Islamic group considers suspending member Syria
Militants of Free Syrian Army patrol in an Aleppo district which sees heavy fighting. REUTERS photoAlready failed diplomacy over solving the Syrian crisis will take a new turn with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit discussing the crisis and a senior U.N. envoy heading to Damascus.
The OIC will discuss the Syrian crisis in the upcoming summit in Mecca, OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu said. Syria’s suspension from the 57-member organization will be recommended to the group during the meeting, a move that would further isolate the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Turkish President Abdullah Gül said suspension of Syria’s membership will be decided upon the member countries’ votes, before leaving Istanbul. The organization’s executive committee approved the move and a decision will be made at the meeting, which starts in Mecca today, İhsanoğlu said, according to Bloomberg News. Iran, a staunch ally of Damascus, will want to prevent any attempt to suspend its membership.
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged Muslim countries to show greater unity ahead of the summit. Ahmadinejad, speaking to reporters before he departed for Mecca, said the emergency meeting would be a chance for Iran to express its opinions, though he did not say specifically which issues Iran would discuss. “This meeting is a chance for our country’s viewpoint to be explained transparently and for efforts to be made toward the convergence and protection of the interests of Muslim nations,” Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying yesterday by the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA), according to Reuters.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu attended a meeting in Jeddah yesterday with foreign ministers from nine countries participating. Davutoğlu held bilateral talks with foreign ministers from Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Djibouti, Sudan, Senegal, Egypt and Jordan. In the meeting of foreign ministers, developments in Syria, Myanmar and Somalia were discussed, Anatolia news agency reported.
Assad envoy to Beijing
In another effort, United Nations Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos will go to Syria today to discuss ways for increasing emergency aid to civilians, although diplomats have said fighting must ebb in the country before there is any real hope of gaining access to hot spots. During her three-day trip, Amos will also visit Lebanon to meet Syrian families who have fled the violence and hold talks on providing support to the growing number of refugees, a U.N. statement said.
Amos’ schedule of meetings was not released, but the statement said that she would meet Syrian authorities, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and other aid agencies.
Apart from two efforts, China said that an envoy which included Syrian President al-Assad would visit Beijing beginning today. The envoy, Bouthaina Shaaban, would meet Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, the ministry said in a statement, adding that China was also considering inviting members of the Syrian opposition to visit.