Sanctions or no Sanctions, Khamnei's terrorist regime must end now
By Freydoon Khoie
The roots of Iran’s present political ills run deeper than the 2009 Green Movement and the Western Asia's original “twitter revolution” which followed by a summer of protest that transformed ordinary Iranians into heroes, fit to be feted on concert stages by the likes of U2 and Bon Jovi. Reporting out of Iran suddenly became about more than the mandatory hijab, barbaric ideology, draconian laws, massive unemployment, bankrupt economy, corrupt judiciary and depressed society. Most importantly, the broadcasted images of pro-democracy Iranian protestors marching by the millions demanding that their votes be counted-and being attacked, insulted, arrested, beaten, tortured and even killed by the hired mercenaries called Hezbollah and Khamnei's street fighters known as Baseej, showed the world that despite the propaganda by the corporate media, the tyrannical Islamist regime is neither popular nor powerful and must come to an end so that secular and democratic force can come to power and start rebuilding a totally devastated country and bring back sanity and civility to Iran.
Regime change and the end of apartheid finally, placed South Africa on the road to rehabilitation which will take decades until South Africa has become both a true democracy and a prosperous country for all South Africans and there is every hope and reason to believe that such visions will come to reality because the nation's new constitution written with the view of making it possible for such vision to become reality. It is the constitution of every nation that put her on the right or wrong track. And that is the roots of evil and the roots of our national problem in Iran. The Islamic Republic constitution is a document that will not allow the nation of Iran to be on the right track towards freedom and progress and civility, regardless of what the outcome of the current nuclear talks will be.
Unless the awkward Islamic republic constitution that claims divine rights for an unelected, unqualified mullah called 'Supreme Leader' to rule over an important and rich nation of 75 million with enormous unchecked and vast powers for life is abolished and a new sane and secular constitution is written and ratified and respected by the people, there will be no peace and progress in Iran and the struggle for regime change will continue unabated which will lead Iran either to freedom or into civil war.
The fact that the terrorist regime is attempting to build a nuclear bomb is rooted in their insecurity which they hope to compensate by having a bomb to discourage outside military intervention in support of pro-democracy Iranians for regime change. That is why our position is that if the regime is changed, and the people of Iran are liberated, the threat of nuclear bomb will also come to an end because neither the people of Iran nor our future democratically elected leaders will have any reason or incentive to develop a nuclear bomb. The pro-western, pro-American democratic oriented Iranians will be in perfect peace with the United States, European union, Israel and Palestine, our neighboring countries and all other nations in the world without feeling the ideological pressure to export any revolution or interfere in the internal affairs of other countries be it Israel, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Iraq, Syria and others. A civilized and democratic Iran will be a law abiding nation in peace with all her neighbors and countries of the world and will expend her human energies and intellectual powers on economic development of Iran which is the real issue at hand and will not waste our national resources on egotistic projects and foolishly trying to act like a hegemonic power when we cannot even feed, educate and protect our own population.
The US' Iran policy commitments run much deeper than just resolving the nuclear portfolio and adjusting mad mullah's attitudes and illusion of grandeur and dream of regional hegemony. US is fully aware of the fact that the vast majority of the people of Iran are very much pro-American and they wish to have a government that reflect this reality and incorporate Iran into the family of free and democratic nations like our next door Turkey has done successfully; and these commitments should be clearly reflected in a sanctions regime designed not only to punish the regime for its rogue character and nuclear bomb ambition but far more importantly for its systematic and blatant violation of human rights, democratic principles, institutional corruption but leading to regime change.
The stakes were always greater with South Africa, a staunch Cold War ally that nonetheless presented a continuous security and moral dilemma for the US government from the 1950s to the late 1980s. Islamic Republic regime is, just like apartheid regime in South Africa was and is, an embarrassment for the United States, a vulnerability that undermines Iran's utility as a bulwark against the former Soviets and the present aggressive Russians. The end of the Cold War resolved this contradiction and pushed the moral imperative of ending apartheid to the forefront of US foreign policy. Deprived of the communist bogeyman and out of excuses, the continued disenfranchisement of the majority black population in their own country simply became untenable, and not just for the white government in Johannesburg. Domestic politics and a sordid racial history of its own made anti-apartheid a cause that the United States had to see through to the end. The same applies to Iran today. The United States and the European Union cannot afford the embarrassment of normalizing relations with a regime that is even worse than South Africa's apartheid when it comes to disenfranchisement of the majority of the population under the auspices of 'us' and 'them' ( Khodeha & Gheire Khodeha ).
