OpinionEditorialObama's options for Iran

Obama’s options for Iran

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Iran Focus – Editorial: New York City, home to the United Nations, deals with its share of nuisances when it unwittingly hosts dictators like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But, this year, the Big Apple should be proud of creating an iconic and memorable dichotomy.

Iran Focus

Editorial

New York City, home to the United Nations, deals with its share of nuisances when it unwittingly hosts dictators like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But, this year, the Big Apple should be proud of creating an iconic and memorable dichotomy.

As Ahmadinejad was busy spouting his offensive remarks about the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the General Assembly a short distance away from where the Twin Towers stood, ex-Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the man who led the city during those tragic times, gave a rousing address opposite the UN headquarters.

Giuliani was addressing thousands of Iranian exiles. Some had experienced torture while others had lost relatives to the regime’s barbaric executions, numbering up to 120,000 thus far according to opposition groups.

“For too long,” Mayor Giuliani told the crowd, “the world has acquiesced in a regime in Iran that through mass murder, violence and intimidation has denied basic rights of your brothers and sisters and friends and relatives.”

On Friday, President Barack Obama called Ahmadinejad’s remarks about the 9/11 attacks “hateful” and “offensive.” He also offered rhetorical support for Iranian people’s democratic aspirations. But, rhetoric is not adequate at a time when the Iranian people are being massacred. Without taking practical steps, even sanctions will prove too little too late.

Obama said there was “a host of options” available if sanctions fail to stop the regime from getting the bomb. But, the risks are far too great for Washington to take a wait-and-see approach. One option, short of military confrontation, is to unshackle the catalyst for change in Iran.

In this respect, the main Iranian opposition, the People’s Mojahedin (PMOI), should be removed from the State Department’s list of terrorist organisations. The blacklisting occurred at the behest of Iran’s clerical rulers in 1997 and has given the mullahs an upper hand.

In July, the US Federal Court of Appeals remanded the case to the State Department, asking it to review the designation and suggesting it should be revoked since there was no evidence that the organisation is engaged in terrorism. Some 100 members of the House of Representatives have co-sponsored a resolution in Congress inviting Secretary Clinton to lift the ban.

As Mayor Giuliani counseled Washington on Thursday, “It is about time that we change the listing of the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran as a terrorist organisation.”

“I’ve studied terrorism … for over 35 years. I have investigated terrorism, and I’ve seen firsthand, in my city, the devastation that terrorism can bring about. This is not a terrorist organisation. This is an organisation dedicated to achieving freedom and dignity for its people,” Mr. Giuliani said.

World peace and stability is organically linked to the Iranian people’s cause for freedom. Without supporting democratic change in Iran, attempts to stop Tehran’s nuclear ambitions are doomed to fail.

To avoid going down the path of war, President Obama should take the necessary steps to ensure that the viable option presented by the Iranian people and their organised opposition is not hampered. This does not mean interfering in Iran’s internal affairs, but to rather rectify the policies that have unjustly changed the playing field in Tehran’s favor and against the Iranian people.

To ignore the Iranian people’s fight against tyranny in practical terms would be to render ineffective the world’s cause against terror. Obama must reach out to the Iranian people now.

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