Monday, January 01, 2018

Iran Percolates

Dec. 30, 2017: In this photo taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran, anti-riot Iranian police prevent university students from joining other protesters in Tehran, Iran.  (AP)

New Protests in Iran - Editorial

A durable truth about dictatorships is that their surface stability disguises discontent that needs only a spark to ignite. The demonstrations have grown into a broad display of discontent with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani's repressive regime.
One notable theme are denunciations of the Islamic Republic's foreign
adventurism. Iranians are frustrated that the mullahs are spending so much of their national wealth to build a Shiite version of the Persian empire to dominate the Middle East. Religious imperialism is expensive, as is the ballistic-missile development the regime continues despite the nuclear deal.
Iranians need to know that the world supports their demands for freedom. 
(Wall Street Journal)

Iran's Leaders Face Challenge over Protests - Aresu Eqbali and Asa Fitch

Iran's biggest wave of street protests in almost a decade, which began Thursday, is presenting a mounting challenge to the country's leadership, as demonstrations mushroomed Sunday. Video shared on social media showed unrest Sunday in dozens of cities including Tehran, Mashhad, Shiraz, Sandanaj, Kermanshah, Isfahan, and Chabahar.
Some videos showed large numbers of people in the streets chanting against Khamenei and in some cases clashing with security forces. The precise scale of the protests was difficult to judge because foreign media access to the country is tightly controlled.
"We support the right of the Iranian people to express themselves peacefully," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Sunday. "Their voices deserve to be heard. We encourage all parties to protect this fundamental right to peaceful expression and to avoid any actions that contribute to censorship."
"It's the most antiregime event I've ever seen," said Alireza Nader, a senior researcher at the Rand Corp. in Washington. "People are not calling for reforms....Their anger is directed toward the entire establishment."  
(Wall Street Journal)

The current protests in Iran have quickly spread while morphing into mass demonstrations. The protesters are openly calling for the leader to be removed and for the regime to fall.

The protesters are unequivocally demanding the cessation of financial support for Hizbullah, Hamas and the tyrannical Syrian regime.

They are shouting "Death to the dictator," "Khamenei next," "Leave Syria and take care of the Iranian people," "Let go of Palestine," and "Not Gaza, not Lebanon, I'd give my life only for Iran."

The lifting of sanctions, which should have boosted the country's economy, has failed to do so. The protesters accuse the regime of stealing vast sums of money from the pensions of ordinary Iranians.
The writer is former head of the Israel Broadcasting Authority's Persian language division.
(Israel Hayom)

Protests Spread across Iran - Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall

Since Dec. 28, 2017, thousands of Iranians have been demonstrating across the country against the Islamic regime in the most widespread demonstrations in Iran since 2009.

Although it is not clear at this point who is behind the demonstrations, the fact that they have "spontaneously" erupted at a number of locations suggests a guiding hand that has organized them.

Even if the Iranian regime succeeds in suppressing the current wave of protest, the next wave is already in the making.

The Iranian people yearn for an improvement of their living conditions, and the current Iranian regime cannot meet their demands with its adventurous foreign policy and export of the revolution.

At the same time, the Revolutionary Guards will not give up any power without a violent struggle to preserve their share.
The writer is a senior Iran affairs analyst at the Jerusalem Center.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)


An Iranian woman raises her fist amidst the smoke of tear gas at the University of Tehran during a protest in Tehran on Dec. 30, 2017. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) 
The Explosion of Truth - Caroline Glick 

The protests are potentially so important because the Iranian regime is so dangerous. Thanks to Obama, the regime is on a glide path to a nuclear arsenal. Its proxy armies in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq possess sophisticated armaments most militaries can only dream of. Its tentacles spread throughout the globe.

The longer the Iranian regime remains in power, the greater the likelihood humanity will soon face a global conflagration that will dwarf World War II.

It is self-evident that if the protesters get their way and the ayatollahs are overthrown, that money would stop flowing to Hezbollah, Hamas, the Houthis and the Shi’ite militias in Iraq. Instead, that money, and billions more, would be spent developing Iran.

There are many ways that the nations of the world can help the protesters in Iran. The US and Iran’s other targets can expose the financial corruption in the Islamic Republic, including the bank account information of everyone from Supreme Dictator Ayatollah Ali Khamenei down to local Basij commanders. They can broadcast anti-regime information into Iran through multiple platforms outside the regime’s control. They can bypass the regime and unblock Twitter, Facebook, Telegraph and other social media platforms.

[E]ven if the protesters’ prospects of success are small, there is no excuse for not supporting them, as constructively, enthusiastically and unconditionally as possible. There is certainly no excuse for working to preserve Obama’s foreign policy legacy at the expense of a popular uprising that has the potential to avert a world war.
[Jerusalem Post]

The West Should Support the Protesters in Iran - Editorial

Five days of street protests in cities across Iran have underlined the fundamental weakness of a regime sometimes portrayed in Washington as a regional juggernaut. Protests quickly mushroomed into a nationwide uprising directed squarely at the rule of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The popular demand for change is justified and deserves international support. 

(Washington Post)

The Lion and the Sun are traditional emblems of the Persian nation. They remained the official symbol of Iran until the 1979 revolution, when the "Lion and Sun" symbol was removed from public spaces and government organizations

It Was a Mistake to Ignore Iran Demonstrations in 2009 - Dennis Ross

In 2009, I was serving in the Obama administration as the secretary of state's special advisor on Iran and was part of the decision-making process. Because we feared lending credence to the regime's claim that the demonstrations in Iran at the time were being instigated from the outside, we adopted a low-key posture.

In retrospect, that was a mistake. We should have shined a spotlight on what the regime was doing and mobilized our allies to do the same; we should have done our best to provide news from the outside and to facilitate communication on the inside. 
The writer, a former American envoy to the Middle East, is counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. 
(Foreign Policy)

- Natan Sharansky (Washington Post)

  • An opinion piece in the New York Times recently argued that the best way for the U.S. government to help the Iranian protesters is to "Keep quiet and do nothing." It is vital to understand why failing to support the protesters at this critical juncture would constitute a moral and strategic mistake.
  • Any regime that refuses to respect its citizens' most basic rights, and especially the right to think and speak freely, can maintain its power only by intimidation and force. Revolutions take place when enough people simultaneously cross that fateful line between silent questioning and open dissent. Once they do so, the regime can no longer contain the upsurge of opposition and must either begin to liberalize or collapse.
  • World powers should warn Tehran - and thereby reassure protesters - that it must respect its citizens' rights if it wishes to continue receiving benefits from their countries. Articulating a clear policy of linkage would put pressure on the regime to make genuine changes and give hope to protesters that their sacrifices will not be in vain.
  • It is time for all those who value freedom to state clearly that the Iranian people - like all people - deserve to be free, and that when they fight for this right, those of us who already enjoy it will stand unequivocally by their side.
    The writer was a prisoner in the Soviet Gulag for nine years for his human rights activities. He is Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel.

Protests Threaten Iran's Ascendant Role in the Middle East - Liz Sly

The eruption of political unrest in Iran has presented an unforeseen challenge to Tehran's rising influence in the Middle East. "Before the protests, you had this dominant narrative that Iran is unstoppable, Iran is undefeatable, Iran is as solid as a rock," said Fawaz Gerges, professor of Middle East politics at the London School of Economics. "The protests have undermined the posture of the Islamic Republic in the region as the unrivaled superpower."

"This will make Iran's allies and proxies nervous and feeling vulnerable," added Paul Salem of the Middle East Institute in Washington. 
(Washington Post)

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