Today, July 8th 2016, three conferences were held in Paris . The first conference entitled ‘Crisis in the Middle East, Prospects and Solutions’
The Moderator, Alejo Vidal Quadras, President ISJ, former Vice President of European Parliament
Panelists were Frédéric Encel, Scholar of geopolitics, teaches international relations at the ESG Management School, Jean-Sylvestre Mongrenier, membre de l’Institut Thomas More et chercheur à l'Institut Français de Géopolitique ,Philip Crowley, Assistant Secretary of State from 2009 to 2011
Excerpts from the Conference:
Vidal Quadras: Some people think after the nuclear agreement the situation in Iran has changed, Some people think Iranian economy will open to foreign business , These visions are too optimistic
Philip Crowley: By my count, there are five developments going on in Syria. The fight between the opposition and the Syrian government, Rivalry between extremist networks, ISIS and Al-Qaeda, a continued struggle between Israel and Syria, From US standpoint we have come from war on terror to the war against Al-Qaeda. This war that has been waged over the past 15 years or more is not the struggle of Al-Qaeda. The war is now on how the Middle East is going to be like. The US has a significant stake in the outcome of this war, but it is not going to be a significant player. The next US administration would come into office with a more realistic view of these changes in the Middle East. Regardless of who the next president would be, but there is a bipartisan support for the existing approach, The American focus in short term would be on the Islamic State and an eventual solution to Syria. There is not a clear path forward in Syria because of the negative behavior of Russia. The regime of Bashar Assad is not going to go away soon. There is no way for Assad to govern all of Syria as he once did. There is increased support from US for Syrian opposition, the pattern would be similar to Bosnia with local ceasefires. From an American standpoint, the US has not disengaged from the Middle East. These problems should be resolved in the region and the US would support, but would not engage militarily, Millions of Syrians are displaced in Syria and abroad. There will be a political solution, but it would take years to achieve
Vidal Quadras: We have bought time in nuclearization of the Iranian regime, but they have bought time, too. The Iranian regime can use the new situation to impose their strategy and their roadmap on the region
Marc Ginsberg, US ambassador to Morocco from 1994–1998 and former Deputy Senior Adviser to the US President for Middle East Policy. We have to figure out what are the core common interests of Europe, US and Middle East. Those who support the nuclear agreement have naive and practical reasons. P5+1 failed to couple the nuclear agreement with a practical regional strategy. The Iran nuclear agreement in the absence of a containing policy is a license for Iran to continue its policies. It is not by accident that three divisions of the IRGC are fighting in Syria. It is not by accident that the Iranian regime is providing support to Hamas. It is not by accident that the Iranian regime has stepped up its repression at home to prevent undermining the Islamic revolution. US is not going to provide a strategic leadership, nor does it have an effective containment policy. The Shiite militias directly under the control of the Iranian government are responsible for attack on Camp Liberty, Iraq. The Iranian government has territorial designs that go far beyond the Iraqi government itself. The Iranian regime sees continuation of Assad regime as an obstacle to progress ISIS
The world is lacking an effective policy in dealing with ISIS and the Middle East. The hard part is to help format the type of democratic change in Iran that prevents spread of fundamentalism. We have to worry about the democratic aspirations the people of Iran need
Vidal Quadras: We have two enemies, and as Mr. Ginsberg said we must contain both enemies
Frederic Encel, Scholar of geopolitics, teaches international relations at the ESG Management School: The Iranian regime has an extensive role in the Middle East which is very dangerous. An important moment has come in history, at issue is the increasing power of Kurds. We are witnessing the de-facto crumbling of the Arab world. Since 1991, we have been witnessing the disintegration of various Arab countries: south Sudan, the Arab Spring, etc. Only a few of the Arab League countries have been immune to the ongoing crises. Eventually, there are two parties whose power increased in the Middle East and Near East, Israel and Iran. The Iranian regime has been advancing the worst policy in Syria that is to preserve Bashar Assad. Bashar Assad is the plague in the region, and the Iranian regime is playing the worst role in the region. The Iranian regime claims to be fighting ISIS but it has never dispatched any troops to actually fight them.
Mongrenier: As for the nuclear agreement in July 2015, I am glad that France adopted a prudent policy during the nuclear talks. France always tried to close the gaps from which the Iranian regime could take advantage of. There has been no improvement or change in the human rights situation in Iran after the nuclear agreement. I must tell you as a Frenchman that I do not see any good will in the domestic and foreign policy of the Iranian regime
Marc Ginsberg: The next US president has an enormous challenge to face. The collapse of the European project will give further incentive to Iran and its allies to undermine our interests in the region. The US was mistaken to take the regime change option off the table
Crowley: There is no one in Washington, D.C. who supports the status quo in Iran. Whatever change in Iran has to happen within Iran, but has a very difficult dynamics. The US will try to encourage change where it can, but we have to be realistic. I believe that if Iran opens up to the outside world, the Iranian regime is experiencing tremendous pressure from the Iranian people.
Ginsberg: I don’t think the US should get involved in every change
Ginsberg: If the US policy is to affect as President Obama indicated, the present regime, then there would be no one in the gov’t to encourage any change. I think the problem with the Obama Administration is that they are willing to give the keys to Tehran and leave. I think we should not stop at any opportunity to encourage change.
Vidal Quadras: There is not only one threat in the Middle East, there are two lethal threats that have to be dealt with simultaneously. The forces of change inside Iran must be encouraged for democratic change in the country