DANIEL VAUGHAN: U.S. Should Support Iran Protests and Repudiate Echo Chambers

It’s a new year, and if the people of Iran are free to have a say, 2018 could bring a huge change to Iran.

Multiple cities in Iran have been thronged with protestors taking the streets, some shouting, “Death to the Dictator.”

After watching their government continue as a state sponsor of terrorism, while the people suffer from high unemployment, it’s the latest sign that Iranians are fed up with their government.

These protests don’t come without a cost; authorities killed two people in an overnight clash. The Iranian government is actively censoring internet access and blocking popular private messaging apps protestors use to coordinate across the country.

On schedule and in coordination, former Barack Obama administration officials started issuing statements with the same premise: Trump shouldn’t say anything, and no one should make the protests political.

Ironically, this came after they and the press were criticized for ignoring the Iranian people.

It was the second time this week they had launched coordinated media attacks, the last one against a Politico report proving the Obama administration was soft on Hezbollah, an Iranian sponsored terrorist organization, just to get the Iran Deal signed. People who don’t want to “get political” frequently rely on coordinated political messaging with the press, or as they call it: an echo chamber.

For Iranians, the protests are the latest reminder that the 1979 Iranian Revolution — when the 2,500-year-old monarchy was overthrown by anti-West radicals intent on a theocratic rule — solved nothing. Those extremists have used Iran to fund terrorism abroad while the people suffer.

While Americans were shocked to learn the Obama administration gave Iran — a state sponsor of terrorism — $1.7 billion in cash for the Iran Deal, Iranians were angered that they’ve seen none of the money, and believe the government is funneling the money abroad for terrorist activities.

In short, while Iranians are pushing for regime change in their country, Americans are watching the Iran Deal, and all those who sold it, and their argument, implode. The Iran protests expose the deal, and the echo chamber for the complete lies that they are in the world.

It’s farcical now for those same people to advise silence and calm at the exact time when the Iranian people are trying to retake their nation.

It’s also a time for the United States to act — not sit on the sideline like the previous administration. We have the power of sanctions and can tighten the noose around an illegitimate regime.

In 2014, at the height of the Iran Deal negotiations, Iran claimed it would open up the internet for their people with no censorship. The Iran Deal echo chamber used this lie as evidence Iran had “moderate” leadership.

Iran backtracked on that promise almost immediately, using indirect methods of censorship first. In the last few days with protests heating up, Iran resorted to blocking specific website and apps like Telegram and Instagram.

In other regions of the country, Iran has wholly cut off internet access and cellular data. All of this was done in an attempt to smother any protests.

President Trump has a golden opportunity to give a voice to the voiceless and seize the advantage on a reeling Iranian government. The U.S. government refused to re-certify the Iran Deal a few months ago and can freely impose sanctions, or more importantly, threaten to reimpose sanctions on Iran for brutally oppressing its people.

If the people of Iran chant their government is illegitimate, the U.S. government can readily help that argument by stripping authority and legitimacy from Iran.

The United States should also showcase Iran’s brutal tactics at the United Nations security council for more sanctions and broader condemnations. The point of this move would be to push back against Russia and China for supporting Iran in the past.

As proven during the U.N. vote over moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley is imminently capable of exerting U.S. force and morality at the U.N.

Finally, President Donald Trump can use this time of confusion in Iran to attack Hezbollah, the terrorist arm of the Iranian government. While the Obama administration blocked U.S. forces from cutting off Hezbollah’s various money operations, Trump can reauthorize these agencies to cut off funding.

Iran cannot efficiently fund terrorism and control its country during an upheaval at the same time. Which means this is a perfect opportunity to strike two blows to Hezbollah: drying up their state funding and their private money laundering operations.

All of these moves would reinforce the protestors in the street trying to make their country better and doesn’t require boots on the ground.

There are always risks when people push for a regime change in their country; there’s no way of knowing the final result.

But in the case of Iran, we know they are a state sponsor of terrorism trying to obtain nuclear weapons to threaten the U.S. and her allies. If we can use this as a chance to eliminate that threat while ridding ourselves of the Iran Deal, we should take it.

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