Written by Mohammad Sadat Khansar
Professor Raymond Tanter, a former staff member of the U.S. National Security Council has urged the Trump Administration to add the Iranian regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) to the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO).
In an article for Newsmax on Wednesday, Prof Tanter urged U.S. President Donald Trump to stand on the side of the Iranian people and the organized opposition that seeks freedom, democracy and a nonnuclear republic for Iran.
Prof Tanter wrote: I attended a Rally in June to interview supporters of the National Council of Resistance of Iran whose president-elect, Madame Maryam Rajavi addressed the rally via video. She said, “religious dictatorship is a paper tiger when it comes to facing off with the Iranian Resistance. And its fate is no different from the fate of the Shah’s dictatorship.”
Prof Tanter added: Vice President Mike Pence acknowledged the rally and march on June 22 when he told Face the Nation, “What we want to do is stand with the Iranian people, thousands of whom gathered outside the White House on Friday, and thousands of whom took to the streets last year in communities across Iran.”
The article went on to say: And on July 2, President Trump cranked up the pressure on Iran with enhanced economic sanctions and a stronger military presence in the Persian Gulf. He warned its leaders on July 2, 2019 that [Iran] is “playing with fire.”
Prof Tanter referred to a new publication by former State Department official, Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield, about the main democratic Iranian opposition group People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK).
In Ayatollahs and the MEK, Lincoln Bloomfield Jr. writes:
On June 19, 1981, [Massoud] Rajavi called on the population of Iran to turn out en masse for a peaceful protest against the assault on their freedoms.
The public responded the next day in cities across the country, with a half-million protesting in Tehran alone. Faced with a massive display of public rejection reminiscent of the Shah’s final days, Khomeini ordered his security forces to open fire on the crowds. Dozens were killed and thousands arrested.
Prof Tanter added:
The description above resonates well because it is consistent with my observations as an official on the National Security Council staff, 1981-1982.
Reading classified cables from abroad, news accounts, and interviewing those who had just returned from Iran and nearby countries, gave me a birds-eye view of the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI), aka Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and Paris and Washington-based umbrella organization the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
The Way Forward:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put forth demands for Iran to meet to reduce economic pressure and renegotiate a new Deal. It has been just over a year that President Trump withdrew from this political commitment among the parties. The original members included the United States, Iran, the EU, Germany, France, the UK, Russia, and China.
On May 8, 2018, President Trump announced the United States would cease to participate in the Iran Deal and would instead embark on a new strategy to end Iran’s destabilizing behavior and prevent Iran from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon. Secretary of State Pompeo stated requirements for Iran during a speech at the Heritage Foundation on May 21.
Below are a few of them:
Iran’s nuclear aspirations cannot be separated from the overall security picture.
Iran must declare to the IAEA a full account of the prior military dimensions of its nuclear program, and permanently and verifiably abandon such work in perpetuity.
Iran must stop enrichment and never pursue plutonium reprocessing.
Iran must end its proliferation of ballistic missiles and halt further launching or development of nuclear-capable missile systems.
Iran must end support to Mideast terrorist groups, including Lebanese Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Iran must respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi Government and permit the disarming, demobilization, and reintegration of Shia militias.
Iran must also end its military support for the Houthi militia and work towards a peaceful political settlement in Yemen.
Iran must withdraw all forces under Iranian command throughout the entirety of Syria.
Iran must end the IRG Qods Force’s support for terrorists and militant partners around the world.
President Trump should consider placing more pressure on the Iranian regime to force it either to alter its behavior or provide space for the discontented population to continue its organized opposition and topple the regime.
The Supreme Leader’s office has been behind terror operations abroad, it needs to be designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), as should the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS)
Economic pressure and credible threats to reply to another attack on a U.S. drone need to be reinforced by assisting the Iranian people in their efforts to change the regime from within.
Regime change from within serves the U.S. national interest for Iran: Tehran has a viable coalition of dissidents as evidenced by NCRI.
And Tehran is fearful of this organized opposition, as the MOIS Intelligence Minister announced in April 2019 the arrest of over 100 Resistance Units who are responsible for leading the protests in Iran.
President Trump: Attention paid is an indicator of importance attributed. The fact that Iran arrested the Resistance Units shows the significance of the organized opposition.
Prof. Raymond Tanter served as a senior member on the Middle East Desk of the National Security Council staff in the Reagan-Bush administration, Personal Representative of the Secretary of Defense to international security and arms control talks in Europe, and is now Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan.