The Corner

Iranian Americans Hailing Gas-Sanctions Proposal

Many in the Iranian American community are hailing the decision by Howard Berman (D., Calif.) to bring the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act to a vote before year’s end. They understand that coercion conducted alongside diplomacy often makes diplomacy more effective. Sam Yebri, who is very well connected across the diverse sectarian and political factions of the Iranian diaspora community, puts it well:

Before it is too late, the Iranian American community urges its leaders to pass IRPSA and take other peaceful economic and diplomatic measures.  Yet, as thousands of brave Iranian citizens raise their voices for freedom and democracy, other voices clamor for delay.  Yesterday, Americans for Peace Now (APN) issued a letter to each House member in opposition to IRPSA.  APN claims that “the most likely and immediate result [of IRPSA’s passage] will be a backlash by the people of Iran against the United States, not against the Iranian regime.”  Last week, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), an organization that purports to “represent[] Iranian Americans on Capitol Hill,” issued a press release asserting that IRPSA’s passage “is a move in the direction of punishing the Iranian people instead of the Iranian government.”  Such a tenuous claim—that the very people who are risking their lives to shout “Death to Dictator” would return to shouting “Death to America” because of an increase in the price of gasoline domestically due to sanctions aimed at weakening the very regime they are protesting—is belied by the reality of what’s happening in the streets of Tehran.

The Iranian people desperately seek for the United States and the international community to stand on their side.  The video clips of the demonstrations tell the story.  While APN and NIAC ask the American government to do nothing, the people of Iran march and chant “Obama, Obama, Ya Ba Mah, Ya Bah Unah;”  “Obama, Obama, Either you are with us or you are with them.”  Even more striking, the people refuse to heed the mullahs’ calls for chants of “Down with America” and “Down with Israel.”  Instead, they respond with “Down with Russia”—a pointed reminder that Russia refuses to back tough economic sanctions at the United Nations.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.

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