Non-Aligned Movement Summit Draws Reactions from India, Russia, and China
The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) recently convened in Tehran for its 16th Summit, drawing attention to the relevance of the NAM, members’ relations with Iran, and the ongoing turmoil in Syria. This post highlights commentary on the summit in the Indian, Russian and Chinese press.
The NAM summit drew considerable attention and commentary in India, due to both India’s status as a founding member of NAM and the bilateral meetings that PM Manmohan Singh had with leaders of Iran and Pakistan on the sidelines of the summit.
- The Hindu, known for its mix of leftist and soft-nationalist viewpoints, printed an editorial hailing the NAM’s significance and outlining two reasons why the summit was important for India: Singh’s public opposition to intervention in Syria was India’s “clearest statement of differences with the US on this issue,” and his meetings with the Iranian leadership demonstrated that “New Delhi’s relations with Tehran would not be dictated by the U.S.”
- In contrast, Pramit Pal Chaudhuri of the Hindustan Times acknowledged that anti-Americanism no longer characterizes the NAM. Instead, the paper’s foreign editor argued, the NAM as potential as a multilateral forum that could “provide a means to limit or slow down the expansion of Chinese interests in the world.”
- C. Raja Mohan, known for his great-power realist views in his Indian Express column, dismissed the “utter incoherence of the NAM as a collective political entity.” According to Mohan, the real winner at the NAM summit was Egypt’s new president Mohamed Morsi, whose attendance defied America’s wishes and whose public statement in support of the Syrian opposition riled the Iranian host.
- In the usually liberal-globalist paper The Times of India, an opinion piece similarly lauded Egyptian president Morsi for asserting an independent course of foreign policy: “NAM enables its member nations to…reject Washington’s current foreign policy…in a way none of them would be able to do on their own.” In a more moderate tone, a Times of India editorial argued that “Morsi’s balanced policy casts non-alignment in a new light and presents both opportunities and challenges to India as it will be called upon to jockey for influence with China in the new Middle East.”
- Russia is seeking to create a common security space and “is ready to build up cooperation with the Non-Aligned Movement for peace and prosperity and the benefit of the whole humankind,” Russian President Vladimir Putin announced at the opening of the NAM. Putin noted that multilateral cooperation is “quite needed in the polycentric world order taking shape.”
- Gennady Yevstafiev, retired Lieutenant General of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, stated, “Given the fact that the meeting of the heads of the NAM is taking place in Tehran, it is an extremely big achievement of the present Iranian leadership and a rather serious blow to the aspirations of Israel and the US.” He added that while some members of the NAM, like India, Brazil, South Africa, and Indonesia will “play an important role as centers of influence,” the NAM is unlikely to emerge as a new center of power, given the diversity of attitudes and aspirations of its members.
The limited Chinese commentary on the NAM reflected an identification with the Global South school of thought, but for the most part the Chinese press was more preoccupied with other foreign policy issues, such as island disputes with neighbors (see RPI Policy Alert #34). China is an observer to the NAM.
- A Xinhua article characterized the NAM summit as an important accomplishment for Iran that broke its “Western diplomatic blockade.” Another Xinhua piece wrote, “Twenty years after the Cold War, the very scenario that prompts the birth of non-alignment…is just as solid as ever: giving a voice to the developing world, so as to promote world peace and cooperation.”