In an online speech and question and answer session, Political Science Professor Raymond
Tanter told a global audience that the Obama administration is beginning to suffer “buyer’s remorse” regarding its policy of favoring “regime change from within” by looking for moderates inside of the existing regime.
Based on his research, Tanter said, “Obama plays the long game with Iran, assuming regime change from within will come from the people of Iran pressuring the clerical regime to behave like a normal state,” Tanter said. But such a policy is unrealistic, according to Tanter, who used his speech to endorse an alternative policy of supporting immediate and direct regime change driven mainly by the primary Iranian resistance organization the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
The NCRI acquired increased visibility last week when its president, Maryam Rajavi, spoke via videoconference at a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade. Again, based on his research findings, Tanter tied his own views to those of Rajavi and the NCRI, which he described as the being capable of helping bring about “regime change from within.”
“The regime pays more attention to the Iranian resistance than to all other groups combined,” Tanter explained, highlighting many of the Iranian government’s efforts to repress the group and its supporters. Several questions by Middle Eastern journalists focused on specific incidences of such repression at the exile community of Camp Liberty in Iraq, where the Iranian regime is utilizing proxy forces to attack members of the NCRI’s largest constituent group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
Tanter insisted that these and other attacks on the NCRI are indicative of the regime’s fear of its potential to bring about regime change – a potential that may be poised to expand if the resistance receives more attention from the West in the wake of the Rajavi’s testimony last Wednesday. According to Tanter, many of the people he speaks with in Congress and the American intelligence community are “extremely interested” in the Iranian resistance.
He added that this interest is at least as strong in Europe, as indicated by the variety of Western dignitaries who attend the NCRI’s annual summer gathering in Paris. “There are hundreds of European parliamentarians who attend,” Tanter said, adding that he expects even more to come to this year’s event, scheduled for June 13.
Tanter also personally praised the impact of the event, saying it “reinforces the image of the Resistance in Washington and makes clear that the regime does not speak for Iranians.”
“The Iranian resistance speaks for the Iranian people, according to my research,” he added during the question and answer session.
In her testimony on Wednesday, Rajavi stated that the Iranian people as a whole share the NCRI’s view of the clerical regime as the “godfather” of ISIS and other fundamentalist groups.
This view of Tehran as “the epicenter of the threat of fundamentalism in the world,” according to Tanter, is something that the Obama administration is aware of but has chosen to ignore while pursuing a nuclear agreement, rapprochement with the regime, and a general shift in foreign policy focus.
Tanter’s remarks also endorsed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. Tanter cited his own research as indicating that congressional oversight on such issues as the nuclear agreement is very important, not least of all because Tanter believes policymakers to be proceeding based on unrealistic expectations.
“Presidents realize the need for ‘any time, any place’ access to determine breakout and sneakout, but prefer to hope satellite and electronic intelligence will be adequate instead of on-the-ground and underground access of the PMOI/MEK in Iran,” he said, referring to several revelations made by the resistance regarding details of the Iranian nuclear program, including the exposure of a secret site called Lavizan 3 in February.
These efforts speak to some of the concrete resources that Tanter believes the US can gain access to through explicit supporter for the resistance – resources that can facilitate an even stronger push for regime change when combined with “Gulf oil revenues” and “non-Gulf manpower” stemming from various governments and organizations that oppose the Iranian regime.
Tanter emphasized that “political obstacles remain,” but that the NCRI has made good progress in developing Western allies recently, and can be expected to build on that progress. “The hearing before congress by Madame Rajavi a game changer for the Resistance’s stature in DC if it is followed up with other sessions in the House and in the Senate,” Tanter said.