By Heshmat Alavi
American Thinker, December 21, 2016 - The time has come to reassess, readdress, and readjust the course of action in Western foreign policy in respect to Iran.
Last year’s nuclear deal between the international community and Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has proven flawed on the global position over human rights and worldwide security.
In fact, after the JCPOA signing and subsequent United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, various institutions, member states, companies, NGOs, think-tanks by the hundreds, especially from Europe, have engaged in an unprecedented competition in reaching out to Iran by signing hundreds of MOUs and declarations of intent while negotiating in practically every field of economic activity. This trend is continuing with Shell risking political unknowns and signing a preliminary oil agreement with Tehran.
The JCPOA has proven to be the best opportunity for those who have vested interest in a supposedly lucrative Iranian market, to spread a distorted and manipulated narrative about the true nature of the Iranian regime.
According to this flawed account, Rouhani’s Iran is no longer considered a threat to international or regional stability. Senior European Union representatives, heads of government, and ministers put aside all concerns and remained silent when the very same Iranian officials they meet are seen threatening the West’s allies in the Middle East, supporting international terrorism, violating human rights and being involved in crimes against humanity in Syria, Iraq and across the region.
We also should not forget Iran’s support for the Lebanese Hezbollah and Shiite militias, organized, financed, and led by senior Revolutionary Guards commanders. These proxy groups are active in the ethnic cleansing of Sunni communities and religious minorities in Mesopotamia and the Levant, as we have so unfortunately witnessed recently in Aleppo.
This is the reality and absurdity of this engagement policy with Iran and every official in this regime.
Such an approach has emboldened the mullahs to a tremendous extent. It has reinforced their conviction that Iranian supremacy in the region and crackdown of all dissent at home is fully acceptable to their Western interlocutors.
Citizens of the West should remind their leaders, civil societies, journalists and media networks, of their responsibilities. We are all morally obligated to support the promotion of human rights throughout the world.
What is the practical action that the West, in general, should undertake with Iran? Underscore human rights and fundamental freedoms, and very importantly, include in all agreements on trade and cooperation with Iran a clause on human rights. This standpoint stipulates that human rights are central to Tehran’s relations with the West.
While the West has been busy reaching out to normalize relations with Iran, the mullahs in Tehran have reacted quite strangely, coldly to say the least. Important voices within the regime have actually expressed their distaste:
“If the E.U. wants to establish close contacts with human rights advocates so they can ensure the process of human rights implementation, they should know that the judicial system in Iran would definitely not allow such a nest of corruption to be established in Iran,” said Mohammad Javad Larijani, head of the Iranian Judiciary Human Rights Council, said in relation to the EU opening a branch office in Tehran.
Concerning the human rights situation in Iran, time and again the United Nations secretary-general has issued damning reports expressing grave concerns about the mullahs’ practices, and there is no need for elaboration.
The international community should end its policy of providing concessions to the regime in Iran. Silence in the face of the Iranian regime’s crimes inside the country and throughout the Middle East must come to an end. The Iranian people’s quest for freedom deserves respect.
Even for those seeking relations with the mullahs, the issue of respecting human rights should be a central subject in meetings and agreements on aid and economic trade relations with Iran.
Any further economic or political progress involving the Iranian regime must be firmly linked to a credible improvement of the human rights situation. Otherwise, this will only render human rights a victim of trade and realpolitik.