(TEHRAN, Iran) — Things didn’t go quite as planned for Iranian leaders hosting the Nonaligned Movement summit in Tehran on Thursday as they were taken aback by criticism of the Syrian government’s continued onslaught against pro-democratic forces in a civil war that has lasted 18 months and cost tens of thousands of lives.
What was supposed to be Iran’s return to the world stage as a legitimate power in the region in hosting the summit attended by 120 delegations quickly unraveled as both United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi denounced the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, a close ally of Iran.
Morsi, who rose to power via a people’s revolutions that was over in a matter of weeks, declared, “I am here to announce our full and just support for a free, independent Syria that supports a transition into a democratic system and that respects the will of the Syrian people for freedom and equality at the same time, preventing Syria from going into civil war or going into sectarian divisions.”
When he got around to calling the Syrian government an “oppressive regime,” that was enough for Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid al-Moallem, who stormed out of the hall in protest.
Secretary General Ban also expressed the international community outrage at al-Assad, saying, “The Syrian government has the primary responsibility to resolve this crisis by genuinely listening to the people’s voices.”
To add insult to injury, Ban also took aim at Iran for its unending mission to destroy the state of Israel as well as labeling the Holocaust a myth.
Iran’s state media did not report the comments made by Ban and Morsi.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Barbara Starr, CNN
Reed Alexander and James Griffiths, CNN
Karla Pequenino, CNN
Billy Hallowell, Deseret News