On January 21 the Huffington Post published an article by Harvard-educated, Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, American political scientist, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East, about the unprecedented move by 23 bi-partisan senior former US officials, who signed a critical letter and hand delivered it to President Donald Trump.
This letter suggested new policy options regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the highlighted the need for the US to open up a meaningful communication with the Iranian opposition, namely the coalition, National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
Never done under any other administration, this letter was signed by senior former US officials including Rudy Giuliani, Joseph Lieberman, Patrick Kennedy, General Hugh Shelton (a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Bill Clinton), just to name a few. It explains the need for revised policies toward Iran. It explains that Iran has used every opportunity, since its establishment, to damage US foreign policy objectives and US national, geopolitical, economic and strategic interests.
The officials urge Trump to cooperate with Iran’s opposition, as other countries are doing. “Bush publicly credited the resistance [NCRI]. It is time to end the fundamentalist regime’s undue influence over US policy and establish a channel of dialogue with the NCRI, as many other governments have done, consistent with the longstanding US diplomatic practice of dialogue with political opposition groups worldwide,” the letter says.
The NCRI is a serious threat to Iranian leaders’ hold on power. The regime fears foreign governments’ cooperation with the NCRI because it would put significant pressure on the ruling clerics and tip the balance of power against them. They are afraid that Iranian opposition will inspire the disaffected youth in Iran to protest against the government. Khamenei has repeatedly shown that his main concern is such infiltrations, and worries that the soft power of oppositional groups is stronger than the military and hard power of foreign governments.
Most impotantly, an Iran without the current regime in power could be a powerful US ally, rather than an enemy. An Iran without the ruling clerics in power would shift the regional and global balance of power in favor of the US.