Quarrels mar nonaligned summit

The Karachi hijack and Muammar Qaddafi's branding of the 101-member nonaligned movement as ``useless'' shattered third-world nations' hopes of presenting a united front to the West at their summit meeting here. In the fiery Libyan's bitter outburst, he suggested that nonaligned countries scrap their independent stance and join the Warsaw Pact. He attacked Egypt, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Zaire, and Iraq for being pro-Israeli, pro-United States, or even pro-Iraq -- and this brought angry denunciations from those third-world countries.

But far more serious was the timing and outcome of the Karachi hijack. It resulted in mutual recriminations between India's Rajiv Gandhi, who blamed Pakistan for bungling the attack, and Pakistan's Zia ul-Haq, who gave a spirited defense of the country's commando raid on the US airliner.

The summit had been intended to focus attention on apartheid, South Africa's policy of strict racial separation, and succeeded in doing so -- buoyed in the first half of the week by the outcry over shooting to death by South African police of at least 20 blacks in the township of Soweto.

Early in the week, Indian sources had suggested that Mr. Gandhi was keen to take the lead in establishing an international peace force to help the ``frontline states'' repel South African aggression. The frontline states are six nations dependent on South Africa economically but uncomfortable about the relationship. At a weekend news conference, though, the Indian leader backed away, saying his government had not been asked for military assistance and ``had not even been thinking of it.''

During the meeting, the Iran-Iraq rivalry was never far from the surface, and the nonaligned movement's chairman, Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Robert Mugabe, found himself dragged into the dispute when Iranian President Hojatolislam Ali Khamenei said that Mr. Mugabe supported Iran's demand that Iraq be punished for launching the Gulf war six years ago.

Apart from South Africa, if there was one issue that tended to unite the delegates, it was anti-Americanism.

The US did not go undefended, however.

Liberian President Samuel Doe attacked African states for bitterly criticizing the US for its policies in southern Africa, Central America, and the Middle East on the one hand, while ``reaching out for aid with the other.'' Washington no doubt would have preferred to have been defended from a different quarter, but Mr. Doe, along with representatives of Singapore and a handful of other moderate states, spoke out against the anti-US bias.

As the meeting ended, there was no agreement as to where the next summit is to be held in 1989. Nicaragua, supported by Cuba, has been campaigning hard -- though so far without success -- for the honor.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
QR Code to Quarrels mar nonaligned summit
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today