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Why did some Arab leaders avoid the OIC meeting?

The extraordinary summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held in Istanbul, Turkey on 13 December 2017 [Kayhan Özer/Anadolu Agency]

After Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan invited the members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to attend an urgent meeting to discuss the status of Jerusalem, only 16 out of 57 heads of state went along, Quds Press reported on Wednesday. Although most sent lower-level ministers and officials to represent them, this was a shocking response given that Jerusalem is supposed to be one of the most important issues for Arabs and Muslims.

Kuwaiti political analyst Ayed Al-Manaa told Quds Press that some of the countries did not want to attend an event which was also attended by Qatar, while others did not want to damage their relations with the US. They feared that the OIC would rebuke US President Donald Trump over his decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“We can understand the absence of Egypt due to the position of the Turkish president regarding the Egyptian military coup,” explained Al-Manaa, “but the absence of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE is not understood.” He noted, though, that this was probably due to the Qatar issue, which was also likely to be the reason why the leaders of those countries did not attend the Gulf States’ summit held recently in Kuwait.

The analyst pointed out that Saudi Arabia was the destination of the first overseas visit made by Trump after becoming US President. “We also must not forget that Egypt is still in need of US support,” he added.

Read: Muslim leaders fail to deliver action plan on Jerusalem at OIC

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