Ramadhan 2023 as a blessing has led us to witness Unprecedented Muslim cohesive unity on the cards unlike ever experienced. The 1973 Al-Aqsa incident leading to establishing of Organisation of Islamic Conference was a political feat but strategically it needed much more to successfully function so as to deliver results effectively and efficiently apart from oil embargo. The will of leadership matching the popular will and support can lead to endless favourable, advantageous and beneficial opportunities as evolutionary learning reveals the path that must and can be taken. The Chinese rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran is only a card in the deck. The momentum towards rapprochement between all Middle Eastern and North African countries is providing base for East and South to be able to be self-reliant in their matters. Moreover, the contiguous nature of the majority of Muslim-dominant countries are on-board with such initiatives and developments, which can lead to powerful and blissful resurgence of the Islamic Ummah. It, itself, is a beginning of something remarkable and, a beautiful era. The transition from estrangement and detachment to rapprochement and engagement such as witnessed in cases of Qatar, Syria, Yemen and Iran in relation GCC & MENA is commendable as confrontation and cut-throat competition is replaced by cooperation, coordination and collaboration in order to succeed together.
The most determinative aspect is the change in Leadership behaviour, approach and attitude. The efforts must be supported by the Muslim population in Islamic and Non-Islamic countries. At a time of coercive diplomacy by the west and the change in preferences of powerful Islamic countries, there is recognition of need to adopt and adapt to set certain standards and path so as to ensure that Peace and Cooperation between Islamic countries remains as most viable option in MENA specifically. The Saudi-Iranian rapprochement is remarkably followed by opening of coordination mutually between Turkey-Syria, Egypt-Syria, GCC-Syria, as well as opening up for establishing relations between Gulf countries, themselves, as well as with other MENA countries such as Tunisia-Syria. The process is being Saudi Arabia which is a good sign since the combined success can rapidly and highly change the destiny of the region and continent. This process is only continuation of the rapprochement of Qatar & Turkey with GCC and Egypt since 2021 with Iraq playing a major role as mediator and negotiator in this respective case as well as Iraq’s role in initiating Saudi-Iranian talks followed by Syrian-MENA rapprochement in fall 2021. There was a halt rather than breakdown at time Russia-Ukraine war. However, there was much work going behind the doors which included Chinese role and presence for mediation talks since 2017-18. Another significant result is the end of Yemen War which is also harbinger of good news as Sectarian conflict is left behind for focusing on development, progress and prosperity. The visit of Rulers and Political Leaders of South Asian (Pakistan) & South East Asian Muslim (Brunei, Malaysia), as well as African countries to Saudia in Ramadhan amidst the rapprochement, definitely suggests that the will for unity is being asserted like never before. It is an unprecedented opportunity because the challenge is unprecedented. There is also a reason that Syria has become major subject matter in post Russia-Ukraine war aftermath. However, there must be proper framework for confidence-building measures to achieve consensus.
Ramadhan 2023, however, has witnessed many leaders of different Muslim countries from various regions such as South Asia, South East Asia, Central Asia, North Africa and Middle East, visiting Holy Places and meeting with Saudi Political leadership; a political development which possesses central position to all attempts of rapprochement efforts and initaitives. In this scenario, the strong-minded Saudi Crown Prince focusing on coordination, cooperation and collaboration is a rare and highly beneficial, advantageous and great boon for a resurgence of Islamic Ummah amidst the blissful and blessed spirit of Ramadhan; which must extended in terms of scope, range, capacity and capability. As the Islamic countries and Muslim populations follow up, there is much better chance at prosperity, progress and development. The conviction and confidence behind such efforts, attempts and initiatives can rapidly and tremendously change the face of the region (MENA, Asia, Africa). The Human Development Index maintained in Gulf, Maghreb (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria) as well as South East Asia can provide much insights and chances for lesser developed regions such as South Asia to follow up; with both India & Pakistan engaging through understanding provided the new status quo. The economic prosperity, progress and development needs to be ensured through such leadership having strategic vision to assert will for a mission that requires clarity, planning and high pursuit. In strategic terms, it is described and explained as re-footing diplomacy and economy on securitized / military grounds (Not meaning that war is central to economy; rather, pursuit is on emergency and urgent basis). Overall, defying western coercive diplomacy also means that Middle Eastern countries need as much support as they can gather so as to maintain their legitimacy and credibility in tackling issues, problems & challenges as well as building sustainable paths.
