US Needs To Support Iranian Protesters. Happy Revolution Day
February 11 is Revolution Day in Iran, and the 31st anniversary of the Iranian Revolution is being marked by security forces clashing with demonstrators.
Plainclothes and uniformed security assaulted vehicles carrying Mehdi Karrubi, a reformist leader who ran for president in the disputed June presidential elections, and former President Mohammad Khatami as their opposition supporters poured onto the streets, opposition sources said.
The forces were preventing opposition leaders and their followers — the so-called Green Movement — from reaching Azadi, or Freedom, Square in central Tehran, where President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered an anniversary address that extolled the country’s nuclear program.
Since last year’s disputed election, there has been a growing opposition movement, and a younger generation of Iranians who were not around when the revolution began.
The Islamic Republic has survived many challenges, not least a 1980-88 war started by Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, whose forces were propped up by Gulf Arab oil money and Western weaponry.
But the national unity forged in that trauma has long given way to rifts within clerical and political elites that widened after the June election. Street protests have flared periodically ever since, sometimes around official rallies.
Iranian Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi said Wednesday her country faced a catastrophe that would wreck peace in the whole Middle East if what she called government repression of the people were not halted.
Opposition leaders Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi say the reform movement is alive despite pressure from the hardline rulers to disband. Karoubi predicted last month that Ahmadinejad would not be able to complete his four-year term.
Raymond Tanter of Georgetown says a combination of engagement and regime change is the best option, but the coalescing of opposition groups make the time ripe for a more muscular US effort to support them.
The IPC studied dissident Iranian groups, including the Iranian parliament in exile — the National Council of Resistance of Iran in Paris — and the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, its largest member organization, in Iraq. The regime crackdown after the June elections has fomented a new cohesion among dissidents, as those on the Iranian street are embracing the regime change sentiments of the NCRI and MEK.
The Boston Globe is calling for President Obama to reach out to the international community for international sanctions that target the leaders of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, while holding open the offer of direct negotiations.
The US Treasury Department yesterday added one Guard commander and four subsidiaries of a Guard-owned firm to its existing list of people and companies that cannot do business with Americans. But broader international sanctions, enforced by the United Nations, would sever the Guard commanders and their companies from the international financial system.
Check out scenes from today’s protests here, like the one below:
Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2010 Liberaland