After making hundreds of arrests and killing at least two-dozen citizens, the Islamic Republic has managed to put a damper, at least for now, on the recent wave of demonstrations. If Washington doesn’t step in soon to help the protesters, argues William Kristol, it will “have failed to seize a golden opportunity to further [its] interests and the cause of freedom in the Middle East.”
It is true that there are complex decisions pending on certifying or decertifying the nuclear deal and on waiving or not waiving various nuclear sanctions. But uncertainty about what to do about those is no reason not, at least, to begin to move on other fronts. There are many non-nuclear sanctions that can be imposed on the Revolutionary Guard, the central bank, and other elements of the regime; there are ways to highlight the protesters’ complaints about widespread corruption and the appropriation of wealth by various leaders; there are other ways to help the protesters. The administration has shown no urgency about moving ahead in any of these areas.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently tried to assure us that action will be coming soon. But time is of the essence. The demonstrators could use some concrete gestures of support. We are fiddling while the regime cracks down. The time to act is now.