Potential for Revival: The OIC’s Prospects Following the Saudi Iran Rapprochement

by Maria Mansab

The OIC’s ability to present a unified front to solve issues and problems faced by Muslim countries has been greatly impeded by the fact that its member states have competing national interests.  The efficiency of OIC is hindered by geopolitical issues, power dynamics, and internal rifts. However, recent improvements in relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran offer optimism for the future. Political issues may be resolved if states worked together to develop an agreement and ensure peace and security. This article discusses the possibilities, restrictions, and way forwards for OIC in responding to Muslim countries’ concerns and issues.

Divergent national interests among OIC member states have limited the organization’s ability to achieve its goals. These disagreements have made it harder for the organization to present a unified front when dealing with the problems that Muslim countries face. The Syrian conflict is the finest example of proxy wars in the Middle East that have caused severe humanitarian crises, societal fragmentation, and political instability. The national policies of Muslim governments have been influenced by geopolitical issues, which contributes to these differences. Collective OIC initiatives have often taken a back seat to geopolitical factors, including regional power relations and alliances. Some OIC members, for example, may put more emphasis on their bilateral ties with non-Muslim states or implement measures that are more in line with their own national security interests than the OIC’s. For example, the normalization of relations with Israel by countries such as Saudi Arabia and others in the Persian Gulf is not acceptable to other member states. Further complicating OIC unity are long-standing disputes and rivalries among Muslim nations. Internal strife has arisen due to competition for territory, rivalry in politics, and divergent points of view, The Arab Spring of 2011 is the prime example. The OIC’s ability to address the common difficulties faced by Muslim states has frequently been eclipsed by these disagreements.

However, encouraging developments in Iran and Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic ties in recent months provide cause for cautious optimism about the OIC’s prospects. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) may be in a better position to play a more substantial role in resolving the critical issues affecting Muslim countries if these improved contacts can generate greater cooperation and consensus-building among member states. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has made progress in its mission to promote unity and find solutions to the difficulties facing the Muslim world by recognizing and addressing various national interests and geopolitical complications. After 13 years, Syria has joined the Arab League, and Assad’s isolation has begun to melt as a result of the Saudi-Iranian deal.  Saudi Arabia and Syria are close to restoring diplomatic ties, thanks to Russian mediation. The United States may be forced to withdraw from the Middle East peace process as a result of the emerging agreement. With this deal in place, Saudi Arabia will be able to invest economically in Lebanon, and diplomatic ties between the two countries will strengthen. This deal has the potential to affect negotiations between the Saudi-backed Iraqi opposition and the Iranian-backed government. In addition, Saudi Arabia has promised to spend $3 billion on Yemen’s economic revival. There is hope that this agreement will lead to a reduction in proxy fighting in the area. The agreement offers Iran a chance to reduce its isolation by mending strained relations and fixing its economic woes. After a series of protests and economic crises, the deal may be an effort to portray the country as peaceful to the rest of the world.

Kashmir and Palestine are the world’s biggest humanitarian crises. OIC members can discuss Palestine and Kashmir and provide solutions. The United States is aided in its efforts to exert pressure on Israel by this arrangement. The Israeli Democratic Party has stronger ties to American Democrats than the other way around, as is well knowledge. Netanyahu’s power was weakened in 2021 when President Biden called for a ceasefire in Israel’s war with Hamas. Many Democrats have urged Biden to take a tough stance on Israel’s policy decisions, which might put his job at risk. Neftali Bennett rose to prominence as a result of American doubts about Netanyahu’s cabinet, and this ultimately led to Netanyahu’s resignation. Since Netanyahu’s return, the US has been able to undermine Israel’s legitimacy and sustenance base once again as he sows major internal disagreement and split.  Therefore, the new peace accord between Saudi Arabia and Iran serves as a warning to Israel that it cannot afford to be careless with its relationship with the United States. Israel is the country most worried about the deal’s effects. Israel’s safety and survival are threatened by the alliance of two regional powers, one of which is a sworn enemy. The Palestinian issue is making a strong comeback at the moment. This will have far-reaching effects on Arab society and the mindsets of Arab leaders. It is like we stepped into a time machine. Once again, the Palestine conflict is at the forefront of Middle Eastern politics. In 2022, the OIC General Secretariat urged the UN Security Council to enact its resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir. The OIC General Secretariat restates its support for the Kashmiri people in their pursuit of self-determination, as expressed in the resolutions passed at the Islamic Summit and the Council of Foreign Ministers on Jammu and Kashmir. The General Secretariat restates its demand that the international community implements UN Security Council resolutions aimed at ending the conflict in Jammu and Kashmir. This agreement will affect the OIC member states’ willingness to take an active role in the Kashmir problem.

The OIC platform addresses peace and security, economic growth, cultural and scientific partnership, humanitarian, legal, administrative, and financial challenges. Muslim states can use this forum to discuss shared concerns, enhance ties, and increase bilateral trade, tourism, and personal interactions. Resolving disagreements before parties expand is crucial. The OIC can influence and incentivize without lying. The OIC must develop more innovative power and income distribution strategies. OIC peace and security architecture lacks a peace force. To help countries make the difficult early transition from conflict to peace, a peace force must provide security, political, and peace-building assistance. These hinder OIC’s revival. While the rest of the world is focusing on AI, cyber security, and other cutting-edge technologies, Muslim countries have been slow to catch up. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has the potential to set up a dedicated office tasked with formulating policies and securing resources for member states in the areas of cyber security and artificial intelligence (AI).

The ability of the OIC to achieve its objectives has been severely hampered by the fact that its member states have competing national interests, impeding its ability to present a unified front to address challenges and problems confronted by Muslim nations.  Geopolitical factors, power dynamics, and internal rifts hinder the efficacy of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The recent reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran offers a glimmer of hope for prospects. The political problems could be resolved if states engage in consensus-building and cooperation for peace and security. There is hope that this agreement will lead to a reduction in the proxy war in the Middle East and the potential resolution of the Kashmir and Palestine issue, so there is reason to be cautiously optimistic about the OIC’s prospects. Using the OIC as a springboard, Muslim governments can improve bilateral trade, tourism, technical progress, and personal interactions to address common challenges and find common ground.


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Center for International Strategic Studies AJK, King Abdullah Campus Chatter kalas Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir