From Dr. Majid Rafizadeh *
Iran appears to be returning to the negotiating table in Vienna this month, but the international community’s patience appears to be waning as the Tehran regime’s nuclear resistance and regional terrorism increase. At the same time, credible allegations that President Ebrahim Raisi was involved in the 1988 massacre of thousands of political prisoners make it difficult for other countries to negotiate and negotiate with Iran.
The regime has to contend with a multitude of crises and challenges. The economy is in ruins, COVID-19 is wreaking havoc, the unemployment rate continues to set new records and the official inflation rate is over 50 percent. State corruption is also at an all-time high, and to make matters worse, the regime is not cutting its astronomical spending on its costly nuclear, ballistic missile and drone projects.
These are essential ingredients for massive social unrest – and the regime knows it. She fears a repeat of the 2019 uprisings that rocked the whole country. The theocracy barely survived after waging an unprecedented rampage that resulted in at least 1,500 demonstrators gunned down in the streets in a matter of days.
The recent farce of the presidential election showed the growing gap between the Iranian people and the regime. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei installed Raisi as president and appointed an equally cruel chief of justice to suppress all forms of dissent and opposition to his increasingly fragile rule.
For his part, Raisi has formed a cabinet with members of the security apparatus, the Quds force and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is further evidence that the regime fears further uprisings.
But the regime’s crises are so ingrained that the wisdom of such a policy is highly questionable. The sheer force of the socio-economic and political catastrophes created by the theocracy seems capable of bringing about its downfall. Almost every sector of society has a growing list of demands and grievances that the regime cannot address.
In addition, Raisi’s calls for international law enforcement are growing. It is believed that in 1988 Raisi was one of four members of the so-called “Death Commission” that ordered the execution of more than 30,000 political opponents, most of whom were members of the largest opposition group, the National Council, the Resistance of Iran. The top UN official in charge of investigating human rights violations has repeatedly drawn attention to the need for an international investigation into Raisi’s role in the heinous massacre. The 1988 murders have been described by respected human rights experts and lawyers as a crime against humanity and even genocide.
In view of the growing threats to Tehran, the international community cannot remain silent. There are a number of emergency measures that can be taken.
First and foremost, the EU and US should focus on the Iranian President’s human rights abuses, particularly his role in the 1988 massacre and the repression of demonstrators in November 2019.
Second, these international parties must practically pursue the persecution of Raisi. The evidence is there, but the political will is lacking.
This becomes crystal clear to thousands of lawmakers and human rights defenders on both sides of the Atlantic. A free Iran summit was held in Washington last week to discuss Raisi’s involvement in the 1988 massacre and to urge governments to continue his immediate criminal prosecution. NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi joined an excellent list of former senior government officials, including former Vice President Mike Pence, when she spoke at the summit.
“The regime change in Iran by the Iranian people and their resistance is inevitable and nothing can prevent it. It is time for the world to recognize this fact too. The Iranian people expect governments, including the US and European governments, to revise their policies towards Iran and take the side of the Iranian people, ”said the dissident leader.
The conference took place after the G20 summit and was attended by around 1,000 members of the Iranian-American community. In his speech, Pence highlighted an important point that may form the basis for the third step the international community can take. “One of the biggest lies the world’s ruling regime has sold is that there is no alternative to the status quo. But there is an alternative; a well organized, well prepared, perfectly qualified and popularly supported alternative, ”Pence said, referring to the NCRI.
This statement has enormous political significance. It is not enough to put pressure on the ruling regime; one also has to be clear about feasible alternatives. Opposition to the theocracy should not be ignored.
In summary, the Iranian people reject the regime en masse. The international community must join this historically significant movement. As the regime’s political and strategic capital continues to exhaust itself, sooner rather than later the world will have to learn to stand by the Iranian people.
- Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-trained Iranian-American political scientist. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh