On Friday, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and the MEK held its annual “Free Iran” gathering. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, “Free Iran Global Summit” was held online, connecting over 30,000 locations from above 100 countries around the globe. Nearly 1,000 renowned politicians participated in this conference reiterating their support of the Iranian people and their organized resistance movement.
Local gatherings were held in compliance with public health protocols in each of 102 countries, and many of these featured speeches not only from Iranian dissidents but also from political supporters representing a wide range of political parties and professional backgrounds.
In New York, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke in support of the NCRI, as former Senators Joseph Lieberman and Robert Torricelli, as well as former Attorney General Michael Mukasey. Even on their own, these four men represent the ideological diversity of the Americans who have come to view the NCRI as a viable alternative for the existing regime. But they are only four out of dozens of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents who attended NCRI’s Free Iran Global Summit.
As the Iranian regime grapples with a domestic and international crisis, the Iranian Resistance and its goal of regime change in Iran have been receiving international support. The crisis-ridden regime has been desperately pursuing a demonization campaign of the Iranian Resistance to discredit its viable alternative.
The regime’s commitment to this disinformation scheme, as well as its various attacks and attempted attacks on NCRI assets throughout the world, confirms that the Resistance poses an existential threat to Iran’s theocratic dictatorship. In a tweet confirming his participation in Friday’s summit, Rudy Giuliani highlighted this perception by saying, “There are real possibilities for a free and non-nuclear Iran.”
The prospect of freedom for the Iranian people should be a prominent motivator for all politicians and all governments that truly value democracy and human rights. But of course, concerns over Iran’s potential nuclear capability have dominated headlines to a much greater extent in recent years. This is especially true in light of last month’s statement by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors, which demanded that Iran return to full compliance with restrictions imposed on its nuclear activities in 2016.
The future of the underlying nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is very much up in the air. But ever since it was signed, the NCRI has maintained the position that no such agreement could be expected to truly prevent the mullahs’ regime from continuing its pursuit of a nuclear bomb. The past several year’s summer gatherings have made it clear that the solution to this problem, like the solution to most of Iran’s domestic problems, can only be found in the wake of regime change.
However, the western governments have prioritized their short-time economic interests over once and for all end the Iranian regime’s threats by recognizing the Iranian people’s right to resistance and overthrow of this regime. The Free Iran Global Summit on Friday confirmed that the regime has only grown more belligerent since the conclusion of the nuclear deal, and especially in recent months. Its systematic and complete violations of the imposed restrictions are definitive proof of its unshakeable commitment to the nuclear project.
If “maximum pressure” over this issue was not enough to force reconsideration, the additional challenges of the coronavirus pandemic should have been. But even now that the outbreak has reportedly claimed over 70,000 Iranian lives, Tehran remains unwilling to redirect money away from confrontational projects and toward the vital needs of the domestic population. In other words, the regime prioritizes its illicit activities over the Iranian people’s lives.
The western governments should end the appeasement policy to end the Iranian regime’s ongoing malign activities. Meanwhile, the Iranian Resistance has been insisting on a non-nuclear and a secular government in Iran. In 2018, NCRI President-elect, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi told lawmakers in Washington, “We want a non-nuclear Iran, free of weapons of mass destruction.” And in fact, this is one item on Mrs. Rajavi’s longstanding “10-point plan” for Iran’s future in the wake of the mullahs’ overthrow.
The rest of that plan includes all of the principles, such as free elections and separation of religion from the state, that make up the unifying character of modern democracies. Americans and Europeans should have no difficulty supporting such a cause, especially if its advocates are genuinely capable of leading the ouster of the current establishment and erecting a new government in its place. The Free Iran Global Summit demonstrated that capability, in part by highlighting the protests that have challenged the clerical regime in the name of the democratic Resistance.
Since the end of 2017, Iran has undergone three nationwide uprisings. As a result, leading Iranian regime’s officials have begun speaking out over the threat posed by the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), whose social influence they had simply denied for the preceding 30 years. If the Iranian people’s right to resistance be recognized by Western policymakers, those officials’ statements could lead to the next great leap forward in international awareness of the “real possibilities” for an Iranian government that not only eschews weapons of mass destruction but also affords its own people the freedoms they have been denied throughout the nation’s modern history.
Too many past opportunities were squandered amidst the appeasement policy toward the Iranian regime. The Iranian regime is riddled with crisis, the Iranian people have shown their willingness to overthrow this regime. The Free Iran Global Summit showed there is a viable alternative to the Iranian regime.
Now is the time to ramp up that pressure on the regime even further. And there is no better first step toward maximum pressure than formal recognition of the Iranian people’s right to fight back against the tyranny of the mullahs’ regime.