Kwame Nkrumah with other co-founders of the Non-Aligned Movement: Nehru of India, Nassar of Egypt, Sukharno of Indonesia and Tito of Yugoslavia in late 1960, a photo by Pan-African News Wire Photo File on Flickr.
NAM Summit: Iran, Syria — Coup against the West?
Tuesday, 28 August 2012 00:00
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
In theory most these Third Worlders were neutral and joining the NAM was a formal expression of this position of non-alignment.
Aside from being considered Second Worlders, communist states like the People’s Republic of China and Cuba have widely been classified as parts of the Third World and have considered themselves as parts of the third global force.
Chairman Mao’s views defined through his concept of Three Worlds also supported the classification of communist states like Angola, China, Cuba, and Mozambique as Third Worlders, because they did not belong to the Soviet Bloc like Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland. In the most orthodox of interpretations of the political meaning of Third World, the communist state of Yugoslavia was a part of the Third World. In the same context, Iran due to its ties to NATO and its membership in the US-controlled Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO) was politically a part of the First World until the Iranian Revolution in 1979.
Thus, reference to Yugoslavia as a Second World country and Iran as a Third World country prior to 1979 are incorrect. The term Third World has also given rise to the phrase “Global South.” This name is based on the geographically southward situation of the Third World on the map as opposed to the geographically northward situation of the First and Second Worlds, which both began to collectively be called the “Global North.”
The names Global North and Global South came to slowly replace the terms First, Second, and Third World, especially since the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union collapsed.
The NAM formed when the Third Worlders who were caught between the Atlanticists and the Soviets during the Cold War tried to formalise their third way or force.
The NAM would be born after the Bandung Conference in 1955, which infuriated the US and Western Bloc who saw it as a sin against their global interests.
Contrarily to Western Bloc views, the Soviet Union was much more predisposed to accepting the NAM. Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev even proposed in 1960 that the UN be managed by a “troika” composed of the First, Second, and Third Worlds instead of its Western-influenced secretariat in New York City that was colluding with the US to remove Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba from power in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as other independent world leaders.
Fidel Castro and Cuba, which hosted the NAM’s summit in 1979 when Iran joined as its eighty-eighth member, would actually argue that the Second World and communist movements were the “natural allies” of the Third World and the NAM.
The first NAM summit would be held in the Yugoslavian capital of Belgrade in 1961 under the chairmanship of Marshall Tito. The summit in Belgrade would call for an end to all empires and colonisation. Tito, Nehru, Nasser, Nkrumah, Sukarno and other NAM leaders would demand that Western Europeans end their colonial roles in Africa and let African peoples decide their own fates.
A preparatory conference was also held a few months earlier in Cairo by Gamal Abdel Nasser. At the preparatory meetings non-alignment was defined by five points:
(1) Non-aligned countries must follow an independent policy of co-existence of nations with varied political and social systems;
(2) Non-aligned countries must be consistent in their support for national independence;
(3) Non-aligned countries must not belong to a multilateral alliance concluded in the context of superpower or big power politics;
(4) If non-aligned countries have bilateral agreement with big powers or belonged to a regional defence pact, these agreements should not have been concluded in context of the Cold War;
(5) If non-aligned states cede military bases to a big power, these bases should not be granted in the context of the Cold War.
All the NAM conferences to follow would cover vital issues in the years to come that ranged from the inclusion of the People’s Republic of China in the UN, the fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo, African wars of independence against Western European countries, opposition to apartheid and racism, and nuclear disarmament.
Furthermore, the NAM has traditionally been hostile to Zionism and condemned the occupation of Palestinian, Lebanese, Syrian, and Egyptian territories by Israel, which has earned it the seamlessly never-ending aversion of Tel Aviv.
Many people ask what relevance the Non-Aligned Movement has today. Since the end of the Cold War the NAM’s strength has been eroded as the US, neoliberal economic reforms, the IMF, and the World Bank have gained more and more control over NAM members. In many cases NAM members have reverted back to de facto colonies in all but name. Many members of NAM, such as Belarus, Colombia, Ethiopia, and Saudi Arabia, are actually fully aligned states. There is no question about it that Iran wants to make NAM relevant again to use it fight off the expansionist Atlanticist World. So do the Russians and the Chinese.
