Samsami is the Representative in the United States for the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
The April 22nd decision by the United States Government to not renew the eight-nation oil waivers preceded by the decision two weeks priorto designate Iran’sIslamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO)are justified, though long overdue. Maryam Rajavi , the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI ), had called for oil and arms embargo of the Iranian regime as well as for designating the IRGC as an FTO a long time ago.
“Oil is a national treasure and must be put in the service of the Iranian people’s welfare and advancement. But the mullahs either plunder it or spend it on suppression and exporting terrorism and war,” she said.
The fact is that the IRGC should have been blacklisted in 1983, after the deadly bombing of the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut. At the time, the IRGC Minister said publicly that both the ideology and the TNT that killed 400 Marines was provided by the Iranian regime.
Indeed, the decades of delay in calling the IRGC what it is, a criminal terrorist entity, has been detrimental to the Iranian people and to regional peace and security. It only emboldened the mullahs to establish and expand their proxy networks in the region, from Yemen all the way to Syria, and elsewhere.
The Iran policy of appeasement pursued by both democratic and republican administrations never produced the “reform,” never found the “moderates,” and never brought about the promised changes in rogue behavior, in Iran or abroad. Instead, it allowed the regime to blackmail, intimidate and take international policy hostage, not to mention to violently suppress the Iranian people and the organized opposition.
And there is an organized opposition, inside Iran and abroad, leading the nationwide protests that engulfed Iran in 2018 and continue today. While crushing economic hardships caused by corrupt, inept leadership are powerful catalysts, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has explicitly identified the Mujahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK) as the organizer and guiding light of the nationwide uprising, and has publicly vowed to eliminate them.
Abroad, the NCRIcoalition, to which the MEK belongs, has a clear platform for a totally different Iran, and significant support among U.S., European, and Middle Eastern political figures.The NCRI has hounded the regime at every turn, in every capital. It revealed the details on 15 IRGC terrorist centers in Iran, where they provide ideological, weapons and explosive training to foreign nationals. It exposed how the IRGC is behind cyberattacks abroad and cyber repression inside Iran.And it exposed the IRGC’s dominance over the nuclear weapons and missile programs.
Tehran is so fearful of this organized opposition that it hatcheda series of terror plots in Europe targeting its leaders and gatherings.In 2018, five Iranian regime diplomats, including an Ambassador, were expelled by France, the Netherlands, and Albania, all on terrorism charges. One diplomat is in jail for delivering a deadly bomb in a failed terror plot in Paris, and a dozen other agents have been detained. This terror campaign best describes a vulnerable regime grasping at straws to maintain power, as millions of ordinary Iranians demand regime change in Iran.
Which is why the policy of maximum pressure should be applied without any loopholes, boxing the regime into a corner internationally, thereby limiting its ability to launch another viscous crackdown domestically.
As for the next steps,
1. All the sanctions emanating from the FTO designation must be implemented to the fullest. The IRGC is not just a military machine. It controls the lion’s share of the Iranian economy. All of these economic entities must be sanctioned.
2. The Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), which works hand-in-hand with the IRGC and has carried out dozens of assassinations or terror plots in Europe, the Middle East, East Asia, and even in the U.S. must also be designated as a terrorist entity.
3. All IRGC and its proxy forces in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and elsewhere must be expelled from those countries and their agents in Europe and America prosecuted.
4. The Iranian regime’s dossier on the flagrant violations of human rights, particularly the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners, should be referred to the UN Security Council.
Iran is teetering on the brink of change – change for the better, democratic change. Western capitals agree on the need for pragmatic, effective and pro-active measures and policy to counter Tehran’s terrorism around the world. The IRGC’s FTO designation as well as banning the purchase of oil from the mullahs is a laudable step in the right direction.
But even the most punishing and best-implemented counter-terrorism measures, while effective in diminishing Tehran’s capacity for mayhem, will not change the nature of a regime intrinsically incapable of reform. Any effective, meaningful policy must start by recognizing the inalienable and legitimate right of the Iranian people to rid their nation of the theocratic regime.