Tens of thousands of people came together in Paris on July 1 from all different corners of the world, to unite against the unspeakable atrocities committed by the Islamist state of Iran. It was the largest gathering of Iranians abroad of its kind.
The conference, organized by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), was spurred by the desire to speak up for human rights, peace, women's rights, freedom, democracy, and to demand victory over terrorism. Its focus was to generate awareness of the plight of Iran's innocent and vulnerable citizens, against whom the Iranian government has been wreaking havoc -- with no consequences -- for decades.
Leaders, journalists, prominent figures from around the world, and scholars joined the rallying cry of "Free Iran". The array of speakers included several prominent Americans, including former US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; former Attorney General Michael Mukasey; former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge; former FBI Director Louis Freeh, and Congressmen Ted Poe, Robert Pittenger and Tom Garret.
During the eight years of Obama's appeasement policies towards the Islamist regime of Iran, the mullahs became significantly empowered and emboldened. Iran's opposition hopes that the appeasement of the theocratic regime in Tehran has come to an end. Ambassador Bolton pointed out:
"[W]e come at a time of really extraordinary events in the United States that the distinguish today from the circumstances one year ago. Contrary to what virtually every political commentator said, contrary to what almost every public opinion poll said, contrary to what many people said around the world, Barack Obama's first Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is not the president of the United States.
"So for the first time in at least eight years that I've been coming to this event, I can say that we have a president of the United States who is completely and totally opposed to the regime in Tehran... he completely opposes the Iran nuclear deal signed by his predecessor."
The Iranian regime is still the world leading funder of international terrorism, including the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996, the bombings of a U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon in 1983, attacks on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.
It does not matter who the regime's president is; the core imperialist foreign policy of the Iranian regime is the same as it has been for almost four decades. With the passage of time, particularly since the nuclear agreement gave them an even stronger sense of power, Iran's regime has become more daring and destructive, leaving multitudes of human rights violations in its wake. As Bolton stated:
"The fact is that the Tehran regime is the central problem in the Middle East. There's no fundamental difference between the Ayatollah Khamenei and President Rouhani -- they're two sides of the same coin. I remember when Rouhani was the regime's chief nuclear negotiator -- you couldn't trust him then; you can't trust him today. And it's clear that the regime's behavior is only getting worse: Their continued violations of the agreement, their work with North Korea on nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, only continues to grow.
"And let's be clear: Even if somebody were to say to you that the regime is in full compliance with the nuclear deal, it doesn't make any difference. North Korea is already perilously close to the point where they can miniaturize a nuclear weapon, put it on an intercontinental ballistic missile, and hit targets in the United States. And the day after North Korea has that capability, the regime in Tehran will have it as well, simply by signing a check.... that's why Donald Trump's views on North Korea are so similar to his views on the regime in Tehran."
Since 1979, the mullahs and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have significantly expanded their terrorist network to Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon. Iran's main objective is to impose its Islamist laws and radical ideology on other nations, dominate them, and create an Islamic Caliphate. If the Iranian regime is allowed to continue, especially when it completes its nuclear weapons capability and delivery systems with North Korea's help, its activities do not look as they will benefit global "health."
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich praised the Iranian opposition as a just and pure movement for standing against the Iranian regime: "I am very impressed by the dedication of your movement". He added, "I come today to bring a very simple message: Iran must be free". He also praised the leadership of Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI): "She is persistent in difficult times. She is a great leader. I thank each of you on her behalf to help her make her a truly historic figure."
It is time for the powers of the world and the Iranian opposition to join hands to counter the Iranian regime. As Ambassador Bolton made clear:
"...we must avoid allowing the regime in Tehran to achieve its long-sought objective of an arc of control from Iran, through the Baghdad government in Iraq, the Assad regime in Syria, and the Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon -- an arc of control, which if it's allowed to form, will simply be the foundation for the next grave conflict in the Middle East.
"The regime in Tehran is not merely a nuclear-weapons threat; it's not merely a terrorist threat; it is a conventional threat to everybody in the region who simply seeks to live in peace and security.
"The regime has failed internationally. It has failed domestically, in economics and politics -- indeed its time of weakening is only accelerating, and that's why the changed circumstances in the United States, I think, throughout Europe and here today, are so important.
"There is a viable opposition to the rule of the ayatollahs, and that opposition is centered in this room today."
Maryam Rajavi struck a hopeful note for democratic change by saying, as the crowd cheered:
"The ruling regime is in disarray and paralyzed as never before. Iranian society is simmering with discontent and the international community is finally getting closer to the reality that appeasing the ruling theocracy is misguided.... Our people want a constitution based on freedom, democracy, and equality.... The sun of change is shining on Iran."
Rajavi added that the international community must
"recognize the resistance of the Iranian people to overthrow the mullahs' religious dictatorship and designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization and evict it from the entire region."
Any fundamental change in Iran's theocratic establishment will reverberate across the region. Many terrorist groups will lose their major financial and weapons support. Syrian dictator Bashar Assad will lose his hold on power, which he has wielded for far too long. The major player, Iran's IRGC, which constantly damages the US and its allies' national interests and incites anti-Semitism, will disappear; Hezbollah will lose its funding. "Death to America" and Death to Israel" will fade away. The list goes on, and leads to the eventual improvement of all human life, as these atrocities have bled their way into every country.
A united coalition can be a robust force against the ruling mullahs. But it can only be as strong as its members, and their dedication finally to achieve peace in a region that has seen far too much torture and bloodshed. It is the time for the international community and world leaders to join the Iranian opposition, more effectively to counter the Iranian regime.
As Bolton stated:
"The outcome of the president's policy review should be to determine that the Ayatollah Khomeini's 1979 revolution will not last until its 40th birthday.... the declared policy of the United States of America should be the overthrow of the mullahs' regime in Tehran. The behavior and the objectives of the regime are not going to change, and therefore the only solution is to change the regime itself."
With combined, global pressure, this long overdue change can finally become a reality.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He is a Harvard-educated and world-renowned Iranian-American political scientist, business advisor, and author of "Peaceful Reformation in Iran's Islam". He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu.