The Iran nuclear agreement, which is officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has been a source of discord within the international community. The world has had nearly two years since the agreement was signed to access the impact of its implementation.
The hope of the former U.S. administration was that the agreement would encourage a moderation of the regime’s actions and behavior on the international stage, as well as within its borders. But that internal moderation has proven elusive, and Tehran has demonstrated that reform is not their main aim. Instead, the Iranian regime has focused on improving its ballistic missile system and causing mayhem within the Middle East, particularly Yemen, Iraq, and Syria, although other countries have felt the finger of Iranian influence.
Moderation has turned out to be a method Iran uses to seduce the international community into giving them concessions without receiving much in return. Human rights, which were not addressed during the agreement negotiations, have continued to be ignored by the Iranian regime. Executions have continued to rise, and political prisoners continue to suffer for speaking out against the regime.
Repression of freedom of speech and religion, as well as the personal freedoms to determine how you will dress and think, have been continued throughout the “moderate” presidency of Rouhani. At the same time, power struggles are continuing throughout the regime, as hard-liners who are against increasing foreign ties fight Rouhani’s plan of increasing foreign engagement and investment.
Rouhani’s presidency has also seen continued ballistic missile research, with North Korea as a partner. There has also been a repressive crackdown on activists, artists, academics, journalists, and anyone who has been accused of having ties to the West. Recent articles have highlighted the arrests of dual citizens and American citizens, all of which have been accused of being threats to Iran’s national security.
Yet the issues don’t stop there. Regionally, Tehran has continued to focus on sowing seeds of discord and actively supporting the rebels or regime that fits their power structure the best. In Syria, they support Assad, while in Lebanon, they have supported Hezbollah, turning this rebel militia into a political powerhouse.
Various leaders have encouraged the U.S. to take the lead in designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, hoping to hit Iran’s pocketbook and once again bring the regime to the bargaining table. Yet, Iran has become skilled at taking the overtures of the West and manipulating them to their advantage. They have called attempts to blacklist the IRGC as a violation of the nuclear agreement, but the reality is that the IRGC is responsible for a large portion of the Iranian economy and it’s blacklisting would be
The Trump administration has been willing to call Iran out and has encouraged other nations to stand firm against the regime. But what is really needed is a democratic alternative to the current regime. As the world saw during the Arab spring, reform can’t happen if there is no alternative waiting in the wings.
Iran has a democratic alternative, however, in the form of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). Made of Iranians from all walks of life, this peaceful movement is focused on regime change to create a democratic and non-nuclear Iran. For those who are cheering on the Trump administration’s sanctions and diplomatic pressure are intended to serve the ultimate goal of regime change. As such, members of the international community have encouraged the U.S. to embrace the NCRI as the alternative to the current regime.
Early in July 2017, the NCRI held its “Free Iran” gathering in Paris, where the international community gathered in support of this movement to change the leadership in Iran. NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi praised the international community for rejecting the failed strategy of “appeasement” that the JCPOA represents and affirmed her movement’s commitment to the replacement of Iran’s religious dictatorship.
She also noted that the Iranian people are suffering the most under the regime, not only due to the repressive tactics, but the economic choices and corruption that has left most of the population struggling to care for their families.
U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis noted that the possibility of moderation in the Iranian theocracy is a delusion. He dismissed the recent Iranian election as “not really an election” and highlighted the stark differences between the ideology of the Iranian regime and the character of the Iranian regime.
After 38 years of clerical rule in Iran, it is clear to the international community that stability in the Middle East requires the removal of the Iranian regime. While the U.S. administration has imposed new sanctions on individuals and organizations with ties to the Iranian ballistic missile program and is calling for an even tougher stance on Iran, real change needs the international community to get behind the democratic alternative.