High Level Figures on Iran Opposition and Countering Iran

A significant development occurred today in Paris, France. A series of panel discussions featuring an array of political personalities and organized by the Foundation for the Study of the Middle East and the Alliance for Public Awarness, took place in Paris today afternoon, focused on policy considerations and developments in Iran. The panels featured a number of prominent political personalities, including Sid Ahmed Ghozali, the former Prime Minister of Algeria, Joseph Liberman, and Kenneth Blackwell former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva. The three panels, which included more than a dozen speakers served as a precursor to the Free Iran rally set to take place on Saturday in Paris, in which tens of thousands of Iranians and their supporters will participate.

The first panel, moderated by former Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Lincoln Bloomfield Jr., focused on a review of the current policy towards Iran. This included a discussion of past and present policy towards Iran, including the prospect for policy changes under the new administration in the United States. With respect to the problems posed by the political establishment in Tehran Joseph Lieberman noted,“The Arab states have said exactly what the President of the United States has said, we have two threats to our future & security...one is Iran and two, radical extremists."

The second panel, entitled Iran’s Role in the Region, was moderated by the former Vice President of the European Parliament, Alejo Vidal Quadras. The discussion focused on Iran’s geopolitical strategy within the region including its ongoing presence in Syria and Iraq, as well as the geopolitical changes underway in the region. Former US Ambassador to Bahrain Adam Ereli noted that the clerical political establishment in Iran not only represented a threat to the region, but that its main weakness was with regard to its own people, noting, “This regime cannot be overthrown unless the Iranian people stand up to it.”

The final panel for the evening entitled Situation in Iran and the role of the opposition, was moderated by Lincoln Bloomfield Jr. and featured former U.S. Senator Robert Torricelli among other panelists discussing the role of the Iranian opposition in creating change inside Iran. Speaking about the active role of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its supporters inside Iran Dr. Ramesh Sepehrrad, from George Mason University, noted “the supporters of this resistance are out in the streets, and active and engaged.” Fellow panelist Linda Chavez, former White House Public Relations Liaison, noted that the NCRI needed to recognized “within the halls of government” of the United States as a legitimate resistance organization.

The theme which united all three panels was the potential for change to take place within the region in general and Iran in particular, and the potential role that the Iranian opposition and Western policy makers could take in bringing about that change. Panelists remained optimistic that the tide for change could sweep away the clerical establishment in Iran and bring about democratic change sooner than many expect.

The ruling clerics of Iran fear the soft power of the opposition more than the hard power of other governments. This is vital a move from high level figures from across the spectrum. Anyone who desires to counter the ruling clerics of Iran, stand for justice, peace and human rights, this would be a good time and platform.

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Harvard-educated, Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a world-renowned businessman, a leading Iranian-American political scientist, president of the International American Council on the Middle East, and best-selling author. He serves on the advisory board of Harvard International Review.

Dr. Rafizadeh is frequently invited to brief governmental and non-governmental organizations as well as speak, as a featured speaker, at security, business, diplomatic, and social events. He has been recipient of several fellowships and scholarships including from Oxford University, Annenberg, University of California Santa Barbara, Fulbright program, to name few He is regularly quoted and invited to speak on national and international outlets including CNN, BBC World TV and Radio, ABC, Aljazeera English, Fox News, CTV, RT, CCTV America, Skynews, CTV, and France 24 International, to name a few. . He analyses have appeared on academic and non-academic publications including New York Times International, Los Angeles Times, CNN, Fareed zakaria GPS, The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, The Nation, The National. Aljazeera, The Daily Beast, The Nation, Jerusalem Post, The Economic Times, USA Today Yale Journal of International Affairs, Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, and Harvard International Review. He is a board member of several significant and influential international and governmental institutions, and he is native speaker of couple of languages including Persian, English, and Arabic. He also speaks Dari, and can converse in French, Hebrew. More at Harvard. And You can learn more about Dr. Rafizadeh on HERE. The post was originally published on the Arab News.

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