A Solution at Hand for Iran

There is no doubt that the Middle East is the epicenter of many major crises in the world today, with Iran fueling many of these conflicts. Syria, Iraq, Yemen and supporting the Lebanese Hezbollah are the main pillars of these calamities, parallel to Tehran’s dangerous pursuit of ballistic missiles and highly controversial nuclear program.

As the Trump administration continues to weigh its comprehensive approach vis-a-vis the mullahs’ regime, the Iranian opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) held its annual convention in Paris on Saturday. The event hosted a massive gathering of the Iranian Diaspora and hundreds of influential and dignitaries expressing their support for NCRI President Maryam Rajavi and her ten-point plan for a future democratic and non-nuclear Iran.

Aside from the powerful speech delivered by Rajavi focusing the Iranian regime’s dilemmas escalating as never before, the tone of her movement’s international supporters have become much more forward-looking against the mullahs in Tehran.

“You, I, my government and your leadership, we see Iran in exactly the same way,” former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, known to be an adviser to US President Donald Trump, said. “The regime is evil and it must go.”

“Iran must be free,” emphasized former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, another individual considered close to the US president. “The dictatorship must be destroyed. Containment is appeasement and appeasement is surrender… The only practical goal is to support a movement to free Iran.”

“The capital since 1979 of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism has been in Tehran under this extremist regime, and that is why it’s got to go,” said former Senator Joseph Lieberman, representing a strong voice from the other side of the aisle in US politics.

Heard throughout the years are Tehran’s claims of lacking any opposition and the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the main NCRI member, being insignificant and even completely dismantled.

And yet each and every year the NCRI and PMOI, known more commonly as the MEK in the US, prove yet again how the struggle to topple the mullahs’ regime to bring about freedom and democracy in Iran continues stronger than ever before.

While claiming this organization is nothing but dismal, Iran’s own response pinpoints the very fact that this Iranian opposition, under Rajavi’s leadership, represents the main threat to Tehran.

“Our foreign minister met with [the French] just two days before and his plan had yet to leave that their ambassador in the United Nations Security Council describes us being in violation of the nuclear deal resolution,” said Mohammad Javad Larijani, a conservative politician with close relations to the inner circle of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

“This was completely baseless and they insulted Iran. Then, they launched a completely ISIS-like rally with a new tag because the [PMOI/MEK] are no different from ISIS. The fact that they gather from all corners of the globe, and speak and plot against the Islamic Republic, and then for the French to say we have no connections with them resembles a political joke, which they should save for their own people,” he said, resorting to completely unprofessional and unorthodox language for a political figure.

“France’s behavior has been very aggressive and insulting… not only would I downgrade diplomatic relations with France, but also revoke contracts signed with the French regarding Peugeot and others,” Larijani added.

Such a response shows how truly terrified the Iranian regime is of its main opposition, represented by the NCRI. Furthermore, Tehran is in no position to be threatening to revoke economic contracts.

Due to Washington’s very strong position on the Iran nuclear deal and three rounds of new sanctions, there are no foreign governments, institutions or companies willing to wade very easily into economic waters with Iran.

In fact, considering the possibility of more sanctions on the way, and all parties realizing Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is very ill, it is crystal clear the days of the Tehran regime are numbered.

As anticipation grows for the Trump administration to declare its all-out Iran policy, more voices in Washington are heard advocating the necessity of regime change. The reason Iran is more terrified is that these calls are coming at a time when the Iranian opposition NCRI is more able than ever before to deliver the solution needed for Iran.

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Dissident Provides Harrowing Account Of Iran’s Prisons

The Middle East has been topping headlines recently as ISIS is being defeated in both Iraq and Syria, and Iran is playing a significantly destructive role in both campaigns and across the region.

All the while, the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) is gearing up for its massive annual convention in Paris. The July 1strally will be the stage of hundreds of prominent figures from four corners of the globe and most likely over 100,000 members of the Iranian Diaspora expressing support for the NCRI President Maryam Rajavi’s and her ten-point-plan platform for a future Iran without the mullahs.

I had a chance recently to sit down and talk with Shabnam Madadzadeh, a young Iranian woman and former political prisoner who just recently was able to exit Iran. She has written articles and delivered remarks in different events shedding light on Iran’s dungeons atrocious conditions.

