OpinionIran in the World PressTime to confront Iran Threat

Time to confront Iran Threat

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European Voice: The West needs a radical new approach to confront the growing threat posed by the theocratic regime in Iran, as it relentlessly pursues its regional and global ambitions. Tehran remains the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism, continues its destructive meddling in Iraq, and tops the list of states bent on nuclear proliferation. There are good reasons to mistrust the hardline ayatollahs ruling Iran. In Iraq, they have organized a “Shiite list” for the upcoming parliamentary elections, counting on terrorism and chaos to derail the democratic process, discredit … European Voice

20-26 January 2005 Issue

The West needs a radical new approach to confront the growing threat posed by the theocratic regime in Iran, as it relentlessly pursues its regional and global ambitions. Tehran remains the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism, continues its destructive meddling in Iraq, and tops the list of states bent on nuclear proliferation.

There are good reasons to mistrust the hardline ayatollahs ruling Iran. In Iraq, they have organized a “Shiite list” for the upcoming parliamentary elections, counting on terrorism and chaos to derail the democratic process, discredit and defeat the moderate Shiite Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and the secular Kurdish list. Tehran’s number one priority is to defeat the “American project” in Iraq by whatever means at its disposal.

In a rare display of unanimity, Arab leaders find the prospects of Tehran’s proxies dominating Iraqi politics most unsettling and are urging Washington to prevent such an outcome.

On the nuclear front, the Paris Pact, signed by Iran and the foreign ministers of the United Kingdom, Germany and France, has been described by the Iranian regime, as Europe’s capitulation to Tehran’s demands.

The Pact has legitimized the ayatollahs’ nuclear ambitions, while failing to provide guarantees that Tehran’s civilian nuclear program is not merely a cover for a military program. It bears an unsettling resemblance to the Munich Pact in 1938, when well-intentioned leaders of liberal democracies, trying to stop the rapid march of Nazism, ended up appeasing that terrible regime with catastrophic consequences.

What has emboldened the Iranian leaders is a clause in the pact that commits the European side to crack down on Iran’s opposition. Tehran considered that a double victory: it received a green light for its campaign of imprisonment, torture and murder of dissidents, and it felt reassured to continue protecting several Al-Qaeda operational branches.

Why are European governments going down this path? While almost everyone is opposed to a repeat of an Iraq II scenario, experience has proven that a make-a-deal approach to the clerical regime is not going to save us from this rising threat.

Maryam Rajavi, a campaigner for freedom under the Shah and the ayatollahs, told Euro-MPs that there was a viable third option: democratic change brought about by the Iranian people.

Mrs. Rajavi, who is president-elect of the dissident coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran, rejected both engagement and war as ways of dealing with the ruling mullahs.

She reaffirmed the post-mullah government’s commitment to a peaceful and WMD-free Iran, to good neighbourliness and to holding free elections within six month. She denounced western governments’ crackdown on the Iranian opposition and said the terror tag against the main opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin (PMOI), was the greatest gift to Tehran and a major obstacle to bring about change in Iran. She called for an end to the blacklisting of the PMOI.

Let us side with the Iranian people and their aspirations for freedom, democracy and a secular state. Only such an approach could guarantee lasting peace and stability in the Middle East and the wider world.

Paulo Casaca, MEP , Brussels

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