News / Middle East

Iran Hosts Non-Aligned Summit Despite Sanctions

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (June 21, 2012 file photo)Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (June 21, 2012 file photo)
x
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (June 21, 2012 file photo)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (June 21, 2012 file photo)
Al Pessin
Representatives of nearly 120 nations, including dozens of heads-of-state, are to convene in Tehran next week for the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement.

The conference provides a break for Iran from its international isolation and a chance for the movement to get some unaccustomed attention, analysts say.

The Non-Aligned Movement is a Cold War organization that was supposed to provide a forum for countries that were not allied with either the United States or the Soviet Union.

But from its origins in the 1950s there were members that did not fit that description, and since the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991 the group has struggled for both identity and clout.

Now, its system of rotating leadership has put it back in the spotlight, as its summit is set for Tehran at a time of strong United Nations sanctions against Iran because of its nuclear program.

Contrasting policies

Some leaders will attend the summit even as they help enforce the sanctions that are crippling Iran's economy.

The contrast is typical of the movement. International Law professor Hennie Strydom at the University of Johannesburg said with so many countries involved, there is often relatively little they can agree on.

"They stay together on issues of common concern, like economic development issues, their sort of relatively weak position in international affairs, and in forming some kind of a bloc against Western influences," Strydom said.

"So, it's not a very strong basis to stand on, but nevertheless those issues have kept them together over these years," he said.

Strydom said many of the Non-Aligned Movement countries are somewhat sympathetic to Iran's right to develop its nuclear program, and to its tough stance against the West. He said Iran may try to use this meeting to generate support for easing the sanctions, but he is not convinced it will succeed.

"It wants to use this opportunity to drum up support for Iran's position in the world," Strydom said. "It could potentially be the result of this meeting that some states would say that the Security Council would have to reconsider it. At this point in time, it's a bit uncertain how strong that lobby will be."

U.S. critical

The U.S. State Department says Iran will try to manipulate the Non-Aligned Movement at the summit, and try to divert attention from its defiance of several U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The council imposed the economic sanctions because it believes Iran's nuclear program is aimed at developing nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies. The council wants Iran to stop enriching uranium to near weapons grade, and to allow international inspections.

Complicating Iran's effort to break the sanctions will be the presence of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Iran wants him there to raise the stature of the meeting, but many countries, including the United States and Israel, said that as the leader of the organization imposing the sanctions, he should not go.

Still, Iran Program co-director Dana Allin at London's International Institute for Strategic Studies said Ban's presence could keep the focus on the sanctions and the reason for them.

"I have no doubt that he's going to speak very bluntly to the Iranian leadership about the fact that they stand in violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions," Allin said.

Iran watched

So as the leaders gather in Tehran, analysts will be watching to see whether the meeting improves Iran's position in global diplomacy.

But Allin said even if it does, the respite from Iran's troubles will likely be short lived.

"They are holding the meeting and people are showing up," Allin said. "So clearly the isolation isn't total. It would be silly to pretend that it doesn't mean anything.

"My argument has just been that we shouldn't go the other way and exaggerate its significance because Iran's rather dire situation is going to be pretty much the same after this meeting ends as it was before," Allin said.

The summit will convene with a speech by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who usually only meets with Islamic officials.

That would appear to underline the importance of this meeting to Iran at a time when, if not for the summit, most world leaders would not visit the country, or even trade with it.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid