x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Non-Aligned Movement summits no longer serve a purpose

It is hard to see any cogent reason why the member states of the now-archaic Non-Aligned Movement (Nam) would come together this month, commented Dr Abdullah El Madani, a Bahraini expert on Asian affairs, in yesterday's edition of the UAE-based newspaper Al Ittihad.

The 16th Nam summit, which kicked off yesterday in Tehran and will last until the end of the month, seems to have become just an occasion for some "bitterly isolated states to polish the façades of their wretchedly repressive regimes", according to the writer.

The Non-Aligned Movement was officially founded in 1961 in Belgrade by countries that sought to be neutral in the conflict between the capitalist West and the communist East. Some of the movement's founding nations were Yugoslavia, India, Egypt, Ghana and Indonesia.

"Sure, Nam had its heyday," the writer conceded. "During the Cold War, at the height of the ideological warfare between East and West, the movement had its lustre and had its purpose. It also had a cause during the wars of independence that Third World nations had to fight to throw off the yoke of colonialism."

But all these factors that had once justified the genesis of Nam have become "something of the past", he argued.

"Nam's insistence to still operate under its current name … and its generous spending on summits like this are absurd and politically unrealistic decisions; it is a case of deliberately ignoring the sum of international developments that the world has seen since the early 1990s."

With the break-up of the USSR and its socialist bloc, the global bipolarity that reigned in much of the 20th century (with the United States and its allies forming the other pole) came to an end, the writer said.

"And this, in turn, made any effort to stand at the same distance from two rabidly conflicting poles completely irrelevant, since there aren't two poles out there any longer."

Some may say that Nam is still useful as a platform for economic, cultural, environmental and technological collaboration between its 120-odd member states, the writer noted.

Others may argue that Nam had, in fact, become conscious that it ought to adjust its goals even before the fall of the Iron Curtain.

There is some truth to this, the writer said. As early as the 1970s, observers started to notice a shift in Nam's focus from political and ideological affairs to international trade and economic growth.

"But this doesn't mean that Nam has been capable of achieving outstanding results," the writer countered, "because it has always suffered from a lack of direction due to the conflicting politics of its member states, the diversity of their alliances and interests and the disparities in the levels of their economic growth."

Protests worked in Brotherhood's favour

The Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi emerged as the top winners following the August 25 protests against their rule, wrote Wael Qandil in the Cairo-based Al Shorouk.

The people behind the 25 protests, being clearly anti-revolutionaries, snatched the virtuous chants of the January 25 revolution to use them in a ludicrous occasion, the writer said.

"But although this is an act of thievery and plagiarism, and a hilarious attempt to mix oil and water, the incident reflects an act of surrendering from the ancien regime remnants to the law and lexicon of a crystal-clear revolution," he added.

By political calculations, the so-called "million man march" has shown the real weight of the old regime remnants.

"As yours truly expected, voices of the Muslim Brotherhood rose to strut their stuff at what it deems - or rather it likes to deem - 'opposition'," the writer observed.

This is not the opposition Egypt seeks and merits, neither does such a pathetic opposition benefit the new Egyptian president, or the organisation he hails from, the writer went on.

But the real achievement of what unfolded is to clear the term "opposition" of all wrong definitions and misconceptions, and bring the real opposition towards a decisive moment to close ranks and get rid of the pro-Mubarak opposition, Qandil concluded.

One-upmanship over Israel is heating up

The race between US President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, is heating up amid one constant: appeasement of Israel, remarked the UAE-based Al Bayan in its editorial yesterday.

Mr Obama is seeking another term to resume what he has started, while Mr Romney is trying "to save the American dream".

But the main factor that will probably determine the course of ction remains who will appease the US Jewish lobby the most, in the attempt to garner votes in decisive states such as Florida and Pennsylvania.

"Both candidates have sworn allegiance to Israel," the editorial said. "Mr Obama provided supplemental funding to support Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system, and has welcomed several Israeli officials including defence minister Ehud Barak."

"His contender, Mr Romney, has declared Jerusalem to be the 'capital of Israel', and said that the economic issues in the Palestinian territories are not the consequence of the Israeli occupation … and that Israel's security is in the vital national security interest of the US."

The writer observed that the "declaration of allegiance to Israel" is the "constant common denominator among all presidents of the US, while the Palestinian cause remains the biggest loser".

* Digest compiled by Translation Desk

translation@thenational.ae