Posted tagged ‘Iranian Islam’

Is the Argument for Regime Change in Iran Well Founded?

September 30, 2017

Is the Argument for Regime Change in Iran Well Founded? American ThinkerShahriar Kia, September 30, 2017

(Nearly all of the comments associated with the American Thinker article contend that Iran under its current regime is a wonderful, happy place, all opposition to which is a vile Jewish-Israeli conspiracy. — DM)

During his first address to the UN General Assembly in September, President Donald Trump offered a perspective on the people and the regime of Iran that starkly differed from that of his predecessors. He accurately attested that “The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want to change.” He described the Iran nuclear deal as “an embarrassment,” called off the Iranian regime for its export of “violence, bloodshed, and chaos,” and underlined that “Iran’s people are what their leaders fear most.”

These remarks from the president of the United States are a positive signal after three decades of failed appeasement toward the mullahs ruling Iran. And the testament to the fact are the reactions of Iranian officials, which betray their fear and consternation.

In a meeting with the Assembly of Experts, Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Iranian regime called Trump’s speech “foolish, extremely ugly and hideous” and “gangster and cowboy language fraught with sheer lies.”

“Mr. Trump said the wrong things in the wrong place to the wrong people,” Rouhani said to the state television.

The question that remains is whether President Trump’s remarks at the UNGA were simply a reaction to the failure of the appeasement policy, or was it the result of the natural course of events and the geopolitical dynamics governing the Middle East? Has the explosion in connectivity and social media services been effective in conveying the message of the Iranian people, who want the world to know about their desire for freedom and human rights?

Without a doubt, all of these parameters have been effective. But what are the real foundations of Washington’s new approach to the desires of the Iranian people for regime change?

Uprisings

The first factor that challenges the power of the ruling regime is the looming threat of uprisings. From an economic and social perspective, there has always been a potential for nationwide uprisings in Iran.

The first big occurrence of widespread protests was in 1981 when more than 500,000 people took to the streets of Tehran and demanded the overthrow of the theocratic regime. The protest was brutally suppressed and ruthless executions of protestors and dissidents ensued.

In the summer of 1988 alone, 30,000 political prisoners, mostly members of the opposition group People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), were executed in the span of a few months and were buried in secret graves.

In 1999 and 2009, uprisings erupted again. While the regime smothered both instances with a brutal crackdown, yet the potential for another uprising remains, and the ashes wait to be stirred once again.

Presently, sporadic protests are slowly building up across the country and gaining momentum. An example is the staged protests against the Arman and Caspian foundations, two financial organizations run by the Revolutionary Guards, which have been plundering the people’s wealth at an unprecedented scale. Following the start of Rouhani’s second term as president, social dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs has increased.

Infighting

The second factor that is weakening the regime is the ongoing power struggle between the Supreme Leader and other factions within the regime. So long as the country’s constitution is based on the “guardianship of the jurist,” every key decision will be made by the Supreme Leader. The Supreme Leader is also the commander in chief, which leaves the president with no substantial power.

This religious dictatorship is founded on fundamentalist interpretations of Islam and sees its survival as bound to domestic suppression and foreign terrorism. However, the mullahs’ crimes in the past four decades have intensified the hatred of the Iranian people toward them.

Earlier this year, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation revisited the mass execution of 30,000 Iranian political prisoners in 1988 in her report to the Secretary-General. Moreover, activists and international human rights organizations have called for an independent investigation into this crime against humanity, placing the Iranian regime in another political and social dead end.

A War of Attrition in the Middle East

The Iranian regime is stuck in three long regional wars, involving Yemen, Syria, and Iraq. Some analysts and politicians perceive the Iranian regime’s meddling in these three countries as a sign of power and stability. However, contrary to what Khamenei and other regime officials have insisted on time and again, if they abandon their intervention in the countries of the Middle East, they’ll be fighting their wars in the streets of Tehran. Therefore, the sole purpose of the Iranian regime’s regional forays is to avoid its collapse. The regime’s nuclear and ballistic missile project is for the same purpose.

The Coalition of Arab Countries and U.S. Against Iran’s Regional Ambitions

The coalition of Arab countries and the U.S., the imposition of further sanctions against the Iranian regime’s regional meddling, and the end of the golden era of the Obama administration have faced the regime of Tehran with further challenges. Officials in the new U.S. administration rightly insist that the real threat of Iran comes not only from its nuclear ambitions but also from its ballistic missile program, its chaos mongering in the region and its human rights abuses. The only durable solution to those collective threats is regime change in Iran.

The Existence of a Reliable Alternative to Replace the Regime in Iran

What makes the replacement of a tyrannical regime viable is the presence of a recognized alternative that has a distinct political, social and economic platform for the future, which enjoys the support of the international community. The existence of such a resistance and its international recognition is one of the main parameters that will pave the way for uprisings against the ruling dictatorship.

Iran currently has a democratic alternative, led by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, a Muslim woman who opposes fundamentalism and bases her faith on tolerance.Mrs. Rajavi’s ten-point plan has been praised and acknowledged by many political personalities, jurists, parliamentarians, and human rights activists across the world.

Three decades of appeasement toward Tehran has not moderated the behavior of the Iranian regime — it has made it worse. However, the foundations for change in Iran exist. What makes regime change in Iran unique is the fact that it requires no foreign intervention. The people of Iran and their organized resistance have the potential to bring about change from Inside Iran.

Gorka: Trump Administration Must Kill the Iran Deal

September 11, 2017

Gorka: Trump Administration Must Kill the Iran Deal, Washington Free Beacon, , September 11, 2017

(And Frau Merkel wants a deal with North Korea comparable to the Iran scam. — DM)

Sebastian Gorka / Getty Images

“The American government’s strategy to defeat Sunni jihadism must not play into the hands of Shia jihadism,” according to Gorka. “All the more so after the billions of dollars released by the last White House back into the coffers of Tehran.”

