Foreign Policy Blogs

Can the Iran Freedom Rally be the Regime’s “Tipping Point”?

International figures from the US, Europe, and the Middle East standing alongside Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, expressing their support for a “Free Iran” during the rally in Paris (Image source: https://themediaexpress.com/2016/07/15/french-arab-italian-and-european-delegations-among-others-pledge-support-at-iran-freedom-rally/)

International figures from the US, Europe, and the Middle East standing alongside Maryam Rajavi, expressing their support for a “Free Iran” during the rally in Paris.

Thousands of Iranian opposition members and other international supporters gathered in Paris on July 9th for the annual conference of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)—a political umbrella coalition of Iranian opposition groups and personalities which includes the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK)committed to “a democratic, secular and non-nuclear republic in Iran.”

The conference supports the “10-point plan” proposed by Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the NCRI, as the movement’s vision for Iran: a pluralist, secular, and democratic system respecting gender equality, following the rule of law, enforcing a modern and effective judicial system, and abolishing Sharia law. The points also call for the protection of private property and the wider adoption of a market economy. On the foreign policy front, the points call for an Iran that respects peaceful coexistence and regional cooperation, free of weapons of mass destruction.

Rajavi stated that the participants of the Paris convention represent the voice of millions of oppressed Iranians who long for freedom and democracy and expect that the next U.S. President, as well as other western leaders, to stand with the Iranian people and stop appeasing the Tehran regime. She added that the international community must adopt a firm policy condemning the regime’s human rights violation and its export of terrorism.

The number of officials endorsing and attending the NCRI’s rally appears to increase every year. This year’s “Free Iran” rally was joined by a selection of high-level politicians, political leaders, military officials, religious leaders, and former diplomats from around the world. Several personalities and former officials attended from the Arab world. Even though he currently has no official government title, Prince Turki al-Faisal (the former head of the Saudi intelligence services) gave a speech at the conference accusing the Iranian regime of “bringing nothing but destruction, sectarianism and bloodshed, not only to Iran, but also to all the countries of the Middle East.” He further announced that he supports the toppling of the regime.

The NCRI states that the Iranian regime is continuing to export Islamic fundamentalism and is still testing ballistic missiles, violating UN Security Council Resolution 2231, and assisting Bashar al-Assad, Hezbollah, and Shiite militia groups, fueling sectarianism more forcefully. The protesters also emphasized that the nuclear agreement between the P5+1 powers and Iran concerning Tehran’s nuclear program has not made Iran less repressive, regionally and domestically.

Attributable to the absence of set rules for peaceful transition of leaders, authoritarian regimes—like the one in Tehran—tend to be reluctant to change even in response to known problems. The unexpected nature and the speed of the overthrow of authoritarian regimes is somewhat challenging. What is noteworthy in this year’s rally is the attendees’ wide support for a “regime change.” The big question is whether such an annual event can be a facilitator for overthrowing the regime.

It is undoubtedly clear that the world is becoming a more dangerous place where Iran is actively supporting international terrorism or if it had really succeeded in acquiring nuclear weapons. Regime change enthusiasts say Iran is ruled by “irrational” mullahs who cause trouble to the U.S. and its allies. I found a Google map showing Iran surrounded on all sides by U.S. military bases and other NATO sites. At least, we can assume that the Iranian mullahs understand that there are red lines they dare not cross!

Moreover, there is little evidence that the leaders of Iran are “irrational.” They have been instead cautiously conservative: Tehran’s strategic imperatives have always prevailed when it comes to foreign policy. For example, during the early stages of the Iraq-Iran war, the Ayatollah Khomeini said that he would “never make peace” with Saddam Hussein. However, when the war dragged on for years and the international community turned against Iran, he concluded a compromise peace. Is this a behavior of an irrational regime?

Sorting through the possibilities of whether the Iran Freedom Rally can lead to a regime change therefore requires dealing with a series of deeper policy questions: How much time do we have until the nuclear deal is a clear-cut case? Is there any non-military approach—not yet tried—that offers a realistic prospect of a regime change? Will an alternate regime be surely more democratic than the current radical Islamic Republic? There are millions of Iranians who dislike the clerical regime, but do they trust the opposition outside Iran? And, on a longer-term front, could a new democratic Iran re-think the quest for nuclear weapons?

It is obvious that the U.S. is not at ease with the benefits of regime overthrow via military action. Washington is not prepared for a long, messy struggle of attrition. Moreover, Iran does not look worse in terms of its authoritarianism, treatment of women, and the adoption of a fair legal system, compared with, let’s say, Saudi Arabia. It seems that such assessments have led Washington to the following policy conclusion: America’s strategic interests reside in neutrality across the Iranian-Saudi divide.

