[Marxism] The NAM & Syria
lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Aug 30 10:31:57 MDT 2012
On 8/30/12 12:11 PM, Vijay Prashad wrote:
NY Times August 30, 2012
As Iranian Hosts Watch, Egyptian and U.N. Leaders Rebuke Syria
By THOMAS ERDBRINK and RICK GLADSTONE
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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