Thursday,19 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1312, (22-28 September 2016)
Thursday,19 July, 2018
Issue 1312, (22-28 September 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Barely engaged

Parochial concerns will dominate Iran’s participation in this year’s UN General Assembly, Camelia Entekhabifard writes from New York

Al-Ahram Weekly

The 71st United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) kicked off 20 September in New York City with the main focus on the refugee crisis and conflict in Syria.
While some leaders are coming to this annual event for publicity and propaganda purposes, to use the UN podium for reasons of fame, for others it is a great way to lobby for their nations’ best interests.
The annual UNGA meeting is also an opportunity for a possible meeting with the US president.

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, elected three years ago, this week and for the fourth time is attending the United Nations General Assembly— his last before heading to the next election.
Iran’s nuclear deal, signed more than a year ago, still faces difficulties to reach full implementation, while the public has been disappointed in not seeing rapid improvements.
But no matter how important to Iran is improving its US relations, the Iranian supreme leader is not an advocate, and as if to mark the fact an open letter was published ahead of Rouhani’s UNGA arrival to make this clear to his government.

Ayatollah Khamenei on Sunday, 18 September, published an instruction letter to be followed by the president and foreign minister travelling to New York about the Islamic Republic’s fundamental ideology, setting himself as a great example to them.
Ayatollah Khamenei in this letter mentioned that during his four years as president he travelled only once to New York to attend the UNGA, and “to talk with the world people not to America”.
In this open letter Khamenei says his “behaviours and actions during that trip to New York (29 years ago) can be indicators and a pattern for Iranian diplomacy to pursue”.

Some are seeing the supreme leader’s harsh tone towards America as a tactic to push the US administration to make their action faster in regards to implementing the Iran nuclear deal. His anger towards America has been expressed in recent weeks by fast manoeuvring IRGC (Iranian Republican Guard Corps) speeding boats around the US Navy ships.

It will be interesting indeed to see how the Iranian delegation, with hands tied, pursue their goals at the United Nations.
Iran was one of the founding members of the UN in 1945 and was elected a non-permanent member of the Security Council in 1954.
Things changed since the revolution at 1979 and Iran never gained the same status it once had. Now, in the light of the Iran nuclear accord, some ties with the international community have been restored and the UN lifted the sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear programme.

But expectations that Iran would be a more dependable nation and work closer with the international community to help resolve regional conflicts were frustrated.
Despite the 71st UNGA being mainly about Syria and the refugee crisis, Iranian political leaders have expressed no interest in discussing the issue at the UN with counterparts.
Khamenei has only one aim: forbidding further ties with the US, including behind the scenes lobbying.

As for Rouhani, it seems he wants to concentrate on his re-election campaign by focussing on implementation of Iran nuclear deal and making its result more tangible for ordinary Iranians.

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