London, 5 Jan – As the protests against the Iranian Government continue into their second week, many are speculating on what the world should be doing to support the Iranian people in their struggle for a free Iran.
Many US politicians- including Donald Trump- have tweeted their support of the Iranian people but there is much more they can do from imposing sanctions on the Government to arming the Iranian people.
The protests, which began on December 28 in response to a sharp increase in the cost of living, soon took on a general anti-Government sentiment with many calling for the resignation (or even the heads) of the Government’s key figures, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
These protests are so much larger than the Movement of 2009- both in terms of participation and location. This uprising has sprung from the discontent of the working-class who have been much maligned by the Government since 1979.
The sheer size of the protests make it difficult to contain for the Government and their suppressive security forces will be stretched too thin if they have to institute martial law- they’ve already bussed in their mercenaries from the Syrian Civil War. It will be even worse for the Government if members of their security services turn against them too.
The Government, which is deeply unpopular at home and abroad, has long sought to distract the international community from the wishes of the Iranian people by causing destructions elsewhere in the Middle East (see: Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon).
Now, the veil has been lifted and the world can see through the Government’s lies. Someday soon, the illegitimate Government and its corruption, oppression, and mismanagement will be over.
In response, the Government has already shut down the internet (to stop communication amongst protesters and to the outside world), arrested at least 450 people and threatened the death penalty.
The world cannot wait to act on this, so what should they do?
Nationally syndicated columnist Michael Gerson wrote on the Washington Post that US policy has mainly sought to delay Iran’s nuclear programme and speed up its democratisation.
He advises that if Trump wants to give the Iranian opposition the time and space to encourage defections from the Government itself, then he needs to stop a comprehensive crackdown on the protesters.
He wrote: “This would need to be done in concert with the Europeans, making clear that repression will bring a return to economic isolation and sanctions. An effective U.S. response would also attempt to increase the access of Iranian citizens to the Internet and social media — which is effectively blocked — through public pressure or (some have suggested) satellite Internet access. This would permit the spread of information about the Government — how about better publicizing the cost of Iranian interventions in Lebanon, Syria and Gaza? — And reveal Government violence to the world in real time. In a struggle such as this one, information is ammunition.”