Yet there seems to be no analogous moral imperative with Iran, no pressing bottom line needed to secure democracy or to resolve Iran’s human rights portfolio. The strategic focus on security thus presents an opportunity and a trap for the United States, a situation that more savvy observers of the Iranian scene have already recognized. Under these circumstances, achieving detente will require a relatively straight forward exchange of assurances and guarantees: Iran will limit its nuclear program and scale back its sponsorship of proxy (terrorist) groups hostile to the United States and Israel, and in return the United States will lift sanctions and provide guarantees that it does not seek regime change in Iran. This policy will translate into a blatant betrayal of the people of Iran and a disaster for the United States and EU when and if it is revealed because the five million active, well-educated pro-democracy forces in exile and the ten million young, internet savvy and extremely angry and unhappy population on the edge inside Iran will not take it sitting down and should they lose hope in America, their source of support for freedom, they will begin to look into their last option, i.e., armed struggle which will make Syria look like a walk in the park.
The United States' attempt to give any credit to the loathed regime and pretend a nuclear standoff without openly pressing for fundamental constitutional reform, respect for fundamental human rights and liberties and still remove or even ease the sanctions will certainly undo the coalition that brought Iran to the negotiating table in the first place. A disparate group of reformists, ordinary Iranians scandalized by the 2009 election, and some very unpopular elements hoping to preserve the Islamic regime, all held together by an agenda of national reconciliation and an aversion to war, civil or otherwise. Unless Constitutional reform are part and parcel of the US conditions for easing sanctions, the Rouhani’s government will not succeed to play the catalyst for regime change.
Realpolitik renders this alliance fragile, a marriage of convenience perhaps fated for divorce. For the few Rouhani supporters, resolving the nuclear issue is the first step as a foundation upon which to build a fuller, more inclusive secular democracy. Hardline elements, highly unpopular, within the regime are hoping to see a security deal with Europe and the United States as a ceiling and the price of preserving the regime and the revolution but for these hyper-maniac mullahs who believe the system needs no reform because they enjoy the privileges of sitting pretty under the 'divine right' to rule for life, without being accountable to the people they govern.
The proposed deal with the United States and Europe will undoubtedly expose these contradictions. If the US and EU give any indication that the regime is secure, the terrorist hardliners in the leadership will turn away from conciliation at home and thus disillusioned voters will abandon the political process now underway in Iran, leaving Rouhani exposed in the middle, his position as a centrist rendered a liability and leading to the impending implosion.
The endgame of the nuclear standoff between Iran and the United States should not be allowed to resemble post-Cold War US-Russia relations which kept Russia still a dictatorship. More than 30 years after South Africa gave up its domestic nuclear program as a cost for being reintegrated into the world community, America will have to use the crippling economic sanctions for regime change in Iran and bring Iran into the fold of democratic, friendly nations in Western bloc.
The cold peace alone is not enough and will not do in mid-term. The regime's persistent violations of human rights will prevent a full reconciliation between Iran and the Western bloc countries and will be significant enough to override the shared benefits of detente. The status of US-Iran relations should not be settled somewhere between the turban and the crown, to borrow from Said Arjomand-between the animosity of the first three decades of the Islamic Republic and the close partnership of the Pahlavi Monarchy during its final three decades of rule, but reach a status of a new, secular, democratic, assertive and friendly Iran.
That is, assuming that Americans are still paying attention. Nearly a quarter of a century after the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, and less than 20 years since his election to the presidency, South Africa occupies little of the space that it once did in the public imagination of Americans.
We, the pro-western, pro-democracy Iranians and the American leadership should not allow this to happen and let Iran be treated with the fate of “rogue” states. Failing which, reputation and diplomacy will prove to be a mug’s game, subject to the fickle and distracted attention of an American public forever on the search for new demons and dragons to slay. If the thinking Iranians do not take massive action and now, Iran too will likely fade from view, relegated to the back pages of The New York Times alongside the latest, unnoticed outrage from some country in a lost corner of the world.