Iran and Israel at the upcoming Munich Security Conference

We had Davos last weekend, and for this weekend we have the 50th annual Munich Security Conference

I enjoyed watching last year’s sessions on-line. As always this year I will be looking out for the Iran and Israel related sessions.

The Iran session is scheduled to take place on Sunday February 2nd, from 11.45 am until 1 pm local time. Foreign Minister Zarif will be part of that panel.

Israeli representatives already took part in one panel on the Middle East peace process.

The next Israel related event will take place immediately after the Iran panel at 1 pm local time on the 2nd of February. It will be an address by Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon.Going on straight after the Iran panel, I am sure Yaalon will have plenty to say. Lets just hope its not against Kerry (again).

What I find particularly interesting is that there are no Saudi and Iranian representatives sitting together on the same panel in Davos or Munich. I can understand why there is no panel with Iranian and Israeli representatives, but why not Iranians and Saudis? As we saw in the tense words exchanged between Hossein Mousavian and Sheikh Al Turki at the Koerberstiftung conference in Berlin in December last year, the two sides have plenty to say to each other.

You can find the live link to the sessions on this page (look out for: link to live video on the right hand side of the page)

And the full program here.

Iran at the Munich Security Conference

The Munich Security Conference (MSC) is one of the most important annual international security conferences. 

This year’s conference started on Friday 1 st of February and it will end tomorrow Sunday 3rd of February.

What is really interesting about this conference is that top security officials turn up and not just those from NATO countries. Countries such as Iran also participate.

This year Iran is represented by its foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi. Tomorrow he will take part in the “The Iranian question and the balance of power in the region” panel. The other participants will be the much respected Professor Vali Nasr who is the dean of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies Johns Hopkins University, and Ruprecht Polenz a member of the German Bundestag, and chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. The moderator will be Georg Mascolo, the Editor-in-Chief of Der Spiegel magazine.

Today vice president Jo Biden stated that the US is ready to hold bilateral talks with the Iranian government, when supreme leader Khamenei “is serious”.

Lets see what Salehi says in response tomorrow even though we have to take what he says with a pinch of salt.

The reason being that when it comes to the nuclear program and the negotiations around it, the foreign minister does not have much of a say. The negotiation team is nominated by the Supreme National Security council and approved by Iran’s leader Khamenei. And as we have seen in previous cases, the main negotiation team does not include senior people from the Iranian foreign ministry. This explains the amateurish behavior of the team in some cases, which is why Iran’s former foreign minister Mohammad Mottaki recently criticized the negotiation team.

In any case it will be interesting to watch the session which starts at 9:45 am Munich time and it ends at 11:15.

The last session about Mali and Syria which starts at 11:30 should also be interesting.

You can watch the live stream of the conference on the conference website .
Full conference program can be found here.