Ordinary Iranians Are Quietly Protesting Their Regime’s Anti-Israel, Anti-American Ideology

Last Sunday, the Islamic Republic celebrated the 39th anniversary of the attack on the U.S. embassy in Tehran and the seizure of its staff. To honor the date, the government painted American and Israeli flags at the entrances of public buildings, so that those walking in or out could trample on them. But many refused to do so, writes Benny Avni:

Iranians now increasingly dismiss the notion that the sole cause of their problems is the Great Satan. . . . Masih Alinejad—the Iranian-born, Brooklyn-based author of The Wind in My Hair, a best-seller about the battle she inspired against Iranian laws mandating traditional Islamic head coverings for women—[reports that] her Iranian social-media followers . . . sent her several video clips showing students going out of their way to sidestep the flags. Posted on her Instagram account and narrated in Farsi, one video received a million hits. . . .

“This is a new phenomenon,” she says. “Everyone I talk to is worried about the economic impact of the sanctions,” and yet “people are refusing to buy into the regime’s talking points.” . . .

Poverty-stricken remote villagers, taxi and truck drivers, environmentalists, women’s-rights supporters, even upscale, traditionally regime-supporting merchants at the Tehran bazaar all now chant against their theocratic rulers. They [complain of] corruption, mismanagement, involvement in foreign wars, and oppression at home rather than faulting Israel or America.

Sure, some will continue to scapegoat America. But for the many Iranians disenchanted with the regime, [U.S.] sanctions can reinforce a reality: the Islamic Republic’s revolutionary ideology is quickly taking them to nowhere. And they realize another truth, too: their real oppressors aren’t Israel or America—but the clerical regime.

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More about: anti-Americanism, Anti-Zionism, Iran, Iranian Revolution, Politics & Current Affairs

How to Prevent Saudi Arabia from Getting Nuclear Weapons

Skeptics of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran warned that it could prompt a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. As they predicted, Saudi Arabia has been seeking assistance from the U.S. in obtaining civilian nuclear capabilities, while also speaking—in imitation of the Islamic Republic—of a “right” to enrich uranium, something it pledged not to do in a 2008 agreement with Washington. Were Riyadh to begin such enrichment, it could also produce the fuel necessary for nuclear weapons. Emily Landau and Shimon Stein warn of the dangers inherent in Saudi proliferation, and discuss how the U.S. and Israel should respond:

So long as the motivation to go nuclear remains strong, states are likely to find a way to develop [nuclear] capabilities, even if they have to pay a price for doing so. In Iran’s case, the major motivation for going nuclear is to enhance its hegemonic power in the Middle East. . . . But in the case of Saudi Arabia, if strong international powers . . . were to take a harsher stance toward Iran’s regional aggressions and missile developments and were to cooperate in order to improve the provisions of the [2015 nuclear deal], this would most likely have a direct and favorable impact on Saudi Arabia’s calculations about whether to develop nuclear capabilities.

A decision by the U.S. administration (or for that matter any other supplier) to allow Saudi Arabia to have enrichment capabilities will confront Israel with a dilemma.

On the one hand, it has been Israeli policy to do its utmost to deny any neighboring country with whom it does not have a peace treaty the means to acquire and develop a nuclear program. If Israel remains loyal to this approach, it should seek to deny Saudi Arabia enrichment capabilities. In practical terms this would imply making its opposition known in Washington.

On the other hand, given the “tactical alliance” with Saudi Arabia which has been primarily developed in response to the common Iranian threat, Israel could consider sacrificing its long-term interest in denying nuclear capabilities for the sake of its current interest in cultivating relations with the Saudis. Israel, [however], should support the traditional U.S. nonproliferation policies that allow states to have access to nuclear fuel for civilian purposes, while denying them the option to produce it themselves.

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More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Nuclear proliferation, Politics & Current Affairs, Saudi Arabia