Sept 29, 2017
The relationship between Iran and America is officially through informal diplomatic channels. In the past 4 decades, this relationship has been conducted either in secret or through intermediaries – with the exception of the negotiations related to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The United States does not have an embassy in Iran. Similarly, Iran does not have an embassy in Washington. This lack of open or otherwise direct dialogue exists as a result of cause and effect events of the past but is rooted primarily in Iranian regime policies, including its illegal takeover of the U.S. embassy in Iran on November 1979. This void in American-Iranian relations is also a result of Iranian regime’s support for terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism, and nuclear/missile development. Nevertheless, back channel dealing and appeasement of the Iranian theocrats has for past 4 decades dominated U.S. relationship and its policy towards Iran. The latter has not only failed to promote a genuine moderation in Iranian regime and its behavior, but has actually helped solidify its reign on power and expand its terrorist networks.
The Iran Proxy War
It is indeed true that the Middle East is a politically unstable region. This instability has further been fueled by Iranian Ayattolahs, who wish to export a predatory brand of fundamentalist Islam across the region. The 8 year war with Iraq, the ongoing conflict in Syria and other forms of military, religious, and politically-based violence in the region can in one way or another be traced to malign activities of the Iranian Regime. In particular, orchestrated by Iran sponsored Houchi rebels; violence has been on the rise in Yemen. The conflict has been seen as a proxy war between Iran’s current leadership and Saudi Arabia. These are the two largest Middle Eastern countries, and their clash is notably complicated as Iran’s expansionist reach now directly threatens Islam’s holiest sites, located in Saudi Arabia. The rise of conflict in this region in recent years has been partnered with a relatively unclear, naïve, or messy US foreign policy in the Middle East. Another part of this proxy war can be seen through Iran’s current economic and vocal support for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Today in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and beyond, Iranian regime behavior is hence seen as a military and political threat to the countries in the region and beyond..
Many thought leaders, Iran observers, and the main Iranian opposition group (National Council of Resistance of Iran -NCRI), have suggested that Western appeasement policy towards Iranian dictators has emboldened the Ayatollahs. This policy, they argue, must end and replaced with an approach that favors the Iranian people and recognizes/empowers the legitimate democratic aspirations.
Iranian Regime & its Human Rights Record
Iran is not a democracy but its regime uses Western style democratic exercises in sham elections to select and place it officials in office. All candidates for office are pre-screened for their allegiance to regime’s supreme leader and his policies both internal and external. To force this form of governance on its 80,000,000 population, Iranian government has the highest per-capita execution rate in the world. Over the past 4 decades, the Ayatollahs have executed over 120,000 Iranians. Hundreds of thousands more are held in prisons, tortured and mutilated. Over a 3-4 month time span in 1988, for example, Iran executed over 30,000 political prisoners for which no one to-date has been held accountable. International silence on this and other crimes against humanity have further fuelled regional violence, as more and more Islamist groups and rouge countries witness this impunity and the apparent success of the Iranian rulers.
US-Iran Relations – what should be next?
Conflict can be resolved through violence or through diplomacy. Sometimes, violence gets prolonged and diplomacy is forced to take a back seat. While there remain issues with Iran’s regime and its current leadership, the Iranian people and the people of the Middle East as a whole would greatly benefit from an American relationship with Iran, which is more closely aligned with its people. Since its inception, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been active in 3 focused areas to maintain and expand its existence. Systemic violation of human rights, expansion of terrorism, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction have and continue to be Iranian regime’s ominous pillars of existence. For these reasons and more, the United States has seen Iran as a growing threat to regional and international peace. Yet its policies towards the clerical regime have centered in placating the Ayatollahs, with hope of moderating their behavior – without success. Iran of today has hence expanded its malign activities on all aforementioned focuses of its reign on power. A total and seismic policy reset is thus in order. This policy must reject foreign military intervention in Iran but must also stop the appeasement policies currently in place. Instead, the U.S. must both verbally and in action support the Iranian people in their longstanding opposition to the barbaric regime in Tehran. This policy as a prerequisite must include the demands of the Iranian people so aptly reiterated during the 2009 nationwide uprising – That the Iranian people want regime change, in its entirety, by the Iranian people and their organized resistance.
Western policy of totally rejecting Iranian regime and holding its leaders accountable for their deeds will go a long way in sending a central message to the people of Iran – That liberal democracies of the West stand with them morally.
Iranian people have had 3 major uprisings for secular democracy during the past 100 years (1906, 1953, 1979). This impressive resume and an organized and motivated opposition movement will ensure that democratic change does indeed happen in Iran. When this occurs and if the U.S. encourages it morally, the Iranian people will forever view the United States as a friend and rightfully regard it as a harbinger of democracy.