Shabnam Madadzadeh:

I was a college student in Iran and like my brother I spent five years in the regime’s jails as a political prisoner. Long interrogations, solitary confinement, forced to witness my brother being beaten, deprived of any contact with my family, death threats and mock executions were the tortures I was placed through.

These methods are used by the Iranian regime to obtain so-called “confessions” and forge a case against you in court, while depriving you of legal representation. I was sentenced to prison and exiled in the notorious Gohardasht Prison in the city of Karaj, west of Tehran.

During my time behind bars I was deprived of any furlough. I witnessed many crimes by the regime authorities, many executions and tortures inflicted not only on political prisoners, but also ordinary inmates arrested on other charges.

In prison I was in a ward with hundreds of other women and up close I witnessed the human rights violations they suffered. Time and again in prison I was deprived of family visits and phone calls for informing the world about the harsh conditions those women went through and the circumstances inside the prison walls. I was also deprived of medical care.

Recently a letter has leaked from inside Iran written by Gohardasht Prison political prisoners describing those taking part in Saturday’s convention as “the voice of all the Iranian people in the larger prison called Iran, who all yearn for a ‘Free Iran,’ a democratic Iran.”

Iran is also the leading state sponsor of terrorism and exports its Islamic fundamentalism to the Middle East. With Hassan Rouhani becoming the regime’s president the international community wrongly provided an image of a moderate at the helm in Iran. This is nothing but a fantasy and mirage for those not familiar with the reality of Iran’s regime.

I was a young college student and spent one year of my time in prison during Rouhani’s tenure. After being released I witnessed how the highly boasted nuclear deal signed by the P5+1 with Iran failed to render any positive change in people’s lives. In fact, their living conditions have become far more difficult. The Iran nuclear deal has only loosened sanctions in favor of the ruling elite in Tehran, and yet human rights violations and state-backed violence have ramped up.

The number of executions under the “moderate” Rouhani skyrocketed, reaching the point of one every eight hours. All the while Iran’s powder keg society was the scene of an increasing number of popular protests in the past four years, and especially in the few months leading to the May 19th presidential election and afterwards. Teachers, workers and people from all walks of life are protesting as making ends meet becomes impossible.

The regime has continuously resorted to responding viciously to these acts of dissent. Life has become so unspeakably unbearable that a number of workers, teachers, college students and even teenagers have resorted to suicide due to financial problems, unemployment and other social distresses.

The truth of the Iranian people’s current living conditions proves the windfall billions poured into Iran after the nuclear deal has not eased the population’s pains, all usurped by Tehran to export its terrorism across the region.

The Iranian people are demanding the mullahs’ regime bring an end to warmongering and exporting terrorism to neighboring countries that they see as their friends. This money belongs to the Iranian people and must be allocated to advance their needs and welfare.

Any negotiation by the West with Iran will only add more gallows in Iran’s squares, escalate the Iranian people’s misery and fuel further meddling by the Revolutionary Guards in the Middle East and even beyond.

For the first time this year I will be taking part in the NCRI’s annual convention in Paris scheduled for July 1st.

The massive “FreeIran” rally will host hundreds of prominent international dignitaries and MPs from the United States, Europe and the Middle East. The message will highlight the necessity to establish a united front against Iran-sponsored international extremism under the banner of Islam.

Joined by an anticipated +100,000 members of the Iranian Diaspora, these political figures will express their support for the Iranian people’s demand of regime change in Iran. This rally will be the voice of widespread social protests against the mullahs’ regime inside Iran, escalating prior to last month’s presidential election sham and continuing as we speak.

And considering the mullahs’ practices of domestic crackdown, continuous meddling and terrorism in the region and beyond, and advancing its nuclear/ballistic missile programs, this convention will demand a firm international approach in the face of Iran’s belligerence.

Crosshairs focusing on Iran

Originally posted in Dutch in OpinieZ Magazine

As tensions continue to rise in the flashpoint country of Syria in the already boiling Middle East, and voices heard of a possible conflict between the United States and Russia, they are all mistaken.

