BY: Safa Haeri, IPS Editor
PARIS 6TH DEC. (IPS) The forthcoming Islamic Summit which
is due in Tehran next week is, diametrically speaking, both « the
biggest victory » scored by the Iranian « Mullahrchy »
over their two most implacable enemies, the « great Satan »,
which is the United States and Israel as well as a personal success for
the new president, the ayatollah Mohammad Khatami, and on the other end,
an end to the revolutionary era, according to Iranian, Arab and Western
analysts, diplomats and experts.
Says Dr Alireza Nurizadeh, the « secretary » of
the London-based Centre for Arab-Iranian Studies, one of the very few independent
institutes dedicated to bring closer the Sunni Arab and Shi’a Iranian worlds
closer, the fact that such a conference is held in Tehran is in itself
a " fatal blow" for the Islamic revolution.
« This is the clearest signal that under the presidency
of Mohammad Khatami, the policy of the ruling mullahs is moving away from
revolutionary rhetoric towards pragmatism and international logic. Just
think of a regime which used to shout day and night its eternal opposition
to estekbar (imperialism), insist on its commitment to the destroy the
"Zionist regime" and to fight to the end "Arab reactionary puppets", which
means all Arab nations but Syria, Sudan and Libya.
"Now imagine the same regime throwing red carpets for leaders of
those same regimes, installing them in royal residences. Just think of
Mr Khatami walking side by side with those personalities who have been
vindicated and insulted with vulgarity until quite recently. If there is
a foregone conclusion that the Summit will achieve nothing in solving any
of the major issues facing the Muslims and the Arabs, by contrast, it will
help putting the very last nail to the revolutionary process in Iran, and
this is a major achievement, for, it can herald a more peaceful and prosperous
region in the future ", Mr Nurizadeh observed.
Since the commemoration of Persia’s 2500 years of almost uninterrupted
Monarchy in Persepolis in 1971, this is the first time that such a «
summitry » is taking place in Iran and to give it a maximum of lust
and glory, the relatively impoverished Islamic Republic has set aside an
« astronomic » sum of more than 80 millions US Dollars.
There is not doubt that the combination of Israel’s policy
under the very controversial personality of Mr Benjamin Netenyahu, who
has rocked the Peace Process with the Palestinians in particular and the
Arabs in general in the one hand and the astonishing victory of the ayatollah
Khatami, considered by most Western and Arab countries as « moderate
» in the last presidential elections in Iran has greatly helped Tehran
in organising this 8th Summit of the Jeddah-based Organisation of Islamic
This was confirmed by an Iranian political analyst in Tehran:
« Boycotted by the US, having strained relations with the European
Union and more or less isolated in the international scene, it was very
important for the Islamic Republic to host this conference and give it
the maximum of splendour. If we have succeeded, it is due to double effect
of the victory of Mr Khatami , who seems to be liked by the Arabs in the
one hand and the excesses of Mr Netenyahu, who is despised by them on the
other » he said on condition of anonymity.
There is a common acknowledgement among most of the participants
that Tehran, because of its radical position towards the Peace Process
and its support for Arab and Muslim extremist organisations in the one
hand and the fact that it has no relations with the United States, the
only nation which has a make it or break it role in the region on the other,
is not the best place for such a meeting, specially at these crucial times.
« Arab nations are certain that this particular Summit will
achieve almost nothing but to enhance Islamic Iran’s position both in the
region and in the world, something most of them have bitterly fought until
recently, but since Mr Netenyahu threw the Oslo agreement into the see,
and since Washington continue a double standard policy in the region by
closing its eyes on Israel abusesagainst the Palestinians while it has
them wide open concerning the Arabs, as one can see, let’s say in the case
of Iraq, there was both a willingness, albeit reluctant and an obligation
to come to Tehran », commented a senior Arab diplomat.
« It is a great achievement for the Iranian ruling mullahs
to bring the Sunni dominated Arab and Muslim states together in Tehran,
the cradle of the Shi’ism. More than a good public relation performance,
it is also a clear signal to the United States that there are limits to
impose unilaterally their will on others », said Mrs Rosemary Holis,
the dynamic Director of the Middle East Programs at the prestigious Royal
Institute for International Affairs (RIIA) in London.
