U.S. Must Take The Same Tact With Iran As It Does With Russia – A Hard Line

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Over 40 years after the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which led to the taking of U.S. hostages, relations between the U.S. and Iran are as tense as ever.

Iran’s advancement of its nuclear program and support for terrorist groups has frayed the relationship between the two countries, and Iran officials’ recent violence against demonstrators has stretched the tension further.

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The protests against the government came after the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian who was arrested by morality police in September for what the government called “unsuitable attire.” 

As a result, the U.S. announced sanctions against Iranian officials, and at the same time is trying to revive a nuclear deal with Iran.

In the ever more dangerous world in which we live, it’s important for the U.S. government to lead the free world in applying pressure against governments that threaten the world order and their own citizens.

A History Of Oppression

The Iran regime has been oppressing its people for many years and has spread terrorism and fear throughout the Middle East. It has supported terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Houthi in Yemen as well as militias in Iraq.

And it also supported Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, who’s responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths in Syria and crimes against humanity. 

The economic situation in Iran is poor, in part because the regime spent tons of money on supporting terrorist organizations. The Iranian people deserve a better government, one that doesn’t spend money on terrorists but rather on their own people to improve their lives.

Uprisings among the Iranian people asking for democratic changes have been met with an iron fist. Iranian authorities have ruthlessly cracked down on anti-government protests with excessive and lethal force. Videos have shown security forces using shotguns, assault rifles, and handguns against protesters who were gathering peacefully, and hundreds have been killed and injured. 

It is time for concerned governments to cooperate and increase pressure on Iran. One route they could take would be a United Nations-led inquiry into the serious abuses the government committed during the protests, with the goal of holding those who were responsible to account.

Pressure Works Better Than Compromise

What does the United States need to do to support and push for democratic changes in Iran? It has to deal with Iran the same way it has dealt with Vladimir Putin in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – no compromising, no appeasing the current extremist regime.

The U.S. imposed numerous sanctions on Russia and has done so against Iran in response to its nuclear program and Iran’s support for terrorist organizations. 

The U.S. should put as much pressure on the Iranian government as possible, while also being mindful of the Iranian government’s support of Putin during the Ukraine war. It supplied him with drones that have been used against the Ukrainian people. If leaders in the U.S. government think they can break the alliance between Putin and Iran, they are dreaming.

The U.S. took the lead in the accountability context against Russia during a trip to Ukraine by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland last summer, when he announced the creation of a new War Crimes Accountability team. It will assist Ukrainian officials in identifying and apprehending Russian war criminals. 

It’s an encouraging initiative, but the Department of Justice shouldn’t limit its efforts to Ukraine’s borders. In my home country of Syria, Putin’s intervention to support and keep in power the murderous dictator Assad has enabled the regime to torture and slaughter tens of thousands of political prisoners.

Holding those torturers and executioners accountable isn’t just the right moral thing to do, it’s also essential in the fight against Putin’s assault on the international order. And, it’s necessary to wipe out Assad, who is a threat to U.S. global influence and a clear danger to American national security.

And then there’s Iran’s connection with Assad, which I touched on earlier. Iran has provided military support to Assad since the beginning of Syria’s civil war.

And Assad has allowed Iran to use Syria as a safe harbor from which to attack other countries in the Middle East, including Israel and Jordan. Hezbollah has sent thousands of fighters to assist Assad, and he has returned the favor by funneling Iranian weapons to the group.

These are forces the U.S. must reckon with one way or the other, and for freedom to prevail, taking a strong stand for human rights in volatile places like Iran is non-negotiable.

About Tarek Kteleh, MD

Dr. Tarek Kteleh is the author of an Amazon bestseller, The Six Pillars of Advocacy: Embrace Your Cause and Transform Lives , and a medical doctor who established and operates Rheumatology of Central Indiana.