This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani has used an Islamic conference in Malaysia to urge Muslim nations to deepen cooperation in order to counter U.S. “hegemony.”
Speaking on December 19 at the opening ceremony of the event in Kuala Lumpur, Rohani reiterated Iran’s view that the United States is using economic sanctions as the “main tools of domineering hegemony and bullying” of other nations.
Hundreds of delegates are attending the three-day gathering — including leaders from Turkey and host Malaysia — but the meeting has been snubbed by Iran’s regional foe, Saudi Arabia, and other members of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).
The meeting comes as the United States has reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran after withdrawing last year from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
The Muslim world needs to be saved “from the domination of the United States dollar, and the American financial regime,” Rohani told the Kuala Lumpur conference, urging deeper financial and trade cooperation between Islamic countries.
By harnessing their collective strength, Muslim nations could confront challenges such as rising extremism, weak governance, poverty, and corruption, which the Iranian president said are endangering sovereignty and paving the way for Western interference in war-torn countries like Syria, Yemen, and Afghanistan.
In his welcome address, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Muslim countries were “in a state of crisis, helpless, and unworthy of this great religion, which is meant to be good for mankind.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the 57-member OIC was besieged by a “lack of implementation.”
“We still haven’t made any progress regarding the Palestinian cause. We still can’t stop the exploitation of our resources. We still can’t say ‘stop’ to the fragmentation of the Muslim world over sectarianism,” he said.
Saudi Arabia snubbed the meeting because it was not held under the Jeddah-based OIC, which said such gatherings would weaken Islam.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan withdrew from the meeting, reportedly after Saudi pressure.