Majid Rafizadeh/Gatestone Institute: To Biden Administration on Iran, Do Not Leave Americans, Allies, in the Dark/ماجد رفي زاده/معهد جيتستون: بما يعلق بإيران مطلوب من أدارة الرئيس بايدن أن لا تترك الأميركيين والحلفاء في الظلام/Luke Coffey/Arab News: Iran’s growing protests are a thorn in regime’s side/لوك كوفي/عرب نيوز: الاحتجاجات الإيرانية المتزايدة هي شوكة في خاصرة نظام الملالي

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ماجد رفي زاده/معهد جيتستون: بما يعلق بإيران مطلوب من أدارة الرئيس بايدن أن لا تترك الأميركيين والحلفاء في الظلام
To Biden Administration on Iran: Do Not Leave Americans, Allies, in the Dark
Majid Rafizadeh/Gatestone Institute./June 04/ 2022

لوك كوفي/عرب نيوز: الاحتجاجات الإيرانية المتزايدة هي شوكة في خاصرة نظام الملالي
Iran’s growing protests are a thorn in regime’s side
Luke Coffey/Arab News/June 04, 2022
Protests in Iran’s southwest province of Khuzestan over the rising price of basic commodities have grown in frequency and size after a 10-story building collapsed in the city of Abadan, killing least 37 people. Protesters blame government corruption and shoddy construction work, and there is no sign that the protests will end in the near future.
So far, these protests are not on the same scale as the nationwide demonstrations in 2019. And while thelatest protests cause problems for the regime in Tehran — the Supreme Leader’s personal emissary was shouted down and silenced when he tried to address an angry crowd in Abadan last week — they are not existential. Many of the protesters are drawn from Iran’s small Arab Ahwaz minority, who resent the regime for treating them as second-class citizens, moving Persians and other non-Arab ethnic groups into their homeland.
Even though the spark that ignited the most recent flame in Khuzestan was the rise in food prices, what is playing out on the streets is longstanding resentment by the Ahwaz people toward Tehran. The region has been the focal point for anti-regime protests since last July when Tehran was accused of diverting scarce water resources to other regions.
Iran’s Ahwazis number about five million. While their plight may seem like a local issue, the international community should pay close attention. They live in two strategically important locations: Khuzestan province,which is home to Iran’s primary oil and natural gas production and major ports, and the Arabian Gulf region between Busher and Bandar Abbas, where there is significant maritime traffic. If these regions face disruption, the global economy could be negatively affected.
The situation in Khuzestan and the plight of the Ahwazis are a reminder that modern Iran is a collection of minority groups, each with its own history, culture, and language. Persians have dominated the ruling elite since the 1920s, so unless you speak Persian or have a Persian-sounding name, job prospects are limited in a country that suffers from high unemployment.
The repressive and ruthless regime in Tehran has violently suppressed many minority groups in recent years, with Persian elites displaying a willingness to wield a heavy hand against them. In 2019, for example, the regime even went so far as to deploy foreign Arab militias from Iraq and Lebanon, in addition to Revolutionary Guards and Basij militia, in response to popular unrest over Tehran’s neglectful handling of widespread flooding in Khuzestan.
The protests appear to be localized in Khuzestan, but there is a possibility that they could spread to other regions. According to social media reports, protests in solidarity with the Ahwaz community are planned for the ethnic Azeri cities in the north. The same thing happened last year when Ahwazis were protesting over water.
What is playing out on the streets is longstanding resentment by the Ahwaz people toward Tehran
Some estimates claim that Azeris make up the second largest ethnic group in Iran, after Persians. There is a constant low-level push among the Azeri minority for self-determination and increased autonomy in northern Iran. If major protests were to break out in the north they would quickly become a major headache for the regime.
It is also important to see how Iran’s economic situation and social unrest may be linked to the talks in Viennaaimed at reviving the agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for lifting economic sanctions. Until now, US President Joe Biden has wanted a deal more than Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. Knowing this, Raisi has been dragging out the talks to extract maximum concessions from the US. Now, however, that maybe changing.
European diplomats have described the talks as being at a “dead end.” The US does not trust Russia, a key player in the negotiations, because of the war in Ukraine. The US Congress has passed a bipartisan resolution warning the White House against agreeing to a nuclear deal weaker than the 2015 original. Important US midterm elections are coming up in November. Even though Biden made agreeing on a new nuclear deal with Iran a cornerstone of his foreign policy, he may now assess that an agreement on the terms Raisi would not be worth the domestic political price. All of this could mean a shift in the dynamics in Vienna, leading to Raisi wanting a deal more than Biden.
However, the Biden administration would be foolish to agree on a deal right now. Raisi is in a difficult spot domestically, and the US should walk away from the talks in Vienna until it is certain that it can achieve a deal stronger than the agreement it replaces.
While the protests in Iran may affect the dynamics of the talks in Vienna, they are unlikely to threaten the regime itself. Raisi, and those before him, have shown tremendous resilience in the face of popular unrest. The Green Movement protests more than a decade ago, and the nationwide protests in 2019, are good examples of this.
However, the situation for Raisi remains difficult. Since he came to power last August the economic situation remains bleak, with little hope of improvement in the short term.
Major protests across the country organized along ethnic lines are the last thing Raisi needs or wants.
• Luke Coffey is the director of the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy at the Heritage Foundation. Twitter: @LukeDCoffey

