The conference of the Non -Aligned Movement (NAM) in Teheran was intended by the regime to be a propaganda event on the scale of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, marketing Iran as a regional and international leader thanks to its three-year presidency of NAM.
The regime imported 200 Mercedes luxury cars to transport the visitors and spruced up the major highways leading to the conference. It even invested in a new conference center despite aggravated economic conditions. Road signs were replaced to incorporate doves of peace.
To reduce traffic, the regime announced a 5 day holiday and provided discount gasoline to encourage residents of the capital to leave down. No less than 110,000 security and paramilitary forces, including snipers, were brought to the capital to stamp out any protests. The Iranian press was given a set of do’s and don’ts with the latter including stories about natural disasters, power blackouts or crime.
However, the summit is not turning out to be a success. First of all, the Iranian regime failed to learn from Nazi Germany. In 1936, in the run-up and during the Olympics, the Nazi regime toned down the public displays of anti-Semitism and even allowed Jewish athletes to try out for the German Olympic team.
This duped foreign visitors, who concluded that previous reports on persecution of Jews were an exaggeration. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in contrast, opened the event with an address attacking the Israeli regime of “Zionist wolves” and branding the United States a hegemonic meddler.
Khamenei even accused the UN Security Council of being a puppet of US influence. He thus made things extremely difficult for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, already under attack for his decision to attend the conclave.
Such remarks forced Ban’s hand and he upbraided his hosts for Holocaust denial and threatening the destruction of the State of Israel. This, of course, does not exonerate the UN Secretary-General for his decision to attend the summit in the first place; it merely points out the clumsiness of the Iranians.
Iran would have been better advised to keep the Syrian issue out of the conference, unless it was certain that the reactions by other delegations would suit Teheran’s purposes.
The government-controlled media made a point of highlighting Egyptian attendance as a diplomatic victory. It was therefore blindsided when Egypt’s president Mohammed Morsi connected the Syrian uprising to the Arab spring, meaning that it was a popular revolution. Iran could have expected that Egypt, as a Sunni Muslim country aspiring to restore its leadership, could not avoid taking such a position once the Iranians had broached the call for a Syrian cease fire – a proposal previously raised by the Assad regime in Syria.
The Egyptians called for outside intervention and India, a founding member of NAM, called for a transnational solution, meaning that affairs could not be left to the Syrians alone. India also intends to tell Iran to abide by its international obligations on the nuclear issue.