Politics & Policy

Iran, Now

A plea.

As I write these words several thousand lovers of freedom have braved the streets of Tehran and are facing the goons of Islamic Republic of Iran to chant for freedom in their country and an end to the tyranny of the mullahs over Iran. They are chanting to let us in the free world know that the Iranian people’s aspiration is for a true and transparent democracy; they have had it with the mullahcracy.

The protesters are in the streets because of recent preemptive crackdowns by the regime in advance of July 9, which marks the anniversary of the student uprisings of 1999. The protests were called for by the Los Angeles-based satellite-televisions programs that are hemorrhaging in red ink (and are not getting any funding from the U.S. government to survive), despite being widely popular among the people of Iran.

If we are worried about a nuclear Islamic Republic; if we are worried about Iran becoming the new operations base for al Qaeda; if we are worried about terrorist groups destroying any chance of peace in the Middle East; if we are gong to have American justice for the brave soldiers who died in the Khobbar towers; if we truly want to get rid of this evil regime and have the Iranian people enjoy a life free of tyranny, then the time to act is now.

The debate over the future of Iran should not be an excuse for various U.S. departments to continue the war they started with each other over Iraq and should not be used as a tool to even the scores.

The overwhelming majority of the Iranian people want a regime change. Regime change has been the policy of the Iranian people since 1999. Regime change should not be a dirty word. The current governmental system will not allow Iranians to achieve their legitimate desire for freedom. The Iranian people understand this and want to move past the tyranny of the mullahs. But if their quest for freedom is to succeed we in America must support it. The president must sign a national-security directive that will make it clear that it should be the aim of the United States government to support and aid the Iranian people’s quest for a free and democratic Iran and push for an internationally monitored referendum that will inevitably lead to a regime change.

Although career bureaucrats and so-called experts in our ivory towers are deaf to the cries of the Iranian people for freedom, an increasing number of members of Congress (Republicans and Democrats) are hearing their cries.

On Thursday, Representative Brad Sherman of California will introduce the “Iran Freedom and Democracy Support Act.” The legislation has six other cosponsors. It is crucial legislation because it shows that the elected representatives of the American people stand in solidarity with the people of Iran and are willing to aid them in their struggle.

The legislation includes provisions substantially identical to those in Senator Sam Brownback’s (R., Kan.) recently introduced “Iran Democracy Act.” The legislation would declare U.S. support for an internationally monitored referendum in Iran and would make way for U.S. funding of the Iranian media in exile who are committed to supporting and fostering regime change through a bloodless referendum. The legislation would also ban the continued importation of caviar and carpets from Iran (a policy started under Clinton that has somehow continued until today).

The brave people of Iran are risking their lives to show us that they want freedom. The least we can do is to support them. The House and the Senate have started to act. When will the administration?

Pooya Dayanim is president of the Iranian Jewish Public Affairs Committee. The views expressed in this article are his own. He may be contacted by email at: info@iranianjew.org.

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