January 4, 2018

RATTLE THEIR WALLS: What Washington can do to support Iran’s protesters.

Instead of continuing to protect the supreme leader and his tyrannical regime, the White House and Congress should move in a new direction — backing policies that hold the regime accountable and siding with the Iranian people.

All regime officials and assets should be re-designated under US sanctions, immediately freezing the supreme leader’s vast business empire in all its parts.

Any person or company found complicit in the regime’s attempts to block communications between protesters should feel the enforcement of US sanctions prohibiting censorship in Iran. Key entities involved in the oppression of the Iranian people and in the diversion of resources from the people to terrorism and missiles must be targeted with maximum sanctions as well — starting with Iran’s terror-finance headquarters, the Central Bank of Iran.

Next week, Trump will have to decide whether to continue waiving sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran. With the Iranian people crying out for a new government — and given the bank’s continued involvement in terrorism, missiles and human-rights abuses — sanctions should be reimposed on this financial backbone of the regime’s non-nuclear-related illicit activities.

President Trump must also confront Iran’s regional aggression, especially by blocking Iran’s attempts to establish a permanent presence in Syria. Iran, as well as our regional partners, needs to understand that America isn’t abandoning the Middle East.

Finally, the administration should put its talk about peaceful regime change into action. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has publicly endorsed a peaceful transition in Iran and in his October Iran speech, Trump said, “We stand in total solidarity with the Iranian regime’s longest-suffering victims: its own people.”

The president should announce a comprehensive review of US assistance to the Iranian people and reallocate and increase funding to groups and activities that have the best chance of assisting change from inside Iran.

It’s probably foolhardy to get any more specific than Richard Goldberg and Jamie Fly have done here, without POTUS’s more bird-eye view of our assets and the Mullahs’ weak spots. But I would add one more generality. Whatever course Trump and Tillerson decide to take, it should be founded on the same four words Ronald Reagan said to his national security team regarding his post-detente policy towards the Soviets: “We win, they lose.”

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