David Amess MP is a member of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom. He writes exclusively for PoliticsHome on the biggest foreign policy challenge facing the next US President.
As Mitt Romney and Barack Obama square off in new rounds of the Presidential debates, the world will await each candidate's vision in regards to foreign policy and more specifically how they plan to deal with the Iranian dilemma.
The last four American administrations have utilized a variety of policy tools to try to engage the Iranian regime and persuade it to come to the negotiating table.
Even the Bush administration conducted 28 separate negotiations with the Iranian regime. Winston Churchill once famously remarked, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.” Each administration has looked at short term solutions to the dilemma posed by the Iranian regime, and its nuclear program.
It is time to stop feeding the Iranian regime with incentives to come to the negotiating table, and stop rewarding its belligerence with chance after chance to cease its nuclear program. The time has come to call for regime change in Iran, not with military action or foreign intervention, but with a firm stance in support of the Iranian people and their resistance.
The Middle East is undergoing a major transition; as dictators fall, a new geopolitical reality will shape the region, with many optimistic values like democracy and human rights which will replace autocratic and fundamentalist regimes. Although Iran tried to stamp out the uprising in 2009 with repression and torture, a fire still burns within the Iranian people, as was evidenced in the recent strike and demonstration in Tehran Bazaar.
The mullahs in Iran know that the biggest danger to them is not from foreign intervention, but from a domestic uprising. In order to suppress any dissent, the Iranian regime has continued its reign of terror, continuing to systematically abuse political prisoners, while executing prisoners at a higher rate than any other country in the world. The regime has also spread its terror to Syria, propping up the Assad dictatorship in order to maintain its own interests, while slaughtering thousands of Syrians who fight for their freedom.
The international community must act with one voice and one stance with regard to the Iranian regime, isolating its government and recognizing the legitimate aspirations of the Iranian people and their resistance for a regime change.
The charade of nuclear negotiations and meetings has worn out its welcome; too long has Iran bought time for itself under the guise of negotiations and talks. Not only has the regime consistently violated UN Security Council resolutions, but it has used its international platform to spew hatred, divisiveness and lies. The regime is no more interested in suspending its nuclear program than it is in conducting fair elections. The idea that this regime can be reformed or negotiated with, has long been rejected by the people of Iran, yet those in the international community continue to feed the crocodile, buying short term relief at the expense of future chaos.
The economic sanctions placed on the regime have been a step in the right direction, isolating the regime, while undercutting its ability to use oil revenue to finance its war in Syria. Sanctions alone are however, are not enough.
If and when the Iranian people do rise up, there must be a political party which they unite behind, and which the world recognizes as the legitimate voice of the Iranian people. The Peoples Mojahedin Organization of Iran, (PMOI /MEK), represent the only organization capable of leading such a movement. Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the Iranian Resistance leader has openly stated that the Iranian resistance is not looking for military support, or for money; instead seeks a definitive end to the policy of appeasement that the west has been engaged in for so long.
The PMOI have fought against the Iranian regime for the past 30 years. The organization has lost over 120,000 members while fighting the mullahs, yet they remain steadfast in their commitment to overthrow the regime and call for the establishment of a democratic secular republic in Iran, free of nuclear weapons, tolerant of various religions, ethnicities and political beliefs. The PMOI, on the heels of a huge legal victory following their de-listing from the United States Foreign Terrorist List, are now poised to expand their activities. The organization has a vast network within Iran, utilizing it to reveal Iran’s nuclear program to the world in 2002, and consistently uncovering clandestine sites and nuclear secrets. Earlier this month, a trade association linked to the regime blamed the PMOI for leading protests in Tehran’s Bazaaar against the regime.
Regardless of who wins the Presidential election in the United States, one thing must be clear, it is time to stop the policy of appeasement and it is time to recognize the Iranian people and their resistance. Too long has the West shaken hands with despots in the Middle East in the name of stability and order. Too long has it stood and watched people protest in the streets without showing their support. The Iranian people and their resistance are poised to do what the international community has long been unable to do: solve the Iranian dilemma once and for all. The question is where does the West want to stand?
David Amess, a Conservative Member of Parliament for the constituency of Southend West, is a leading member of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom.