The West must deepen its understanding of the regime
The first day of spring, March 21, also marks the beginning of Nowruz, or the Iranian New Year. Now that the people of Iran have entered his 1402, change is still possible, but so is the threat of greater reprisals from Iran’s oppressive theocracy. It remains to be seen which of these two trends will come out on top, and whether the country will finally deliver on the promise inherent in the holiday’s name, which means “new day.”
The answer to this question may very much depend on the actions taken by the West in the coming days. Appropriate action depends on an accurate understanding of the current situation. Unfortunately, Western lawmakers and the international media have not had a consistent track record when it comes to recognizing what the Iranian people and the clerical regime respectively can do.
Public unrest has revived in recent weeks as activists mark the 40th day since the execution of two protesters. After that, public attention was directed squarely to the mass poisoning of female students across the country.
The latter phenomenon began on November 30th but has gotten considerably worse since, apparently with dozens of schools in 10 states being attacked last Saturday alone. These incidents follow the punishment by regime officials or their supporters of women and girls who played a crucial role in the protests that erupted in September after 22-year-old Masa Amini was killed by the “morality police.” is widely assumed to be She wears the mandatory hijab loosely.
Some Western NGOs and institutions such as the U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom believe that Iranian authorities at least tolerated gas attacks apparently intended to close girls’ schools and discourage future on-campus activities. I am expressing my agreement that I am. But these statements contradict previous reports that gave the Iranian regime too much credit in its willingness to adopt reforms and compromise with protesters.
The riots’ initial focus on Amini’s murder has prompted countless women across the country to remove their hijabs and often burn them, leaving the regime unable to restore the status quo even after the protests have been quelled. A few months later, that speculation was replaced by reports that the Morality Police had been dissolved and that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had expressed openness to changes to the compulsory veil law. was given. Both reports turned out to be false.
Claims regarding the termination of the moral patrol are credited to Iran’s Attorney General, but he does not have the authority to dissolve the organization, and his statements likely reflect pending changes in its name, leadership, or operations. was referring to
Khamenei’s claims about leniency to such compromises were even more difficult to substantiate, as they emerged after a speech in which he articulated that the hijab remained an “inviolable necessity”. The Supreme Leader urged his supporters to focus on bringing women back into the group, whether through persuasion or conversion, rather than fueling further public outcry by punishing women as apostates. was This is a directive that certainly fits with the idea of poisoning schoolgirls in order to terrorize them into submission.
False reports of Ayatollah Khamenei’s December speech recall a long-standing Western tendency to assume that Tehran is capable of internal reforms.
Traditionally, the most optimistic Western policymakers have espoused the view that Tehran could be forced to reform through engagement with so-called moderate political factions. Although it is particularly absurd to suggest that Khamenei himself could be the agent of that change, this would suggest that the Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guard would consolidate power and virtually all the supposed reformers It seems to be the view some people have adopted by default, as they have kicked out of the country the government during the last two election cycles.
In 2021, Ebrahim Raisi announced that he would face the Islamic Republic amid popular protests denouncing him as the “Butcher of Tehran” for his role in the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners and the mass murder of 1,500 people. was appointed president of Protesters in November 2019.
This reality was made clear last week by Resistance leader Mariam Rajabi. Rajabi was appointed interim president after the overthrow of the regime by the Iranian National Resistance Council. Speaking before a parliamentary hearing that presented a bipartisan resolution supporting the ongoing riots, Rajabi said:
“The world has seen that despite the killings and imprisonment, the Iranian regime has neither the intention nor the ability to provide a solution. Increased repression, combined with the regime’s disastrous economic policies and corruption, will only deepen the divide between the Iranian people and the ruling theocracy.”
This means there is still time for the US government, the UK, the European Union, and their member states to adopt policies in line with recent parliamentary resolutions and provide real support to the Iranian protesters beyond mere assistance. It means that there is verbal denunciations of human rights violations that have so far prevailed;
Under the previous administration, the United States took an important first step by designating the Revolutionary Guard, the organization most responsible for cracking down on dissidents in Iran, as a terrorist organization. Now, the current administration should urge all U.S. allies to join multilateral efforts to undermine Iran’s repressive institutions and empower civilians. If the West takes cautious steps in that direction, it is almost certain that the upcoming Iranian calendar year will truly mark a ‘new day’ for the country.