The deal that the six international powers made with Iran may have addressed Iran’s nuclear program, but it has created, or maybe it is better to say exposed, an absence of strategy regarding other threats Iran poses to international order and stability. Iran’s ability to implement its plans in the Middle East is increased by the lack of a proper international response, which in turn stems from the aforementioned lack of an overall strategy.
The role of liberal democracies and, above all, the United States is distinguished also by their capability for maintaining order in an international society based upon certain values. Iran, for a long time now, has represented a security breach for this order by its sponsorship of terrorist organizations, and direct perpetration of terrorist attacks. Iran’s behavior has also faced our values, in the free world, with a functional challenge. Just as an example, by forcing the women members of the Swedish cabinet to wear veils.
The organizing principles of international society require its members to have a collective response to this threat the Iranian regime poses. The response must have two characteristics. First, it should be collective, and second it must factor in the realities of a diverse Iran. The most important question in configuration of such a response is how to act effectively while remaining loyal to the approach of the new administration in Washington, that sees international security as the duty of all its allies and not only America.
The containment of Iran is not possible unless it is accompanied by a reliable movement inside of the country that has the ability to challenge Iran both militarily and socially. This movement can contain Iran’s accessibility to its resources, challenge its legitimacy and accordingly, cripple its ability to act abroad.
The pivotal factor in this regard is the Iranian opposition itself and the parties and organizations already on the ground in Iran, that have a clear demand for regime change and are welcomed by the national minorities in the country. The Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran is one potential group which, with the support of the international society, can provide a viable alternative.
CNFI, the largest coalition of Iranian opposition groups so far, is an umbrella organization consisting of 16 political parties and advocacy groups. This organization calls to replace the regime with a federal Iran, a system in which Kurds, Arabs, Balouchs, Azari and Turkmens all have their local democracies and enjoy some checks and balances through which political participation and democracy in the whole of Iran is guaranteed.
Some parties among the members of CNFI are already on the ground and coping with the regime militarily and in other forms. The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, with 71 years of experience, recently launched a new campaign, which is called “Rasan.”
During this campaign PDKI Peshmarga forces were present all over the Iranian Kurdistan area, which is comprised of four large provinces in the west and northwest of Iran. The scale of presence, which was considerably high, and the fact that some clashes happened in the depth of Iranian Kurdistan have two different implications. First, PDKI’s military ability is significantly higher than everyone thought it was, and second a huge majority of the 10 million-strong population of Kurds is with PDKI, protect its Peshmerga forces, provide them with supplies and food and conceal them among themselves.
With proper support from the international community, these forces are substantial enough to weaken the Islamic Republic of Iran and lower its capabilities to endanger the stability and security of the region and American allies. This will be the first step for the democratic opposition also to organize people inside and use the opportunity of a weaken Iran and eventually topple the regime from inside and replace it with a federal and democratic Iran.
The author is the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan’s representative to the USA.