July 24, 2017

Nasser Sharif: Iranian opposition isn’t terrorist

Nasser Sharif
OC Register

The most noble of all activism is that which pursues peace. As humanity struggles with war, terrorism, and threat of nuclear proliferation, peaceful movements must not succumb to a limited vision or be passive. Peace requires activism against tyrants and warmongers because failure to do so will invite war. America’s standoff with Iran is where these principles are being put to the test.

Iran’s case is particularly important to Californians because so may from Iran live and thrive here. The threat is also real to our state, the world’s eighth-largest economy.

A few argue that the U.S., with its approach toward Iran, is compromising peace and is therefore seeking war.

Others, including San Diego-area Rep. Bob Filner, have argued that in our just desire to avoid intervention in Iran, we must avoid becoming “unwitting enablers of Iran’s appalling human-rights violations, nuclear proliferation, weapons trafficking and support for international terrorism.” The desire to evade confrontation, they argue, should not be distorted into policy arguments that ultimately reward aggressor regimes.

We must note that Iran’s aggression is most vividly directed toward innocent Iranians. Amnesty International ranks Iran as world’s second-leading executioner. Its seemingly pious ayatollahs have institutionalized laws and policies that have made the “Islamic Republic” a leading global human trafficker, especially of young Iranian girls. Terror imposed on the people of Iran far exceeds that which the mullahs export.

The Iranian government is also run by war-happy Revolutionary Guards who spend billions on missiles, nuclear bomb development and send weapons to most Middle East terrorists. Yet somehow they attempt to blame the West for opposing these actions.

Today, Iranians are blessed with an organized resistance against the religious tyranny. The democratic Iranian opposition movement today is led by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its largest member, the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK). Though the target of Iranian regime’s executions, torture and an elaborate misinformation campaign, the opposition, indeed, triumphed. This was only possible with popular legitimacy.

Washington, however, in its misguided attempt to change Iran’s behavior, branded the MEK and NCRI as terrorist organizations in 1997 and 2003, respectively, thus significantly handicapping the Tehran regime’s greatest enemy.

Late last month, the British Court of Appeal upheld a ruling by the Proscribed Terrorist Organizations Appeal Commission and ordered the U.K. government to remove the MEK from its terror list.

The judgment of the highest court in Britain should prompt a U.S. reassessment of these freedom fighters.

About two years ago, I heard a speech on Iran policy by Bruce McColm, a notable human-rights activist and former executive director of the Freedom House. He said, “The United States must emphasize again and again that there will be no ‘Made-In-USA’ political solution to the Iranian issue. We have gone down that path many times in the past and should humbly recognize we thwarted the Iranian peoples’ desire for democracy, freedom and constitutional government.” We Iranians couldn’t agree more.

A major prerequisite for peace is doing what is morally right. Iran’s leaders criminalize everyday life, spread terror inside and outside Iran and create conflict in order to survive. As a condition of peace, we must do what is right and support Iranians who seek to overthrow this despotic government.

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