Iran's problems must be solved by its own people. But the West can help

A ranking member of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom writes on how to address problems with the Iranian regime

Share
Related Topics

Two news headlines grabbed the attention of Iran-watchers last week. One, a planned trip by a European Parliament delegation to Tehran for “bridge building”. Two, the European Union’s adoption of a slew of new sanctions on Iran targeting several sectors of the country's economy. You could describe the split between these two as an example of the West's “carrot and stick” policy towards Iran - but another way to see it is as indecisiveness.

One thing to be certain of is that the noose is tightening around the neck of Iran’s leaders: the currency has been on a free fall; there have been protests over rising prices (especially in the bazaar, traditionally the backbone of the ruling clerics): and the main opposition to the clerical regime was taken off the terrorist list late last month by the United States after a 15 year-long legal and political battle.

The Iranian regime has been in a battle against its own people and the free world for three decades. More recently, Iran has taken this battle to the airwaves and cyberspace. It has been jamming satellite signals to deny the population access to free and unbiased news info, and has been implicated in cyber-attacks against Gulf Arab States.

On the other front, the Iranian regime continues to supply Syrian dictator Bashar Assad with arms, money, and revolutionary guards to suppress its people. The level of support given Assad demonstrates the Iranian rulers' fears of the fall of his regime, its main beneficiary and supporter in the region.

What should the West do?

What to do with Iran and how to respond to Iran’s challenges has been at the forefront of discussions in the Western capitals for many years. It has taken a centre stage in the US Presidential campaign whenever foreign policy was discussed.

This discussion, however, revolves around choosing one of two options: continued negotiations or military action. Continued negotiations have been the path many in the West have advocated and practiced for many years. What they have earned in return has been Iran’s unabated pursuit of nuclear weapons.

On top of that, Iran’s repressive policies against its population have continued and even worsened in some instances since these negotiations not only leave out the issue of human rights, but implicitly legitimize Iran’s harsh suppression of dissidents. Military action, as advocated by many as a means to slow down or stop Iran’s nuclear drive, is a short term remedy at best. It's no solution. 

History has shown that rogue regimes never change their behaviour and the only way to rid the world of their menace is by simply ending their existence. The same applies to Iran. The past three decades have shown that the Iranian regime has remained loyal to the ideals of its founder Ruhollah Khomeini in its oppression of public liberties, harsh crackdown on dissenting voices, export of terrorism and fundamentalism, and meddling in other countries’ affairs to exert its own hegemony.

Regime change

Never-ending negotiations and constant threats will not change Iran's behaviour. So the solution to the Iran problem is simply a fundamental change in government, or regime change. This, however, cannot be done by foreign powers. It can only be carried out by the Iranian people themselves - who have shown many times in the past hundred years that they are willing and capable of taking the matters into their own hands.

They do, however, need encouragement and moral support.

And they do need to know that the rest of the world is with them in their struggle against tyranny. The delisting of the main Iranian opposition groups, People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI or MEK) by the United States has finally paved the path for this group to focus its attention on bringing about fundamental change in Iran. So, instead of engaging in endless negotiations, or resorting to continuous threats,  the EU, US, and others should engage the Iranian opposition led by Mrs Maryam Rajavi and support it in its stated goal of bringing about fundamental change.

This, of course, will be faced with stiff opposition from Iranian regime’s lobbyists and apologist as well as those who still envision a negotiated settlement with Iran. But the fallacy of what they are advocating is self-evident.

So, going back to the recent news headlines, the expansion of sanctions is a good step to increase the pressure on the Iranian regime - but sending a delegation to Tehran sends the wrong signal. The world must speak with one common voice when it comes to Iran if it wants to grab the attention of the ruling clerics. And it must embrace the “Iranian solution” to the “Iran problem” by engaging and supporting the democratic opposition to the regime. Let's hear this loud and clear.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Shia LaBeouf is one of Brad Pitt's favourite actors in the world ever, apparently  

Shia LaBeouf to Luis Suárez: Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Ellen E Jones
Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay's Chris Martin “consciously uncoupled” in March  

My best and worst stories of 2014

Simmy Richman
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015