The Iranian regime has responded to widespread protests in Iran with its usual violence and repression, and is once more calling protesters agents of foreign powers.
Hardliners and so-called “reformists” warn Iranians, and the world, that the motivation of the protesters is to destabilize and destroy Iran. Some in the diaspora — influenced by organizations that claim to be nonpartisan but in fact amplify official regime talking points — are fearful that protests will be a precursor to mayhem and war. Despite many having supported the 2009 Green Movement, they are distancing themselves now from this more radical uprising that seeks a complete end to rule by mullahs.
Those who are reluctant to support protesters for fear of destabilizing Iran are, in fact, choosing to muffle their severe grievances and calls for justice, and are willfully dishonest about how their demands can be met. Incremental reform long has proven futile; hence, the protesters’ slogans against both reformists and hardliners.
No matter what the United States says or does with regards to Iranian protesters now, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the regime will label them “American stooges,” as they are already doing and always have done. We must not let our preoccupation with President Trump-the-person get in the way of supporting sound foreign policymaking that benefits the people of Iran and American national security. Such support would be no different from American support for Solidarity in Poland or for anti-apartheid activists in South Africa.
Expressions of rhetorical support from U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley and from other parts of the U.S. government, including members of Congress ranging from Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont to Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, have been wise and impactful. Here are practical measures the U.S. government should take immediately to help Iranians peacefully win back their country and their rights:
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