“A nuclear Caliphate informed by an apocalyptic vision of Islamic salvation will not succumb to the logic of nuclear deterrence and the prior stability of Mutually Assured Destruction,” Gorka states. “Action must be taken now to obviate the establishment a nuclear-capable Shia Caliphate. Recertification of the Potemkin Accord that is the JCPOA (Iran) Deal will not stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.”

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The Trump administration must end the landmark nuclear deal with Iran, which has only empowered the Islamic Republic and aided its efforts to develop nuclear weapons, according to former senior Trump strategist Sebastian Gorka, who is set to call for an end to the deal during wide-ranging remarks Monday in Israel on the anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks.

The Washington Free Beacon obtained an advance partial copy of Gorka’s remarks, in which he notes the failure of U.S. administrations to combat the spread of global terror organizations since al Qaeda terrorists struck the Twin Towers 16 years ago.

Gorka, a veteran national security expert who served as a key adviser to President Donald Trump until his resignation late last month, noted that America has “seen more jihadist attacks and plots on U.S. soil in the last two years than any previous comparable period,” a sign that past strategies to combat this threat have failed.

“In arrests as far apart as California and New York, we see an enemy that has moved from attempting to send foreign terrorists here to America, move to recruiting and indoctrinating U.S. nationals or residents who are already in the country, such as the Boston bombers and the San Bernardino killers,” Gorka will say during a keynote address before the International Institute for Counterterrorism during its annual national security summit in Israel.

The high-profile international get together brings together senior Israeli government officials with their global counterparts. Gorka’s call to end the Iran deal at this forum is likely to generate much discussion among international officials present at the forum.

The near daily arrests by U.S. authorities of would-be jihadists “is not an improvement” in the war on terror, according to Gorka, because “‘homegrown’ terrorists are much harder for our domestic agencies to detect.”

Gorka said he has faith that the Trump administration will plot a new course that will help the United States finally end the war in Afghanistan, the longest conflict in U.S. history.

The United States is still failing to win the war against what Gorka describes as the “Global Jihadi Movement”—and international agreements such as the Iran nuclear deal have not improved the West’s chances of curbing the terror threat.

“If we use a less parochial filter, and look at what the Global Jihadi Movement has wrought globally since September 11, 2001, we cannot claim any kind of victory,” Gorka says.

A key part of the strategy to put the United States on the path to victory must focus on cancelling the Iran nuclear agreement, which has awarded the foremost global sponsor of terrorism with billions in cash.

“Iran remains the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world today,” Gorka says. “With the rise of ISIS, the collapse and Syria, and the continued conflict in Yemen, the mullahs and the forces under their command have expanded their destabilizing actions in support of their Shia version of radical Islam.”

The Trump administration must be cautious to avoid empowering Iran, a Shia Muslim majority nation, in its efforts to defeat Sunni Muslim terror organizations.

The nuclear deal served as a particular boon to Iran’s vision for a Shia-dominated Middle East, in which the Islamic Republic can rule the region.

“The American government’s strategy to defeat Sunni jihadism must not play into the hands of Shia jihadism,” according to Gorka. “All the more so after the billions of dollars released by the last White House back into the coffers of Tehran.”

“A nuclear Caliphate informed by an apocalyptic vision of Islamic salvation will not succumb to the logic of nuclear deterrence and the prior stability of Mutually Assured Destruction,” Gorka states. “Action must be taken now to obviate the establishment a nuclear-capable Shia Caliphate. Recertification of the Potemkin Accord that is the JCPOA (Iran) Deal will not stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.”

Khamenei ally is accusing ‘Iran’s liberal enemies of delaying the Mahdi’s appearance’

April 21, 2017

Khamenei ally is accusing ‘Iran’s liberal enemies of delaying the Mahdi’s appearance’, Alarabiya, Saleh Hamid, April 21, 2017

(Please see also, Iran: Possible US and Iranian Opposition Cooperation to Counter the Threat of Mullahs’ Rule. — DM)

Saidi is known for making controversial statements about the sanctification of Khamenei’s regime. (Archives)

“[T]he Guardianship of the Islamist Jurist does not require legitimacy from the people, since it represents the divine judgement, and the people must accept the orders of the Islamic Jurist, as they accept the orders of the infallible Imam”.

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A representative of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in the Revolutionary Guard, Ali Saidi, said in a speech that the Khomeini revolution in Iran paved the way for the emergence of Imam Mahdi, which is the last stage before his appearance, but that “there are enemies delaying his arrival.”

According to Islamic theology, the Mahdi is the prophesied redeemer of Islam who will rule for a number of years before the Day of Judgement.

Saidi has accused secularist and liberal front in Iran, of delaying the emergence of the Mahdi.

The official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted Saidi as saying at a meeting of the Revolutionary Guards clerics’ last Wednesday. Saidi recognized two “specific enemies one being an external enemy embodied in the United States of America and the others being internal enemies represented by the liberals and seculars in Iran.”

Saidi is known for making controversial statements about the sanctification of Khamenei’s regime. Last June, at a sermon in the province of Gilan northern of Iran, Saidi claimed that Khamenei “communicates with a divine source through revelation, occultism and diligence”.

FILE – In this June 15, 2009 file photo, a demonstrator wears a mask in the party’s color of green, due to fears of being identified, as hundreds of thousands of supporters of leading opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, who claims there was voting fraud in election, turn out to protest the result of the election at a mass rally in Azadi (Freedom) square in Tehran, Iran. ( AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

He also said that “the Guardianship of the Islamist Jurist does not require legitimacy from the people, since it represents the divine judgement, and the people must accept the orders of the Islamic Jurist, as they accept the orders of the infallible Imam”.