The Cold War is over and will not be repeated. These two powers have more common interest to risk any unnecessary military conflict that neither will benefit from. The only party set to gain anything in such a scenario would be Iran, and more and more experts are raising alarm bells.

Yes, Russia has issued a warning to the US about flying its planes or drones west of Syria’s Euphrates River that snakes through the country from the north to the southeast. Rest assured this is nothing but a bluff as Australia first responded by suspending its fighter jet flights, only to resume its activities one day later.

Russia looks to maintain its interests in Syria and is in no need of a conflict with the far more technologically-advanced US military.

Iran poses a far greater threat to the US, and the entire world for that matter, than Russia. And as we inch forward down the path of seeking a solution to bring an end to the war in Syria and turmoil across the region, crosshairs are more than ever before being rightfully placed on Iran.

Iran’s meddling in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and its decades’ long support of its offspring, the Lebanese Hezbollah, are all signs of a vast imperial campaign seeking to gain further control over the future of the entire Middle East. Tehran has long calibrated its foreign policy for this very objective. This goes alongside Iran’s other pillars, being domestic crackdown and advancing nuclear/ballistic missile program, to maintain its rule and remain in power.

Long before the Islamic State, Iran has sought to expand its mentality of establishing a Middle East-wide caliphate. This is exactly why Iranian regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini adopted and imposed the velayat-e faqih (governance of jurist enjoying custodianship over all state affairs and people’s lives).

This mentality of Iran’s mullahs must be acknowledged by the West and appropriate measures are needed to prevent any further devastation. A short look at the atrocities we are currently witnessing due to Iran’s influence over Baghdad, Damascus and Sana’a should be proof enough to highlight the need for a firm and decisive policy vis-à-vis Iran.

The Obama administration continuously backed the US into a corner and only sought to obtain a highly flawed nuclear deal at any cost. It is imperative for Washington and the international community to understand the imperative nature of setting the correct goals in relations to Iran.

Senator Tom Cotton in the US has recently made a significant call for Washington to seriously consider regime change in Iran as a serious possibility.

“The policy of the United States should be regime change in Iran. I don’t see how anyone can say America can be safe as long as you have in power a theocratic despotism,” Cotton, a member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, said in a recent interview.

Washington had supported reform from inside the current regime in Iran, only to end in no fruit. Officials in the Trump administration, however, are indicating this may no longer provide the results they seek. Allies of this administration are even heard urging a far more aggressive position.

To accelerate the entire subject even further, Washington and Tehran have been experiencing a high fraught increase in their relations.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson responded to a question in a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing emphasizing Washington’s support for peaceful regime change, a first bye any US official.

Iran has responded by filing an official complaint to the United Nations. All this goes parallel to numerous face-offs between the US-backed coalition and Iran-backed forces in Syria.

As the Trump administration continues to weigh its all-out Iran policy, such developments and voices heard from across Washington and Europe will most definitely place the mullahs on edge.

265 Members of the European Parliament issued a statement condemning flagrant human rights violations in Iran. This initiative enjoys vast support, “including all political groups and tendencies in the European Parliament. They include 4 Vice-Presidents of the parliament and 23 Committee and Delegation Chairs. This clearly shows that when the issue of human rights violations, repression of women and minorities and the Iranian regime’s support of terrorism are concerned, we are all united.”

The Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), however, is gearing for its annual Paris rally scheduled for July 1st this year.

Hundreds of prominent dignitaries from the US, Europe and Middle East will most likely be joined by over 100,000 members of the Iranian Diaspora from all corners of the globe. As seen in previous year this platform will express support for NCRI President Maryam Rajavi and her ten-point plan consisting gender equality, peaceful coexistence, abolishing capital punishment, torture and crackdown, and bringing an end to Iran’s nuclear program, meddling and support of terrorism.

The combination of calls for regime change in the West and the Iranian opposition delivering a very capable platform to realize this initiative is a recipe for disaster in the eyes of Tehran’s mullahs.

Iran’s Presidential Election And The Raisi Twist

Various media outlets and Iran regime elements have commented recently over the candidacy of Ebrahim Raisi, an influential cleric described as the protégé of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, pumping new life into Iran’s so-called presidential election (read selection).

Of course, this perspective in some way is considered correct. Raisi’s candidacy has caused quite a stir in the entire poll, but not as Khamenei and his apparatus initially intended.

