Originally published in World Security Network
The nuclear accord with the Iranian regime has caused the vital question, “Will the Iranian regime abandon building a nuclear weapon, or will it continue to pursue the goal?” The same question can be posed in another way: “This ‘Chalice of Poison’ that the Iranian regime has started to drink, will it be able to repair the severe damages done to the regime’s economic and political foundations and eventually save it from downfall, or does it rather herald the beginning of the end for the dictatorship of the mullahs?”
This question is important due to its famous history: In 2003 and 2004, in its negotiations with the European troika, the Iranian regime – which in fact was represented by Rouhani, the current president of the mullahs – accepted to suspend its enrichment activities. But in 2005, when Ahmadi Nejad became president, he broke the locks and resumed the enrichment business. Is the Iranian regime, infamous for its deceit and trickery, playing the same game once again?
In 2003, Khamenei – the Iranian regime’s supreme leader –frightened by wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, hastily accepted to suspend the enrichment activities in order to neutralize the main excuse that could justify a US-led attack on Iran, especially since the alleged reason for the invasion of Iraq was the existence of nuclear weapons in that country. But a year later, when it became clear that the US was sorely entangled with problems in Iraq and was in no way fit for another conflict, Khamenei seized the opportunity and decided to resume his nuclear project.
This time, the reasons that brought the Iranian regime to the negotiation table were severe weakness caused by the crisis and fighting within the regime’s own ranks, the pressure caused by the international sanctions, and the inability to counter the economic crisis and the explosive state of a society poised to rise against the regime and topple it in its entirety.
Deeply fearful of an uprising, Khamenei chose to avoid a run-off in the presidential elections and wrapped it up after the first round to prevent social upheaval between the first and second rounds. It was due to these dynamics that the mullahs’ top secret negotiations with US, initiated in 2011 or 2012, switched to higher-level meetings in 2013, and finally led to the November 24 agreement with P5+1. Although this deal offers unacceptable concessions to the Iranian regime because of feeble US policies, it will nonetheless have deep repercussions on the regime in different fronts.
Even though the regime’s leaders hope that this agreement will remove the threat of a military strike and help circumvent sanction, they know all too well that such retreat – referred to as the “Chalice of poison” – if continued, will exacerbate the regime’s internal crises and eventually lead to the disintegration of the system and the eruption of great social tensions. Therefore, they are working secretly and employing deceptive delaying tactics to buy time to minimize the damage.
The mullahs would resort to anything in order to evade their inevitable downfall and overthrow by the Iranian people and their organized resistance movement, especially since dangerous economic, social and political indicators had created an atmosphere of panic that engulfed the whole regime in fear of an uncontrollable social uprising by the organized resistance.
The only thing that could balance the acceptance of the Geneva nuclear deal and the presidency of Rouhani for the Iranian regime was the annihilation of the PMOI and the Iranian Resistance, and that was the main pillar of its strategy in 2013.
The regime’s attempts to eliminate its opposition
Knowing that accepting Rouhani and the Geneva agreement would in the next phase deepen the rift within the regime and aggravate the hostility between the regime and the people, Khamenei stepped up his efforts to destroy the organized opposition. Over the past three decades, the regime has always considered its opposition, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) as its main threat and as the situation becomes increasingly critical, it now considers the obliteration of the PMOI as the most vital measure to ward off the threat of its downfall.
This opposition movement was the first party to unveil the Iranian regime’s secret nuclear activities in 2002, and has since provided the international community with the most accurate information about the Iranian regime’s nuclear project and evil designs.
The regime thought that by relocating the PMOI members from Camp Ashraf in Iraq – home to several thousand members of the PMOI for 26 years – to Camp Liberty, close to Baghdad airport; by increasing pressure on the camp’s residents; and by employing the Iraqi government and individuals such as Martin Kobler (the former SRSG in Iraq); it would to a large extent neutralize this threat. But one year after the initiation of the relocation process in February 2012, it learned to its dismay that it has sorely miscalculated.
Therefore, the mullahs decided to compel the Iraqi government to launch rocket attacks on Camp Liberty – where members of PMOI are now residing – and inflict massive casualties to the camp’s population. Four such attacks took place, the last one being on December 26, 2013, resulting in 14 deaths and hundreds of injuries.
Deeply concerned about developments in Syria and a possible US military strike on Assad’s military apparatus, and also on the verge of signing the Geneva agreement, Khamenei decided to dispatch General Qasem Soleimani, Commander of the terrorist Quds Force, to Iraq in order to make arrangements with Maliki for another attack on Camp Ashraf. The atrocity that ensued, a terrible crime against humanity, was the murder of 52 residents and abduction of seven others by the Iraqi security forces. The mullahs’ propaganda and political machine widely described this great atrocity as a momentous victory for the regime. In his meeting on December 5, 2013 in Tehran with Nouri al-Maliki, Khamenei commended him for the attack on Ashraf and tasked him with expediting closure of the PMOI dossier.
Executions in Iran reach an unprecedented level
In concert with increased terrorist activities against the Iranian opposition members in Iraq, the suppression and executions in Iran reached an unprecedented level. Between the close of the election charade on June 15 and the end of the year, the number of registered executions reached 450. Many of those put to death were political prisoners.
And with more than 40 officially-declared executions in the first two weeks of 2014, it seems that the Iranian regime intends to further notch up the pressure against the people in the coming year.
The message was meant for the people: Don’t even think about interpreting the election of Rouhani or the Geneva agreement as a sign of weakness and begin staging protests or join the organized resistance.
Spreading the regime’s external meddling, export of terrorism and warmongering policy in the region
The fall of Bashar Assad or losing hegemony over Iraq is as much a nightmare for the regime as a domestic uprising. Losing Syria and Iraq would be a horrendous blow to the revolutionary guards and the hegemony of the clerical regime, and combined with popular discontent and uprising at home, it would mean the end of the mullahs’ rule.
That is why the mullahs continue to flow weapons, supply and armed forces into Syria, futilely attempting to keep a falling dictator on his throne, and they continue to stoke the fires of sectarian violence and strife in Iraq.
The main stimulus for the regime’s continued crimes
The Iranian regime counts on the idleness of the international community, namely the US, to proceed with its strategy to suppress the Iranian people and the organized resistance, and to continue its meddling in Syria and Iraq, and other countries in the region.
To this end, the mullahs have tried to force their international counterparts into believing that the only way to advance in the nuclear negotiations is to turn a blind eye on the other endeavors that the Iranian regime is pursuing.
And to some extent, it seems that President Obama and his western allies seem to be playing into the mullahs’ hands. Their lack of reaction on the widespread violation of human rights in Iran, for one, is proof enough.
But the bitter betrayal of the Camp Ashraf and Liberty residents by the US and UN is perhaps the most tragic part of this story. All of the residents of both camps Liberty and Ashraf are protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention and had been recognized by the UNHCR as persons of concern and in need of international protection. Both the US and the UN had promised to protect the residents based on different written commitments that date back from 2004 onward. But when the Iraqi forces were firing bullets on Ashraf residents, neither the US nor the UN took any action. When hundreds of them went on hunger strike, asking the US and UN to secure the release of their seven colleagues, hostages in the hands of Iraqi forces, again no action was taken. When 107mm and 280mm rockets were raining down on their small camp, there was no trace of the promises of security and protection. And at this very moment, they are facing the threat of further attacks against their population in Camp Liberty.
The West’s lack of determination in dealing with Iran
President Obama might think that by turning a blind eye on the violation of Human Rights by the Iranian regime and its cohorts in the region, he can tame the mullahs and achieve success in further negotiations. But history has proven that bullies can only be dealt with firmness and resolution, something that the international community is sorely lacking at present. Any policy of appeasement and lack of resolve in face of Islamic fundamentalism – the heart of which is beating in Tehran – will entangle the West and namely the US in an inevitable conflict to the detriment of the entire region. The policy of idleness toward the mullahs’ crimes against humanity is endangering world peace and stability.
Will the international community act before another disaster comes to pass?