Extortion from the West policy and strategy

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

Forty-three years ago, an uprising for freedom swept through Iran. Sadly, once progressive and democratic forces were either imprisoned or executed, Iran’s mullahs used the nation’s chain of mosques to steal the spirit of the uprising and redirect it to their wishes.

However, the desire for the freedom of the Iranian people continues. The 2019 uprising, which involved many Iranian youth and women and led to least 1,500 deaths at the order of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has plunged the Iranian regime into a growing and unshakable crisis of legitimacy. Last year’s uprisings in Khuzestan, Baluchistan, and Isfahan, plus more than 11,000 smaller protests and demonstrations are clear proof of this reality.

 But what did the Western countries do about the Iranian people’s demand for freedom and prosperity?

The US administration and European governments have shown an inexplicable willingness to try to reach an agreement with the Iranian regime. The United States has even agreed to lift some of its sanctions. Moreover, despite the notorious background of Ebrahim Raisi as the key figure in the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners, the European Union sent a representative to Raisi’s inauguration as Iran’s president.

These kinds of political “flexibilities” have permitted the regime to take great strides toward acquiring a nuclear weapon, including, according to insiders, increasing its levels of enhanced enrichment of uranium by 60% to 90%.

This means Iran is on the verge of producing nuclear weapons capable of allowing Iran to extort the international community. This regime is already accused of arresting dual citizens to exchange them for prisoners, such as the terrorist diplomat, Asadullah Assadi, who was sentenced in 2021 to 20 years in prison in Belgium. Moreover, while the nuclear talks were ongoing last year, the mullahs doubled the number of executions and increased the killing of young people and women.

A horrifying development under the regime is issuing the death penalty to people who are younger than age 18 at the time of their arrest. 

Kazem Gharibabadi, the Iranian Judiciary’s chief deputy of international affairs and secretary-general of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, has stated that being a child or adolescent offers no protection against death sentences in Iran.

“It should be noted that there is no international obligation [in Iran] to ensure that the death penalty is not imposed on persons under the age of 18,” Gharibabadi said in December.

The West’s conciliatory actions toward Iran have led to it accelerating its warmongering policy and equipping its trained militias in various countries with a variety of weapons, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). It attacked Qatar Airport and repeatedly fired rockets at the US embassy in Baghdad or its bases in various parts of Iraq. It continues to export terrorism.

Meanwhile, Iran’s economy is collapsing, and yet the regime would rather strengthen its police-military machine than do anything else. The budget proposal Raisi has presented to the Iranian parliament for next year raises spending on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) by 220%. In contrast, there is little-to-no investment in the budget to improve the livelihood, welfare, health, education, employment, and housing of the Iranian people.

Clearly, the priority of this regime is not the welfare of the people but building a nuclear bomb. This situation leads to increasing the dissatisfaction of the people every day. According to statistics in the regime media, at least 60% of the people now live below the poverty line. The inflation rate is at least 50%. Funds are not available for half of this year’s budget, and regime economists believe that the deteriorating economic situation can no longer be controlled.

The explosive situation of the Iranian society can be seen in the ongoing uprisings of different sections of the Iranian society. Their continuation indicates the enormous accumulation of unanswered political, social, and economic demands and the urgent desire of Iranian society for a chance for freedom and prosperity.

The continuation of these uprisings also shows the inability of the regime to settle its domestic problems without using repression. Mullahs are, therefore, seeking a way out by acquiring an atomic bomb. 

The bomb, of course, cannot affect internal uprisings, but it can be used to extort the West.

The mullahs want both the lifting of sanctions and the preservation of their structures to enrich uranium and build an atomic bomb. They want a reboot of the (disastrous) 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and, in the absence of a firm policy, they are dragging their feet on negotiations to buy time for achieving the bomb.

In the face of this situation, Western governments are being tested. For many years, Western governments have paid the price for their policy of appeasement against the religious fascism ruling Iran, including by remaining silent in the face of human rights abuses and the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners. But now the West is also in danger.

Will Western governments allow religious fascism, the main sponsor of terrorism, to be armed with nuclear weapons?

For years, the Iranian people and their desire for freedom and prosperity have been ignored. Now, the explosive domestic situation and the uprising of brave Iranian youth and workers are the most important factors in determining the future of Iran. The uprisings ahead are for freedom.

The idea that the Iranian regime will abandon its obsession with a nuclear bomb is a delusion. The regime has tied its destiny to the nuclear bomb.

Along with the people’s movement for freedom and human rights, the best guarantee for relations with Iran is that the Iranian regime should not have atomic bombs; this will guarantee security in Europe.


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Hamid Enayat
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