Fox News, October 23, 2008
Alireza Jafarzadeh (Foreign Affairs Analyst)
In a blunt indication of how the rest of the world views the ayatollahs’ regime, its bid for membership in the United Nations Security Council was decisively defeated. The very notion is cheeky, from a regime sanctioned in five Security Council resolutions for its defiance of the international community over the nuclear issue. The vote was a rout, with just 32 in favor out of the 192-member General Assembly.
The diplomatic setback reflected concerns beyond the nuclear issue. According to The New York Times, “Some countries have worried that Iran could behave as Rwanda did in the early 1990s, when it used its seat to hinder resolutions aimed at curbing violence there.” In a damning report released to all UN member states on Iran’s human rights situation, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon deplored “the continuing high incidence of executions, with a sudden surge of executions reported in recent months.” The report also cited executions of juveniles and stonings as well as “an increase in rights violations against women, university students, teachers, workers and other activist groups.”
The clerical regime has long portrayed itself as a champion of the developing world that could rival the West.
To back up their visions of grandeur, the ayatollahs boast about backing among countries of the Organization of Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement. The lopsided vote revealed otherwise. The two international bodies account for 124 member states of the UN General Assembly. Tehran’s 32-vote tally represents only about 25% of the two blocks — not a strong showing by anyone’s standards.
The specter of overwhelming defeat usually prompts aspiring states to withdraw their candidacy in advance of the vote to prevent international embarrassment. The ayatollahs’ lobbying team in New York, however, was under strict orders from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s office to march onward, despite the odds of ultimate humiliation. A western envoy told Reuters that “The Iranian ambassador came to see me to ask for our vote in the election. I don’t know who had more difficulty keeping a straight face — him or me.”
Desperate to avoid such an embarrassing a vote, the regime even lobbied Japan, its competitor for the Asian seat on the Council. According to Iran’s state news agency IRNA, an influential member of the ayatollahs’ parliament, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, called on Japan to endorse Iran’s candidacy and withdraw its name from the race. IRNA reported that Boroujerdi implicitly promised Japan Tehran’s backing for a permanent seat on the council, when and if the UN body is ever expanded.
According to the U.N. Charter, member states must cast their vote based on the “contribution of members of the United Nations to the maintenance of international peace and security and to other purposes of the organization, and also to equitable geographical distribution.” No wonder Tehran received such a thrashing. It is not just the West that is concerned about the ayatollahs’ nuclear weapons program, sponsorship of terror and mayhem in Iraq and in the region, and relentless suppression of Iranians.
Following the vote, even the state-controlled media in Iran reported on the diplomatic setback as “Defeat of the Project for Iran’s Membership in the Security Council.” One member of the press in particular wrote, “Although Ahmadinejad had insisted that many countries are seeking solutions from Iran for their problems and that there is widespread international demand for Iran’s presence in the world arena, the countries of the world gave a cold reception to Iran’s bid for membership in the Security Council.”
The state-controlled Aftab News Agency wrote, “Ironically, before the vote, government officials indicated there was widespread support among Islamic countries and others for Iran’s membership in the Security Council.”
The UN General Assembly’s vote overwhelmingly rejecting the ayatollahs’ bid for membership in the Security Council represents an international referendum on Tehran’s belligerence and barbaric treatment of its populace. In light of Tehran’s established pattern of violence and unabated attempts to contribute to regional and world insecurity, its membership on the Security Council would have been a travesty.
But however much the ayatollahs’ regime has disqualified Iran this time around, the Iranian nation and its people still aspire to return to the family of nations. They will merit that seat when the ayatollahs’ rule has ended and Iran is represent by a democratic, secular, non-nuclear government at peace with its own people and the world.