Asia Advisory

Makkah GCC, Arab League & OIC Summits

In an unprecedented move, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud organised consecutive emergency summits of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Arab League and OIC in Makkah during Ramzan. Aimed at shoring up Riyadh’s diplomatic support against Tehran, the summits came after a month of growing hostility in the Gulf with Iranian-backed militias being held responsible for attacks against Saudi oil and UAE shipping facilities. At the recently concluded summits, the majority of Arab and Gulf states unequivocally condemned Iran and called on Arab states, the United States and other world powers to confront Iran. Notable exceptions to the hostility on display against Iran were Iraq and Qatar, countries with religious and economic ties with Tehran.

Pakistan has thus far called for restraint in the growing Gulf-Iran conflict, adopting a policy of neutrality. Increased tensions between Iran, which has thus far resisted US pressure and rejected Saudi allegations, and Gulf countries, will continue to heighten pressure on Pakistan to take a stance on a regional dispute that has the potential to engulf the wider West Asian region.

The OIC summit, where Pakistan was represented by Prime Minister Imran Khan was the scene of some controversy as several news outlets reported that the Saudi King cancelled bilateral meetings with Pakistan’s premier after a hasty exchange between the two breached diplomatic protocol. Despite the ruckus over the Prime Minister’s exchange, Pakistan managed to gain the OIC’s support on the Kashmir dispute through a declaration calling on India to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir and the appointment of an OIC special envoy on the Kashmir dispute. India, which had earlier managed to sidetrack Kashmir at the OIC foreign ministers’ meeting in Abu Dhabi, rejected the OIC declaration.