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Welcome re-entry to global politics of NAM and Group of ’77

PLATFORM: The mounting confrontation between the West and Iran over the actual purpose of the latters nuclear programme has had the unexpected but fortunate side effect of providing a platform of sorts for the re-emergence on the world stage of principal Third World movements and organisations, such as the Nonaligned Movement and the Group of ‘77.

Reports said that representatives of the latter had figured prominently in inspecting Iran’s nuclear sites recently, following Tehran’s challenge to the West to inspect the locations for themselves and to learn at first hand what Iran’s nuclear programme was all about.


IRAQ : US Army soldiers from the 5-20 Infantry Division prepare to load detainees onto the back of their Stryker fighting vehicle (not seen) during the launch of Operation Arrowhead Strike Six in the Shaab neighbourhood of northern Baghdad, 06 February 2007. The US military launched the first major offensive operation of its new Baghdad security plan today in an effort to pacify the Iraqi capital and rein in widespread sectarian violence. AFP

These developments also come amid growing concerns that a Western-initiated military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities is increasingly imminent, following the singling out of Iran and Syria, by particularly the US, as states which pose a serious threat to Western interests in the Gulf region and in Iraq.

Spurring these tensions even further is the news that Washington is poised to send a further 21,500 troops to Iraq following the relentless escalation of the bloodletting in the latter. Already, an additional aircraft carrier has been sent to the Gulf by the US, signalling a growing resolve by it to depend mainly on a military strategy to secure the interests of the West in the region.

Although it may be argued that a military strike by particularly the US on Iran’s nuclear facilities is not a distinct, immediate possibility, the beefing up of the US military presence in the Gulf could be seen as providing a dangerous backdrop to an escalation of the confrontation between the West and Iran, with seeds of a military conflict being sown by the US, through its seeming overdependence on military muscle.

Making matters worse, is the accusation that the US has a hand in the abduction of an Iranian diplomat in Baghdad.

The power bloc confrontations of the Cold War years are no more with us but there is no denying that Third World groups, such as NAM, have a constructive role to play in these confrontations between the US and Third World states which resist Western political and military hegemony.

There are grim security implications for the Gulf region and South West Asia in a relentless escalation of tensions between the US and Iran. Conflict resolution interventions by NAM or the Group of ‘77 would prove very timely at such junctures. Given the sheer weight of numbers of both NAM and the Group of ‘77, their voice is unlikely to go unheeded in the West.

Although it is now clear that there is no basis to the obsessive fear churned out by the West that Iraq possesses “Weapons of Mass Destruction”, the spectre of a nuclear confrontation hovers over volatile regions of the world, such as the Gulf.

Third World groups, such as NAM, could play a positive role in minimising the threat of such confrontations by actively advocating the need for a nuclear-free world. They need to seriously explore ways and means of denuclearising the world and of preventing states from considering the nuclear option.

Groups such as NAM have a highly positive role to play in relentlessly militarized and brutalized polities, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, where the deeply divisive impact of identity-based conflicts is bloodily manifest. NAM, for instance, could muster against the further militarization of Iraq by the West.

It needs to be pointed out that more military muscle by the US could only aggravate the situation in Iraq which has now taken on a civil war complexion. The Sunni community is certain to see the influx of more US troops as a military threat to its existence.

In such a situation, NAM could advocate a gradual deescalation of tensions and a scaling down of the Western military presence together with the launching of an active campaign by it for the demobilizing and neutralizing of all illegal armed groups.

It would need to impress on the Maliki administration that there needs to be absolute equity in the disarming process. All illegal armed formations, whether they be Shiite or Sunni, need to be neutralized.

Thus it could be seen that there is an abundance of work for groups such as NAM. They only need to reorganize themselves for what could be looked forward to as a “second coming” of such groups, to international politics.

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