Next Friday, the international resistance to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, organized by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK), will meet for a massive global summit. The summit aims to rally the West against the mullahs, exposing the Iran regime’s terrorism and its horrific response to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, which the opposition claims has killed nearly 70,000 in Iran (the regime’s reported count is 12,000). The summit also aims to energize “Resistance Units” in Iran, building the movement from inside, as well as outside, the country.
“The gathering will echo the demands of the Iranian people expressed in the November 2019 and January 2020 uprisings for regime change,” MEK spokesman Shahin Gobadi, who is based in Paris, told PJ Media in a statement. “Activities of the Resistance Units inside Iran will be a major feature of the unique event, which will be watched throughout the country.”
“Iranians and hundreds of political dignitaries and lawmakers will join them and will warn about the mullahs’ growing use of terrorism. They will urge the international community to adopt a resolute policy in response to Tehran’s human rights abuses, terrorism, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” Gobadi added.
Ramesh Sepehrrad, a Ph.D. professor at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University, hailed the tenacity of the free Iran movement.
“The free Iran movement stands on four decades of hard-earned experiences and sacrifices, and continues to grow at home and abroad through the leadership of an organized and authentic opposition group,” Sepehrrad told PJ Media. “Resiliency, audacity, and steadfastness seen among the Iranian diaspora in organizing such an elaborate global summit is just one dimension of it. The other dimension is seen among the youth, women, labor movement, teachers’ unions, and the broader population who organize and support the engine for change at home.”
“The nationwide protests and total rejection of the regime is multi-generational and cuts across all sectors of the society,” Sepehrrad insisted. “Even the regime’s insiders are speaking of the imminent downfall. It is for this reason this global summit, taking place online during the pandemic, will draw in thousands in solidarity with the people of Iran. It is a historic event to watch, research, and study.”
The summit will take place in cities around the globe, including Washington, D.C., Paris, and Berlin, linked via an internet live-stream. Persians inside Iran, ex-patriots, resistance leaders, foreign dignitaries, and journalists will attend in person or virtually.
Notable foreign dignitaries include former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Al Gore’s 2000 running-mate former Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), former French Defense Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie, former Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi, Canada’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird, former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, and former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission Ken Blackwell.
This is not the first foreign meeting of the free Iran movement. In 2018, the NCRI held a similar — though smaller — conference in Paris. A senior Iranian diplomat allegedly attempted to bomb that summit, which also included Giuliani. A co-ordinated intelligence operation between French, German, and Belgian services thwarted the event before the summit. The French foreign ministry insisted there was no doubt Iran’s intelligence ministry had hatched the bomb plot. France expelled the diplomat and imposed sanctions, further undermining the disastrous Iran nuclear deal, which France had supported.
After two years in prison, that diplomat will finally face trial before a Belgian court, at around the same time as the global summit. France, the Netherlands, and Turkey have also expelled Iranian diplomats or have implicated them in recent terror acts.
Khamenei’s regime has grown increasingly desperate in recent months. After Iran-backed Iraqi militias stormed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, President Donald Trump authorized a strike against Quds Force General Qasem Soleimani, the Iran regime’s primary leader of terrorist acts outside the Islamic Republic. This important strike neutralized one of Iran’s senior leaders, undermining its foreign influence.
Iran’s retaliatory missile strikes infamously shot down a Ukrainian airliner by mistake, killing 176 people on board. Persians took to the streets in cities across Iran, condemning Soleimani and chanting, “Death to Khamenei!”
This unrest followed protests last November, as Iran reduced fuel subsidies by 50 percent and instituted rationing, in part due to pressure from the Trump administration after America withdrew from the Iran deal.
Then the coronavirus pandemic came, just before parliamentary elections. Tehran appears to have suppressed information about the coronavirus in order to avoid a low turnout in the elections. Voting fell to the lowest level since 1979, and Khamenei accused the country’s enemies of exaggerating the threat of the coronavirus right before the election.
The outbreak appears to have begun in Qom, the mullahs’ spiritual center. Satellite images from space showing mass graves appear to have confirmed the opposition’s claims that Tehran has vastly under-reported the death count from the coronavirus pandemic. This past weekend, Iran recorded its highest number of deaths from COVID-19 in a 24-hour period, at 163. The true number is likely higher.
The summit on July 17 will not only call on the West to crack down on the mullahs and energize opposition from within Iran, but it will also include a memorial for the nearly 70,000 Persians who have died from coronavirus in Iran, according to the MEK.
While Iran insists the MEK has a history of terrorism, the opposition party has insisted that terrorist acts the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) attributed to it were really perpetrated by a Marxist-Leninist faction called Peykar. In 2012, the State Department removed the MEK from its list of terrorist organizations.
The MEK and NCRI are far from perfect, but they represent the most realistic leadership for the free Iran movement, and their summit marks an important salvo against Khamenei’s oppression. It is high time for such a massive summit against this terrorist regime, and the world should pay attention.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.