Akbar Ganji is an Iranian journalist often referred to as Iran's “pre-eminent political dissident” after spending 6 years in jail for his human rights activities.
Akbar Ganji in The Huffington Post:
The nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 has provoked considerable debate. The proponents of diplomatic resolution of the standoff with Iran have praised the accord. Its opponents, such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, have harshly criticized it. As a former Iranian political prisoner who spent six years in the Islamic Republic's jails and whose writings have been banned in Iran, I support the Geneva agreement. The question is, what is the goal of continuing the standoff with Iran, if not reaching an agreement with it?
If the goal is regime change in Iran, we must recall that 13 years of backbreaking sanctions did not topple Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq; the military invasion of 2003 did. The sanctions did kill at least half a million Iraqi children, and prompted the infamous statement by Madeleine Albright, President Bill Clinton's secretary of state, that getting rid of Saddam Hussein was worth the huge cost in terms of human suffering in Iraq.
If the Iranian regime's respect for human rights is made the necessary condition for a nuclear accord, there will be no agreement at all, because it will prove the claim by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that the real goal of the United State is regime change, and that the nuclear program and claims about Iran wanting to “wipe Israel off the map” are only excuses. So long as there is an external threat that endangers its survival, no regime will agree to reform itself and become democratic.
National security and economic prosperity are prerequisites for the emergence of a democratic regime. Destroying the infrastructure of a nation through harsh economic sanctions and war will not bring about a transition to democracy. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria are prime examples of the failure of such thinking. In the first 11 months of 2013 alone, more than 8,000 people were killed in Iraq as a result of terrorism. Libya has been transformed into a lawless country controlled by various militia, with some having separatist tendencies. Syria has been completely destroyed, with an estimated 120,000 people killed. It has also become an operation center for some of the most extreme terrorist groups. In fact, as a result of the regime-change crusade of the past 12 years, jihadi groups of the Middle East have become stronger, not weaker.