by Ray Fleming

I ran's leaders will have been pleased to receive 120 acceptances from countries in the Non-Aligned Movement to its summit in Tehran - evidence of the leading role Iran wants to play in the Middle East. However, the summit just ended proved to be close to a disaster for President Ahmadinenjad who was its principal host.

The summit was told by Egypt's President Morsi that it was an “ethical duty and a political and strategic necessity” to support the rebel forces in Syria and to bring about a peaceful transfer of power from President Assad's failing government to a new democratic system. Since Iran is Assad's only supporter in the region Morsi's remarks were deeply embarrassing for Ahmadinejad who had to watch the Syrian delegation leave the conference room in protest as Morsi spoke.

A second rebuff to Iran came from Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General, who told the summit: “I strongly reject threats by any UN member states to destroy another or outrageous attempts to deny historical facts such as the Holocaust.

Claiming that another member state, Israel, does not have the right to exist is not only utterly wrong but undermines the principles we have all pledged to uphold.” Ban Ki-moon does not often aim his criticism so directly at a single state or its leader but clearly felt obliged to do so in Tehran.