By: Alejo Vidal-Quadras
For the last 80 days and counting, the people of Iran have left us in awe with an astonishing level of bravery. Facing absolute brutality, their defiance, which is reported in the news and pictured on social media, is not only generating admiration in the free world, but it is also resonating with millions of oppressed but wishful hearts and minds from people thousands of miles apart.
Once the cradle of civilization, hundreds of years of tyranny have turned this land into one of the poorest, which at the same time harbors a huge fraction of the planet’s natural resources and wealth. Its geostrategic importance has bothered conflicting imperial powers, and its cultural influence has shaken societies.
But Iran’s impact on the world order is not limited to history books. In fact, every person walking the earth right now is somehow living the realm that was reshaped by the troublemaking regime in Tehran.
Since Islamic extremism took power in this country in 1979, an ideology that was preached in isolated marginal circles suddenly found a reason to thrive. In four decades, the clerical regime became the most active state sponsor of terrorism that created, trained, funded, and armed militant groups across religious and ethnic divides.
The number of people killed, the trauma that touched the mental well-being, and the insecurity that changed policies and lawmaking has practically turned Islamic extremism into a major universal threat.
The Iranian regime has effectively targeted the world’s most sensitive source of energy by destabilizing the Middle East, inciting carnage, and penetrating political establishments in all neighboring countries. As the latter effectively impacts prices and inflation, it can move the definition of poverty and set living standards globally.
Coupled with nuclear adventurism, an unchecked ballistic missile program, fueling a major war in Europe, a cruel hostage-taking policy, and murdering Iranian dissidents throughout the world, the regime’s destructive force is far beyond conventional calculus.
Time for EU to end appeasement. EU Council of Ministers should order the expulsion of all intelligence officers, spies & agents of Iran’s regime. There can be no doubt the regime is engaged in terror at the highest levels. #ExpelIranDiplomatTerrorists #FreeIran2018
— Mohammad Mohaddessin (@Mohaddessin) October 4, 2018
The world has been here before, and perhaps more than once. In the 1930s, post-WWI Europe systematically elevated a series of appeasement diplomats towards statesmanship. Duped by a vast propaganda apparatus, misled by their pro-Nazi peers, and intimidated by an overstated assessment of the Wehrmacht, Chamberlain’s England and Daladier’s France decided to collectively allow Hitler to violate international treaties and grow into a major global threat.
In retrospect, if Great Britain and France had joined forces with the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia to fight Hitler in September 1938, they would have certainly defeated the Nazis and prevented WWII, and the world of today would have looked quite different.
The main reason why London and Paris miserably failed to stand tall against the aggression and chose appeasement over steadfastness wasn’t the lack of bright talent; it was rather a failure of cognition and the grasp to differentiate between allies and adversaries. Hitler did not sugar-talk Chamberlain into the foolish perception he was interested in peace. The greatest lesson that Hitler and his devious accomplices taught history was how you could deceive modern intelligence agencies into leading the country’s leadership into a disastrous yielding policy.
And that is exactly what we are suffering from today.
While the West is pondering how to prioritize domestic socio-economic crises over strategic confrontations with eastern rivals, the Iranian theocratic regime can’t help but to provokingly poke itself as a malign actor in every single debacle on the international stage.
The Iranian regime has so far suppressed one of the strongest and oldest resistance campaigns domestically. It has massacred tens of thousands of political prisoners, gunned down protesters in dozens of uprisings, and hunted more than 6 million Iranians into seeking refuge abroad.
The reason why the international community has grudgingly tolerated, approached and then unsuccessfully tried to curb Tehran for more than four decades is that Ali Khamenei, the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader, has managed to manipulate our methods for knowledge and assessment. The longest-ruling dictator in the modern era used his vast networks to plague our intelligence communities with wrong narratives and superficial evaluations of Iran, its capacities, its neighbors, its allies, and even its Achilles Heels.
Quite recently, prior to the tragic death of Mahsa Amini that sparked a new wave of uprisings inside the country, our experts were telling us that a revolution in Iran is history. Today, they have changed the narrative and want us to believe a movement with more than half a century of devoted activism that has succeeded in striking the most severe blows in the Iranian regime’s history ought to be judged by clickbait news reports or social media interaction.
We never cared to fathom that a shattered economic infrastructure can’t bear the weight of billion dollars investments in regional projects for hegemonic dominance. We failed to understand that when a society keeps sacrificing its most bright generations year in and year out, withstanding the deceitful exploitation of religious tendencies and continues to praise martyrdom and idealism, it has more intellect and rigorous backbone beyond our comprehension.
Armed with the strongest economies and international alliances, we have desperately been trying to negotiate the clerical dictatorship into the reason for more than two decades and asked them to abandon the tools they consider their survival guarantee. We foolishly continue to believe the world would be a worse place with Khamenei’s regime gone, even though we have been suffering from the same perception for as long as it has been in power.
After 43 years of coexistence with Islamic Fascism, it’s time to rethink our worldview. It is time to let go of Khamenei’s regime and his medieval influence on our times. But our policy towards Tehran has been deadlocked by a fictional settlement that has never been seriously respected by Khamenei.
Considering Iran’s numerous violations of the 2015 nuclear deal, the West must start by using the United Nations Security Council 2231 Resolution snap-back mechanism and reinstate all six UNSC resolutions to put back the Iranian regime under the seventh Chapter where it belongs. Followed by strictly implied diplomatic, military, economic and trade sanctions, the West must send a clear message that an aggressor will not be tolerated among the world community in the 21st century.
All frozen Iranian assets in foreign banks belong to the Iranian people and they ought to be invested in the freedom of this country. Iran has one of the longest-existing dictatorships but also the oldest resistance movement. Throughout almost 57 years, the Peoples Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) has fought two dictatorships and weathered some of the severest crushing crackdowns from foreign powers. If scarce resources have been able to leverage their struggle this far and this successfully, one could imagine how real help would work out.
The list of heroes who have fallen for the freedom of Iran is a long one. No one knows how many would-be Mother Theresas, Nelson Mandelas, Martin Luther Kings, or …we have lost down this path, or how many will need to die more. But one thing is certain: the world would be a better place if we stop believing what dictators want us to believe.
“History is a great teacher. Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it” – Winston Churchill.
Alejo Vidal-Quadras, a Spanish professor of atomic and nuclear physics, was vice president of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014. He is currently president of the Brussels- based International Committee in Search of Justice (ISJ)