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Closing ranks
The Non-Aligned Movement has been an organization of, more or less, deprived nations of the planet



Ardeshir Ommani
September 18, 2006

During the days of September 11-16, 2006, more than 50 heads of state and 3000 delegates from 118 under-developed countries assembled in Havana, Cuba, to participate in the 14th annual summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). According to a report on the Digital Granma International, the movement currently has 116 members: 53 from Africa, 38 from Asia, 24 from Latin America and the Caribbean and one from Europe. Its membership will grow to 118 during the meeting in Cuba, with the incorporation of Haiti and St. Kitts and Nevis. NAM contains more than 55% of the world population and 61% of the UN members. 

The summit, held on Friday and Saturday, was preceded by ministerial workshops, which began on September 13, and 14. According to Cuban officials, on the last day of the summit President Fidel Castro is expected to host a special dinner for the heads of NAM's member states and the respective ministers and officials. 

At the summit Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia will hand over the chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to Cuba, which will remain in charge for the next three years.

There is no doubt on the part of the poor and the rich in the world that the Non-Aligned Movement has been an organization of, more or less, deprived nations of the planet, whose assembly did not become a profitable news item to attract the attention of the chiefs of the corporate press in the wealthy imperialist countries and former colonial powers.

The news of the meeting was equally ignored by the presumptuous talking heads of Fox, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC and BBC, who were ceaselessly consumed by such fear-mongering themes as terror alerts, cultural war, 'Islamo-fascism', Al-Qaeda-led terrorist plots and a few hard to identify individuals who were supposedly recruited by the operatives of Osama bin Laden into the organization of Al-Qaeda.

In the terrorist-chasing eyes of the U.S. and European press, the meeting of the leaders of the countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, holding more than half of the world population, was worth less than the financial news conference of a few executives of a U.S. corporation, or an exaggerated coverage by an imbedded reporter like CNN's Cooper Anderson, who televises the enormous size and loud thunder of the U.S. guns targeting an already devastated village in Afghanistan.

History of NAM
Despite the corporate media's contemptuous treatment of a great mass of humanity, the movement of the non-aligned nations has had a long history. Its origin can be traced back to a conference in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955. The participants in that conference declared their policy of not wanting to join either sides of the East-West ideological confrontation of the Cold War.

The founding fathers of NAM were five great leaders of the last century: Sukarno of Indonesia, Nehru of India, Nkrumah of Ghana, Nasser of Egypt and Tito of Yugoslavia. 

The first summit was held in Belgrade in 1961. The participants were from 25 countries, which consisted of eleven from both Africa and Asia with Cuba, Yugoslavia and Cyprus. By the second meeting, three years later, the membership had reached as high as 46 countries.

During the 60's and 70's, the Non-Aligned Movement gained a worldwide influence and supported the national liberation struggles against colonialism and imperialism. Just like today, the U.S. along with Britain and France made every effort to weaken the movement by sowing divisions among its ranks. One of the strongest moments in the history of NAM was in 1979 when it held its meeting in Havana for the first time. The summit in Cuba coincided also with the revolution in Iran that overthrew the Shah's puppet regime, one of the strategic pillars of U.S. imperialism in the Middle East. 

The Havana Declaration of 1979 stated that the purpose of the movement is to ensure "the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries in their struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, apartheid, racism and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics."

NAM and Millennium Goals
In the current summit the representatives of 118 countries began proposing plans and contributing toward the preparation of four documents: the Final Declaration, Purposes and Principles of organization, Cooperation among Member States, and a document addressing the Working Method of the Movement.

The Final Declaration addresses not only closer bilateral and multilateral trade, economic development, educational, healthcare and social projects, but also is expected to respond collectively to the current world tensions and conflicts ˆ particularly with regard to the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S.-Israeli war of aggression against the peoples of Lebanon and Palestine, the 44-year U.S. blockade of the Caribbean socialist state of Cuba, the U.S. threats against Iran and Venezuela, democratization of the United Nations and the illegal U.S. pre-emptive doctrines of unilateralism, dominance and subjugation. 

