When it comes to dealing with the Iranian regime, over the years, the mullahs have come to understand that division is the most effective way to maintain their hold on power. If the international community is divided on how they handle the regime, the greater the likelihood that they will continue to hold off on any kind of conditions that would impede Iran’s regime from its business as usual.
Within Iran, business as usual includes the torture of prisoners, executions for drug offenses, keeping juveniles in prison until they come of age and then executing them, hounding activists, and suppressing any political opposition by any means available. The regime sees nothing wrong with telling people how to dress, what to watch on television, and what to read in their newspapers and on the internet.
However, various organizations, including the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) have called on the international community to come together, erasing the divisions and providing a firm and consistent policy for how to deal with Iran. This firm policy could result in better conditions for average Iranians, but it also has the potential to force peaceful regime change, as Iran’s mullahs face the reality of a sinking economy and domestic unrest with no outlet to distract the Iranian people.
The United States has also seen a recent change in administration that has impacted their foreign policy, particularly in regards to Iran. President Trump has repeatedly noted that he wants the international community to unite in a tougher stance against Iran. However, there seem to be two competing arguments within the international leadership about how to deal with Iran to achieve the maximum results with this regime.
One argument seems to suggest being firm and recognizing the Iranian people’s right for regime change will lead to another war in the region, further destabilizing the Middle East, which is already suffering with the conflicts in Yemen, Iraq, and Syria, although other countries are also dealing with uprisings and terrorist cells.
The second argument, however, believes that being firm with Iran and supporting the Iranian people in their efforts to achieve regime change is the only way to avoid war in the region. Those who back this approach note that Iran is a major player in much of the instability throughout the region. Additionally, they note that other uprisings throughout the Middle East did not have a viable alternative to their dictatorships. However, the NCRI provides a viable democratic alternative to the current regime.
With international support, the NCRI and its supporters among the Iranian people are actively working to bring about regime change. However, they aren’t asking for military intervention from the international community, merely a consistent policy that forces the regime to be accountable for its actions, including the massacre of political prisoners in 1988. If the international community can come together, the regime will find itself backed into a corner from which there is no return.