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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More