After the UN, the Non-Aligned
Movement (NAM) is the most important world body. Hopefully its 16th
summit will infuse it with new life.
As host, Iran has a historic opportunity. At the same time, it can enhance
its own prestige and enlist support against hostile Washington/Israeli
August 26 began six days of sessions and discussions. Proceedings began
with an experts meeting.
During the opening session, Egypt's permanent UN representative, Mootaz
Ahmadein Khalil, ceremonially passed NAM's presidential baton to Iran.
For the next three years, Tehran will head the organization.
Hosting NAM is significant. Assuming leadership affords added prestige.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mihmanparast said 118 foreign delegations
will attend. Russia and China are there as observer nations. So is Australia.
Participants sent 27 presidents, eight prime ministers, nine vice presidents,
six special envoys, up to 25 foreign ministers, other high-level ministers,
and two kings.
The Tehran Times named some of the participating dignitaries. They include:
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi,
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Bolivian President Evo Morales, Indian
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, North Korea's parliamentary chairman
Kim Yong-nam, Cuba's Raul Castro, Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber
Al-Sabah, Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Pakistani President
Asif Ali Zardari, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Tajik President Emomali
Rahmonov, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Sudanese President Omar
al-Bashir, Armenian President Serzh Sarkisyan, Lebanese President Michel
Sulaiman, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, and Zimbabwean President Robert
Despite tensions between the two countries, Saudi Arabia's Prince Abdulaziz
bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz (King Abdullah's son) will attend. He's currently
acting deputy foreign minister.
Bahrain's foreign minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa will also participate.
In March 2011, Manama recalled its ambassador in protest over Tehran's
condemnation of Bahraini police state violence. Iran responded in kind
by recalling its envoy.
On August 12, Bahrain returned it ambassador to Tehran. Days later,
Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein amir-Abdollahian said Iran wouldn't
return its ambassador to Manama as long as crackdowns continued.
In advance of the summit, a document with 688 articles was prepared.
They'll be discussed during the two-day meeting of experts. Topics include
international issues, regional crises, human rights, food and health
security, as well as matters relating to economic development.
One statement will focus on Palestine. Another will be a comprehensive
plan to end Washington's war on Syria. A contact group will be established
to help defuse the conflict. One-on-one and multilateral discussions
will be held on how to do it.
Iran has multiple objectives in mind. It seeks support for its lawful
nuclear program, peace, and mutually beneficial solidarity.
Economic issues will be stressed. Plans will be presented to revitalize
NAM. Participating delegations will be urged to transform it into a
more significant organization by making its "approvals" binding. Since
founded in 1961, it's only issued statements relating to world problems.
On August 26, Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi delivered the
opening speech. Press TV said he "called on all member states of the
Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to use their utmost potential and make collective
efforts to establish peace and justice in the world."
"At the current juncture, we have made our utmost efforts to promote
general objectives of the Non-Aligned Movement including fostering solidarity
among all member states, which is a prerequisite for an efficient movement."
He said a "destructive mind" affects international relations. He urged
solidarity and respect for national sovereignty in the face of a collective
"We need to revive our movement in accordance with the current conditions
in the world," he urged. NAM participants "must seriously oppose unilateral
economic sanctions which have been enacted by certain countries against
During its leadership period, he said Iran will try to strengthen NAM
and increase its importance.
He added that world views top NAM officials share, show a clear mutual
"determination to support and strengthen the movement and turn it into
an effective tool to protect the interests of member states."
He hopes mutual concerns will translate into effective peace offensive
On August 26, the Tehran Times said Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei will
deliver the opening speech of the summit of heads of state and government.
It said the summit "will mark a turning point in the history of the
Islamic Republic of Iran at a time when certain Western countries and
the Zionist regime are making efforts to isolate Iran in the international
Mehr News said NAM participants are invited to visit Iran's nuclear
facilities. At issue is showing them they're peaceful and non-threatening.
Scheduled trips are also scheduled to industrial and scientific sites.
Mehr News also said Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad and
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will attend. Reports disagree on
whether Palestine's elected Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh will participate.
Maan News said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad invited him. On
August 26, it said he accepted the invitation and will attend.
Unelected Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad objected, saying:
"This is a serious escalation by Iran against Palestinian unity and
against the Palestinian Authority’s role as the guardian of the Palestinian
people both in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank including Jerusalem."
The PLO Executive Committee also issued a statement. It accused Iran
of promoting Palestinian disunity.
Hamas is Palestine's elected government. Abbas' presidential term expired
in January 2009. He and appointed prime minister Fayyad have no legitimacy.
Confirming Haniyeh's attendance, Gaza spokesman Taher Al-Nunu called
on all parties to respect the Palestinian people's democratic choice.
He added that Haniyeh will participate in Tehran as elected prime minister.
On August 26, a second Maan News report said Iran's foreign minister
told his PA counterpart that Haniyeh wasn't invited.
PA foreign minister Riyad Al-Maliki said Abbas won't attend with him
and other Gaza delegates. Palestine remains a divisive issue. At the
time of this writing, no further information is available.
Dominant discussion themes include solidarity, national sovereignty
inviolability, economic development, and peace. The summit represents
a major opportunity for Iran to enlist support. It also provides a platform
against Western/Israeli imperialism.
Top officials from 118 delegations shows Washington's attempt to isolate
Iran failed. World participation is impressive.
Fidel Castro's 1979 Havana Declaration will be stressed. He said NAM's
purpose is to ensure "the national independence, sovereignty, territorial
integrity, and security of non-aligned countries (in their) struggle
against imperialism, colonialism, neocolonialism, racism, and all forms
of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony
as well as as against great power and bloc politics."
Six days of discussions will focus on these and related themes. Hopefully
at summit's end Iran will have gained prestige at the expense of Washington,
Israel, and key NATO allies. Perhaps unity on how to end Syria's conflict
will also emerge.
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said NAM participants
oppose foreign interference. A "new proposal will be presented at the
sidelines….and evaluated by members."
He added that NAM participants "want to hear the standpoints of the
Syrian people and see a comprehensive plan to settle the crisis."
"No foreign states but the people of Syria should decide about their
Achieving broad agreement on that principle alone would make Tehran's
summit successful. Translating agreement into policy matters most.
A Final Comment
Western media attempts to ignore, downplay, or demean the NAM summit
may backfire. The event’s significance may be enhanced. A Washington
Post editorial called it an anti-American "festival of resistance,"
a "useless recreational club," and a "bacchanal of nonsense."
These type comments reflect imperial arrogance, the shameful state of
America’s media, and why US policies and its supporters are condemned.
Iran's UN mission press office head Alireza Miryousefi responded, saying:
The Post editorial "unjustifiably smeared Iran and mocked the upcoming"
NAM summit shamelessly. Doing so "ignore(s) the growing importance of
the movement…" Most UN member states belong. Other key ones are observers.
"In light of its focus on multilateral cooperation, disarmament, sustainable
world peace, rights of nations and horizontal relations defying hegemonic
structures, the Non-Aligned Movement is a major cross-regional group
in the United Nations…."
Participation by dozens of world leaders "promises to make significant
contributions to (NAM's) lofty objectives."
Iran's agenda is peace and mutual cooperation, he stressed. Its legitimate
nuclear program threatens no one. NAM principles "always supported Iran's
inalienable nuclear (and other) rights and opposed" illegal Western/Israeli
Washington has other ideas. So does Israel. Hopefully this year's summit
will show solidarity against them. What's more important than world
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized
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