The ongoing protests in Iran prove that the people reject the regime. While there is a strong faction that supports the religious extremism of the Mullahs, they have had to use police state tactics, repression, and election-stealing to maintain power.
The Iran Deal failed to help the common people. The plane-loads of cash went to fund war abroad. Basic necessities are soaring in price at home. This time, the Iranian people will find support for their cause from the United States.
President Trump tweeted this
The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most…. pic.twitter.com/W8rKN9B6RT
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2017
And the State Department even made a strong statement
“Iran’s leaders have turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos” pic.twitter.com/t5Eni501el
— Jim Hanson (@Uncle_Jimbo) December 30, 2017
Knowing the United States supports you goes a long way to heartening those actively fighting oppression. Prisoners in the Soviet gulags said knowing their names were mentioned in Voice of America broadcasts helped them maintain hope. For the protesters in Iran to achieve their goal of replacing the theocrats, though, they will need more than our words.
Any overt U.S. actions must be measured against the danger of letting the regime de-legitimize the protests as the actions of outside agitators. Nevertheless, there are ways the U.S. can take actions that support and aid the people of Iran in their aspiration for true self-determination. Here are five that the Security Studies Group endorses.
● The U.S. should introduce a resolution in the UN Security Council calling for free and fair elections in Iran to be help immediately. These elections must be monitored by the UN and include U.S. observers. Russia and China are likely to veto such a resolution, of course. The UN Security Council must be put on notice that any veto of this motion will be regarded as the end of its legitimacy as a venue for addressing the world’s problems. If they fail us this time, a new organization should be built by free nations to fulfill the purposes the United Nations was meant to achieve.
● The U.S. Treasury Department should place immediate sanctions on regime leaders and place any monies seized in a fund held in trust for a Free Iranian Government. Corrupt officials have stolen the people’s wealth. The United States should lead an international effort to recover as much of that money as possible. The funds can represent a first foundation for the success of their new government.
● The United States should consider the establishment of a safe zone in or near Iran, perhaps in the Kurdish region of Iran or northern Iraq. Here regime opponents can gather and receive training in how to replace their government, including lessons in statecraft, diplomacy, and constitution-drafting.
● The President should consider a partial revocation of the travel ban on Iranian nationals. Regime opponents who wish to come to the United States to receive training in preparation for the replacement of the corrupt regime should be welcome. This will show the truth of the President’s word that the United States is only opposed to the regime, but has solidarity with the people of Iran.
● Finally, we endorse this call to instate new sanctions on Iran, reinstate sanctions on the Iranian regime, or to refuse to continue to waive such sanctions. New sanctions should target the regime specifically, taking care not to add to the suffering of the people.
None of these guarantee success, and all come with major risks associated. But absent U.S. leadership is meaningful concrete ways, the regime will kill and imprison the protesters and another opportunity for peace will have been lost. That will make the world less safe for Americans and all others. The time for action is now.