As part of the buildup leading to the annual “Free Iran” gathering in Paris on July 1, panels were convened on Friday to review the domestic and regional practices and policies of the current regime. The focus was on not only what the international community could do to support regime change, but also questions about what would be the spark that started regime change in Iran.
The panels were sponsored by the Foundation for Middle Eastern Studies (FEMO), which is an independent organization that provides analysis and expert advice on the complex issues of the Middle East and enriches the debate on the strategic situation within the region. The organization is seen as reliable source of information for public authorities throughout Europe.
The panelists came from a wide background, with leadership from all across the international community represented. These included Lincoln Bloomfield, Ambassador, Distinguished Fellow and Chairman Emeritus at the Stimson Center, former Assistant Secretary of State for Military Affairs; Denis Ross, Ambassador, former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for the Central Region, as well as Special Adviser for the Persian Gulf, including Iran, to the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; John Baird, former Foreign Minister of Canada; Bruno Tertrais, Deputy Director of the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique of France; Alejo Vidal Quadras, President of ISJ, former Vice President of European Parliament; Sid Ahmed Ghozali, former Prime Minister of Algeria; Struan Stevenson, President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association, former President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq; Kenneth Blackwell, former US Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva; Linda Chavez, Founder and Chairwoman of the Center for Equal Opportunity, former WH Public Relations Liaison; Ramesh Sepehrrad, scholar practitioner at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution (SCAR) at George Mason University; and Robert Torricelli, former member of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.
The panelists discussed the impact of the Iranian regime on the region, its overall legitimacy as a ruling body, its history of spreading terrorism throughout the region and onto the global scale. Historical examples were also used to give an ideal of what would be the final act that pushed the regime out of power. The general consensus seemed to be that while no one could determine what would push the button that started regime change, the reality was that the Iranian people would decide when enough was enough.
Other panelists focused on the religious impact of the regime, noting that the Shiite religion in Iran was one corrupted by Khomeini during the early years of the regime and it has been used to maintain control ever since.
During the last panel, one point was made that the Iranian regime uses its regional policies to take the focus off of its domestic issues, which are continuing to grow, particularly as it relates to the economy.
These panels were a fore gleam of the activities on July 1, particularly as they relate to the 10-point plan of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) President-elect Maryam Rajavi, that outlines the future of a democratic Iran. Speakers will also be outlining the approaches the international community needs to take to continue to support regime change.