In dealing with a dictatorship, it is simple prudence to listen to its critics. Even more so when the regime involved is the most active state-sponsor of terrorism, is unscrupulously meddling in affairs of other countries, and is marching towards obtaining nuclear weapons. It should be evident the regime in focus is the theocracy ruling Iran.
So while there is little dispute about the gravity of the challenge posed by the Iranian regime to US national security interests and imperatives, a simple question that is often overlooked is why it has not been U.S. policy to listen and pay attention to Tehran’s main enemies?
Case in point is the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the coalition of Iranian opposition movement and its key constituent, the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, which also happens to be the group most loudly denounced by Iran.
But the US Congress is trying to fill up the void in the US foreign policy. The House Foreign Affairs Committee has scheduled for Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the Iranian opposition leader to address a hearing titled “ISIS: Defining the Enemy” through videoconference from her group’s headquarters in Paris, France. It is timely for House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ed Royce (R-CA), Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Subcommittee Chair on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, Judge Ted Poe (R-TX) to include Mrs. Rajavi as part of their panel. Other committees who examine terrorism, non-proliferation, human rights violations, national security, and defense should follow this example and get information first-hand.
The Iranian opposition is more than qualified to address the burning issue of how to deal with and neutralize the rising threat of Islamic fundamentalism and extremism, as the core of the ideology of ISIS.
The rule of the ayatollahs in Iran constitutes the only theocracy in recent history. The absolute rule of clergy in Iran established by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979 is the predecessor and mirror image of the Caliphate espoused by the Islamic State, i.e., ISIS. The overwhelming majority of the over 100,000 Iranian dissidents who have been executed by the Iranian regime for their stand against Islamic fundamentalism and in favor of democracy and gender equality belong to Mrs. Rajavi’s movement, which has helped to galvanize a global campaign against human rights offenses within Iran.
Actually Mrs. Rajavi’s movement has been a trailblazer in alerting the world about Tehran’s ominous interference in other countries and its export of Islamic extremism. The 1993 book “Islamic Fundamentalism, the New Global Threat” is just one example of this warning. Yet Iranian opposition warnings went unheeded; the dire consequences are self-evident.
Little noticed is the fact that the Iranian opposition was the unsung hero in alerting the world about Iranian regime’s clandestine nuclear weapons program.
The NCRI has exposed some of the most important dimensions of the Iranian regime’s nuclear weapons program, namely the Natanz uranium enrichment and the Arak heavy water facilities, the Lavizan-Shian site, the Fordo underground enrichment site and the Defensive Innovation and Research Organization, which is wholly responsible for coordinating the Iranian military nuclear program.
The attitude to shun the main Iranian opposition is treated as a victory by Iranian mullahs, who chant “death to America” as their terror groups run wild throughout the Middle East, creating chaos and frenzy, nurturing the survival and growth of extremist groups like ISIS. In fact no analysis of ISIS would be comprehensive if we don’t see the critical role the Iranian regime has played in paving the way for ISIS, even though it may sound as though Iran is its sworn enemy.
So long as Tehran continues to export terrorism and fundamentalism, to sponsor terror groups like Hezbollah, to support Bashar Assad in Syria in its carnage against defenseless Syrian citizens, and to maintain the world’s highest rate of executions per capita, it is more than prudent to listen to Iranians who know Iran inside and out and are willing to stand up. And Mrs. Rajavi is first among them.
The situation in Iran is dire and it is hard to see how any sound policy can be adopted to address it as long as the Obama administration continues to actively ignore one important component of the Iranian equation.
A major, indispensable element of Iran policy is missing, but this week’s hearing may be the first step toward Congress filling in the gap.
Homeira Hesami is Chairwoman of Iranian American Society of South Texas, a member of the Organization of Iranian American Communities (www.oiacus.org)