By: Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
In an unprecedented move, a 23 member bi-partisan group of senior former US officials signed a critical letter and delivered it to President Donald Trump. The letter suggested new policy options regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran and the need for the US to open up a meaningful channel of communication with the Iranian opposition, namely the coalition, National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
This is something that has never been done under any other administration. The letter is signed by senior former US officials including Rudy Giuliani, Joseph Lieberman, Patrick Kennedy, General Hugh Shelton (a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Bill Clinton) to name a few. It explains that revised policies toward Iran are needed because Iran has used every opportunity since its establishment to scuttle US foreign policy objectives and damage US national, geopolitical, economic and strategic interests with the assistance of its proxies.
More importantly, the officials urge Trump to cooperate with Iran’s opposition, as other countries are doing the same “Bush publicly credited the resistance [NCRI]. It is time to end the fundamentalist regime’s undue influence over US policy and establish a channel of dialogue with the NCRI, as many other governments have done, consistent with the longstanding US diplomatic practice of dialogue with political opposition groups worldwide.” For Iranian leaders, the NCRI is a serious threat to their hold on power. They fear foreign governments’ cooperation with the NCRI because it would put significant pressure on the ruling clerics and tip the balance of power against them. Iranian leaders fear that Iranian opposition might inspire the disaffected youth in Iran to protest against the government. Khamenei has repeatedly shown that his main concern is such infiltrations.
Iranian leaders fear the soft power of oppositional groups more than the military and hard power of foreign governments.
More fundamentally, an Iran without the current ruling clerics in power would be a powerful US ally, rather than being an enemy sworn to consistently strive to damage US security and national interests. An Iran without the ruling clerics in power would fundamentally shift the regional and global balance of power in favor of the US.