by Kenneth R. Timmerman
President Trump must close Iran’s illegal election sites.
Iranian voters go to the polls on Friday to select a new president from a list of the regime faithful chosen for them by the Supreme Leader and his aptly-named Guardians Council.
Many opposition groups, both inside Iran and in exile, have called for a boycott on these sham elections, which are a masquerade of democracy.
Regime supporters whined when the leftist government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shut down polling stations set up by the Islamic State of Iran’s embassy in Toronto, arguing that Western governments should want more voting by Iranians, not less.
But these elections are as free as those held by Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, or by Saddam Hussein in Iraq in the 1980s. Stalin’s famous dictum – it’s not the people who vote who count, it’s the people who count the votes – is nowhere more true today than in Islamic Iran.
And while incumbent president Hassan Rouhani is trying to position himself as an election-eve convert to moderate policies, his supporters cannot name a single political prisoner who owes his or her freedom to Rouhani’s intervention, or to a single political execution Rouhani helped to block.
But the elections are important to Ayatollah Khamenei. The so-called “Supreme Leader” of the Islamist Iran has repeatedly called on citizens to vote on Friday, reasoning that a high turnout will “send a message” to regime foes in Israel and the United States.
It’s an outrage that U.S. taxpayers are paying to spread the Ayatollah’s anti-U.S. propaganda, but it’s true. That and many similar “news” stories touting the virtues of Iran’s [s]elections have been broadcast by the Persian service of VOA and Radio Farda, run by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Put simply, a vote on Friday is not a vote for moderation or freedom, or even the better of bad choices: it is a vote of support for the Islamic terror regime in Tehran.
As the pro-bono president of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, I have joined forces with the Islamic State of Iran Crime Research Center and hundreds of others in petitioning the White House to shut down the 56 illegal polling places the Iranian regime authorities say they want to set up across the United States on Friday.
Among them are unknown locations in Buffalo, New York, Detroit, Michican, and Seattle, Washington, where the Islamic regime’s embassy plans to bus in would-be voters from across the border in Canada. (I can hear the questions from our Customs and Border Control agents: and you want to come to the United States to do what?)
We expect the regime to update its dedicated website on the elections with actual addresses at the last minute, as has been their practice in previous years. Their goal in this hide and seek is to avoid federal prosecution, and to prevent protest by regime opponents.
There are other reasons why freedom-loving Iranians and ordinary Americans should join us in calling on the Trump administration to shut down these election sites: they violate a whole gamut of U.S. laws.
As part of the 1981 Algiers Accord that ended the 444-day ordeal of U.S. diplomats held hostage by Tehran, the Iranian regime is allowed to maintain two diplomatic facilities in the United States: a Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, and an Interests section in Washington, DC, currently under the protection of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
But the accord also forbids those diplomats from traveling beyond a 25 mile radius from New York or Washington, DC, without a specific permit from the Department of State.
Iranian regime election law, however, requires that regime officials actually man the polling stations and certify the balloting. If any Iranian diplomats are caught traveling beyond the 25-mile limit without a permit, they should be immediately jailed and ultimately declared Persona Non-Grata.
Beyond that, U.S. sanctions under the International Economic Emergency Powers Act and other authorities prohibit U.S. citizens from conducting business or performing services for the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Treasury Department can freeze the assets of violators under a simple order that is not subject to judicial review.
That means that any U.S. university, hotel, business, or private person entering into a contractual relationship to provide facilities to be used as polling places for the Iranian “election” on Friday does so at their peril. They have far more to lose than just the thirty pieces of silver they took as rent from the regime.
Pro-Tehran lobbyists continue to populate the swamps in Washington, DC.
One such group, calling itself the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian-Americans (PAAIA), has been trying to organize opposition to the Trump Executive Orders on immigration, and filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, DC, seeking to stay their implementation.
PAAIA leaders are coming to Washington, DC, this coming Monday for meetings with Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Others, such as the National Iranian American Council, wildly successful under the Obama administration, have seen their influence shrivel to the size of one peanut under Trump.
Like millions of ordinary Americans who finally woke up and voted last November because they saw the real possibility that the country they grew up in would be destroyed, pro-freedom Iranian-Americans generally abhor politics. They rarely act in a well-organized fashion. Even protests against Ahmadinejad’s visits to the United Nations in New York rarely attracted more than a few thousand demonstrators, and most of those were paid and bused in by the Islamist Marxist Mujahedin-e Khalq, as I revealed in these pages over a decade ago.
That is why the grass roots support from Iranian-Americans to shut down these sham elections is so important.
Ayatollah Khomeini famously said during the 1979-1981 hostage crisis, “America can do nothing.”
By that he meant, we can spit in their face, we can stomp on their flag and defy them on their own territory, and they won’t dare to oppose us.
The Islamic state of Iran’s current leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, loves to repeat Khomeini’s slogan. This is a terrific opportunity not just to prove the ayatollahs wrong, but to show them that America remains a beacon of freedom that ultimately will shine brighter than their dark regime inside Iran itself.
Kenneth R. Timmerman
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