Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Iran’s protesters are united in the same struggle. It is not an accident that Time magazine has declared Zelenskyy Person of the Year and Iranian women Heroes of the Year for 2022. Time’s discovery of the connection between the Ukrainian and the Iranian peoples’ respective struggles for freedom is a belated one. Many of us have seen this connection from the beginning.
Their struggles are not only similar in their heroism and ultimate goal of liberty. Both of them are drawing a new strategic map of the world, in which the battle lines of the war for democracy and human rights have become clear, creating a new paradigm in which the old compromises and policies of appeasement have been exposed as useless.
Until recently, Germany and various European leaders have been content to allow Moscow to do more or less whatever it wants, so long as the oil and gas kept flowing. At the same time, the United States has continued to pursue a futile nuclear deal with Iran, even as the regime pursued terrorism and genocide against the U.S. and its allies.
This feckless paradigm can no longer stand and, in many ways, no longer exists. It has become an embarrassment, and it is finally being acknowledged that dialogue and diplomacy with Iran and Russia are impossible. Their cruelty and evil have now been exposed by their own actions as they crush freedom both at home and abroad.
Even the famously absurd United Nations Human Rights Council, which has long preoccupied itself with nothing except persecuting Israel, adopted a resolution in May to investigate Russian human rights violations in Ukraine. Now, it has voted in favor of an investigation into Iran’s deadly reprisals against those protesting the theocratic regime. It is telling that those opposed to the motion were the paragons of human rights China, Cuba, Pakistan, Eritrea, Armenia and, of course, Venezuela—with which the ayatollahs are currently negotiating an escape route.
Thankfully, the U.S. has now reached the conclusion that Putin is its worst enemy, something Putin has believed for quite a long time. Due to Iran’s strong alliance with Putin, the Biden administration also appears to understand that the ayatollahs cannot be trusted.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a recent press conference, “The evidence that Iran is helping Russia wage its war against Ukraine is clear and it is public. Iran and Russia are growing closer the more isolated they become.”
The U.S. Congress is working on a bipartisan resolution on Iran and has already condemned Russia several times.
The U.S. government knows Iranian drones are killing Ukrainians and that members of Iran’s terrorist Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps are on the ground in Crimea training Russian troops.
Both the mullahs and Putin declare that they are standing up to the “arrogant” West. They are together in their plot to destroy us and our allies.
For Ukraine, this freedom is the simple right to national self-determination. But in Iran, it is something even more basic—women’s right to be women with freedom and dignity. The late historian of the Middle East Bernard Lewis wrote that the oppression of women is the number one problem in the Islamic world. Now, women are at the forefront of the battle for freedom, not only in the Islamic nations but the world itself. This is a momentous turning point.
Fortunately, the West appears to have, at long last, awakened to the reality of the struggle, and realized that ambiguity is an illusion. There is a single, united front in the battle for freedom. The first step, I believe, is regime change in Iran. It and nothing else is what is necessary for the peace and freedom of both the Iranian people and the world.
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.