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Comments by Nikki Haley & Dennis Ross re: Demonstrations in Iran (summaries of 5 articles by Daily Alert)

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Jan. 3, 2018

Nikki Haley on Iran: “We Must Not Be Silent” – Daniella Diaz and Laura Koran”

The people of Iran are crying out for freedom. All freedom-loving people must stand with their cause. The international community made the mistake of failing to do that in 2009. We must not make that mistake again,” U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Tuesday as she called for emergency meetings with the Security Council in New York and the Human Rights Council in Geneva regarding Iran.
“This is the precise picture of a long oppressed people rising up against their dictators….The freedoms that are enshrined in the United Nations charter are under attack in Iran….The UN must speak out.”  (CNN)


  • It Was a Mistake to Adopt a Low-Key Posture on Iran Demonstrations in 2009 – Dennis Ross
    The image of Iran on the march is one the Islamic Republic has sought to market and exploit. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has spoken of Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq as being part of Iran’s forward defense. But there is a cost to Iranian expansionism, and we are now seeing it in demonstrations across Iran. Some demonstrators are even chanting for a referendum – an echo of the referendum that the new Islamic regime held two months after the 1979 revolution to provide itself legitimacy.
    In 2009, I was serving in the Obama administration as the secretary of state’s special advisor on Iran and was part of the decision-making process. Because we feared lending credence to the regime’s claim that the demonstrations in Iran at the time were being instigated from the outside, we adopted a low-key posture.
    In retrospect, that was a mistake. We should have shined a spotlight on what the regime was doing and mobilized our allies to do the same; we should have done our best to provide news from the outside and to facilitate communication on the inside. The writer, a former American envoy to the Middle East, is counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Foreign Policy)

Why Iran Is Protesting – Amir Ahmadi Arian (New York Times)
The current unrest looks different than in 2009. Nonviolence is not a sacred principle. The protests first intensified in small religious towns all over the country, where the government used to take its support for granted.
The chants are also different this time. They include “Down with embezzlers” and “Leave the country alone, mullahs.”
During the 1999 and 2009 uprisings, the protesters enjoyed support from powerful reformists. This time, the demonstrators don’t want support from anyone associated with the status quo, including Rouhani, the reformist president.
Iranian economists and intellectuals have long warned that something like this could happen. In early 2015, Mohsen Renani, professor of economy at the University of Isfahan, wrote expressing deep concern over rising inflation and government incompetence.
A detailed study published last month by the BBC’s Farsi-language service demonstrated the alarming decline of household income over the past decade.
Iranians see pictures of the family members of the authorities drinking and hanging out on beaches around the world, while their daughters are arrested over a fallen head scarf and their sons are jailed for buying alcohol.

Prospects for Change in Iran – Karim Sadjadpour
We can salute the courage of the non-violent Iranian protesters and sympathize with their frustrations but still be sober about their prospects. The citizen protesters are unarmed, unorganized, and leaderless.
The Iranian regime’s vast coercive apparatus remains cohesive, committed, and very well-practiced in repression. They’ve been doing this a long time. Moreover, unlike the Shah’s political and military elite, many of whom were educated abroad or had foreign passports, the Islamic Republic’s elite don’t have this option and will seek to stay in power by all means necessary. The regime may be able to rely on the Shia militias they’ve been training for years (in Syria and Iraq) and including Hizbullah. It will be easier for them to fight unarmed Iranian civilians.
I find it remarkable these protests began in deeply religious and traditional cities like Mashhad and Qom, long considered to be government strongholds. The writer is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. (Twitter)


Iranian Jews in a Time of Protest – Annika Hernroth-Rothstein (Jerusalem Post)
I recently contacted one of my Jewish friends in Iran, who tells me they are safe, that the regime knows that Jews do not participate in these protests, that they never seek out conflict or trouble and wouldn’t be part of uprisings against the ayatollah.
My friend says that things feel much different now compared to what happened in 2009.
“Everyone supports this now, even official branches, universities and public servants, and we feel it, we feel that this time it could actually happen, for real. It’s like a bubble that is about to burst.”
“People are even angrier now than in 2009, and not just because of poverty and corruption. People want to be free and everyone is screaming now, loudly, at the same time.”
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