RT - Leaders of Muslim world are expected to suspend Syria from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) at a summit in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, despite objections from Iran. The move will further isolate Syrian President Assad from the Arab world.
The OIC plans to expel Syria over "the obstinacy of the Syrian authorities in following the military option" to resolve the conflict and the failure of an UN-Arab League peace plan brokered by Kofi Annan, a draft statement obtained by AFP revealed. The group will demand that the Assad regime "immediately end all acts of violence," while defending Syria's "unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity."
The OIC’s official decision will be announced later Wednesday evening, the Indonesian delegation said. The Assad regime was dealt its first blow from the Muslim world when it was suspended from the Arab League last year, over what the league labeled a brutal crackdown on Arab Spring protesters.
Some OIC countries are also demanding that Assad to step down and prepare for a “post-Assad transition period," Mohammed Ahmed Taieb, a top Saudi Foreign Ministry official, told AFP.
Damascus is not attending the emergency summit in Saudi Arabia, but is being represented by longtime regional ally Iran. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi criticized on Monday the Saudi proposal to suspend Syria’s OIC membership, saying it would not resolve the conflict.
“We have to look for other ways, means and mechanisms for resolving conflicts and crises,” Salehi said, adding that “Syrian-Syrian solution” could only be accomplished through negotiations between the government and rebel forces.
Saudi Arabia has openly called for arming Syrian rebels.
In an apparent show of goodwill, Saudi broadcast showed King Abdullah welcoming leaders to the summit with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at his side. Sectarian tensions have been on the rise between Shiite-dominated Tehran and Sunni-dominated Riyadh in recent months over the ongoing Syrian conflict.
Iran has accused Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey of arming the Sunni rebels against Assad’s Shiite regime.
Saudi Arabia and Iran have continuously jockeyed for supremacy in the Islamic world. Iran, which after the Islamic Revolution has largely stood in opposition to the West, has traditionally regarded Saudi Arabia as a proxy for US interests in region.
The US is attending the summit as an observer. The attendance demonstrates Washington’s commitment to “bring additional pressure to bear on the Assad regime,” the US State Department said.
The ongoing violence in Syria has killed more than 21,000 people, opposition groups claim. Some 1.5 million people have been internally displaced by the violence, according to UN estimates.