US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia and the Riyadh Summit, with leaders of over 50 Muslim nations taking part, was a major turning point in the Middle East’s balance of power. This development also signaled the end of eight years of the Obama administration’s unbridled appeasement vis-à-vis Iran. And Tehran has very specifically received the message.
For the first time in many years the world is taking steps to stand on the right side of history and alongside the Iranian people in their quest to realize their rightful demands of freedom, democracy and peace in the region.
The Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), led by Maryam Rajavi, welcomed the results of this conference. Mohammad Mohaddessin, Chairman of the NCRI Foreign Relations Committee and author of the book “Islamic Fundamentalism: The New Global Threat,” shared his opinion and the Iranian opposition’s stance in this regard.
At a time when ISIS in Iraq has suffered major defeats, can Iran claim to deliver a solution? Especially since the Iran-backed Hashid al-Sha’bi militias have apparently played a major role in this regard?
Let’s be clear. Hashid al-Sha’bi and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), as its true commander, have not played a major role in the fight against ISIS. Iran-backed forces have taken advantage of US airpower and only filled the void of ISIS on the ground after their defeats. This means a large portion of Sunni areas in Iraq is under their control. US inaction in the face of Iran in the past 16 years opened windows to most opportunities for this regime.
The most important element threatening Iraq, and especially peace and tranquility in the entire region, is the presence of IRGC and Shiite militias to replace the void of ISIS. This is a major challenge facing the US today. The war against ISIS will not render peace and security in the Middle East without the complete eviction of Iran’s IRGC and militias from Iraq and Syria.
There are voices, especially in the US, heard claiming blacklisting the IRGC will do against international efforts, and especially US forces in defeating ISIS. Will designating the IRGC as a terrorist entity decrease regional crises?
First I must ask does the IRGC truly seek the complete annihilation of ISIS. This is an illusion promoted by Iran and its allies in the West to enjoy the pensions of fighting ISIS. It is true that Iran and ISIS are facing off in some areas. However, Tehran and its militias are seeking to replace the Sunni ISIS with their Shiite flag. Such a mentality and objective itself religiously and socially strengthens the very philosophy behind ISIS’ existence.
Look how it all started. The crimes committed by Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki provided the social grounds for ISIS’ birth by releasing al-Qaeda prisoners or allowing their escape. ISIS has also enjoyed IRGC logistical, substantial and arms support. Many senior ISIS members lived in Iran for years and Tehran dispatched them to Iraq and Syria with the aim of launching a sectarian war.
Considering my 38 years of experience with the Iranian regime, I strongly believe designating the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization and expelling this entity, along with its militias, from Iraq and Syria, will provide the best support needed for the fight against ISIS.
- At a time when the international community is focusing on fighting terrorism more than ever before, why has the Iranian opposition NCRI emphasized on referring Iran’s human rights violations dossier to the United Nations Security Council and The Hague?
The leaders of 55 Islamic countries and the US in the Riyadh summit highlighted Iran’s role as the godfather of terrorism. US and Saudi leaders emphasized the Iranian people are the main victims of the mullahs’ atrocities. This is a major step forward, yet leaving a major question unanswered. What is the main movement against this regime? Without a doubt the Iranian people have the utmost motivation to confront this regime. Tehran’s practice of executions and social crackdowns has continuously suppressed the Iranian people. Pressuring the mullahs’ regime for this crackdown will directly support the Iranian people to confront this regime. To this end, the UN Security Council’s role to confront Iran’s systematic and flagrant human rights violations is also a necessity for peace and tranquility in the region
- The world has remained mainly silent over the summer 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners by Iran. This silence, however, came to an end during this year’s presidential election. What development led to such coverage by international media?
This effort began 10 months ago. Long before the election the NCRI had launched a widespread campaign inside Iran and abroad seeking justice for the 1988 massacre victims. This massacre is in fact an unprecedented example of executing political prisoners. The fatwa issued by former Iranian regime leader Ruhollah Khomeini for this massacre has no prior example in the history of Islam.
— Donya Jam (@FreeeIran) June 14, 2017
“Considering the fact that the traitors (members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK)) never believed in Islam, whatever they say is a deception. Those in the country’s prisons who remain on their positions are considered mohareb (enmity against God) and must be executed… it is naive to show merci to the moharebs… the gentlemen responsible in this regard, do not give in to any temptations or doubts…” he said.
