OIC Force: Baby Steps

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 Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2200 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Fighters- Saudi Arabia F15/Tornado, UAE F16 Block 60, Turkey F16
    Pilots:- Turkish, Malaysian and Pakistan
    Tanks- Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey
    SAM:- Egypt
    Naval:-Malaysia OPV, Saudi Frigate,
    Land Force: Bangladesh, Indonesia

    My wishful thinking partial forces

  2. Salam.

    I support any effort by you to establish an OIC force. May the cruel slaughter of our people stop with its formation. Allahuakbar.

  3. Such a bloc would only work if members had common interests and aims – realpolitik. That would be the main unifying reason not religon. Historically, the past century has shown that the Arab world’s main problem is achieving unity. States will act if its in their best interests and not for religon. And if they have the means to do so.

    There are numerous examples from history:

    During the height of the civil war, Syria intervened in Lebonan by supporting the Christian Maronites against Amal and the PLO because it feared Israeli intervention.

    In 1971, when Syrian launched a mini invasion of Jordan after Black September, the Israelis with Jordanian blessing threatened to intervene if the Syrians didn’t back off.

    One of founders of the mid air bombings and hijacks was a Palestinian, George Habash , of the PFLP.
    And he was a Christian.

    It was the US, however late, who stepped in to stop the war in Bosnia and Kosovo. Only the US had the poilitical and military muscle to force all sides in Bosnia to sign a peace agreement. What would have happened if the Bosnians and Kosovons has relied on the Arab world and the EU.

  4. Certainly there are certain quarters that disagree with the notion that US stopped the war in Bosnia. Rather, US intervened when the muslim forces (especially the mujahideen volunteers) started to gain string of victories against their aggresors. If not, US would just sit by like the preceding 5-6 years watching the muslims bleed. The story has some credibility too, remembering that US was adamant in getting the mujahideen out of Bosnia as part of the peace process. Alija refused back then, remembering the contribution of these fighters, however small, in defending the bosnian muslims selflessly.

    Anyways… IMO there’s not going to be OIC army. OIC could just pretty much achieve the same result just by using petroleum as weapon if they choose to.

  5. Muslims especially of those from the OIC countries still have a lot of hurdle to deal with. Histories of the past decades have shown that a fragile military pact without strong religous will prove to be very disasterous. Remember the An-Nakbah where we lost Palestine progressively in 1948 War, 6 Day War, Ramadhan War ( some called it Yom Kippur but I prefer to use the former) and Bekaa Valley conflict. These series of conflict have shown that even Arab themselves cannot cooperate with each other effectively.

    When I used to work in Qatar couple of years ago, they have this some sort of racism in which non Arab muslims ( Indian, Indonesian and even Malaysian) are considered as second class. Even in mosque we were given the back row of saf.

    I’ve heard that the same situation have also occured in the Emirates. Therefore, I wonder if this military pact is possible. Though if it really materialise, I doubt it will last long and operates effectively.

    Marhalim: Your experience and others of the Arab’s condescending view of other Muslims is the reason that my suggestion that we go for it slowly. There is no need to rush it lets allow nature to take its course. However, one need to start somewhere and that the reason I am saying we take baby steps first, exchange programmes etc. from then we can move on to bigger things.

  6. The Yom Kippur/Ramadhan war was fought with 2 partners having 2 very different aims.
    The Egyptians went to war with the aim of seizing back the Sinai, hoping that this would lead to peace talks. The aim of the Syrians was to seize the Golan heights, enter north Israel, dealing the Israelis a major blow. There was a lot of bad feelings later when the Egyptians stopped at the Sinai, with the Syrians feeling let down. Never have 2 partners entered a war with so different aims. The Egyptian/Israeli peace deal signed by Sadat… It benefited Israel, the US and Egypt, not the Palestinians. So much for Arab solidarity.

    Today, Egypt is the 2nd largest recipient of US military aid after Israel.

    Jordan’s main aim during this period was preserving its survival along with the Hashimite kingdom because in 67 it had lost 1/3 of its territory without gaining anything. Apart from sending token detachments which didn’t contribute much, there was nothing other states like Morroco and Libya could do. Tunisia planned to send an F-5 aquadron but had to cancel after the pilots were involved in a coup attempt.

  7. At least Malaysia [officially] has been consistent with its stand towards Israel. Indonesia, with the worlds largest muslim population and official pro-Palestine stand, has in the past bought Israeli when it had to. The TNI-AUs Skyhawk fleet, sourced from the US, were from Israeli stocks. Some of the Korps Marinir PT-76s were recently upgraded by NIMDa, an Israeli firm. There was also talks that Indonesia was very interested in buying Malav UAVs.

  8. I hope the recent Conflict in Palestine should EDUCATE our leaders and most of our “generally unaware” citizens how important a Nation’s Defence is. In addition to that, all OIC leaders.

    It seems that all OIC members are too much relying on WESTERN or EASTERN Power for Military Support and Tech, except for Iran and to some extent, Pakistan and turkey.

    Due to Israeliā€™s behaviour, generally malaysians and other Muslim countries hate USA and love the EASTERN BLOCK eg, Russia and China. Bear in mind, please, they are superpowers. Superpowers will be superpowers. 1 Day they back us up, when situation arises, the next day they’ll Strip us naked.

    Whatever it is, if once the OIC Force in full force, apart from peacekeeping, flexing muscles such as intervention force or Peace Enforce, would be accompanied by threats of embargo as we all know, no.1 agressor twards the Islamic World is nonetheless, Israel.

    Apart from the OIC Military Initiative, my opinion is, cooperation in R&D and tech transfer with every major OIC nation having a share of the funding. Arabs, Malays, Indos, Persians,Pakis, turks aint stupid. We got the brains, but lack the socio-environment, funding and motivation.

    Together twards self-reliance.

  9. In my humble opinion I don’t believe the Saudis, Egyptians or other Arab states would back an “OIC Force”. Should this OIC Force become involved in a place like Gaza would the US then consider such a force pro-Hamas and label them as ‘terrorists’?

    marhalim: that is why we need to go for it slowly, build up the trust and co-operation, first before going gaga over mission goals etc. Of course politically things need to thaw a little for even this baby steps to work but as I said before we need to do it first….

  10. One issue i like to highlight is the lack of so called muslim superpower country that will be the main driver of such initiatives. On one end,You have the Saudi’s who is economically well endowed but lacks other area such as technology, manufacturing and education and you have the like of Pakistan, Muslim world currently in my beieve the only muslim nuclear power country and ability to produce its own medium defense technology but lacks economic and political stability.

    I agree we should start slow and start now. At least with a medical and rescue corp first

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