NCRI Envisions Alternative to Iranian Regime
On May 15, 2018, ncri-iran.org published an editorial advocating for an alternative to the oppressive regime in Iran. Since the editorial was published, protests across Iran have continued unabated, and several events have occurred in the international community with regard to Iran that has further destabilized the regime. On June 30th, the Iranian opposition will hold its annual grand gathering, where it will address the issues discussed in the NCRI’s editorial, which we will revisit here.
In its editorial, the NCRI argued that Western policy on Iran often excludes the will of the Iranian people. For a policy to be effective, it is crucial to take into account events on the ground in Iran.
In December of 2017, a wave of protests began in Iran that shook both the ruling the regime and the world at large. People in over 140 cities across Iran took to the streets to reject the theocratic regime. The people chanted “Death to Khamenei and Rouhani!” and reformists, hardliners, the game is over!” leaving no doubt that they would accept nothing less than regime change. Governments and those who considered themselves experts on Iran were surprised to find that the core of the protesters were the same people whom they had assumed to be the strongest supporters of the regime. The entire country rose up to demand a change in regime.
On June 30, 2018, Iranians from all over the world will gather in Paris for the opposition’s annual gathering, which this year is titled Free Iran; The Alternative.” The event is expected to draw tens of thousands of participants, with each Iranian representing dozens, of not hundreds or thousands of people inside Iran who are currently protesting for change. The people of Iran have received word of the event through social media, and messages of support have poured in from all corners of civil society. According to the NCRI editorial, [t]he people of Iran see the June 30 event as the echo of their own cry for freedom.”
In past years, this annual event has drawn as many as 100,000 participants. This year’s gathering is unique, given the ongoing uprising and international developments affecting Iran. According to the NCRI, this year’s gathering “heralds the dawn of freedom for the people of Iran and an end to the nightmare of the spread of Islamic fundamentalism and instability in the region.”
At the 2017 gathering, Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), of which the MEK is the largest member, said that “regime change in Iran is necessary and within reach.” Many so-called experts were skeptical of her message at the time, but recent events have proven her words to be true. According to the NCRI, this year’s message is short but precise: “Iran has a democratic alternative – thus, setting aside the misguided notion, advocated by the Iranian regime’s lobby, that regime change would lead to chaos.”
The NCRI believes that the West has ignored the will of the Iranian people for far too long. Their editorial states:
“The mullahs’ regime cannot exist without suppression at home and export of terrorism abroad. Silence regarding the criminal mullahs, let alone wittingly or unwittingly empowering those responsible for, and the perpetrators of, the massacre of the Iranian nation, will only embolden the religious dictatorship’s warmongering, export of fundamentalism and terrorism. The end of religious dictatorship in Iran is a requisite for regional peace, democracy, security, and stability. This is the only way to end war and crisis in the region and avert a larger war.
The alternative to the mullahs’ regime is a free Iran, governed by the rule of law. The NCRI and the MEK believe in an Iran in which women can be treated as equals, including in political leadership. The NCRI and the MEK believe in an Iran where the there is no compulsory veil or compulsion to religion. The NCRI and the MEK believe in an Iran where all national and religious ethnicities can live and work together in harmony to rebuild the country from the ashes left by the ruinous clerical regime.
The Free Iran event is also unique in that is a rare opportunity for unity in an era of partisanship on both sides of the Atlantic. According to the NCRI’s editorial:
“[D]dignitaries, politicians and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle will join each other to support the Iranian people in their dream and desire for a free and democratic Iran. Americans and Europeans, Democrats and Republicans, Conservatives and Christian Democrats, as well as Social Democrats and Socialists, will address the rally along with representatives of Iranian communities.”
The NCRI believes that the unity of the people in attendance at the rally, the bond between the millions of people protesting in the streets of Iran, and the diversity of political support for the opposition moment “will show that there exists within the organized opposition the capacity to lead the protests in Iran to ultimate regime change.” The regime’s Supreme Leader has already expressed concern about the MEK’s role in organizing the uprising in Iran, going as far as to unsuccessfully demand that French President Emmanuel Macron take action against MEK members in France. He and the regime fear the momentum of the popular uprising.
Last year’s gathering was attended by more than 500 dignitaries from all over the world, including former Prime Ministers, government officials, and Members of Parliament. Attendees included Bernard Kouchner, the former French Minister of Foreign Affairs; Rita Suessmuth, the former President of Germany’s Bundestag; and the former U.K. Minister of Northern Ireland, as well as Ambassador John Bolton, Senator Joe Lieberman, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Governor Ed Rendell, and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
The Free Iran gathering will take place on June 30th and will present an alternative to the Iranian regime. More information about the event may be found here.