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Iran has strongly rejected all accusations of the United States who had called the Islamic Republic the “largest sponsor of international terrorism”. Speaking at the 55th Munich Security Conference 2019 (MSC 2019), Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said on Sunday morning that the US-Administrations would have a “pathological obsession” against Iran and rejected the “ignorant allegations of antisemitism” which US-Vice President Mike Pence had mentioned during his speech on Saturday.

The Iranian Foreign Minister whose speech was ideologically and emotionally motivated, critized America’s policy to massively sell weapons in the Middle East and said that the US has become “a source of destabilization” in the region. In contrast to that behavior, Iran would try to protect the region from the “hegemonic policy” of the US. Zarif caused the most controversial Q&A session at MSC 2019 and stated: “US sanctions are based on allegations not on facts”.

The MSC organizer had deliberately focused Sunday’s discussions on the Middle East. Therefore, Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sheik Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, was invited to present the views of his country. The Sheik described the Middle East as a region of instabilities, crises and proxy wars. He confessed that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is going through a crisis and stated: “The regional security is under threat.” While there are strong tensions between Saudi-Arabia and Iran, Qatar would be sitting in the middle. The Minister also addressed the relations to the US which would be an important ally. About 12,000 US soldiers have been deployed to Qatar. 

At the end of MSC 2019, two events are worth to be mentioned. The Ewald-von-Kleist Award 2019 was handed over to the Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, and the Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras, for their diplomatic efforts to find a political solution for the name change of former Macedonia. The Accession Protocol for North Macedonia’s membership in NATO was signed on 6 February and while NATO will celebrate its 70th Anniversary in April, North Macedonia will become the 30th member of the Alliance.

The second event was the ceremony for the John McCain Dissertation Award. With this newly established prize, the MSC seeks to honor the late Senator John McCain who led the US Congressional delegation to the MSC for more than 20 years. The John McCain Award aims to reward research that will spur debates on foreign and security policy. 

MSC 2019 was again an outstanding highlight for the international defence and security community. It was the right decision that the conference did not only address the classical topics such as defence and deterrence or the tensions between the US and Europe. It also focused on the future relations between Europe and Africa, crises in the Middle East, gender diversity, energy security, hybrid warfare, etc. Indeed: The world has become more complicated than ever before. A great puzzle: Hopefully someone will pick up the pieces.

                                                                                                   Dr. Theodor Benien

The Kleist Award 2019 was handed over to the Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev (second from the left) and the Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras (third from the left). (Photo: MSC / Kuhlmann)

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