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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Iranian dissidents need American help

Saturday marked a year since the rigged Iranian election, and all that has changed is that many Iranians have been tortured or killed or both. The Iranians need Western support to win, writes Ilan Berman in the Wall Street Journal (also here for those who cannot access full articles from the Journal). And guess who has led the World at not providing that support....
One problem for the opposition is that Washington so far has been reluctant to weigh in on the struggle for Iran's soul. When the Green Movement coalesced last summer, the Obama administration was still in the throes of its ill-fated diplomatic outreach to the Islamic Republic. The White House remained largely silent in the face of the brutal suppression of peaceful protestors, fearing that vocal support for Iran's opposition would undermine any chance of cutting a nuclear deal with the ayatollahs.

Today, most policymakers in Washington have come to grips with the fact that "engagement" with Iran won't happen. As a result, the White House has in recent weeks moved steadily in the direction of punitive measures. The United Nations Security Council just Wednesday passed a fourth round of sanctions (which Tehran promptly dismissed); the U.S. Congress is in conference over biting new energy sanctions; and there appears to be newfound (if fragile) consensus between the United States and its allies over the need to further pressure Iran for its nuclear transgressions.

But serious support for Iran's democrats is still embryonic. In early March, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control loosened licensing restrictions on the shipment of communications software and services into Iran, paving the way for censorship-busting software like "Haystack" to be sent into the Islamic Republic. Congress has done its part as well. As part of the Victims of Iranian Censorship Act passed last fall, Congress has given the State Department new authorities to help counter Iranian censorship, and to promote discourse on human rights abuses, via beefed-up Farsi-language radio and TV broadcasting and the creation of dynamic new Internet sites, among an array of measures.

It's time now for the U.S. government to put its money where its mouth is. Like their anti-Soviet counterparts during the Cold War, Iran's opposition needs reliable, independent means for communicating and coordinating their activities—technology and tools that the United States and its allies can readily provide. Regime opponents likewise need to be able to dispel the disinformation being spread by the Iranian regime, and to highlight official corruption. For that, they require unfiltered access to the Internet, and a receptive ear from Western media. And the Green Movement needs greater Western support for the plight of political opponents and dissidents, particularly those lingering in Iranian prisons.
Berman has one point wrong and that's the second paragraph in the quote above. 'Most' policymakers may have come to grips with the notion that 'engagement' with Iran is not going to happen, but the most important policymaker has not: Barack Hussein Obama. What's worse, I'm not convinced - and I doubt that a whole lot of other people are convinced - that Obama will be pleased if the Iranians overthrow Ahmadinejad even without American help.

Obama seems to be doing everything possible to keep Ahmadinejad in power so that he can prove that 'engagement' works. The sanctions passed last week by the UN were about as weak as they could get. And what's worse, Obama keeps leaving 'engagement' on the table. In case you've forgotten, here's what the Obumbler said last week after the sanctions were passed.
Obama added that "these sanctions do not close the door on diplomacy. Iran continues to have the opportunity to take a different and better path."
What could go wrong?


At 10:11 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

The problem is there are no democrats in Iran. Just two groups of extreme radical Islamists fighting for power. Its a feud I hope lasts forever.

At 11:56 AM, Blogger Juniper in the Desert said...

Basically, Obama supports Ahmadinejad and Khamenei. He supports the regime and not the people.

He is planning the same dictatorship for America. We in Europe are getting it now.

Obama's ideal is to create the Islamic Republic of America with his own version of IRGC and Basiji.


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