US should amplify efforts by pro-democracy forces in Iran

The Iranian regime is deeply worried about regional protests which could end up bringing an end to the theocracy as well, according to a Wall Street Journal opinion column.

In a commentary published on Wednesday, Ilan Berman of the American Foreign Policy Council wrote, “Clearly, Iran’s ayatollahs are deeply worried that the “Arab Spring” taking place in the region could end up bringing down their theocracy as well, and are working feverishly to prevent such an eventuality.”

“Don’t let the hype out of Tehran fool you. To hear Iranian officials tell it, the geopolitical earthquake now taking place in the Middle East and North Africa represents an “Islamic awakening” that will forge a new regional order more sympathetic to the Islamic Republic and its great power ambitions.”

But, “the renewed anti-regime uprisings that have taken place in recent weeks in Tehran, Isfahan, Mashad, Shiraz and other cities,” which have been met by the regime’s brutality, “tell a very different story.”

The opinion piece said conventional wisdom is that the US has only limited ability to influence the course of democracy within Iran and therefore shouldn’t even try. But, “in fact, there’s quite a bit America can do, and do now, to aid Iran’s opposition.”

Referring to Washington’s rhetoric in support of the opposition, Mr. Berman added, “But Iran’s pro-democracy forces need more than just moral backing from the West. They need the U.S. to enact policies that amplify their efforts and make it more difficult for the Iranian regime to quash dissent without meaningful international retribution.”

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