WASHINGTON, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- The U.S. and European governments should back the Iranian opposition to encourage regime change in Tehran, a scholar said.
Iran descended into political violence in the wake of contested June presidential elections. Washington has stayed on the sidelines of Iran's internal political schisms, reacting with cautious tones to demonstrations that marked a December national holiday.
Richard Haass, president of The Council on Foreign Relations, writes in Newsweek that it is time for Western leaders to be more outspoken in their support for change in Iran.
"The United States, European governments, and others should shift their Iran policy toward increasing the prospects for political change," he advises.
Apart from vocal support, Haass calls on leaders of the Iranian diaspora to make sure they are funding the opposition movement in Iran so dissent against the clerical regime in Tehran can continue.
Haass cautioned against meeting directly with the Iranian leadership, however, saying that effort would only lend credibility to hard-line leaders in Tehran.
"Congressmen and senior administration figures should avoid meeting with the regime. Any and all help for Iran's opposition should be nonviolent," he said. "Iran's opposition should be supported by Western governments, not led."
Ali Larijani, the speaker of the Iranian Parliament, meanwhile, lashed out at Washington during the weekend, saying support of the Iranian opposition movement would backfire.