Egyptian president hails ‘Syrian revolution’ in Tehran non-aligned summit


Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi hailed “brave” Syrians and Palestinians for their struggle against oppression during his speech at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Tehran on Thursday.

Contrary to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who ignored the Syrian conflict in his opening speech, Mursi said that Egypt is “ready” to aid and help the Syrian revolution.

He said that the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad has lost legitimacy and the international community must work to stop the bloodshed in the country.

“Our solidarity with the struggle of the Syrian people against an oppressive regime that has lost its legitimacy is an ethical duty as it is a political and strategic necessity,” he said.

The Syrian delegation, meanwhile, left the non-aligned meeting when Mursi criticized the Syrian government. After the end of the summit, regime of President Bashar al-Assad said in a statement that Mursi is inciting violence in Syria when he criticized Damascus.

The Egyptian leader also said that it is not “acceptable” that none of the African nations have permanent membership in the U.N. Security Council, which he urged for it to be more “representative.”

Khamenei on new world order

The new world order must be based on “partnership,” Khamenei said as he opened NAM summit.

Khamenei criticized the U.N. Security Council and said it is an “old tool” that enabled the United States and its agents to impose their hegemony through the guise of noble values and democracy.

He also urged to combat the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction as it is a threat to world’s security. Mursi also urged for the non-proliferation of WMD and nuclear weapons.

While the West suspects Iran of developing a non-peaceful nuclear program, an allegation that the Islamic Republic denies, the supreme leader said that atomic nuclear weapons do not provide security nor authority to states.

Iran is “never seeking nuclear weapons” and will not give up its right to develop nuclear energy, Khamenei told the summit.

He criticized Israel for having nuclear weapons and said that the Western powers work to monopolize nuclear capabilities.

What is so different about this summit?

The summit gathered heads of state or government and senior officials from 120 nations in an event Iran hailed as proof it was not internationally isolated.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon attended the summit despite calls by both the United States and Israel to boycott the event. His attendance is also a blow to Western attempts to isolate the Islamic republic over its disputed nuclear program.

It was also the first time an Egyptian leader has visited Iran since the Islamic revolution in 1979. Tehran cut diplomatic relations in 1979 because of Egypt’s peace accord with Israel. Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran has considered Israel as its arch foe.

Iran has hailed the presence of Mursi -- who comes from Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood -- as a chance to thaw ties.

U.N. chief criticizes Iran

The U.N. chief jolted his Iranian hosts for a nonaligned nations meeting Wednesday by pointing out “serious concerns” in Tehran’s human rights record and urging cooperation with the world body to improve freedoms.

Ki-moon had signaled he would not shy away from criticism of Iran during his visit to the NAM gathering in Tehran.

“I strongly reject threats by any member state to destroy another or outrageous attempts to deny historical facts such as the Holocaust,” he said in his speech. “Claiming that Israel does not have the right to exist or describing it in racist terms is not only wrong but undermines the very principle we all have pledged to uphold.”

Iran’s opposition groups had urged Ban to use his appearance in Tehran as a platform to criticize Iran’s ruling system over its crackdowns on political dissent, including the house arrests of opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi.

U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said in his talks, Ban expressed frustration that “little tangible progress” has been made in talks between Iran and world powers over Tehran’s nuclear program. No date has been set to resume negotiations after several rounds over the past months.

The NAM, representing 120 nations, covers much of the developing world. It seeks U.N. reform to dilute the power of the U.N. Security Council, upholds the creation of a Palestinian state, and criticizes Western sanctions imposed on some of its members including Iran.

The United States welcomed Thursday the decision by Ban Ki-moon and Mursi to criticize Iran and Syria during the summit in Tehran.

U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell hailed Mursi’s stern slapdown of Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime, which caused the Syrian delegation to walk out of a session the Tehran summit in anger.

“They are very helpful comments. They are very clear, very strong. Really strong and clear statement by President Mursi, obviously made in Tehran,” he said, suggesting the remarks had more power for having been made in Iran.

“His comments in support of the Syrian people were very clear and we share Egypt’s goal to see an end to the Assad regime and an end to the bloodshed and a transition to a democratic Syria that respects human rights.”

Ventrell also thanked Ban for risking the anger of his Iranian hosts to slam Tehran’s repeated threats and insults towards Israel. “We think that is a good thing,” the spokesman said.