Abraham Lincoln famously once said on the eve of the Civil War that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” His sentiment was a prophetic one that has applied not only to the U.S., but to virtually every other country on the planet.
Nation’s split along political, cultural, religious, economic or even tribal lines have always struggled to hold themselves together and in the end must find ways to reconcile their differences if they are to move forward as a nation.
In the modern era, we have seen an unprecedented number of historic conflicts resolve themselves and eventually chose a path of peace, reconciliation and partnership. Nations such as Northern Ireland bridged a religious war between Catholics and Protestants that dated back to the time of Henry the VIII.
South Africa installed Nelson Mandela as its president after confining him to prison for much of his adult life. Even Myanmar eventually ended its military dictatorship to hold free elections and install longtime dissident Aung San Suu Kyi as leader of the new democratically elected government.
Of course there are still some nations that have stubbornly refused to relinquish their grasp of power including North Korea and the Iranian regime, but if history teaches us anything, it is that these kinds of nations are not long for the future. Oppressed people rebel, governments turn to violence to keep the people in line and eventually world opinion shifts to force democratic change.
That process can decade years, even decades, but it eventually does happen, which makes the desperate acts of regimes such as Iran even more interesting as it continues to go after foes from 30 years ago like a dog that can’t let go of an old bone.
In the case of the Iranian regime, its nemesis—in the minds of the mullahs at least—has historically been the U.S. (as the Great Satan) and Iranian opposition and resistance groups such as the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).
The mullahs’ distaste of the MEK runs so deep that membership or association with the organization within Iran often carries long prison terms or even a death sentence. The regime also diverts enormous resources to continually attack MEK members both in a literal sense and political one.
A large number of MEK members, refugees since the Islamic revolution in Iran, live in precarious conditions at a former U.S. military base in Iraq known as Camp Liberty. Their former home at Camp Ashraf was attacked regularly by Iranian agents and Iranian regime-backed Shiite militia and Iraqi military units, and their new location has also been subject of several deadly missile attacks.
The reason being, their presence in close proximity to the Iranian border a constant reminder that a substantial part of the Iranian population vocally and actively oppose the rule of the mullahs.
That presence is so noxious to the mullahs that they periodically engage in propaganda efforts to discredit these dissidents on a regular basis through the Iran lobby, bloggers and social media efforts designed to blame them for everything including spying, sabotage and maybe even global warming.
The more inane claims to come from the Iranian regime included a press release issued through regime-controlled media that claimed the dissident groups were comparable in brutality to ISIS.
The release attempted to draw links between MEK and ISIS through alleged links with Saudi Arabia, which is interesting because of the geopolitical realities the Iranian regime now finds itself.
Saudi Arabia has been a historic opponent to Iran, but since the Iranian regime’s support of Houthi rebels in leading a revolt in Yemen on the Saudi border, the Kingdom has sought to aggressively confront the regime’s expansion, including joining the international coalition against the Assad regime in Syria, which is heavily supported by Iran.
The fact that the Saudi Arabia’s Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former head of Saudi intelligence called for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic at a meeting of the Iranian opposition in Paris. His remarks coupled with recent diplomatic moves signal a new tougher policy toward Iran from Saudi Arabia. Though officially retired from government, no member of the royal family had ever so publicly embraced the Iranian opposition or called for regime change in Tehran.
Turki al-Faisal’s remarks on July 9 were followed on July 30 by a meeting between the head of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an umbrella group of Iranian dissidents, including the MEK, and the President of the Palestine Authority Mahmoud Abbas in Paris.
Turki al-Faisal’s remarks and the meetings by the MEK with such high level leaders of the Arab world sent the Iranian regime into a mouth-frothing frenzy, which continues to this day.
Iranian regime officials went so far as to accuse Abbas as working together with the CIA, an interesting claim since Iran had previously lauded Abbas and the plight of the Palestinian people at the hands of Israel. Clearly, your utility to the Iranian regime only extends so far in the eyes of the mullahs.
The irony of the attacks the Iranian regime makes against MEK is that it accuses it of being a terrorist organization; a designation that was politically motivated at one point in getting it placed on the U.S. terror list, but corrected with its later removal; a distinction that the Iranian regime has failed to correct for itself.
In fact, the Iranian regime remains the world’s largest supporter of terrorism and continues on a path of proxy wars and harsh oppression at home. The mullahs understand the path of history for regimes like theirs, but they continue to struggle against it.
Eventually history will prove that Iran must succumb to regime change and reconciliation just as surely as Lincoln predicted.
By Michael Tomlinson