Why These Iranian Demonstrations Are Different from Those of 2009

The current wave of protests spreading across Iran are without precedent in the Islamic Republic’s 37-year history, explains Majid Rafizadeh. Unlike others, he writes, these are aimed at overthrowing the clerical regime:

In 2009, during the popular uprising known as the “Green Movement,” people were protesting against rigged elections and the presidency of the anti-Semitic politician Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Chants of “Where is my vote?” echoed through the streets, while the government ratcheted up its power to silence the protestors.

Now, people are demanding not just limited reforms but regime change. After almost four decades of living under a theocracy—with Islamist mullahs controlling them, rampant corruption, and the regime’s persistent dissemination of propaganda—the people have reached the boiling point.

The government has been doing all it can to [channel popular rage into chants of] “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” But now protesters, risking their lives, are chanting, “Death to Khamenei”—a serious crime according to the clergy, and punishable, according to the sharia law of the regime, with death. . . . [Other] chants being heard all over the nation are, “Forget about Palestine, forget about Gaza, think about us” [and] “Death to Hizballah.” . . . The outcry leaves no question about the needs of the people, and the real voice of Iran. . . .

The Trump administration in the United States is taking the right side by supporting the Iranian people; they are the principal victims of the Iranian regime and its Islamist agenda. . . . Let [America] not be on the side of history that would remain silent in the face of such crimes against humanity; let us not join the ranks of other dictators, terrorists, and criminals who turned a blind eye to the will of brave, innocent people.

Read more at Gatestone

More about: Ali Khamenei, Donald Trump, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs

How the U.S. Can Strike at Iran without Risking War

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Michael Doran urged the U.S. to pursue a policy of rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, and explained how this can be accomplished. (Video of the testimony, along with the full text, are available at the link below.)

The United States . . . has indirect ways of striking at Iran—ways that do not risk drawing the United States into a quagmire. The easiest of these is to support allies who are already in the fight. . . . In contrast to the United States, Israel is already engaged in military operations whose stated goal is to drive Iran from Syria. We should therefore ask ourselves what actions we might take to strengthen Israel’s hand. Militarily, these might include, on the passive end of the spectrum, positioning our forces so as to deter Russian counterattacks against Israel. On the [more active] end, they might include arming and training Syrian forces to engage in operations against Iran and its proxies—much as we armed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Diplomatically, the United States might associate itself much more directly with the red lines that Israel has announced regarding the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has, for example, called for pushing Iran and its proxies away from its border on the Golan Heights. Who is prepared to say that Washington has done all in its power to demonstrate to Moscow that it fully supports this goal? In short, a policy of greater coordination with Jerusalem is both possible and desirable.

In Yemen, too, greater coordination with Saudi Arabia is worth pursuing. . . . In Lebanon and Iraq, conditions will not support a hard rollback policy. In these countries the goal should be to shift the policy away from a modus vivendi [with Iran] and in the direction of containment. In Iraq, the priority, of course, is the dismantling of the militia infrastructure that the Iranians have built. In Lebanon, [it should be] using sanctions to force the Lebanese banking sector to choose between doing business with Hizballah and Iran and doing business with the United States and its financial institutions. . . .

Iran will not take a coercive American policy sitting down. It will strike back—and it will do so cleverly. . . . It almost goes without saying that the United States should begin working with its allies now to develop contingency plans for countering the tactics [Tehran is likely to use]. I say “almost” because I know from experience in the White House that contingency planning is something we extol much more than we conduct. As obvious as these tactics [against us] are, they have often taken Western decision makers by surprise, and they have proved effective in wearing down Western resolve.

Read more at Hudson

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen