- - Thursday, August 2, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President Obama said it couldn’t happen. But it’s happening.

I’m talking about Iran, of course. Protests have spread across the country and have reached critical mass. The regime cannot control them any longer. It seems the mullahs’ days could be numbered. The regime change Mr. Obama thought impossible is very much on the table.

For three days in a row this week, protests were reported across the Iranian countryside, in Isfahan, Shiraz, Mashhad, Shahin Shahr and Najafabad. In Shiraz, protesters were filmed chanting slogans against the regime, hapless President Hassan Rouhani and Iran’s security forces. In one video obtained from the scene, protesters chanted, “Mullahs must go!” and “Rouhani be ashamed, let go of our country!” Protesters also burned motorbikes of the regime’s thugs.

Although now numbering only in the thousands, the protests are growing, away from the control of the hard-line Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its henchmen.

The currency is collapsing, and ordinary Iranians are coming to realize that the regime has destroyed the economy and mortgaged the future in order to finance military and terrorist adventures across the Middle East and Europe, all the while squirreling away billions of rials in their own offshore accounts. Any legitimacy the regime once enjoyed has been irretrievably ruptured.

Shahin Gobadi, a spokesman of the MEK, the largest resistance group in Iran, said, “The continuation and the frequency of the protests throughout 2018, despite the imposition of pervasive suppression and daily arrests and executions designed to intimidate the public, vividly reflects the growing sentiment among the Iranians that the only solution is a regime change by the people. It also proves once again that the correct policy by the international community regarding the ruling theocracy is the policy of firmness. The clerical regime is fast moving towards the precipice, and the world should stand on the side of the Iranian people on their quest for freedom.”

These protests are real. They are the product of genuine discontent from the people of Iran, not fomented by outside groups. They are happening without the support of American troops. In other words, the people of Iran want to take care of this themselves.

What these brave Iranians do need is our moral support — and continued financial pressure on the regime. If President Trump and his administration can take away the ability of the mullahs to enrich themselves and steal from the Iranian people, he will have done the Iranian people a great service. Shutting down Iranian oil exports and removing Iran’s ability to use the global banking system will create the conditions for regime change from within Iran.

The Obama administration, betting on engagement over confrontation with the mullahs, knew very well the power of U.S. economic pressure. It knew the regime could not handle long-term financial sanctions that Congress was determined to impose. That is why Mr. Obama worked so hard to get a deal — any deal — that would provide sanctions relief for Tehran.

Now there is a new sheriff in town. President Trump is not scared to exert maximum pressure on the regime. The Russians know this, the Chinese know this, the Iranians know this.

Now it seems the Iranian people know this. They deserve our support.

This uprising will not end up like the one in 2009 that Mr. Obama ignored. There is no magic bullet like a new one-sided nuclear deal to give the regime another $150 billion — including billions in cash on pallets delivered in the middle of the night — to bail out the mullahs. The regime has spent all the money that Mr. Obama unwisely gave them. Now the chickens are coming home to roost.

The Iranian people want change. They need help. For the good of the world, for peace, for our children’s future, let’s give it to them.

L. Todd Wood is a former special operations helicopter pilot and Wall Street debt trader, and has contributed to Fox Business, The Moscow Times, National Review, the New York Post and many other publications. He can be reached through his website, LToddWood.com.

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