Iran's Friendly Audience
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech before the United Nations General Assembly this week is all part of a sophisticated propaganda campaign to counter American and European pressure for stronger Security Council sanctions against Iran and to build support in the General Assembly for Iran’s campaign to win a Security Council seat of its own.
Ahmadinejad may be crazy, but he is no fool. While his thugs back home are busy sending arms to kill our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, sentencing political prisoners to long jail terms or worse, and imposing strict censorship at Iran’s universities, he knows exactly what buttons to press to maximize the propaganda value of his visit here. He will use his speech to burnish his country’s image as the leader of the anti-American majority that dominates the General Assembly today and rally opposition to the United States’ ‘bullying’ influence in the Security Council. This builds on his longstanding theme that the Security Council today “has no legitimacy among the peoples of the world."
Columbia University and CBS’ “60 Minutes” are giving Ahmadinejad added propaganda platforms. If either of these self-proclaimed bastions of free speech were truly interested in stimulating a debate on controversial issues, they would have invited a top Israeli leader, a Holocaust survivor and an Iranian dissident to debate Ahmadinejad face-to-face with no conditions. Instead, this wretched terrorist sponsor, human rights abuser and Holocaust denier will go largely unchallenged while he tries to portray himself as a reasonable leader open to peaceful dialogue.
As ‘evidence’ of how much Iran desires peace, Ahmadinejad has even more propaganda points to score, thanks to Mohammad ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. ElBaradei worked out a phony deal in which Iran agreed to answer a bunch of meaningless questions about its past uranium enrichment activities. Nothing was agreed regarding the status of Iran’s current activities. Nevertheless, the appearance of progress in negotiations was enough to turn ElBaradei against the United States’ current push for tough new Security Council sanctions despite Iran’s continued refusal to suspend its nuclear program. For its part, China is now calling on the Security Council to drop Iran's nuclear case altogether and refer it back to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Iran is playing out the clock to delay any further Security Council sanctions while actively seeking to become one of the ten non-permanent members elected by the General Assembly to the Security Council on a regional basis for a two-year term. The election for the seat that Iran is seeking - which is reserved for a member of the Asia Group of member states to which Iran belongs - will be held during the 63rd Session of the UN General Assembly in 2008, but Iran is not wasting any time. That is because a candidate for the seat has to be approved by two-thirds of the UN member states.
Senior Iranian officials have reportedly been working through back channels to promote Iran's candidacy. Although Japan has also put forward itself for the Security Council seat, Iran is far ahead. Most importantly so far, the powerful fifty-seven member Organization of Islamic Conference – which has super-sized sway over the General Assembly - has already nominated Iran for the seat. Moreover, China can be expected to put its weight behind Iran rather than its long-time nemesis, Japan.
Making sure that it will not meet the same fate as Venezuela’s failed bid last year for a Security Council seat, Iran has been spreading its petrodollars around in Latin America, Africa and Asia to win the support of member states in those regions. Iran’s largesse has included lucrative investments, trade and arms deals. It knows that it must build strong, broad cross-regional support in order to ensure its success in achieving the required two-thirds vote in the General Assembly. In Latin America, for example, Iran has forged economic ties with Venezuela, Ecuador, Cuba, Nicaragua and Brazil. In Africa, Iran has agreed to build an oil refinery and petrochemicals plant in Senegal, and has entered into a long-term contract to supply South African refineries.
In Asia, whose group of member states Iran belongs to and is seeking to represent on the Security Council, Iran has locked up some very strong relationships that will serve it well. It has an extensive economic and security relationship with China, which has invited Iran to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization that China co-founded with Russia to counter U.S. power in the region (Iran already has observer status). Iran has endorsed the oil pipeline project from India through Pakistan, making it appear like the honest broker between these two rival countries. It is discussing a multimillion-dollar Iranian investment in an Indonesian oil refinery and a jointly owned investment bank in Malaysia. And it is reportedly planning massive investments in small Central Asian countries like Georgia and Armenia, each of which has the same voting power in the General Assembly as the largest member states. And despite the United States’ best efforts, there is still significant foreign investment in Iran, particularly from Asia. Iran will be calling all these chips in when it comes time next year for the vote to fill the Asia Group’s seat on the Security Council.
If Iran does round up the votes it needs to get elected to a seat on the Security Council, the United States, Great Britain and France will still be able to use their veto power to prevent the Council from taking any harmful actions at Iran’s behest. However, Iran will do whatever it can from its inside position to shield itself and its Islamo-fascist allies from any further enforcement actions. Iran will also attempt to turn the heat up even more on Israel, especially during the rotating months when it will serve as president of the Security Council. In short, Iran’s presence on the Security Council will begin the process that turned the Human Rights Council and its predecessor body into mockeries of the UN Charter’s core values.
Iran’s defiance of the Security Council’s resolutions, which mandated that it suspend its uranium enrichment program, should disqualify its candidacy if the General Assembly were to follow the dictates of the UN Charter. Article 23 of the Charter states that the “General Assembly shall elect ten other Members of the United Nations to be non-permanent members of the Security Council, due regard being specially paid, in the first instance to the contribution of Members of the United Nations to the maintenance of international peace and security and to the other purposes of the Organization…” (emphasis added)
Far from making any positive contribution, Iran undermines international peace and security at every turn. It refuses to comply with Security Council resolutions passed under its Article VII enforcement powers and attacks the legitimacy of the Security Council’s unanimous decisions. Its President has declared that Israel, a member state, must be wiped off the face of the earth. It continues to sponsor terrorism. Therefore, any General Assembly vote to put Iran on the Security Council should be null and void. But astoundingly there is no mechanism within the UN Charter for the Security Council to override the General Assembly’s election of a member state to a seat on the Council, even when enforcement action has been taken against that member state by the Security Council!
So what can we do to keep Iran off the Security Council? Unfortunately there isn’t much we can do, as long as the General Assembly remains a captive of the Organization of Islamic Conference and its anti-American allies. We could try to challenge Iran’s election before the International Court of Justice, but that is a long shot at best.
So we are left with the choice of either tolerating two years of Iran’s obstructionism once it begins its term on the Security Council or breaking our ties with the dysfunctional United Nations in protest once and for all. Withdrawal would be the only principled course at that point. Let the Islamo-fascists use their own petrodollars to pay for their follies rather than continue to bleed American taxpayers. As a dividend, we would not have to endure the annual visits on our soil from the world’s vilest leaders such as Ahmadinejad, who is currently protected under diplomatic immunity and our host country treaty with the UN from the arrest that he deserves for his complicity in terrorist acts and the seizing of American hostages.
 Iran: Security Council Illegitimate, Aljazeera.Net (March 15, 2007). link to original article