Ruthlessness runs wild in this text. Without a doubt, following the Nuremberg trials, this is one of the gravest crimes that deserves an international tribunal. Fortunately, the NCRI campaign in the second half of 2016 gained speed with the revelation of a sound take of the late Mr. Hossein Ali Montazeri, Khomeini’s former successor, in a meeting with senior officials involved in the 1988 massacre.
- There are those who believe after eight years of Obama’s presidency his policy of appeasement vis-à-vis Tehran has come to an end as Donald Trump entered the White House. Do you think times have changed? What is the litmus test?
Without a doubt during the past eight years the previous US administration acted as a major backing for the Iranian regime. This “golden era” has now come to an end. Naturally, Tehran is not enjoying the status quo, and yet we are still far from specific actions punishing Iran for aggressive measures beyond its borders and flagrant human rights violations. We hope such initiatives materialize as soon as possible. The mullahs’ regime has to this day merely faced silence and inaction in the face of its crimes, coming to this conclusion of a lack of will from its correspondents. This has allowed Tehran continue its law violations.
- There are lawmakers who believe the Middle East crisis and war against terrorism summarize in the war against ISIS. Yet there are also others, such as US Defense Secretary James Mattis, who believe Iran is involved in all Middle East turmoil. How do you analyze the source of this phenomenon?
ISIS is a horrifying and very vicious entity in the region. Some say ISIS and fundamentalism or Sunni extremism are a far greater threat for the Middle East, and Iran’s Shiite fundamentalism is a lesser threat. There is even this mentality of using Shiite fundamentalism against ISIS and Sunni fundamentalism. This approach is very dangerous and there are facts that must not go missed in this regard:
- From an ideological and/or theoretical perspective, ISIS is preaching the same mentality the Iranian regime launched in modern history. Imposing Sharia law with force and establishing an Islamic state.
- The two puppet governments of Iran, being former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki and Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, paved the path for the rise of ISIS by launching horrific killing sprees targeting the Sunni community. They also released al-Qaeda prisons as I explained before. Tehran first provided a safe haven for senior al-Qaeda officials after 9/11, and recently dispatched them to Syria and Iraq to command ISIS forces.
To this end, even if ISIS is defeated military, as long as the IRGC and its affiliated proxies are roaming wild in Middle East countries, the social grounds are ripe for their rise the moment American and coalition forces leave these lands.
- The international community is concerned any conflict with Iran will lead to yet another large-scale war in the region. Appeasement advocates believe Iran’s moderates should be boosted against hardliners, with the objective of reforming Iran from within without resorting to war. What is your solution?
There is a simple fact about this regime that very often goes neglected. A religious dictatorship such as the Iranian regime cannot be reformed. It cannot change its behavior, knowing any fundamental change in policy and approach will result in its complete overthrow. This can be seen in recent remarks made by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, emphasizing last month any change in behavior will lead to regime change.
— OIAC (@OrgIAC) June 15, 2017
Of the past 38 years, Ali Akbar Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami, and President Hassan Rouhani, the so-called reformist, pragmatic and moderate faces of this regime, have been president for 20 years. However, we have yet to witness any change in this regime’s core policies. During their tenures Iran has witnessed intensified crackdown and escalating foreign meddling. Mir Hossein Mousavi, another so-called reformist, was this regime’s prime minister for eight years. This is a total of 28 of 38 years during which the so-called reformist/moderate faction has been in power, with no change to report at all.
This is a long-lasting deceptive argument, warning all parties of any confrontation leading to war with Iran. Quite the opposite. Since this regime has been provided the utmost opportunities, they have plunged the entire region into all-out war. Is the Middle East in peace? Is there not war? If Syria, Iraq and Yemen are at peace, then what is war? The roots of all these conflicts lead back to Iran.
The sole solution for the regional crisis, a subject to be discussed in the NCRI’s upcoming July 1st gathering, lies in the toppling of Iran’s regime. However, the important issue at hand is that this regime is far weaker than it shows, and its overthrowing is at hand. Another very important matter is that such a feat is only achievable through the Iranian people and their organized resistance. This initiative has been delayed due to 16 years of Western support for the Iranian regime, especially the United States.
These three subjects, being the necessity to overthrow the Iranian regime, this initiative being at reach and the role of the Iranian opposition NCRI as the alternative for this regime, will all be discussed in the July 1st rally.