The D-8 between the idealistic aspirations of the layman and the hard reality – Dr. Alya’a Samir Borhan
The D-8 constitutes an idealistic initiative that was the was the brainchild of the former Turkish Prime minister Necemettin Erbakan who founded this group in 1997 during a Seminar on “Cooperation in Development” which was held in Istanbul in October 1996. Erbakan envisioned that this new group would encourage co-operation among countries stretching from South East Asia to Africa. This seminar was the first step towards the establishment of D-8 and it was only after a series of preparatory meetings that D-8 was officially launched and commenced its activities with the issuance of the Istanbul Declaration at the end of the summit of Heads of State and Government held in Istanbul on June 15, 1997. Actually, membership of this group is open to other Muslim countries other than the current member-states, though no expansion is currently planned.
The idea behind this economic group was a noble one that of uniting the most populous Muslim countries in the world in a group that was easier to administer and run than the far bigger Conference of Islamic Countries Organisation. However, what the author will aim to argue during the course of this paper that this group is destined to fail, if it does not manage to encourage the rich Gulf countries to join. The rich Gulf countries, like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and United Arab Emirates are the ones with the most significant financial clout amongst the Muslim countries of the world. This can be demonstrated by the existence of the various development funds like the Saudi and Kuwaiti Developmental funds which undertake developmental projects in several developing countries round the world especially in the Sub-Saharan Muslim African countries. However, it is highly unlikely that any of the rich gulf countries would consider joining this group in view of the membership of a country like Iran, which has long been considered by the Gulf countries as the predator and enemy in the region.