By: Stephen Lendman
The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) website says it has 115 members “representing the interests and priorities of developing countries.”
Wikipedia calls NAM a 120 member body with 21 observer countries. Member states include India, Egypt, Venezuela, and Indonesia. Observer ones include China, Russia, and Brazil.
NAM originated from the 1955 Asia-Africa Conference. Twenty-nine states participated. Mostly former African and Asian colonies comprised them. They convened to discuss common concerns, development plans, and international relations.
Issues addressed included major power pressures, maintaining independence, and opposing neocolonialism, especially “western domination.”
In 1961, 25 countries participated in the first Belgrade, Yugoslavia summit. Concerns then focused on an accelerating Cold War arms race.
Yugoslavia’s Josip Broz Tito was its first secretary-general, Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser its second. Egypt’s Mohamed Morsi serves as current secretary-general.
Earlier ones included Fidel and Raul Castro, Nelson Mandela, Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, and South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki.
Havana hosted the 1979 summit. Fidel Castro enunciated the Havana Declaration of 1979, saying:
It’s purpose is to ensure “the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and security of non-aligned countries (in their) struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neocolonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as as against great power and bloc politic.”
Membership criteria were adopted. They included:
- Independent policies based on “the coexistence of States with different political and social systems” and non-alignment.
- Support for “Movements for National Independence.”
- Countries belonging to “multilateral military alliance(s)” are excluded.
- Countries accepted for membership with them “should not be one(s) deliberately concluded in the context of Great Power conflicts.”
- If foreign military bases were present on their territory, they should not have been granted “in the context of Great Power conflicts.”
Post-Cold War, economic and other issues dominated summits more than political ones. Member states work with developed ones.
At the same time, the Foreign Ministry and Permanent Mission assume administrative responsibility duties. Chairmen are charged with promoting NAM principles and activities.
Rotating chairs head NAM. Summits are occasions when host country heads of state become secretary-general.
NAM holds its 16th summit from August 26 – 31. Tehran is host city. In early June, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA):
“All required arrangements with regards to the NAM meeting in Tehran late summer have been made according to the scheduled timetable.”
“All the NAM heads of state would be invited to the meeting and the presence of high-ranking officials from the member-states will boost the position and role of international institution in the world.”
He added that Iran will assume NAM’s rotating presidency for the next three years. In 2015, Venezuela hosts the 17th summit.
On August 14, head of Iran’s parliament Economic Commission Arsalan Fathipour said:
“In our meetings with the officials of the NAM member states we should brief them on the illegality of these sanctions and talk to them to make these sanctions ineffective.”
Tehran plans to stress member economic independence, he added. “We wish the NAM countries to prepare the grounds for confronting the economic threats posed by the hegemonic states.”
Also on August 14, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast said Israeli efforts to dissuade world officials from participating won’t influence independent states.
“Participation of so many delegations at high-profile levels in such an important summit in Tehran is not an issue which can be affected by the struggles of the Zionist regime officials, who have no say in equations.”
“Independent states would never change their opinions and views for the sake of the officials of this illegitimate regime which has no weight in international equations.”
State broadcaster IRIB quoted Iranian lawmaker Abed Fattahi saying NAM in Tehran “will symbolize the Islamic Republic’s strength and successful diplomacy in the international arena.”
On August 9, Netanyahu urged UN Secretary-General to cancel plans to attend. He called doing so “a big mistake, even if it is being done out of good intentions.”
In a private phone call, he repeated the same canards about so-called Iranian anti-Semitism, wanting Israel destroyed, its nuclear weapons program, anti-Israeli terrorist attacks, and danger to world peace.
He said attending would sully his office’s reputation and reward “Iranian obstinacy and grant legitimacy to a regime that calls for and openly acts to destroy Israel – a UN member state.”
Netanyahu leaked information about his conversation. According to unnamed sources, Ban was upset over what he believes was meant to embarrass him. Nonetheless, he may not attend.
Unconfirmed reports said he sees no reason to visit an anti-Semitic country. His spokesman declined comment. Iran’s vice president for international affairs, Ali Saeedlou, said he would attend.
At the same time, reports suggest Israel plans an international media campaign geared at thwarting his trip. It already began on Netanyahu’s Facebook page, as well one called Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel.
Israeli allies are being urged to tell others that Ban’s place isn’t in Tehran. Doing so may backfire.
Iran’s Ramin Mehman-Parast commented on Netanyahu’s remarks, saying:
“We don’t think that the stance of the UN and its Secretary-General or the stance of independent states whose officials decide independently can be influenced by these measures (of Israel).”
He also highlighted the number of participating nations. At least 50 will attend, including 30 or more presidents. “The presence of 50 delegations at the levels of president, vice-president, prime minister and foreign minister in the Tehran meeting is definite and the number is growing gradually,” he added.
“The larger the number of high-ranking world leaders and officials in this summit will be, the more the possibility will be for consultations and bigger decisions to solve the regional and international crises.”
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s media advisor, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, said:
Tehran’s summit “will show that this unipolar world is filled with justice-seeking countries, like the members of the NAM.”
Lawmaker Gholam Reza Mesbahi Moghaddam added that Washington “failed in its goal of isolating the Islamic republic from the rest of the world.”
“Iran is providing answers to the world’s questions,” non-aligned nations need to hear. Ahead of the summit, security is enhanced. Syria’s Bashar al-Assad has pressing domestic problems. He’s unable to attend.
On August 15, Press TV reported that India’s ambassador to Iran, DP Srivastava said New Delhi will send Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Foreign Minister Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna.
Noting that the summit comes at “a critical juncture when the world and region are experiencing various developments and suffering from many problems,” the conference provides “a favorable opportunity for useful consultations and offering suitable solution to regional and global issues.”
He added that India remains committed to NAM principles.
Press TV said Ban is expected to attend. Perhaps he’ll announce his intentions one way or another shortly.
During the weeklong summit, Iran will present plans to revitalize NAM and seek support for its peaceful nuclear program. Tehran will also urge resistance against Washington’s imperial agenda.
Hosting NAM’s 16th summit is significant for Iran. Whatever is accomplished, it shows dozens of nations express support. They represent resistance against US/Israeli imperial ambitions. Their own interests are at stake as well as Iran’s. Unity provides strength. Whether they’re up to the challenge remains to be seen.
Iran hysteria continues unabated. Inflammatory media propaganda continues relentlessly. Perhaps one day world leaders will understand that supporting Israel’s security harms their own. The same goes for Washington in spades.
About the author: Stephen Lendman writes on topics of international importance such as war and peace, American imperialism, corporate dominance, political persecutions and other socio-economic and political issues. He is also the author of ‘How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War’ and the co-author (along with J. J. Asongu) of ‘The Iraq Quagmire: The Price of Imperial Arrogance’. A former marketing research analyst, Lendman also hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour (on the Progressive Radio Network, Thursdays at 10:00 AM & Saturdays/Sundays at noon, US Central Time), that features cutting-edge interviews with distinguished guests. Click here to visit his blog.