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How the International Community Can Support Iranian Protesters

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Iran’s nationwide uprising continues despite a heavy crackdown, once again laying bare the regime’s illegitimacy and brutality. Iranians have clearly demanded a secular and democratic republic where all citizens, regardless of their gender, religion, or ethnicity, enjoy the same rights.

While many western governments and international instances have vocally supported Iranian people and voiced their concern regarding the ayatollahs’ bloody crackdown on protests, Western democracies have refrained from holding the clerical regime accountable for its crimes.

Instead, they continue to prioritize other political endeavors, such as strengthening diplomatic relations and reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

While the West dithers on supporting protesters in Iran and dealing with Tehran’s nefarious activities, the people of Iran are paying a high price. So far, the regime has killed at least 750 civilians, arrested tens of thousands, and injured many more. Yet, the people continue to return to the streets to demand their basic rights.

While the people of Iran have the full capacity to overthrow the regime and bring about democratic change, the West can play an important role by putting an end to the appeasement policy that legitimizes the regime and gives it free rein to suppress the people. This was highlighted during a Senate meeting on March 16, in which several prominent U.S. politicians explained how the West’s appeasement policy has been to the Iranian people’s detriment.

Senate Luncheon in support of a secular, democratic and non-nuclear Republic- March 16, 2023

At the meeting, Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) suggested several initiatives to support the Iranian people’s desire to establish a democratic republic:

  1. Reactivate six UN Security Council resolutions to prevent the regime’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. The regime’s nuclear negotiations are just a tactic to buy time.
  2. End the activities of the Iranian regime’s supporters and lobbies in the United States.
  3. Impose comprehensive sanctions against the regime and its affiliated organizations, and stop the regime’s use of American markets, companies, and universities.
  4. Recognize the legitimacy of the Iranian people’s struggle to overthrow the regime and acknowledge the right of Iranian youth to self-defense against the Revolutionary Guards.

Here is how these initiatives can help.

Failed nuclear negotiations

In December 2022, a video showed U.S. president Joe Biden telling an Iranian woman that the JCPOA is “dead.” Yet, the U.S. and European powers continue trying to bring Iran back to the negotiating table.

In his remarks during the Senate luncheon, former National Security Advisor Ambassador John Bolton said, “If we give up on sanctions if we return the money that’s been frozen, and the assets that have been seized since the withdrawal of the United States in 2018, it will be a stimulus to the Ayatollahs.”

Former Democratic Senator Joe Liberman joined his Republican colleagues on Thursday to urge the Biden administration to declare the JCPOA is “Dead” and “walk away from those negotiations and invoke the so-called snapback sanctions under UN Security Council Resolution 2231 and that will restore the conventional arms embargo on Iran, as well as ensure restrictions on their missile program.”

It is a well-known fact that the Iranian regime has used the economic incentives of the nuclear deal to fund the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and its terrorist activities across the globe. It is also using its economic channels to strengthen its repressive apparatus against dissidents and protesters.

Terrorist designation of the IRGC

The IRGC plays a key role in the suppression of nationwide protests and in carrying out terrorist activities across the globe. It has already been banned in the U.S. And its proscription in European countries can be pivotal to cutting off the regime’s channels for funding the IRGC to crack down on dissent and expand its spy and terror network.

Yet, the West continues to dither on this as well. The United Kingdom’s likely decision to proscribe the regime’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) made headlines recently. But in February, the Telegraph revealed that U.S. diplomats tried to block the UK plan to proscribe the IRGC.

 “The US says the Government can play a key diplomatic role with Tehran, but this would be undermined if Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is outlawed,” the Telegraph wrote.

In his speech at the Senate meeting, Senator Lieberman called on the U.S. government to work “with all of our allies to sanction the IRGC as a terrorist organization.” Other personalities underlined that adopting a firm policy toward the regime wouldn’t be just in the Iranian people’s favor, as the clerical regime threatens global peace and security.

How the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) became the sticking point of Iran’s nuclear talks

Some of the attendees of Thursday’s conference were among the participants of the Iranian Resistance’s annual “Free Iran Summit” in 2018 in Villepinte, north of Paris, which was the target of a failed bombing plot by Tehran’s diplomat-terrorist Assadollah Assadi. If it happened, the Villepinte bombing would have been the largest terrorist attack in Europe by a so-called “diplomat” who used his diplomatic privileges to smuggle explosives to Vienna, where he worked as the embassy’s third counselor.

Dismantling the regime’s lobby network

In light of the West’s weak approach and insistence on keeping “diplomatic relations” with Tehran in the last two decades, Western soil has become the hotbed of Iran’s lobby. The regime has spent enormous amounts to establish lobby groups such as the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) in the U.S. and other similar groups in Canada and Europe. These groups freely operate and push the regime’s talking points, cloaking their real intention of preserving the ruling theocracy through policy recommendations such as “sanction relief for people’s well-being” or “avoiding war” with the regime.

As a result, Tehran has been keeping economic lifelines through its agents abroad and uses every penny to fund its terrorist activities and oppressive apparatus.

Dismantling these groups and demanding full transparency will prevent the regime from spreading its propaganda about Iran and its demonization campaign against the Iranian Resistance.

Recognizing the Iranian people’s right to self-defense

Although blacklisting the IRGC and halting negotiations with Tehran would certainly be for the Iranian people and the world’s benefit, Western powers should also recognize Iranian citizens’ struggle to overthrow the regime and acknowledge their right to self-defense against a regime that has gunned down at least 750 protesters in the recent uprising.

As the regime continues to turn a deaf ear to the cries for freedom in Iran, the people have the full right to protect themselves and resist this regime. Recognizing this right will send a message that the international community stands with the people of Iran at this critical juncture.

Establishing a secular, non-nuclear, and democratic republic in Iran is the Iranian people’s demand and the key to a durable peace in the crisis-riddled Middle East. Appeasement warrants chaos, but firmness toward Tehran grants stability.