by Zafar Bangash (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 41, No. 7, Shawwal, 1433)
The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Tehran shows that it is not Islamic Iran, but the US and Israel, that are isolated globally.
Ordinarily, summits of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) do not elicit much interest, at least in Western capitals that suffer from an acute sense of self-importance but these are not normal times. After all, past NAM summits came and went and were greeted with little more than a repressed yawn. So what is different this time that has generated so much excitement — and indeed heat?
One is the US-Zionist-led campaign threatening war against the Islamic Republic of Iran over its peaceful nuclear program. The NAM summit opened on August 26 amid threats of US and/or Israeli missiles! The other, more crucial factor is that the summit is being held in Tehran (August 26–31; it will conclude past Crescent press time) with Iran assuming the organization’s presidency. Thus, the NAM summit has gained enormous significance because of its venue and the host country’s assumption of its presidency for three years. The summit has shown that it is not Iran but the US-Zionist warmongers that stand exposed as global pariahs.
With 120 full members and 21 observer countries, the NAM represents more than two-thirds of all the members of the United Nations (192 members). In terms of the sheer number of countries and the world population they represent, this is the most significant bloc of countries, second only to the UN. Where it even excels the UN is that there is no Security Council type of structure in NAM with veto-wielding members that act as dictators blocking any resolution they do not like even if the rest of the world favours it. Since the UN General Assembly carries little weight in terms of its implementation powers, the Security Council is a club representing imperialist powers that dictate to the rest of the world. Despite repeated claims, the Security Council does not represent the will of the international community.
At the Tehran summit, at least 53 heads of state or governments were present in person. Vice Presidents, foreign ministers and other senior officials represented the rest of the member states. American and Zionist officials had tried hard, prior to the convening of the summit, to dissuade leaders from attending, with little success. Perhaps the hardest slaps were delivered by the new Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Both categorically rejected US-Israeli boycott calls, much to chagrin of the imperialist-Zionist duo.
Egypt has no diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic. These were severed in the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution in 1979 and Egypt, then ruled by Anwar Sadat, was a US-Zionist colony. Sadat had become a US puppet after surrendering Egypt’s sovereignty to the Zionist entity through the Camp David Accords. After his execution for such treachery at a military parade in October 1981, Sadat’s successor Hosni Mubarak continued the same antagonistic policy toward Islamic Iran. Mubarak could not do otherwise; he was also an American-Zionist stooge. Since his ouster from power last year, the political landscape in Egypt has changed dramatically. With the victory of Dr. Muhammad Mursi as president and al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun demonstrating mass support at the polls, Egypt’s orientation has undergone radical change.
President Mursi decided to visit Tehran for the NAM summit via Beijing. This has not gone down well in Washington that had hoped the US would be the first country that Dr. Mursi would visit as president. In fact, even before Dr. Mursi arrived in Tehran, he had met Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad in Makkah during a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) convened by Saudi king Abdullah on August 15—16. The two presidents — Dr. Mursi and Dr. Ahmedinejad, both engineering professors — hit it off admirably. Clearly, they discussed more than matters related to engineering during their long and animated discussion in Makkah. Dr. Mursi will again meet his Iranian counterpart in Tehran.
The OIC summit expelled Syria from its ranks over the objections of Iran. Syrian President Bashar al-Asad is not going to lose any sleep over the OIC decision, aware that this is a toothless body and largely irrelevant to the affairs of the Muslim world. In fact, the OIC Secretariat staff derisively refers to the organization as “Oh I see.” If anything constructive came out of the OIC meeting, it was Dr. Mursi’s proposal to set up a Contact Group comprising Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey to resolve the crisis in Syria. Iran immediately welcomed the Egyptian proposal. Syria was also one of the main topics at the NAM summit in Tehran.
If a majority of the world’s leaders endorse Iran’s proposal, the chances of its success will be enhanced.
On the eve of the summit, Iran’s Foreign Minister Dr. Ali Akbar Salehi outlined (on August 24) a proposal to initiate dialogue between the non-violent opposition members and the Syrian government to bring an end to the cycle of violence. He proposed a three-month ceasefire as well as immediate relief to the Syrian refugees and others affected by the fighting. Dr. Salehi said that these proposals will be further explored at the NAM summit. The external powers — the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey —that are financing and arming the rebels to create mayhem in Syria, have realized that the Bashar al-Asad government cannot be overthrown by armed insurrection. The much-hoped for defections of high-ranking military and political officials have also not materialized barring a few isolated cases, and the armed thugs have been soundly defeated both in Damascus and Aleppo.
Such setbacks, however, are unlikely to deter external powers from continuing with their disruptive tactics. This is where the NAM summit assumes greater significance. If a majority of the world’s leaders endorse Iran’s proposal, the chances of its success will be enhanced. In early August, Tehran had convened a meeting of 30 countries that included China, India, Russia, nine Arabian countries and Latin American and Southern African states, to push for a negotiated settlement to the Syrian crisis. This reflects a new balance of power that directly challenges Western meddling and disruptive policies in Syria and indeed the broader region. The formation of this group served notice that Western bullying will not be tolerated and that a no-fly zone on the pattern of Libya would not be tolerated in Syria. Russia and China have already checkmated at the UN Security Council Western, primarily American, British, and French plans to militarily intervene in Syria although arms and mercenaries are being smuggled into Syria in direct contravention of international law and the UN Charter.
Considering that China, India, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Indonesia and Pakistan are members of NAM (in addition to more than a hundred others), clearly reflects the global representation of this body. Leaders of hundreds of countries from all continents have refused to buy into decades of US-Zionist-led negative propaganda against Iran. Instead, the NAM summit is proof that Iran is recognized as a major regional as well as global player and that it is the US and its illegitimate Zionist child that stand isolated and universally despised for their aggressive militarism and warmongering.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s decision to attend the NAM summit in the face of US-Israeli threats means that he too is gradually moving out of the shadow of US imperial domination. While theoretically, the UN Secretary General is supposed represent all members of the UN — big or small — in reality, the Secretary General’s office has been used as little more than a doormat by the imperialists and Zionists. This, too, is changing and it is a hopeful sign. In any case, successive UN Secretary Generals have attended every NAM summit since 1961. Why should this one be an exception despite US-Zionist displeasure?
Perhaps the most important outcome of the NAM summit will be the rapprochement between Egypt and Iran that represent the two most important pillars of the region. Their coming together to find common ground on regional and international issues will have positive and far-reaching impact on global affairs. Dr. Mursi has already taken the first steps in Makkah at the OIC meeting. These have been warmly welcomed by Iran. His decision to attend the NAM summit will further cement relations between the two. While this will cause heartburn in Jeddah, Doha, Tel Aviv and Washington, let the hate-mongers stew in their own juice. Nobody has stopped the march of history. Muslims are beginning to take control of their own destiny. This is a positive development and all justice and peace-loving people should support it.