Dear Mr. Prime Minister:
On behalf of the National Union For Democracy in Iran, I would like to congratulate you on your historic election and wish you much success in the years to come.
Throughout the campaign and since your election, I have closely followed your statements concerning the Islamic Republic of Iran and the relations between these two countries and have developed a sense of skepticism for your proffered approach. I intend this letter to serve as a respectful expression of the thoughts and concerns of peace-loving Iranians who seek a better future for Iran, Canada, and their relations.
As you are well aware, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government cut diplomatic ties with Iran in 2012, closing the Canadian Embassy in Tehran and expelling Iranian diplomats from Canada. You mentioned your plans to restore relations with the Islamic Republic in the wake of the Iranian nuclear deal. This agreement, although historic, lacks any transparency, providing false hope for the Iranian people and for the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons. Furthermore, many intellectuals have a misunderstanding of the agreement. I hope that you recognize its ambiguity and its toleration of misconduct as well as the need for leadership moving forward.
Here in the United States and under several American administrations there have only been two solutions to the Iranian dilemma; appeasement or aggression. I need not remind you that attacking Iran will only antagonize the aggressors and arouse the deeply nationalistic sentiments of the Iranian people. In other words, the consequences of such forceful aggression will undoubtedly wield the deadliest blow to the movement for a secular democratic Iran, as Iranians are certain to rally behind the state, despite its unpopularity, in the face of any foreign threat to Iran’s integrity. AND -The second option, on the other hand, is unsound and will prove to be similarly futile. The very nature of the totalitarian theocracy that is the Islamic Republic rests upon a foundation of diametric opposition to an evil force that is manifested by the West, specifically by the United States and Israel. Talking with the Great Satan is an unlikely and unsavory option for the Iranian state, which has conditioned the Iranian people to view the Islamic Republic’s purpose as a bulwark against western imperialism. By recognizing the historic failure of these two strategies, one can understand that the Iranian situation is not so cut and dry. In order to work towards peace and cooperation in Iran, policy goals should aim to support the Iranian people, who experience oppression daily and desire an opportunity for a real voice in their government.
In addition to the fallacies of the aforementioned policy considerations, I must also point out the importance of the moral underpinnings of American foreign relations. The Islamic Republic broke its social contract with the Iranian people long ago. It is neither a democratic nor a popular government. It does not represent the Iranian people, who are engaged in an enduring, bloody struggle against it in order to retrieve and secure the basic liberties and rights we take for granted in the West. Internally, the Islamic Republic is mocked for the incompetence of its officials and loathed for its corrupt and oppressive practices. Over the course of the past 37 years, the government of Iran has trampled upon human rights, denied due process, and looted Iran of its natural resources and cultural treasures. Externally, the Islamic Republic has dedicated its resources to fomenting chaos and violence around the world, particularly in the Middle East. It is for good reason that the Iranian government is considered a destabilizing and dangerous force and I need not address its status as the foremost state sponsor of international terrorism. This government continues to demonstrate its lack of concern for and investment in its own country and people. The Islamic Republic pays for troops to defend foreign dictators and thugs, finances the construction of schools and hospitals for Hezbollah, and still identifies strongly with its revolutionary tenants established in 1979. Surely this is not a government that can be tolerated, let alone encouraged during the negotiation period.
In light of the context, Canada and Western powers should exercise their strength and endorse their values and principles, aiming to bring an end to a regime that has destabilized Iran, the greater region, and the world at large. The aforementioned nations cannot afford to remain as bystanders, witnessing the oppression and human rights abuses that plague the Iranian people. Rather than making deals with this dangerous and irresponsible government, the West must reach out to its people. The West should be concerned with the ideology and history of this regime: its miserable human rights record, its faltering economy, its disenchanted and desperate youth, and, most importantly, its devastating unpopularity. Yet, no world leaders seem to care anymore about these human rights violations or the Iranian people who have cried for help time and time again.
Nevertheless, we encourage contact and the normalization of relations with Iran. As we have always iterated, we welcome any deals or agreements between Iran and the free world as long as they are fair, transparent, and intended to foster peace and security across the world. Our only concern is that you never lose sight of the Iranian reality and the principles of freedom and human rights that your country preaches. For this reason, we encourage Canada to emphasize its unwavering belief in democracy and human rights with respect to Iran. Open negotiations with the Islamic Republic should focus on the over-arching issues at stake, the regime’s oppressive treatment of its people and its history of support for terrorist organizations, rather than political games. Through this recognition of reality, we hope to empower the Iranian people with fair representation and the chance for a government they deserve. Indeed, democracy dictates that we not compromise or circumvent the Iranian people in anything we do, especially in dealing with their oppressors.
Dr. Saeed Ganji
National Union For Democracy in Iran