Jpost – Middle East
By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL \12/26/2016
A group of leading Iranian human rights activists and former political prisoners published an open letter on Friday to President-elect Donald Trump asking for a wholesale change from President Obama’s rapprochement with Iran’s clerical regime.
“Unfortunately, Iranians have been among the main victims of the detrimental policies adopted by President Obama in the Middle East. A prime example of these detrimental policies was the secret delivery of hundreds of millions of dollars in cash to the Revolutionary Guards in exchange for the release of the hostages,” the dissidents’ letter said.
“The exchange encouraged the Islamic Republic not only to expand its hostage for cash program, but to double down on its domestic suppression and interference in the region, to the point that our country is now on the brink of an all-out war with its Arab neighbors and other American allies in the region.”
Fox News first published the document, the full text of which can be read on the Farsi-language website Taghato, which is run by the Iranian Liberal Students and Graduates group. The signatories come from France, Germany, East Asia, Canada, the US and other countries. Hamed Sheibanyrad, a research fellow at the French National Center for Scientific Research, and Saba Farzan, a journalist and executive director of the Berlin-based Foreign Policy Circle, are among the signers.
The letter quoted a Trump statement from 2011: “If Obama would’ve backed the people of Iran two years ago when that county had a big, big problem, we wouldn’t have any problems in Iran. That country would’ve been turned over so fast, instead he abandoned those people.”
It also accused Obama of walking away from Iranian democrats during the 2009 Green Movement protests against Iran’s presidential election results, which were widely viewed as fraudulent.
“In 2009, millions of pro-democracy Iranians poured into the streets of Tehran and asked President Obama to support them. To their despair, in what can only be described as an unthinkable shift and a 180-degree turn on all the principal values of the United States, President Obama’s administration was busy conducting secret correspondence with Ayatollah Khamenei… At the same time, Ayatollah’s cronies were opening fire on protesters,” noted the letter.
“The hope and trust they once placed in the United States to support freedom and democracy is undermined and can now be amended only through fundamental changes in the US policy which only you can bring forth.
“The ISIS and the Islamic Republic of Iran are two sides of the coin that is Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. To end this reign of terror, the Islamic caliphate (ISIS) and the Islamic regime in Iran must be replaced with elected pro-peace and prosperity governments.”
The US State department identified Iran as the leading state sponsor of terrorism in its 2016 report.
The letter called for fresh sanctions targeting “the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the supreme leader’s financial empire and direct the US Treasury to strongly enforce them” and stop Iran’s pursuit of long-range missiles.
Publication of the document electrified Iran’s social media and regime-controlled news outlets. The IRGC-controlled Fars News Agency called supporters of the letter traitors, while the subject was among the top hashtags on Twitter. BBC Persian said the letter was re-tweeted more than 10,000 times.
The signers urged Trump “to support the pro-democracy Iranians whose goal is to replace the Khomeinist regime of Tehran with a liberal-democratic government.”
Iran has the capacity to be one of the most steadfast allies of the United States in the world once the Islamic regime is gone… The world without the Islamic Republic and the Islamic State is a better place.”