U.S. Holds Bipartisan Briefing In Support Of Democratic Government In Iran

On March 16th, the U.S. Senate held a briefing to announce its support for a secular, democratic government in Iran. Currently Iran is under the leadership of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi. The country operates uniquely, with one religious section of the government and one politically-focused section. The two are intertwined in a complex way, with some of the congressional groups being elected by the people, and others appointed by the Supreme Leader or elected officials.

Ayatollah Khamenei has not been known to be a peaceful and just leader. An ayatollah is a Shia religious leader, but over the years Iran’s ayatollahs have shown that they would rather enforce strict rules against Iranian women and anyone not practicing the official Shia Islamic religion than acting as a force for good. When the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, Khamenei’s main opposition, organized a protest against his regime in 1981, they were met with violence and tens of thousands were killed. Khamenei has publicly opposed having too much freedom built into a governmental system, saying that Iran “[has] never wanted and will never condone” an independent, European-style government because the freedoms guaranteed by such a system “are not in tune with Islam.”

Both Republicans and Democrats came together in Washington, D.C. on the 16th to declare support for the Iranian people and their ongoing protests against the regime in Tehran. Most of these American officials also expressed support for a push towards secularism, democracy, and a separation of church and state. “We cannot underestimate the effect that we’ve seen from inside Iran of women leading these demonstrations against the brutality of the ayatollahs,” said John Bolton, an ambassador to the United Nations. “Tens of thousands have been arrested, hundreds have been killed, but they’re still out there doing it. And it’s that force of opinion that will bring the ayatollahs down and give us the regime change we need.”

The United States’ stance on Iranian politics has not historically improved Iran’s situation, with former president Ronald Reagan invading Iran in 1988 and continuing to block arms sales. Former president Barack Obama took the route of appeasing the “dictator” in charge in order to have more effective conversations surrounding nuclear arms. Neither of these strategies involved empowering the Iranian civil population. This is the approach taken with this most recent gathering, with many U.S. political leaders voicing explicit support for the Mojahedin-e-Khalq Organization, whose position is to overthrow the current Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and install their own. We still have yet to see any concrete action American leaders plan to take to aid the Iranian people, but this conference was a great bipartisan effort in a new direction.