For the time being, the Islamic Republic seems to be succeeding in suppressing public protests, but, writes Sohrab Ahmari, the movement behind them has not failed. In fact, it has accomplished something merely by upending various misguided notions about the regime’s priorities and proclivities:
First, the Iran protests showed that the people are not rallying to the regime under the press of President Trump’s hawkish rhetoric. Far from being “swept up in a wave of nationalist fervor,” as the New York Times’ Thomas Erdbrink reported a few weeks before the uprising, Iranians still detest their corrupt, repressive regime. . . . [T]he average Iranian doesn’t wake up in the morning cursing Donald Trump for trying to undo the nuclear deal. More likely, he curses the fact that he can’t even afford eggs to feed his children, and there are more proximate actors whom he blames for that: namely, the mullahs.
Second, the uprising revealed, once and for all, that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been no moderate, and that the reformer-vs.-hardliner distinction is meaningless. . . . The people have also been chanting, “Reformists, Hardliners, the Whole Game Is Over.” Let’s hope the same realization soon dawns in Washington and Brussels. . . .
Third, the protesters put the lie to the Obama administration’s claims about the 2015 nuclear deal. Remember when senior Obama officials reassured Americans that Iran would use the sanctions relief under Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to improve the lots of its people? . . . Millions of jobless and impoverished Iranians now beg to differ. It turns out that the regime was happy to spend the JCPOA funds on Hizballah, Hamas, the Yemenite Houthis, and other nasties, even if that meant Iranians would go hungry. And those hungry people aren’t mistaken about the roots of their hunger. Iran remains the world’s top state sponsor of terror, according to the U.S. State Department. . . . The American people are under no obligation to finance Iran’s terrorist statecraft.