President Barack Obama not only ignored the massive 2009 uprising in Iran known as “the Green Revolution,” he ordered the Central Intelligence Agency to refrain from offering the movement any assistance.
In 2009, the Islamic regime of Iran was at a tipping point. For months on end, beginning in June, millions of Iranians had poured into the streets to protest the sham reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The Green Movement, as it was called, struggled forward with mass demonstrations and civil disobedience while the nominal leaders of the uprising were systematically arrested, subjected to kangaroo courts, torture and imprisonment. The police and the Basij brutally suppressed the protesters using batons, pepper spray, axes, sticks and firearms. As many as 150 protesters were slaughtered that June. The most widely known victim of the regime’s brutality was innocent onlooker Neda Agha-Soltan, who was shot dead in the street during one of the massive protests. Her last moments were caught on a video that went viral around the world. The president’s famous response? He went out for ice cream.
Obama was handed a unique opportunity in history to be the sort of inspirational and transformative figure Ronald Reagan was for Eastern Europe before the Berlin Wall fell. All he had to do was say and do the right things to denounce the illegitimate Iranian government and stand with the people in the street.
As Krauthammer wrote in his Dec. 25 oped:
Why is this so important? Because revolutions succeed at that singular moment, that imperceptible historical inflection, when the people, and particularly those in power, realize that the regime has lost the mandate of heaven. With this weakening dictatorship desperate for affirmation, why is the U.S. repeatedly offering just such affirmation?
Well, now we know.
As suspected, Obama was so dead-set on reaching a nuclear agreement with the mad mullahs, he had already “invested heavily in developing a secret diplomatic outreach to Mr. Khamenei.”
Jay Solomon in the Wall Street Journal reported:
Mr. Obama and his advisers decided to maintain silence in the early days of the 2009 uprising. The Central Intelligence Agency was ordered away from any covert work to support the Green Movement either inside Iran or overseas, said current and former U.S. officials involved in the discussions.
“If you were working on the nuclear deal, you were saying, ‘Don’t do too much,’ ” said Michael McFaul, who served as a senior National Security Council official at the White House before becoming ambassador to Russia in 2012.
One of Obama’s closest advisers said in retrospect the U.S. should have backed the Green Movement.
“If we could do it again, I would give different counsel,” said Dennis Ross, Mr. Obama’s top Mideast adviser during his first term. At the time, he said, he argued against embracing the protests.
A senior U.S. official said this week that the Obama administration argued against covert support for the Green Movement because it risked undermining its credibility domestically, not out of fear of Mr. Khamenei’s reaction. “We did not want to tar the movement,” the official said.
That was the official reason for the inaction given at the time.
At Jihad Watch, Robert Spencer couldn’t help but notice that of the many demonstrations and revolts that have swept the Muslim world during Obama’s presidency, he has only supported the Muslim Brotherhood-backed, Islamic-supremacist ones.
He had encouraging words for the “Arab Spring” demonstrators in Egypt and Tunisia, and even gave military assistance to their Libyan counterparts.
Obama also backed the jihadi-infested Syrian rebels over the Syrian regime.
The three pro-democracy revolts that Obama refused to support were arguably the only two that were genuinely worthy of the pro-democracy label: the demonstrations against the Islamic regime in Iran in 2009, the anti-Muslim Brotherhood demonstrations in Egypt in winter 2013, and the pro-secularism demonstrations in Turkey in recent weeks.
Green Movement leader Heshmat Tabarzadi told the Wall Street Journal via Skype, “A historic opportunity was missed” six years ago. “There isn’t much of a Green Movement left,” he said.
Obama got his precious nuclear deal, although the accord does have its critics.
“Obama’s deal with Iran is the worst possible deal,” said Greg Sheridan in The Australian. “It will in the long run likely make the Middle East far more unstable. More important, it makes the prospect of the spread of nuclear weapons throughout the Middle East much likelier.”
As Solomon notes in the WSJ, the deal is fueling the hardliners.
“This is even scarier because it is delusional,” Krauthammer said in his latest Washington Post column. “If anything, Obama’s openhanded appeasement has encouraged Iran’s regional adventurism and intense anti-Americanism.”
Maybe that was his design all along.