Makkah Summit Defies Iran’s Quds Day

Gen. Qasem Soliemani leads Iran’s Quds Force, created by Ayatollah Khomeini. The paramilitary force was named after Jerusalem and was supposed to liberate it but it has been busy everywhere else. [Photo: BBC site.]

Ahmed Quraishi

The three Makkah summits in Saudi Arabia will be remembered for creaming forty years of Iranian politics on Jerusalem.

The summits at Islam’s holiest city overshadowed Tehran’s annual Quds Day where militant groups across the region pledge loyalty to the Iranian Revolution. This year’s Quds Day, on the last Friday of Ramadan, coincided with the three Makkah summit conferences by the GCC, Arab League and the OIC; the three largest groupings of the region.

The blow from the three summits added to the impact of international sanctions, preventing Iranian government from generously funding this year’s parades across the region. Ordinary Iranians added to Tehran’s woes by largely ignoring this year’s rallies, which have dwindled to the point that proxies in Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen organize bigger rallies than the ones inside Iran.

The Makkah Summits not only overshadowed Quds Day but indirectly pushed aside Iran’s claims of doing more for Jerusalem than other Arab and Muslim nations. The final statement released by the OIC Summit listed the work done by diverse member states for Jerusalem, Palestinian people, and for independent Palestinian state, praising efforts by Turkey, Morocco, the UAE, Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia. When combined, this effort easily beats anything the ayatollah-led Iran has done for Palestine since 1979.

Khomeinist clerics designated Quds Day the same year they seized power in Iran in 1979. Next year they created Quds Force. The idea was to work for ending Israeli occupation of Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian holy sites. But instead of uniting the region for this noble cause, Quds Day and Quds Force became instruments of exporting extremist theological ideology based on toppling governments and spreading sectarian conflict.

Today, Quds Day is an event for militias and militant groups across the region to show loyalty to Islamic Revolutionary Guard Crops and its Supreme Leader Khamenei. The Quds Force is involved in a breathtaking array of wars and states across the region, in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Yemen. In short, involved everywhere except in Al-Quds.


The OIC summit has also shown Khomeinist-ruled Iran to be on the opposite side of five major issues that unite fifty-seven member states of the organization.

The OIC affirmed support to Azerbaijan on Nagorno-Karabakh. Iran supports Armenia. The OIC affirmed Palestine Liberation Organization, or PLO, as the only representative of Palestinian nation. Iran is undermining PLO and encouraging Palestinian infighting by supporting militant groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The OIC asked all members to support Turkish Cypriot State. Iran does not. The OIC threw its weight behind “launching peace talks with the Taliban” for “an inclusive peace process.” Tehran has reservations. The OIC backed the “constitutional legitimacy in Yemen” represented by the UN-recognized Yemeni government. Iran supports and arms anti-government militias. Also, the OIC exclusively “commended the hospitality and generosity of the Government and people of Pakistan” for hosting Afghan refugees for forty years, marking 2019 as the 40th anniversary year of Pakistani generosity. The OIC ignored Iran, where the Afghan government says that Afghan refugees are mistreated and forcibly recruited to fight in Iraq and Syria.


Iran accuses Arab countries and the OIC of selling out on Palestine. The Arab and Islamic Summits, however, outdid Iran on every count. Fifty-seven states unanimously condemned United States Government decisions on Jerusalem and Golan, openly named Israel as the “occupying power” in Jerusalem, “rejected” any new proposed solutions to Palestinian-Israel conflict that do not end occupation and establish an independent Palestinian state, and thanked Turkey for organizing “two extraordinary Islamic Summits on the cause of Palestine and Al-Quds Al-Shareef” in 2018.

But emphasizing peace not war, the GCC, Arab League and OIC condemnations came with an olive branch: holding out the possibility of peace with Israel based on Two-State Solution with East Jerusalem as Palestinian capital. The host, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the president of Egypt, the emir of Kuwait, the prime minister of Pakistan, and the King of Jordan, all forcefully underlined this.

The OIC final communique included an impressive list of work done to help Palestinian nation, work that outsmarts anything that Quds Day and Quds Force claim to have accomplished in four decades.

For example, the OIC thanked Indonesia and Kuwait for using their UN Security Council rotating membership to promote Palestinian interests. The OIC singled out King Mohamed VI of Morocco and Chairman of the Al-Quds Committee, for his efforts to protect “Islamic holy sites in AlQuds Al-Shareef.” Morocco used its relations with Israel to facilitate Muslim holy sites. Morocco was also praised for executing development projects in East Jerusalem through the Bayt Mal Al-Quds Agency (AlQuds Finance House) of the Al-Quds Committee. The OIC also recognized the work of King Abdullah II ibn al-Hussein of Jordan as the “Custodian of the Islamic and Christian holy sites in Al-Quds Al-Shareef,” and his role in “defending, protecting and preserving the city of Al-Quds and its Islamic and Christian holy sites.” The OIC also acknowledged “the historical Hashemite custodianship” over Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian holy sites and the work being done to maintain and preserve those sites. The OIC lauded Saudi Arabia’s $320 million in support both of AlQuds Fund and of Al-Aqsa Fund for the preservation of Islamic holy sites, and the payment of Riyadh’s share to the budget increase for the two Funds, with an amount of 70 million US dollars.

Interestingly, in addition to serving Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, all major development work in Gaza is paid for by three OIC member states Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, and Qatar. with active roles of Egypt, Morocco, Jordan. The OIC has praised “Egypt’s tireless efforts in supporting the Palestinian people and cause and achieving the Palestinian national reconciliation,” a reference to the role of Egyptian diplomacy in trying to end Gaza’s predicament.

The OIC document lists the many ways in which OIC members states, and especially KSA, UAE, Kuwait, and Lebanon, are financially shouldering the burden of looking after refugees in Yemen, Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria, with multimillion-dollar budgets. This is in sharp contrast to the role of Iranian proxy warfare in those regions, focused on perpetuating conflict.

The Iranian international and regional isolation today is stronger than at any time since 1979. The three Makkah summits also mark the defeat of Iranian mullahs’ exploitative narrative on Jerusalem and Palestine.



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Ahmed Quraishi

Ahmed Quraishi

Journalist with an eye for stories hiding in the grey area between national security, changing societies, and human rights in the MENA region.