Round Table on Iran
Where is Iran heading? Tehran's domestic and regional policies
15:00 to 16:00
On June 30, 2017, a colloquium organized by the Foundation of Studies for the Middle East on the situation in this region was held in Roissy-en-France. Iran's analysis and political role in the region as well as its future has largely occupied the minds of this day. Three panels of senior dignitaries (academics, researchers, civil servants, military, and politicians) were directly involved during the course of their career in solving the problems of the near and Middle East.
The first panel moderated by Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield (President Emeritus at the Stimson Center, former US Deputy Secretary of State for Military Affairs) aimed to decipher various analysis of policies toward Iran. The panel was composed of John Baird (former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada), Senator Joseph Lieberman (former US Senator and Vice-Presidential candidate), Ambassador Robert Joseph (former US special envoy and Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security until 2007), General Jack Keane (Deputy Chief of Staff of the US Army), and Bruno Tertrais (Deputy Director of the Foundation for Strategic Research).
John Baird criticized the Middle Eastern policy of Barack Obama and his administration during his eight years in office, especially concerning regarding Tehran. He blamed Obama for the way he conducted the nuclear deal between Iran and the P5 + 1. He said that Iran's actions had shown that it's word was not to be trusted. Turning to the Iranian presidential election, he described it as a "democratic farce" insofar as candidates cannot compete freely since they are chosen by the Supreme Leader.
Joseph Lieberman also touched on the nuclear agreement of July 2015, evoking his certainty about the will of the Iranian regime not to respect the deal. He believes that the main objective of the Iranian theocracy remains the construction of the atomic bomb because it would guarantee the foundation of the regime. Lieberman recalled the role of the Iranian regime in international terrorism and its goal of destabilizing the Middle East by interfering wherever it can, as in Iraq and Syria. Like Baird, he strongly criticized Obama's policy that was too complacent with the Iranian authorities. The era that opens with Donald Trump, he hopes, will try to review the previous plans to give back to Iran and his people their freedom. He recalled the dissensions within the regime, between a President increasingly hostile to the line of the Supreme Leader, revealing the inner frailties.
For Robert Joseph, since the signing of the treaty on the Iranian nuclear nothing has changed in Iran and on the contrary, he is persuaded that theocracy continues its quest for nuclear weapons. He recalled the recent revelations about the ballistic missile program that the Iranian regime has engaged and believes there is nothing to expect from it unless it is ended. Thus, he affirmed that the main objective had to be its fall. Indeed, he does not believe in 'moderation' by President Rouhani and believes that it is only a fable, which if taken seriously will be formidable for countries that try to combat proliferation and State terrorism. Regarding the alternative to the regime, he mentioned the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the only organization to have as its goal a free and democratic Iran, as well as the will to stop the proliferation of weapons. He affirmed that Washington considers as allies the Iranian people and the NCRI which guarantees a will to establish peace in this region.
Jack Keane wished to point out that Iran's goal was to impose its leadership on the whole of the Middle East, which the Trump administration will not allow, he said. Although Trump is not the most knowledgeable in foreign policy, he tried to reassure his audience by saying that he had surrounded himself with the best advisers. The latter, he assured, will be able to guarantee an action plan against the dynamics of expansion of Iran and for the stability of the region. Given the wait-and-see attitude of Obama, General Keane explains that the new administration has already shown signs. First Trump's first trip was to Riyadh to reassure his Saudi allies, the main external opponents in the region to the Iranian theocracy, and thus guarantee his support against all forms of aggression. Keane recalled that the Americans must ensure that Iranian youth have an alternative to the current regime while at the same time explaining that Trump would not hesitate to use force against all forms of provocation of the Iranian regime. This is what happened in response to the Iranian ballistic missile.
Bruno Tertrais deconstructed the image of a moderate Iranian regime, holding it highly responsible for the rise of terrorism in recent years. For him, the mistake of the Europeans in believing that the regime is moderating its behavior is due to the fact that they confuse moderation with pragmatism. Because yes, the Iranian regime is pragmatic but by no means moderate. As a Frenchman, he wished to speak of the position of France. If it is currently discreet about the Iranian regime, it is hopeful to believe in the firmness of the new President of the Republic before the threats of the Middle East. He also wished to highlight the stupidity of the political spheres regarding their strategy to ease tensions with Iran through trade and business. Indeed, in history, episodes do not fail to remind us that this is only a pure utopia. Finally, he demonstrated the support of the Iranian regime to the regime of Assad and at the same time Daesh since the Syria of Assad made its best guarantor in the crisis that crosses Syria.
The second panel was moderated by Alejo Vidal Quadras (a former Vice-President of the European Parliament) and focused on Iran's role in the region. It was attended by Sid Ahmed Ghozali (former Prime Minister of Algeria), Jean-Sylvestre Mongrenier (PhD in Geopolitics, Associate Professor of History and Geography, and Researcher at the French Institute of Geopolitics Paris VIII and member of the Thomas More Institute), and Struan Stevenson (President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association and former president of the European Parliament's delegation for relations with Iraq).
