Impacts of Saudi Hegemony on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)

  • Shahram AkbarzadehEmail author
  • Zahid Shahab Ahmed


The events of the 2016 summit of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Turkey demonstrate how Saudi Arabia’s role within the organization has been transformed from leadership into a hegemonic one, a process that has been unfolding over five decades. As a strong voice in the Muslim world, Saudi Arabia has employed a range of diplomatic strategies, in accordance with its national interests, to influence the OIC and its member states. Based on the analysis, this paper argues that Saudi Arabia has been able to exert hegemonic control over the OIC due to the organization’s structural make-up, its reliance on Saudi funding, as well as dominance in bilateral affairs with majority of the OIC members.


Saudi Arabia Hegemony Leadership OIC Foreign policy 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


  1. Ahmad, I. (2008). The organization of the Islamic Conference: from ceremonial politics towards politicization? In C. Harders & M. Legrenzi (Eds.), Beyond regionalism? Regional cooperation, regionalism and regionalization in the Middle East (pp. 125–138). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Ahmed, Z. S. (2013). Regionalism and regional security in South Asia: the role of SAARC. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Akbarzadeh, S. (2016). Iran after nuclear deal: renewed isolation or a pay-off for Pres. Rouhani?. 21 April 2016
  4. Akbarzadeh, S., & Connor, K. (2005). The Organization of Islamic Conference: sharing an illusion. Middle East Policy, 12(2), 79–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Al Tamamy, S. M. (2012). Saudi Arabia and the Arab Spring: opportunities and challenges of security. Journal of Arabian Studies, 2(2), 143–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Al-ahsan, A. (2004). Conflict among Muslim nations: role of the OIC in conflict resolution. Intellectual Discourse, 12(2), 137–157.Google Scholar
  7. Alsharif, A. (2012). Organisation of Islamic Cooperation suspends Syria. 14 August 2012
  8. Barnard, A. (2016). Saudi Arabia cuts billions in aid to Lebanon, opening door for Iran. The New York Times, 2 March 2016
  9. Barton, J. (2006). Saudis donate aid to non-Muslims. Telegraph, 26 March 2006
  10. Batchelor, T. (2015). UK ranked as FIFTH most powerful military in the world. Express, 14 December 2015
  11. Bates, T. R. (1975). Gramsci and the theory of hegemony. Journal of the History of Ideas, 36(2), 351–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bhasin, M. (2008). India’s role in South Asia—perceived hegemony or reluctant leadership.
  13. Brown, S., & Gravinghold, J. (Eds.). (2016). The securitization of foreign aid. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  14. Clark, I. (2011). Hegemony in international society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Destradi, S. (2008). Empire, hegemony, and leadership: developing a research framework for the study of regional powers. Hamburg: Institute of Global and Area Studies.Google Scholar
  16. Destradi, S. (2010). Regional powers and their strategies: empire, hegemony, and leadership. Review of International Studies, 36(4), 903–930.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dorsey, J. M. (2016). Creating frankenstein: the impact of Saudi export ultra-conservatism in South Asia. 24 July 2016
  18. Erdbrink, T. (2016). Iranian unit tests missiles, accusing U.S. of threats. The New York Times, 8 March 2016
  19. Fleurant, A., Perlo-Freeman, S., Wezeman, P. D., & Wezeman, S. T. (2016). Trends in international arms transfer, 2015. Stockholm: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.Google Scholar
  20. Hannah, J. (2016a). For Middle East peace, look to Israel's Arab partners. Foreign Policy, 16 May 2016
  21. Hannah, J. (2016b). Saudi Arabia strikes back. Foreign Policy, 16 August 2016
  22. Haynes, J. (2001). Transnational religious actors and international politics. Third World Quarterly, 22(2), 143–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hoodbhoy, P. (2016). Could Pakistan have remained pluralistic? In J. Syed, E. Pio, T. Kamran, & A. Zaidi (Eds.), Faith-based violence and Deobandi militancy in Pakistan (pp. 35–64). London: Macmillan Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Index of State Weakness in the Developing World (2008). Washington: The Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
  25. Johnson, T. (2010). The Organization of the Islamic Conference.
