The dissident leader’s views were focused on the prospects for transformative change in the Iranian government, and the current weaknesses that may make that possible. Indeed, Rajavi pointedly said that the current regime is “dying,” largely as a result of its having become overextended in foreign conflicts, where regional adversaries are pushing back against Tehran’s imperial ambitions.
The NCRI has reported that some 60,000 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and Iran-backed Shiite militias have been deployed to defend Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the roughly six years since the start of the Syrian Civil War. The escalating losses of IRGC personnel on that battlefield are apparently a price that the Iranian government is willing to pay because the survival of the Assad regime is central to Tehran’s foreign policy.
Rajavi explained this situation by saying, “If Assad falls out of power in Damascus, then the Iranian regime will evidently follow and collapse in Tehran.” If the Iranian leadership agrees with this assessment, it would go a long way toward explaining why they have been so uncompromising about Assad’s future, even as they have been welcomed into international negotiations aimed at concluding a political solution to the conflict among factions not associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
But according to Rajavi, the Iranian regime’s foreign policy behavior can be explained not just with reference to specific policies regarding its Syrian ally, but also through an assessment of the regime’s central identity and long-term goals. In line with the thinking of some more hawkish foreign policy experts in the West, the Iranian resistance believes that Tehran ultimately seeks to dominate the region and fashion itself as the Shiite leader of a unified Muslim world.
Rajavi used her interview with Awsat to emphasize that in pursuit of that aim, the regime’s strategy is focused on three key elements: retention of power through domestic repression, exportation of extremism and theocratic ideology, and acquisition of greater power and leverage through nuclear capability.
In light of this, Rajavi believes that the nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers while a major setback for the regime, was insufficient to prevent the regime from re-invigorating its nuclear ambitions, even if after a brief pause. “The Iranian regime is skilled with the art of deception and keeping its activities secret. It hasn’t revealed all its cards, and one must say that the international community was not firm enough, because the international community could have taken away everything from the regime,” she said.
Various Western policymakers continue to express similar sentiments, and are actively working to retain or expand existing financial restrictions on Iran, despite the fact that most have been lifted under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Some of these policymakers and various other global security experts have explicitly given their support to Mrs. Rajavi and the NCRI, endorsing their ambition for regime change and their ten-point plan for the future of a free Iran. Many of the group’s Western supporters are expected to take part in an international major gathering of Iranian expatriates and resistance supporters in Paris on July 9.
The event occurs each year and reportedly exceeded 100,000 participants last summer, including hundreds of legislators from the US, Europe, and throughout the world.