Empowering Iranians
Empowering Iranians

After the fraudulent June 12, 2009 presidential elections in Iran, Iranians poured into the streets, chanting, "Where is my vote?" The thunderous protests were the birth pangs of the Green Movement, which has rapidly evolved into a force aiming to sweep aside the current regime. Street slogans have changed from "where is my vote?" to "death to the dictator," in direct reference to Ahmadinejad and the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei.

Longstanding slogans vilifying the U.S. and Israel have been drowned out by slogans against the supporters of the

The brutal Ahmadinejad-Khamenei gang has its back to the wall.

Islamic regime, such as Russia and China. The brutal Ahmadinejad-Khamenei gang has its back to the wall. Every major Iranian city, its universities, and many workplaces are festooned with graffiti against the leaders of the regime. The supreme leader, previously presumed above the law of the land, is now loudly proclaimed by the masses as a murderer who has lost the legitimacy of his office.

On December 27, 2009, the day of Ashoura, masses of brave, fed up people confronted the security forces and hired Basij members of the Islamic Republic and shook its very foundation -- an early indication of the people's determination to bring the mullahcracy to its knees.

It was a day of victory for the people of Iran over the fundamentalists who have had a stranglehold on them for more than three decades. The peaceful protest against the regime by millions throughout the land is a clear signal that the Islamic theocracy is in the midst of an irreversible downfall. The people are no longer willing to settle for a vote recount or a less repressive Islamic rule. They are determined to establish a fully secular democracy.

The Islamic Republic's response to the legitimate, peaceful demands of the people has been to implement an iron fist: beatings of the demonstrators (both men and women), arrests, torture and rape in secret compounds, and even murder and shooting in the streets -- the standard stock of dictatorships, but also the surest way of swelling and solidifying the dissenters' ranks.

The recent uprisings of the people are reminiscent of the 1979 revolution that ended the monarchy in Iran. A fragmented state led by brutal yet indecisive men is suddenly faced by a fed up and determined opposition. The regime still has the guns and resources, along with unlimited ruthlessness, to prolong its life. Yet it is crumbling from within as well. Deep cracks are popping up in the system and among the contending factions.

Perhaps 10-15 percent of the population still supports the clerical system in various degrees. Many in this group are government employees, mullahs, and hired elements such as Basiji. The regime has some backers among the poor, the less educated, and the deeply religious. Yet the alienation from the regime spans the entire spectrum of  Iranian society, with the intelligentsia and the university students leading the opposition.

The government exercises maximum brutality on the one hand and is forced to retreat in some respects in other

Perhaps 10-15 percent of the population still supports the clerical system.

areas. For instance, in response to the unrelenting pressure exerted by the people demanding accountability for the post-election atrocities, the government recently admitted to some of the crimes committed in various prisons by charging twelve jailers with torture and the death of prisoners.

This admission is hugely significant. The mullahs are retreating by punishing their own followers in the hope of placating the populace. It is not going to work. It serves to discourage their followers from carrying out orders to torture and kill in the future.

Another telling indication is the events in Qom during the funeral of the popular dissident Grand Ayatollah Montazeri. In spite of a huge effort by the various security forces to block access to the city, thousands converged from all parts of Iran to honor him. They chanted slogans such as "death to the dictator" and "Montazeri lives, Khamenei is dead." Throngs of people sported green and expressed their aversion to the Islamic rule within the precincts of the holy mosque, something unheard-of before. It is a clear signal that the opposition movement is massive and determined, capable of exploiting any opportunity.

The pressure, led by university students and notably women, is not subsiding, it is gathering more force. It could use a significant nudge from the U.S., Israel, and all others who are willing to bring it down -- not only from a sense of humanitarian altruism, but also from the vantage point of their own best interests.

So far, the mullahs' regime has chosen a containment strategy: releasing Basij militias to beat and intimidate the protesters while arresting many, including a significant number of its former loyalists. As the regime continues its brutal treatment of the opposition, more and more members of the security forces are resenting their role as oppressors of their own people, and may one day turn their guns on the regime.

The mullahs presently ruling Iran are faced with monumental threats. Internally, the great majority of the populace is against their misrule. Labor unions, teachers associations, student groups, religious and ethnic minorities, journalists, and many others have suffered and continue to suffer inordinate hardship under the heavy-handed mullahs and their frontmen. Externally, they are engaged in brinksmanship with the United States and Israel, while trying to wrestle the mantle of Islamic leadership from the Sunni Saudis and their Wahhabi cabal.

Sadly, President Obama is intent on making deals with the mullahs, moving along the same treacherous path of

Sadly, President Obama is intent on making deals with the mullahs.

his four predecessors who accomplished nothing, other than prolonging the lives of these Islamist miscreants.

The mullahs are also facing horrendous economic problems created by their three decades of mismanagement, larceny, neglect of domestic needs, and allocation of funds to Hamas, Hezbollah, Iraqi troublemakers, and the Yemeni insurgency. Inflation, unemployment, and underemployment are fraying the society's financial base. Capital flight is siphoning development funds, and foreign investments are drying up, while the mullahs are relentlessly pursuing the expensive nuclear weapon program.

Of great concern to Israel and the U.S. is the mullahs' gallop to join the nuclear club and use the bomb as a bludgeon over the head of any nation, near or far, that stands in their way. Some advocate a preemptive action by Israel, the U.S., or both to postpone, if not prevent, the mullahs from achieving their objective.

Attacking the Bushehr nuclear facility alone would release radiation into the atmosphere. "To attack Iran's nuclear facilities will not only provoke war, but it could also unleash clouds of radiation far beyond the targets and the borders of Iran," Elias Tuma of the Arab Internet Network told the Federal News Service last March. It is almost certain that Iran would retaliate by hitting Israel's Dimona nuclear complex.

It is by far more prudent for the U.S., Israel, and all other concerned nations to cooperate on imposing effective and immediate sanctions on the mullahs' regime, even though the s Chinese and Russians will not participate, and  might even try to exploit the situation to their own economic advantage.

In my view, it is a bad idea to even think about bombing Iran's nuclear facilities. An Israeli unilateral military action is a horrible idea. Israel will never see peace if it attacks. Why not implement effective sanctions and support the Iranian opposition to disarm and dislodge the mullahs?  How much success did Israel have in punching into Lebanon nextdoor to crush Hezbollah?

The best strategy entails the least risk of starting a cataclysmic chain reaction. It is for a "coalition of the willing" to rally behind the Iranian opposition. The democracy-seeking secular Iranians are capable of dislodging the mullahs. The call of the opposition should be resoundingly answered by President Obama and all other leaders -- not only for humanitarian reasons, but for their own national interests.