On July 9, few days before the first anniversary of the Iran nuclear agreement, Iran’s democratic opposition coalition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), held its annual “Free Iran” rally outside Paris, calling attention to the regime’s ongoing domestic abuses and calling for regime change.
More than 100,000 people gathered, including Republicans from the United States, like Newt Gingrich and John Bolton, and Democrats such as Howard Dean and Bill Richardson. European participants included former French Secretary of State for Human Rights Rama Yade and the former President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso.
At the rally, a number of prominent figures took the stage to deliver speeches. Some reiterated their skepticism about the nuclear arrangement, while others focused the lack of moderation of the Iranian regime – a promise that helped to sell last summer’s Iran deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
According to Amess, “In the aftermath of the rally, the Iranian regime showed the world community more evidence of this lack of moderation. The Iranian Foreign Ministry gave rather hysterical statements denouncing some of the countries that sent delegations to the event, and in doing so, Iranian authorities made it clear that they are unwilling or unable to tolerate a peaceful demonstration even on foreign territory, much less inside the Islamic Republic itself.” He goes on to ask the question, “What is the motivation behind this policy of appeasement on the nuclear deal and its implementation?”
Policymakers hope that the deal will stall Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon; however, critics cite a lack of transparency in International Atomic Energy Agency inspections and ongoing uncertainty of Iran’s baseline nuclear knowledge. More importantly, even if the nuclear issue is resolved for as much as 10 years, as its advocates claim, nothing changes the fact that Iran’s behavior in other areas has only grown worse.
Amess states that, “This has been demonstrated by the escalating rate of executions in the Islamic Republic, along with the recent spate of arrests of artists, writers and dual-nationals, and by Tehran’s persistent refusal to compromise over support of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, or to limit the Revolutionary Guards and the Iranian paramilitary role in conflict areas like Yemen and Iraq.”
President-elect Maryam Rajavi of the National Council of Resistance of Iran highlighted these, and many other factors,in her speech at the July 9 rally, saying that they rule out the rationale behind the nuclear agreement, and that “It cannot be true that the Obama administration and its allies actually believe in the moderation narrative they put forward as justification for the nuclear agreement.”
It would seem that the alternatives we face are the choice between rapprochement and war. But Amess claims, “If this was actually the case, adopting a self-defeating compromise in order to avoid another armed conflict would be somewhat understandable. However this last justification for appeasement is as misguided as the moderation narrative of the nuclear deal itself, and if the global media had paid more attention to the rally, people would better understand why.” He adds, “There is an alternative to conciliation and war. It involves supporting the Iranian resistance movement that gives voice to the democratic aspiration of the Iranian people. Ending appeasement, even if it is a daunting task, would be the best course of action. Yet policymakers do not seem to recognize the Iranian resistance and see the popular support it enjoys among the Iranian people; if they did, they would not need to reformulate their own policy positions.”
Economic sanctions brought the Iranian regime to the nuclear negotiating table. Still, the economy is on the brink of collapse.
If the U.S. and the EU were to cease to appease this regime, it may happen. The U.S. and the EU must recognize that there is a way forward, there is a democratic and credible alternative waiting in the wings.