Saidi also courted criticism for another controversial statement about Iranian influence and expansion in the region, when he said in a speech that “Iran’s strategic influence extends from Bahrain to Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, the shores of the Mediterranean and even Latin America”.

On Tuesday, the European Union extended sanctions for another year against 82 Iranian figures, including Saidi, for serious human rights violations.

Saidi played a key role in suppressing the green movement protests following Iran’s presidential elections in 2009. The oppositional director Mohamed Nouri Zad broadcasted a tape in which guard leaders spoke, including Saidi, about details of the suppressing the protests that began in June 2009 against the presumed manipulation of the votes that led Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to win a second term.

Middle East: A Shift from Revolution to Evolution

April 8, 2017

Middle East: A Shift from Revolution to Evolution, Gatestone InstituteNajat AlSaied, April 8, 2017

The lesson the Trump administration might learn from the disastrous mistakes of its predecessor is that the main sources of terrorism in the region are political Islam and all its related religious groups. All these radical groups, including ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Jabhat Al-Nusra and Hamas have been spawned by a political Islam driven by the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The fight, therefore, should not be against Islam, but against political Islam. Islam needs to be practiced the way other religions are, as a private personal faith that should be kept separate from public life and politics, and whose expression should be confined to worship only.

Mosques, whether in the Arab and Muslim world or in the West, should be places of worship only and must not transformed to centers for polarizing society or for recruitment by political religious groups.

After each Islamist terrorist attack in the West, the public is divided into two camps: one angry and one indifferent. The problem with defeating Islamist terrorism seems to be that either it is attacked by conservatives who call Islam an evil cult or it is forgiven entirely by liberal apologists. What, then, is the answer?

One of the main failures in Western analyses of the origins of terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa is that the West attributes them to a lack of democracy and a lack of respect for human rights. This is, indeed, part of the cause, but the root of the problem is a lack of development and modernity. U.S. President Donald Trump did not exaggerate when he said that the Obama administration’s foreign policy was disastrous. It was catastrophic mainly for two reasons. One was the knee-jerk support for the “Arab Spring” and for extremist Islamic political groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. The second was the alliances the Obama administration built with unreliable countries such as Qatar, which supports radical political groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. In addition, Obama made the mistake of continuing to try to appease Iran’s theocratic regime.

The Arab Spring’s uncalculated, hasty attempt to establish so-called democracy only generated more turmoil and chaos in the region. Certain radical political groups simply exploited the elections to serve their own political and sectarian agendas; that swoop for power only resulted in more authoritarian and dictatorial regimes, as have played out, for instance, in Egypt, where we have witnessed the murder of civilians and police officers by the Muslim Brotherhood. In other countries, the situation is even worse; attempts to install democracy have totally destroyed the state and facilitated the spread of terrorist militias, as in Libya.

It is ironic that Western countries and their advocates stress the need to apply democratic practices in Arab countries, but evidently do not recall that development and secularism preceded democracy in Western Europe. The United Kingdom, which has the oldest democratic system, did not become fully democratic until 1930. France became fully democratic only in 1945, 150 years after the French Revolution.

The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, at the Arab Summit in Jordan on March 28, 2017 delivered a speech in which he indicated his continuous support for the Muslim Brotherhood:

“If we are serious about focusing our efforts on armed terrorist organizations, is it fair to consider any political party we disagree with as terrorist? Is our goal to increase the number of terrorists?”

Many Arab leaders were infuriated by his speech; at the forefront was President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, who left the Arab Summit Hall during the speech to meet King Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Most Arab leaders and analysts, in fact, are enraged by Qatar’s continuous support for Islamist political groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, because these groups are a threat to their national security.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt speaks at the Arab Summit, on March 29. The previous day, Sisi walked out of a speech by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. Sisi was infuriated by Al-Thani’s declaration of support for the Muslim Brotherhood. (Image source: Ruptly video screenshot)

Another consequence of Obama’s foreign policy — in particular attempts to get close to Iran’s hostile regime — has been a fraying of relationships with old Arab allies of the United States. Some of Obama’s advisors thought that replacing Saudi Arabia with Iran was somehow “better” for the United States, if Iran “is beginning to evolve into a very civilized and historically important country” — an analysis that can be described as completely short-sighted.

The Saudi regime, with all its flaws, is a monarchy run by princes; the Iranian regime is a theocracy run by clerics. The Saudi regime is not a theocratic regime but a hybrid structure, which is neither wholly secular nor wholly religious. As such, the religious class functions under the authority of the ruling class. Princes are driven by self-interest; clerics are driven by ideology. In terms of extremism, the Iranian regime is pushing for hegemony, whilst Saudi Arabia has been taking only a defensive, rather than an expansionist, position.

The motivation of Saudi Arabia in exporting mosques world-wide and installing radical Saudi imams is defensive, not expansionist as in Iran. Saudi Arabia’s impetus is to confront Iran’s hegemony and the spread of its hostile ideology. It is this strategy, which Saudi Arabia has practiced since 1979 to balance Iran’s power and to combat its rebellious ideology, that must change.

That Iran’s Khomeini regime sought to embarrass Saudi Arabia — a country that is home to Islam’s two holiest mosques, in Mecca and Medina — by portraying it as not sufficiently Islamic, meant that the foundational Islamic Wahhabism of the Saudi Kingdom was aggressively reinforced. This emphasis resulted in even more constraints being put in place in Iran: especially on entertainment. Since the Khomeini revolution in 1979, all plays, fashion shows, international events, and cinemas have been banned. As for women, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has increasingly harassed them. As for minorities, especially Shia challenging the Iranian Shia regime and its support for Shia militias — particularly the dominant Revolutionary Guards — books were published attacking the Shia:

More books appeared, attacking the Shias and especially Khomeini’s views. These books – like the arguments of Khomeini’s followers – rejected modern thinking as an “intellectual invasion.” Saudi Arabia, considered the guardian of Sunni Islam, spent billions of dollars on challenging the Khomeini-backed Shiites.

