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Why it’s time for world powers to support regime change in Iran

The Iranian diaspora in Berlin rallying for regime change in Iran by the people of Iran
The Iranian diaspora in Berlin rallying for regime change in Iran by the people of Iran

Analysis by PMOI/MEK

Iran, April 6, 2021—On Tuesday representatives of the Iranian regime and other signatories of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) will convene in Vienna to discuss how to revive the agreement.

Those who try to sell the regime’s narrative are expressing utter joy and hope that a breakthrough is in the making.

They argue that the window for smart diplomacy is time-limited and are pushing U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration to provide sanctions relief to Tehran while investing hopes in a new so-called reformist-moderate government in Iran’s upcoming June presidential elections.

However, even the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei says that this is an illusion and circumstances have changed since 2015.

In his annual Nowruz (Iranian calendar new year) address, Khamenei expressed his hopelessness about a return to the pre-JCPOA era, where the appeasement policy dominated, and the regime enjoyed major concessions from the West. “Some Americans are not even satisfied with the JCPOA agreement, and I’ve heard them say that today’s conditions are much different from 2015 when the JCPOA was signed,” Khamenei said.

Tehran desperately needs to have the sanctions lifted. Therefore, many of its lobbies in the West think they can change the facts on the ground and replicate what happened in the past.

The reality on the ground, however, is that 80 million Iranians demand the fall of the regime at any cost.

During five nationwide protests since 2017, thousands of people across Iran have chanted: “No Shah, No mullahs,” “down with the principle of velayat-e faqih,” “down with Khamenei,” and “down with [regime president Hassan] Rouhani,”  and “reformists, hardliners, the game is over.” These protests have pointed out to two important facts: First, the people of Iran want regime change and are not placing their hopes on any of the factions within the regime. And second, the people of Iran do not want a return to the era of the Shah monarchy—they want to live in a democratic republic.

The regime brutal response to the protests, including the killing of 1,500 protesters in November 2019, also proves that this regime has no future. It has only held on to power through the iron fist of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and the Basij.

This brings us to the fact that regardless of the results of a talks with world powers, the Iranian regime cannot bridge the gap it has created with the people. The regime can’t tone down its repression, terrorism, and weapons-making programs because that’s what’s keeping it in power. As a result, it will spend any economic benefit from a potential agreement to further enhance its military, security, and terror apparatus. For the people of Iran, 60 million of whom live in utter poverty, the outcome of a new nuclear deal will only change things for the worse. The calls for regime change will remain.

The question for the West now is which side it will stand on. In the past, world powers have mostly opted to give the regime a free pass on its illicit activities, hoping against hope that concessions will moderate the regime’s behavior and steer it toward becoming a responsible member of the international community. But the past four decades have proven that as long as the mullahs rule in Iran, human rights violations, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and warmongering will be inseparable components of the Iran’s domestic and foreign policy.

On the other hand, an alternative approach, one that clamps down on all of Tehran’s illicit activities—not just some aspects of it—will empower the Iranian people, the true allies of the international community, in bringing much-needed change to Iran and establishing peace and security in the Middle East. Appeasement and concessions might provide a lifeline to the regime to extend its rule for a few more months or years, the result of which will be more suffering for the people of Iran and other countries of the region. But it won’t change the inevitable fate of the mullahs’ regime, which is its overthrow by the people of Iran and their resistance movement.