Inquiry & Analysis |700|June 27, 2011
Iran/Pakistan/Afghanistan/ U.S. and the Arab & Muslim World
Pakistan, Afghan, Sudan Presidents Attend Tehran- Sponsored Counterterrorism Conference; U.N. Sec.-Gen. Praises Conference; Conference Defines U.S., Israel as Source of Global Terrorism
By: A. Savyon-D.Diamond
On June 25-26, 2011, the Iranian regime hosted the first "World Without Terrorism Conference" in Tehran. The conferees included Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmonov, Pakistani President Asif 'Ali Zardari, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, and Sudanese President 'Omar Al-Bashir, as well as representatives from Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Mali. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad both spoke at the conference's opening ceremony. In his address, Khamenei said that the conference's aim was to clearly define terrorism and to identify its root causes. He pointed to "satanic world powers which use terrorism in their policies and in their planning to achieve their illegitimate goals," specifying that the "Zionist regime" and Zionism in general had from their very beginning perpetuated global terrorism. He went on to say that the U.S., the U.K., and other Western governments had "a black record of terrorist behaviors."
It is worth pointing out that Tehran has recently suffered a number of severe blows, both domestically – as a result of the deep schism between Supreme Leader Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad – and as a result of regional developments – among them the precarious situation of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's regime, which has significantly weakened the Tehran-Damascus axis; Iran's defeat in the standoff with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states over the recent crisis in Bahrain; the E.U.'s refusal to renew talks with Iran over its nuclear program; and more. Thus, it is apparent that Tehran devised the conference as a means to improve its standing in the region and internationally, and to promote itself as a strong and leading regional force, at the expense of Saudi Arabia. Throughout the conference, Iran presented a blatantly anti-U.S. and anti-West agenda, focusing on the claim that the U.S. and Israel are at the root of global terrorism.
It should be noted that despite Tehran's efforts to secure the participation of as many countries as possible, from the Middle East and elsewhere, so that the conference could be promoted as a broad and inclusive international event, the absence of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states or, for that matter, any other Arab states, can hardly be ignored. According to the Pakistani daily Express Tribune, several Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia, declined Iran's invitations to participate in the conference, in a gesture of resentment over Iran's support for Shi'ite protests in Bahrain and other Arab countries. The daily also reported that Saudi Arabia had led an effort to sabotage Iran's attempt to present itself as a leading regional power, asking Pakistan not to attend the conference on the grounds that Iran was using it as a means to try to extricate itself from international isolation. Riyadh proposed that Pakistan attend instead a counterterrorism conference to be hosted by Saudi Arabia; Pakistan, however, refused the offer.
Ultimately, the roster of the conferees marks the event as regional, rather than a global. Indeed, its participants were limited to neighbors of Iran that share its regional security interests – for instance, Pakistan and Afghanistan – and Iranian satellites – such as Tajikistan, Iraq, and Sudan.
Even though Sudanese President Bashir, who is wanted by the U.N. for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, was among the conference speakers – and also met privately with Khamenei and Ahmadinejad – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised Iran for its initiative in hosting the conference. In a message delivered to the conference via special envoy, Ban said: "The U.N. has an important role in fighting terrorism and I hope that the Tehran conference can attain [this] great goal... Moving towards negotiation[s] and recognition among nations according to the U.N. charter, having friendly relations with nations and improving relations among them, and performing humanistic activities are some of the important strategies against terrorism."
According to the Iranian news agency Fars, the conference addressed various means and methods of cooperative counterterrorism on bilateral, regional, and international levels; the global obstacles and challenges posed by terrorism; and the causes of the increasing trend of terrorist activities worldwide.
The following report will provide an overview of the conference:
Left to right: Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon, Sudanese President 'Omar Al-Bashir, Pakistani President Asif 'Ali Zardari, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, at the "World Without Terrorism Conference" in Tehran, June 25, 2011. Source: English.news.cn, June 26, 2011.
Khamenei: The Zionist Regime Is Proud of Its Terrorist Background
According to his official website, in his opening speech Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei criticized the "hegemonic powers' history of terrorist acts and their support for the terrorist Zionist regime, and their long list of monetary and propaganda support for organized terrorists – and, at the same time, their claim of fighting terrorism." He emphasized that the conference was largely aimed at "providing a clear and precise definition of terrorism," adding that "the Islamic Republic of Iran considers the fight with this evil phenomenon [an] unavoidable responsibility, and will continue with strength its efforts in this great [fight]."
