NEW YORK, January 30, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --
The Centre for a Democratic Iran, a non-profit organisation whose mission is to promote and pursue an independent, peaceful and democratic Iran, has been following recent negotations concerning the country's nuclear programme with great interest. CDI Founder, Behrooz Behbudi, offers his thoughts:
In an editorial on Iran's new foreign policy after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Kayhan daily, the mouthpiece of the supreme leader ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guard, had said: "the survival of the Islamic republic depends on its rejection of all international and diplomatic norms set by Western powers".
To date, Iran's extremists have remained loyal to this ideology, the political and economic consequences of which have brought misery and human and material losses for the Iranians, instability in the Middle East and spread of radicalism among the international community.
However, since 2003, with the exposure of the Iranian regime's secret nuclear program that the West believes has a military dimension, negotiations to find a peaceful resolution to this international crisis has forced Tehran to engage in the very diplomatic norms that it has always denounced as "the rules of the arrogant powers", a term the clerical regime uses to refer to U.S and its allies.
In November 2013, after many years of negotiations, world powers and Iran finally reached an interim agreement (the Joint Plan of Action) that stopped the progress of the most sensitive elements of Iran's nuclear programme, in return for easing some of the devastating sanctions on Iran's ailing economy.
While many Iranians know how much they stand to gain by overcoming isolation through engaging with the world and following the terms of this agreement, there are also those in Tehran who oppose any nuclear deal, as it would lead to the end of their economic and political grip on the country.
They include the authoritarian supreme leader ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has on many occasions publicly said that although he supports the negotiations, he believes they are futile.
The strategy of the Khamenei-Guards alliance is that faced with the daily impacts of economic hardships of the sanctions on their lives, the last thing the Iranian people would think of is striving for democracy and human rights, aspirations that have been savagely suppressed in Iran under the guise of "protecting Islamic values".
There are also those in Washington, who hold little or no trust in the Tehran regime for its long history of repressive and adventurist policies and believe additional sanctions are the only language that the clerical regime understands to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
They argue that the current negotiations with Iran will lead to Iranian acquisition of a nuclear weapon, which will then lead to a nuclear race in the entire Middle East, and that will be a direct threat to the existence of the state of Israel.
There is no doubt that over the last decade or so the international community built a sanctions regime that eventually brought Iran to the negotiating table. However, it is also true that the majority of the hardworking and peace loving Iranian citizens have had to bear the brunt of the sanctions, while the repressive rulers of the country have actually benefitted from them.
If Western politicians wish to see a genuine and permanent resolution of Iran's nuclear crisis they must continue with their diplomatic efforts at this crucial stage to isolate all those among the Iranian rulers who wish for the collapse of the current negotiations.
Any substantial and meaningful diplomatic links with Iran on the part of the world powers that intend to give a voice to the Iranian people in the running of their country's affairs will also benefit the cause of democracy in Iran and act as a counterweight against religious extremism in the region.
After all, a victory for international norms and diplomacy, the accepted wisdoms that Iran's religious leaders have shunned for the last 35 years, will spell the defeat of their extremist ideology.
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SOURCE www.bbehbudi.net and Centre for a Democratic Iran (CDI)