibits the host nation to occupy the position of the Secretary General. However, it now seems certain that they will push through a change in the Charter to fulfil their objective.”