Islamic nations fire broadsides at Soviet military interventions
The world's Islamic nations have condemned the Soviet Union in some of the strongest terms ever used by a third-world parley. In a double-barreled attack, the 36 foreign ministers attending the Islamic Conference here took Moscow to task in two separate resolutions dealing with its activities both in Afghanistan and in the Horn of Africa.
At the same time, the ministers surprised observers here by treating the United States with kid gloves.
In private comments they made it clear that they want to assert their countries' independence from both the US and the Soviet Union.
But they avoided making any direct refrence to the United State in a third resolution that called for a boycott of Egypt because of its peace treaty with Israel. And in a fourth resolution they expressed their "sincere wish that the Islamic Republic of Iran and the USA would resolve the outstanding problems between them by peaceful means" -- many of them implying that they wished to see the US hostages released.
In the resolution on Afghanistan, the Islamic ministers described the Soviet invasion as a "flagrant violation of all international covenants and norms, as well as a serious threat to peace and security in the region and throughout the world."
They demanded "immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all Soviet troops stationed in Afghanistan." They urged the Islamic states to "withhold recognition to the illegal regime in Afghanistan and sever diplomatic relatiions with that country until the complete withdrawal of Soviet troops." And they called for a "stop to all aid and forms of assistance given to the present regime in Afghanistan."
However, in the final resolution the Islamic nations did not go beyond "affirming their solidarity with the Afghan people in their just struggle to safeguard their faith, national independence and territorial integrity."
Asked why a call for material and moral support to the Afghan rebels had been dropped from the original draft resolution, Habib Chatti, Secretary-General of the Islamic Conference, told newsmen that "there are certain things one does not talk about but one does."
Finally, in the only proposal for concrete action against the Soviet Union, the conference called upon member states to "envisage, through appropriate bodies, not participating" in the Moscow Olympics.
In the resolution on "Foreign Military Intervention in the Horn of Africa," the Islamic ministers declared that "the presence of the Soviet Union and some of its allies in the Horn of Africa" was a "direct threat to the Democratic Republic of Somalia."
They went on to condemn "the armed aggressions against Somalia" and call for the withdrawal of Soviet and other communist troops from the area. The ministers urged that the Horn be taken out of "the conflict between the great powers." They promised to "strengthen the Islamic peoples in the Horn of Africa materially and morally."
Observers in Islamabad expressed surprise at the strongly-worded condemnation of Soviet polices by the Islamic nations.These observers seemed to be equally surprised at the fact the US was not treated in similar terms.
However, Pakistan and President Zia ul-Haq's foreign affairs adviser, Agha Shahi, who chaired the ministerial meeting, described the resolutions at the end of the conference as a "demonstration of the Islamic world's independence in the era of superpower domination; that we will never accept hegemonistic domination of the East or the West."
Summing up the results of the conference, Assistant Secretary-General Kacim Zahiri said that "rivalry and competition between the superpowers creates turmoil in the world and is a danger to small and middle-sized countries."
Emphatically, Agha Shahi stressed that "we the Muslim people, 900 million of us, will not become pawns or weapons of the superpowers."
This fear of getting caught in a confrontation between the US and the Soviet Union appears to have caused a major conference argument on the issue of the almost three- month imprisonment of American hostages in Tehran.
In the resolution entitled "External Pressures Against the Islamic Republic of Iran by the United States of America," the Islamic nations expressed hope for a peaceful solution of problems between Washington and Tehran. At the same time , however, they expressed firm opposition to "any threat or use of force, or any kind of intimidation or interference or imposition of economic sanctions, against the Islamic Republic of Iran."
Iranian delegates admit that their draft resolution was heavily modified by the conference. Nevertheless, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Kemal Kharazi said he was "satisfied" and pointed to the fact that the US was mentioned by name at least in the title of the resolution.
Conference chairman Shahi revealed to newsmen that several Islamic countries -- Iraq, Senegal, Niger, Tunisia, Cameroon, and Gabon -- had referred to the hostage ordeal in their contributions. Saudi Arabia had not done so in the conference hall but had raised the issue in private conversations.
Implicitly these countries had indicated that they wished to see the American hostages released and that they believed US pressure on Iran was at least partially due to the US Embassy occupation. But a Senegalese proposal for the secretary-general of the Islamic Conference to mediate in the crisis between Washington and Tehran was rejected by Iran.