This religious one-upmanship — a competition over which body can be the “most religious” — must stop. Saudi Arabia would do well to understand that in order to confront the hegemony of the Iranian theocratic regime, the answer is not to radicalize Saudi society but to return to the way it was before 1979.

The best way to defeat the rebel hostile regime in Iran might be through creating an inclusive and tolerant society in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia needs to change its approach towards Iran because the current strategy has not worked. The current strategy has done nothing except to strengthen the Iranian regime’s dominance; distort, globally, the image of Saudi Arabia and accelerate terrorism.

The lesson the Trump administration might learn from the disastrous mistakes of its predecessor is that the main source of terrorism in the region are political Islam and all its related religious groups. All these radical groups including ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Jabhat Al-Nusra and Hamas have been spawned by a political Islam driven by the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. Extremist jihadists such as Osama bin Laden, Abdullah Azzam and Ayman al-Zawahiri were all taught by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Political Islam practiced by the Iranian theocratic regime has been comfortably generating Shia radical militias, including the terrorist group, Hezbollah. The fight, therefore, should not be against Islam, but against political Islam. Islam needs to be practiced the way other religions are, as a private personal faith that should be kept separate from public life and politics, and whose expression should be confined to worship only. Mosques, whether in the Arab and Muslim world or in the West, should be places of worship only and must not transformed to centers for polarizing society or for recruitment by political religious groups. Unfortunately, Western countries have turned a blind eye to the political activities inside these mosques.

The danger of these religious political groups is that they do not believe in democracy or human rights; they just use elections to grasp power in order to impose a system of “Islamic Caliphate” as their only form of government. Most of these groups use religion as an ideology to oppose governments other than their own, and when they are criticized or attacked, they play the role of the oppressed.

The Trump administration needs to take advantage of the fact that the majority of people in the Middle East and North Africa have lost faith in religious political groups, especially since the failure of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Tunisia.

Before the Arab Spring, support for these groups was huge; now it stands at less than 10% of the population. This study was conducted in the Arab world, not including Turkey. The Muslims who support Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are the Muslim Brotherhood.

Most recent polls indicate that the majority of people in Arab and Muslim countries prefer religion to be kept separate from politics.

The country that is working the most systematically to fight these religious political groups in the region is the United Arab Emirates (UAE). There are several institutes and think tanks researching how to combat these groups. Dr. Jamal Sanad Al-Suwaidi, Director General of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR), has given a robust analysis of these groups and how to combat them in his book, The Mirage. In it, he cites a study on public opinion on political religious groups: A survey of the UAE population, on how these groups are able to influence the public by taking advantage of certain flaws in the system: 53.9% because of corruption; 47.9% because of poverty and 29.1% because of an absence of civil society groups that confront these opportunists.

The Middle East-North Africa region will undoubtedly have to go through several stages before it can successfully establish democracy. An evolutionary developmental approach will definitely be better than the failed revolutionary democratic one pursued by the Obama administration.

Secularization is also crucial in the fight against terrorism. Trying to build a democracy before going through the stages of secularism and political reformation — which includes rectifying existing flaws, such as corruption; modernization which means the liberation of the region from extremist totalitarian religious dogma and all other forms of backwardness in order to kick-start a renaissance; and scientific development — will not only be inadequate but will actually generate more terrorism by helping radicals to keep gaining power. It would be like a farmer who wants to plant roses in arid desert soil full of thorns.

Why Iran’s supreme leader fears gender equality

April 1, 2017

Why Iran’s supreme leader fears gender equality, American ThinkerHassan Mahmoudi, April 1, 2017

(Many Western “feminists” complain about their abject misery and don “pussy hats” to make their points. They ignore the far worse situations of their sisters in Islamist regimes such as the Islamist Republic of Iran, while proclaiming the benefits of Islamist fundamentalism. — DM) 

The mullahs of Iran and their fundamentalist disciples are not only the enemy of the people of Iran, but also the enemies of all Middle East nations and the entire world.

In particular, in so far as it concerns women, fundamentalism targets and jeopardizes all the achievements that women have made to date.

Therefore, confronting the Iranian regime should be the immediate goal of women’s struggle all over the world. Women’s international sisterhood and solidarity demands that they support the fight against the fundamentalist regime of Iran.

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For the ayatollahs, women’s rights are a matter of puppetry, with yes-women parroting whatever the mullahs’ line for the day is. For Iran’s real women’s rights champions, the picture is very different. They can demonstrate why the ayatollahs are terrified of equality.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, in his address to the nation on the occasion of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, claimed that gender equality is a “Zionist plot” aiming to corrupt the role of women in society. He told a meeting of religious speakers in Tehran that Iranians should resist feminist ideas last March 20.

Khamenei claimed that men and women are equal in the “ascendance of spiritual positions, the power of leadership, and the capability to lead humankind.”

For Khamenei, the occasion of Nowruz, or any national celebration or religious holiday, is nothing but a cynical means of safeguarding his dictatorship. So of course he can make preposterous claims as he did above. In ayatollah-ruled Iran, women’s rights are not about empowering women but just another way to lie to society about state policies. Nothing explains it better than to use the maxim of Adolf Hitler, who said: Make the lie big. Make it simple. Keep saying it, and eventually people will believe it. The ayatollahs use this maxim. But the people in Iran and especially women have never believed his words.

In other contexts, the ayatollah has sung a different tune.

Khamenei said: “the effort to establish equality between men and women was “one of the biggest intellectual mistakes” of the Western world.”

Grotesquely enough, Khamenei has quislings in state women’s groups who echo his sentiment, expressing approval.

