The Geneva nuclear programme agreement reached between Iran and world powers will be regarded as a turning point in the history of the Islamic Republic. So much so that the life of the current ruling regime may become historically divided between the pre and post Geneva agreement periods.

The negotiations that finally led to the signing of the accord involved the first open and official diplomatic engagement between Iran and the United States for more than three decades, since the seizure of the US embassy in Tehran in 1980.

During all those intervening years the leaders of the Islamic Republic have worked to try to create a hollow revolutionary identity for its regime by hypocritically and irrationally opposing the US and its policies, at the cost of denying the Iranian people 35 years of peace, security and progress meanwhile, taking the country to the brink of collapse.

However, ultimately, the supreme leader Ali Khamenei and his cronies were forced to capitulate to the demands of the Iranian people who rejected their destructive policies. In return ordinary Iranians are hoping to achieve a better future for themselves and the opportunity to live in a democratic country that deserves a place among the family of nations.

US as a scapegoat

From their first days of power three and a half decades ago, the new religious leaders of Iran were in search of a common cause to unite their many different factions. Such a cause, they knew, would allow them to mobilize opinion against all other political forces that had taken part in the victory of the 1979 revolution and then to purge them, in order to consolidate their own despotic power.

They soon found their cause with the seizure of the American embassy in Tehran and later added the excuse of the war with Iraq for justification of their absolute rule.

The new revolutionary forces who had entered Iran’s political arena then took their deceitful slogan of “neither East, nor West” to the midst of the anti-US forces in the region and the wider Arab world and became the “vanguards of anti-Imperialism”, in a senseless and hypocritical move that, after 35 years, has resulted in nothing but colossal damage to Iran’s national interests and the peace and prosperity of its people, not to mention the disrepute it has brought down upon the name of that ancient country.

In this hysterical revolutionary zeal the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini, went as far as denouncing America as “satanic” and, hiding behind this hypocritical slogan, conducted bloody purges against all those democratic forces that opposed the regime’s despotic and repressive policies using the excuse that their actions were in defence of Islam.
The Iranian people paid a heavy price in all economic, social, political and cultural areas of their lives for the many years as the Islamic Republic followed its blind and hypocritical anti-US foreign policy. However, as it transpires, it was as a result of the debilitating weight of executing that misguided and destructive policy that eventually forced the regime to seek a way out of the debacle it had created for itself. When it chose to resort to the opportunistic rhetoric of its founder, who said that “the preservation of the Islamic Republic at any cost must always remains the paramount duty of its leaders”. By this time however, capitulating to all the conditions “US imperialism” put on it was a forgone conclusion in Tehran.

end of an era

In another analysis of this surrender, one could argue that a 35 year old era in the life of the Islamic Republic has come to an end, with a new one beginning in the shape of the glasnost that took place in the now defunct Soviet Union of the 1980s.

The glasnost, introduced by the former Communist leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985, was a policy that called for increased openness and transparency in government institutions and the activities of the Soviet state. Glasnost is often paired with Perestroika (literally: restructuring), another reform instituted by Gorbachev at the same time. The reforms were intended to end widespread corruption among the absolute rulers of the Soviet Union and make the system more democratic by its adherence to international norms and conventions on the human and democratic rights of its citizens.

As might have been expected, the old guard in the Soviet Union resorted to a coup to protect its vested interests but, with the majority of the people supporting the reform movement, the ideals of democracy and human rights were victorious and 70 years of Communist rule in Russia collapsed.

After 34 years of a similar Soviet-style rule in Iran, which saw the emergence of the most tyrannical and repressive regime in the country’s long history, the Islamic Republic is now facing a fate similar to that of the Communist regime in Russia.

Iran’s progressive forces have not abandoned their struggle for democracy and human rights and the flames of their own glasnost now encircle a regime that has reached a dead end.

It was this impasse that forced the despotic religious rulers of Iran to sit around negotiating tables with those same world governments they had demonized for decades in order to stay in power .

For centuries Iran has been at the crossroad of many civilizations, traditionally making the country a land of free thinkers, artists, poets and more importantly a nation dedicated to peace and coexistence among many different ethnic, religious and racial groups of peoples.

The Iranian psyche and characteristics are inherently opposed to despotism and, as such, the nation has a long history of struggle against many of its absolute rulers, especially over the last two centuries. It is these same characteristics that prevented the Islamic Republic regime turning Iran into another North Korea, despite the sinister wishes of the supreme leader and his cronies to do so.

The deep desire of the Iranian people for democracy and human rights could not have been better demonstrated to the world than it was in 2009, when millions of them took to the streets to protest against the Khamenei led coup that returned Ahmadinejad to power for a second term. The bloody crackdown on that democracy movement served to strengthened the Iranian nation’s will and one can see this in the way the regime has since been forced to retreat from its many devastating ideological and despotic policies. The first fruit of this continued struggle is the thawing of the frozen relations between Tehran and Washington, which overnight exposed the despotic religious regime from the ideological shield, it has been hiding behind for far too long.

Iran’s Glasnost movement has barely begun.

Dr. Behrooz Behbudi, Founder of the Centre for a Democratic Iran

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