Turkish Foreign Minister attends OIC meeting to discuss recent Riyadh-Tehran rift
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULJan 22, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Jan 22, 2016 12:00 am
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu attended an extraordinary meeting with foreign ministers from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Thursday, a meeting that convened due to Riyadh's call to discuss the repercussions of recent attacks on the Kingdom's embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad.
Tensions between the Iranian Shiite majority and the Saudi Arabian Sunnis – religious sects that rival fiercely in the region and hold opposing views on the conflicts in Syria and Yemen – have heightened since the recent execution of the Saudi Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr by Saudi Arabia on Jan. 2nd. Before his arrest in July 2012, al-Nimr led mass protests against the Saudi regime, demanding civil rights for Saudi Arabia's minorities. He was among 47 executed that same day, charged with terrorism offenses. Saudi Arabia later severed diplomatic ties with Iran, following attacks on its embassies in Tehran and Mashhad. Bahrain, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have all declared their support for Saudi Arabia.
Sharing tweets on his official Twitter account, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said the recent conflicts "point out the threat that sectarian policies pose for the Islamic world."
While Kuwait resided as chair of the meeting as president of the current session of the OIC's Council of Foreign Ministers, Çavuşoğlu also met with Qatari counterpart Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah to discuss regional developments and bilateral cooperation.
Turkey's foreign minister also met with Saudi Arabia's top diplomat, Adel al-Jubeir, focusing on preparative efforts around the establishment of a High Level Strategic Cooperation Council with Riyadh.
In Jeddah, he also came together with the foreign ministers of the Maldives, Indonesia and Yemen to discuss regional issues and bilateral relations.
Regarding the recent rift between Riyadh and Tehran, Ankara has expressed concern over attacks on Saudi Arabia's embassies in Iran.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Jan. 5, saying that "As per the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations , diplomatic and consular buildings have total immunity and countries that accept this convention have the responsibility to provide security for these embassies," the foreign ministry said in a statement released on its website.
Accordingly, the attacks on Saudi Arabia's embassies in the Iranian cities of Tehran and Mashhad are "unacceptable."
The foreign ministry further said that Turkey has called for an end to the use of threatening discourse and a return to diplomacy, urging mutual caution. "Turkey hopes that the tension between the two countries is not negatively reflected on security, stability and peace in the region," the statement added.
Turkey holds the term presidency for the OIC, and will host its 13th Leaders' Summit under the chairmanship of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from April 10 to April 15 in Istanbul. The 31st meeting of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the Organization (COMCEC) of the OIC was held at the Istanbul Congress Center from Nov. 23-26, with Erdoğan at its opening session.