One cannot report on the decades-long struggles of Iranian civil society without acknowledging the special contribution that the country’s women have made – and continue to make. For more than 40 years, they have been the largest group in Iran to have been oppressed, discriminated against and humiliated. At the same time, women were the first to courageously resist the leadership of the Islamic Revolution – while male intellectuals and politicians remained silent. Almost four decades passed in this way before isolated public protests in 2017/2018 called the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic into question for the first time. But what we are witnessing now is new in its form: it is the united confrontation of the civilian population with the ruling mullahs. Jina Mahsa Amini’s death hits the system like a boomerang; the protest unites all previously marginalized groups and returns to the source of the resentment: the liberation of women in Iran.
The time for appeasement is over
And now it is time for a clear language of foreign countries. Empty phrases, diplomatic demands or waxy tips are far from enough. They’ve never done that before, but now we’re at a crossroads. The international community of states must support the Iranian people with all its might – under threat of strict consequences. If necessary, also with the termination of the nuclear negotiations.
Iran’s rulers have never used civil language of balance and moderation – nor do they take it seriously. They are not afraid of symbolic sanctions. They even survived an oil embargo. If only met with symbolism, they will not hesitate for a moment to keep killing to stay in power. You know that after a while, the realpolitik of many countries will contact you again to negotiate. They interpret the West’s longstanding reassurances against their expansion in the Middle East as a gift. Iran does not shy away from state terrorist operations around the world, especially in European countries. Above all, the Iranian rulers see the threat to Israel’s existence and the lack of reaction to it as their “special privilege”. The fact is, compared to Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Bashar al-Assad’s Syria, the West has treated Khamenei’s Iran with kid gloves. This has made the Islamic Republic so audacious that it can safely go ahead with the massacre of its citizens.
Tehran’s only concern
However, the Islamic Republic fears that its nuclear files will be returned to the UN Security Council. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently stated that Tehran is not prepared to explain its nuclear program and the traces of enriched uranium in three places in the country. At the same time, the regime has been playing a cat-and-mouse game in its negotiations with the West for months to buy time to build the atomic bomb. The West would have good reasons to let the negotiations with Iran fail and to initiate the procedure for reinstating comprehensive UN sanctions, the so-called “snapback”.
This would be the only message Tehran would understand and fear. Only then would the civil uprising of the Iranian people, with women at the forefront, not be nipped in the bud. Only under such pressure would supreme religious leader Ali Khamenei stop the killing of demonstrators. The same applies to the current President of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi. He would certainly not dare again to have several thousand prisoners executed in a short space of time, as he did in the summer of 1988.
The mullah regime in Tehran must feel besieged by the world. Otherwise the only thing that will stick in the minds of the Iranians is the international silence and the silent complicity of the West. That would be irresponsible. No, it would be unforgivable.