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Joint Roundtable

The Impact of Islamic Awakening in the Middle East

Joint Roundtable


Institute for Political and International Studies


The French National Center for Scientific Research

April 10, 2016

The Impact of Islamic Awakening in the Middle East


  The Delegation of the French National Center for Scientific Research headed by Prof. Francois Burgat visited Iran from April 4, 2016 until April 10, 2016 in order to discuss current developments in the Middle East including Takfiri and Salafi extremism in the region. At the beginning of the meeting Dr Zahrani , Director General of IPIS, welcomed the participants and the head of French  delegation. Mr. Francois Burgat, presented a report of his visit to scientific centers, universities and his meetings with several religious scholars.

The following points were also raised and discussed by members of the French delegation:

·         Shiite views  on  political Islam

·         Irans views on strategic changes in the Middle East

·         The role of the Muslim Brotherhood in developments in the Middle East

·         Syria, Yemen and actions of extremist and Takfiri groups in the region


Dr. Mostafa Zahrani mentioned the following points:

Theory of political Islam is a new concept that has been discussed over the past decades.

In some Middle Eastern countries (in contrast to Iran) the legitimacy does not derive from the peoples vote. Many people believe that the West does not seek to advance democracy in the Middle East. In this regard the current political system in many Middle Eastern countries is on the basis of the state-nation not the nation-state.

Iran has always called for peace and stability in all countries of the region, despite that the Saudi government creates many problems; Iran is seeking better relations with that country.

Muslim Brotherhood has had an important role in transitions of Arabic countries in recent decades.

Radicalism comes from Wahabbism and the West has been silent on that.

In Syria you have to decide if you are against or for global terrorism. Westerners think Bashar Al-Assad must go so they support terrorism. The West has recently become aware of terrorism because of the refugees.

Saudi Arabia’s biggest mistake is about Yemen. Iran is not involved in Yemen that much.

In this region France perceived positively about Lebanon, Syria and our revolution. But after that things changed dramatically, not many people in this region perceive France to be constructive.

Terrorism suicide killing in twentieth century was first time brought by the Mujahidin which was done in Iran it was not by Al-Qaida. France gave Mujahidin sanctuary; nobody in Iran forgets how France supported the worst terrorist group in the century. In 8 years of war between Iran and Saddam Hussein again also there were problems, in recent event (about nuclear issue) also.

No one understands French logic in last 2 or 3 decades. If you compare Bashar Assad with Saudi King or other countries, basher Assad would be the last one. Why you did not support anything inside Saudi?!


Prof. Francois Burgat also endorsed the views of Mr. Zahrani and said:

One of the West’s main objectives in Syria is emphasizing Israels security.

Many Arabic countries, including Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are based on the state-nation model, at the first unrest in Bahrain, Saudi tanks entered the country to contain the crisis and defend the system.

The future is more important. I think the idea of a frank discussion between Iran and the French government should be a next step.


The round table continued by speeches and comments from both French and Iranian sides:

Dr. Julien Pelissier, Post-doctoral Researcher in Islamic studies: We are trying to eliminate many barriers, also many legal and physical considerations, such as the opportunity for European and US companies to work in Iran. We really want to develop political relationships with Iran and it takes some time to improve it.


Mr. Hussein Rezvani, Iranian Former Ambassador: We are examining whether we can take another step for bilateral relations. We need to first proceed, secondly acknowledge it and lastly try to identify the root causes of the obstacles in Iran-France relations. Riyadh and Zionist regime are lobbying against us in France.


Mr. Alireza Miryousefi, Head of the Middle East department in IPIS: Iran’s policy has had small changes in 2006 to 2016. Iran has never pursued aggressive policies. Iranian policy towards Syria had 3 pillars, multilateralism against unilateralism, thinking of a political instead of a military solution, Saudi Arabia was against any political solution in practice, 3rd pillar regards the Syrian government; in 2013 Iran had a proposal for them, a 4 point plan.


Ms. Claire Beaugrand, Core member of European Research Council: the Saudis think they are losers in Iraq, after the fall of Saddam they didn’t play a role. In July 2011, King Abdullah said we cannot let our brothers be slaughtered in Syria; they wanted to take lead of the movement.


Dr. Stephane Lacroix, Professor of political science: Saudis want to avoid the effects of Arab spring on them. The second thing is the fear of Iran and of course they want competition between Shiite and Sunni as it is a way to protect themselves from the effects of a republic and a revolutionary Islam, Saudi Arabia would play a sectarian card. The third thing they fear is political Islam and they fear Iran. Saudis are afraid of political Sunni Islamists as well as Shiites.


Dr. Vahid Karimi, Head of Europe Department in IPIS: This is the job of the elites not the military men, to come to a political solution. President Rouhani’s government is looking to have better relations in the region with neighboring countries. In the last 200 years we have never attacked any country. I think if we convince the French, you convince the rest of the Europe.


Reported By Fatemah Hajjari

Institute for Political and International Studies







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