News / Middle East

    Iran Hosts Non-aligned Summit Despite Sanctions

    Beginning on Sunday, representatives of nearly 120 nations will convene in Iran's capital for the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement. The conference provides a break for Iran from international isolation over its disputed nuclear program and a chance for the movement to get some unaccustomed attention.

    Tehran soon will transform into a hub for more than a hundred diplomats, including several heads of state. They range from newly-elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is under indictment by the International Criminal Court.

    The summit comes as the United Nations and the West have increased sanctions on Iran over its controversial nuclear program - one that Israel and Western nations believe Iran is using to develop atomic weapons. Iran said its nuclear ambitions are peaceful.

    Jamal Abdi, of the National Iranian American Council, said Iran's hosting of the summit was decided long before the international push to further isolate Iran.

    "This was a stroke of luck for Iran. This sort of fell into their laps and they're taking full advantage of it," said Abdi.

    Abdi said Tehran will try to use the time in the spotlight to show Iran is not as isolated as the U. S. and the international community contend.

    "You can't completely isolate a country, and the effect of these sanctions and the isolation is being oversold by the United States and the international community," he said.

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is invited. The U.S. and Israel say that as the leader of the organization imposing sanctions, he should not go, but his spokesman, Martin Nesirky, said Ban plans to attend.

    "The secretary-general looks forward to the summit as an opportunity to work with the participating heads of state and government, including the host country, toward solutions on issues that are central to the global agenda," said Nesirky.

    David Tafuri, a partner at the Washington-based law firm Patton Boggs, said Ban's appearance is a critical diplomatic overture.

    Tafuri said, "Engagement has to continue, and the U.S. isn't really engaged right now on a diplomatic level, so it's okay, and, in fact, important for the U.N. to continue to engage with Iran."

    Tafuri said issues such as Iran's continued support of the Syrian government - and its crackdown on the opposition - will not go away.

    "Iran is in a very, very difficult place. They're losing friends," said Tafuri. "Syria was one of their best friends in the world and they're probably going to lose Syria as their close ally because Assad is probably going to be forced out at some point. So Iran is becoming more and more isolated."

    If not for the summit, many diplomats and leaders would not visit the Iranian capital, and analysts say Iran's respite from its troubles likely will be short-lived.

    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her bylines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Korea, Japan and Egypt.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Mervin from: Zambia
    August 27, 2012 9:45 AM
    NAM should try to find ways to end Syrian crisis,In all human history wars had never solved anything.Take a look in Libya,Afghanistan,Iraq and DRC no solution only total destruction.Syrians themselves should decide their fate than letting other people beating war drums in Syria.1% will benefit and the 99% will always suffer no wonder China and Russia blocked any military move in Syria as it had been a case in Libya.

    by: Anonymous
    August 27, 2012 7:26 AM
    And how far did they get by having this conference? All they did was dig their own grave deeper.... Deeper into seclusion, it is a shame the Iranians have leaders like this. Every Iranian I know hates their leaders, they told me not to judge them by their psychotic leaders decision making. I didn't, I knew all along that the leaders of Iran make up the decisions for the public without their say. I feel terrible for the Iranian people to have clowns like this running their country, what a sin. All the oil in the world and you have goons managing the operation. The Iranian gov could be liked around the world had they had good judgement and decision making, but they don't. It will end up with a war on their turf sooner or later. Sanctions first, then they will go in, first weaken the enemy.

    by: BVB from: USA
    August 25, 2012 10:43 PM
    Non-Aligned Movement is a vestige of the cold war era. In those days the movement was largely spear-headed by nations sympathetic or aligned with the Soviet Union and some of the champions of the movement include the Friedal Castro of Cuba and Mrs. Indira Gandhi of India.

    by: Vinayprasad from: India
    August 25, 2012 8:33 AM
    If 120 countries' leaders out of some 190 countries of the UN are visiting Iran and not a single one of them visiting nearby Israel, speaks of how the western world are being pushed into irrelevance in the modern world. This is a very serious issue for America and its "allies" wherein they had taken themselves for granted that they are the "leaders" of the world and whatever they say or opine is the last world on world affairs.
    In Response

    by: Vinayprasad from: India
    August 26, 2012 1:25 AM
    Godwin, you are pretending to ignore the main point of my message to suit your convenience, thereby making your comment infructuous. My main point is why a clear majority are NOT VISITING ISRAEL.

    Speaking of the western world facing the danger of being pushed away from their mirage of being "on the pedestal", just have a look at the development on the Assange asylum front. Today, all the South American countries have united and threatened Britain of consequences if they arrest the whistleblower. This is not a small development.
    In Response

    by: Chat from: Pakistan
    August 26, 2012 12:40 AM
    They are not visiting India also. It shows how much India or Indians are loved
    In Response

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    August 25, 2012 1:41 PM
    You got this wrong. 120 countries are NOT visiting Iran. They are there because they had to. And you have not heard them speak. In your short memory you forget that even Ahmadinejad and the Hamas group also attend the UN general assembly in the US. The non-aligned movement is a group of countries that seek to play the role of peacemaker, and some of the attending members maybe there to dissuade Iran from its suicidal nuclear ambition. We should wait until the end of the meeting before passing judgment whether the gathering is just to show solidarity with Iran or they meet because they are members of that organization.

    by: Joe Quinn from: NYC
    August 24, 2012 9:23 PM
    Well, well. "It's a small small world after all..." (of people who seem to hate us!)
    In Response

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    August 25, 2012 7:14 AM
    Non-aligned movement does not necessarily involve countries that hate America. More than just that, it involves countries which feel it should be a free world and that alignment to ideologies may not help the world. But at their different levels, either as a countries or peoples, much love is doled out to USA and much of their interaction follow that direction. In another word, the non-aligned movement should be a body of mediators between the aligned blocs and provide the leeway for meeting of opposing camps to dissolve teething issues. Even though this function has not been seen to be carried out by this body, and of course there are such countries as Iran, Pakistan and others especially supporting terrorism against civilization, a greater majority of the movement members are not enemies of the USA and may not support a legislation or argument that maybe potentially anti American.

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