Iran’s democratic population needs a stronger voice, both at home and abroad
Crossbench peer Lord Alton, who is a member of the British Committee for Iran Freedom writes 'The EU and UK can no longer hide behind the nuclear deal and should join the US in recognising the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people and their quest for freedom and democracy'.
There has been a tremendous amount of debate over Iran policy recently following President Trump's decision to withdraw the US from the nuclear deal. The debate has been raging about the destructive role of the Islamic Republic in regional crises like in Syria, its ballistic missile programmes, support for terrorism as well as the domestic human rights violations.
The discussion is focused on what level of responsibility the international community should assume in confronting the Tehran regime’s malign and belligerent behaviour both at home and abroad.
The UK and EU offer a timid response to these other threats from Tehran regime primarily due to their continuing disagreements over the fate of the Iran nuclear deal. This is despite the PM Theresa May and other European leaders agreeing that these threats are serious and should be addressed in the near future.
For the American part, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid out the new US strategy on Iran based on a 12-point list of “basic requirements”, including total removal of Iranian forces and proxies from Syria and end support for terrorist groups in Middle East among other issues.
The US administration deserves credit for its recent noticeable efforts to position the population of Iran somewhere closer to the centre of its Iran policy and has rightly identified the Iranian public as the main victim of the clerical dictatorship. In this regard, the U.S. has specifically voiced support for the mass popular protests that began at the end of last year and continue in various forms today.
In May, the US Treasury Department backed these words with actions by imposing a series of sanctions against the Iranian regime, its banking and military officials, airlines, companies and regional proxies for support of terrorism and human rights violations.
With its new strategy, the US now shifts focus on the larger context that has routinely and disgracefully been left out of international dialogue far too often: the voices of the Iranian people.
In fact, the leading coalition of opposition to the clerical regime, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), has long maintained its own mechanisms for speaking to the world. Each summer, the NCRI holds a major gathering in Paris that attracts an estimated 100,000 people from Iranian expatriate communities, as well as hundreds of political supporters from across the world, including the UK.
Thus, the only thing the international community needs to do in order to give the Iranian people their proper place at the heart of Iran policy is tune in on June 30, listen to the message of this rally, and help make it known to the world.
The NCRI’s brave and indomitable President-elect, Mrs Maryam Rajavi, has effectively outlined that future in her 10-point democratic platform for a future Iran - calling for free and fair elections, safeguards on the rights of women and minorities, enshrining a secular constitution, and other issues that will ensure democratic progress.
In the wake of the mass protests that has continued in different forms, Mrs Rajavi also predicted that the year ahead will be a “year full of uprisings” inside Iran, and that these will lead to the people’s final victory over the theocracy. The EU and UK can no longer hide behind the nuclear deal and should join the US in recognising the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people and their quest for freedom and democracy.
Professor Lord Alton of Liverpool, is an independent cross-bench member of the House of Lords and member of the British Committee for Iran Freedom, www.iran-freedom.org. He also writes on https://davidalton.net/