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Middle East: OIC Leader Calls Emergency Meeting

Rescue workers remove bodies after the Israeli air strike on a shelter in Qana, Lebanon, on July 30 (epa) PRAGUE, August 3, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The conflict between Israeli and Hizballah forces is the focus of an emergency meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) today in the Malaysian city of Putrajaya.

Reports say Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev will attend.

The OIC has pressed for an unconditional cease-fire. The secretary-general of the OIC, Turkey's Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, told RFE/RL freelancer Ayesha Khan in an interview on August 2 that an immediate end to hostilities is necessary. He also accused Israel of committing war crimes and said terrorist attacks -- such as 9/11, or on transport in Madrid or London, are the result of "unfair, biased...policies" by the international community.

RFE/RL: What do you hope to achieve from this meeting?

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu: We expect at tomorrow's extraordinary summit meeting of the OIC to make an urgent appeal for [an] immediate cease-fire; I think without having a cease-fire nobody can have any positive contribution to the solution of the problem in the Middle East. So first is a cease-fire...and then of course within a political plan there should be an exchange of captives and implementation of the [UN] resolution 1559, but meanwhile we should not forget that there are so many resolutions of the Security Council like 242, 338 which nobody speaks about and the necessity of implementing them.

(Eds: United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559, from 2004, addresses the "Middle East situation, elections in Lebanon, restoration of territorial integrity and full sovereignty [for Lebanon]." UN Resolution 242, from 1967, addresses the "Middle East situation, acquisition of territory [by Israel] by war, and the withdrawal of Israel [from that territory]." UN resolution 338, from 1973, addresses, "the Middle East situation, calls for a cease-fire [and] implements resolution 242.)

I think we cannot reduce the problem and the conflict in the Middle East to the captive soldiers of Israel. There should be a consideration of the root of these problems, and to solve the reasons and the roots of the problem we have to implement the other relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council to aim for a comprehensive peace. Without having a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, all these problems, local problems, cannot be solved because these have repercussions and we have their resonance in the whole area and all over the world. And we are afraid that there will be a spill over of these problems in the Middle East. What's happening in Iraq is already a big tragedy and we don't want to perpetuate this tragedy in Lebanon and to initiate other problems and tragedies in the Middle East. So there should be a comprehensive peace plan, there should be an enforcement of international law; everybody should abide with the Geneva Conventions, in particular the fourth convention, in particular dealing with the innocent people. (Eds: Article 4 addresses the treatment of the victims of war.) There has been a...massacre in Qana of innocent children and old people were attacked for no reason. This was a war crime. I think there should be an investigation [of] this accident. There are lots of things where the international community should really take a close examination and they should be fair in its dealing.

RFE/RL: What do you see happening and what is [contributing] to a [non-]cease-fire situation in Lebanon?

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu: What I see happening is that the United Nations Security Council has to deal with it, everybody should see the realities without taking sides -- there should be fairness and objectivity. Without fairness and objectivity, I think it's not [in] the interest of anybody. Blocking the peace process and blocking the Security Council to take the proper decisions and to enact certain resolutions will not [contribute to] any peace process and it will lead to more radical and more extremist activities and not for the interest of anybody.... The examples of the terrorist attacks, which we have all suffered, be it in New York, be it in Istanbul, be it in Madrid, or in London, or in Cairo, or in Amman. All these are the results of these unfair, biased, one-dimensional, unilateral policies. We have then to face these realities. Without facing these realities, in fairness and objectivity, we cannot solve any problem.

RFE/RL: What are the implications in case no cease-fire agreement is reached in the coming days?

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu: If a cease-fire doesn't take place, I think there will be a proliferation of the war, there will be other activities on other fronts -- we can expect terrorist attacks anywhere, we can see more radical movements and I think it is not in the interest of any actor in the Middle East area, be it from within or from without to [exacerbate] these terrorist activities, these radical activities for no reason. Because the whole issue is not kidnapping two or three soldiers, there have been root causes for this, this [Palestinian issue] is a 60-year-old conflict. It's a nation without land, it's a nation without rights, and all the decisions of the UN General Assembly or the Security Council have been, [since] 40 or 50 years are not [being] addressed properly and we all of a sudden consent on one of them, which is 1559, how about the others? [Resolutions] 242, 338, and others...which give the right to the Palestinian people to come back to their own lands, to get their human rights, to get their citizenship rights, to live as human beings with dignity in their own land. If we don't address these issues, how...[can] we expect [to] solve this problem. What happened in Iraq is another example of the failure of the one-sided policies. We cannot speak about democracy on one side, democracy in taking the decision to kill others, this is what a democracy is. Even if you take a resolution or decision from a parliament [that]...has been elected legally and democratically and then you decide to bomb the children and kill innocent people and [destroy] the infrastructure in a country, whatever the pretext is, this is a crime against the Geneva Conventions.

The Middle East Crisis

The Middle East Crisis
Israeli tanks poised on the border with Lebanon on August 2 (epa)

CLASH OF ARMS: Since mid-July, Israel has been battling Hizballah guerrillas in southern Lebanon and carrying out punishing air strikes throughout the country. International efforts to broker a cease-fire have met with one obstacle after another, as civilian casualties mount and a humanitarian crisis unfolds. Since Hizballah is closely supported by Syria and Iran, the conflict threatens constantly to develop into a regional conflagration.... (more)


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