Muslim powers stage Mideast summit

"The voice of the Muslim world should be heard in solidarity with Lebanon."

Malaysia protest 298 (photo credit: AP)
Malaysia protest 298
(photo credit: AP)
The Muslim world's biggest bloc held an emergency summit Thursday to muster support for a swift cease-fire, peacekeeping missions and coordinated humanitarian relief in Lebanese and Palestinian territories. Malaysia, which chairs the 56-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference, rallied presidents, prime ministers and policy-makers of 17 key Muslim countries - including Iran, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey - to articulate their anguish over Israel's warfare in the Middle East. The conflict "carries the danger of a spillover that will have disastrous consequences," Bangladesh's Prime Minister Khaleda Zia said in a prepared speech at the one-day talks. "This will surely add to radicalization in the Muslim world, (which) in turn will increase difficulties for those of us on the side of moderation," she said. The leaders were likely to demand an immediate, unconditional cease-fire between Israel and the Hizbullah, as well as a multinational force to stabilize the Israeli-Lebanon border under the United Nations and properly coordinated humanitarian aid to Lebanon and Palestinian sites, Malaysian officials have said. The summit comprising member governments of the OIC's executive committee and primary stakeholders also was expected to consider peacekeeping troop commitments from Muslim countries and call for a UN sponsored conference to spur the reconstruction of Lebanon's economy and infrastructure. Lebanese Foreign Affairs Minister Fawzi Salloukh expressed hopes that "the voice of the Muslim world should be heard solemnly ... in solidarity with the Lebanese people." Israel "will not be victorious," Salloukh told Malaysia's national news agency, Bernama. "They have destroyed our infrastructure, bridges, airports and seaports, but they cannot destroy our spirit." Top figures assembled included President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, which is allegedly the principal arms sponsor for Hizbullah. Also present were President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation, and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz of Pakistan, the only known Muslim nuclear power, and leaders of Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Brunei and Turkey. Foreign ministers, royalty members and senior officials represented Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Senegal, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen, as well as the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri said Israel's actions took the world "back to the laws of the jungle." "It's a massacre," Kasuri said. "I wouldn't even call it a war, it's so one-sided." About 100 Malaysian Muslim activists demonstrated outside the summit venue as the leaders arrived, chanting anti-Israeli slogans and holding banners that read, "Israelis are real terrorists" and "Don't allow Muslims to be slaughtered."