Busting Illusions About Iran
The Wall Street Journal
January 2, 2018
Toward that end, the nuclear pact lifted international sanctions and unfroze $100 billion in Iranian assets.
Yet instead of using the money to improve the lives of Iranians, Tehran has used its windfall to back clients making trouble throughout the region.
The mullahs have spent billions propping up Syria’s Bashar Assad with troops, weapons and energy shipments. Iran funds Shiite militias in Iraq, Hezbollah terrorists in Syria and Lebanon, and Houthi fighters in Yemen.
The protesters in the streets of Tehran, Qom, Shiraz and other cities are explicitly rejecting this adventurism, shouting slogans like “Leave Syria, think of us!” They want a better economy and more opportunities for their children, not campaigns to build a Shiite empire across the Middle East.
Mr. Obama sought to win over the Tehran regime by avoiding confrontation and letting Iran have its way in Syria and elsewhere. His goal above all else was the nuclear deal.
Mr. Trump, by contrast, has distinguished between the regime and the Iranian people, much as Ronald Reagan did with the Soviet Union. In speeches over the past year, the President has called out the regime for stirring up foreign trouble and subjugating its people.
“The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most,” Mr. Trump told the United Nations in September. “This is what causes the regime to restrict internet access, tear down satellite dishes, shoot unarmed student protestors, and imprison political reformers.”
Mr. Trump’s tweets since the protests began may not be Obama-smooth but they have put America on the side of the people, rather than the regime. This rhetorical support matters to those in the street, and Europeans and Democrats in Congress should join the chorus.