Lord King of West Bromwich is a member of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom. He writes that now is the time to reassess negotiations with Iran once the US Presidential election has concluded.
The time has come to turn the page on the West's policy towards Iran.
In a couple of weeks the US elections be over and the presidency will be decided, yet America will be no closer to a final solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis. Putting aside partisan politics and campaign promises, the fact remains that the West as a whole appears to have no long term strategy to deal with Iran. Each administration has used a mixed bag of sanctions and negotiations, only succeeding in delaying Iran’s nuclear program at best. Now is the time to hit the reset button, to assess the last 10 years of negotiations and recognize that the Iranian government is neither sincere in its promises nor transparent in its actions. It is time to recognize that the only Iranians we should be reaching out to are those who are dedicated to fighting this barbaric regime, and promoting a democratic, secular and nuclear free Iran.
There is little doubt that the Iranian issue is the most important and the most pressing foreign policy issue for the United States and the West at this time. The threat of a nuclear-armed Iran is, undoubtedly, one that should not come to fruition. The Islamic Republic has launched a bloody campaign to suppress the Syrian uprising, whilst threatening other nation states in the region.
Yet it is clear that military intervention at best will delay the regime's program, but not solve the core issues. Sanctions have proven to have some impact at isolating the regime, and creating division between factions in the regime who blame one another for the current currency crisis.
Throughout the Presidential campaign and debates there has been much talk as to how to counter Iran. Both parties have weighed in on the use of military action, sanctions and diplomacy to reach a resolution, and have claimed that “all options are on the table”. Yet neither party has discussed the so called “third option”, which is neither war nor appeasement, but the support of Iran’s resistance. The most effective method to deal with the regime is by empowering the democratic opposition, allowing for an internal revolution.
The most prominent Iranian opposition group is the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), a democratic movement that has advocated a nuclear-free, secular Iran that respects equal rights for all. The PMOI, that recently got itself delisted from the State Department's list of terrorist organizations after a lengthy legal and political battle, have been Iran’s opposition movement since the mid-1960s and have continued their efforts towards regime change since the Shah’s time, and currently in attempting to do away with the Islamic Republic. Dozens of former US officials have openly supported the PMOI, urging that the United States must recognize them as the viable opposition to the Mullahs in Tehran. The PMOI have provided key pieces intelligence to the world regarding Iran’s clandestine ominous activities, most vital being the revelation of secret nuclear sites in 2002.
The United States does not need to sacrifice troops, or spend money on another costly war. Instead it can continue implementation of sanctions, while recognizing that the Iranian people and their resistance are fighting a war for freedom.
In 2009, it took days before the Obama administration commented on the protests taking place in Iran. For Iranians who risk everything to take to the streets and demand freedom, this feels like a betrayal, especially when Obama had gone out of his way to extend a hand to the Iranian leadership. It is time for a new approach, one that shuns the mullahs in Iran and embraces the struggle of the people. By doing so, the US will be able to show the Iranian people that we support their struggle for freedom and democracy; and by declaring support for the Iranian opposition, we can ensure a long term solution to the crisis.
Regardless of the outcome of the Presidential elections, now is a time for a reboot on our Iran policy. The region has undergone a major shift in the last four years, and the Arab Spring has altered the landscape significantly. The United States should stick to promoting the same values that we enjoy in the West, including human rights, freedom of speech, and the right to rise up and fight against a brutal dictatorship. It is important that we stand with Iranians who are fighting for freedom. It is time for Iran to have its own “Persian Spring”, for the benefit of its own people and history, as well as the benefit of the international community.
Lord Tarsem King of West Bromwich, a Member of the House of Lords from the Labour Party, is a member of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom. He is a former Mayor of Sandwell in Birmingham.