Iran yesterday was deploying formidable security around a Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) meeting preparing for a summit later this week that Tehran is determined to use to bolster its international status.
Some 110,000 police have been dispatched around the country, many of them to man street corners and suddenly ubiquitous vehicle inspection points in the capital.
The heavy uniformed presence underlined the authorities’ intent to ensure nothing upsets an event that Iran is portraying as a diplomatic coup against US-led pressure.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is expected to reinforce that message when he opens the two-day NAM summit on Thursday.
NAM officials from about 100 countries were yesterday forging through a second day of preparations for the summit. Foreign ministers were to take over today for another two days of finessing the details.
The summit itself will see heads of state and government from more than 30 countries taking part, alongside lower-ranking officials from the rest of the NAM members, according to the Iranian organizers.
The NAM, a Cold War grouping founded in 1961, has 120 members that represent most of the developing world and which see themselves as independent of Washington and Moscow influence.
Although the organization had increasingly been seen as an anachronism in the past couple of decades, Iran seeks to revive it as a counterweight to perceived domineering by permanent UN Security Council members Britain, France, China, Russia and — especially — the US.
“We share the concern of many members that the UN Security Council has increasing power in the face of decreasing power in the [UN] General Assembly,” Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Sunday as he opened the NAM preparatory meetings.
He backed a longstanding call for reform of the Security Council.
However, delegations at the NAM summit in Tehran were likely to have their attention focused on more pressing issues, chiefly Syria.
The vicious, 17-month conflict tearing Iran’s ally apart has confounded several diplomatic quests to find a solution.