The historic meeting in Singapore between the U.S President and the leader of North Korea resulted in a joint statement in which in return for security guarantees by the U.S., North Korea gave a “firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
There are still ambiguities that need to be overcome, and the timeframe of the agreement is vital. Only time will tell if the it will be a success. No doubt, however, a firm policy contributed to this outcome.
In the case of Iran, the core issue remains the same: when dealing with rogue regimes that suppress their own people, firmness is the only appropriate approach. History tells us that the policy of appeasement, under any pretext, is a recipe for war and more instability.
The Iranian regime’s lobby and advocates of the policy of appeasement spread the false notion that adopting a firm policy would mean war. Indeed, in their propaganda, they go as far as denying the Iranian people the right to change this brutal regime. They portray regime change as the equivalent of wreaking chaos and uncertainty. While they get top marks for deception, proponents of this notion should note their time is over. Their ‘echo chamber’ has lost its power.
There are clear differences between Iran and North Korea. But in Iran’s case, these differences further strengthen the need for a firm policy to confront the regime’s nuclear ambitions and meddling in other countries as well as its support for international terrorism.
First, the Iranian regime has an expansionist agenda and exports terrorism and fundamentalism, including by destabilizing other countries, as a pillar of its survival. Meddling in other countries’ affairs is stipulated in its constitution.
Second, despite years of suppression, the Iranian society is today extremely volatile with a restive population that has held daily protests nationwide and calling for change. In January, protests demanding regime change spread to over 140 cities. Since then, major protests broke out in Ahvaz and other cities of the oil-rich Khuzestan Province lasting more than a week. Protests in Isfahan by farmers lasted for days. Even Friday prayer sermons, which are the regime’s official platform, were turned into an anti-regime protest.
The city of Kazerun was practically under the control of the people for nearly a week in May. Only by sending additional security forces to the city and killing at least four people, and afterwards making a number of concessions, did the tensions settle. Over the past two weeks, a nationwide strike by truckers has rattled the foundations of the theocracy. Iran’s principal opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), has played a key role in mobilizing many of these protests.
Third, Iran is a nation with a long history of struggle for freedom and democracy. The people of Iran have demonstrated on many occasions that they want regime change.
Fourth, Iran has a viable alternative, one which is capable of not only leading the movement for regime change but more importantly, to govern the country in the transitional period after the regime’s overthrow. The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) represents not only the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people, but it encompasses different political tendencies and representatives from various religious and ethnic minorities.
A firm policy would deny the regime the ability to take advantage of the past conciliatory policy of Western countries that for many years gave a lifeline to the mullahs. The Iranian economy is on the verge of collapse, and no amount of trade, even from the regime’s traditional allies could save it.
Indeed, a firm policy toward the regime while at the same time siding with the Iranian people is the only avenue for preventing war and moving towards lasting peace and tranquility in the region. Regime change is the task of the Iranian people and their organized resistance. It is time for all governments to abandon the policy of appeasement vis-à-vis Tehran for the sake of peace.