US should affirm Iranians’ calls for: Freedom, not the Islamic Republic

For eight weeks, Iranians have taken the streets with a fundamental rallying cry: “Lady, life, freedom!” Tehran can’t and by no means will heed that decision — the regime is constructed on misogyny, killing, and tyranny. That’s why protesters have chanted “[Iranian Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei might be overthrown this bloody yr!”, “Loss of life to Khamenei!”, and “Loss of life to the dictator!” It’s time for the U.S. to endorse what the Iranian individuals need: The tip of the “Islamic Republic” and the institution of a free democracy.

Supporting these objectives doesn’t require navy intervention.

The U.S. can and will assist Iranians by, for instance, persevering with to facilitate web entry for protesters going through the regime-imposed cyber blackout; sanctioning extra Iranian human rights abusers — notably these on the prime giving the orders, Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi — and synchronizing our lists of sanctions targets with these of different international locations; encouraging our allies to downgrade their relations with the regime, together with by withdrawing their ambassadors and ordering Iranian envoys to go away; and ending nuclear negotiations with Tehran which have produced no outcomes, purchased treasured time for the regime to develop a nuclear weapons functionality, and legitimize a authorities murdering innocents within the streets.

However the U.S. additionally must publicly acknowledge and affirm what Iranians are literally demanding. The Biden administration has but to take action constantly.

To the president’s credit score, he has made some constructive feedback. “[W]e stand with the courageous residents and the courageous ladies of Iran who proper now are demonstrating to safe their fundamental rights,” he mentioned on the United Nations Common Meeting on Sept. 21, simply days after the protests started. Good. However the subsequent step is to acknowledge how Iranians need these rights secured. There, sadly, the administration sends combined messages.

On Oct. 22, for instance, U.S. Particular Envoy for Iran Robert Malley tweeted, “Marchers in Washington and cities around the globe are exhibiting their help for the Iranian individuals, who proceed to peacefully show for his or her authorities to respect their dignity and human rights.”

Malley, going through a storm of criticism from Iranians for his mischaracterization, mentioned his tweet “was poorly worded.” Nevertheless, the administration, afraid of being perceived as supporting regime change, selected to bend over backwards to keep away from describing what the protesters need. “It isn’t as much as me; it isn’t as much as the U.S. authorities what the courageous ladies and men who’ve been demonstrating in Iran need,” Malley mentioned. “It’s as much as them.”

Likewise, in a press briefing on Oct. 24, State Division spokesperson Ned Value repeatedly refused to easily acknowledge what Iranian protesters are asking for. “It’s not for us to interpret what the individuals of Iran are asking for,” he mentioned. “It’s as much as them to be very clear with their voice, with their very own authorities and with the world, to state what they’re asking for.”

Nevertheless, the Iranian individuals have been clear about what they’re asking for, and the administration has created a straw man. The U.S. needn’t interpret something — simply acknowledge and help Iranians’ professional calls for.

As a journalist requested Value at that briefing, “[L]et’s say that if I stroll down the road carrying an indication saying… oranges are dangerous; they need to be banned — what would you say that my message is?” In response, nevertheless, Value dodged once more, protesting, “I’m not the spokesperson for oranges.”

Fortunately, on Nov. 3, President Biden himself spoke clearly. The president, talking to a rally the place some attendees held up smartphones with “Free Iran” on their screens, mentioned, off the cuff, “Don’t fear, we’re gonna free Iran. They’re gonna free themselves fairly quickly.”

Sadly, the administration then backpedaled from the easy which means and intent of Biden’s feedback — that the U.S. supported the emergence of a liberal democracy rather than the Iranian regime.

“He was expressing, once more, our solidarity with [the protesters],” mentioned NSC spokesman John Kirby. However how can the U.S. actually categorical solidarity with protesters whereas remaining silent on, or mischaracterizing, what those self same protesters are demanding?

Ned Value did the latter on Nov. 10, saying Iranians had been “peacefully demonstrating, taking to the streets, to name for the reforms that they’re demanding” (emphasis added).

Mistaken. Iranians are chanting “Loss of life to Khamenei!” not “Reform by Khamenei!”

Do this, as a substitute: “The Iranian individuals need a new, free, democratic political system, with professional leaders who respect their rights. The U.S. helps their aspirations, with phrases and with actions.” Is that so onerous?

Alan Goldsmith works for United Towards Nuclear Iran (UANI). He beforehand served as knowledgeable employees member for the U.S. Home Committee on Overseas Affairs. He’s on Twitter @AlanGoldsmith.