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December 12, 2019 10:03 am

It’s Time for Europe to Stand With the Iranian People

avatar by Eric Mandel / JNS.org

Opinion

Protestors gather in solidarity with anti-regime protests in Iran outside the Iranian embassy in Helsinki, Finland. Photo: Reuters/Lehtikuva/Heikki Saukkomaa.

JNS.orgIn Tehran, the mullahs have blamed the recent protests in Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon not on their own repressive regimes and proxies, but on foreign and Zionist interference.

The Iranian Supreme Leader, speaking to his Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) henchmen, blamed the Iranian people’s protests on foreign interference. How long will the Iranian scapegoating against the West and Zionists work, when their economy is in shambles and their people yearn for freedoms that are an anathema to the Islamic Republic’s revolutionary agenda?

Repressive regimes have long used scapegoating as the preferred method to blame anyone but themselves for their violence, lack of human rights, and economic failures.

The revolutionary Islamist Iranian theocracy shares elements with every authoritarian regime that imprisons and kills its own people, deflecting attention with scapegoating; but unique to Iran is its religiously sanctioned dissimulation — i.e., taqiyya, a precautionary dissimulation or denial of religious belief and practice in the face of persecution.

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You would think that Europeans who supposedly learned the lessons of fascism in the 20th century would be particularly sensitive to a vicious state-controlled secret police — in this case, directly controlled by the Iranian mullahs, the IRGC, and the corrupt Iranian government.

Like the Nazis, who diverted resources even during militarily challenging times in 1944 when they choose to ramp up their master plan to kill all the Jews of Europe, the Iranian regime today chooses to divert its resources to surround Israel and support its proxies in a quest to destroy the Jewish state, instead of economically helping their people. You can understand this only if you realize how central a foundational pillar of the Iranian revolution the destruction of Israel is.

Yet Western Europe, including France, England, and Germany, which tout their humanitarian records, have supported and treated the Iranian regime as a legitimate government — not as the world’s leading state sponsor of terror — and have even provided the Iranians a path to nuclear weapons.

When did it become the policy of European Western democracies to be on the side of suppression, jihadism, and illiberalism, and against the yearning of a people for liberation from their authoritarian suppressors, or perversely favoring Iran economically over Israel, the only democracy in the region?

According to The New York Times, Iraqi protesters screaming “Out Iran” have burned the Iranian consulate in the holy city of Najaf “in an outburst of anger at Iran.”

The best way to support Iranian protesters is not only to support their legitimate protests, but also the protests of the Lebanese and Iraqi people against their governments, who are in large part controlled by Tehran. If the Lebanese and Iraqi people can effectively challenge their Iranian-controlled political parties and governments, then it would encourage the Iranian people to continue to demand a change of their government.

Now is the time to state the obvious: It would be in American and allied interests for the Iranian people to be in charge of their own destiny.

That will not happen until there is a change of regime in Tehran — something that is a dirty word in the international community. But regime change will come not from American boots on the ground, as the critics contend is the real goal, but from the Iranian people themselves, who need and deserve our public and vocal support to take control of their lives both for their benefit and ours.

Unlike Europe, the Trump administration has not taken the easy path of accommodation, appeasement, and willful avoidance of facts, but has provided tangible consequences to the Iranian Republic. Not only has it withdrawn from the tragically flawed 2015 nuclear deal that guaranteed an Iranian pathway to nuclear weapons in the future, but it has rhetorically stood side by side with today’s Iranian protesters in profound contradistinction to the last administration’s policy of silence during the Iranian Green Revolution of 2009, when the regime seemed vulnerable.

What will it take for Europe to wake up and realize that no amount of money, accommodation, or deference will change the structural DNA of Iran’s leaders, who are bent on the eradication of Israel and the ascendancy of Shiites over Sunnis and minority populations living in the Middle East?

Since the 100,000-plus missiles of Iranian-controlled Hezbollah in Lebanon do not threaten Paris, Berlin, or London, they rationalize away the true nature of the regime. It helps that they too habitually see Israel in a negative light.

Iran is not a rational state actor in the Western sense. It is, however, an Islamist rational actor with a well-thought out hegemonic agenda to destroy the Jewish state and dominate the Middle East as in the long-ago days of Persian imperialism. Iran is a dangerous combination of longing for the glory days of Persian domination of its neighbors married to a unique Twelver Shiite Jihadist desire to capture Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem.

Once the obvious conclusion is drawn that Iran cannot be changed or turned into a member of the international community in good standing, then strategies to deal with this reality can be created. The Iranian economy is on the ropes, and if only the Europeans would join the American sanctions regime, the Iranian people could possibly take control of their destiny.

Dr. Eric R. Mandel is the director of MEPIN, the Middle East Political Information Network. He regularly briefs members of the US Senate, House, and their foreign-policy advisers. He is a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and a contributor to i24TV, The Hill, JTA, and The Forward.

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