The time is now for Iran

By ALEX CARLILE, UPI Outside View Commentator   |   Sept. 18, 2012 at 6:30 AM   |   0 comments

LONDON, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- While the U.S. presidential debates are just on the corner, I have a simple suggestion for U.S. President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney when it comes to foreign policy: The time is now for Iran.

The nuclear clock has been a source of anxiety for many in the West for nearly a decade. In Syria, it appears it is time for the Assad regime to fall, and with it the largest foothold of the mullahs in the Arab world.

For many inside Iran, the clock is past due for a complete regime change. The clock is also ticking for the U.S. State Department to make a decision on the status of the People's Mujahedin of Iran, the largest Iranian opposition group.

The PMOI is currently petitioning against its designation as a foreign terrorist organization. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has set Oct. 1 as the date for the State Department's decision on the fate of the group.

The time has come for the removal of the PMOI from the FTO list and for a new firm policy against the theocratic dictatorship in Tehran.

A recent piece in The New York Times listed the variety of methods the United States was employing to "contain" Iran's nuclear program. The fact of the matter is, no matter how many rounds of negotiations or clandestine operations are undertaken, the clock continues to tick in mullahs' favor.

There hasn't been any long-term proposal to stop the regime from obtaining the bomb, a fact that is beginning to become all too clear. Amid clever ideas involving espionage, or the universally disliked military options, the United States seems to forget one solution in the mix: The United States should recognize the legitimate resistance of the Iranian people against the tyrants in Tehran and remove the PMOI from the FTO list.

A democratic change from within Iran would not only increase pressure on the Iranian regime but it would also be a step toward a real solution to the nuclear problem.

In the wake of the Arab Spring, the Middle East is at a crossroads. The Iranian regime is making a desperate attempt to ensure the Assad regime's survival. The loss of Syria would be a major blow to Tehran's hegemony in the region. The fact that Iraq allows Iran to use its airspace to transport supplies to the Assad regime shows the limits of U.S. influence.

By taking a firm stance siding with the Iranian opposition, the United States would send a clear message that it will stand by those who rise up against dictatorships in the Middle East.

Aside from these strategic considerations what are the practical benefits for delisting?

For one, it will allow the State Department to put an end to its ongoing tug of war with the judiciary over the legal case of the PMOI. If the United States is serious about combating terrorism it should begin by first observing its own rule of law when designating organizations. Secondly, the delisting will ensure the secure and safe relocation of 3,400 PMOI members in Iraq, who will not be accepted by a third country until the designation is revoked.

Moreover, Tehran has exploited this unfair label to justify execution of PMOI activists in Iran, including Gholamreza Khosravi Savadjani, who according to Amnesty International is facing imminent threat of execution for being a supporter of PMOI.

The time is now for U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to act.

A flawed policy of appeasement and failed talks has wasted too much precious time. The removal of the PMOI from the FTO list will finally put to rest a failed policy of engagement with the regime and estrangement from the opposition.

The United States should stand firmly behind the people of Iran and those who seek to bring democratic change to their country. It is time to do the right thing.

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(Lord Alex Carlile of Berriew QC, UK's former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, member of the British House of Lords and a leading member of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom.)

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(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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