Following are excerpts from his address, as it appeared on his website:
"...Terrorism is not a new phenomenon. It is not a product of recent periods. However, the emergence of horrific weapons of mass destruction has made it hundreds of times more dangerous. More [shocking] and important [are] the calculations of satanic world powers, which use terrorism in their policies and planning to achieve their illegitimate goals. Historical memories in the minds of nations in our region will never forget how colonial powers planned to occupy Palestine and expel [the] Palestinian people form their homeland, by organizing and arming terrorist organizations such as the Zionism International Agency [apparently, the World Zionist Organization] and tens of similar groups which committed [the] horrendous crimes in Deir Yassin and in other places.
"The Zionist regime, since the very beginning of its creation [and] until now, has continued shamelessly and openly [in] its terrorist acts outside and inside Palestine. Both the former and incumbent leaders of the Zionist regime feel proud of their terrorist background and, in some cases, of their direct involvement in terror operations.
"Another example is the United States, [which] has a long list of terrorist behaviors [in its] financing and arming [of] terrorist organizations in the region. The deadly attacks of American drones against defenseless families in villages and in the most deprived areas of Afghanistan have [repeatedly] turned... weddings into mourning ceremonies. Crimes by the Blackwater [Corporation] in Iraq, killing Iraqi citizens and elites, assisting terrorist groups in Iran, Iraq, and in Pakistan, [the] assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists in cooperation with [the] Mossad, [and] shooting down Iran's passenger aircraft in the Persian Gulf that left 300 men, women, and children killed – are [all] part of this shameful and unforgettable list of American acts of terrorism.
"The United States, Britain, and some Western governments with a black record of terrorist behaviors, have now added to their rhetoric the claim of fighting terrorism. They are the same terrorists who, during [the] 1980s, massacred thousands of innocent people in Iran. They killed 72 Iranian senior officials [and] academic figures, and scores of [Majlis members] in a single act of terrorism. In another terrorist act, our president and prime minister were martyred, and the perpetrators of these terror attacks are now living in some European countries under the protection of European governments. With such behaviors, it is a shame to claim to be leading the fight against terrorism.
"Meanwhile, the United States and its allies call Palestinian freedom fighters terrorists, a deceitful definition which constitutes the basic problem of terrorism in the present world. From the standpoint of the leaders of hegemonic powers, everything that threatens their illegitimate interests is viewed as terrorism. All struggles intended to defend a cause against the occupiers and interventionist forces are regarded by them as terrorism. But they never call those evil forces and evil cells that are a plague against the life and security of innocent people terrorists.
"A clear and exact definition of terrorism can be one of your fundamental works and objectives in the present meeting. By relying on the noble teachings of Islam, with its underlying principles for human dignity, where the loss of an innocent life is considered the loss of [all of] humanity, and as a nation which has suffered heavy losses on the part of violent terrorism, we believe that the fight against this evil phenomenon is an unavoidable responsibility, and by the grace of Allah, we remain dedicated to continue this great fight with greater force."
Ahmadinejad: The World Powers Are Using 9/11 to Divide Nations and Impede Their Progress
According to President Ahmadinejad's official website, his address to the conference emphasized the global threat posed by terrorism, pointing to Iran as one of its chief victims. He claimed that terrorism was the result of the poverty, discrimination, and humiliation caused by foreign invasion and occupation, citing the examples of Iraq and Afghanistan under U.S. military occupation. He said that Israel, the U.S., and the West had exploited the Holocaust and 9/11 to justify the realization of their colonialist aspirations in the Middle East, which had brought nothing but backwardness and destruction to the region:
"Some believe that the motive behind the September 11 attacks was to ensure the safety of [the] Zionist regime, to foment insecurity in regional countries, to distract U.S. public opinion from the chaotic economic situation in the country, and to [line] the pockets of uncivilized, belligerent capitalists... Two years after the incident that provided an excuse for the invasion of two countries (Afghanistan and Iraq) led to the killing, injuring, and displacing of millions... the U.S. government, under pressure from public opinion, tasked a group to investigate the reason behind the attacks. But the real truth has been kept from the Americans and the world..."
According to the website, Ahmadinejad said that the global powers "resorted to terrorism 'to create divisions, break unity among nations, impede their progress, and dominate their resources and fates' [by] tak[ing] the fates of other nations in their hands and impos[ing] their puppets on them... [The] president called on the international community to devise practical solutions to curb terrorism and urged the abolishment of 'faulty, discriminatory mechanism[s] [for] fighting terrorism'... He also said that the Islamic Republic is ready to cooperate with others in fight[ing] against terrorism."
Photo source: English.news.cn, June 26, 2011.
