Iran and 16th Non-Aligned Movement Summit

Monday, August 13, 2012

Behzad Khoshandam
PhD Candidate in International Relations

Holding of the 16th summit meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Tehran on August 26-31, 2012, is one of the most important developments in the Iranian foreign policy in the context of the political upheavals in the Middle East which are collectively known as the Arab Spring.

Regardless of its various dimensions and angles, the Arab Spring has highlighted the role of international organizations in outlining the future outlook of political developments in the Middle East and North Africa. Meanwhile, the West – Arab alliance has been trying to use international and regional organizations as instruments for more than two years in order to achieve its strategic goals in this region. At the same time, the aforesaid alliance has been trying to prevent member states of the anti-Israeli “resistance axis” from achieving their foreign policy goals while posing serious challenges to the realization of foreign policy objectives of important regional players such as Iran.

Major international bodies which have been actively involved in political developments of the region within framework of the Islamic Awakening included the Arab League, the United Nations Security Council, and the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council [(P)GCC]. The European Union, the African Union, and Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) have been largely passive in the face of the aforesaid developments. Other international organizations such as G-8, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the Non-Aligned Movement have mostly appeared as observers in the course of the aforementioned developments.

The main goal of the above organizations from getting involved in regional developments has been to guarantee the interests of major Western and Arab powers or those powers which sway influence over such regional and international organizations.

Therefore, the role which major transregional players, powers and organizations have played in political equations of this important geographical region following the wave of the Islamic Awakening, has been a function of the role that a concert of big international and global powers has played in developments of this important geopolitical and geostrategic region. The international concert has relied in its regional plans on such principles of international law as the “responsibility to protect” and the “protection of civilians.”

Another important point which should be taken into consideration is that the role played by international and regional organizations in political developments of the Middle East region during the past two years and their future outlook will have remarkable consequences for different Middle Eastern states, including Iran.

One of those consequences is that such important international organizations as the United Nations, (especially the Security Council), and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have acted in line with the goals and strategic aspirations of big powers with regard to issues related to international peace and security in the wake of Arab Spring developments. As a result, the role played by these organizations in the political developments of the Middle East and North Africa after the beginning of the Arab Spring has not served to protect international peace and security, but has been meant to realize foreign policy goals of the world powers. This is why the performance and activities of these organizations in the Middle East and North Africa following the inception of the Arab Spring has meant to further restrict the influence of the “resistance axis,” and “Islamism discourse” in the region.

Another point is that for the third time following 9/11 terror attacks, efforts are underway by world powers through recourse to international organizations in order to implement regime change in this region. Continuation of this process will have profound effects on the sovereignty, regional influence, and the foreign policy approach of an independent regional country like Iran as well as it allies throughout the Middle East.

Last but not least, in the forthcoming years and as a result of the activities of such important international organizations as the NATO, the Middle East will once again become the hub of conflicts among big powers like China, Russia, the United States, and European states. Therefore, countries like Iran should try to make the most of such impartial international mechanisms as the Non-Aligned Movement.

The bottom line is that involvement of international organizations in regional developments of the Middle East and North Africa following the outset of the Islamic Awakening has been mostly profit-based and aimed at creating a network of power and communications in favor of the West – Arab axis. The future outlook for the presence of these international organizations in the developments of the Middle East and North Africa will be no doubt determined by the interests of big powers. It will be also a function of international and regional strategic dealings which aim to counteract the foreign policy initiatives of such important regional players as the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Undoubtedly, holding of the 16th summit meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran in late August 2012 will provide the Islamic Republic with an exceptional opportunity and will help the country to thwart the abovementioned efforts of the West – Arab axis – through international organizations – to reduce the efficiency of the foreign policy initiatives of Iran.

Key Words: NAM Summit, Iranian Foreign Policy, Middle East, Arab Spring, Arab League, UN Security Council, [(P)GCC], EU, African Union, ECO, G-8, SCO, Non-Aligned Movement, Khoshandam 

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