The theocratic government in Iran has a number of enemies worldwide. However, the biggest challenge to the Iranian regime comes not from the West, but from its own dissidents who have escaped the regime and have settled abroad.
The biggest gathering of these Iranian dissidents occurs in France every year. The meeting is held in the French town of Le Bourget, close to the capital Paris. Thousands of Iranians and other pro freedom activists participate in this gathering.
Meeting organized by NCRI which has a history of trouble with the West
The meeting is organized by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an umbrella group of Iranian dissidents in France. Many western speakers also attend the meeting every year. This year's attendees include Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, Louis Freeh, former Director of the FBI and more.
But the most interesting attendee at this year's event was the former Chief of Saudi Arabia's intelligence agency, Prince Turki bin Faisal Al-Saud. The prince is an important figure in the Saud family that rules Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have been really stressed out since the last year, when the West signed a landmark deal with Iran to lift sanctions, in return for Iran freezing its nuclear weapons program.
Saudi prince calls for regime change in Iran
The prince said that he too would like to see the theocratic regime in Iran overthrown, prophesying that sooner or later, the regime will be overthrown.
The Saudi prince was not the only major Islamic figure to voice his opposition to the Iranian regime at the event. He was preceded by a number of current and former officials from at least 12 Arab countries. All of them supported the call of the National Council for Resistance of Iran for regime change.
American delegates most vocal in call for regime change
The most vitriolic comments came from the Americans rather than the Arab delegation. In addition to Howard Dean, Newt Gingrich and Louis Freeh, the American delegation also included former governors, Tom Ridge and Bill Richardson and former US Ambassador to the UN in the George W. Bush regime, John R. Bolton. Many present members of Congress also sent video messages which were played at the meeting.
Mr. Gingrich, spewing venom at the Iranian nuclear deal said that the 'dictatorship' in Iran cannot be trusted. He also said that signing a nuclear deal with the Iranians was an 'insane' idea. The presence of many former US politicians at the event is interesting because not until long ago, the National Council of Resistance of Iran had a rather terse relation with the West.
For example, the most influential group in the NCRI is the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, which was listed as a terrorist group in the US until 2012. The meeting, which was held for over 9 hours did not just feature speeches by popular politicians, but also musical performances.