ماجد رفي زاده/معهد جيتستون: مطلوب من أدارة الرئيس بايدن أن لا تترك الحلفاء في الظلام
To Biden Administration on Iran: Do Not Leave Americans, Allies, in the Dark
Majid Rafizadeh/Gatestone Institute./June 04/ 2022
“By every indication, the Biden Administration appears to have given away the store. The administration appears to have agreed to lift sanctions that were not even placed on Iran for its nuclear activities in the first place, but instead because of its ongoing support for terrorism and its gross abuses of human rights. The nuclear limitations in this new deal appear to be significantly less restrictive than the 2015 nuclear deal, which was itself too weak, and will sharply undermine U.S. leverage to secure an actually ‘longer and stronger’ deal. What is more, the deal appears likely to deepen Iran’s financial and security relationship with Moscow and Beijing, including through arms sales.” — 49 U.S. Senators, press release, March 14, 2022.
Now, Iran’s negotiating team — with which U.S. interests are being negotiated by the same Russia currently trying to crush the Western-backed democracy, Ukraine — has excluded not only the U.S., but also those countries directly impacted by the Iran’s nuclear breakout and terrorism: the latest countries it is devouring: Syria and Iraq.
The Biden administration must not exclude the U.S. regional allies and the American people from the ongoing negotiations with the Iranian regime and keep them in the dark: they are the ones directly affected by any “deal.” Pictured: Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani (R) and his delegation leave a negotiating session at Coburg Palais in Vienna, Austria on December 3, 2021. (Photo by Joe Klamar/AFP via Getty Images)
The Biden administration must not exclude the U.S. regional allies and the American people from the ongoing negotiations with the Iranian regime and keep them in the dark: they are the ones directly affected by any “deal.”
How could America allow Israel — not to mention itself — to be excluded from the negotiations to lift sanctions on the Iranian regime when the ruling mullahs have made it clear that their top ideological priority is to eradicate the Jewish state and “wipe Israel off the map”? Recently, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, known as the “butcher of Tehran” after reportedly being involved in the 1988 massacre of nearly 30,000 political prisoners, openly called again for the destruction of Israel:
“This great movement that we are witnessing today in the form of protests is a symbol of the solidarity of the Muslim people that will lead to the destruction of the Zionist regime.”
In addition, General Esmail Ghaani, the head of the Quds Force, vowed his backing to any group that attacked Israel:
“We support any front that is formed against this criminal regime,” he proclaimed, “and we will support any community that is ready to fight this criminal regime”.
The Iranian regime has for decades been using its proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah, repeatedly to attack Israel. Lately, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, praised the deadly rocket attacks from Gaza and Lebanon against Israel.
Furthermore, how could the Gulf states, the repeated target of Iran’s terror groups, have been excluded from the negotiations to remove sanctions against Iran’s regime? A few days after the Biden administration removed Yemen’s Houthis from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations in February 2021, the U.S. State Department had to call on the Houthis to “immediately cease attacks impacting civilian areas inside Saudi Arabia and to halt any new military offensives inside Yemen.” Nevertheless, on January 17, 2022, the Houthis attacked the United Arab Emirates, blew up three oil tanker trucks in Abu Dhabi, and killed three people.
The leader of Lebanon’s Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, also recently threatened that Iran would attack Arab nations if they allowed Israel to use their territory as a military base.
When it comes to the U.S., the Iranian regime, specifically the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has plenty of blood on its hands. Attacks that the IRGC was involved in include 9/11, for which a U.S. federal court ordered Iran to pay $7.5 billion to the victims’ families; the 1983 bombing in Lebanon of the U.S. Marines barracks, in which 241 Marines were killed; the 1984 United States Embassy annex bombing in Beirut and the USS Cole bombing.
Iran’s regime has been killing Americans and taking hostages for over four decades. This is a regime that, while the Biden administration was offering it sanctions reliefs, released a video showing the IRGC blowing up the U.S. Capitol. “Last week, Iran’s chief diplomat allegedly admitted the IRGC calls the shots in Tehran,” US Senator Pat Toomey tweeted in response to the footage. “Now, Iran releases a fake video of the [IRGC] blowing up our Capitol.”
As 49 U.S. senators recently warned the Biden administration in a joint statement:
“By every indication, the Biden Administration appears to have given away the store. The administration appears to have agreed to lift sanctions that were not even placed on Iran for its nuclear activities in the first place, but instead because of its ongoing support for terrorism and its gross abuses of human rights. The nuclear limitations in this new deal appear to be significantly less restrictive than the 2015 nuclear deal, which was itself too weak, and will sharply undermine U.S. leverage to secure an actually ‘longer and stronger’ deal. What is more, the deal appears likely to deepen Iran’s financial and security relationship with Moscow and Beijing, including through arms sales.”
Now, Iran’s negotiating team — with which U.S. interests are being negotiated by the same Russia currently trying to crush the Western-backed democracy, Ukraine — has excluded not only the U.S., but also those countries directly impacted by Iran’s nuclear breakout and terrorism: the latest countries it is devouring: Syria and Iraq.
*Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US foreign policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu
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