While analysts are at loggerheads over how to deal with the Iranian regime's mounting threat in the Middle East region and across the globe, a massive rally held by the Iranian opposition in Paris offered a solution that would neither involve an extension of the failed appeasement policy nor another violent conflict in an already war-torn region.
The Free Iran gathering, attended by tens of thousands of Iranians and hundreds of politicians, parliamentarians, religious leaders and activists from across the world, suggested the prospects of democratic regime change are becoming more and more viable.
"The winds of change have started blowing in our homeland," said Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), during her keynote at the rally. "The ruling regime is in disarray and paralyzed as never before. Iranian society is simmering with discontent and the international community is finally getting closer to the reality that appeasing the ruling theocracy is misguided."
Backing her comments is Iran's recent presidential elections, which manifested the regime's weakening hold on power and its inner feuds spinning out of control.
The run-up to the elections was marked by widespread activism that backed Mrs. Rajavi's movement and called for regime change, a reflection of the rising discontent in the Iranian society.
"The fact is the Tehran regime is the central problem in the Middle East," said former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, who spoke at the event. "As the campaign to destroy the [Islamic State] caliphate nears its ultimately successful conclusion, we must avoid allowing the regime in Tehran to achieve its long-sought objective of an arc of control from Iran through the Baghdad government in Iraq, the Assad regime in Syria and the Hezbollah terrorists."
"The largest supporter of state terrorism in the world is the Iranian dictatorship," said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who also delivered a speech at the rally. "Even the Obama administration kept saying that, despite everything they did to kid themselves."
But while the Obama administration futilely attempted to tackle the Iranian regime's hostile behavior through rapprochement, the Trump administration has taken a different route. "I can say that we have a president of the United States who is completely and totally opposed to the regime in Tehran," Bolton said in his speech, to which Gingrich added, "I think it's fair to say that the Trump administration has much fewer illusions about the nature of the Iranian dictatorship."
As the Trump administration reviews the U.S. policy toward Iran, the idea of supporting regime change is gaining traction among members of his cabinet, members of Congress, and politicians and experts close to the administration.
"The behavior and the objectives of the regime are not going to change and therefore the only solution is to change the regime itself," Bolton said, a sentiment that was also echoed by Gingrich and other speakers at the gathering.
Who will bring about change? Rajavi answered that question during her speech. "Despite the regime's deafening propaganda, the greatest threat to the regime is not a foreign enemy, but the very revolts in society, waiting to erupt," she said.
What makes Iran different from other countries in the region where revolutions have spiraled into chaos is that there is a solid and reliable alternative. "In this case there is something different. We have an alternative," former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said at the event, referring to the NCRI, the opposition coalition led by Mrs. Rajavi.
The NCRI, founded in 1981, strives for the establishment of a secular and democratic government in Iran. The NCRI played a pivotal role in exposing Iran's illicit nuclear program since 2002.
What force is this alternative relying on? "It is relying on an organized and united movement with thousands of trailblazing and selfless members," Mrs. Rajavi "It relies on the genuine support of Iranians at home and abroad and the tireless efforts of its dedicated supporters."
In the weeks that led to the gathering, activists and political prisoners inside Iran took on the perils to express their support for the event.
"The next time there's popular dissent, it will be across the whole country, it will be organized," Gingrich said. "The Trump administration needs to be prepared and leaning forward and ready to do everything it can to help freedom win and dictatorship lose in the great struggle that is underway in Iran."
Amir Basiri (@amir_bas) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog and an Iranian human rights activist. If you would like to write an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, please read our guidelines on submissions here.