The regime change option neither has the realistic means of addressing all of the above questions nor the assurances that it will be an easy or definitive policy path.

 
  • slomaz

    thanks

    • Fadi A. Haddadin

      Welcome, slomaz.

  • nada

    i think this gathering like an earthquake for mollas regime of Iran

    • Fadi A. Haddadin

      God bless you, Nada.

  • seed adam

    Be sure it can
    The only alternative to the Iranian regime are People’s Mojahedin of Iran ,PMOI( MEK) that have a lot of international support

    • Fadi A. Haddadin

      Absolutely… And the whole Middle East along with the western leaders should stand along with the Iranian people for their pursuit of freedom.

  • jaberghadimi

    I read your article with interest. It’s very refreshing to see someone do all the in-depth research, keep an absolutely neutral position, and finally speak so bluntly with an honesty account about the status of the PMOI. Will be happy to share your article with other Iran watchers. Thanks.

    • Fadi A. Haddadin

      Thanks.

  • Jaber Habibbi

    I read your article with interest. It’s very refreshing to see someone
    do all the in-depth research, keep an absolutely neutral position, and
    finally speak so bluntly with an honesty account about the status of the
    PMOI. Will be happy to share your article with other Iran watchers.
    Thanks…

    • Fadi A. Haddadin

      Many thanks, Mr. Habibbi, for reading and sharing. Long live Iran and all of the amazing Iranian people, whose liberty and the pursuit of happiness should ultimately be materialized.

  • haedeh golchin

    À mon avis, l’Iran#
    avec Maryam Radjavi pour apporter la liberté et la démocratie.

    • Fadi A. Haddadin

      Bien sûr!

  • Roya Daroodi

    The rally frighten the mullahs’ regime in Iran

    • Fadi A. Haddadin

      God bless you, Roya!

  • besoye pirozi

    Your article was excellent. Do not bother

  • akrambahador

    . Iranian people never forget you and your kindness

    • Fadi A. Haddadin

      Thank you, Akram! God bless you and all of the people of Iran, including those in diaspora.

  • akrambahador

    I am proud of your hearing, dealing and efforts .I wish a day I welcome you in Iran, a country full of blossoms of freedom and democracy

    • Fadi A. Haddadin

      Bless you! Visiting Iran one day would be on top of my priorities! Anyone who loves life should love Iran…

  • abbasazizi

    Good luck to you in continuing cooperation

    • Fadi A. Haddadin

      Thank you, Sir!

  • abbasazizi

    I’m glad you’re following the Iranian Resistance News

    • Fadi A. Haddadin

      That’s a privilege and an honor, Sir. The great people of Iran deserve the world’s attention till Iran becomes a leading nation, politically and economically.

  • Samar Saghar

    I read your article
    Good to mention
    The mullahs’ regime has come to terms
    West and America should not appeasement with this regime
    And the people of Iran
    Suffer
    Thank you

    • Fadi A. Haddadin

      Thanks to you, Samar. And your comment is a good wrap-up!

  • mahmoodirany

    Good luck you are right

    • Fadi A. Haddadin

      Thank you.

  • Parastoo Sepid

    Iran with Maryam Rajavi
    Will be free

    • Fadi A. Haddadin

      God bless Iran, Mrs. Rajavi, and all of the brave people who aspire for a free Iran.

  • Monir Akbary

    Freedom, democracy with Maryam Rajavi

    • Fadi A. Haddadin

      Thanks, Monir.

  • Ladan Badiany

    The people of Iran with Maryam Rajavi
    Will be free

    • Fadi A. Haddadin

      Thanks, Ladan.

  • Mehri Darabi

    Maryam Rajavi, the Iranian people hope

    • Fadi A. Haddadin

      Best to you too, Mehri.

  • Ladan Bahar

    Maryam Rajavi is hope of Iranian people for changing Mullahs regiem.

  • Ladan Bahar

    we will get peace in Middle East with Maryam Rajavi

    • Fadi A. Haddadin

      Exactly! And so far, the 10 points articulated by Mrs. Rajavi are the most advanced and sophisticated outlook I’ve ever seen by an Iranian figure regarding the future of Iranian-Arab coexistence and Iranian international relations at large. Hats off to Mrs. Rajavi!

