Split in Islamic world: either trade or fight with Israel

A special session of the Islamic conference organization continues in the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. The session was summoned to work out a single position of the Islamic states regarding the Sept.11 acts of terrorism. The session’s beginning coincided with another aggravation of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Representatives of Islamic states touched upon the escalation of the Mideast violence. As could be expected, viewpoints on the conflict are different among the leaders of the Islamic states.

Almost all of the conference participants expressed their support of the Palestinians, which, in its turn, does not mean at all that they were ready to create a unified front against Israel. Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit turned down the opposition’s suggestion to cancel a $668 million contract concluded with Israel on the modernization of tanks. In Ecevit’s words, “it is a deal and cannot be cancelled.” At the same time, the Turkish prime minister said that other kinds of pressure can be exerted upon Israel. He did not mention what kind of pressure.

Iraq, which has already become accustomed to the role of a bogeyman for Israel and the USA, is not distant from the events. Baghdad suggested that the Arab nations should suspend oil sales to the USA. The initiative is to be applied if Washington continues its support of Israel. Iraq calls upon the Arab world to renounce cooperation with the USA in the anti-terror war until “America admits that Israeli aggression on Palestinian territories is terrorism as well.”

As for terrorism itself. The participants of the conference failed to work out a single opinion on terrorism. Malaysian President Mahathir Mohamad stated that any actions directed against civilians should be treated as terrorism. This seems to be a rather broad notion to also cover Israeli violence on Palestinian territories. The attacks of suicide bombers in the center of Israel can be added here as well. The majority at the conference did not like the interpretation of terrorism suggested by the Malaysian president. The Palestinian delegation was among the majority and insisted that a resolution should be passed at the conference to declare that struggle of the Palestinians for their territories was not terrorism. Finally, Islamic delegation that was present at the Malaysia conference decided that it was the UN that could settle the problem. It was also stated at the conference that the activity of other Islamic states, the struggle of Lebanese groups against Israel for example, cannot considered to be terrorism.

The conference demonstrated once again that the Islamic states have no single position concerning terrorism. They were unanimous in blaming Israel, but were reluctant to conflict with the country. The explanation seems to be very simple: Israel is backed by the USA, which is the largest purchaser of oil for the majority of Islamic states. Only Iraq or Iran can make such bold statements concerning the USA. However, such statements cannot be treated seriously, as these countries are hardly inclined to be at war with the USA.

The conference revealed that the Islamic states will not be able to come to agreement on disputable problems very soon. Sometimes, it even seems that they are not even concerned with the situation.

Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/04/03/39197.html

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