One is Minou Aslani, head of the Women’s Basij organization in Iran, affiliated with the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which cracks down on women for any sign of independence. It has called the promotion of gender equality illegal and demanded that the country’s powerful judiciary take action against people who speak out against such state-sponsored discrimination, according to the semiofficial Mehr news agency. On Dec. 06, 2016, she condemned efforts to increase the number of women in parliament. Pushing for greater female participation threatens to “distort” the identity of Iran’s women, she said.

Her ‘thinking’ couldn’t be less like those of normal women’s rights activists operating under great pressure in Iran. In a roundtable discussion called Women in Leadership, the Experience of the Iranian Resistance, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi the President-elect of National Council of Resistance of Iran expressed the authentic reality. I have permission to reprint her thinking in full and share it now:

The Iranian women’s struggle for freedom and equality has lasted one-and-a-half centuries. Iranian and Western historians who have studied the developments of the past 150 years in Iran have clearly attested to this reality.

Over this span of time, we have seen vanguard women who rose up and proved their competence in various arenas despite the reigning culture and policies of tyranny and misogyny. This phenomenon was most significantly demonstrated in women’s courageous participation in the anti-dictatorial struggles over this period.

Women’s struggle is essentially the best and most comprehensive indicator of progress in a given society. How can we measure the advances of a society towards real progress and development? The answer is to the extent it endeavors to achieve freedom and equality.

In the absence of gender equality, any political, economic or social progress would be ineffective, fleeting, or reversible.

From this vantage point, the uprisings which led to the 1979 overthrow of the Shah in Iran marked a major leap forward through women’s remarkable and extensive participation in street demonstrations. This new phenomenon unveiled the Iranian people’s widespread desire for progress. At the same time, it revealed a shocking contradiction:

One the one hand, the ruling regime quickly adopted regressive and despotic policies and caused appalling backwardness. On the other hand, the Iranian society was broadly seeking freedom and democracy, and sought to make social progress and advancements.

Such contradiction led in the first step to a major clash. The barbarity and savagery of the new regime drenched the Iranian revolution in blood.

The Role of Women in the Iranian Resistance

Women’s active participation in confrontation with the mullahs’ religious fascism formed the corner stone and foundation of resistance against the regime.

Quantitatively, women’s participation in this struggle was extensive since the outset. Qualitatively, they were brave, efficient and selfless.

Tens of thousands of women were tortured or executed in the struggle against the ruling fundamentalist regime. These events were particularly transpiring in the 1980s.

If women did not have powerful motivations, and if they had not set their sights on a bright and magnificent horizon, they would have definitely been intimidated by the merciless tortures and massacres that were unprecedented in our contemporary history. But, instead, the clampdown made them even more determined and resolute.

Women’s role rapidly became more pronounced in the post-revolution developments in Iran. They became the pivotal force of the movement.

Today, women hold key and leadership positions in the resistance movement. They make up more than 50 percent of the members of the Resistance’s parliament-in-exile.

The guiding principles of women’s role in the Iranian Resistance can be summarized as the following:

First, the struggle of the women of this movement for equality has been deeply intertwined and connected to the broader struggle for freedom in Iran. Therefore, it has targeted the ruling dictatorship, which is a religious tyranny, while combating its forced religious edicts, misogyny and inhumane discriminations.

Second, they have waged a foundational struggle against objectification of women while defying the gender-based ideology that forms the central tenet of inequality.

Third, women have recognized their mission and mandate in leading this movement while discovering and subsequently implementing in practice the fact that the hegemonic role of women in this perseverance provides a liberating force and propeller.

Fourth, the pioneering women have linked their struggle to the efforts and struggle of the resistant and equality-seeking men of the movement. They see it as an important part of their responsibilities to support the men of the movement in the struggle against inequality and against patriarchal thinking and culture.

The Emergence of Islamic Fundamentalism

Iranian women have gained many valuable experiences in their struggle against the ruling religious tyranny, which is the source of Islamic fundamentalism.

A cursory review of the history of the origins of fundamentalism and its essence will aid us in explaining this point more clearly.

Since the late 18th century and early 19th century, in the geographical region that hosts most of the Islamic countries – extending from North Africa to the Caucuses, Central Asia and the Indian Ocean – under the shadow of major political, social and technological developments in the world, the people engaged in struggles to change their destiny. They sought to gain freedom, independence, rule of the law, as well as economic and social progress. Why did this wave wash over Islamic countries?

In such a setting, several destructive factors set the groundwork for the emergence of Islamic fundamentalism. Ignorance, lack of education and backwardness are, of course, some of the contributing factors. Additionally, however, one can mention the interventions and mistakes committed by western governments in these countries, whose catastrophic effects, including invasions and the displacement of peoples and destruction of national social institutions of the countries of the region produced deep antipathy and a sense of resentment toward western countries. This fact has been verified today by quite a few western thinkers and even politicians.

Western governments gave support to dictatorial regimes and thus destroyed the middle class, produced an uneven economic and social growth, and eliminated nationalist parties and freedom-loving movements in these countries.

The Defining Impact of the Iranian Regime

The ascendance to power of Khomeini and his allies in exceptional and unique historical circumstances marked the exact moment when Islamic fundamentalism as we know it entered the global stage. This was a horrendous power-thirsty and profoundly misogynous force founded on religious discrimination. It instituted its backward sharia laws as a mechanism to establish a religious tyranny, and became a model of governance for fundamentalist groups.

In reality, dictatorships like the previous regime of Iran were too weak and corrupt to be able to stand against the waves of people who demanded freedom and particularly against the power of women and youths.

So, instead, religious fundamentalists undertook the mission to crack down on and suppress them.

The Essence of Fundamentalism

At its core, what does Islamic fundamentalism want to oppose or stand against? Is it the world of Islam lining up against the West or in particular against Christianity and Judaism?