Alejo Vidal Quadras recalled the role of the Iranian regime in international terrorism, while Sid Ahmed Ghozali was able to testify by his experience while he was Prime Minister of Algeria. Indeed, he recalled how the Iranian regime tried to weaken all the States of the region, including Algeria, to propagate its Islamic revolution. For him, there is nothing to expect from this regime because expansionism is in its own nature. He recalled many dimensions concerning the Iranian theocracy such as interference in Syria and Iraq, an opposition whose members the regime has massacred (some 120,000 opponents have been executed), a death penalty that continues to be used massively, and therefore a whole set of facts that explains why Ghozali believes that this regime is in no way the solution in the Middle East.
Jean-Sylvestre Montgrenier attempted to shed light on the situation in the Middle East. He recalled the geopolitical reality of the Shiite arch that stretches from Tehran to North Yemen (via Iraq, Syria and Lebanon), but also the strengthening of Hezbollah under the tight control of Iran. These events reveal the hegemonic will of Iran but above all the risk of an unlimited expansion, even suggesting that the nuclear and ballistic issue is more than ever on the agenda regarding the Iranian issue.
Struan Stevenson, also spoke of Iranian interference in the Middle East and considers that the nuclear agreement has not in any way contributed to moderate the attitude of the Iranian regime in the region, on the contrary it seems even more aggressive in its foreign policy. He said there was an urgent need to release the Iranian people from their leaders while saying that the Iranian opposition offered a credible alternative to the regime.
The third and final panel moderated by Lincoln Bloomfield focused on the situation in Iran and the role of the opposition. Speakers included Kenneth Blackwell (former US Ambassador to the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva), Linda Chavez (Founder and Chair of the Equal Opportunities Center, and former White House Director of the Office of Public Liaison), Ramesh Sepehrrad (researcher at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution (SCAR) at George Mason University, focusing on Iranian affairs, political governance, human rights, gender equality and US policy), Robert Torricelli (a member of the US Senate from 1997 to 2003, who served previously for 14 years in the US House of Representatives).
Ramesh Sepehrrad reaffirmed the divisions within the Iranian political arena. Indeed, the election for a second term of the outgoing president Rouhani, who was not then the preferred candidate of the supreme leader, reveals the serious internal crisis at the highest levels of the state between Khamenei and Rouhani. But for her this fracture has too little significance as the regime knows how to construct in appearance fractures, where this one speaks in reality of one and the same voice. Ms Sepehrrad, however, recalled the events of 2009 when the regime was in turmoil, but stressed that the green movement then at the front of the protest is now marginalized and without echo.
Linda Chavez and Robert Torricelli both recalled that the most credible alternative to build a free and democratic Iran was none other than the National Council of Resistance of Iran and its main member organization the People's Mojahedin (PMOI or MEK) which has overcome many ordeals and has set as its main objective the end of the mullahs for a free Iran. Both speakers hoped that one day the Iranian youth would live in peace and choose the best path for their country.
The last speaker, Kenneth Blackwell, wanted to put forward several proposals to remedy the Iranian problem. While welcoming the change in the US administration's view of the Iranian regime, he believes that the US should make greater use of new technologies in the implementation of its foreign policy in order to better support the demands of the Iranian people for a change of regime and the establishment of democracy.
Examen des politiques sur l'Iran15h00 à 16h30
Modérateur : Lincoln Bloomfield, Ambassadeur, Président émérite au Centre Stimson, ancien Secrétaire d'Etat Adjoint aux Affaires Militaires
• John Baird, ancien ministre des affaires étrangères du Canada
• Joseph Lieberman, ancien sénateur et candidat à la vice-présidence des Etats-Unis
• Robert Joseph, Ambassadeur, envoyé spécial des États-Unis pour la non-prolifération nucléaire et sous-secrétaire d'État au contrôle des armements et à la sécurité internationale jusqu'en 2007
• Bruno Tertrais, Directeur adjoint de la Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique
Le rôle de l'Iran dans la région16h45 à 18h15
Modérateur : Alejo Vidal Quadras, président de l'ISJ, ancien vice-président du Parlement européen
• Sid Ahmed Ghozali, ancien chef du gouvernement de l'Algérie
• Jack Keane, Rtd. Général à la retraite, ancien chef-adjoint de l'état-major de l'armée américaine
• Jean-Sylvestre Mongrenier, docteur en géopolitique, professeur agrégé d'Histoire-Géographie, et chercheur à l'Institut Français de Géopolitique (Université Paris VIII). Membre de l'Institut Thomas More.
• Struan Stevenson, Président de l'European Iraqi Freedom Association, ancien président de la délégation du Parlement européen pour les relations avec l'Irak
La situation en Iran et le rôle de l'opposition
18h30 à 20h00
Modérateur : Lincoln Bloomfield
• Kenneth Blackwell, Ancien ambassadeur des États-Unis à la Commission des droits de l'homme de l'ONU à Genève
• Linda Chavez, Fondatrice et présidente du Centre pour l'égalité des chances, ancienne chargée des relations publiques à la Maison Blanche
• Ramesh Sepehrrad, Chercheuse à l'Ecole de l'Analyse et de la Résolution de Conflit (SCAR) à l'université de George Mason, Fairfax, en Virginie, aux Etats-Unis. Elle a concentré ses recherches sur les affaires iraniennes, la gouvernance politique, les droits de l'homme, l'égalité entre les sexes et la politique des États-Unis.
• Robert Torricelli, Membre du Sénat américain de 1997 à 2003, a siégé pendant 14 ans à la Chambre des représentants des États-Unis.