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Nuclear Iran: Wrong Focus!

By: Sunny Zia

Like you, I was surprised to hear those words by Congressman Ed Royce (CA-District 40). At last a refreshing perspective than any presented since the aftermath of the fraudulent Iran elections. In my three hour interview, Congressman Royce expressed that our approach in dealing with Iran shouldn't be silence in hopes that the Iranian government will abandon their nuclear weapons program. Instead, if the U.S. provides meaningful and non-invasive support for the pro-democracy movement in Iran, the threat of nuclear Iran will be resolved.

Congressman Ed Royce

So what are non-invasive means? Especially ones that don't get paint the U.S. with the age old label "Great Satan" label historically used by the cleric regime? He explained that first, we need to focus on strengthening funding of human rights organizations that are raising awareness on the countless violations. Instead of cutting off funding, the State Department needs to aid these organizations that are serving as watchdogs for human rights, a basic human value that is clearly being violated. The more the violations are reported and monitored by the United Sates and the International community, the more it becomes a priority to address.

Congressman Royce expressed that in order to best serve the people of Iran; a strong international alliance needs to be formed. When asked about the challenge of engaging of Russia and China, who have clearly proven their staunch support for the Iranian regime, he indicated that the best way is to keep the pressure on these two countries and cause embarrassment until they realize their support will not yield in their favor in the long run. He further indicated that supportive information needs to be publicly broadcasted to the people of Iran in both urban and rural areas to show meaningful commitment for their quest for freedom.

When asked about taking the international support beyond moral support and the effectiveness of sanctions, Congressman Royce replied that we need to engage smart sanctions such that the people's movement would not be hurt and yet the impact would be on the regime itself.

Sunny Zia with Congressman Ed Royce

Regarding sanctions, I asked the congressman about the most recent resolution that was overwhelmingly passed by the House of Representatives: Iran Refined Petroleum Act (H.R. 2194) and whether it truly will target the regime rather than inadvertently hurt the people's pro-democracy movement. The sanction calls for encouraging foreign governments, state-owned and private entities to cease all support of Iran's energy sector and all exports of refined petroleum products to Iran. When asked about some members of the Iranian Americans concerns over the economic implications of this sanction on the people of Iran and their democratic movement, Congressman Royce indicated that there are means to modify the impact if the result will not be favorable.

Recently new house resolutions have been introduced: H.R. 4301, the Iranian Digital Empowerment Act, to support the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people by enhancing their ability to access the Internet and communications services and H.R. 4303, "to enhance U.S. sanctions against Iran by targeting Iranian governmental officials and prohibiting Federal procurement contracts with persons that provide censorship or surveillance technology to the Government of Iran, and providing humanitarian and people-to-people assistance to the Iranian people". When asked about these resolutions, Congressman Royce expressed his strong support and indicated that he will co-sponsor these measures and similar future ones.

Be it advocating funding human rights institutions, incorporating smart sanctions, and forming alliances within the U.S. and abroad, it was clear that Congressman Royce is serious about supporting the Iranian people's pursuit of liberty and justice. Of course with consistent engagement, community due diligence, and disciplined voting, we can ensure that this statement holds true in our journey of supporting freedom for Iran.

About the author: Sunny Zia is the founder and chair of Humanity Unites, an Irvine-based humanitarian organization focused on building bridges of understanding and advocating community action and projects in support of causing peace and unity locally and globally. Ms. Zia is also the CEO of a Civil Engineering consulting and management firm based in Orange County. As an Iranian American raised both in the U.S. and Iran, and having lived through the Iran-Iraq war, the aftermath of the American hostage crisis, and the tragedies of "18 of Tir (Kooyeh Daneshgah)" in the 1999 University of Tehran uprisings, she believes that it is her duty to not only raise awareness about oppression but to transform it and work towards solutions. Her past efforts include working with inner city at-risk youth, with legislators in implementing policies advocating human rights, and on international relief efforts for Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Israel, Palestine, Afghanistan, and Darfur. She is the recipient of local and congressional distinctions for her work in the U.S. & abroad.

Note: the above article was first published by Payameh Ashena magazine

... Payvand News - 04/22/10 ... --

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