By Rob Roberts
Mar 7, Bucharest: On 28 Feb, Romanian MPs joined a broader group of coalition activists from the Iranian opposition NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran) in Bucharest. Their objective was twofold: how the illegitimate Iranian Regime subjugates Women’s Rights inside Iran, stripping them of the basic human tenant of participating fully in civil society; and more broadly, the Iran regime’s destabilizing and hawkish efforts in Syria and the wider Middle East region.
Romanian MP Romeo Nicoara, the conference chair and Chairperson of the Romanian Parliamentary Committee for a Free Iran, shared the concerns of the conference with the Paris newswire The Media Express (TME). Nicoara spoke of the broad alliance of participating voices, including exiled Iranian academics residents in Bucharest, but also Syrian opposition members exiled in the Romanian capital. The Romanian Parliamentary Conference on Iran was titled ‘Human rights’ violations de-value a modern society’.
Iran regime’s ideological & financial support of global terrorism
On the fallout related to the Nuclear Deal under the Obama administration, Nicoara said that releasing huge amounts of money as part of the relief of trade sanctions had emboldened the Iranian regime. He added that Iran basically funds proxy insurgents to fight democratic-leaning rebels. Literally, Iran is fueling support for the Syrian dictator Assad and is responsible for other strategic unrest in Yemen and Iraq.
Exporting conflicts outside of Iran, Nicoara suspects, is what keeps the Ayatollah Khamenei’s ruling party partially safe from internal criticism. With that, the conversation then swiftly moved to focus on government level corruption. There are parallels between Iran and Romania. During February, upwards of 5,000 protestors have taken to the streets of Bucharest, marking their civic solidarity against the normalizing of government corruption.
TME quizzed Nicoara on the dent that civic footfall makes as legitimate force for change in European context, yet under the mullahs’ rule, can civil disobedience change a corrupt state government as Iran has today? Can change occur in terms of turning the tide on Iran’s human rights’ violations?
In the conference speeches, analysts underlined the barbaric nature of the Iranian justice system, which hands out the death penalty without due and just hearings. Nicoara cited young people, women, and ethnic minorities as all being oppressed by this system. With no hesitation, these groups firmly tell us, ‘The judicial system is unreformed. The judicial trial system is a simply a formality. The rules that we know in modern Western societies don’t apply. In Iran, it’s often just a formality before going to a hanging in the streets.’
An information war against discouraging messages
Working outside of Iran, yet as part of a wider coalition of Iranian diaspora, with the aim to enlighten Iran from the shadows of it’s recent past under a fanatical regime that is far from Islamic, the stakes are high. Towards liberating the Iranian people, TME asked Nicoara how it is that while Western governments and companies are cutting lucrative trade deals on food, technology and energy with the mullahs’ regime, they simply turn a blind eye on the violation of human rights?
Expressing support for Iranian regime change is met regularly with ‘discouraging messages’ from the political establishment here in Romania, said Nicoara. As a member of the opposition Liberal Party, he says, that these messages suggest there are interests at a national and executive level in Romania regarding conducting business with Iran.
Commenting on the impact of a tougher approach to dealing with the Iranian regime by the Trump administration, the Romanian Parliamentarian didn’t discount a snap-back on trade sanctions, particularly those that might be imposed on high-ranking officials of the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps). The IRGC commanders report solely to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, basically bypassing the justice system.
Reforming the mindset of a corrupt political establishment in Iran
TME posited to Nicoara that international trade deals simply bank-roll Khamenei’s personal empire. In the same breath, Khamenei shirks his civic responsibility as the leader who should improve the daily lives of normal Iranian people in terms of them enjoying the most basic rights: access decent health care; stable employment opportunity; a formal education; and social equality between men and women.
What about a sensible policy for moving forward on regime change in Iran: could labeling the IRGC as a terrorist organization help to counter its meddling in Syria, Iraq and Yemen? Nicoara’s response is enlightening, saying, ‘The IRGC at this moment is part of the political establishment in Iran, with a kind of military branch. If they would be labeled like a terrorist organization, this would mean that the government is a terrorist organization.’
The problem then isn’t solely at the feet of the West, but of the Iranian regime itself. As in the game of Mikado: make a good selection and the whole structure may come crashing down around the feet of the mullahs. Constructs including the United Nations, paying particular attention to the Nuclear Deal framework, may be the push towards a secular Iran that can once again embrace human rights in civic society.