Despite mainstream media reports, the 120-country strong Non-Aligned Movement Summit shows that America, not Iran, is becoming increasingly isolated, says author and journalist Afshin Rattansi.
The meeting has entered its fourth day in Tehran, as world leaders gather to discuss global topics including the Syrian crisis and Tehran’s controversial nuclear energy program.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is taking part in the event, despite calls from the US and Israel to forego the meeting.
Rattansi spoke with RT about Ban’s motivations and Iran’s proposed plans for Syria.
RT: Washington didn't want Ban Ki-moon to go to Iran at all. But he's not just attending the summit – he's also meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and top officials including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. What are his intentions?
Afshin Rattansi: The leaks we’re getting are that Obama, or people from the State Department, desperately tried to get in touch with Ban, urging him not to go to Tehran. This is a moment of great courage by Ban, as the United States ramps up pressure along with NATO countries. Ban and 120 nations are all going to Tehran and saying, ‘We don’t want another war in the Middle East.’
RT: The State Department has said it didn't think Iran deserved the high-level presence of those attending. What do you make of that statement?
AR: I was at a Leaders’ Summit in Tehran a few years ago. As the summit was going on, with different world leaders attending, the mainstream media of the West said Iran was increasingly isolated. But with 120 countries represented, I think we can now see who’s isolated – and that’s presumably why Washington desperately didn’t want Ban Ki-moon to go there.
RT: Upon arrival in Tehran, Ban said the Islamic Republic plays a crucial role in dealing with regional and international issues, like Syria. In what way?
AR: Iran is now proposing a Syria plan, and we must remember that it is one of the regional powers there. We have the Iraqi head of state there, we have Karzai from Afghanistan. It is the global south meeting together like they did, arguably, in 1955 against the old Cold War powers. And their views regarding any type of peace in the Middle East will hold far more sway than any imposed views from London, Washington, or Brussels.
RT: The UN Security Council has clearly failed so far in attempting to resolve the Syrian crisis. Do you think some sort of resolution, or at least idea, could come out of the meeting in Tehran?
AR: Attempts will be made to thwart any new deal or peace talks that come from [the summit], because the US and NATO don’t want any type of sovereignty to remain between Non-Aligned Movement nations. So it’s a great pity. I hope those NATO capitals will get increasingly more frightened by what is happening as the global south comes closer and closer together… but there is the ever-present danger as Obama steps up with his proxy Israel to try to destroy any kind of peace that could exist in the Middle East.
RT: Tensions don’t just lie with Iran’s alliance with Syria, but also with the nuclear issue. Iran's president has granted permission for foreign delegations attending this summit to visit the nuclear enrichment facility in Natanz – a plant at the heart of the country's nuclear dispute. How do you assess that move? Could it ease tensions over the nuclear issue?
AR: I’m hearing conflicting reports on that, so I’m not absolutely sure if that’s happening. But Ban is showing that whatever pressure he gets from NATO powers and UN Security Council members, except for China and Russia, to try and create a war on Iran's supposed nuclear weapons… Ban visiting the country shows enough to his staff at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna that he doesn’t want the bombing of Iran by NATO because of alleged nuclear weapons.