The Islamic Republic of Iran now appears to be a threshold nuclear power. It has, according to the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, moved its enriched uranium to an 84% level of purity. Inspectors detected enriched uranium particles up to 84%, and the IAEA has not denied the report. The IAEA, still reluctant to openly feud with Iran, issued a statement saying “that the IAEA is discussing with Iran the results of recent verification activities.” An 84% uranium level is a fraction away from the 90% level needed to produce weapons-grade material, and Iran could easily use the material to produce an atomic bomb.
On the domestic scene however, the oppressive Ayatollah’s regime in Tehran is facing a more unified and resolute opposition seeking a regime change. Iranians in the diaspora have organized themselves in support of the Iranian uprising in Iran. In Brussels, Munich, and Rome, Iranian anti-Ayatollah regime leaders have raised the banner of freedom this month. In Rome, on February 21, 2023, at the Italian National Senate, a rally was held titled “Women, Freedom, and Human Rights in Iran.” The speakers included Masih Alinejad, an Iranian Women’s Rights campaigner who is a major anti-regime voice. Dr. Hamed Esmaeilion, spokesman of the Association of Families of Flight PS752 downed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), was another speaker along with Italian politicians.
For a long time now, the mullahs’ regime in Tehran have lampooned the opposition as weak and divided, and to a large extent they were right. But since the murder last year of the young Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, the Iranian diaspora has galvanized in support of bringing down the regime. Considering what is happening on the streets of both Iran, and in European cities, Iranians of all ages, with different political persuasions, gender, economic class, religion, and ethnicity, have come together and risen up in unison in virtually all regions of Iran and abroad to topple the hated mullah regime.
The increasing cohesion of the Iranian resistance and its resilience while facing beatings, shootings, torture, and rape by the Ayatollah Khamenei’s regime, has inspired ordinary diaspora Iranians to come together week after week to protest in cities across the globe. World luminaries have joined them, voicing support for the just struggle of the Iranian people against the brutality of the Islamic Republic.
Reza Pahlavi, eldest son of the former Shah of Iran, is touring Europe to garner support for the Iranian people’s revolution. He told the British Guardian newspaper that right now is a “do-or-die” moment for the revolution, requiring western governments to give full, active support or risk seeing the revolutionary movement’s impact wane. Pahlavi pointed out that if the West imposed maximum pressure, the IRGC and some reformist politicians would desert the regime. The Islamic republic is now openly assisting Russia in its war against Ukraine and is now being part of the new “axis of evil,” along with Russia and China. It is crucial for basic human rights and long-term world peace that the West act favorably upon the request of the Iranian masses for support in their efforts to bring about regime change.
Pahlavi asserted that, “The reason the revolution is continuing is because everybody understands this is do-or-die. Iranians are calling for ‘death to the dictator.’ They are getting shot in the eyes and, if not, imprisoned or tortured or executed, and they are still standing there. The world needs to respond and be on their side.“
In January (2023), the European Union (EU) foreign ministers imposed sanctions on more than 30 Iranian officials and organizations including units of the powerful IRGC, blaming them for the brutal crackdown on protesters and other human rights abuses. However, they stopped short of denouncing the IRGC as a terrorist organization. Both the US and the UK also leveled new sanctions on Iran.
This time, it is not only the Sunni-Muslim minorities – the Kurds, Baluchis, and Ahwazi Arabs, who are confronting the regime. Ordinary Shiite-Muslim ethnic Persians, and Azeris (ironically Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is of Azeri origin) have joined in, and it is not only students that carry the banner of change but ordinary Iranians as well.
In 2009, millions of Iranians came out to the streets to protest election fraud and demand justice. It could have been the trigger to a regime change. The protesters shouted, “Obama are you with them or with us?” yet President Obama remained obviously silent, preferring to appease the Ayatollahs, and hoping to “reform their behavior.” He subsequently hailed the Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA) as one of his greatest foreign policy achievements. The JCPOA was a 10-year deal touted as preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Now, in retrospect, it appears hollow and short sighted.
The Iranian diaspora has solidified, with its diverse leadership that includes the likes of Reza Pahlavi, the late Shah’s son, who is calling for a secular democracy in Iran and a non-violent revolution. There is the voice of Shirin Ebadi, a former judge, and a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, who believes that revolution is the only way. Women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad continues to defy the Ayatollahs through coordinated acts of civil disobedience as do the actresses Nazanin Boniadi and Golshifteh Farahani, and Iran’s soccer star Ali Amini. Boniadi spoke out against the oppression of women in Iran at the 2023 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Farahani was quoted by the New York Times as saying that Iranians cry for freedom won’t be silenced.
The current protest movement, unlike the 2009 protests and strikes, is being inspired and led by women. It has united Iranians across the board in what has turned out to be the most serious threat the Ayatollah’s regime has faced to date. The protest movement has survived weeks of internet outages and violent crackdowns by the regime. The chants, “women, life, and freedom” continues despite massive arrests, torture, rapes, and deaths, at the hands of IRGC goons and other regime helpers.
A former Iranian detainee had this to say. “They torture us, and they are lying to the world, to the international community…Iranians want freedom,” adding, “We don’t want dictatorship. We want to connect with the world.”
The nuclear negotiations in Vienna have reached a pathetic end, and Iran’s gross violations of the terms set by the JCPOA are clearly undeniable. It is therefore now incumbent upon the Western powers to seriously consider supporting Iranian pleas for regime change. To provide massive aid to the Iranian protesters challenging the regime. Simultaneously, the US and its European allies should consider activating the military option against Iran’s nuclear facilities. We just don’t want to believe the Iranian leadership’s stated threats against the US, the West, and our Middle East friends, including serious Iranian plans to annihilate Israel.