As the situation inside and outside of Iran grows more worrisome, it is encouraging to see that those concerned about the threat that Tehran poses and about the humanitarian situation involving thousands of Iranian dissidents in Iraq, are coalescing around the need for actions by the world community that would further isolate Iran's rulers.
This was made evident at a recent European-American meeting in Paris on February 11. The day marked the 33rd anniversary of the revolution that overthrew the Shah but resulted in Ayatollah Khomeini usurping the rule and establishing a theocratic state that that has continued ever since.
Yet as the speakers, including Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the charismatic leader of the Iranian resistance pointed out, it seems as though the mullahs are facing unprecedented crisis and Persian Spring is on its way. They were accompanied by thousands of Iranian expatriates, supporters of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the principal Iranian opposition movement.
Participants emphasised what I have been convinced of for some time that, as the uprising in Syria has placed that country's dictator on the verge of collapse and the tide in the region is rapidly turning against the Iranian regime and its puppet government in Iraq, Iran's leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has grown increasingly intransigent. He virtually declared war on the international community at a recent prayer meeting and announced that Iran, disregarding all international sanctions, will continue its nuclear program and will push to establish Islamist regimes in the neighboring countries. He once again called for the destruction of Israel and claimed that the United States is on the verge of collapse.
Such posturing is certainly not from a position of power but reflects the regime's weakness that prevents it from showing any flexibility, as any compromise might accelerate its downfall. Khamenei has threatened his internal rivals to submit to the will of his Guardian Council; all appointed directly or indirectly by himself. While Iranian society seethes with dissent and economic crises engulf the regime, his aim is to forestall more internal uprisings on the eve of the regime's sham parliamentary elections.
The Iranian regime is bent on the destruction of residents of Camp Ashraf in Iraq, members of the PMOI, before the tide of change reaches Iraq and Iran from Syria. The regime knows very well that the Iranian Resistance movement is the main force that can lead the enormous dissent inside Iranian society towards a fundamental change to democracy.
To this end Iran has pressured its proxies in Iraq to attack Camp Ashraf twice, killing 47 and injuring over 1000. Then there was talk of another attack for closure of the camp by the end of 2011. The UN got involved to work out a deal for transferring the residents of Ashraf to a camp called "Liberty" near Baghdad Airport. But as events unfolded since January it became clear that Camp "Liberty" is no alternative to Camp Ashraf and Iraq is planning to imprison the residents there disregarding their recognized rights to property and freedom of movement. As we have heard they are even denied access to their lawyers, family and doctors.
Any pressure to force the Ashraf residents to transfer to Camp Liberty should be condemned and such a transfer requires minimum assurances - freedom to transfer moveable property and vehicles to Liberty, no police presence inside the small Camp Liberty area, freedom of movement, and provision of minimum living area. Refusal by the Iraqi government to provide such assurances, and instead to turn Liberty into a virtual prison camp, will show sinister intent that would preclude any transfer by Ashraf residents.
If and only if a transfer occurs it should be gradual i.e. following the transfer of the first 400 residents to Liberty, a second group would be transferred only when the first group has left Liberty to third countries. Thus, Liberty will never house more that 400 people.
While the Special Representative of the United Nation Secretary General, Ambassador Martin Kobler, has been trying to find a solution for Ashraf crisis, he should disregard reactions of the government of Iraq and Iranian regime and work to achieve an equitable solution, with safety, security and legal rights of the residents as the only untouchable criteria
In search of a solution for Iran crisis, the international community, especially the EU and US, should recognise the Iranian Resistance and its President-elect as the legitimate opposition and democratic alternative to the Iranian regime. As the mullahs expedite their drive to acquire nuclear weapons, more than international sanctions are needed. The toughening sanctions are necessary, but not enough. The real answer to the Iran crisis is regime change and the establishment of a secular democracy with no nuclear ambitions. Only the Iranian people and their organized resistance can bring this about.
To this effect t he US government should remove the terrorist label from the PMOI, in order to remove shackles unjustifiably put on the resistance and to remove the main obstacle to resettlement of Ashraf residents in third countries. This move will also eliminate Nouri al-Maliki's main excuse for attacking them.
By siding with Iranian people's desire for regime change and their cry for freedom, one could hope that the 34th anniversary of the downfall of the Shah could coincide with celebrations for the downfall of the clerical regime. That would make a big difference to the Iranian people and to all of the free world.