The NAM after all has provided Iran important diplomatic support in its politicised nuclear dispute with the Atlanticists. The NAM is also the closest alternative to the Atlanticist-infiltrated and perverted United Nations. The NAM summit will be capitalised on by Iran and its allies to try and develop some sort of strategy to fight and circumvent the unilateral US and European Union sanctions against the Iranian economy and to show the Atlanticists in the US and the EU that their powers in the world are limited and declining. One small step in this direction is that Iran will begin negotiations with 60 NAM countries to drop bilateral visa requirements with Iran. A universal statement may also be released asking for the anti-Iranian sanctions to be dropped or modified. Other steps would include proposals for a new and alternative financial global structure, which would evade the Atlanticist chokehold on international financial transactions.
An important event at the NAM summit will be the arrival of Morsi in Tehran as a sign of warming relations. Ties between Cairo and Tehran will not be restored overnight either, because there are restrictions on Morsi.
Whatever happens between Egypt and Iran at the NAM summit in Tehran will be just steps in an unrushed process.
The Egyptians are taking pains not to antagonise their Western and Arab paymasters and the Iranians have opted to be patient. Morsi’s presence in Iran, however, is still symbolically very important. Tehran indeed has reason to be very optimistic as all its stars are aligning at its NAM gala.
This is actually wrong, because there is nothing specifically significant that Egypt can do to break or isolate Iran. After all, Cairo and Tehran have essentially had no ties since 1980 and Mubarak was a staunch ally of the US who put Egypt to work with Saudi Arabia and Israel to curve Iranian influence.
In the worst case scenario the relationship between the two countries will stay as it was during the Mubarak era. This is not a losing situation for Iran, albeit the situation in Syria has catalysed the Iranian desire for faster rapprochement. Egyptian-Iranian relations have nowhere to go except upward.
The Tahrir (Liberation) Square protests that dethroned Mubarak and helped bring about the elections that brought the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood into power are part of what Iranian officials call an “Islamic Awakening” in contrast to an “Arab Spring.”
Iran did not hide its belief either that Egypt and it could eventually form a new regional axis after dictator-for-life Mubarak was booted out from power. If there is any man that can make the leap from the conception of an Arab Spring to an Islamic Awakening, at least publicly, it is President Morsi through an alliance with Iran.
On August 8, Iran sent Hamid Baqaei to deliver Morsi’s invitation to attend the NAM summit in Tehran. Along the way the international press and pundits gave higher attribution to Baqaei’s governmental rank, because they failed to realise or mention that he was the most senior of eleven junior or assistant vice-presidents and essentially the cabinet minister responsible for the Iranian presidency’s executive affairs.
First Vice-President Mohammed-Reza Rahimi, the former governor of the Iranian province of Kurdistan and himself a former junior vice-president, is Iran’s senior vice-president.
Regardless, Baqaei’s visit to Cairo as both a presidential envoy and a close presidential aide was important.
Aside from the use of Saudi and Qatari aid to shape the way that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood interacts with Iran, the offers of aid from the petro-despots of Doha and Riyadh are part of the Arab competition over influence in Cairo. Morsi is widely seen as Qatar’s man and relations between Riyadh and Cairo have been uneasy for some time.
Despite the fact that Doha and Riyadh are both serving US interests, the two sheikhdoms have a rivalry with one another. This Qatari-Saudi rivalry picked up again after a brief pause that saw both sides invade the island-kingdom of Bahrain to support the Khalifa regime and to work together against the governments of Libya and Syria. The Saud and Al-Thani rivalry has seen both sides supporting different armed groups in Libya and competing anti-government forces during the so-called Arab Spring (or Islamic Awakening in Tehran).
The Libyan Transitional Council government has even offered to pitch in financially, even when its own coffers are in disarray as a result of the NATO war on Libya and the looting of Libya’s treasury and assets by the Atlanticists with the help of US neoliberal economist turned Libyan “minister of oil and finance” Ali Tarhouni. As for the House of Saud everyone understands that their terms for financial aid to Egypt include the continuation of anti-Iranian policies in Cairo.
On the one hand the Egyptian government has maintained the closure of the borders with the Palestinians in Gaza. It has also pledged to honour its international treaties, a sly reference to its peace treaty with Israel that seeks to avoid mentioning Israel and prevent a media fuss.
--About the author: An award-winning author and geopolitical analyst, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is the author of The Globalisation of NATO (Clarity Press) and a forthcoming book The War on Libya and the Re-Colonisation of Africa. He has also contributed to several other books ranging from cultural critique to international relations. He is a Sociologist and Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG), a contributor at the Strategic Culture Foundation (SCF), Moscow, and a member of the Scientific Committee of Geopolitica, Italy. — globalresearch.ca