The Second Tehran Dialogue Forum was held online on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. It was led by Dr. Mohammad Kazem Sajjadpour the president of the Institute for Political and International Studies. The event brought together many important speakers from different countries such as Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey; Mohamad Javad Zarif, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran; Faisal Mekdad, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Syria; other important personalities, officials, and think-tankers. They discussed many important issues that the world is facing today such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the Middle East conflicts emphasizing the idea that cooperation is key in order to achieve peace and prosperity in the region.
The Dialogue Forum was held in three panels and two ministerial sessions. The main subject of the first panel was major regional developments, in the second panel the speakers discussed West-Asian neighborhoods, and in the final panel, they debated specific regional files.
The Dialogue started with Mohamad Javad Zarif, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran. He celebrated the Nevruz and said that the beginning of the new Iranian year may be the time to achieve some necessary changes in the region. He stated that the main question is how the West-Asia region can be reshaped. He also said that regional reshaping means that we have to identify the main causes of the actual problems. According to the Minister, Iran has been a major subject of geopolitical designs by extra-regional actors, emphasizing the idea that the U.S. has exacerbated the insecurity and the instability in the region and that the sanctions imposed on Iran imply economic warfare. The Minister also said that the Israeli-Palestinian Issue should be a priority even if it has been pushed to the back burner.
The discourse then shifted to Mevlut Çavuşoğlu, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey. The Turkish Minister discussed the importance of cooperation between regions saying that the Covid-19 pandemic has shown how much the world is interconnected. Çavuşoğlu also said that Turkey is aiming to promote regional connectivity and politics as an engine of peace and diplomacy. According to the Turkish Minister, the Middle East region has potential, but it is undermined by some important issues such as sectarian division and terrorism. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that the region’s priority should be the integrity of Syria because the neighboring countries have suffered a lot. He also stated that Afghanistan is an example of hope and that Turkey is cooperating with Qatar in order to bring the conflict to an end. The Turkish Minister also shared his views on regional cooperation regarding the Caucasus and the Eastern Mediterranean.
In the first panel, the speakers discussed major regional developments. They stated that the Covid-19 pandemic is changing the dynamics of international politics. In this period, there are more questions than answers as Dr. Paolo Magri, vice-president of the Italian Institute for International Political Studies has stated. Dr. Jan Eliasson highlighted the fact that the pandemic should be an opportunity for the nations to work together and go beyond the national priorities as trust is key at this point. Assumptions need to be changed and beating challenges by cooperating were the two main ideas highlighted during the discussion.
The second panel brought together many important think-tankers and political officials like Abbas Araghchi, Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran; and Michel Duclos, French diplomat, and Special Advisor to Institute Montagne. They discussed the complexity of the Middle East as the region is dealing with three civil wars, terrorism, and the pandemic at the same time. According to Vitaly Naumkin, Vice President of the Russian International Affairs Council, the Middle East is suffering from wars, pandemic, and the sanctions imposed by the United States on certain nations. Russia believes that the idea of collective security is the only way out of the problem and that we should bring people together based on common interests. Russia is also aiming to keep its commitment to fight against terrorism and to establish agreements on arms control.
After the second panel, Fisal Mekdad, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Syria shared his views regarding the Syrian Civil War. Syrian Minister said that there is a campaign on Syria and celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Syrian Conflict is a pretext for some countries to promote their criminal activities which have complicated the situation. The Minister also stated that this anniversary is a sign of failure and that Syria is occupied by terrorist gangs financed and supported by France and the U.S. The Syrian Minister highlighted the fact that all countries have to apply International Law and contribute to achieving peace in Syria.
Finally, during the last panel, the participants debated the regional conflicts such as the Yemeni Civil War. They also discussed the Iraq-Iran relationships and according to Dr. Farhad Alaaldin, Iran should improve these relations and contribute to the stability of Iraq. The delegates exchanged views on the roles of regional and international actors in bringing stability.