Regime change in Iran inevitable, suggests opposition member

Iranian protesters chant slogans at a rally in Tehran, Iran. (AP)
Updated 03 January 2018

Regime change in Iran inevitable, suggests opposition member

JEDDAH: As violent protests continue to break out across Iran, a leading member of the country’s opposition party has told Arab News that the “cleric’s inhumane regime,” which has ruled Iran since the 1979 revolution is on the verge of being ousted.
Shahriar Kia, a human-rights activist, political analyst, and member of the Iranian opposition — the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran — told Arab News that the protests, which began on Thursday, are a result of “over three decades of crackdown and plundering the Iranian people’s property and wealth by the clerics.”
He also claimed that the Iranian regime has spent “billions of dollars of the Iranian people’s money to expand their fundamentalism and terrorism across the Middle East, and to support the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.”
Now, Kia said, “the Iranian people have risen against the clerical regime in its entirety, demanding its overthrow. The people’s uprising in more than 50 cities reveals how the status quo, domestically and internationally, is ripe for regime change.”
Kia’s words echoed those of Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, who said in a statement: “The ongoing protests in different cities against the regime reveal the explosive state of Iranian society and the people’s desire for regime change.”
“Iranian protesters demand a free republic which respects its citizens’ equality and is based on separation of religion and state, where they can stay unharmed by poverty, unemployment and illness,” she said.
“I strongly believe that peace and stability in the Middle East and the world over will be possible only through regime change in Iran,” Kia told Arab News.
But if regime change is to happen, Iranians will likely pay a heavy price, as some have already.
“Fearing overthrow, and desperate to confront the popular nationwide uprising, the cleric’s inhumane regime has started blind killings, murdering more than a dozen protesters and detaining at least 1,000 individuals in the first four days of the uprising,” Kia said.
This is not the first time that Iranian regime has faced protests, but Kia suggested the current protests are on an unprecedented scale — there is, he said, a “nationwide” movement.
Kia noted similarities with the revolution that brought the current regime to power in 1979.
“Back then, all protesters targeted the Shah’s dictatorship, seeking to overthrow the pillar of the monarchy,” he said. “In the current uprising, the people are placing the clerical regime’s main pillar in their crosshairs — the supreme leader. They are chanting ‘Death to Khamenei’ and ‘Death to the dictator.’ The uprising has terrified the regime, resulting in losing control of the status quo.”
But while Kia believes the protesters have the strength to achieve their goal of regime change, he stressed the need for the international community to do its part. Iran has many enemies, both regionally and internationally, and Kia said it is time for them to step up.
“One reason the Iranian regime has been able to continue its crimes inside the country, and against nations across the region, has been the West’s appeasement policy vis-à-vis Tehran,” he said.
Kia singled out the administration of previous US President Barack Obama as particularly culpable in this regard, suggesting it “extensively added to this regime’s lifespan.”
“As the Iranian people flooded the streets in 2009 chanting ‘Death to Khamenei,’ Obama stretched his hand out to Iran’s mullahs in friendship,” he said. But now that President Donald Trump is in charge, Kia believes, “circumstances have changed.”
Indeed, Trump is publicly backing the protesters, taking to Twitter on Jan. 1 to state, “It is time for change.”
Still, Kia pointed out, strong words need to be backed by strong action.
“Of course, this policy must be completed with practical measures against repression inside Iran and abroad, and this regime’s meddling in the Middle East particularly Yemen, Iraq, and Syria,” he said. “I hope the West supports the Iranian Resistance to stop this regime’s increasing bloodshed. This will be the basis of the Iranian people’s relations with other countries in the future.”
As things stand, Kia said, regime change in Iran is now inevitable, with the regime trapped in a no-win situation.
“If they launch a widespread crackdown, the resistance will flare up, and continue until the regime is overthrown,” he said. “And if they don’t resort to oppressive measures, the demonstrations will only spread and again lead to the regime’s overthrow.
“The Iranian people and their organized resistance have made their decision,” he continued, “to forever rid the world of this regime.”

Iraq-Iran football match prompts awkward silence from Tehran-backed politicians in Baghdad

Updated 12 min 32 sec ago

Iraq-Iran football match prompts awkward silence from Tehran-backed politicians in Baghdad

  • Iraqi official says failure of some politicians to get behind Iraqi team “embarrassing”
  • Many criticized Iran-backed political leaders in the build-up to the match for remaining silent

BAGHDAD: A much-anticipated football match between Iran and Iraq on Wednesday ended in an anticlimactic 0-0 draw. But in Baghdad, the Asian Cup clash proved fertile ground for Iraqi fans to poke fun at the crisis-ridden new government and express their rejection of Iranian influence in their country.

Many criticized Iran-backed political leaders in the build-up to the match for remaining silent and not encouraging the Iraqi national team against Iran.

Some even accused forces sponsored by Tehran of supporting the Iranian team instead of their own national players.

The game in Dubai was played against the backdrop of a tense political stand off in Iraq between pro and anti-Iran parties.

Iran has sought to deepen its influence in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. It supports armed factions and political parties, and increased its military involvement during the Daesh occupation of large parts of the country.

Iran-backed parliamentary blocs have been at loggerheads with rival groups for control of key government positions since an election in May.

Government figures and many MPs remained silent about the match, despite racing to encourage and congratulate the national team during previous games.

One senior Iraqi official told Arab News that the failure of some politicians to get behind the Iraqi team was “embarrassing”.

“Most of our political leaders have been silent as they are all busy praying that the Iraqi team will not win,” the official said. “How can they congratulate Iraqis on a victory against Iran?” he added sarcastically.

Fans were similarly bemused, posting scathing comments on social media.

“Today is the match between our team and the team of our lords,” Jaafar Al-Kinani, wrote on his Facebook page. “We ask God to help us determine which team we have to support.”

“I will support the referee. I cannot encourage any of the teams for fear of angering the other team,” Mustafa Nassir, wrote on his page.

Other fans posted more sincere calls for Iraqis to get behind their team despite the politics.

“All Iraqis will encourage the Iraqi team, even those close to Iran,” Ziyad Al-Dulaimaim, an activist from the Sunni-dominated western province of Anbar, wrote. “In 2007, our regions were under Al-Qaeda militants’ control and when the Iraqi team won the championship, everyone took to the street to celebrate, including the gunmen.”

Both Iraq and Iran had already qualified for the next round when they played on Wednesday. But a win against a strong team like Iran would have revived Iraqi hopes that they could reach the final.

In the build up to the match, many of the giant screens in Baghdad replayed previous Iraqi victories over Iran.

The last was in 2015 in the semifinal of the same tournament, when Iraq won in a penalty shootout. 

Cafes and clubs prepared for the match by offering free entry for families and decorating their facades with Iraqi flags. Thousands of Iraqis watched the match outside on the streets.

Both Iraq and Iran have won the Asian Cup in recent years. Iraq famously won in 2007 just four years after the fall of Saddam Hussein in a victory that came as the country was wracked by violence.