But the absence of almost all influential and powerful Arab
leaders, like President Hosni Mobarak of Egypt, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia,
King Hussein of Jordan or King Hasan of Morocco, who is also the Chairman
of the "Al Qods" (Jerusalem) Committee has greatly diminished the importance
of this meeting. Expressing the anger of the Iranian ruling mullahs, the
radical daily "Jomhuri Eslami", which is the mouthpiece of the ayatollah
Khameneh’i, wrote in a recent issue: "Shah Hussein and Shah Hasan are not
coming. If the Sultan of Oman and the Sultan of Brunei refuse to come,
the Tehran Summit will be a kingless one". (The use, in the media and by
officials in the Islamic regime of Iran of the word Shah in front of the
names has a pejorative intonation)
Another reason explaining the absence of some important Arab heads
of states is that their presence in Tehran could be interpreted as their
recognition of the Iranian supreme leader the ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i
as the "valy amr muslemin", or the Guardian of all Muslims, the title bestowed
on him by his entourage.
High on the agenda are the questions of Palestine, the bloody situation
in Afqanestan, the Bosnian problem, the thorny question of Cashmere, the
future of Iraq and above all the Jerusalem « time bomb », probably
one of the few questions, if not the only one that enjoys the unanimity
of all the 54 kings, head of states, prime ministers or representatives
who will take part in the Tehran Islamic show. Creation of an Islamic Common
Market aimed as a new economic bloc between the three big ones which are
the US, the EU and Japan is one of the Iranian most cherished dreams.
Addressed one by one, analysts argue that on the Palestinian
issue, one of the very few ones where there is some convergence between
the participants because, as stated before, of policies of Israel and the
United States, nothing will come out concrete « whatever the OIC
would have to say in its final communiqué ». On Bosnia-Herzegovina,
the Muslims can do nothing but continue to give some money and weapons,
for, the final solution s with the US and the EU. Iraq will continue to
remain the pariah, on Cashmere, one notes that many OIC members, including
Iran and Saudi Arabia have closer relations with India than Pakistan and
on Afqanestan, which is not present on the Summit, nothing can be achieved
since the Taliban are recognised by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and Iran
continuing to recognise the government of the former president Borhaneddine
(As a matter of fact, though Mr Rabbani and some other Iranian-backed
Afqan leaders opposed to the Taliban are now in Iran attending an Afqan
Peace Seminar, they have not been invited to the Summit, a major
concession to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan).
Seen from Tehran, the Conference must give predominance to
« Islamic values, enhance the role of Muslims in the present world
dominated by the United States, fight to eradicate the Zionist regime,
challenge the Western, most particularly the American cultural hegemony
by reviving Islamic values and traditions, restore Muslims independent
identity by cutting the roots of imperialism and colonialism and reinforce
unity among all Muslim nations regardless of their religious divisions»
As this Summit has become more an Iranian « affair »
than a Muslim’s one with its Iranian side definitely overshadowing other
Arab and Middle Eastern aspects, to some Iranian analysts, the event presents
« far reaching » significance for the Islamic Republic.
Iran is hosting this Summit at a time of high domestic turbulence,
as the powerful conservative mullahs who were severely defeated in the
last presidential race are bracing themselves to bring to trial Mr Hosseinali
Montazeri, one of the last prestigious Iranian the grand ayatollah as well
as the ayatollah Ahmad Azari Qomi, a senior cleric who, in recent weeks,
have publicly voiced their opposition to the present leader, the ayatollah
Ali Khameneh’i. Charged for « treason, complicity with foreign intelligence,
subversive anti-state activities », the two men faces death sentence.
In a letter to Mr Khameneh’i, ayatollah Montazeri is reported
to have stated « you who can not assure the security of one man like
me how are you going to guarantee the safety of so many important guests?
To do this, and afraid to see that supporters of the dissident
ayatollahs and intellectuals may take advantage from the occasion to organise
demonstrations against the leader and the regime at large, drastic security
measures have been taken by the revolutionary guards to secure that the
5000 to 6000 guests who will attend the preparatory meetings of experts,
followed by that of the foreign ministers (8 to 10 of December) before
the start of the Summit itself on the 11th will see, at least on the surface,
a peaceful nation under a united leadership.
To do this, and in order to empty the capital from its population
as much as possible, the government as ordered all the ministries to give
their employees a full week holiday, extending from Monday 8 to Thursday
12 of December.
"What we are going to have is a full scale, but underclared martial
law. It will nighmare for those who can not escape the inferno", said one
local resident, who asked if authorities in other nation do impose same
drastic measures when they organise such international conferences?
Unconfirmed sources in Tehran told the IPS that government has taken
seriously a threat by a little known but radical organisation named "Ansar
e Emam" to explode residence and hotels of the delegates from countries
condemned by the ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeiny, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt,
Iraq and Morocco.
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