Feb 23, 2021
Iranian dissidents urge Biden to keep up pressure on Tehran, say regime at ‘weakest point in history’
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Iranian dissidents are calling on the Biden administration to keep up the pressure on the country's leaders, arguing that the regime is at its "weakest point in history" -- even as the administration looks set to re-engage with Tehran.
A report by The Organization of Iranian-American Communities (OIAC), which opposes the regime and calls for a democratic, secular government, warns that U.S.policy based on isolation or engagement "rely on blind faith that the regime will one day change its behavior, a supposition that is logically unfounded and evidentially unpersuasive."
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It alleges that the regime’s human rights record has worsened in recent years, and has pointed to instances of it backing terrorism -- both in the region via its support of groups like Hezbollah and in Europe with the plot against dissidents in Paris in 2018.
"Those who want to deal with the Iranian regime must understand that the Iranian regime is desperate, weak, and highly isolated among its own population," OIAC’s Political Director, Dr. Majid Sadeghpour, said in a statement accompanying the report.
The Trump administration launched a "maximum pressure" campaign against the regime, pulling out of the 2015 Iran deal and imposing waves of sanctions on exports and top officials.
The report says a number of mass protests since 2019 have shown the fragility of the government: "The regime is clearly at the weakest point in history," it says, arguing that Tehran’s attention has now turned to keeping control of uprisings at home.
But the Biden administration has sought to take a different approach. It has backed off a Trump-era effort to reimpose U.N. sanctions, including an arms embargo on Tehran, while it has indicated it wishes to reenter the Iran nuclear deal. It has also ended support for the Saudi offensive operations in Yemen, where Saudis are fighting against Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
At the same time, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that re-engagement is conditional on Iran changing its behavior.
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"The path to diplomacy is open right now. Iran is still a ways away from being in compliance [with the deal]," he said recently, according to Reuters. "So we’ll have to see what it does,"
The dissidents warn that engaging diplomatically "may risk dissipating the considerable U.S. leverage attained through the maximum pressure campaign, something the administration seems to grasp."Video
It urges the administration to rally European allies and dissidents to put pressure on Iran to change its behavior and link any engagement to "verifiable measures for curbing its excesses at home" and for investigations of past human rights abuses.
"Tehran should also be helped accountable for taking foreign nationals as hostages, instead of being rewarded for their release, which only leads to more hostage taking," the report says, while calling for the release of political prisoners.
REPUBLICANS SLAM BIDEN'S MOVE TO DROP IRAN SANCTIONS PUSH
Furthermore, it says the administration should avoid easing or removing sanctions unless there are what it calls "substantial shifts" in policies from the regime.
"Tehran’s retreat must be meaningful and enduring, not half-hearted or transient. The regime's regional predations, blackmail and espionage tactics must be effectively confronted through a firm policy from the White House," it says.
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Dissident calls for a democratic and secular Iran were bolstered earlier this month when a resolution co-signed by more than 100 House lawmakers from both parties supporting a democratic, secular Iran and condemning the regime’s terror plots, was introduced.
Meanwhile, Republicans expressed their concern about the Biden administration dropping the sanctions push. On Tuesday House Homeland Security Republicans warned that doing so would be a "historic mistake."Adam Shaw is a reporter covering U.S. and European politics for Fox News. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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UK Covid deaths drop by a quarter in a week as 323 more die and another 9,985 test positive
UK Covid deaths today rose by 323 - down by a quarter on the rise recorded this time last week.
Another 9,985 infections were confirmed, meaning 4,154,562 have now tested positive for the bug in Britain since the start of the pandemic.
???? Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates...2 2An ambulance arrives at the Radisson hotel near Heathrow AirportCredit: London News Pictures
The number of deaths confirmed today is down by 28 per cent on last Thursday's rise (454).
And it is less than half the size of the figure recorded the Thursday before that (678), showing signs the spread is slowing.
New cases today are also down 17 per cent on last week's rise (12,057).
They remain almost identical to the number of new infections logged yesterday (9,938).
The latest figures mean a total of 122,070 have now died with Covid in the UK since the start of the outbreak.
It comes as...
- UK’s Covid alert level downgraded as cases and NHS pressure eases
- Defiant Boris Johnson insists lockdown will NOT be eased earlier than roadmap despite Tory MPs demands
- Pubs WILL be able to serve takeaway pints on April 12 when beer gardens open
- Surge Covid testing deployed in TWO NEW areas of London after South African variant found
- Boris Johnson promises parents teacher grading system for A Levels and GCSEs will be ‘fair’
It comes as the UK's Covid alert level was downgraded today - in a hopeful indicator that pressure on the NHS is lifting.
All four chief medical officers made the promising decision to pull the country down from its highest ever alert level - five - to four.
In a Department of Health statement from all four chiefs, they said health services across the four nations remain "under significant pressure" and although patient numbers are high, they are "consistently declining".
They added: “We should be under no illusions – transmission rates, hospital pressures and deaths are still very high.
"In time, the vaccines will have a major impact and we encourage everyone to get vaccinated when they receive the offer.
"However for the time being it is really important that we all – vaccinated or not - remain vigilant and continue to follow the guidelines.
“We know how difficult the situation has been and remains to be for healthcare workers, we thank them for their immense effort, skill and professionalism throughout the pandemic.”
Boris Johnson nonetheless insisted today that the lockdown will not be eased any earlier than planned.
The PM vowed that his timetable was "sensible" and cautious but also irreversible, and the plan provided some certainty for everyone.
The plan will see schools go back on March 8, with summer exams ditched and teachers instead deciding what results students get.Most read in NewsLive BlogEU WHAT?EU vaccine crisis 'makes French 3rd wave inevitable' as Germans snub jabsSHOCKING STATBlack people in England 5x more likely than white to be killed in homicide'HOPE IT'S WORTH IT'Harry 'can't cash in' but faces 'ordeal' losing titles, says Army palNAKED MILEMoment naked man is chased by cops through streets of LondonFUNERAL FOR A PRINCESSHundreds of mourners pay their respects to teen Lucy CandlishPicturedPRAY FOR THEMTributes paid to dad-of-four who died with his wife in horror six-car pile-up
Marks will not be pegged to previous years, meaning grade inflation could run wild if teachers are generous with their assessed grades.
But Mr Johnson today promised parents the new teacher grading system for A Levels and GCSEs this summer will be "fair" and "durable".
He said the system was "as good a compromise as we can come to," insisting it is "the right way forward".Defiant Boris Johnson insists lockdown will NOT be eased earlier than roadmap despite Tory MPs demands