Widespread Unrest Poses a Real Danger to the Iranian Regime

Although a year has passed since the outbreak of popular demonstrations against the ayatollahs across the Islamic Republic, they have not yet been quelled. Alireza Nader argues that these demonstrations reflect a higher-than-ever degree of dissatisfaction with the regime, and urges Washington to take advantage of it:

Still entrenched and viciously clinging to life, the Islamic Republic is nevertheless more vulnerable than it has ever been since the 1979 revolution. Today, unpaid factory workers, teachers, farmers, and truck drivers are some of the most organized and motivated anti-regime forces. . . . Farmers in Isfahan, in central Iran, have turned their backs on regime clerics during Friday prayers and chanted: “Our back to the enemy, our faces to our nation.” Another favorite slogan: “They say our enemy is America, when the real enemy is right here”—meaning the mullahs. Meanwhile, many Iranian women have been shedding the compulsory hijab in public, a gesture that was unthinkable even two years ago.

The sources of popular anger vary, from water shortages to economic collapse to frustration with social restrictions. Most important, recent years disabused Iranians of the illusion of “reform” peddled by so-called moderates like President Hassan Rouhani. The people have learned that such rhetoric only masks the country’s environmental, economic, and social devastation under the mullahs’ rule. . . .

The U.S. should . . . focus on combating the regime’s propaganda machine by creating new Persian-language media that bypass the aging and ineffective Voice of America and Radio Farda, U.S.-taxpayer-funded outlets that too often broadcast the regime’s worldview to Iran. . . . Likewise, America should provide moral and material assistance to domestic forces combating the regime. Washington should pursue some of the same policies that proved successful in defeating Communism during the cold war, such as clandestine aid to the Solidarity movement in Poland.

Read more at New York Post

More about: Hassan Rouhani, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy