KUALA LUMPUR: Within the last two years and even recently, there were a lot of voices calling for the formation of an OIC Force to help Muslim countries which come under attack especially in the wake of the slaughter in Gaza and the larger extent, Palestinian territories.
Since the OIC is more like a social club instead of a having real authority such calls have largely gone unheeded. There are various reasons for this state of affairs – the list too long for me to cite but suffice to say the Muslim world remained divided, those with money; those without and those who think they does but it never seemed to be enough (like Malaysia).
Have there been a Muslim force in recent times? Yes, during the first Gulf War, several countries (Syria, Egypt and Bangladesh) heeded the call of the Saudis to forge an alliance to liberate Kuwait. Due to the insistence of their governments, the Muslim force was channeled into a small strip of land between Saudi and Kuwait where they took on the remnants of Saddam’s army. By all accounts, the Muslim force did well (with extensive air support) and some observers commented that it could be the start of a Muslim military alliance. Alas that was not too be, both Egypt and Syria continued to be against each other politically; Bangladesh remained in chaos, while Saudi it seemed, found it rather comfortable to have Americans covering their back which was cited as the main motivation for the rise of Osama bin Laden. There is the Gulf Military Council but like its bigger body, its more a social club standing than a real military pact.
There have been many more knowledgeable people who had described an OIC Force as a non-starter. Realistically, the US and Europeans – the main arms supplier – will vehemently oppose it especially as the stated aim for an OIC Force by the Muslim masses is for the destruction of Israel. Russia and China, the other suppliers remained ambivalent in this issue, I guess as long as they could make money, they wont be bothered too much with a Muslim force.
Malaysian Defence however would like to offer a road map for a possible OIC Force in the future. I know many would disagree; they want it now, today but again, we must realistic. One cannot expect something to happen just because you want it to be so. Lets face the facts that for the last 100 years or so, the Ummah have been divided. The numbers are impressive but it cannot be compared to the days of the Prophet where 300 warriors faced some 1,000 enemies and won!
The recent UAE purchase of transport and training planes could serve a road map for an OIC Force. Military pilots from Muslim countries which realistically cannot actually afford transport and training planes could conduct their flight training with the UAE force. Pakistan have been doing this for years although without much publicity. For starters, the UAE and Qatar could pool their C17s for missions with Muslim countries. This will be a tentative steps toward integrating the military of OIC countries building trust among the professionals and gaining trust of fork-tongued politicians. This is how NATO and the US build up their relationship, not only through political and the military but also on the personal basis.
Malaysian Defence understand the huge task ahead in creating an OIC Force – with friend like this who need enemies? – but we must realise before running, we must first take baby steps. Only then success will come in this world and hereafter.
–Malaysian DefenceIf you like this post, buy me an espresso. Paypal Payment