Ahmadinejad and Gaddafi attack world order
The leader of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, assured the General Assembly that Iran would warmly shake hands with countries that approached it in friendship. In a coded reference to his country's nuclear program, however, he said that Iran would defend its legitimate and legal rights:
“We announce our commitment to participate in the process of building a durable peace and security worldwide for all nations, based on justice, spirituality and human dignity, while being dedicated to strongly defending our legitimate and legal rights.”
“To materialize these goals, our nation is prepared to warmly shake all those hands, which are honestly extended to us. No nation can claim to be free from the need of change and reforms if it’s a journey towards perfection. We welcome real and humane changes and stand ready to fundamental engagement in global reforms,” Iran’s president added.
He lashed out against Western involvement in wars in the Middle East and said that religious observance was better than liberalism as a guide to policy.
Regarding his election, he claimed that he was democratically elected and accepted the great responsibility of leading Iran.
While the president of Iran was speaking, the delegations of the US, Israel and the European Union left the session.
Michael Adler from the Woodrow Wilson center says Ahmadinejad was never going to talk openly about his country's nuclear program:
“These talks, which are taking place October 1 next week, were set up by a proposal which the Iranians gave to the P5+1 – the five permanent Security Council members plus Germany. And, in that proposal, they presented many world-before-messianic themes which President Ahmadinejad presented in the speech this evening.”
“But, it did not mention the suspension of [uranium] enrichment – which is what the United Nations has called on Iran to do. It did not mention any of the concerns, which the international community has with the Iranian nuclear program,” Adler concluded.
Muammar al-Gaddafi chose to camp
Another fiery speech came from Libya's leader, Colonel Gaddafi. The Lybian leader had UN officials panicking when he spoke for 100 minutes instead of his allotted quarter of an hour.
During his speech, Gaddafi compared the UN Security Council to al Quaeda and tore up a copy of the UN charter.
United States, New York : Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi gestures as he enters the U.N. headquarters for the United Nations General Assembly (AFP Photo / Rick Gershon / Getty Images)
Walid Phares from the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies says Gaddafi did himself no favors:
“It was an issue of credibility. When he wants to engage in discussing very heavy stuff, such as reforming the United Nations, [or that] the West has to pay money back to Africa, and so on and so forth, he himself has to have a credible case.”
“There is a lot of criticism in the Arab world about Gaddafi’s regime: against his own opposition, his own civil society,” Phares continued. “He was overshadowed first by the theatrics… The way he addressed many other things is something you cannot do at the United Nations, no matter what your ideas are.”
And that was not the only attention-grabbing behavior surrounding the Libyan leader.
Elsewhere in New York, a tent being pitched to house him on land owned by American billionaire Donald Trump ran into trouble with local authorities.
Workers were told to stop construction because it violated local regulations and was deemed to be an illegal temporary structure.
In the end, the Libyan leader was not allowed to stay there. He had to spend the night at the Libyan embassy in Manhattan. When traveling internationally, Gaddafi prefers to stay in his traditional Bedouin-style tent, supposedly to honor his roots.
Last year, Gaddafi installed his tent with a barbecue grill in the Kremlin garden in Moscow and was warmly greeted by Russian officials.