Iranian dissidents are calling on the Biden government to maintain pressure on the country’s leaders, arguing that the regime is at its “weakest point in history” – even when the government seems determined to reconnect with Tehran.
A report by the Organization of Iranian-American Communities (OIAC), which opposes the regime and calls for a democratic and secular government, warns that US policy based on isolation or engagement “trusts in the blind faith that the regime will one day will change your behavior, an assumption that is logically unfounded and evidently unconvincing. “
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It alleges that the regime’s human rights record has worsened in recent years and has highlighted cases of support for terrorism – both in the region through support for groups like Hezbollah and in Europe with the plot against dissidents in Paris in 2018.
“Those who want to deal with the Iranian regime must understand that the Iranian regime is desperate, weak and highly isolated among its own population,” said the IACO political director, Dr. Majid Sadeghpour, in a statement accompanying the report.
The Trump administration launched a “maximum pressure” campaign against the regime, withdrawing from the 2015 Iran deal and imposing waves of export sanctions and senior officials.
The report says a series of mass protests since 2019 have shown the government’s weakness: “The regime is clearly at its weakest point in history,” it says, arguing that Tehran’s attention has now turned to keeping control of the uprisings at home. .
But the Biden government took a different approach. He backed down a Trump-era effort to re-impose UN sanctions, including an arms embargo on Tehran, although he indicated that he wants to re-enter the nuclear deal with Iran. He also ended support for Saudi offensive operations in Yemen, where the Saudis are fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
At the same time, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that re-engagement depends on Iran’s changing behavior.
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“The path to diplomacy is now open. Iran is still far from complying [with the deal]”he said recently, according to Reuters.” So, we’ll have to see what it does “,
Dissenters warn that engagement diplomatically “can dispel the considerable US influence achieved through the maximum pressure campaign, something the government seems to understand”.
It urges the government to bring together European allies and dissidents to pressure Iran to change its behavior and link any engagement with “verifiable measures to curb its excesses at home” and for investigating past human rights abuses.
“Tehran should also be held responsible for taking foreigners hostage, rather than being rewarded for their release, which only leads to more hostage taking,” says the report, when asking for the release of political prisoners.
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In addition, it says that the government should avoid easing or removing sanctions, unless there is what it calls “substantial changes” in the regime’s policies.
“Tehran’s withdrawal must be significant and long-lasting, not indifferent or transitory. The regional predations, blackmail and espionage tactics of the regime must be effectively tackled through a firm White House policy,” the document says.
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Dissenting calls for a democratic, secular Iran were reinforced earlier this month, when a resolution co-signed by more than 100 House legislators from both parties, supporting a secular and democratic Iran and condemning the regime’s terror plans, was displayed.
Meanwhile, Republicans have expressed concern that the Biden government has given up on the sanctions push. On Tuesday, House Homeland Security Republicans warned that this would be a “historic mistake”.