2012 Tehran NAM Summit: IRGC commander suggests that Iran create a coalition for a new war on terror

The Islamic Republic of Iran is seeking to counter the anti-Syria narrative that emerged from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) extraordinary meeting earlier this week at the upcoming session of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Tehran.

At the three-day OIC meeting in Mecca, Muslim states agreed to a proposal by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah to suspend Syria’s membership in the organization, with Iran, represented by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, being one of the few dissenting voices against the suspension.

The Islamic Republic, which has attempted to portray the series of uprisings in Arab countries beginning in 2011 as an “Islamic Awakening” linked to its revolution in 1979, has been placed in a very awkward position with regard to its ally Syria, which is experiencing its own uprising. While Iran wishes to be seen as supporting these uprisings, especially where they go against Western and Saudi interests, its position looks very hypocritical with regard to the Bashar al-Assad regime which Tehran has backed almost unconditionally against the opposition. Many now consider the conflict in Syria as a proxy war between regional and international powers, with China, Russia, and Iran on one side and the West, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar on the other.

Iran is using the meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Tehran on 30 August 2012, when it will take over leadership of the 120 member forum from Egypt, to counteract the Saudi narrative at the OIC’s Mecca meeting. In this context, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) political bureau Yadollah Javani has called on Iran’s senior officials to use this “golden” opportunity to achieve a number of key objectives.

First, Javani explained that given the heavy media coverage of the NAM event in Tehran, the regime should present the Islamic Republic’s many “great achievements” of the last 30 years to the world. Second, he called on the Iranian officials to hold meetings on the sideline of the NAM summit to negotiate economic agreements that would help Iran bypass United States and European Union economic sanctions.

Finally, Javani asserted that while the US has divided the world into “terrorist” and “anti-terrorist” polls since 11 September 2001 and has portrayed itself as a champion of anti-terrorism, it has in fact been involved in supporting terrorism in places like Syria and Iraq. He suggested that Iran could use NAM as a platform to break the US monopoly on anti-terrorism by creating a coalition to carry out a new war on terror. This has obvious implications for the conflict in Syria, where Iran and the Syrian regime allege that the opposition is made up of terrorists including Islamic extremists like al-Qaeda.

It will be interesting to see whether the NAM summit will, as in the past, be filled with empty platitudes or if Iran will be able to use it to reach some of the aims articulated by Javani.