This week, 23 former top U.S. officials penned a letter to President-elect Donald Trump and his incoming administration, reiterating the “shortfalls of the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action (JCPOA).”
The letter also urged the administration to meet with the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an exiled Iranian opposition group that is also known as the MEK.
The letter calls for the U.S. government “to establish a dialogue with Iran’s exiled resistance,” represented in part by the NCRI. The writers argue:
Given the opportunity to engage directly with the NCRI, unfiltered by regime propaganda, US officials will learn that in the 1980s, as a political strategy to challenge Iran’s harsh fundamentalism that denies all rights to women, the resistance adopted a policy of gender equality – rare in the Muslim world – and elevated women to leadership roles.
It reads, in part:
President Obama expressed the hope that nuclear negotiations would induce Iran’s leaders to act with greater consideration of American interests. It is now clear that Iran’s leaders have shown no interest in reciprocating the US overture beyond the terms of the JCPOA which gained them significant rewards. Through their extremely high rate of executions at home, and destructive sectarian warfare in support of the Assad regime in Syria and proxy Shiite militias in Iraq, Iran’s rulers have directly targeted US strategic interests, policies and principles, and those of our allies and friends in the Middle East.
Among those who signed the letter were former ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights Kenneth Blackwell; former Assistant Secretary of State Lincoln P. Bloomfield, Jr.; Chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity Linda Chavez; former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani; former Democratic NY Senator Joseph Lieberman; retired U.S. Army Col. Wesley M. Martin; former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey; former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge; and former Democratic NJ Senator Robert Torricelli.
It states that “to restore American influence and credibility in the world, the United States needs a revised policy based on universally shared norms and principles reflecting the ideals of peace and justice.” It adds the need for “a policy highlighting, and demanding an end to, Iran’s domestic human rights violations and malevolent regional actions will attract broad support and generate needed leverage against Iran’s threatening behavior.”
The U.S. Department of State delisted NCRI as a terrorist organization in 2012.
Some supporters argue they were first listed as a terrorist organization under President Bill Clinton in 1997 as an attempt to garner favor with the Iranian regime. “It was back in 2003 when I realized the MEK was not a threat,” Col. Martin told Breitbart News. “They were, in fact, mislabeled as a terrorist threat by Madeline Albright in an attempt to appease the Iranian government so that the Clinton administration could gain favor with the Iranian regime.”
He added, “All it was, was Iran using the United States, playing them just like they are doing now. And both the Clinton and the Obama administrations went way out of their way to appease them.”
In an interview with Fox News’ Eric Shawn, who broke news about the letter, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said, “I think the United States ought to feel free to speak with whomever it wants to speak to, if it’s in the best interest of the United States. That doesn’t mean you speak to everybody, but it does mean you pick your shots.” He said, similarly, the Iranian regime will likely oppose the administration’s speaking with the NCRI.
Bolton has supported NCRI’s mission for several years. He said the group is the “legitimate opposition in Iran” and “deserves serious attention.” He added, “After the ayatollahs disappear into the ash heaps of history, we can have elections in Iran. We’re a long way away from that.” He pointed out that “there’s no guarantee the Trump administration will take this up.”
Bolton also praised the strong and unique bipartisan nature of the group that signed the letter to Trump: “It’s so unusual in Washington.”
“They’ve got a platform for what their government – in a post Ayatollah Iran would look like – and it pledges, most important to me, a non-nuclear weapons Iran,” he said. “It’s open on the question of women’s rights in a way the ayatollahs would never consider. It’s led by a woman,” Bolton added, referring to the group’s President Maryam Rajavi.
Bolton completed the interview by stating that Iran’s ayatollahs are the “true illegitimate regime.”
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter and Periscope @AdelleNaz.