Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the UN, is planning to attend the opening session of the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) in Tehran next week, incurring great criticism from several, some unexpected, quarters.
As Foreign Policy magazine writes:
For weeks, the United States and Israel have been pleading with Ban not to attend the summit, which will include visits by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy, on the grounds that it would legitimize a regime that has violated U.N. sanctions and sponsored terrorism. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly criticized Ban’s travel plans as a major mistake, saying: “Mr. Secretary-General, your place is not in Tehran.”
Despite reservations by some of his top aides, Ban has decided to go to Tehran in the hopes of heading off a possible armed confrontation between Israel and Iran over the development of Iran’s nuclear program, which Israel is convinced is part of a covert effort to build a nuclear bomb.
If Ban thinks that visiting Iran will help avoid a conflict, then he is an idiot. And if he doesn’t really believe it then he is an underminer of international values and should be forced out of his post at the UN. If he genuinely wants to avoid an Iran-Israel conflict he should intensify sanctions against Iran, not break the sanctions by visiting there.
As Foreign Policy says:
Ban’s critics say the visit, however well-intentioned, will strengthen the hand of U.N.-bashers, undercut the Obama administration’s efforts to isolate the Iranian regime, and provide Iran’s leaders with a propaganda coup.
Ban’s spokesman, Martin Nesirky, defended the visit, saying that the secretary-general is “fully aware of the sensitivities” and that he “can speak on behalf of the entire international community to make clear directly to the Iranian leadership what the world expects from Tehran and to encourage positive and constructive responses.” Nesirky said not going “would be a missed opportunity.”
U.N. officials say Ban was advised on the pros and cons of traveling to Iran but that he was personally committed to undertaking a peace initiative. They said that Netanyahu’s public appeal to Ban — delivered in what staffers viewed as a condescending tone — backfired, fortifying Ban’s resolve to go. [my emphases -Ed.]
Of course. It always is the Israelis’ fault. If they don’t complain, then the UN will say they received an effective green light from Israel. But if Israel does complain, then that somehow causes a backlash, making Ban all the more determined to go. It’s funny how the US plea didn’t cause a backlash, nor did the reservations of his own top aides. Only Israel’s complaint. Think about that for a bit.
The criticism of Ban came not just from the “usual suspects”, the US and Israel. The Washington Post’s editorial slammed him for his presumptuousness with very harsh words:
The conference promises to be a festival of resistance to the United States, the United Nations Security Council and Israel. Nuclear weapons? Iran has signaled plans to use the conference to defend its right to enrich uranium, which it claims is for peaceful purposes. Sanctions? Iran is busy repainting tankers in the Persian Gulf to evade restrictions on oil exports, concealing money transfers and importing illicit materials for its nuclear program through third countries.
Iran continues to supply weapons to the besieged regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which subverted the Security Council’s peace initiative. And don’t expect any muffling of Iran’s long-standing and poisonous anti-Zionism.
More likely, Mr. Ban will be forced to endure public lectures from the Iranian leaders about their right to enrich uranium, and rants threatening to wipe Israel off the map.
By attending the Tehran conference, Mr. Ban will dignify a bacchanal of nonsense, undermine the work of the Security Council and probably get nothing in return.
Even the New York Times’ Andrew Rosenthal had a blog-post highly critical of Ban Ki-Moon:
I was appalled that the U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has decided to attend an international gathering in Iran, despite the vociferous objections of the United States. Mr. Ban can accomplish nothing with this trip beyond hindering efforts to pressure Iran into giving up its nuclear weapons programs.
What makes this trip especially ridiculous is that Mr. Ban will be attending a meeting of the so-called Nonaligned Movement, an organization started during the Cold War to bring together countries that supposedly were not aligned with either the democratic West or the communist East.
[...] But after the Cold War, the organization has no meaning at all, other than to provide forums like the one Mr. Ban is attending that lend legitimacy to rogue states like Iran and to the myth of non-alignment.
As a side-note, the Iranians themselves are coming under fire for apparently inviting Hamas and the PA to the NAM conference. PA President Mahmoud Abbas said:
that he would not allow Iran to divide the Palestinians. Abbas’s comments came after reports that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had invited Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to attend the meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement meeting in Tehran, beginning on Sunday. PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki announced Sunday that contrary to Hamas claims, Iran has not invited Haniyeh to attend the conference in Tehran. Abbas had agreed to attend the meeting on the condition that he would be the sole representative of the Palestinian people at the meeting
A NAM official denied that Hamas had been invited to the conference.
“Non-Aligned” is a good description of this organization. They can’t even keep the Palestinian representatives from boycotting each other.
Shame on Ban Ki-Moon and shame on every other organization or country attending this conference – including the Palestinians.