By Jamie Glazov

FrontPageMagazine.com | 8/21/2008

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Kayvan Kaboli, a member of “Progressive American-Iranian Committee” (PAIC). He has been a political activist for 30 years with particular interest in environmental and peace issues. At the moment he is striving to establish an international alliance composed of democratic and secular forces against the Tehran's Islamic Republic.

FP: We're here today to discuss how Russia's invasion of Georgia will influence Iran. But first, let me ask you this: what do you think about U.S-Iran relations with regards to the recent diplomatic gestures between the two countries?

Kaboli: Undoubtedly, the Iranian regime relishes its conditional acquiescence by the West in general and by the U.S. in particular, in the face of its ongoing controversial nuclear project. Tehran is also trying to send a message of defiance and a show of strength against its own people with regards to any possible assistance from outside its borders. The Iranian regime would immensely benefit from such moves as opening an interests-section office in Tehran. I’m not against establishing diplomatic relations, but we also have to bear in mind who we are dealing with. Indecisiveness and appeasement by the West has encouraged the Mullahs during the last three decades. The European Union has assisted the Mullahs with its lucrative economic and political ties. With such economic and political ties, the Mullahs have gone from strength to strength. The Mullahs would embrace any negotiations as long as the West does not take a firm stance with the international community’s demand for the cessation of uranium enrichment. Indefinite negotiations have been Tehran’s ploy in order to buy time. Any negotiation prior to suspension of Uranium enrichment process as a prerequisite, would only lead to strengthening the Islamic Republic’s position. Although, experience has shown that engaging with some despotic regimes may help promoting democracy in some parts of the world, but it would be a grave mistake to assume the same with the rulers of the Islamic Republic.

FP: Why?

Kaboli: The aspirations of the Mullahs stretch beyond their national borders. The rulers of the Islamic Republic are determined to change the face of the Middle East and even the whole world if they were allowed to. To achieve this, they have been creating and supporting terrorist and fundamentalist organizations such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Army of Mahdi.

FP: Crystallize for us what the regime in Tehran is after.

Kaboli: The Islamic Republic leaders’ agenda is to create a new balance of power in the region. The US involvement in Iraq and the associated complications for the coalition forces have provided the best possible grounds to achieve this. By attainment of nuclear capability and joining the “Atomic Club,” the Islamic Republic would be able to disturb the balance of power in its favor. Therefore, it is imperative for the leaders of the Islamic Republic to acquire nuclear capability. By doing so, other fundamentalists in the region and around the globe would also gain confidence in defying Western values. Dominating the region with fundamentalist ideology will ultimately lead to finding the audacity for expanding beyond it. Wiping Israel off the world map is considered part of the same strategy by the Islamic Republic.

FP: Ok, let's move on to the Georgia crisis. What is the impact of Russia’s invasion of that country on Iran as a neighbor?

Kaboli: This is a political windfall with two-fold profits as far as the Islamic Republic is concerned. Firstly, this could shatter the unanimity of the UN Security Council aiming to impose more sanctions against Iran with regards to its nuclear program. Russia, as one of the permanent members of the Security Council, has already been dampening the pressure on the Mullahs with regards to sanctions. The contention caused between Washington and Moscow could have ramifications in favor of Tehran’s rulers in relation to escalation of sanctions. Historically, the Iranian regime in pursuance of its fundamentalist ambitions, has been taking advantage of the differences of opinion among world powers. To this end, the Mullahs have been most successful with the EU countries to lure their way with lucrative contracts. That’s why I call this a windfall; since there is a lot to gain at next to no cost in favor of the rulers in Tehran. Secondly, this could lead to discredit America as a powerful ally. The elected Georgian government came to power following a velvet revolution backed by the U.S. The Iranian regime has been showing a particular resentment to the term “Velvet Revolution” during the last decade. The recent invasion of Georgia by the Russians could be used by the Mullahs as a significant mark of vanity in US backed “Velvet Revolutions”. This can be used by the Mullahs’ propaganda machines to “disillusion” the fed up to the teeth people of Iran against similar attempts. Lowering the society’s morale and self esteem has been used by the Mullahs for three decades as an effective tool to remain in power. The Mullahs welcome the present situation in Georgia. On the one hand, the U.S. is faced with the dilemma of one of its allies being overrun by Russia. This is detrimental to US foreign policy and those who advocate the example of Ukraine and Georgia to pave the way for the establishment of democracy by means of “Velvet Revolution.” On the other hand, adopting a firm position against Russia by the U.S. could have grave consequences; i.e. a nuclear Iran. Either way, the outcome is desirable for the Iranian regime. This could lead to bolder defiance by the Mullahs in their persistence for the enrichment of uranium.

FP: How can the West effectively frustrate Iran’s nuclear and military ambitions?

Kaboli: Undoubtedly, the Iranian regime will benefit from any controversy among the member countries of the UN Security Council or indeed within the international community for that matter. It would be up to the remaining unanimous members of the Security Council to stand firm with their legitimate demands. This way, Iran would have no other choice but to slow down its advancement towards the attainment of nuclear weapons. The European Union’s appeasement policies for the last two decades have particularly boosted Iran’s confidence to defy the will of the international community. A firm and uncompromising position adopted by the US and the EU in implementing widespread and effective sanctions, would undoubtedly tame the Mullahs’ aggression. Although it has to be said that this would not necessarily cease their support for terrorism in the region. Nor will it end their aspirations to acquire nuclear weapons at some point in the future. However, slowing down this process could give chance to many other possibilities to emerge at the later date. For instance, last year Austria's biggest state-controlled oil company tried to enter a 22 billion Euro agreement with Iran. In addition, a few German corporations such as Siemens have already secured huge contracts with Iran and are allegedly even helping with Iran’s nuclear project. In the light of these facts, the Mullahs find the courage to proceed with their own agenda. The European Union is in a unique position to halt the Iranian regime and force it to retreat. Should Tehran retreat from its ambitions, the knock on effect on the region’s fundamentalists would be immense; a massive psychological blow followed by the loss of faith in the Mullahs’ leadership in the region. Purposeful economic sanctions, especially on oil export and gasoline import, would have a profound effect on Mullahs regime’s economy and the ramifications of such sanctions would financially tie Mullahs’ hands in helping terrorist organizations. The West has to take a tough line in its dealings with the Islamic Republic.

FP: And the West has failed in that context up till now.

Kaboli: Yes. Unfortunately, so far, by adopting the policy of appeasement, the West has encouraged the Mullahs with their ambitions. This will not only have detrimental effects on the struggles of the Iranian people for democracy, but also would prove to be disastrous for the region and ultimately the world. The appeasement policy towards Tehran’s rulers has to change. The West needs to take a firm position with Tehran in relation to their nuclear ambitions and their horrifying track record of breaching the Human Rights in Iran. We must remember that here we are not dealing with just a commonly known type of eastern despotism. The Iranian regime is a religious totalitarian monster whose ambition is to change the regional balance of power along with its existing geopolitical map.

FP: Kayvan Kaboli, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.

Kaboli: Thank you Jamie.

Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's managing editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz’s Left Illusions. He is also the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of The Hate America Left and the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev’s Soviet Union (McGill-Queens University Press, 2002) and 15 Tips on How to be a Good Leftist. To see his previous symposiums, interviews and articles Click Here. Email him at jglazov@rogers.com.