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Is the world waking up to the atrocities of the ayatollahs?

The international community must abandon decades of failed policy on Iran and finally force the regime to pay a price.

Iranians protest in Sanandaj, Kurdistan Province, Nov. 16, 2022. Photo via 
Iranians protest in Sanandaj, Kurdistan Province, Nov. 16, 2022. Photo via @FSeifikaran/Twitter.
Fiamma Nirenstein

It is about time the media and the international community woke up to the fact that the Iranian regime is an oppressive, violent tyranny that loathes women, dissidents and anyone who does not conform to its theocratic ideology.

This awakening apparently required the mass killing of unarmed protesters, including children. But at least it is happening. Indeed, it has become clear to all in the weeks since the Iranian uprising began that the ayatollahs believe the survival of their regime is more important than the lives of their own people.

All of this should have been clear decades ago, but thank goodness, international attention is finally being paid, though it is uncertain whether it will have an effect.

There are those of us who have long known the true face of the Iranian regime, and have denounced it for years. Ever since 1979, when the Ayatollah Khomeini and his theocratic revolutionaries seized control of Iran, it has been obvious that the regime considers freedom, democracy and the West a nuisance that it will eventually destroy with the coming of the “Mahdi” and a resulting apocalyptic war. This religious fantasy has driven the regime’s imperialist ambitions and, through terrorism and warmongering, set the entire Middle East on fire. Let no one labor under the delusion that this theocratic imperialism will remain confined to the Middle East.

Moreover, the regime’s ferocious antisemitism has made it the only country that sits in the United Nations and systemically and relentlessly threatens another member state—Israel—with genocide.

Iran itself is a wonderful country. Its people are ancient, cultured and heirs to the great civilizations of Persia. This only makes it more painful to see such sights as LGBT individuals being hanged from cranes in public squares, which is not even to mention the tens of thousands who have been executed by the regime for all manner of reasons over many bloody decades. According to the Norway-based NGO Iran Human Rights (IHR) and France’s Together Against the Death Penalty (ECPM), executions in Iran rose 25% last year, following the election of Ebrahim Raisi to the presidency. As I write this article, 21 people are still awaiting execution.

This regime, with its Revolutionary Guards at the helm inside and outside its borders, along with its proxies Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis, will never deviate from its ultimate goal. As long as it exists, it will pursue its desire for domination and death.

What is needed, obviously, is regime change. The tyranny of the ayatollahs must be overthrown, preferably by its own people. But in the meantime, there must be a shift in the international arena. When Raisi was inaugurated, representatives of Hamas and Hezbollah sat alongside representatives of the European Union. This coddling of tyrants and terrorists must end.

The United States still aims to sign a nuclear deal with the Iranian regime, which would, at the moment, be a horrendous mistake. U.S. President Joe Biden is not only ignoring the forces of freedom rising up across Iran, but also the doors to the Sunni Muslim world that have opened due to a mutual recognition of the Iranian threat. None of the Sunni nations want Biden’s policy of offering Iran billions of dollars to sign an agreement the ayatollahs have no intention of honoring.

There are some encouraging signs that the situation may be changing. French President Emmanuel Macron recently met with three Iranian dissidents and took a strong public stand against the regime’s violence. The U.N. finally voted to establish a commission to examine the regime’s human rights violations. The foreign minister of Italy canceled a bilateral meeting with his Iranian counterpart. Most importantly, Biden appears to be far less eager to renew the nuclear deal in the wake of the protests. As former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer said in his latest “Politically Incorrect” podcast, there is now the possibility of forging a wide international consensus against the ayatollah regime.

This regime has enjoyed impunity for long enough. It uses fear of war and terrorism in order to torture the region and suppress its own people. The international community should learn the lessons of decades of coddling China and Russia, which have pocketed the money and used it to build ever-greater military power. This same policy has long been pursued in regard to Iran, but the international community should now follow the lead of Iran’s brave dissidents, and tolerate this evil regime no longer.

Fiamma Nirenstein was a member of the Italian Parliament (2008-13), where she served as vice president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Chamber of Deputies. She served in the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, and established and chaired the Committee for the Inquiry into Anti-Semitism. A founding member of the international Friends of Israel Initiative, she has written 13 books, including Israel Is Us (2009). Currently, she is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and is the author of Jewish Lives Matter.

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