Will the international powers allow the Muslim countries to form an alliance to advance the Islamic world on an equal footing in terms of drafting strategies and decision-making around the world? That is the challenge facing participants at the Kuala Lumpur Summit two weeks ago.
We all know the answer to that question. "With the world witnessing nations making unilateral decisions to impose such punitive measures [against Iran and Qatar, for example], Malaysia and other nations must always bear in mind that the same can be imposed on any of us," Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said in his closing speech. "That is all the more reason for us to be self-reliant and work towards that with other Muslims nations to ensure that if and when such measures are imposed upon us, we are capable of facing them."
How have we become so weak that we fear the idea of uniting our fragmented Muslim Ummah spread across the world, and reviving it in order to advance it and keep up with the global leaders? Who has pulled "the best Ummah" so far down that it fears sanctions? How could anyone dare to impose such sanctions when, during the Ottoman period they feared their ships passing through the Mediterranean?
We need to look in the mirror. We have been weakened by enemies from within who want to crush any Islamic awakening seeking to pull the Muslims out from the darkness into the light. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hinted at this when he told participants in Kuala Lumpur that there are Arab countries opposing the summit more than the West is. He was right. We expected Israel to express its concerns, but did we think that Saudi Arabia and the UAE would try to thwart the summit, and threaten countries which wanted to attend so that they would pull out, as they did with Pakistan? Financial bribes were used to try to "persuade" other countries not to go to Malaysia, but countries like Somalia, for example, refused to be bought by Bin Salman and Bin Zayed. Despite its economic difficulties and need for aid, its principled leadership stood firm, and attended the summit.
The biggest challenge thus facing this new Islamic entity comes from Western proxies in the region who portray themselves as the guardians of Muslim affairs and protectors of Islam, when in reality they are the Ummah's worst enemies. The Zionist governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE are heading in the opposite direction. They are the daggers used by the Zionists to stab the Muslim world in its back; their hands are stained with the blood of Muslims in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya and Egypt. Saudi Arabia and its Zionist government have supported the counter-revolutions and the dictatorships fighting against their own people.
Having lost the support of the general public after distancing itself from the oppression suffered by Muslims around the world and its complete subordination to Western colonialism, Saudi Arabia has showered the enemies of the Ummah with its wealth. Meanwhile, millions of Muslims are have no food or shelter. Riyadh's complete loyalty to the Zionists has created a deep divide between the Kingdom and Muslim people around the world. The same can be said of the UAE, making them both deserving of the Muslim world's opprobrium.
Saudi Arabia believes that it is the most worthy to lead the Muslim world, as the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, but since when were history and geography the determinants for leadership? I do not, however, deny the Saudi role and contribution to the Ummah under previous, wiser leaders.
The Saudis may fear Turkey, with the Ottoman Empire still in the collective memory, but today Turkey is strengthening the Ummah as a modern, democratic state with economic and military power. Muslim nations see it as their hope for advancing the Ummah once again. This is why Saudi Arabia is hostile towards the Turks, fearing that they will takes its place at the head of the Ummah. Intense competition between the two suggests an overt struggle for the soul of the Muslim world. Maybe Turkey's military intervention in Syria and Libya confirms that the leadership struggle will determine the future of the Arab and Muslim world, which I believe will end in Turkey's favour.
Whoever wants to lead the Muslim world must set a good example in every aspect of life, including development, democracy, respect for human rights, good governance and defending Muslims and their causes. This is what Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies lack.
The leaders at the Kuala Lumpur Summit may have planted the seeds of an umbrella body that really works in the interests of the Muslim world. The EU started with three countries and after 50 years was able to remove the barbed wire on the borders of 28 states. EU members support each other and cooperate on every level, with a single currency and one voice in international forums. We could do the same if our leaders are strong and determined, and able to confront the forces of evil that lie in wait for the Ummah.
That is why the leaders at the Kuala Lumpur Summit need to act swiftly to achieve at least one of its goals so that hope stays burning in the hearts of the Muslims. They could move, for example, to extinguish the conflict in, say, Yemen, Libya or Syria; and take a strong stand against China, India and Burma for the crimes they commit against their Muslim citizens. What is needed is action, and not just statements and condemnation. With God's help and clear intentions, anything is possible.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.