West must focus more on Tehran’s malign activities

West must focus more on Tehran’s malign activities

Presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi talks to journalists before the start of the final election debate, Tehran, Iran, June 12, 2021. (Reuters)

The international community must take a multifaceted approach to Iran. The regime’s desire to acquire nuclear weapons remains at the forefront of political discussions regarding Tehran. Understandable, of course, but the seriousness of this threat does not justify neglecting the regime’s other malign activities.

The potential dangers of resolve have been highlighted in recent weeks by incidents, including attacks on US assets in Iraq and Syria, which were clearly carried out by the Iranian regime’s regional proxies and timed to coincide with the second anniversary of an American strike which eliminated the most senior official of the regime, Qassem Soleimani.

Another example of the proxy threat came on January 17, when a drone attack entered the territory of the United Arab Emirates and hit civilian areas of the nation’s capital, Abu Dhabi. The drones in question were likely of Iranian origin because the regime has been caught smuggling advanced weapons to the Houthis in Yemen on several occasions and has placed heavy emphasis on drones in its own paramilitary build-ups. recent.

The attacks in Iraq, Syria and the United Arab Emirates, combined with earlier attacks on Saudi Arabia and direct missile strikes on US assets in Iraq, make it clear that the threat from Tehran is not limited by geography. nor by ideology.

The regime appears to freely target other Muslim nations, as well as Western targets. He has even tried to take the fight to the territory of these Western nations, such as in 2018, when a Vienna-based regime diplomat and three Iranian intelligence agents were caught trying to bomb a Free Iran gathering. near Paris.

Four European lawmakers joined Iran’s opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, at a conference last month that shed light on the full range of nefarious activity for which Tehran must be held accountable. The speeches made clear reference to the nuclear issue and the ongoing negotiations in Vienna between the Tehran regime and the P5+1 world powers. But speakers also criticized Western signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal for being too accommodating and neglecting other issues lest they prevent Tehran from agreeing to a resolution. For example, former British Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow criticized the British government and its allies for treating Iran’s rogue regime the same way they would treat their democratic counterparts. He added that “the conciliatory approach did not yield any results”.

This recalls the perception that Western powers have neglected the domestic aspect of the Iranian regime’s malign activities to a greater extent than any other. Ebrahim Raisi, who became president last summer, was one of four officials to serve on Tehran’s ‘death commission’ which in 1988 staged mock trials of political prisoners in Evin prisons and Gohardasht as part of the implementation of the fatwa of then Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini. targeting organized opposition to the clerical system. Most of the victims were NCRI members or sympathizers. The group’s leader, Maryam Rajavi, last month highlighted the progress made by the Iranian resistance to overthrow the theocratic dictatorship and replace it with a truly democratic system.

In other words, human rights should be at the forefront of a correct European policy towards the Iranian regime. This is partly because human rights abuses pose the most imminent and widespread threat to the life of Tehran, but also because this goal has the potential to strengthen Iranian activist communities at a time when a Unprecedented increase in anti-government protests has sparked a new wave of repression.

The trend towards repression has no doubt been made possible by the feeling of impunity that surrounds Raisi’s nomination for the presidency. As long as he faces no consequences for his past human rights abuses, he will continue to promote the same now that he holds the regime’s second highest office. This prediction was confirmed by a sharp increase in executions and cases of Iranian activists being sentenced to long prison terms, death sentences and arbitrary punishments for “crimes” such as “spreading propaganda” and ” enmity towards God”.

The internal aspect of the regime’s behavior has been neglected more than any other.

Dr Majid Rafizadeh

One can only imagine how much more widespread the protests would be if the Iranian people had reason to believe that the international community would face further escalations by the regime, instead of focusing solely on Western interests and the nuclear deal already falling apart.

Confronting the Iranian regime’s malign and destructive activities in the region and its growing human rights abuses in its country should be at the forefront of Western powers’ approach to Tehran.

  • Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the authors in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arab News

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