Recent Houthi attacks against holy sites in Mecca are to be referred to the United Nations by the foreign ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation member states.
Fifty-one representatives of predominantly Muslim states decided to address a letter to the U.N. on behalf of the O.I.C.’s executive committee during an emergency meeting held in Mecca. They wanted “to take to necessary international measures to prevent the recurrence of such attacks” against Mecca and other holy sites by rebel groups.
The attack took place on October 27 when Houthi militants fired a ballistic missile on Mecca. The missile was intercepted by Saudi Arabia’s defense system 65 kilometers from the city; Arab coalition forces later found and destroyed the rocket launchers.
Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Nizar Madani condemned the attempted attack during the announcement of the U.N. referral.
“All Muslims must take a clear and strict stance against this attack to prevent Houthis from being encouraged to repeat this attempt,” he said.
The delegates present at the O.I.C. meeting also approved the creation of a work group of O.I.C. member states that would create and implement measures to avoid repeat attacks.
The attack on Mecca was almost universally condemend by Muslim countries, as Mecca is a holy site for the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims. The announcement by the O.I.C. referred to Mecca as the”cradle of revelation” and said the attack was “towards the direction of Muslims”.
The condemnation of the attack and of those countries who back Houthi and Saleh militiamen in Yemen was implicitly aimed at Iran, one of the few Muslim countries not present at the meeting.
The Iranian government, who officially deny their support for rebel forces in Yemen, declined an invitation to attend the meeting on Wednesday. According to sources who spoke to Asharq al-Awsast, Iran’s supporting role for Houthi militias is “now obvious to all Islamic states”.
Recently, Iran has increased its shipments of weapons to Yemen through land routes in Oman. Rebel attacks against Western vessels have also been linked to weapons provided by Iran. In particular, the use of Soviet-era Scud missiles, of which Iran still possesses stockpiles, have been considered damning evidence of Iranian support.
The U.S., who recently intercepted an attempted attack by Houthi rebels while sailing in Yemeni waters, has claimed that its military has intercepted several shipments of weapons headed to Yemen by sea from Iran since 2015.
Madani called for an end to the “aggressive actions toward the Yemeni people” by the Houthi rebels and militias loyal to ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
At the same meeting, the O.I.C. elected Yusuf bin Ahem AL-Othaimeen as its new Secretary-General.
Saudi Arabia proposed Othaimeen for the role after the previous Secretary-General, Iyad Ameen Madani, resigned for health reasons.
Othaimeen, who was pledged to bolster unified action amongst Muslim countries, was previously Minister of Social Affairs for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He was also Secretary-General for King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz’ Foundation for Housing Development and General Manager of the Charity Committee for Orphans’ Care (Ensign) in Riyadh.