The answer is NO. The truth is that the real dispute is not between Islam and Christianity, Islam and the West, or Shiites and Sunnis. It is, rather, a confrontation between freedom and subjugation, and between equality and injustice.

Islamic fundamentalism, in essence, represents a backlash against the overwhelming tendency of the peoples of the region, especially women and youth, towards freedom, democracy and equality.

Enmity against Women

It should now be clear why fundamentalism focuses its wrath and violence against women more than anyone else. It is because women’s emancipation was the central theme of the demands of the enormous tide of people who sought a new order, freedom and equality.

Women emerged as a new force in the 1979 revolution in Iran and played a remarkable role.

For this reason, the role of women rapidly evolved and became more prominent in the course of the developments after the revolution, turning into the pivotal force of movement and struggle.
They were in the frontlines of resistance in torture chambers; they were in the front lines of demonstrations during the 2009 uprising; and they were in the front lines of the command structure in the National Liberation Army of Iran.

In contrast to this, enmity to women lies at the heart of Islamic fundamentalism and suppression of women is the central component for the suppression of the entire society.

Why did the mullahs need to revive the laws of past millennia in the final years of the 20th Century?

Why did they commit such inconceivable crimes under the name of Islam?

The answer is because they faced a widespread and general desire that could only be confronted and contained by naked oppression.

The Iranian regime innovated most of the cruelties and evil crimes that were later

The Iranian Resistance and its vanguard women launched their fight against a regime which not only was the enemy of the people of Iran but the main threat to the entire Middle East.

We have been warning since three decades ago that Islamic fundamentalism is a global threat.

Over the past 15 years, this threat has emerged in the form of terrorism and conflicts in the Middle East.

Today, we can see that European capitals have not remained immune from terrorist crimes carried out by fundamentalists. Wherever fundamentalists guided by the mullahs enter the scene, their terrorism and destruction quickly begins.

In conclusion, I would like to underscore the imperative and necessity for the entire world to confront this ominous phenomenon.

The mullahs of Iran and their fundamentalist disciples are not only the enemy of the people of Iran, but also the enemies of all Middle East nations and the entire world.

In particular, in so far as it concerns women, fundamentalism targets and jeopardizes all the achievements that women have made to date.

Therefore, confronting the Iranian regime should be the immediate goal of women’s struggle all over the world. Women’s international sisterhood and solidarity demands that they support the fight against the fundamentalist regime of Iran.

In Iran’s Women’s Prisons, Injustice and Atrocity

March 23, 2017

In Iran’s Women’s Prisons, Injustice and Atrocity, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Abigail R. Esman, March 23, 2017

(Please see also, Dr. Majid Rafizadeh: Why the Islamist State of Iran is So Dangerous. What are we going to do about Iran? Where are the “feminists?” Can’t we at least support the resistance movement? — DM)

On a warm day last April, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe dressed her toddler Gabrielle, kissed her parents goodbye, and set off to catch her flight back home to London.

She never made it.

Instead, Islamic Revolutionary Guards apprehended the then-37-year-old at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport and transported her to Iran’s infamous Evin prison, where prisoners are routinely tortured and women subjected regularly to sexual abuse and rape.

In September, the dual British-Iranian citizen, who had been visiting her parents in Tehran before being apprehended, was sentenced to five years imprisonment on vague “national security charges.”

To date, no evidence has been produced to substantiate the charge. Her family believes it stems largely from her work as an executive with the Thomson-Reuters Foundation, whose mission, to “stand for free independent journalism, human rights, and the rule of law,” is not wholly compatible with the Iranian regime. Employees of charitable organizations are also a frequent target of Iranian officials, who often accuse them of being spies.

In the meantime, her daughter, who has British but not Iranian citizenship, remains with her grandparents, while Zaghari-Radcliffe’s British husband, Richard Ratcliffe, continues to fight from the UK for her release.

Iranian arrests of dual-nationals are not uncommon – the current government does not recognize the second nationality of its citizens – and arbitrary arrests on trumped-up charges of spying are a signature of the regime. In addition, women, both Iranian and dual-nationals, increasingly are being targeted as they speak out against the misogyny of their rulers. As the Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) observes, “Under the mullahs’ rule in Iran, women are supposed to stay home and therefore, having any kind of political or civil rights activity is considered a serious crime for women and evokes greater retaliation by the government.”

Zaghari-Ratcliffe has felt that retaliation. For nine months, she withstood agonizing conditions in solitary confinement: “Every day and every second I would submerge more and more in an ocean of doubt, fear, threat, loneliness and more than anything mistrust,” she wrote in a letter to her husband earlier this month. “… My wails would go unheard in that tiny, dingy, cold, grey cell … In solitary, there was a moment when I realised that there is a level of pain that I hadn’t experience before, a pain thousands of times longer, more overwhelming than child birth, without a happy ending.”

But prison conditions for women, who endure the same forms and level of torture as male prisoners, can be even more horrific. They are raped, groped, and subjected to other forms of sexual abuse. Their genitals may be forcibly subjected to invasive “searches.”  Even their fellow female prisoners can pose a threat: except at Evin, where prisoners are segregated according to the nature of their crime, women prisoners are held together regardless of the charges against them. Consequently, political detainees can be housed “amongst ordinary and often dangerous inmates,” the NCRI reports.

But Evin, where most political detainees are incarcerated, is in every other way far worse than most other prisons. Women are thrown immediately into solitary confinement, where they will remain for months before being released into an overcrowded, vermin-infested women’s ward. And it is at Evin that some of the most horrifying torture takes place, particularly against political prisoners. The NCRI report describes women detainees hung by their hands and feet, subjected to repeated cigarette burns, and suffering beatings severe enough to cause internal bleeding. They may be threatened with rape or execution and, as at all Iranian prisons, denied communication with family or even an attorney.

