One of major issues before the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit is the conflict in Darfur. Many observers are waiting to see whether Islamic leaders and heads of state can do something to end the violence that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced millions of people.
One of those following developments is Iqbal Jhazbhay, associate professor at the University of South Africa, who’s currently a visiting academic in London. He spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about what the Organization of the Islamic Conference can do about Darfur.
“What I see happening is the OIC, made up of some 57 states, attempting to see how they can find a creative role for themselves, given their particular strengths, to bring about a solution to what is an international area of concern. To bring about peace within the Sudan and notably within the Darfur, its strength I believe would lie more in its legitimacy as a body with generally broad Islamic interests representing Muslin states and the likelihood of the voice of the OIC being heard, particularly by certain groups within the Darfur situation. And it would have to do much more to ensure that it gets the confidence of Chad on this matter as well,” he says.
Jhazbhay says the OIC would have to take a multi-front approach to try to end the conflict. “I think one is to move and really push to consolidate the joint African Union/UN peacekeeping force in Darfur…and to do everything possible to make that happen quickly, including…the required pressure on Khartoum to remove any obstacles in that regard….Turkey has shown huge interest in Africa in terms of questions of resources, in terms of questions of drawing on its experience. Particularly Turkey, given it’s a member of NATO, the role it could play as a more legitimate player within Sudan is a second area. The third area I believe is the strength of the OIC would be dialogue, to let the players…see the legitimacy of the need to move forward,” he says.
He says that the OIC could gain influence and prestige if it’s successful in Khartoum and help to overcome its major concern of “Islamophobia…. This sort of sense the OIC has that there’s a lot of anti-Muslim, anti-Islamic fervor. So it wants to improve the image of Muslim states.”