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September 3, 2012

Iran came with guns loaded

By Amir Taheri

A reflection back on the NAM summit now concluded in Tehran


As the NAM conference is now coming to an end in Tehran, one thing that all agreed on, whether in the Western media or in the Iranian media, was that this was a success for Iran. As I have been following the media world putting out stories in realtime, this one point was very clearly made - this was the most important political event in the Republic's 33 years. For 5 days, Iran was the center of the world, where over 120 of the world's 190 nations were sitting in Tehran. Iran had the stage and it used it well.

While government workers were on vacation, the leaders were all working overtime. Whether they were from the tourism ministry or from the oil ministry all the way to Iran's media organizations all were doing their part to advance Iran's broader goals. New agreements were signed to open relations with countries that Iran has none like Fiji and Congo. New oil contracts were discussed behind the closed doors and away from the US government's watchful eye. Even Iran's media was on overdrive to capture all angles of the summit for both Iran's Persian speaking and also the foreign language audiences that would be tuning into Tehran. As mentioned in a past look at Iran's media world, Iran broadcasts in 25 world languages. While Iranian media is projected in the West as being repressed, few know that Iran ranks as the world's 4th largest for number of daily newspapers.

At the summit center, the same building that was built for the 55 nation Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) summit, over 1,700 journalist from around the world had free high-speed internet and without the normal filtering that is accompanied with the internet in Iran.

The only criticism that Western media did manage to bring up was that UN chief Ban and the new Egyptian president criticized Iran and Syria in their opening speeches. Ban mentioned the anti-Israeli comments by Iran and past denials of the Holocaust. The Egyptian president called for Syrian president to step down. These are not criticisms that detract from the historic meeting as some media tried to portray it doing (Guardian, New York Post). Bringing more than 120 nations and heads of organizations that are primed against Iran, it would be unusual if criticism was not made. If Iran had held this summit with unanimous agreement than Iran would surly be criticized for holding a summit under a dictatorial atmosphere. The same logic would mean that UN meetings where heads of State are in attendance and often make speeches against the US policy would also be a negative point for host US. In reality, being open to criticism is sign of maturity and even an Iranian parliamentarian talking to press said this. He said that Iran was open to hearing different views and cannot expect all to have the same opinion. He added though what would be wrong is one imposing his views on another. 

Iran came to the summit with guns loaded. A resolution was presented to be used later next month in the IAEA's general meeting to reduce the powers of powerful nations. An idea was floated for an Iran based NAM bank to support the nations of the organization.  Other plans were held behind closed doors and the coming 3 years will reveal what will come about Iran's leadership of an organization that lacked truly until now as the name calls for - non-alliance to the big powers.

This article was posted on The Real Amir Taheri

Authors Bio:
I am a business consultant by day working to bring Iranian businesses into the international market and in the evenings a journalist. My hope is to show the real Iran to the western world.