Bi­par­ti­san sup­port for Iran ac­tion

Arab News - - Opinion - DR. MA­JID RAFIZADEH Dr. Ma­jid Rafizadeh is a Har­vard-ed­u­cated Ira­nian-Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist. Twit­ter: @Dr_Rafizadeh For full ver­sion, log on to­­ion

Amer­i­can of­fi­cials this week an­nounced that a full range of UN sanc­tions had re­turned on Iran, in­clud­ing a per­ma­nent ex­ten­sion of the arms em­bargo. Some ob­servers de­bate the ef­fi­cacy of these mea­sures, par­tic­u­larly as the Euro­pean pow­ers have sig­naled that they will not en­force them. But the ef­fi­cacy ar­gu­ment serves as sec­ondary to a much more sig­nif­i­cant di­men­sion of Wash­ing­ton’s re­solve: Hold­ing Tehran ac­count­able for its trans­gres­sions.

Re­gard­less of the im­me­di­ate ma­te­rial im­pact on the regime’s eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion, ac­count­abil­ity is a prin­ci­ple that un­der­girds a spe­cific strate­gic cal­cu­lus. Con­sider the facts. Amer­i­can in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials this month re­ported that Tehran had de­vel­oped plans to as­sas­si­nate the US am­bas­sador to South Africa. Mean­while, ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency, Iran con­tin­ues to in­crease its stock­pile of en­riched ura­nium, in vi­o­la­tion of the 2015 nu­clear agree­ment. Tehran’s ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­ity has also es­ca­lated and, if left unchecked, such be­hav­ior could sim­ply spi­ral out of con­trol. Against this back­drop, a pro­foundly con­se­quen­tial ques­tion arises for Iran pol­icy: If the Euro­peans and Amer­i­cans fail to show Tehran that its ma­lign ac­tions carry se­ri­ous con­se­quences, then what will stop the fur­ther es­ca­la­tion of such acts? That is why the Ira­nian peo­ple them­selves are call­ing for ac­count­abil­ity.

Con­tain­ing the regime’s re­gional med­dling has al­ready yielded his­toric re­sults. As former US Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser Gen. James Jones told last week’s

Trans-At­lantic Sum­mit on Iran Pol­icy, the

UAE and Bahrain’s agree­ments with Is­rael show that “the cir­cle of coun­tries that are in di­rect op­po­si­tion to what Iran is do­ing is grow­ing by leaps and bounds.”

It is re­mark­able that, even dur­ing one of the most di­vi­sive elec­tion years in US his­tory, the same strate­gic prin­ci­ple has vo­cal ad­her­ents on both sides of the aisle. For ex­am­ple, Rep.

Brad Schneider, a Demo­crat from Illi­nois, told the same sum­mit:

“We must al­ways play a lead­er­ship role in hold­ing the Ira­nian regime ac­count­able for its mis­deeds abroad and against their own peo­ple.” Sim­i­larly, Repub­li­can Sen. Martha McSally said: “The US and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity must con­tinue to hold Iran ac­count­able for its hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions and rep­re­hen­si­ble be­hav­ior.”

This shows that, de­spite their dif­fer­ences, mem­bers of both ma­jor US par­ties agree on hold­ing the Ira­nian regime ac­count­able for its ma­lign ac­tions.

Now, the US and Euro­pean coun­tries must pres­sure the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly and Se­cu­rity Coun­cil to take ac­tion on the Ira­nian regime’s atro­cious hu­man rights record. The ob­jec­tive should not sim­ply be to pre­vent Iran from ob­tain­ing nu­clear weapons; it should also be to put an end to Tehran’s desta­bi­liz­ing be­hav­ior in the re­gion, stop its sup­port for ter­ror­ism, and help the Ira­nian peo­ple have a rep­re­sen­ta­tive, demo­cratic and in­clu­sive gov­ern­ment. That is the ul­ti­mate strate­gic so­lu­tion to the cri­sis.

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