Along with such opportunities and strengths, the weakness and threats do exist. The SWOT and PESTEL analysis becomes necessary. In the path prior and post Russia-Ukraine aftermath (2020-2023), it seems much lessons have been learnt by the leadership in the Islamic Ummah as they envision connecting with masses in their countries. However, The threats come from fault lines in and near Syria. There is a reason with perspective to it based on existing dynamics and prevailing circumstances directly related to western coercive diplomacy. It is an amazing development that Syria’s return is at centre of diplomacy within Arab League, MENA affairs and GCC fold. Saudi Arabia is leading with UAE and, being followed by entire MENA region. With Unity on the cards, the remaining weakness is the backwardness in technology and expertise and research and infrastructure. The question of sustainability is being dealt with through proper methods and channels.
A particular threat is western coercive diplomacy at a time when US-led NATO’s plans for Summer offensive in Ukraine have been leaked. The matter has been forwarded to the US Department of Justice to establish contours of who receives, witnesses and deals with such information so as to establish controls (based on visionary futuristic approach towards missions). There are reports that it is an insider job. However, that is not the question at this moment. Turkiye is attaining central role for presence in Global Western-Eastern as well International Northern-Southern affairs. It is at the centre of NATO’s three core tasks: Collective Defense (Sweden-Finland ratification bid), Cooperative Security (Extra-regional affairs concerning Arms related matters such as Korea, Japan, South Asia etc) and Crisis Prevention & Management (Syria-Turkiye earthquake relief followed by establishing of NATO presence at Syria-Turkiye border in cities such as Antakya & Iskenderun of Aamaaq valley). The western coercive diplomacy is aimed at blockading, containment and encirclement followed by propaganda and strategic pursuit. In this situation, the rapprochement between Islamic countries mediated by China promises more Chinese role in MENA. At a time when there is judicial crisis in Israel, which is deepening the political crisis, too, the stakes of NATO and EU are being ‘considered by the west to be challenged. However, there is a choice between Peace and War. The most stakes in Middle East are of Middle Eastern countries. History will judge. It is time to be at right side of history. As Treaty of versaillies comes to end, the utility for imperialists still persists similar to case of Montreux convention which is surviving till today.
Political leadership in Islamic countries must establish the consensual-based framework as aprt of confidence-building measures so as to deal with threats and weaknesses posing possible & potential future challenges. It has to be realistic, pragmatic and overarching such that legal relationships, strengthened through necessities, drive the matters forward even in case of any background, halt or particular regressive mode. Strategic Accords, Security Pacts, Peace Treaties, Joint Alliances, Diplomatic Arrangements, Political Agreements and Economic Unions must be part of framework for legal relationship between Islamic countries, themselves, and collectively with rest of the world. Any attempt to sabotage rapprochement through any means would mean conflict and war with peace calls by others only to be an eye wash. The coercive diplomacy has no end except response through Unity. At this point, there is beginning of new chapter of Islamic Unity and pages of it must be preserved and safeguarded.
Levent Kemal tweeted: ‘Jordan is pushing the Arab States to form a Joint Arab Group on a detailed peace plan to end the conflict in Syria. Jordan is taking a wise step to strengthen its position for a political solution in Syria.’ As NATO utilizes Turkiye’s role in NATO’s 3 core tasks for presence in Middle East, the coercive diplomacy will tend to intensify against Syria and Iraq. In this situation, vigilance must be observed for Unity where Israel has already sought to support son of ex-King of Persia to weaken Iran while US plays with fault lines in Syria. A legal relationship between Islamic countries is need of the hour to customise Strategic Accords, Security Pacts, Peace Treaties, Joint Alliances, Diplomatic Arrangements, Political Agreements and Economic Unions; Saudi FM Visit to Syria on 18 April is a stepping stone needed.