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Now Is The Time To Step Up Pressure On Iran

President Trump – in stark contrast to Obama’s inaction during the Iranian demonstrations of 2009 – has expressed his support for the aspirations of the Iranian people now out in the streets demanding liberty and economic opportunity.

Using Twitter, President Trump has pledged "great support" for the people of Iran from the U.S. as they stage Iran protestsstreet protests across the country.

The tweet, which said support would come at "the appropriate time" as Iranians look to "take back their corrupt government," replaced an earlier deleted tweet which called Iran a "corrupt and poorly run" country which its people were in a "fight" to take back.

“Such respect for the people of Iran as they try to take back their corrupt government. You will see great support from the United States at the appropriate time!” the full Twitter post read.

The spontaneous demonstrations, according to the UK Independent, erupted in Iran's second largest city, Mashhad, on December 28, and have since spread across the country.

The protests, according to Independent’s Clark Mindock, are stronger in the provinces than they are in Tehran, and are composed predominantly of working class people under the age of 25 who are angry that the benefits from the partial lifting of sanctions following the 2015 nuclear deal with the United States haven't been spread evenly amongst the population.

The protests offer a number of opportunities to ratchet up the pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran on both the nuclear weapons and human rights fronts.

According to the Independent’s Mindock, some Republicans are pushing for further restrictions on Iran in light of the protests, including targeting short-range missiles that were not a part of the original Obama nuclear weapons deal because they are not nuclear-related.

Mindock says others see the protests as a potential opportunity to reinforce existing laws targeting Iran, including the Global Magnitsky Act, which was passed in 2016 and extended a statute targeting human rights abusers in Russia to violators internationally.

From our perspective President Trump’s statement of support “at the appropriate time” was a good start, but there is much more that can be done behind the scenes to support the aspirations of the Iranian people, and in the process end the theocratic regime’s threat to our own national security.

One of the most important things the United States government could do is to provide more internet access and content.

It may seem improbable to many Americans, but Iran is a highly connected country with over 56 million people online and over 70 percent of the population having internet access. There are over 17 million Facebook subscribers according to Internet World Stats and according to the Iranian Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance there are currently 47 million active social media users in Iran.

Social media is how the demonstrators have been attempting to coordinate – that is until the Islamic Republic’s authoritarian government began to disrupt the country’s internet, mobile communications network and social media channels.

Just as President Reagan sent copiers and printing equipment to the Solidarity Movement in Poland to help undermine the corrupt Soviet Empire, the United States could use its technological prowess to help Iranians communicate online.

A big deadline is coming up on January 12, when the President must once again certify that Iran is in compliance with Obama’s nuclear weapons deal, we think January 12 would be an “appropriate time” for President Trump to show solidarity with the Iranian people by launching an initiative to support the aspirations of the demonstrators who are risking their lives and futures in the streets.

Steps that President Trump could take include:

1.)    Re-imposing sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program and those individuals associated with it.

2.)    Imposing a new set of human rights sanctions, especially against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the Quds Force and the Niruyeh Moghavemat Basij or Basij domestic security militia.

3.)    Open new communications channels to the Iranian populace, such as satellite internet to increase uncensored communications within Iran.

4.)    Offer political encouragement to Iranian minorities, including the Kurds, Baluchis, and Azeris who make up nearly half the population of the Islamic Republic.

5.)    Offer covert assistance to Iranian freedom fighters, such as the Mojahedin-e Khalq.

6.)    Make a clear statement attacking the corruption of the current regime in Teheran and outlining the cost to the Iranian people of their government’s policies of supporting international terrorism, the foreign adventures in Syria and other activities that are stifling the economic opportunities of the Iranian people.

January 12 is just over a week from today, but that’s plenty of time for the President to make a major policy statement in support of the Iranian people, and to put in motion the actions necessary to support them in their desire to rid themselves of the corrupt mullahs now stifling their liberty – and threatening our own national security.

George Rasley is editor of Richard Viguerie's A veteran of over 300 political campaigns, he served on the staff of Vice President Dan Quayle, as Director of Policy and Communication for Congressman Adam Putnam (FL-12) then Vice Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, and as spokesman for Rep. Mac Thornberry now-Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

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