From Baghdad to Beirut, from Aden to Gaza, one regime has been responsible for tyranny, brutality and sheer hopelessness in the lives of nearly 100 million people of the Arab world: Iran. Over the course of more than four decades, Tehran has avoided blame for the misery it has inflicted on innocent people in every place it extends its reach and benefited from the misplaced idealism of Western leaders. Misery, shamefully, is compounding annually.
It is within the power of Western leaders to improve their lot in life by holding the Iranian regime accountable for its behavior once and for all, and to stop its pollyannish pursuit of bad deals that strengthens Iran’s hand. But such is easier said than done.
While the chants of “Free Gaza” ring out from campus to Congress, few, if any, seem honestly able to name those responsible for the suffering of innocent Gazans; the convenience of blaming Israel or unabashed antisemitism ensures all blame falls on the Jewish state. Many of those same voices also cling to the misguided idea of “bringing in from the cold” a regime that celebrates the tens of thousands of children it marched into minefields and routinely brutalizes its citizens when they demand their fundamental freedoms.
The question must be asked of these loud and powerful voices: Are they blind to reality?
The truth is wherever the regime in Tehran turns to shore up its equally immoral allies, the lives of ordinary people become unbearable. Yet rather than challenge Iran’s hegemonic intentions, Western powers continue to entertain the idea of supercharging Iran’s ability to solidify its stranglehold by sending hundreds of billions of dollars to Tehran in exchange for empty promises. Doing so would be a tragic mistake.
Indeed, any Western policy approach that fails to weaken, isolate and undermine the Iranian regime only condemns another generation of Arabs and Persians to a life of abject misery under puppet regimes and terrorist rule.
Nowhere is this clearer and more obvious than in the Gaza Strip. For too long, the people of Gaza have been held hostage by the Iran-backed terrorists of Hamas that run the enclave next to southern Israel. While at times Hamas has chosen a different path from Tehran—significantly during the Syrian Civil War—now, with Palestinian Islamic Jihad a true proxy of Iran working at the regime’s behest on Israel’s border, Iran’s leaders are allowed to maintain a stranglehold on the people of Gaza.
Tragically, the world has chosen to look away. Even those who proclaim their support for the people of Gaza remain silent at the use of the Strip as a launching pad for Iranian belligerence against Israel; the plight of families being used as human shields; the immorality of terrorists bombing crossings that facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid; or the poisonous cradle-to-grave antisemitic indoctrination that is the hallmark of an educational system that Iranian leaders look upon with approval.
Western governments and champions of human rights need to start being honest about the situation and act accordingly. The children of Gaza deserve better than to be dressed as terrorists or told their highest aspiration is to be a martyr. Lebanese citizens deserve to live in a functioning country that isn’t awash in Iranian missiles. Iraqis deserve a country without the presence of Iranian militias. Ukrainians deserve to look to the skies and not fear Iranian drones. And our friends, partners and allies deserve to look to the West and see a friend, not an enabler of their enemy, thereby driving our friends to seek accommodation with our foes.
The United States and Europe can stop Iran from damning another generation to a life dominated by hatred, war and terror, but only if our leaders abandon their failed policies and willful blindness as to where responsibility rests for immense human suffering in the region. It is unforgivable that we have allowed Iran to destroy so many lives and pledge itself to the destruction of another 7 million, but it is correctable and never too late to match our policies with our values.
Kasim Hafeez is the deputy director of communications for Messaging at Christians United for Israel.