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February 6, 2017 9:09 am

Iran and Its Appeasers Are Terrified of US Policy Shifts

avatar by Heshmat Alavi

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Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Following recent tensions between the Trump administration and Iran, discussions are escalating over future White House policy vis-à-vis the mullahs in Tehran.

The United States had previously adopted an approach pivoting on engagement, and to a further extent, appeasement. Advocates argued such rapprochement would encourage a deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program and tame this regime’s meddling in foreign countries, its support for terrorism and domestic crackdown.

Eight years under the Obama administration, emboldening Iran throughout the Middle East and at home — where it continues to engage in severe human rights violations — proved how such a policy was nothing but a dismal failure. Such a record has made crystal clear the necessity for a major Washington policy shift where Tehran is concerned.

The reaction of the Trump administration to Iran’s January 29 ballistic missile test illustrates the stark contrast between the current White House and its predecessor. The prospect of such a major shift in Washington has raised significant concerns among members of the Iranian regime, Iran-appeasement policy advocates and Tehran’s lobbyists. They are engaged in different efforts to undermine this new tough stance, labeling it “pro-war.”

There are also those who claim that there is no legitimate alternative to the mullahs, and work to discredit the democratic opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). NCRI, headed by Maryam Rajavi and consisting of a slate of Iranian dissident groups — including the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) — has gained the support of thousands of prominent political dignitaries on both sides of the Atlantic.

Most recently, nearly two dozen former senior US government officials, in a rare act of bipartisanship, signed a hand-delivered letter to President Donald Trump encouraging his administration to “establish dialogue” with the NCRI and MEK. Unjustifiably blacklisted by the State Department in 1997, the MEK was delisted in 2012 after a 15-year legal battle and 20 different court rulings in its favor.

The letter states in part, “Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security has for many years impaired the exiled opposition by covertly spreading false and distorted claims through third parties in the West.” Among these was the claim that the MEK killed Americans in the 1970s, but these allegations have been debunked through extensive research conducted by American officials.

Renowned Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield, a former State Department and Defense Department official, has even written a book that covers MEK history, casting doubt on claims of the organization’s ties to terrorism.

The point is that the “golden era” of Obama, as one Iranian figure close to former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani put it, has come to an end. And this spells disaster for the pro-Iran appeasement camp.

The NCRI welcomed recent sanctions imposed by the Trump administration on Iran. The next step forward would be to blacklist the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization. This is especially vital, given its major role in domestic oppression and foreign military intervention, with an emphasis on Tehran’s involvement in SyriaIran’s nuclear program and ballistic missile drive.

After Obama turned his back on the Iranian people in 2009, the Trump administration’s blacklisting and sanctioning of the IRGC would send a strong message to them. As the 23 American officials put it: “…[R]ecognizing the basic rights of the Iranian people to exercise their sovereign franchise free of brutal repression would put the United states on the right side of history.”

 

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