Conditions are even worse at Qarchak Women’s Prison, where a single hall holds 600 beds for 2,000 prisoners, most of whom therefore sleep on the floor, according to Al-Arabiya. In addition, the NCRI notes, “there is no good drinking water. The prisoners who [can] not afford to buy mineral water have no option but to drink salty water.” And regular inspections of women’s genitals in the name of “security” can be violent, resulting in severe injury. Those who dare protest are subjected to physical torture, or placed in solitary confinement with a “psychologically disturbed prisoner,” reports Al-Arabiya.

Added to this are the abysmal physical conditions of women’s prisons overall, which receive a miniscule portion of the overall prison budget. Most are therefore situated in repurposed warehouses and other abandoned buildings. Some lack walls or roofs. At others, AIDS, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases are rampant, the possibility of contamination made worse by lack of ventilation in the wards.

Yet despite the disease, the abuse, and the injuries that result, political prisoners – male or female – are generally denied access to medical care. Some have gone blind as a result of their treatment. At Evin, Zaghari-Ratcliffe reportedly is having trouble walking, considered suicide, and recently collapsed when finally permitted to visit the prison clinic.

None of this is particularly new. Iran has a long history of abusive treatment of women prisoners, reaching back to the 1980s when virgins were routinely raped before being executed, a practice that became “systematic,” according to the British Foreign Policy Centre. Often, such rapes were justified on religious grounds, based on Quranic verses that describe virgins as inherently innocent. In other cases, female political prisoners were married off to their jailor rapists or even lawyers in exchange for avoiding execution. Such practices continued, according to several reports, well into the 1990s and later.

Moreover, the misogynistic nature of Iranian society makes women especially vulnerable to psychological torture. The Foreign Policy Centre report describes a history of women forced to choose between “confessing” to promiscuity, describing often invented details of their sex lives to their families or even on television, or serving sentences for political crimes they had not committed. Given the possible repercussions women can face for sexual promiscuity – honor killings among them – many have chosen prison. Those who do not, frequently now live, even after their release, in continued fear of the vengeance of family and community.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and family.

Yet even these kinds of choices do not seem to have been made available to Zaghari-Ratcliffe, whose husband provides continuing reports online on her condition. Moreover, because Iran does not recognize her British citizenship, she has had no access to UK consular services, and the British government can do little to help her. Diplomatic pressures may not matter anyway. In 2011, Iran executed a Dutch-Iranian woman despite assurances to the Dutch government that her life would be spared.

Nonetheless, in her March 14 letter to her husband, Zaghari-Ratcliffe described her determination to fight back, despite “my shattered dreams and their broken, empty promises….We shall overcome this pain. Today freedom has got one day closer.”

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh: Why the Islamist State of Iran is So Dangerous

March 22, 2017

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh: Why the Islamist State of Iran is So Dangerous, Clarion ProjectElliot Friedland, March 22, 2017

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh. (Photo: Supplied)

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a world-renowned Iranian-American political scientist,  businessman and author. He is a leading expert on Iran, Middle East, US foreign policy, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East and North Africa. Harvard-educated, Rafizadeh serves on the board on Harvard International Review. Born in Iran, Dr. Rafizadeh lived most of his life in Iran and Syria.

He can be reached on Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh or by email at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu

He graciously agreed to speak with Clarion Project Dialogue Coordinator Elliot Friedland about Iran and why he feels so strongly about the threat posed by the regime. The views expressed below are those of Dr. Rafizadeh’s and not necessarily those of Clarion Project.

1. Clarion Project: What do you think is so dangerous about the regime of Iran?

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh: There are so many reasons why the Islamist state of Iran is extremely dangerous. They could fill an entire book.

Briefly speaking, I believe there are four major reasons, or what I will call, five concentric forces of extremism and fundamentalism:

First of all, from my perspective, the Iranian regime is far more dangerous than terrorist groups such as the Islamic State or Al Qaeda. On a daily basis, Iran tortures and executes people on a much larger scale than terrorist organizations such as ISIS. It is the top state sponsor of terrorism in the world. It supports militarily and financially hundreds of militia and terrorist groups all around the world. It regularly gives birth to terrorist groups. Only one country, the Islamist state of Iran single-handedly assists almost one quarter of world-designated terrorist groups. The Iranian regime contributes in terrorist attacks around the world. This means that the Iranian regime is responsible for blood spilled across many nations, for the slaughter of countless victims of terrorism. Iran has placed spies, lobbyists and agents across the globe, even in the U.S.

The Iranian regime is more dangerous than ISIS and Al Qaeda combined because the Islamist state of Iran operates under the “legitimacy” of the state system. Unlike ISIS or Al Qaeda, the Iranian regime has easily gotten away with its brutal actions for almost four decades because it is a “government” and supported by the United Nations when it comes to sovereignty. Since the ruling clerics rule a country, no one questions their actions.

Unlike terrorists groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda, the Iranian regime has powerful ballistic missiles which can hit any country in the region; it has military institutions, it hires hundreds of thousands of militiamen, it freely controls the wealth of a large nation and wields all of the influence that comes with it. Instead of solely focusing on ISIS, the international community should also address the Iranian regime.

A military parade in Iran. (Photo: Getty Images)

 

Secondly, the Iranian regime is a radical theocracy. This means that its core pillars are anchored in radical Islamism and extreme interpretations of the religion of Islam. The Iranian regime imposes strict Shia sharia laws to suppress and control its population and export its ideology beyond its borders.  For nearly four decades, the ruling political establishment has exploited Islam and used their fundamentalist version of Islam in order to advance its parochial, religious, ideological, revolutionary and political interests. From the Iranian regime’s perspective, it is mandatory to commit any act of terrorism necessary to advance these religious and political goals.

Third, the Iranian regime ranks at the very top when it comes to human rights abuses according to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. This regime brutally cracks down on religious and ethnic minorities. It crushes all kinds of freedoms on a daily basis, engages in torture, and executes children.

