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Iran, Syria, and the Non-Aligned Summit: 5 Questions and Answers

I was interviewed yesterday by the Chinese publication Life Week for a forthcoming article about Iran's international position and the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement:

Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary-General, attended the Non-Aligned Movement's Summit, despite the opposition from the US and Israel. Why?

Ban Ki-Moon wanted to ensure that UN point of view on issues such as nuclear proliferation, Syria, Israel-Palestine, and human rights were presented to Iranians as well as showing UN's face at Summit.

The US and Israel knew this. Their protests were more a show than substantial objections. Note that US has praised Ban's remarks to Iranian leaders.

It is said the NAM Summit is a very important opportunity for Iran to break its isolation. What do you think of Iran’s motivation of holding the meeting?

Iran has both domestic and regional/international motives.

Domestic: The regime wants to show that it commands respect, diverting attention from serious economic, political, and social problems.

Regional/International: The regime wants to show "leadership" on issues such as Israel-Palestine as well as promoting its line on nuclear topic.

With the unexpected tough line of Ban Ki-Moon and Egypt's President Morsi, Iran has failed on the regional front, especially over Syria, and is censoring news to prevent a domestic setback.

In your analysis, how much support can Iran win from NAM on the crucial issues such as nuclear program? Some people said NAM has no much influence on current global stage. What do you think? Why?

Iran will get support from the Non-Aligned Movement on right to peaceful nuclear energy but this does not address the key issue of whether Iran is pursuing a military use for uranium enrichment.

Iran proposed a resolution on Syria in the summit and recommended that the NAM troika get involved, with cooperation with other international organizations, specifically the United Nations. What are Iran’s concerns in this resolution? Why does it want NAM troika’s involvement? What is your comment on the resolution?

Iran wants some form of involvement in talks on resolution of Syria crisis, overcoming US-European objections. The troika proposal was just for show --- what Iran was hoping what that, through Egypt and Turkey, it could get to the "top table" of talks. Morsi has responded by saying Iran must accept the departure of President Assad from power before it can participate.

Ban Ki-moon Said Iran should have an important role in the solution of Syria crisis. What is your opinion? Can Syria be settled down without Iran’s involvement? Why?

Ban Ki-Moon's attitude is similar to that of Morsi, with the added condition that Iran must stop giving military assistance to the Assad regime.

There is no political resolution of Syrian crisis, with or without Iran, at this point. The regime is committed to defeating insurgents; insurgents are committed to fall of Assad.

Instead, the planning is over what form of aid should be given to insurgents, including a possible "buffer zone" in Syria, and over a transitional government.

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