  26. Karim, U. (2017). The evolution of Saudi foreign policy and the role of decision-making processes and actors. The International Spectator, 52(2), 71–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kechichian, J. A. (2016). Saudi foreign aid reaches new heights. Gulf News, 31 August 2016
  28. Mabon, S. (2013). Saudi Arabia and Iran: soft power rivalry in the Middle East. London: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd..Google Scholar
  29. Meuleman, J. (2011). Dakwah, competition for authorithy and development. Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde (BKI), 167(2–3), 236–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Naji, S., & Jawan, J. A. (2013). Geopolitics of the Islam and world leadership in the post-Cold War geopolitical developments. Transcience, 4(1), 1–12.Google Scholar
  31. Nasr, V. (2015). Extremism, sectarianism, and regional rivalry in the Middle East. In N. Burns & J. Price (Eds.), America's response to radicalism in the Middle East (pp. 61–67). Queenstown: Aspen Institute.Google Scholar
  32. Nevo, J. (1994). Jordan and Saudi Arabia: the last royalists. In J. Nevo & I. Pappe (Eds.), Jordan in the Middle East: The making of a pivotal state (pp. 103–118). Essex: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd..Google Scholar
  33. Notten, P. W. F. V. (2014). After the Arab Spring: an opportunity for scenarios. European Journal of Future Research, 15(28), 1–6.Google Scholar
  34. OIC. (2014). Statement of the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Iyad Ameen Madani, at the the Opening Session of the Geneva-II Peace Conference on Syria, Montreux - Switzerland.
  35. OIC. (2016a). Final communique of the 13th Islamic Summit of the heads of state/government of the OIC member states. Jeddah: Organization of Islamic Cooperation.Google Scholar
  36. OIC. (2016b). OIC Foreign Ministers denounce Iran's interventions in internal affairs and its support for terrorism. OIC Journal, January–March (32), 4–5.Google Scholar
  37. Ottaway, D. B. (2008). The king's messenger: Prince Bandar bin Sultan and America's tangled relationship. New York: Walker & Company.Google Scholar
  38. Partrick, N. (2016). Domestic factors and foreign policy. In N. Partrick (Ed.), Saudi Arabian Foreign Policy: Conflict and Cooperation. London: I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd..Google Scholar
  39. PRC. (2015). 10 Countries With the Largest Muslim Populations, 2010 and 2050. pew Research Center, 2 April 2015
  40. Radelet, S. (2005). Think again: U.S. foreign aid. Foreign Policy, 1 March 2005
  41. Rana, S. (2016). Saudis to give Pakistan $122m in aid. Dawn, 11 March 2016
  42. Rieger, R. (2017). Saudi Arabian foreign relations: diplomacy and mediation in conflict resolution. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  43. Sharqieh, I. (2012). Can the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) resolve conflicts? Peace and Conflict Studies, 19(2), 162–179.Google Scholar
  44. Sheikh, N. S. (2003). The new politics of Islam: Pan-Islamism foreign policy in a world of states. New York: Routledge Curzon.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Soloway, B. (2015). Who decides who gets to go on the Hajj? Foreign Policy, 23 September 2015
  46. Spencer, R. (2015). Israel and Saudi present united front over Iran deal. Telegraph.Google Scholar
  47. Thompson, M. J. (2015). False consciousness reconsidered: A theory of defective social cognition. Crit Sociol, 41(3), 449–461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Toumi, H. (2012). Scholarship given to promote Islamic Studies. Gulf News, 10 September 2012
  49. Toumi, H. (2016). Jordan recalls its ambassador from Iran. Gulf News, 18 April 2016
  50. UNDP. (2015). Human Development Report 2015. New York: United Nations Development Program.Google Scholar
  51. Walsh, D. (2016). Egypt gives Saudi Arabia 2 Islands in a show of gratitute. New York Times, 10 April 2016
  52. WB. (2016). Saudi Arabia. World Bank
  53. White House (2017). Joint Statement Between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States of America.
  54. Yilmaz, S. (2001). State, power, and hegemony. International Journal of Business, Social and Scientific, 1(3), 192–205.Google Scholar
  55. Yizraeli, S. (2007). Saudi-Israel dialogue: what lies ahead? Strategic Assessment, 10(2), 71–78.Google Scholar
  56. Zuhur, S. (2011). Saudi Arabia. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Faculty of Arts & EducationDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia

Personalised recommendations