Friday, 05 January, 2018

Trump doesn’t understand what’s happening in Iran


Since the demonstrations began in Iran over economy problems and a jump in food prices, U.S. president Donald Trump has taken to Twitter on multiple occasions to comment, reported on Monday

“The world is watching!” he tweeted on Friday. And also, “the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most.”

In one tweet, the president included a link to a video of his speech at the UN General Assembly in September, which was largely criticized by Iranians of all political persuasions as belligerent and disrespectful.

Then, on New Year’s eve, using language similar to his tweets about domestic matters, the President seemed to praise the protests, calling them “big,” and noting that “the people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. Looks like they will not take it any longer.”

It isn’t surprising that Iran has captured Trump’s attention. After all, over the course of his first year in office, he has made it clear that the Islamic Republic holds an important place in his foreign policy agenda. And he’s undertaken to undo his predecessor’s nuclear deal with Tehran, removing the “carrots” from the “sticks and carrots” policy, and formulating an approach based exclusively on harsh rhetoric, threats, and coercion. But the U.S. president’s tweets are misleading and counterproductive.

Iran has a dynamic and active civil society, which has created and embraced opportunities for reformation and progress for decades. From active participation in elections to various reform and protest movements, Iranians have tried to make their voices heard. Starting in the early 1900s, Iranians—then still known as Persians—fought for representation, accountability, and transparency. Later, various movements sought freedom and opportunities—including since the 1979 revolution. And many Iranians have paid for these ideals with their lives.

 Unlike what President Trump suggests, the protests aren’t about Iran’s broader behavior and foreign policy. And they’re not about the Iran’s alleged support for terrorism. This isn’t to say that Iranians endorse their leadership’s positions, but that their main concern lies in the price of day-to-day items and goods, such as poultry and eggs, as well as unemployment and access to services.

The president’s tweets suggest he barely understands the country he’s repeatedly demonized.

“Whatever Iranians think of their own government, they are unlikely to want as a voice for their grievances an American president who has relentlessly opposed economic relief for their country and banned them from traveling to the United States.” Philip Gordon, a senior fellow at the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in  Nytimes.

According to Gordon, Trump is now threatening to “terminate” the nuclear deal (breaking with European allies and the rest of the United Nations Security Council); unconditionally supports Iran’s biggest adversaries, Saudi Arabia and Israel; and recently recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move rejected by every other country in the region. His policies are dividing the United States from its international partners and giving Iranians reasons to unite against him. A smarter strategy would be designed to do the opposite.”

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