Important lesson of Libya's victory over dictators
Important lesson of Libya's victory over dictators for Syria and Iranian regime
By: Rob Witter
Libya has reached the tipping point. Past this pivotal point is the road to democracy paved with a constitution establishing a Libyan government of the people, by the people and for the people.
The struggle of the Libyan people over the last six months has been an important movement that has shown what the people feel for their longstanding dictators. Col Gaddafi has done little in his 42 years of reign to help his country progress —why should a nation with such vast resources as Libya have an unemployment rate of 30 per cent? Gaddafi was lucky to head a nation blessed with such highly valued resources as oil and gas, but he has hardly helped the people – who have finally spoken and shown just what they want.
The democracy that awaits the Libyan people will give them a voice and a sense of belonging they have not had with Gaddafi at the helm. It’s democracy that has been oppressed along with the people, and what the Arab Revolution has shown is that the people want a state that works with them and gives them a voice.
This can’t, however, be said for the current regime in Iran. Headed by extremist mullahs with a twisted understanding of Islam, the Iranian people are yet to see any form of democracy from this current brutal regime since it took power in 1979.
The Arabs are speaking out all across the Middle East and North Africa. The dictators of these regions have shown they care little for the people they are supposed to be the guardians of.
In a similar vein, the Iranian people rose up in defiance of Ayatollah Khameini’s regime in 2009 but were, once more, brutally supressed. These Iranians that dared to speak out simply demanded what the Arabs are now demanding: democracy and justice.
For Iran, democracy and justice awaits and sits waiting in the form of the MEK. They are an organised, democratic party with an elected president and cabinet that is recognised by an array of countries. Following conflicts with the Iranian regime between 1979 and 1981, they were wrongfully placed on the list of Foreign Terrorist Organisations because they took measures to try and stop today’s Iranian regime from hijacking the Iranian Revolution that began in 1979 where the US-backed Shah was overthrown by the people.
However, since 2001 the MEK has denounced the use of any military force against the Iranian regime and has solely focused its efforts on organising a democratic party with carefully thought-out policies to truly represent the people of Iran. Today the MEK has been delisted as an FTO by many nations that include the UK, France, Germany, the European Union, Italy, Spain and many others all around the world. In fact, there are currently only three countries that still list the MEK as an FTO — Iran, the US and Canada.
It’s not difficult to see that the inconsistencies in the listings above are, indeed, blinding. For example, how can two nations such as the UK and the US, with such close ties and similar foreign policy agendas, view one group in an entirely different way? The answer lies in the game of politics and the use of bargaining chips.
It was the Clinton administration that placed the MEK on the list of FTOs in 1997 as a goodwill gesture towards an extremely belligerent Iran at that time. Since then the US has fretted much over making the logical step of delisting the MEK for fear that it might anger the crazed mullahs of Tehran.
The geopolitical world is changing shape in a short space of time. The current Arab Revolution is being steered by the people toward some good for their nations and now that the likes of Ben Ali, Mubarak and soon Gaddafi have been toppled, the time is ripe for further change to spread toward Syria, Iraq and Iran.
It is now more important than ever that the US State Department delists the MEK. The shift in geopolitics occurring in the Middle East and North Africa looks to be heading toward further unity in the region and is now a major worry for Iran, as its enemies are growing larger and more assured. This would be an opportune moment for the US to delist the MEK and recognise it as the formal democratic opposition group to the current Iranian dictatorship.
This week Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, congratulated the Libyan people for the advances they have made in ousting the oppressive Gaddafi in the last few days.
Rajavi rightfully pointed out that the Libyan revolution has “more than anyone terrified the Iranian regime”. Rajavi also spoke of Khameini’s active interference in collaborating with his alliance of neighbouring dictators in supressing the on-going Syrian uprisings.
“Seeing the fall of their regional allies, the mullahs are extremely terrified of the effects of these uprisings inside Iran and the expansion of popular protests throughout.
“During the past 30 years, the mullahs have financed tens of billions of dollars on establishing such an alliance and their main tool in exporting terrorism and fundamentalism in the region, and instigating crisis and blackmail on the international stage,” Rajavi added.
It is time for those on this international stage to begin discussing the alternatives to the Iranian regime. The media and the Obama administration need to begin a much-needed dialogue over the MEK. After all, they only need to speak to the distinguished dignitaries and former US state officials that have rallied and leapt to support the just cause of the MEK to assist it in spreading its message all around the world.
The US State Department’s decision regarding the delisting of the MEK is expected in the coming weeks. This is one instance where political games, bargaining chips and dramas of politics need to be put aside as we talk about the future and safety of the globe and in particular the Middle East and North Africa. Their people have suffered so much — especially since the beginning of the year — and are still suffering now, particularly in the case of Syria, to gain independence and to have their voice heard.
Let the martyrs who have fallen during this Arab Revolution and those who sacrificed themselves in the Iranian uprisings in 2009 not be forgotten. The media and the Obama administration must now step up to the plate and side with justice. They are the key to continuing the fight for democracy that the martyrs so bravely had the courage to stand out and speak up for.