After eight years of US President Barack Obama teaching seemingly unending lessons of Iran Appeasement 101, a new administration in Washington has the opportunity to right the many wrongs of this failed policy.
Obama’s doctrine has allowed Iran to launch a string of anti-American measures and remarks throughout the course of his two terms, and most recently refuse any renegotiation of the nuclear deal sealed between the P5+1 and Tehran.
In response, sources say President-elect Donald Trump has received a hand-delivered letter signed by 23 top former US officials urging the adoption of a new approach vis-à-vis the regime in Iran. The text calls on the incoming Trump administration to engage and actively work with the Iranian opposition, an opportunity neglected and set aside by previous administrations.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) is an umbrella group of Iranian dissident groups, including mainly the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), known to first blow the whistle on Tehran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program.
The letter is signed by a colorful slate of bipartisan civil and military officials, including former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, former senator Joe Lieberman, former attorney general Michael Mukasey and General Hugh Shelton, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Clinton administration, to name a few.
“President Obama expressed the hope that nuclear negotiations would induce Iran’s leaders to act with greater consideration of American interests. It is now clear that Iran’s leaders have shown no interest in reciprocating… Iran’s rulers have directly targeted US strategic interests, policies and principles, and those of our allies and friends in the Middle East…” the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Fox News, reads. “…to restore American influence and credibility in the world, the United States needs a revised policy,” the text adds.
Obama’s Iran doctrine
This prominent slate of influential American dignitaries has touched on a very right tone, calling for an overhaul of Obama’s Iran doctrine in its entirety. Ever since day one after hijacking the Iranian revolution back in 1979, the basic problem has been none other than the very mullahs’ regime sitting on the throne in Tehran.
While in this day and age many talk about terrorism and refer to ISIS and al-Qaeda, Tehran remains the true source of terrorism across the globe. The US State Department continues to designate this regime as a—if not the—leading state sponsor of terrorism. Iran is the world’s central banker of international terrorism by funding Hamas, the Lebanese Hezbollah and a long slate of other extremist Shiite militia groups rampaging Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
This letter, signaling a significant gathering very rare in Washington politics for the past 8 years and beyond, is underscoring the fact that the unpopular regime in Iran is the source of a variety of dilemmas. The mullahs are maintaining their control over 80 million Iranians through the ruthless Revolutionary Guards, the paramilitary Basij militia and other security entities.
These oppressive entities showed their wrath in 2009 following the highly disputed reelection–read reselection of firebrand Mahmoud Ahmadinejad–as the regime’s president and quelling any and all dissent. The Obama administration missed the opportunity and turned its back on the Iranian people then.
There is an alternative to the mullahs’ regime in Iran. If the Trump administration seeks to make Iran more amenable to actually take meaningful measures, they can be reminded with reference to the NCRI that their days are numbered, and counting down fast.
It would represent a remarkable message to Tehran if the new administration in Washington made a direct call to NCRI President Maryam Rajavi, a progressive Muslim woman who has devoted her life to regime change in Iran based on a 10-point plan aiming to bring about freedom, democracy, human rights, gender-religious-ethnic equality and a non-nuclear Iran.
Such a policy is not only in the best interest of the United States, but the Middle East and all nations who have suffered from Iran’s mischievous meddling policies. Of course, the mullahs and their lobbies in the US will not be happy at all if President Trump or members of his administration establish direct contact with the NCRI.
However, this should signal Tehran’s soft spot to Washington, and make the Trump administration even more interested about what can be done to support Iran’s legitimate opposition.
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Heshmat Alavi is a political and rights activist. His writing focuses on Iran, ranging from human rights violations, social crackdown, the regime's support for terrorism and meddling in foreign countries, and the controversial nuclear program. He tweets at @HeshmatAlavi & blogs at IranCommentary.
Disclaimer - This author is writing under a pseudonym to protect his identity.