The overarching title of the panels was, “Where is Iran heading?”, and discussed how the Iranian Regime’s policies are dangerous to the people of Iran, the Middle East and the world as a whole.
Iran Regime’s Policies
The first panel, which covered the Iranian Regime’s policies, was monitored by Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield, the former US assistant secretary of state for military affairs.
Senator Joseph Lieberman, former Senator and vice presidential candidate, said that the Iranian Regime is clearly an enemy of the US and cited the comments of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Ambassador Robert Joseph, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control, explained that he supported the MEK and the Iranian Resistance because of their commitment to a non-nuclear Iran.
Joseph insisted that Regime Change in Iran must not come from outside forces, like military intervention, and instead must come from the people of Iran.
General Jack Keane said that the Regime’s policy is to drive US forces out of the Middle East, in order to take control of the region. He explained that the Iranian Regime is already building a Shiite Crescent from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean through Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.
John Baird, a former foreign minister of Canada reminded us that the Iranian people do not support the Regime, and that the ordinary Iranians should be at the heart of any policy from the rest of the world.
Bruno Tertrais, Deputy Director of the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique of France, said that Iran has not been showing any evidence of its supposed good intentions following the nuclear deal.
Iran Regime’s Role in the Middle East
The second panel, which focused on Iran’s role in the Middle East, was hosted by Alejo Vidal-Quadras, former vice president of the EU Parliament & current President of the International Committee In Search of Justice (ISJ).
Alejo Vidal-Quadras noted that Western Governments must not seek to work with the Iranian Regime and said that constructive dialogue from the Regime was merely an illusion.
Adam Ereli, the former US Ambassador to Bahrain and a spokesman for the State Department warned that the Iranian Regime is patient and opportunistic; they are merely waiting for the right time to strike back.
Lieberman said that the kind of political unrest that is evident in Iran at the moment, will ultimately spell the end of the Iranian Regime.
Joseph warned heavily against businesses making investments is Iran, saying that the last thing we want is to fund a Regime that supports terrorism.
Sid Ahmad Ghozali, the former Prime Minister of Algeria, announced that the Iranian Regime posed a huge threat to world peace, because of their attempts to dominate the Middle East.
Many MEK members were evacuated to Albania in 2016, under the supervision of the UN, following years of abuse and attacks from the Regime.
Ghozali said that the panel as whole rejected the idea that the international community could negotiate with the Iranian Regime.
Jean-Sylvestre Mongrenier, a researcher at the Institut Français de Géopolitique who has a doctorate in geopolitics, said that we should be surprised at the Iranian Regime’s attempts to dominate the Middle East. He said that it was in the Iranian Regime’s DNA right from the 1979 Revolution.
Keane said that the Iranian Regime was responsible for bringing Russia into the Syrian conflict on behalf of the Bashar Assad dictatorship.
Michael P Pregent, an expert in the fields of Foreign Policy, National Security, Intelligence & Terrorism, said that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) increased its operations in Iraq following the nuclear deal, because of the funds they received from sanctions relief.
Pregent praised the NCRI and MEK for the valuable information that they have provided to the International community over the past several years.
Struan Stevenson, a former MEP for Scotland, said that regime change in Iran would in fact end all extremist Islamic fundamentalist groups.
Role of MEK
The third panel, moderated by Ambassador Bloomfield again, focused on the role of the Iranian opposition forces, specifically the NCRI and MEK.
Ramesh Sepehrrad from George Mason university, said that the Iranian regime has made it hard for the Iranian people to express their support for the NCRI and MEK because of the harsh punishment doled out to those who criticise the Regime.
Stevenson suggested that if the US wanted to really send a strong signal to the Iranian Regime, they should lend their support the MEK.
Linda Chavez, the Chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity said that despite the backlash from the Regime, the Iranian people are still seeking out the NCRI and MEK. She noted that many people boycotted the recent sham elections because they could not vote for the Regime chosen candidates and put up posters of Maryam Rajavi around Iran.
She praised the NCRI/MEK for their work and said that change would come soon, but it must come from within.
Kenneth Blackwell, a former US Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council said that US strategic interests and human rights issues are well aligned.
He said that the Regime’s illegitimacy is multifaceted and that they pose a direct threat to international security.
He also reminded us that the Iranian people, who are being oppressed, are the single most important factor in this crisis.
He said: “Human rights struggles are not a spectator sport; you can’t sit on the sidelines, you have to engage.”
Mohammed Alsulami, Head of the Arabian Gulf Centre for Iranian Studies (AGCIS) said that the Iranian regime’s strategy has always been to export its problems abroad, ever since 1979.
Senator Robert Torricelli praised the MEK for their relentless activism, even in the face of adversity. He said that the MEK continues to work for change every day, and will continue to work until they see change.
Tomorrow, the Free Iran Great Gathering will officially begin in Paris. For more information go the official website of the #FreeIran Gathering.