  • Ladan Bahar

    The world without Mullahs in Iran will be get to peace blivet this with Maryam Rajavi

  • Ladan Bahar

    I am victim of Mullahs regiem in Iran only person who could be able to change them and our hope is Maryam Rajavi

    • Fadi A. Haddadin

      Keep up the freedom-fighting spirit for a better Iran–a great country with amazing people.

      • Ladan Bahar

        I believe that only way for changing in Mullahs regime in Iran the policy of Maryam Rajavi

        • Fadi A. Haddadin

          What Mrs. Rajavi’s doing has to be respected as it’s for a better future for both Iran and the whole region. Bless you, Ladan.

  • farideh

    ok

  • SeminaLahoor

    Maryam Rajavi, the only hope for freedom in Iran

  • Hosein Pirhady

    The only alternative to the Iranian regime are People’s Mojahedin of Iran ,PMOI( MEK) that have a lot of international support

  • مهدي الصادق

    sure MaryamRajavi is symbol of freedom and democracy for iranian people.

  • Hossein Nazari

    Of course it can.

  • rooya

    The world without Mullahs in Iran will be get to peace blivet this with Maryam Rajavi
    Best wishes for you my friend

  • rooya

    Good luck to you in continuing cooperation
    #freeiran
    https://www.facebook.com/events/1049497965165175/ … … pic.twitter.com/l2lDHfKb7D

    • Fadi A. Haddadin

      Many thanks, rooya.

  • Ladan Bahar

    we agree this that thousands and thousands people in Iran have hope to Maryam Rajavi

    • Fadi A. Haddadin

      Thanks for your note, Ladan. God bless Iran and its wonderful, entrepreneurial nation.

  • Alex L

    I was shocked when I saw pictures of Iran after the imposition of the Islamic government. I couldn’t believe my eyes Iran was so liberal and people had more liberty to make their own decisions and enjoy life the way best pleased them.

    Then with all this ISIS thing I began to read and hear about an old religion, it is Zoroastrianism and apparently many are going back to this ancient religion. I was also shocked to read that apparenly in Zoroastrianism gender equality is talked. I read a lot of pride being taken in pre-islamic Iran and resentment for an Islamic governemnet that seems to have enslaved and oppressed Iranians to this date.

    With recent past of Iran Ibet many Iranians desperately long for the day their country regains its freedom, but that can only be achieved by Iranians themselves. It would be nice if both Iranians and Kurds embraced secularism. It would a great glowing light of hope.

    • Fadi A. Haddadin

      Thanks for your note, Alex. Exactly, Iran used to be a pioneer in terms of commerce, arts, sciences, education, and other aspects of human civilization prior to the Islamic revolution. As you also mentioned, Iranians used to enjoy liberties (political liberty and economic liberty, though the latter to some extent, and not totally). The world should give attention to Mariam Rajavi’s ten-points plan for a future Iran: http://www.ncr-iran.org/en/issues/ten-point-plan

      Again, thanks, Alex.

  • Natash Sharman

    The meeting showed the future free Iran, Iran with Maryam Rajavi would be beautiful tomorrow

    • Fadi A. Haddadin

      Well said, Natash.

Author

Fadi A. Haddadin
Fadi A. Haddadin

Fadi A. Haddadin is a Jordanian economist and policy analyst who serves in the macroeconomic desk of Wikistrat and advises the MENA Council of Dubai on the economic and geopolitical aspects of the Middle East. He has worked at the Prime Ministry of Jordan, the Cato Institute (Washington D.C.), the World Bank (Washington D.C.), and the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (Aqaba, Jordan). He currently blogs for The Times Of Israel on economic policy, policy matters, liberal thought, and Arab-Israeli affairs. He is also a regular contributor at Entrepreneur Middle East focusing on the literature and economics of entrepreneurship.

Haddadin was selected by the Heritage Foundation as a leading Public Policy Expert in Washington D.C. He is also a Charles G. Koch Fellow (2005). He was a regular commentator for BBC Arabic, Al Jazeera, CNBC Arabic, Al Hurra, and Jordan TV. His op-eds frequently appeared in many international and regional publications and newspapers. He also founded and managed his own private enterprises in the food and beverage sector.

Haddadin got his degrees from the University of Chicago, the London School of Economics, and the American University of Beirut, in addition to completing two executive degrees from Harvard University and Princeton University.

Areas of Focus: Economic Policy, Policy Analysis in International Affairs, and Middle Eastern Issues.

Follow him on Twitter @PolicyFads
Facebook: www.facebook.com/policyfads

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