BY SHAHRIAR KIA
As the number one state sponsor of terrorism and the source of a fundamentalist ideology, the Iranian regime is the principal contributor to the crises that are riddling the Middle East. And the past eight years have proven that appeasing the mullahs ruling Iran will only render a bad situation worse.
It is now more evident than ever that only a free and democratic Iran can help restore peace and stability in the region, not one that is ruled by the current religious fascist regime.
However, contrary to what the proponents of the appeasement policy toward Iran have tried to portray, regime change in Iran does not require another bloody conflict in the region. It is now more possible than ever, and the people of Iran, along with their organized resistance movement (NCRI/MEK), have all they need to bring democracy and freedom to their country.
This was the message delivered by the July 1 Free Iran gathering in Paris, an event attended by tens of thousands of Iranians expats and hundreds of politicians, activists, parliamentarians and religious figures from across the globe.
The international community should take that message seriously if it wants to avoid another war.
“Would giving concessions ever change the behavior of this regime? The answer is no,” said Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), during her keynote at the event. “This is something that has been already tested repeatedly for the past three decades by the US and Europe. And is it possible to contain this regime? No. the policy has been called containment, but in effect, it does nothing but obstructing the adoption of a firm policy against the regime.”
Without fear of being held to account, the Iranian regime has spent billions of dollars to expand its influence in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon. And as the fight against ISIS reaches its conclusion, Tehran is trying to establish a supply corridor through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon for the many terror networks it runs across the region.
Former US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, who spoke at the Free Iran rally, called it “an arc of control which if it’s allowed to form will simply be the foundation for the next grave conflict in the Middle East.”
“The regime in Tehran is not merely a nuclear weapons threat, it’s not merely a terrorist threat, it’s a conventional threat to everybody in the region who simply seeks to live in peace and security,” Bolton said. He underlined the need for regime change by adding that “the declared policy of the United States of America should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran.”
The regime has tried to exude power through its meddling in the countries of its region but has effectively pushed itself toward a dead-end where any retreat will lead to its collapse. “Regime change is within reach because the mullahs have gotten themselves stuck in three wars of attrition in the Middle East,” Rajavi said. “Their withdrawal from these conflicts in whatever form or shape will undermine their own existence.”
Also, Tehran’s campaign to hide its crimes behind a moderate façade has resulted in utter failure. “The international community is finally getting closer to the reality that appeasing the ruling theocracy is misguided,” she added.
“We can now see the world beginning to turn its eye on Iran and seeing it realistically,” former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said in his speech. “We can see being able to convince the world that there are no moderate members of the present Iranian regime.”
Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian regime’s president who is touted as a moderate by some Western politicians, marked his first term with over 3,000 executions, a 145% increase in the country’s military budget, and the failure to deliver on his promises to improve the people’s livelihoods and human rights conditions.
“When I hear the word ‘moderate’ and I hear the name Rouhani, I think of the fact that he has actually killed more people in Iran than [former president Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad,” Giuliani said. “He presents a moderate image to the world and to the Iranian people he is a violent, vicious murderer.”
But while the regime had taken advantage of the previous U.S. administration penchant for engagement and rapprochement, it is now faced with a tougher situation.
“I think it’s fair to say that the Trump administration has much fewer illusions about the nature of the Iranian dictatorship,” said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a characteristic he also attributed to Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, both of whom have had first-hand experience with Iran’s mischief-making in their years of military service in the Middle East.
The Trump administration has officially put Iran on notice and is reviewing its policy toward the regime in Tehran. Also, the U.S. Senate has passed a bill that will enact new sanctions on the Iranian regime for its nuclear-related activities, terrorist ventures and human rights violations, domains that were considered off-limits during Obama’s tenure.
“The outcome of the president’s policy review should be to determine that the Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1979 revolution will not last until its 40th birthday,” Bolton said.
The greatest force of change in Iran is the people themselves, Rajavi reminded.
“Despite the regime’s deafening propaganda, the greatest threat to the regime is not a foreign enemy, but the very revolts in society, waiting to erupt,” she said.
There are now 10 million unemployed Iranians in the country and 20 million who live in slums. The grave-living crisis that made the headlines last year is another manifestation of the spiraling living conditions of the Iranian people.
“The reality is that the overthrow of the religious dictatorship is possible and within reach because of the regime’s incompetence,” Rajavi said.
The disarray in the regime has led to more social unrest. According to state officials, nearly 11,000 protests and demonstrations took place in Iran last year, a sign of growing discontent in the Iranian society.
The Iranian people and their organized resistance (NCRI/MEK) are now more than ready to take the necessary steps to dethrone the mullahs and establish a democratic state.
“This alternative’s power emanates from its ability to elevate the regime’s crisis-riddled state to one of overthrowing it,” asserted Rajavi. “In its battle with the beast of religious tyranny, the Iranian nation is proud to have created a democratic alternative through resistance and great suffering and sacrifice.”
The Iranian regime has executed more than 100,000 of the members of the movement led by Rajavi, including 30,000 political prisoners massacred during the summer of 1988, an episode that resurfaced and became the focus of political discourse in the run-up to the recent presidential elections in Iran.The NCRI has also been a source of intelligence about the Iranian regime’s illicit activities. It was the first party to expose Iran’s clandestine nuclear program in 2002.
How can the international community help? By recognizing the resistance of the Iranian people and their right to overthrow the mullahs’ religious dictatorship, Rajavi stressed.
“Expel the regime from the UN and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and hand over Iran’s seat to the Iranian people’s resistance,” she said. Rajavi also specified the designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization and its eviction from the Middle East region as a necessary step to counter the Iranian regime’s influence and help transition Iran and the region to peace and stability.
Her thoughts were echoed by other speakers at the event. “It is long past time to declare the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization,” Giuliani said. “They have on their hands the blood of so many of your people. But they have on their hands the blood of my people, too, who they helped to kill in Iraq, and who they’ve helped to kill for years, and who they’ve held hostage.”
“The next time there’s popular dissent [in Iran], it will be across the whole country, it will be organized,” Gingrich said. “And that at that point, unlike what happened last time, when the American government shamefully did nothing, at that point, the Trump administration needs to be prepared and leaning forward and ready to do everything it can to help freedom win and dictatorship lose in the great struggle that is underway in Iran.”
Originally published at clarionproject.org on July 11, 2017.