Final round of negotiations on a nuclear deal with Iran continue in Vienna November 21, 2014.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
As the deadline looms to reach a nuclear deal between Iran and P5+1 nations, the question remains: what should the democratic opposition forces to the Islamic Republic of Iran do? Should they wish for the failure of these talks in hope of an all-out war with Iran that potentially could rid Iran of the theocratic regime that has been in power for the past 36 years, destroying Iran and killing and maiming thousands along with it? Or push for a success in negotiations that could potentially extend the Islamic Republic’s existence even longer? Should we not push the negotiators to discuss the abysmal human rights condition in Iran, fearing it may derail the negotiations, or push even harder that they be included at every chance? Certainly, those Iranians who were forced to leave Iran, some deciding to move on with their daily lives and others who are actively engaged to see change in their country, would like to see this regime go. But the main point is, at what cost? And what guarantee is there that Iran will move in the right direction? Are we forgetting Iraq, Syria and Libya? No one believes that democracy can prevail overnight. The mindset of the people needs to change. The society has to change. And certainly, last but not least the government has to be under enough pressure to accept that change. The benefit to a potential deal on the nuclear issue is to encourage Iran to move away from isolation, ending Iran’s harsh rhetoric toward the West and its neighbors and in turn allow the middle class to prosper and the civil society to grow and become stronger.
Only then will we be on the right track to democratic values and principles in Iran.
We have no illusions about the fact that there are elements in opposition to the Islamic Republic that prefer the status quo, i.e. the Revolutionary Guards and their cohorts, who have major investments in and control over Iranian economic institutions.
Then on the other hand there are those who want the Islamic Republic gone at all costs, by any means necessary.
Iranian society and its civil movement are very vibrant and active.
They have shown throughout the years in many shapes and forms their opposition to the current status quo, and want change. For those of us who believe in a peaceful transition from the current despotic Islamic state to a secular republic believing in human rights, the role is to encourage dialogue and openness, while at the same time pushing the Islamic Republic of Iran to respect the people and give them the right to work, dissent, participate and to vote for their own candidates.
The author is a human rights and political activist living in Washington, DC. He is also the international relations coordinator for “Union for Secular Republic and Human Rights in Iran.”