[Marxism] The NAM & Syria

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Aug 30 10:31:57 MDT 2012

On 8/30/12 12:11 PM, Vijay Prashad wrote:

> http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/can-nam-solve-syrian-crisis

NY Times August 30, 2012
As Iranian Hosts Watch, Egyptian and U.N. Leaders Rebuke Syria

TEHRAN — Iran’s triumphal stewardship of the Nonaligned Movement summit 
meeting here veered off script Thursday when the two most prominently 
featured guest speakers, President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt and United 
Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, denounced the repression of the 
armed uprising in Syria, a close Iranian ally.

Syria’s foreign minister walked out in protest at Mr. Morsi’s remarks at 
the meeting, the largest international conference in Iran since the 1979 
Islamic revolution. Iranian leaders have portrayed the meeting, attended 
by delegations from 120 countries, as a validation of Iran’s importance 
in the world and a rejection of Western attempts to ostracize it.

Mr. Ban added further embarrassment to the Iranian hosts by publicly 
upbraiding them in his speech for threatening to annihilate Israel and 
for describing the Holocaust as a politically motivated myth. “I 
strongly reject threats by any member state to destroy another or 
outrageous attempts to deny historical facts, such as the Holocaust,” 
Mr. Ban said.

In what appeared to signal Iran’s effort to avoid public friction over 
the Syrian conflict that would detract from the tone of the Nonaligned 
conference, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, opened the 
day with a welcoming speech that conspicuously avoided any mention of 
Syria. But the subsequent speeches by Mr. Morsi and Mr. Ban refocused 
attention on it.

Mr. Morsi, Egypt’s new Islamist president, whose decision to accept 
Iran’s invitation to attend the meeting was considered a major victory 
by the Iranians, likened the uprising in Syria to the revolutions that 
swept away longtime leaders in North Africa.

“The Syrian people are fighting with courage, looking for freedom and 
human dignity,” Mr. Morsi said, suggesting that all parties at the 
gathering shared responsibility for the bloodshed. “We must all be fully 
aware that this will not stop unless we act.”

Mr. Morsi, pointedly, did not mention unrest in Bahrain, possibly to 
avoid offending Saudi Arabia, which has helped Bahrain’s monarchy 
suppress the uprising.

With the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, sitting beside him, Mr. 
Morsi spoke of an “oppressive regime” in Syria and said the opposition 
should unite in its effort to unseat President Bashar al-Assad.

“I am here,” he said, “to announce our full and just support for a free, 
independent Syria that supports a transition into a democratic system 
and that respects the will of the Syrian people for freedom and equality 
at the same time, preventing Syria from going into civil war or going 
into sectarian divisions.”

While Mr. Morsi was speaking, the Syrian foreign minister, Walid 
al-Moallem, walked out in protest.

Mr. Ban, in the Syria portion of his speech, aimed a clear rebuke at the 
Syrian government by saying “the crisis in Syria started with peaceful 
demonstrations that were met by ruthless force. Now, we face the grim 
risk of long-term civil war destroying Syria’s rich tapestry of 
communities.” While he urged all antagonists to stop the violence, Mr. 
Ban said “The Syrian government has the primary responsibility to 
resolve this crisis by genuinely listening to the people’s voices.”

Iran stands isolated in the Islamic world in its support for President 
Bashar al-Assad, a status that became abundantly clear when it was the 
only nation to oppose the expelling of Syria as a member of the 
Organization of Islamic Countries on Aug. 14.

Local Iranian news media did not report the comments by Mr. Ban or Mr. 
Morsi, which strongly conflict with Iran’s official line; a top military 
commander recently declared Mr. Assad’s government the “winner” over the 
“U.S.- and Israel-backed terrorists.”

Such remarks have made it increasingly complicated for more pragmatic 
Iranian politicians to offer alternative ideas when it comes to Syria, 
with state television stressing daily the line of no compromise on 
Iran’s support for Mr. Assad.

Mr. Morsi, the new leader of an Egypt re-emerging as a regional player, 
and Ayatollah Khamenei, as the head of the Middle East’s only Islamic 
republic, predicted the coming of a new world order in which the power 
of the West is fading as developing countries demand more influence. The 
revolutions in the region are a clear sign of more changes to come, they 

In their separate speeches, Mr. Morsi and Ayatollah Khamenei both said 
that the makeup of the United Nations Security Council, in which the 
five permanent members — the United States, Russia, China, France and 
Britain — can veto decisions, should be reformed.

“We need comprehensive changes so that the Security Council will be more 
representative of the 21st century,” Mr. Morsi said in Arabic, speaking 
through a translator.

Ayatollah Khamenei, who repeatedly lashed out against the United States, 
said the composition of the Security Council had led to a “flagrant form 
of dictatorship,” and he accused Washington of abusing “this mechanism 
in order to impose its will on the world.”

Both leaders called for a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. 
Ayatollah Khamenei said that the United States and its Western allies 
had “equipped the usurper Zionist regime with nuclear weapons, which now 
pose a great threat to all of us.”

They also called for an independent Palestinian seat in the United Nations.

Ban Ki-moon, making his first visit to Iran as United Nations secretary 
general, called upon Iran to comply with a set of five Security Council 
resolutions demanding that the country stop enriching uranium. But on 
Thursday, Ayatollah Khamenei made clear that Iran would never compromise 
on the nuclear issue.

“The Islamic Republic is not after nuclear weapons,” Ayatollah Khamenei 
said. “But we will never give up on our right to nuclear energy.”

Thomas Erdbrink reported from Tehran, and Rick Gladstone from New York. 
Kareem Fahim contributed reporting from Beirut, Lebanon.

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