Khamenei Meets with Afghan, Iraqi, Pakistani Presidents, Warns Against U.S. Presence in Their Countries
During the two days of the conference, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei met with the presidents of Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. In his meeting with Afghan President Karzai, he said that U.S. President Obama's statement regarding the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by 2014 was meant for domestic consumption, and that the U.S. planned to use Karzai's country as a permanent base for its forces. Karzai replied that he hoped Obama would keep his promise, and asked Iran to extend aid to Afghanistan.
In his meeting with Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, Khamenei said that U.S. power in the Middle East had declined, and that this fact should be taken advantage of against the U.S. Talabani replied that the Iraqis were united in their opposition to the ongoing U.S. presence in their country, and likewise asked for Iranian assistance. In his meeting with Khamenei, Pakistani President Asif 'Ali Zardari told the Iranian leader that the U.S. was trying to sow division in Pakistan for its own ends, and promised that his country would work toward expanding its relations with Tehran.
Khamenei Meets with Sudanese President Bashir
In a meeting with Sudanese President 'Omar Al-Bashir, that was also attended by Iranian President Ahmadinejad, Supreme Leader Khamenei expressed satisfaction over the "Islamic awakening[s]" in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya, claiming that these popular movements had successfully defied the West and the Zionists. He cautioned against Western attempts to exploit the uprisings for their own ends, saying: "The U.S. and Zionist regime's bastion in Egypt has collapsed; the U.S. and certain puppet regimes of the region are now trying to divert the track of movements..." Khamenei expressed concern over the situation in Libya, where he said the popular uprising was close to realizing a true victory for Islam, much to the dismay of "the West, [which fears the] possible formation of an Islamic government in Libya, at the doorstep of Europe."
Turning to developments in Sudan, Khamenei said that Iran fully supported Sudan's Islamic government and Muslim people in their determination "to safeguard their independence, Islamic ideology, and sovereignty." He praised Sudan for standing up to "the U.S. and Zionist regime's pressures and conspiracies," urging all parties and factions in Sudan "to keep vigilance and remain united in the face of the ongoing developments." Bashir, on his part, said that ties between the two countries were solid, and thanked Tehran for its support of the Sudanese people. He said that the developments in the region would prove in favor of the Islamic countries, adding that "the region would never return to previous conditions, and [that] the U.S. and the Zionist regime have been [the greatest] losers of the development[s]."
It should be noted that prior to the conference, the moderate-conservative Iranian website Asr-e Iran called on the Iranian regime to rescind its invitation to Sudanese President 'Omar Al-Bashir. The website claimed that Iran, which is accused by the U.N. of violating human rights, should act like the many countries which had refused to host Bashir, who is wanted by the U.N. for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur. The website said that Bashir's presence at the conference would greatly harm Iran, and that it would be inappropriate to host someone who had been accused of murdering hundreds of thousands of people.
Ban Ki-Moon Praises Tehran for Hosting Counterterrorism Conference
The news agency Fars reported that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, via a special envoy, had delivered a message to the conference in praise of Iran's initiative: "U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised Tehran's initiative and efforts in holding the first international conference on the global fight against terrorism, and described it as a major move and gathering in the war on terrorism. In a written message to the conference read by [the] U.N. Envoy to Tehran Mohammad Rafi Al-Din Shah, [Ban] Ki-moon [commended] the Islamic Republic of Iran for holding [this] very important conference."
According to Fars, Ban also said that the U.N. had "'approved a large number of resolutions against terrorism in recent years' and [that] holding conferences like the Tehran conference can be considerably helpful in implementing these resolutions... The U.N. has an important role in fighting terrorism, and I hope that the Tehran conference can attain great goals... Moving towards negotiation and recognition among nations according to the U.N. charter, having friendly relations with nations and improving relations among them, and performing humanistic activities are some of the important strategies against terrorism."
Source: English.news.cn, June 26, 2011.
*A. Savyon is Director of MEMRI's Iranian Media Project. D. Diamond is a research fellow at MEMRI.
 According to the Pakistani daily Express Tribune, the presidents of Bangladesh, Bolivia, and the Republic of Benin were also in attendance. Express Tribune (Pakistan), June 20, 2011.
 Website of the Supreme Leader (Iran), June 25, 2011.
 Fars (Iran), June 26, 2011.
 Fars (Iran), June 26, 2011.
 Website of the Supreme Leader (Iran), June 25, 2011. The original English translation was lightly edited for clarity.
 Website of the President (Iran), June 25, 2011. The original English translation was lightly edited for clarity.
 Website of the Supreme Leader (Iran), June 25-26, 2011.
 Website of the Supreme Leader (Iran), June 26, 2011.
 Asr-e Iran (Iran), June 23, 2011; Mehr (Iran), June 20, 2011.
 Fars (Iran), June 26, 2011