As America prepares for Republican and Democratic Conventions, leading up to an election that may determine the history of the world, Iran and firebrand Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are preparing to host a grou p of non-aligned nations dating back to the cold war, when the United States and the Soviet Union teetered back and forth on the vergeof global warfare. The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) meets every three years, and this 16th convocation has been long scheduled for hosting by Iran. Following the NAM summit, Ahmadinejad will address the UN General Assembly in New York, speaking as both the President of Iran, and the leader of the Non-Aligned Movement.
The Non-Aligned Movement at inception included then-promintent world figures Yugoslavian President Josip Broz Tito, who first conceived of the organization, Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, Indonesian president Sukarno, and Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah; all of whom chose a middle course for states at that crucial period of world history. Now, in 2012, members and observing nations total 137 states. The movement’s membership stretches from dominant nations such as India, to tiny Caribbean islands. Among those attending will be new Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi; Egyptian leaders haven’t visited Iran since 1979. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will also be in attendence.
The Non-Aligned Movement summit will provide Iran with a new opportunity to state positions on issues such as nuclear development and the issue of Iran’s posture toward Israel, which blossomed recently at the Iranian national celebration of Quds Day. Quds is the city of Jerusalem, and this year’s observation brought vast throngs into the streets of Iran chanting against Israel and the United States. The Jews too celebrate Jerusalem Day, “Yom Yerushalayim”; this year that celebration took place on Sunday, May 20th. Some international observers consider that Iran and her outspoken president, Ahmadinejad, love a stage. They express concern that the Iranian president might “sink Iran’s diplomatic ship” with loose talk about Israel, as was expressed by Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-born analyst based in Israel.
Iran will use the opportunity to tell the world that The United States and its allies have not succeeded in isolating Iran, and that isolation is being oversold by the U.S. and the international community. This viewpoint was voiced by the National Iranian American Council’s Jamal Abdi, who took advantage of the opportunity to state again that Iran’s nuclear ambitions are peaceful.
In spite of opinions of world leaders, including many in the United States, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will attend. The U.S. and Israel say that as the leader of the organization imposing sanctions, he should not go. But the Secretary-General announced through a spokesman that he will attend; “The secretary-general looks forward to the summit as an opportunity to work with the participating heads of state and government, including the host country, toward solutions on issues that are central to the global agenda.” Diplomatic pressure on Ban Ki-moon to boycott increased, as Ahmadinejad called Israel a “cancerous tumor with no place in the Middle East.” The Secretary-General will attend the conference and the address by Iran’s powerful leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Some in Israel have been highly vocal, criticizing Ban Ki-moon, and his perceived support of “The Pariah state.” Indeed, as Ban was confirming his intention to attend, he was advised, according to unnamed media sources, that Iran had been supplying weapons to Syria. Secretary Ban’s spokesperson reported that the U.N. chief will reinforce his concerns about Iran’s nuclear program, Iran’s support for the Assad regime, and for the ongoing threats to annihilate Israel.
Hosting the conference will produce an opportunity for the Iranians to reaffirm a right to peaceful nuclear technology and condemn the ongoing and strengthening threats from the Israeli military. Iran will likely again broach the issue of Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.
The important concern over the bilateral bloodshed and savagery in Syria will be a major NAM topic. Syria was once a close ally of Iran, but the pragmatic sense that Syrian President Assad is close to being pushed from power changes the relationship. The Syrian issue will expose differences among NAM members. On August 3, the United Nations General Assembly voted in condemnation of Syrian force against the Syrian people. Only 8 of the NAM members voted with Syria. These 8 included Syria herself, Iran, China and Russia. These nations oppose the western trend toward globalization and have a policy of non-interference and sovereignty of individual nations.
As host, Iran will promote its culture and tourism to more than 7000 delegates. Iran has announced a week’s holiday, to minimize motor traffic in Tehran. Iranian crews are busily adding greenery and décor to areas where delegates and visitors will congregate.
Photo credits: Guardian, iranchamber,