Organisation of Islamic Co-operation condemns attacks on Saudi missions in Iran

22.01.2016

The Organisation of Islamic Co-operation on Thursday condemned the attacks on Saudi missions in Iran earlier this month and denounced Tehran's regional "interference". In a joint statement, foreign ministers belonging to the organisation said that it "condemns the aggressions against the missions of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Tehran and Mashhad." Such "aggressions" contravene international law as well as the OIC charter, said the communique, which member state Iran rejected.

The statement followed an extraordinary meeting requested by Saudi Arabia after protesters in Iran burned Riyadh's embassy in Tehran and a consulate in the second city of Mashhad. The violence against Riyadh's missions occurred after the kingdom executed dissident Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr, a driving force behind anti-government protests.

Sunni Saudi Arabia and some of its allies cut diplomatic ties with Shia Iran as a result of the violence against its missions.

Nimr was one of four Shias put to death on 2 January alongside 43 Sunnis. All were convicted of "terrorism".

The 57-member OIC said it "rejects and condemns Iran's inflammatory statements" over the executions, "considering those statements a blatant interference in the internal affairs" of Saudi Arabia. It also denounced "Iran's interference in the internal affairs of the states of the region and other member states (including Bahrain, Yemen and Syria and Somalia) and its continued support for terrorism."

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi attended the meeting, but his country "declared its rejection of the communique," the document said. It added that Lebanon also "distances itself" from the meeting's final statement.

The OIC calls itself the collective voice of the Muslim world.

Tensions between the leading Sunni and Shia nations have caused concern around the globe. China, France and Pakistan have all sought a de-escalation.

At the start of Thursday's meeting, OIC Secretary General Iyad Madani called for "building bridges of understanding and restoring mutual trust" through dialogue. This will prevent conflicts "that will waste energy and hinder the development of our people," he said. Tensions between members "distract us from addressing the real challenges," including "terrorism", which threaten members of the organisation, Madani told the group based in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah.

The final communique underscored the "importance of reinforcing relations of good neighbourliness" among members.

Iran sacked a senior security official over his failure to stop the attack on Riyadh's embassy, while Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday said the attack was against Islam. But Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir charged at Thursday's meeting that Iran respects neither Islam nor the charter of the OIC.

"The importance of this meeting is in the fact that this aggression is not the first but only a part of a series of continuous attacks that diplomatic missions have been subjected to in Iran for 35 years," Jubeir said. "It is important to point out that the aggression against the kingdom's missions comes as part of Iran's aggressive policies and its continuous interference in the internal issues of the countries in the region."

Saudi Arabia and Iran support opposite sides in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen. Iran has also consolidated its influence in Iraq and Lebanon.

Riyadh had also called for an emergency meeting of the Arab League after the attack on its missions. On 10 January the Cairo-based body expressed full support for Saudi Arabia in dealing with the "hostile acts and provocations of Iran."    (AFP)

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