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Amir warns sectarianism biggest threat to Muslims

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KUWAIT: Muslim countries must increase measures to fight extremism, HH the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al- Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah said yesterday at the start of a conference aimed at combating the spread of jihadist organizations such as the Islamic State group. “We are required to intensify efforts with the world to combat terrorism being waged by terrorist organizations,” Sheikh Sabah told attendees at a conference of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). “We need to take a serious stand against sectarian tensions plaguing and dividing our nations... It is the most serious (threat) against the very existence of Muslim countries,” the Amir said.

Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia was itself the scene of a suicide bombing by Sunni extremists against a Shiite mosque that killed 21 people during Friday prayers last week. “I would also like here to renew Kuwait’s severe condemnation and denunciation of the terrorist bombing, which occurred at a mosque in Qatif in Saudi Arabia, resulting in dozens of victims and injured,” HH the Amir said, praying to the Lord Almighty to bestow his mercy upon the victims and rest their souls in peace, and wishing the injured quick healing and wellness. “We stress Kuwait’s support to Saudi Arabia and all actions it might take to confront these terrorist crimes and maintain its security,” he said. “We all gather under the flag of monotheism, and the provisions of one holy book of God Almighty, and follow the guidance of our Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. We must set out from these facts and ally to confront the daunting challenges faced by the Muslim world.

We are all losers in this confrontation, but the winner is he who wants to inflame this devastating struggle serving his own objectives and who plans to discredit and weaken Islam,” the Amir added. In the opening statement, Sheikh Sabah also highlighted the hardships of the Palestinian people and their protracted cause and touched on the region’s various crises, namely Syria and Yemen. Sheikh Sabah defended the Saudi-led airstrikes against Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels and their allies after they “threatened our security and stability and captured power by force”, after breaching pledges made in response to the Gulf initiative.

Alluding to the crisis in Syria as a catastrophe, HH the Amir said the crisis has resulted in mounting numbers of casualties, dead and wounded, as well as refugees. He noted in this respect that Kuwait had hosted three international conferences for raising donations for the stricken Syrian people. “We affirm that resolving the crisis should be solely through peaceful means,” the Amir said. Sheikh Sabah also urged Iran to cooperate with the international community to resolve the dispute over its nuclear program and to respond to efforts by countries in the region to establish closer ties. He indicated that Tehran must abstain from meddling in the GCC countries’ internal affairs. “We hope that the meeting would attain its aspired objectives,” he said.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir echoed Sheikh Sabah’s call. “We are all eager to confront the threats that face the Islamic nation, foremost among them the phenomenon of terrorism, violence, extremism and sectarianism, which have wrought deep damage in the Islamic nation,” Jubeir said. Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are among countries attending the conference, which is expected to see the 57-member OIC approve an “effective strategy to combat terrorism, violent extremism and Islamophobia,” the organization said. The strategy will focus on Islamic world responses to the root causes of “terrorism”, including poverty, underdevelopment, unresolved conflicts and sectarianism, the OIC said in a statement. Meanwhile, Iran’s foreign minister urged Saudi Arabia to end its military campaign in Yemen, saying the war would “bring harm” to the kingdom, Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported yesterday. Zarif’s remarks from Kuwait, where he was attending the OIC meeting, was one of Tehran’s most direct attempts yet to engage Gulf countries on the crisis in Yemen. “We say to our Saudi brothers that we want a brighter future for all countries in the region, and what they are doing in Yemen will end up harming them,” Zarif was quoted as saying.

In an open letter published in Kuwaiti newspapers yesterday, Zarif said his country was prepared to engage in dialogue in order to resolve the region’s several conflicts. Zarif assured Arab states that Iran had no designs to revive its ancient empire, which spanned a large area of the Middle East, and said an agreement with world powers over a nuclear deal with Tehran would help bring peace to the region. “Solving this artificial (nuclear) crisis and distancing the region from a military confrontation is in favor of peace ... and in the interest of all Muslim states,” he said in the letter. Referring to a US-Gulf Arab summit earlier this month at Camp David, Maryland, Zarif was quoted by IRNA as saying Saudi Arabia should work with Tehran rather than with the United States to settle the region’s wars. “Why do you go to Camp David when we are right next to you and want to pursue good relations, and when America does not wish you well and pursues its own interests?” he said. He also said Tehran wanted good relations with Saudi Arabia but that war would not solve the crisis in Yemen. — Agencies


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