Middle East


Western Media's Angry Reaction to Iran's NAM Summit

The 16th Non-Aligned Movement Summit, in Tehran, Iran, on Aug. 30. (Photo: Public Information Bureau, Government of India)

The 16th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Tehran was unquestionably a diplomatic triumph for Iran, and the Western politicians know this very well. Perhaps it is in this context that the frustration and annoyance of the Western mainstream media at the Tehran summit can be explained.

During the one-week meetings of the experts, foreign ministers and heads of state of the NAM member states, several high-ranking delegations from 120 countries traveled to Tehran to take part in the important diplomatic gathering.

This gigantic international gathering, which was unprecedented in Iran's political history, took place while the United States, Israel and their European allies have been going through fire and water for a long time to push Iran toward isolation and portray a horrific, distorted image of Iran as a threat to global peace and security. However, it seems that the non-aligned nations cared little about the Western-Israeli media hype about Iran as hundreds of delegations from around the world came to Iran to attend the 16th NAM summit and also hold talks with Iranian officials and use the opportunity to urge for the expansion of bilateral ties with the Islamic Republic.

However, the mainstream media's coverage of the event in Iran reflected the depth of the Western powers' fury and disappointment at the successful summit in Tehran, with Iran featured as an international player. A glance at the articles, commentaries and interviews published by Western news agencies and newspapers will give us insight into how the frustration of the United States and its allies.

In an article published on Aug. 30, the Guardian correspondent ridiculed Iranians' hospitality and their reception of the high-ranking guests: "To watch Iranian state television, you'd think the country was hosting the Olympics. Rolling television coverage included reporters at the airport covering the landing of diplomats as if they were top athletes and ongoing interviews with delegates being asked to comment on the hospitality of Iranians and their impressions of Tehran."

Censoring Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's opening speech to the NAM leaders, The Guardian selectively published the parts where he blamed the Syrian government for the eruption of violence in the country, calling his remarks "disturbing."

In a Guardian editorial published one day earlier, the British paper called Iran a "bankrupt" country whose objective for hosting the summit is "to prove a point: sanctions-racked it may be, but isolated it is not."

The New York Times, which has long had daggers drawn with Iran, published on Aug. 28 an article by Thomas L. Friedman, who is ostensibly infuriated by the fact that the Egyptian president attended the summit, firstly asks with whom the members of this movement are nonaligned. "Is Morsi nonaligned in that choice? Is he nonaligned when it comes to choosing between democracies and dictatorships—especially the Iranian one that is so complicit in crushing the Syrian rebellion as well? And by the way, why is Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary General, lending his hand to this Iranian whitewashing festival?"

In an article published in The Nation, Afshin Molavi, an Iranian citizen working with neo-conservative organizations in the United States, called the NAM "useless," saying that "the visit of a few diplomats from Asia, Africa and Latin America will do nothing for the Iranian father who must hold two jobs just to make ends meet—caught between a choking sanctions regime [and] an economy raven by corruption and mismanagement."

Other U.S. media embraced the summit hypocritically, aggrandizing some of Ban Ki-moon's remarks that Iran should improve its human rights record. On Aug. 29 the Huffington Post published, "U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had signaled he would not shy away from criticism of Iran during his visit to the Nonaligned Movement gathering in Tehran, but the sharp comments appeared to catch Iranian officials off guard just hours after his arrival."

NPR's correspondent called Iran an "often isolated" nation that has been selected to host the huge summit. "Countries that are part of the Nonaligned Movement have mostly cut back economic ties with Iran in order to remain on better terms with Washington," it quoted a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace fellow who has tried to downplay the significance of the NAM summit.

In a concerted and communal effort aimed at undermining the importance of this international event, many members of the Western media attacked and even insulted Iran, resorted to making prejudiced and lopsided statements about Iran's position in the international community and turned a blind eye to the successful hosting of the summit by Iran.

Western media's animosity toward Iran is nothing new. Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 which deposed the U.S.-installed monarch Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, they started their campaign of misinformation and propaganda against Iran. The NAM summit gave them an opportunity to renew their attacks on Iran. However, this time they became increasingly angry and incensed that politicians from 120 countries came to Tehran to affirm or strengthen their ties with a country they wish to show as isolated and friendless.

Kourosh Ziabari is an Iranian journalist and media correspondent who writes for Tehran Times, Iran Review, Press TV, Global Research and International Policy Digest from Iran.