Iranian Opposition Leader Says US ‘Appeasement’ Has Helped the Regime

By Patrick Goodenough | March 22, 2017 | 6:03am EDT
Maryam Rajavi, leader of the National Council of Resistance of Iran/People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, addresses a Nowruz event in Tirana, Albania on Monday, March 20, 2017. (Photo: NCRI)

( – Nothing has been more helpful to the fundamentalist regime ruling Iran over the past several years than the U.S. policy of “appeasement,” the head of the exiled Iranian opposition movement said this week.

National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)/People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran (MEK) leader Maryam Rajavi said that in the aftermath of the U.S. presidential election, the people of Iran and the region anticipate a “fundamental revision in the U.S. policy for the past three decades, and particularly the past 16 and eight years.”

“Nothing has been more helpful to Iran’s ruling religious dictatorship than the U.S. appeasement of the past few years,” she added, in words translated by her organization.

Speaking in Tirana, Albania at a celebration Monday of the Persian new year (Nowruz), Rajavi said that as new Iran policy was being deliberated, she had a message for the U.S. and European Union governments:

“Any policy towards Iran and Middle East, if it does not respect the Iranian people’s struggle for freedom and if it does not endorse the popular demand in the region for [the] urgent expulsion or dissolution of the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] from their country, is doomed to failure.”

Rajavi said the overthrow of the regime in Tehran was the responsibility of the Iranian people and the NCRI/MEK, but “what we expect is the end to the concessions and assistance which have contributed to the regime’s continued rule for years.”

To that end, the NCRI/MEK called for any diplomatic and economic relations with Tehran to be made contingent on an end to executions and torture in Iran. It called for an expulsion of Iranian forces from regional countries, for the IRGC to be listed as a terrorist organization, and for the Iranian people’s “struggle for freedom” to be recognized.

The Trump administration has been considering calls by some lawmakers for the IRGC to be designated a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). The military entity, which has been linked to terrorism across the world, is deeply enmeshed in the Syrian civil war on the side of the Assad regime.  

The Nowruz event in Tirana was attended by former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton and former U.S. Senator Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.).

In his remarks to the gathering, Bolton had a message for the Iranian regime: “The golden era – what they call the golden era – of relations with the United States is over.”

“It is vitally important that the whole world understands that American policy on the mullahs’ regime, their support for international terrorism and their nuclear weapons program, is fundamentally changed,” Bolton said.

“There are details that still remain to be worked out, that need to be articulated, but the notion that this regime in Tehran has legitimacy, that its word can be trusted, that it will honor its commitments, those illusions have been swept aside.”

The MEK supported Saddam Hussein in Iraq’s eight year-long war against Iran’s theocratic regime in the 1980s, and was itself designated as an FTO under U.S. law until delisted by the Obama administration in 2012.

After Saddam was overthrow in the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, the MEK were disarmed by agreement and confined, first to Camp Ashraf in Diyala province, and then in 2012 in Camp Liberty, a former U.S. military base near the Baghdad airport.

In both locations the camp occupants came under attack on a number of occasions, including a rocket and mortar attack in February and December of 2013 in which 12 people were killed, and a rocket attack in late 2015, which cost 24 lives and was claimed by an Iranian-backed Shi’a militia.

With the help of the U.S. government almost 2,000 of the dissidents were resettled during 2016, with the final group taken in by Albania last September.

Representatives of the Albanian government took part in the Nowruz event, and the government was thanked heartily for granting asylum to the Iranian exiles.

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