December 12, 2006 | The Washington Post

Iran Needs a Change of Direction

Iran’s President, M Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently sent a letter to the American people explaining his views and the views of his regime regarding America, its values and US policy worldwide. We, the authors of this fourth letter to the American People, wish to respond to Tehran’s ruler and inform the public in both nations about the realities of Iran’s involvements in world crisis. We wish to create a better understanding between the American and Iranian peoples and between all Democracies and Democracy-loving societies for a better future.

On the Disastrous Foreign Policy

Under President Ahmadinejad and since the so-called Khomeinist revolution, Iran’s foreign policy in the region and worldwide has been moving from one disaster to another. Instead of addressing the pressing socio-economic and cultural crisis in the country, a clan among the Mullahs grabbed power and dragged Iran into internal violence, Jihadi demagogy, destructive wars and Terrorism. The Oil revenues were diverted to buy weapons for new expansionist wars, creating Hezbollah in Lebanon and backing Terror groups worldwide. What did the regime’s foreign policy achieve for the Iranian people and for peace? Only disasters:

•  The regime spent billions of dollars on acquiring weapons and equipping the Guardians of the Revolution (Pasdaran) and the Basij (regime’s militia) for the purpose of keeping the masses under oppression and intimidating neighboring countries.

•  The regime sent hundreds million dollars to feed a Terrorist organization in Lebanon, endangering the country’s Shiia community and breaking its precarious community balance. Weapons were shipped to southern Lebanon to trigger bloody regional wars instead of defending Iran’s national soil.

“The Iranian public continues to suffer from a fundamental suppression of basic rights, including political, social and cultural. The oppressive machine of the regime has physically eliminated any form of credible opposition.”

•  The regime formed an axis with another oppressive regime in Syria, putting Iran at odds with the moderate Arab world and making Iran an associate in the brutalization of both Syrian and Lebanese Peoples.

•  The regime funded Hamas and Islamic Jihad with the goal of taking over the Palestinian Authority and blocking any Peace Process between Arabs and Israel.

•  The regime has since April of 2003, along with its axis partner, fueled insurrection and terror in neighboring Iraq, dragging its long oppressed Shiia community into sectarian tensions with the Sunnis and weakening the moderate and enlightened leadership of
Grand Ayatollah Sistani through the support for radical Muqtada al Sadr.

•  The regime has been exporting its Terrorist foreign policy throughout the world. Argentina has indicted a number of officials in the bombings of 1993. Venezuela’s populist President, Hugo Chavez, is now the chief associate of Tehran’s rulers in his attempt to world instability.

•  And worse of all, Iran’s regime and its head Ahmadinejad are challenging the world with irresponsible and dangerous nuclear projects that would bring disaster to the Iranian People and catastrophes to the region.

On the Disastrous Domestic Policy

The regime in Tehran, and especially under Ahmadinejad, has been conducting disastrous policies towards the Iranian people, economy, cultures, and social well being. Since 1979, the overwhelming majority of Iranians, Persians and minorities alike, have been abandoned by their authorities to a miserable state of affairs. In addition to the suppression of freedoms and liberties, Iranians were deprived of the benefits of their nation’s rich resources, while a tiny ruling ideological faction lives in comfort and delusion.

The Iranian public continues to suffer from a fundamental suppression of basic rights, including political, social and cultural. The oppressive machine of the regime has physically eliminated any form of credible opposition. Political parties opposed to the Khomeinist rule are banned and their leaders executed. The country resembles Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia in the 20th century.

•  Iranian women, the single largest social component of the Iranian nation, have been marginalized, suppressed and subjected to insulting status. As under the Taliban, but with cosmetics, half of the nation is obstructed from producing, expanding and creating its own talents.

•  The youth of the country, generation after generation, are channeled into militarism and xenophobia instead of enabled to develop freely and constructively like their counter part around the world.

•  The country’s economy is in ruin with the stretching of Iran’s oil industry into becoming a factory feeding wars and terror instead of prosperity and progress. Every sector in Iran is in decay and its socio-financial structure is in jeopardy, thanks to the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad agenda of state Jihadism, instead of social advancement.

We believe that Iran’s People deserve a better leadership and a better life, and that the region and the world deserve a better Iran. If there should be a change of direction in the Middle East it should start in Iran and with its regime.

•  First, the Iranian regime should cease its intervention in Iraq and withdraw its operatives from the country.

•  Second, the Iranian regime must stop its financial and military backing of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and withdraw its weapons deployed in that country. Tehran must spend the billions of dollars in aid to Mr. Hassan Nasrallah on the poor people in Iran’s major cities and countryside.

•  Third, the Iranian regime should eliminate all its support to international Terrorism and abrogate its military axis with the Syrian regime. It should stop its military adventures with North Korea and Venezuela, which are a threat to world peace.

•  Fourth, the Iranian regime should comply with the international agreement on the nuclear industry and refrain from building a nuclear weapon.

•  Fifth, the Iranian regime should reestablish democracy in Iran, accept the formation of free political parties, liberate women, and tolerate minorities’ cultures.

•  Sixth, the Iranian regime should put the well being of all Iranians ahead of any state policy of aggression, expansion and intimidation.

We call on all Iranians, Middle Easterners, Americans and all democratic societies to join a global movement in support of Iran’s people in their quest to obtain the most important rights: self governance and freedom.

Dr. Walid Phares is Senior Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and author of Future Jihad. Dr. Behrooz Bahbudi is the president of the Global Unity Partnership.