Fourth, the Iranian regime’s objective is to spread its Shia radical Islamism across the globe. The Islamist state of Iran’s constitution clearly states that it is the mission of the Islamic state to export its ideology, religion and revolutionary principles beyond its borders. The functions of Iran’s Quds Force, proxies, lobbyists and agents among others, are to accomplish this goal. The constitution mandates an “Imam” or “Velyat-e Faqih” to rule people; which is another form of authoritarian theocracy. The regime believes that the world will be ruled under the power of the Islamic state of Iran and its Shia sharia law. It will do anything to achieve this religious and political objective.

Fifth, the Iranian regime aims at directly damaging the US and Israel’s national security interests in addition to any other country that opposes its authoritarian views. The regime has killed Americans and Westerners and it continues to fund efforts to harm the lives of American and Israeli people, as well as millions of other people.

 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif laughs during the nuclear negotiations. (Photo: Reuters)

 

2. Clarion: The Iranian people are a lot more liberal than the regime. How can outside powers such as the United States reach out to and empower the people without emboldening the regime?

Rafizadeh: First of all, the U.S. government and other powers need to cooperate with those voices which oppose the theocratic and Islamist state of Iran. Powerful countries should stand on the right side of history.  There are many human rights groups and civil societies inside and outside of Iran that aim to democratize Iran and eliminate its violence. The U.S. specifically can help these people and unite the groups they form. It is in the long-term interest of any influential country that makes the effort to unify those that oppose the Islamic state and the human rights activists that struggle against it. Providing support to  opposition groups is an effective tool that will empower the Iranian people without emboldening the government. Seeing these groups strengthen and grow in numbers would frighten Iran’s government and weaken its grasp on the country as a whole.

Secondly, the U.S. and other powerful countries should cease all diplomatic, political, or economic ties with the Islamist state of Iran. They need to put pressure on the regime to respect human rights and to moderate its militaristic and ideological foreign policy. Four decades of diplomacy has not changed the violent behavior of the Islamist state of Iran.

A building in Tehran emblazoned with anti-American graffiti. (Photo: ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

3. Clarion: Now that the Iran Deal has gone through and will be upheld, what is the next step for those worried about the regime’s nuclear ambitions?

Rafizadeh: I strongly believe, and we should all be aware, that the Iranian regime will use every opportunity to acquire nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are the Iranian regime’s golden shield which can guarantee its rule for eternity and will ensure the achievement of its radical goals.

The nuclear deal is very dangerous. When it expires, it will allow Iran to legally become a nuclear state. It is already providing Iran with billions of dollars every year, wealth that is used for extremism, terrorism, damaging U.S. national interests, and killing Westerners and Americans.

The nuclear activities of the Iranian regime should be monitored by independent groups meticulously. History has shown us, that the International Atomic Energy Agency or the UN will not detect Iran’s undercover nuclear operations. They have failed to do so several times.  All violations should be brought to the attention of the public. In addition, sanctions (particularly the UN Security Council’s sanctions) should be re-imposed on the Iranian regime. The Iranian regime should be punished for its ballistic activities and violations of UN resolutions. Without consequences, they have no motivation to limit their activities or progress toward becoming a nuclear state.

Then Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tours the nuclear facility at Natanz. (Photo: Reuters)

4. Clarion: Should international activists who want to see the Iranian situation improve be using a policy of detente and engagement or isolation, boycotts and shaming?

Rafizadeh: The only policy that has resulted in success against the Iranian Regime was the application of pressure and boycotts. For example, in several cases, when there has been an international outcry and when the media paid attention to a victim of torture or execution in Iran, the Iranian regime has been forced to change its sentence. The economic boycotts successfully forced the Iranian regime to the negotiating table.

For the Islamic state of Iran, engagement and concessions signal weakness, not diplomacy. Negotiations only embolden and empower the regime. Applying pressure is the most effective, and likely only way, to create change within the regime.

A woman protests against nuclear weapons for Iran at a rally in Times Square. (Photo: KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images

5.  Clarion: What is the most important thing people who want to eliminate extremism and see positive relations between Muslims and non Muslims should be doing?

Rafizadeh: The most important thing is to do what you [Clarion] are doing: to give a voice to those Muslims who strongly oppose radical Islam and attempt to create reforms from within Islam. Those silent moderate Muslims need to speak up, and need to be supported when they do. If we stay silent, radical Islam will continue winning and expanding. It is our job to strongly stand against radical Islam even if that endangers our life. People should know that there are truly some Muslims who want to forge genuine reformation in Islam and help eliminate radical Islam.

Many Muslims, including myself and my family, who have endured oppression under radical Islam in Muslim nations, would like to eliminate radical Islam, promote a peaceful moderate form of Islam and lead a reformation.

Finally, I describe in detail other important topics in this article “As a Muslim, I am shocked by Leftists and Liberals” as well as in my books.

I grew up between two authoritarian governments, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Syria, under the leadership of people such as Assad, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. My youth was influenced by two major denominations of Islam in the Muslim world; the Shia and Sunni. I also studied Shia and Sunni Islam academically, and at one point I was a very devout Muslim. My parents, who still live in Iran and Syria, come from two different ethnic Muslim groups; Arab and Persian.

Unfortunately, in the West and particularly in the US I have witnessed that there are some groups, who have access to megaphones, including liberals, democrats, leftists and Western Muslim scholars (who have never experienced radical Islam first hand and have never lived under states ruled by sharia law) spread apologetic views toward radical Islam. They also criticize those Muslims who attempt to promote social justice and peace within Islam.

If liberals, leftists and many Western Muslim scholars truly stand for values which they call for, such as peace and social justice, they should be aware that their actions are actually contributing to the expansion of radical Islam, and they are hurting us and our efforts to lead reformation in Islam and weaken radical Islam.