The role Raisi played in the “Death Commission” presiding over the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners, mostly members and supporters of the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), has come into the spotlight like never before. The 1988 dossier was once considered a highly controversial matter and no senior Iranian official would raise the issue, all knowing their involvement would eventually unearth and play against their ultimate interests.

People from all walks of life in Iran are now becoming more informed about the matter and questioning both Raisi and incumbent President Hassan Rouhani about the entire ordeal. Such a phenomenon is even reflected in Iran’s state-run media, including Keyhan daily, considered Khamenei’s mouthpiece.

While placing its crosshairs on Rouhani, a piece in Keyhan is titled, “They attack Raisi, but we should not forget Rouhani’s past!”

The British state network says the positions adopted by Hassan Rouhani up to this day have been similar to others inside the apparatus. However, the ‘reformists’, seeking their own interests, only target their rivals in their remarks, leaving [Rouhani] out of the picture… There are considerable accounts in Rouhani’s report card. For example, at a time when Rouhani’s government in recent years supported efforts to revoke capital punishment, he himself in 1980 had suggested, ‘Bring traitors to Friday prayers and have them hanged for people to see. It would have more impact…’

Following the 1999 student uprising crackdown, Rouhani described the protesters as devious, foreign agents, affiliated and corrupt, adding they are ‘far more despicable for us to label them an overthrowing movement… if senior officials had not prevented us our people, our Muslim, brave and revolutionary youth would have resorted to the harshest of measures against these hoodlums.’ Back in December 2013, he described a march staged by regime supporters against those protesting the election results as clear insight. In 2015 he described that rally as the day ‘the Iranian nation defended the mullahs’ establishment.’

In other words, from 1980 to this day [Rouhani] has constantly supported crackdown measures against protesters and those opposing the government. In yet another move, Rouhani’s selected Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi as his minister of justice, saying he is delighted of Raisi’s presence in his cabinet.

(Pour-Mohammadi is another member of the abovementioned “Death Commission”.)

In yet another example, Rouhani praised his measures in imposing ‘mandatory hijab regulations in army administrative offices’. In his memoir Rouhani has written, ‘I went to Fort Dushan Tapeh and all the women employees, many in numbers, gathered in a large room where I spoke about hijab. Many of the women made a big fuss, but I stood firm and said: This is an order and no disobedience is tolerated… I ordered the guard that from the next morning women without proper hijab should no longer be allowed onto the premises.

As a result, it is crystal clear how the 1988 massacre dossier has become a trending topic amongst the Iranian people, especially college students who have been seen recently bravely questioning senior Iranian regime officials. A student in Tabriz University, northwest Iran, dared to state strong remarks and questions about this grave and horrific crime against humanity against Hassan Abbasi, a known theoretician of Khamenei’s faction.

As a result, it is natural to raise a question about the possibility of Khamenei being forced to set Raisi aside – due to his role in the 1988 massacre – and place his faction’s weight behind Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, one of the six candidates approved by the Guardian Council?

The truth is both Raisi, and Khamenei’s faction who currently support him, and Rouhani, and his so-called “moderate” faction, know the Iranian people have for decades had nothing but hatred for this regime. However, one cannot deny the fact that the possibility of Raisi stepping aside in favor of Ghalibaf has been raised in Iran’s state media outlets.

In such an outcome, this will deliver a highly unprecedented blow to Khamenei’s own image, and thus the entire Iranian regime establishment. This will ultimately play into the interest of the Iranian people and their organized resistance, resembled in the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

This coalition, represented by its President Maryam Rajavi and her 10-point plan for a future Iran, has for over three decades strived to establish a free, democratic and non-nuclear Iran. The May 19th presidential election in Iran is a major turning point and the international community should take the opportunity and stand alongside the Iranian people.

Appeasement of Iran Must End

appeasement

By Shahriar Kia

A tumultuous year lies ahead. With a new administration taking the helm in Washington, the French elections upcoming, then the sham “elections” in Iran, and unprecedented developments in the making in the Middle East and on the international stage.

2017 has begun with enormous concerns for the mullahs in Iran. With the death of former Iranian regime president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran’s establishment witnessed the fall of one of its two pillars.

