On the 2nd June 2016, Bucharest was the host of the International Conference “Fighting Terrorism for World Security and Critical Infrastructure Protection”, organized by MEPEI – Middle East Political and Economic Institute, The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Romania and EURISC Foundation. The conference gathered experts from different countries for the discussion of legal aspects in the fight against Daesh, evolution of terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa /MENA and in subsidiary the subject of critical infrastructures’ protection. These subjects are included on the NATO agenda as well and the contribution of the civil society to the reduction of deficit of dialogue and understanding of various regional points should not be disregarded.
Among the foreign guests, we can name:
- HE Amb. Mohammad IRANI, Director General of the MENA Department in the Iranian MFA;
- Dr. Mostafa ZAHRANI, Director General of Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS) within the MFA, Tehran, Iran;
- Dr. Seyed Vahid KARIMI, PhD, Director of Center for Europe-IPIS, Iran;
- Prof. Kayhan BARZEGAR, Director of Institute for Middle East Strategic Studies, Tehran, Iran;
- Mr. Luigi REBUFFI, President of the European Organization for Security, Brussels, Belgium;
- Gen Harlan ULLMAN, Senior Adviser at the Atlantic Council and a member of its Strategic Advisors Group, Washington, USA;
- Dr. Hossein GHARIBI, PhD, Senior Expert on Counter-Terrorism, MFA, Iran;
- Prof. Svyatoslav TIMASHEV, The Russian Academy of Sciences, Yekaterinburg, Russia;
- General Major Carlos BRANCO, Strategic Analyst, former Deputy Director of the Portuguese War College, Lisbon, Portugal;
- Prof. Rezrazi El MOSTAFA, Expert on Crisis Management, Strategic Affairs, Criminal Psychology, Security Affairs and Counter-Terrorism, Sapporo Gakuin University (Japan) and Mohammed V University (Morocco);
- Drd. Hosam MATAR, PhD Candidate, Senior Researcher, the Consultative Center for Studies and Documentation, Beirut, Lebanon;
- Prof. Davood MANZOOR, Vice President of TAVANIR Company, Associate Professor Economics – Imam Sadegh University, Ministry of Energy, Iran.
The event benefitted from the presence of H.E., Mr. Hamid MOAYYER, the Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Romania and of other representatives of the Diplomatic Corps. H.E. Mrs. Daniela GÎTMAN, State Secretary on Global Affairs in the MFA of Romania, presented an overview of the MENA region and of the relations that Romania has with this region, on the opening of the second session of the Conference.
- Global security and peace keeping in the Middle East and North Africa;
- The fight against terrorism;
- Security and stability in the MENA region;
- Energy security and the protection of critical infrastructure.
Among the main ideas emerging from the public debates and socializing sessions we can list:
- The undermining effect in the fight against Daesh generated by the West through its lack of unity when approaching regional crises;
- The importance of the correlation between the military operations with the operations against the sources of financing terrorism, including trans-border organized crime;
- The eventual defeat of Daesh will not stop terrorism, being a product of regional instability. As long as many factors remain unaddressed, one organization or another or several organizations will replace Daesh, eventually developing other methods in order to fulfil their goals, immune to the abilities developed by the international community and legitimate governments during the fight against Daesh;
- The danger that the migration flow poses to the European security, especially coming from Daesh that might use infiltrators among migrants;
- The dangers that the migration flows poses to the reconstruction and recovery capacity of the communities from the affected areas that can give grounds to a future conflict based on socio-economic failure;
- Importance of the protection and development of critical infrastructures in the region, as a fundamental for productivity and wealth, but also because they represent an optimal target for the terrorist groups. Energy infrastructures represent a particular case, being transnational and exposed to systemic risk that affects the security level of most of the States active in the domain to the level of those States that are less secure;
- The potential role of China in the region, together with its rising commercial interest in business and energy, with Iran as an array;
- The military role of Russia in the region was not accompanied by the role of tackling roots causes of Daesh;
- Weak and failed States export instabilities, not only unintentionally but also as source that promotes domestic stability. As a result, there is a high need to address reconstruction and simultaneous strengthening of all States in the region, otherwise the precarious condition of one State can annul the progress of another one. The terrorist groups aim the destruction of institutions, national philosophies and borders of the region;
- The extreme focus of the West on human rights, at the expense of other priorities, in the relations with the States of the region, contributed at times to the compromise of the regional security and stability;
- Guarantee of the peaceful settlement could happen through an agreement between the USA, Saudi Arabia and Iran, similar to the American policy before 1979, backing these two countries as pillars of the regional politics;
- The lack of a clear mandate for the participants to the discussions, an increased pressure in the favour of compromise and of a deadline for striking a compromise, impede the settlement of regional differences as it happened during the nuclear negotiations with Iran;
- The approach of the West that defines Daesh as an ideology is counterproductive. We should highlight its geostrategic aspect and the way it undermines the security and economy for the people of the region. From ideological perspective, Daesh fights against terrorism and foreign ideology and the Western rhetoric in the domains serves for recruitment of new fighters and cooperation with Daesh. The most eloquent example is the persistence of the name Islamic State, which legitimises its claims;
- The lack of dialogue in the region cannot be compensated through meetings in Vienna, Geneva or Brussels. We need a dialogue within the Arab League, a dialogue that incorporates Iran and Turkey beside the Arab States;
- The geopolitical reassembly of the region produces unexpected results, as the current relation between Iran and Saudi Arabia;
- In the region, there is a confrontation of two terrorist models with different advantages, the local terrorism, in the shape of Al Nusra Front and global terrorism, embodied by Daesh. Al-Qaeda is still a force, but does not benefit from the same media attention that Daesh has gained;
- Nobody wants that the UN suffers the fate of the League of Nations, but this end can be foreseen in the absence of solution for the regional problems;
- Discussion in relation with actions, attitudes and US interests in MENA is a nonsense, as long as the USA internal complexities produces a rift between the views of the White House and of the Congress. The problem of the Congress addressing letters to Iran and Benjamin NETANYAHU visit to the American Congress, defying the White House, highlight the complexities that undermine the American role in solving regional problems;
- It was suggested to use Para diplomacy–redirecting the regional discussions from the exclusive area of political actors to security actors, in order to overcome the political stalemate;
- The need for a new approach regarding terrorism vs insurgency for a better understanding of the root causes of the phenomena and act accordingly.
The event was a major success and continued the theme and the international approach of the first event that took place in May 2015. Compared to the former event, the organizers managed to develop the range of viewpoints and of the specialities represented by the speakers, number of participants and also enhanced the international profile of the event. We aim numerous advantages from holding the event regularly or from holding other events of this type:
- Enhancing Romania’s reputation and that of Romanian specialists;
- To articulate and follow the Romanian interests for the regional and global peace, in a stable and predictable global order and in accessing the economic opportunities that can be reached upon reducing tensions in the MENA region;
- Realising new partnerships with think-tanks and other foreign institutions that could lead both to institutional cooperation and common projects;
- Facilitating the exchange of ideas between the Romanian experts and the foreign ones;
- Developing a continuity of contacts that could enable in the long run a rise of the Romanian influence among global analysts and the ability to formulate policies that sustain the activity of governments and corporations;
- Removing or reducing stereotyping regarding the MENA region, through promotion of an understanding and of a comprehensive analysis of the area based on experience and specific knowledge of experts from the respective region;
- Romania could boost its role, through think-tank activities, regarding good offices with the States from the MENA region.