Senators’ meeting with opposition leader sends the right message to Iran
September 2, 2017
Columbia Daily Tribune – Iran, the country I come from, has been at the center of the crises riddling the Middle East for the past four decades. The reason is the rule of a clerical regime that is geared toward causing instability in the region in order to secure its hold on power and prevent its overthrow by the Iranian people.
Unfortunately, in the past, the dominant policy in dealing with the multitudes of threats stemming from Iran was to appease the ruling mullahs in hopes of encouraging them to avoid engaging in nefarious activities.
The result, as has become evident in recent years, is a regime that has become more aggressive in its human rights abuses at home and in its meddling in the affairs of its neighbors. Iran continues to be the leading state sponsor of terrorism and the record holder for number of executions per capita.
It is past time that a change of policy toward Iran is adopted, one that takes firm action against Iran’s evil endeavors and endorses the Iranian people’s aspiration for democratic regime change in their country.
A good step toward this shift in policy is the August 12 trip of a delegation of U.S. Senators led by our senior Senator, Roy Blunt, to Tirana, Albania, where they met with Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the main opposition group to the Iranian regime. Sen. Blunt was joined by senators John Cornyn, the Majority Whip and Thom Tillis, a member of the Armed Services Committee.
Of course, this was not the first time that Sen. Blunt has taken the initiative. Since he was a Member of Congress, the Senator lent his support for the cause of democracy and human rights in Iran. And in the Senate, he was one of the most outspoken advocates of the rights of thousands of MEK members in camps Ashraf and Liberty, not only writing letters to senior U.S. officials, but also authoring legislation, urging the administration to uphold the commitments it made for the protection of Iranian dissidents in Iraq. And he has also spoken in hearings dealing with the issue of Camp Liberty residents and spoken on the floor of the Senate on the need for the U.S. to protect the Iranian dissidents and ensure their safety and security.
The NCRI and MEK have been representing everything that the Iranian people desire and deserve: a free and democratic state, where the government obtains its legitimacy and power from the ballot box and not from God, a country that peacefully coexists with its neighbors and is a productive member of the international community and is not a rogue state that defies all international norms and values.
In past years, Tehran has resorted to propaganda to convince the international community that the only way regime change will be achieved in Iran is through a foreign military invasion, a strategy that has failed utterly in Iraq and Afghanistan.
However, there’s no need for foreign intervention. There’s already ample potential for change in Iran, coming from a population that is fed up with the ruling class, and an organized opposition that can establish the roots of democracy in the country. In fact, the only thing that has prevented this potential from manifesting itself until now is the very appeasement policy that was aimed at containing the threats of Iranian regime. By siding with the Iranian regime, western governments have allowed the mullahs to extend their rule by violently suppressing the people and the opposition.
As Mrs. Rajavi said in her meeting with U.S. senators, the ruling theocracy is rotten to the core and very fragile. Without foreign support, especially the policy of appeasement pursued in the U.S. and Europe, it would not have survived so long.
By standing with the Iranian people and supporting the opposition, the international community can guarantee a democratic transition in Iran that will not entail another conflagration in the region and across the world.
Kasra Nejat is a resident of St. Louis and is president of the Iranian-American Cultural Association of Missouri.