World Muslim Leaders Meet in Mecca on Syria Crisis

The ongoing crisis in Syria was top of the agenda at an emergency summit of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) which was held in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on Tuesday night. The meeting suggested the suspension of war-hit Syria, a move strongly opposed by Syria’s strongest ally, Iran.

It is believed that the OIC represents 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide. Mecca, the holiest Islamic city, is of particular significance, and Tuesday is also significant, being the 26th of the holy month of Ramadan, the night when it was believed the Koran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed, according to Muslim tradition.

The meeting, which was presided over by Saudi King Abdullah, was held in the Al-Safa royal palace in Mecca. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose country has openly criticised the push to suspend Syria, is attending the extraordinary meeting. The Saudi monarch proposed the suspension of Syria and is pushing to mobilise support for the rebels.

However, Iran which remains the Syrian regime’s biggest regional ally has pledged its full support for embattled President Bashar al-Assad in his fight to remain in power, though it denies providing him with soldiers or arms.