Tehran is ratcheting up its interference and interventions in Arab countries. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its affiliates are increasing domestic repression as well, according to the latest reports by human rights organizations.
Support for a firm approach against the Iranian political establishment is increasing in the United States. About 30 prominent American luminaries and former officials issued a joint statement expressing bipartisan support for underscoring the need for countering Tehran regime. Among the signatories were former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
It is crucial to point out that the Iranian government has been causing regional instability, engaging in egregious human rights violations and exporting terrorism and extremism abroad. The letter scolds the Iranian regime for committing these acts.
The view that the regime can be reformed has been proved to be inaccurate, simplistic and unsophisticated. Former US presidents made efforts to moderate Iran’s foreign policy through engagement, diplomacy or concessions. Nevertheless, as history reveals, these efforts have failed.
Any astute observer can see that the core revolutionary pillars of Iran’s foreign policy have not altered since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979. In fact, Tehran has become more revolutionary, belligerent and aggressive. The high-profile US personalities and former officials also rejected the idea that the regime can be moderated. As they wrote: “The hope of some Western governments was that time would lead to moderation by the Mullahs or to the emergence of a reformist faction that could challenge the dominance of the clerical regime. The reality has been far different. We agree with the apparent new US policy of ending the previous US overture toward the Iranian regime.”
Iranian leaders are increasingly implementing a sectarian agenda in the region to achieve their hegemonic ambitions. As the signatories pointed out concerning Tehran’s malign regional role: “The Iran-fueled sectarian division of Iraq laid the foundation for the creation of Daesh. Iran today commands and funds upwards of 150,000 IRGC, Shia militia and mercenary armed fighters in Iraq and Syria.”
Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the ruling clerics of Iran are facing popular domestic discontent. In order to pressure Tehran, the disaffected population and opposition can be robust tool to capitalize on. The signatories accurately referred to this issue by stating that the “Tehran regime is uniquely vulnerable,” citing chronic economic mismanagement and a fierce power struggle within the regime. “Mounting popular discontent has increasingly become visible in public,” they said, citing growing social calls for accountability for the “mass executions of political opponents, including the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners with a majority of them from the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).”
A strongly worded statement from 30 prominent Americans shows that the Iranian people may finally have support for the change they want and deserve.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
Altering Iran’s foreign policy can be accomplished through peaceful methods. From the perspective of the prominent American figures a “viable organization” exists to change the clerical regime. Among other prominent signatories who believe such a mission can be accomplished are former Senator Joseph Lieberman, former National Security Adviser James Jones, former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, former UN Ambassador John Bolton, former US Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former DNC Chairman Edward Rendell, former US Marine Corps Commandant James Conway, and former Congressman Patrick Kennedy.
As they said: “The National Council of Resistance of Iran … has the vision, leadership and courage to lead the way to the creation of a new Iran. Under the leadership of Maryam Rajavi, a Muslim woman standing for gender equality, which is an antidote to Islamist fundamentalism and extremism, it is working every day to bring about a tolerant, non-nuclear Iranian republic based on separation of religion and state, that will uphold the rights of all.”
Nevertheless, pressure from the US is not adequate to alter the Iranian government’s belligerent behavior and interventions in other countries including Arab nations. More governments and organizations should join the cause. It is the moral responsibility of the international community to embrace the Iranian people’s aspiration for freedom and democracy, and to stand against the Iranian government’s suppression and repressions.
In a nutshell, as recognition of the need to counter the Iranian government is mounting in Washington, it is incumbent on world governments and the international community to provide moral support to the Iranian people’s quest for freedom as well.
• Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. He serves on the boards of the Harvard International Review, the Harvard International Relations Council and the US-Middle East Chamber for Commerce and Business. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh