Monday, August 14, 2006

Hala,

I am exhausted.

The first day of the emergency summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Kuala Lumpur has come and gone, and by all measures it has been an intensely busy and fruitful event, –at least based on the comments I gathered from international diplomats today.

And since the meeting stared before 9AM, and I started well before that, it has therefore also been rather long day for me.

I am far from being a reporter, but as you can see, I have been thrust with more obligations than the title of Research Assistant denotes. This is both good and bad. Good, because the circumstance accelerates my learning curve, but bad because since I harldy know what I'm doing half the time, the potential for making serious errors increases greatly. I'm doing my best; I hope they understand that in Doha and London.

Of course, this situation is only because, as you know, our offices were destroyed. And, since most of the senior and experienced people that were stationed here are also dead, our current staff is now quite meager. So, there are only a few of us who can be said to be local. And what few of us there are, are naturally quite depressed and off kilter. I myself feel like a walking zombie.

But Aljazeera's staffing issues did not stop delegates from all over the Islamic world from converging early this morning on the Kuala Lumpur Conference Center today, and then only taking a few breaks throughout the day for prayers.

My primary task was to brief Aljazeera's new team from Doha on the ever changing situation here on the ground. But once having done that, they also put me to work interviewing officials and collecting data. Doing something like exit interviews, really, and in the end thereby helping the team to cover more terrain than they could have otherwise.

Now, I'm the first to admit that I'm quite unqualified for these tasks. So, I am therefore all the more grateful to be given such things to do. Or anything to do, really, because I must do something. To watch other men across the way clear rubble and bent steel from the Petronas site leaves on feeling utterly useless. So, if in some way, by helping to cover a story, I can give voice to the dead, then this me with some small comfort.

A small consolation, but a consolation nonetheless.

As was expected, at the end of the day, the OIC body released a declaration (all summits end with a declaration, so I've been told, whether facetiously or not, I don't know). I'll post the body of the text in the following entry.

I've not yet made sense of the document yet, myself. But from what I can immediately gather, it is evident that the response to the attacks of 7/27 will not be decided or executed by Malaysia, India or Indonesia alone, but rather by some coalition of Islamic states –at the very least, or perhaps by or with the United Nations.

On Wednesday, members of OPEC gather in Jakarta. I won't be flying over to Indonesia, but I will post the minutes from their meetings, just as soon as I receive them.

Siraj