Bipartisan agreement in US politics is extremely rare these days. But support for democracy in Iran is one cause that effortlessly unites the left and the right in unprecedented ways. For example, senior lawmakers from both parties last month joined the leaders of Iranian-American communities in a congressional briefing to introduce House Resolution 374.
This resolution has now been endorsed by a majority in the House of Representatives. It condemns Iranian state-sponsored terrorism and expresses unambiguous support for the Iranian people’s desire for a democratic, secular, and non-nuclear republic. House Resolution 374 has a growing list of Democratic and Republican co-sponsors, reaching 221 — including representatives from 41 states and 12 committees — before it was presented to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The resolution lines up equally well with the Democratic Party’s principles and with the Trump administration’s strategy of “maximum pressure” on the Iranian regime. It outlines an assertive policy against a brutal regime but stops well short of endorsing US boots on the ground; instead supporting the homegrown organized opposition.
To pressure the Iranian regime and support the Iranian people, members of Congress have been communicating with domestic Iranian-American communities. One group of senior congressmen, including Republican Tom McClintock and Democrat Brad Sherman, last week spoke to Iranian-Americans and lent their support to their cause in an online video conference. Rep. McClintock said: “The regime’s destabilizing behavior has continued, and acts of terrorism will be addressed. The Iranian resistance has been a target of Iranian terrorism. We condemn these terror acts.”
One of the reasons that the regime in Tehran fears the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) is that it is currently considered the largest Iranian opposition group in exile and has connections with people on the ground in Iran. Many believe that this gives the opposition the crucial resources it needs to play a significant role in counterbalancing the power of the ruling ayatollahs, pushing for a democratic system of governance in Iran, and preserving the US’ national and economic interests.
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei also fears that foreign governments may cooperate with the opposition, magnifying its power to inspire disaffected youths in Iran into protesting against the regime. In other words, when it comes to confronting the regime, the view of Khamenei and the senior cadres of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is that the soft power of Iran’s ordinary people and opposition is much more potent than the military capacities of foreign powers.
This is why, following the 2018 and 2019 mass protests against the theocracy, regime officials, including Khamenei, blamed the NCRI for organizing and leading the demonstrations. The largest series of protests broke out in 2018 — the year that NCRI president-elect Maryam Rajavi had predicted would be “full of uprisings.”
Rajavi last week commended the representatives of the American people for co-sponsoring House Resolution 374. She told the members of Congress: “The Iranian people have struggled against two dictatorships and for freedom. They overthrew the shah and will continue their struggle to overthrow the mullahs’ regime and to achieve freedom. They are encouraged that this resolution supports one of their goals for a republic based on the separation of religion and state. The Iranian people will be inspired to know that the representatives of the American people hear their voice.”
Previously, House Resolution 4744 of 2018 condemned the Iranian regime’s crackdown on dissidents, including the massacre of some 30,000 political prisoners in the summer of 1988. Significantly, the new resolution makes it clear that such incidents are part of the DNA of the regime and that they give Iran’s organized resistance movement an undeniable right to pursue the ouster of the theocracy.
House Resolution 374’s recognition of the Iranian people’s struggle “to establish a democratic, secular, and non-nuclear republic of Iran” is a clear expression of values that are shared across the political spectrum in the US. And it represents the endorsement of a grassroots Iranian movement to emulate democratic principles in the heart of the Middle East. That vision has been laid out in some detail by Rajavi in the form of a 10-point plan for the future of the country.
If put into place with support from the American people and the rest of the international community, that plan would establish free and fair elections, the separation of religion from the state, equal protection under the law for women and minorities, and a commitment to nonaggression and nonintervention with neighboring countries, which are currently reeling under the destructive influence of the mullahs’ regime.
The moral impact of this support for Iran’s democratic movement is immeasurably encouraging for a people facing a ruined economy and political injustices, as well as a fatal pandemic.
At a time when the Iranian people have an overwhelming appetite for overthrow and democratic change, they can see that people around the world, especially in the US, are cheering for their cause.