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Outside View: Iran years after the revolt
by Struan Stevenson
Brussels (UPI) Feb 14, 2013

Gulf monarchies reject 'provocative' Iran talks idea
Dubai (AFP) Feb 14, 2013 - The Gulf monarchies on Thursday rejected as a provocation an Iranian proposal to include the Syria crisis and the situation in Bahrain on the agenda of upcoming talks on Tehran's nuclear programme.

The head of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Abdellatif Zayani, announced the "total rejection" of the Iranian proposition, calling it "a provocation" and "interference in the internal affairs of Arab states."

He was reacting to comments by Iran's deputy minister for Asian affairs, Abbas Araghchi, who was cited by the Mehr news agency on Tuesday as saying Tehran had "proposed that the crises in Syria and Bahrain be the subject of talks with the Western powers in Kazakhstan."

It was a way of "mixing up the cards", which reflected "Iran's procrastination and lack of seriousness in reaching a settlement that puts an end to regional and international concerns over its nuclear programme," Zayani said in a statement.

Iran's charge d'affaires was summoned on Thursday by Bahrain's foreign ministry, where he was handed a note of protest, the official BNA news agency reported.

The Iranian proposal was "an interference in Bahrain's internal affairs and a violation of sovereignty," which "stirs regional tensions and instability," the agency added.

The comments by the Gulf states come less than two weeks before Iran and the so-called P5+1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany -- are due to resume discussions in Kazakhstan, eight months after they were suspended.

The talks aim to address a key Western concern about Iran's capacity to enrich uranium to fissile purities of 20 percent, a process that can be used for peaceful atomic purposes as well as for making the core of a nuclear bomb.

Relations between Iran and the GCC have plunged to a new low, with Tehran suspected of supporting Shiite opposition protests in Bahrain against the Sunni monarchy.

The Islamic Republic is also a staunch ally of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, while the Gulf monarchies are key backers of the rebels in the conflict that has raged for almost two years and cost tens of thousands of lives.

The Iranian people had many hopes after the fall of the shah in February 1979 but that great revolution was hijacked by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and the Islamic fundamentalists and a much more ruthless tyranny began.

Thousands of political prisoners have been executed. The brutal suppression of women, young people and religious and ethnic minorities have continued without pause. The United Nations has condemned these atrocities in 59 General Assembly resolutions.

Iran has endangered peace and security in the region and the world through its efforts to acquire a nuclear bomb, first revealed by the Iranian opposition in 2002, and through the export of terrorism and fundamentalism. The regime is the main supporter of Bashar Assad in Syria and the emerging dictatorship in Iraq under Nouri al-Maliki.

U.S. and European policy regarding Iran in these 34 years has been an absolute failure. The main opposition People's Mujahedin of Iran was placed in various terrorist blacklists at the behest of Iran. That was a precious gift to the mullahs and acted as the main obstacle for democratic change.

The PMOI and their political coalition -- the National Council of Resistance of Iran -- together with their allies in many parliaments launched a massive campaign against this injustice and won historic court victories in both the United Kingdom and the European Union when the respective judges ordered that they should be de-listed.

Finally, this judicial battle was victorious in the United States when the State Department under Hilary Clinton ordered their de-listing on Sept. 28, 2012.

It was therefore a disappointment that in a recent conference in Munich, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden offered Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Iranian supreme leader, direct negotiations.

It is crystal clear that negotiations with this regime lead nowhere, simply buying them more time to develop their nuclear arsenal, spread terror and intensify their oppression.

Khamenei's negative response on Feb. 7 to Biden's initiative showed that such offers are taken as signs of weakness and are counterproductive and would only add to the Iranian people's distrust of the West. Iranians haven't yet forgotten U.S. President Barack Obama's cold shoulder to the general uprising in 2009.

Today, this regime is the weakest it has ever been. Social isolation, deep economic crises and society's explosive potential have created fault lines inside the regime.

Confrontation between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Khamenei is an everyday occurrence, while up until a couple of years ago Ahmadinejad was Khamenei's hand-picked puppet.

Similarly confrontation between Ahmadinejad and the Larijani brothers who control the Parliament and the judiciary and confrontation between Iran's traditional bazaar and Khamenei, and Khamenei's isolation among the senior clerics have placed the regime on the brink of collapse.

Under these circumstances, the external powers' softness and appeasement toward this regime only help to resolve its crises and encourage it to be more aggressive.

There is no need for foreign military intervention to bring about regime change in Iran. The Syrian scenario won't be repeated in Iran because there is a leading movement in Iran that didn't exist in Syria.

What we need is to adopt a firm policy, implement wide-ranging sanctions and back the Iranian democratic opposition.

The execution of more than 120,000 PMOI members and activists, the eviction of its members from their homes in Camp Ashraf in Iraq, and placing them on Western terror lists haven't only failed to destroy them but have actually given them further strength and solidarity.

By surviving these crises, the PMOI, under the leadership of Maryam Rajavi, is further qualified to lead the Iranian people toward its goal of regime change.

(Struan Stevenson is a Conservative Euro Member of Parliament from Scotland. He is president of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq. He also is chairman of the "Friends of a Free Iran" intergroup in European Parliament.)

(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)


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