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'Persian Spring' to herald a 'Peace Harvest'?

United Press International

By KEN MAGINNIS, UPI Outside View Commentator

LONDON (UPI) - As the U.S. presidential election approaches in the United States, the potential threat from Iran still has to be the most important foreign affairs issue for both candidates.

Until now, the United States has relied on the "carrot-and-stick" approach to Iran yet, despite failure so far, neither candidate has set out a strategy to properly empower the Iranian people and their resistance; thus resolving the issue for once and all at its core.

It's transparent that the United States cannot afford to become involved in yet another war in the Middle East. With no clearly predictable end in sight for the war in Afghanistan and the memory of Iraq still fresh in the minds of the public, the United States simply cannot contemplate yet another conflict, especially with the second largest country in the Middle East.

Even if the United States was to authorize limited military action that would, at best, delay the Iranian nuclear program by a no more than a few years. Putting aside rhetoric and campaign promises, Western military intervention in Iran remains all but unthinkable.

Hence, with direct intervention off the table, what other means should the United States employ? Negotiations with the current Iranian regime have not only been fruitless but have consistently been used by the fanatical mullahs as an opportunity to buy time and to continue their pattern of deception and duplicity.

But sanctions, not because they have succeeded in changing the behavior of the regime but because they help isolate it and deter foreign interests and investments from the equation, have been the most productive tactic to date. That isolation must be reinforced and the mullahs left to face the wrath of their own people who haven't forgotten the events of 2009 or the 30 years of terror this regime has inflicted upon them.

During the era of Apartheid, the minority government of South Africa was sanctioned and isolated by the international community in the hopes that the people and their resistance would mount a campaign to bring down the government, with no need for foreign intervention.

Nearly 20 years later the international community should be endorsing a similar policy toward Iran. Here is, after all, a regime which has the highest execution rate in the world and still executes minors. Its foreign policy is soaked in the blood of innocent Syrians and Iraqi's as it continues to export terrorism throughout the region. The international community must take a firm stance against this regime by siding with the people and their legitimate resistance, just as it sided with the African National Congress.

The Iranian opposition movement, the People's Mujahedin Organization of Iran should be recognized as the legitimate resistance of the Iranian people.

Ironically, just as the ANC was deemed a terrorist organization by the west for many years, the PMOI also has had to endure a similar designation. However, the organization was delisted on Sept. 28, after a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the due process rights of the organization had been violated, and ordered U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to either provide evidence to justify PMOI's listing as a FTO or to remove them from the list.

After a lengthy legal battle and a fierce political campaign that won the bipartisan support of the U.S. Congress and an amazing number of the most senior U.S. national security officials over the past four administrations, the State Department finally complied with the courts request and de-listed the group.

As Maryam Rajavi, the leader of the Iranian Resistance, has outlined in her Ten-Point Plan, the Iran of tomorrow should be governed as a democratic, secular, non-nuclear state, which provides equal rights for all.

The organization has stood up against the mullahs' tyranny for 30 years. Despite having lost more than 120,000 of its activists at the hands of blood-drenched ayatollahs, the PMOI holds an active network of activists in Iran and a massive following among the Diaspora.

Given the experiences of the West it must be apparent that regime change in Iran will only emerge through internal revolution with the people of Iran making the change.

Whoever becomes the next president of the United States must face the fact that negotiation with Tehran has run its course. It is time for a new approach.

The Iranian resistance has gone on record stating that it wants neither weapons nor money but simply asks for the world to isolate the regime; to recognize the resistance and allow the people to take care of the rest.

The "Arab Spring" is already in full swing in the Middle East, it is time for the "Persian Spring" to be allowed to catch up and flourish.

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(Lord Ken Maginnis of Drumglass was UUP spokesman for Defense and Home Office 1997-2000, Defense, Trade and Industry 2000-01. He has been a prominent member of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom and has spoken in numerous conferences on Iran.)