To this end, Tehran’s religious dictatorship suffered a devastating blow and weakened in its entirety.

The Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the most ruthless factions of his regime are trekking down the path of further contraction, advocating extremismsupporting terrorism, and pursuing their nuclear ambitions.

With the regime weakness bringing joy to the Iranian population, the mullahs are left terrified of a repeat of uprisings on the model of 2009. This is especially significant with crucial presidential “elections” coming in May.

The general public and even political prisoners are voicing their dissent like never before, especially thanks to social media. Families of regime victims are protesting, especially those whose loved ones perished amongst the 30,000 political prisoners massacred by the mullahs back in 1988. The people are demanding an end to ruthless executions and the regime’s existence.

The Iranian people, one year after the Iranian nuclear pact’s implementation, have gained nothing. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, however, has ironically benefited Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), allowing Iran to finance lethal ambitions in Syria and throughout the Middle East.

The world has come to realize that the mullahs, the IRGC, the Lebanese Hizb’allah and other Shiite militias have no such role of confronting extremism and Daesh (ISIS/ISIL). In fact, their goal has been to maintain Syrian dictator Bashar Assad in power.

They have the main source of distributing terrorism and instability across this flashpoint region. In fact, their presence in Syria guarantees the mullahs’ continued rule back home.

Khamenei recently said if they hadn’t fought in Syria, they “had not been confronted [in Syria], we should have stood against them in Tehran, Fars, Khorasan and Isfahan.”

In response to the latest Syrian ceasefire effort, Iran and its proxy elements are the sole parties seeking to sabotage the entire initiative. According to Syrian opposition leaders, Iran is the sole party seeking nothing but to maintain Assad in power at all costs.

No political solution is possible in the Levant as long as the IRGC and their Shiite militias are present in the country. Thus, if we seek peace in this land, the only serious path forward lies in expelling the mullahs from Syria. The main party in detriment from a ceasefire and eventual peace in Syria is none other than Tehran.

The Obama administration’s appeasement policy vis-à-vis Iran is the main reason behind the Syria tragedy and the mullahs’ dominance in this war. Iran counted on the West’s engagement approach to literally export its extremism under the banner of Islam.

The end of Obama’s tenure leaves little hope for the mullahs’ regime to act as they wish. This situation intensified ever since the occupation of Iraq back in 2003. Khamenei has been the main benefactor in the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. But such days are over.

Considering the failed rapprochement approach, a policy change is needed to end the Middle East crisis. Actions must be taken in the face of the IRGC’s terrorism and its destructive role in the region. Otherwise neither the Middle East nor the world, for that matter, will ever experience true peace and tranquility.

We cannot ally with one form of extremism to root out another. Extremism under the name of Islam, be it Sunni or Shiite, is no different in viciousness and none represent Islam. In fact, they are better described as forms of religious fascism.

Therefore, no government can promote an alliance with Tehran under the pretext of pursuing a security policy. Furthermore, we cannot neglect our principles for the mere sake of short-term economic gains and turn our backs on human rights and women’s rights violations in Iran.

Today’s Iran has an alternative with a democratic agenda based on respecting religious freedoms, universal suffrage, separation of church and state, and gender equality. The voice of this alternative should be heard, as proposed by nearly two dozen senior top U.S. officials in a hand-delivered letter to President Donald Trump.

This alternative is none other than the National Council of Resistance of Iran under the leadership of Maryam Rajavi, who years ago presented her vision for a future Iran in a 10-point-plan.

The solution presented by the Iranian opposition can render a new era for the people of Iran, nations across the Middle East and beyond. We only need to remain loyal to our democratic values and principles.

Originally published in American Thinker

Shahriar Kia is a political analyst and member of Iranian opposition (PMOI/MEK). He graduated from North Texas University. @shahriarkia

The Iran opportunity before Donald Trump

Donald Trump Holds Meetings At Trump Tower
If the Trump administration seeks to make Iran more amenable to take meaningful measures, they can be reminded with reference to the NCRI that their days are numbered. (AFP)

By Heshmat Alavi
Friday, 20 January 2017

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 Revomilitia 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.

Days numbered?

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.

Originally posted in Al Arabiya English