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Why Trump should work with the Iranian opposition

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Maryam Rajavi meets with U.S. supporters. From left, Tom Ridge, Rudy Giuliani, and Robert Pittenger
Maryam Rajavi meets with U.S. supporters. From left, Tom Ridge, Rudy Giuliani, and Robert Pittenger

 

 

By Amir Basiri
 
gets ready for office, he will be inheriting several foreign policy challenges from the outgoing Obama administration. One of the most complicated problems is Iran, a rogue state that is the leading state sponsor of terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, a major human rights violator, and the only extremist entity that is enriching uranium with an international mandate.
Eight full years of appeasement by the Obama administration have done nothing to curb the Iranian regime's hostile behavior and evil intentions and has resulted in exacerbated sectarianism across the Middle East region and the rise of extremist groups such as the Islamic State.
While proponents of the appeasement policy have long argued that the only replacement to their approach would be open military warfare against Iran, 23 former top United States government officials beg to differ.
In a letter to Trump, the former officeholders underline that the right approach would be to recognize and defend the basic rights of the Iranian people to "exercise their sovereign franchise free of brutal repression" instead of pursuing engagement with the ruling regime.
In this respect, the signatories of the letter, which include former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., and retired Army Gen. Hugh Shelton, urge the incoming president to work with the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the main opposition to the clerical regime ruling Iran.
The NCRI and its main constituent, the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), represent everything that Iran's mullahs don't, a secular and democratic state that is free of nuclear weapons and ambitions and coexists peacefully with its neighbors.
Support for the NCRI and MEK runs the gamut of political tendencies and geographical regions. Politicians, activists and prominent figures from across the world and vast ranges of political and religious beliefs have voiced their support for the group and attend their annual gathering every year.
The MEK was the first party to blow the whistle on Iran's nuclear program, and later provided pertinent information about Tehran's terrorist plots and meddling in foreign countries. Actionable intelligence provided by the MEK on Iran's Revolutionary Guards Quds Force has helped save many lives, including those of U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq.
Their vast support and resourcefulness make the NCRI and MEK a strong ally to counteract Iran's threatening behavior on the regional and global scale. Moreover, as an organization that represents tolerant Islam, the MEK will be the ideological bulwark against the tide of extremism and sectarianism that's emanating from Tehran.
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Trump's roadmap to deal with the Iranian challenges Obama will leave behind will have a great impact on how events will unfold in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and the Middle East in general.
As Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the NCRI has stressed time and again, neither appeasement or an external war will put an end to the Iranian regime's hostility. It is only through support for democratic regime change by the Iranian people and their resistance that the international community will be able to bring peace to Iran and by extension to the Middle East and across the globe.
Obama failed to heed those words for eight years and thus missed the opportunity to stand on the right side of history: to his detriment, and to the loss of U.S. allies, the Iranian people, and nations in the region.
However, as stalwart civil and military servants of the U.S., some of whom closely advised Trump during his presidential campaign, reminded Trump in their letter, a practical solution is within reach to deal with the multitude of threats posed by Iran. This is advice the incoming administration should take seriously.

 

Amir Basiri is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is an Iranian human rights activist.

 

Source: Exammer, 18 January 2017

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