The summit will make a serious effort to find ways and means to strengthen unity and cohesion of the movement on the basis of common interests of the member states as well as revitalizing "NAM's central role as the principal political platform for developing countries to air their views at the UN and other international for a," according to the Herald News of Zimbabwe.

Prior to the commencement of the 14th NAM's summit in Havana, the Foreign Minister of Malaysia, Syed Hamid Alber, whose country held the responsibility of the movement's chairmanship for three years, concluded the two day Ministerial Meeting of the NAM Coordinating Bureau (NAM-CoB) and provided the Havana summit with a 61-page Final Document, known as Putrajaya Declaration, for consideration. The document contained a declaration on Palestine condemning Israel's aggressive colonization measures and a statement on Iran's nuclear issue. In his challenge to NAM, the Prime Minister said, "We must resolve to translate our pronouncement into concrete action.

Drawing strength in our numbers, we should have the legitimacy and credibility to move forward in advancing our common cause." The consensus of the NAM Coordinating Bureau is to revitalize the movement so that it can contribute to a multi-polar world through the strengthening of the United Nations and other organizations for peace, progress and security. Prime Minister of Malaysia Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, during the summit, is expected to secure endorsement for its two initiatives ˆ the NAM News Network (NNN) and NAM Institute for the Empowerment of Women (NEW).

Before the ministerial meeting, a group of delegates will visit the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) and two hospitals in Cuba that specialize in eye and orthopedic surgeries.

On the second day of NAM's ministerial meeting, Iran was assigned as the G-15 new rotating chairman following the end of Algeria's presidential term. Among many heads of states, the Venezuelan President Chavez congratulated Iran's presidency and expressed hope that the body would further approach their goals under Iran's chairmanship.

The group of fifteen (G15) was established in September 1989 as a Summit Level Group of Developing Countries. It was established with a great conviction in the potential for greater and mutually beneficial cooperation among developing countries, especially in the spheres of trade, technology and investment. In the last 17 years, membership of the group has risen from 15 to 19 countries. Presently they are: Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

Within the framework of G15, Malaysia has introduced learning projects pertaining to financial mechanisms to promote trade, technology data exchange, development of human resources and educational training related to management of information technology.

According to the initial draft of the Final Declaration, NAM representatives will adopt resolutions expressing support for Venezuela's progressive president Hugo Chavez and concerns about "aggressive" U.S. policies toward his government.

The U.S. administration's lack of respect for other people's culture and civilization, its blatant interference in the internal affairs of other sovereign nations and beast-like attacks against the territorial integrity of other countries have given rise to a natural unifying tendency among the oppressed peoples around the world. In this context, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, in his opening speech on Monday, September 11, said this gathering "happens to coincide with the tightening of pressures against Iran for the exercise of its sovereign right to develop a program for the peaceful use of nuclear energy." He added, "We believe it is indispensable for us to close ranks in defending our rights. The risks, threats and difficulties that we are facing are similar and with a common origin," a thinly veiled reference to the United States of America. 

The draft of the Havana Declaration says NAM members "totally reject the use of the term 'axis of evil' by a certain state to target other states under the pretext of combating terrorism." Roque urged the NAM members to unite and warned that threats against three and a half billion poor people of the planet are multiplying in the present one-sided world governed by an infinitesimally small group of owners of powerful corporations. Comment

Ardeshir Ommani, an activist in the anti-war and anti-imperialist struggle for over 40 years, including against the Vietnam War. Ardeshir is a co-founder of the American-Iranian Friendship Committee (AIFC), where news of his most recent visit to Iran in March & April 2006 can be read. He helped launch the successful campaign. He has written a number of articles documenting the U.S. foreign policy toward Iran. He has translated many articles into Farsi, which have been published inside Iran in the progressive press. In the 1960's, he was a co-founder of the Iranian Students Association (ISA), which contributed to the struggle against the Shah of Iran, a U.S. puppet. Mr. Ommani returned to Iran in 1979, at the dawn of the revolution and participated in the revolutionary surge of that period. Since returning to the U.S. in 1980, he has been very active in the anti-war movement and in the struggle against the U.S. war and occupation of Iraq.


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