By Hassan Mahmoudi
Saturday, 11 February 2017
Now with a new administration in Washington, President Donald Trump is facing tough challenges with regard to relations to Iran as a result of that legacy.
Based on a recent interview with Fox TV, Trump does mean to initiate a new approach. But he is up against an Iran that has become emboldened following the Obama nuclear deal, with Trump noting that it has resulted in an Iran that has become increasingly disrespectful to the U.S. and remains the number one state sponsor of terrorism.
Iran is still an uncontained regime. It continues to issue threats to pursue its expansionist ambitions and can be seen in its behavior. This is despite its being sidelined in the Syria ceasefire and suffering major military defeats in Yemen with its Houthi rebel proxies. These setbacks have only cornered Tehran into a defensive position.
Senior Iranian officials are now concerned about losing their influence and network across the region. At the same time, the mullahs are increasingly terrified of domestic uprisings similar to those of 2009. Last week alone, 76 protests were registered across Iran by teachers, college students, laborers and administrative workers.
It's a powder keg, and explains exactly why the mullahs are resorting to numerous executions and increased domestic crackdowns.
Iran still employs lobbyists and apologists abroad and they are concerned about major policy shifts in Washington. Their agenda is to attempt to annul or at least downgrade a possible firm U.S. policy vis-à-vis Tehran, by advocating the perception that any strong approach against the mullahs is the equivalent of marching to a “pro-war” tune.
To this end, they are pursuing two key objectives. First, they are advocating the continuation of more appeasement. Second, based on the logic of 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend,' they have launched a hate campaign against the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the main Iranian opposition group known to have first blown the whistle on Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program.
Iran’s lobbyists are also very concerned about the revelation that the Obama administration provided them with unprecedented White House access. These Iran apologists have taken advantage of the Iran nuclear deal by claiming it promotes peace, and yet have reaped huge profits from the economic deals with Iran associated with it.
Iran apologists have also portrayed Iran’s role in the global war against terror as important. If the Trump administration’s priority in the region is to annihilate Daesh (ISIS/ISIL), they claim Washington needs a coalition with Russia - and Iran - meaning the U.S. must maintain the nuclear deal with Tehran.
This is happening while many world leaders have expressed concerns about how Iran has played a major role in allowing the spread of Daesh, especially in Iraq, and consider such a phenomenon a result of Obama’s appeasement policy.
Under the pretext of concerns over the new U.S. administration's policy on the Iran nuclear deal and possible imposing new sanctions, Iran's appeasers are actually preventing the new White House from containing Tehran’s sponsoring of terrorism, its meddling in the Middle East and its flagrant human rights violations.
Another tactic involves spreading the notion that Iran lacks any opposition, or at least is devoid of any democratic opposition to the mullahs. In pursuit of such a policy, they have focused on discrediting the MEK and the long slate of political figures in Washington in favor of a tough stance against Iran.
Twenty-three former senior U.S. officials recently signed a hand-delivered letter to President Trump emphasizing that Iranian intelligence is “covertly spreading false and distorted claims through third parties in the West”about the MEK.
While Iran's apologists are seemingly targeting the MEK, and complaining about U.S. dignitaries supposedly taking part in their events, their real issue is U.S. policy on Iran.
The choice is between a firm stance against the mullahs’ regime, and supporting the will of the Iranian people in their quest to establish democracy.
What it shows is that the Trump administration has an opportunity to support the Iranian people against the mullahs’ regime, and stand on the right side of history.
Hassan Mahmoudi is a human rights advocate, and a graduate of California State University, Sacramento.