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

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid