The Antwerp Trial Effect, and pathways to a free Iran, with Heshmat Alavi

Interview by Rachel Brooks

Special guest: Heshmat Alavi 

January 16, 2021

Interviewers questions are in bold, responses are in plain text throughout. 

Image credit: “Antwerp. The railway cathedral.” by e³°°° is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

First, perhaps you would like to introduce yourself to our audience and tell me a little bit more about your work regarding the emancipation of Iranians from the regime.  

I am an Iranian activist focused on the Iranian regime’s human rights violations, domestic crackdown, support for proxy/terrorist groups across the region and beyond, meddling in foreign countries, developing its ballistic missile program, advancing its nuclear program that I believe is a cover for a secret nuclear weapons drive, and last but not least, shedding light on the regime’s network of apologists and lobbyists abroad. 

This interview is a follow up to our previous look at the policy issues presented by the Antwerp Trial of Iran regime bombers, who attempted a massive attack on a regime-opposition gathering near Paris in 2018. Read our first review of “The Antwerp Trial Effect” below.  

Antwerp Trial Effect: JCPOA dead on arrival to Biden administration

 What are your opinions are of the west’s revert to soft policy and attempts to renegotiate the JCPOA. Do you believe the US can reenter discussion with the regime, or will Iran make the conditions impossible? If the EU is to back out or exercise heavier conditions due to the issues of the Antwerp trial, then do you believe Great Britain will attempt to steer the western dialogue with Iran?

 

I believe there are individuals strongly supporting the policy of appeasement vis-à-vis Iran and the regime understands it very well. That is why Tehran is resorting to its known tactic of nuclear extortion, such as increasing uranium enrichment up to 20 percentthreatening to throw out inspectors of the IAEA, the UN nuclear watchdog, and now we have the Wall Street Journal report of Iran taking a new step toward possible atomic-weapons production, according to what UN inspectors are saying in a confidential report.

I do believe the U.S. will attempt to reenter talks with the Iranian regime, especially considering the lineup of the new administration, but I do have to add that Iran’s malign measures have made a complete return to the Obama years impossible. Iran is raising the stakes as much as possible to have a high hand in possible new talks and thus demand incentives from the U.S. while giving up less of its interests. For example, they could offer to step back from 20 percent uranium enrichment for sanctions relief on oil exports.

Through such a practice the U.S. would gain nothing, while the Iranian regime would obtain incentives and not suffer a significant loss, meaning back to square one. The new administration in the U.S. should be very much aware and prepared for Iran’s tactics to prevent it from advancing its interests at the price of the international community’s pockets. 

The Antwerp trial is a strategic blow to Iran as it portrays how the regime resorts to terrorism to pursue its foreign policy. However, Tehran could in secret talks offer lucrative economic incentives to the EU in return for pledges to not resort to such acts of terrorism on the Green Continent.

It is quite obvious that the Iranian regime cannot be trusted. Unfortunately, the EU has a history of welcoming economic deals with the Iranian regime while turning a blind eye to the mullah’s human rights violations at home and support for terrorism abroad, the two pillars of this regime.

The EU may exercise heavier demands, yet I don’t believe Great Britain will pursue anything dramatic. London has its interests, such as resolving the Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe dossier, which could end in Iran releasing her in return for certain incentives from the UK. The British government has shown discouraging signs. “The British Foreign Office has said it is not legally obligated to provide assistance to a British-Iranian woman held in Iran since 2016, a position that raises questions about how much protection a Western power is willing to offer its citizens at risk, and what Britain’s international role should be after its exit from the European Union,” according to The New York Times. 

We cannot turn a blind eye to the possibility of the West’s appeasement with Iran, while this makes the responsibilities of activists like myself to redouble our efforts to raise awareness and expose the dangers of such policies that will most definitely be exploited by the Iranian regime. 

How does the west’s extremely negative opinion of Iran’s regional neighbors impact its continued placation of the regime? We see that even the Ayatollah is allowed to have Twitter.

I believe this falls into the category of certain incentives that the West indirectly provides to the regime with the failed mentality that such measures will “tame the beast,” so to say. It is a reality that Chamberlain appeased Hitler, literally leading to World War II. Why western governments return to appeasement may be a mystery to some. Tehran has come to understand that governments in the West may come and go after four or five years, leading to changes in their foreign policy. Iran exploits this by offering short-term incentives while pursuing its strategies at the cost of tactical setbacks that can be overcome in the long run.

 

What would your message to the western world be regarding Iran, and how can they come back with a better regional policy that keeps the regime at bay, or influences a liberation of Iranian civil rights? What is the “revelation” or turning point that western powers need to have before their interventionism a) complicates the situation or b) their lack of concise policy opens the door to a coalition with other economic superpowers like China and Russia that cannot be mediated without a massive overhaul of the world order? 

What the West needs to understand that placating Tehran’s mullahs has failed for 41 years and counting. A strong resolve is needed to bring an end to this approach by standing alongside the Iranian people and their organized opposition movement found in the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

The Iranian people have shown in their protests and nationwide uprisings of December 2017, January 2018, November 2019, and January 2020 that they are willing to rise and overthrow this regime. These protests have calmed due to the coronavirus pandemic and that is exactly why the regime is ridiculously banning vaccines from the US and UK, knowing a vaccinated society poses the risk of people pouring into the streets once again.

The mullahs have repeatedly identified the MEK, the cornerstone member of the NCRI, as the force behind these protests and uprisings

See this article for more.  

Khamenei also claimed that protest leaders were “henchmen” and members of the “MEK,” a reference to the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (aka MKO), or People’s Mujahedin of Iran, an exiled dissident group that backs the overthrow of Iran’s leadership. He claimed the MKO had been “hired as minions for this plot.”

State media outlets also have claimed that protest leaders have been either member of MKO or monarchists.

See this article on this topic: It’s Time to Support the Iranian Opposition that Tehran Wants to Destroy

The solution to a free Iran is quite simple. No need for another war, foreign intervention, or even foreign financial support for the Iranian opposition. End the appeasement of Iran’s regime by adopting a firm policy demanding Tehran bring an end to its malign practices of human rights violations, domestic crackdown, support for proxy/terrorist groups across the region and beyond, meddling in foreign countries, developing its ballistic missile program, advancing its nuclear [weapons]program.

If such an approach is adopted, rest assured that the Iranian people and their organized resistance are more than capable of overthrowing the mullahs’ regime in a short time period that will shock the world like the unexpected fall of the Soviet Union. If the West chooses to continue its failed appeasement approach, it will take more time for us to witness the regime’s downfall in Iran. Yet rest assured, their end is inevitable.