Keeping Pressure on the Iranian Wound


Last week’s inauguration of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was nothing more that a continuation of the horribly tragic farce that has been unfolding since the obviously rigged elections of June 12.


This ceremony should point to the need of the United States and world community to assert the strongest diplomatic pressure possible on Iran to minimize the risk of nuclear armament and threats to Israel and the region.

The post-election facts have been oft repeated and are well known. Supporters of opposition candidate Mir Hussein Moussavi took to the streets for days of massive protest marches and demonstrations. The regime responded with brute force, with Iranian Revolutionary Guards and goon squads attacking peaceful protestors with batons, tear gas and finally, live ammunition.

Among those killed on the streets of Tehran was Neda Agha-Soltan, who became the icon of the opposition movement. Just last week, on the 40th day after her death, thousands of people defied police orders to gather in Tehran at the Behesthi e-Zahra cemetery to commemorate her death and honor her courage.

What started out as a protest against a rigged election has evolved into a full-blown and broad-based movement to remove Ahmadinejad from office. Others have called for the ouster of Supreme Leader Khamenei, shouting “Death to the dictator!” with increased frequency.

The courage of protestors within Iran should serve as a beacon for the outside world to insist on unrelenting pressure on the illegitimate regime.

First, there should be no infirmity in our continuing support of those who want to preserve and expand democratic practices in Iran: Notwithstanding the illegitimate inauguration, we hope that the opposition will be ultimately successful in attaining new and truly free elections, which would allow for the election of rational new leadership who could pull Iran back from the brink of catastrophe.

Second, we support aggressive diplomatic pressure by both the United States and the international community. And while a deadline is essential, it must be accompanied by meaningful consequences and efforts to dissociate Iran from its allies.

There are some very encouraging signs. George J. Mitchell, President Barack Obama’s special envoy to the Middle East, has been attempting to peel Syria from both its alliance with Iran and its financial support of the Lebanon-based terrorist group Hezbollah. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates last week in Israel told reporters that U.S. engagement with Iran was not “open-ended,” reiterating an assurance delivered recently by both Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Third, while we recognize that Israel and the U.S. may not agree on all matters pertaining to Middle East security, coordination on the Iran issue is essential to encouraging a peaceful resolution. The recent U.S. rhetoric appears consistent with Israel’s stated position. As Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak stressed, “We do welcome a concrete, effective and time-framed international plan, under the leadership of the U.S., to block the Iranian nuclear program.”

Nuclear weapons in the hands of the most fanatic and draconian regime in the Middle East would be a threat not only to Israel and the volatile region, but to the whole world. It is well that this crisis is getting the urgent attention it deserves.

The emotional backbone of the freedom fighters in Iran, not to mention our commitment to Israel’s security, should encourage all of us to persist in vocal and unwavering insistence on a swift and meaningful resolution.