ICYMI: Donovan Publishes Op-Ed on Iranian Protests
Washington, DC – January 10, 2018….Congressman Dan Donovan (NY-11) published the below op-ed in The Hill this week. The piece discusses the ongoing protests against the Iranian regime and the need for the U.S. to support the Iranian people in their pursuit of democracy.
Iranian government’s time of reckoning may be near
By Congressman Dan Donovan (NY-11)
A government earns its legitimacy from the people it governs. This basic principle applies equally to free democracies like ours and to authoritarian regimes like Iran’s. Sooner or later, people will stand up to abuses. For Iran’s rulers – who have chosen to fund international terror organizations and other illicit activities instead of care for their people – its time of reckoning may be on the horizon.
As the city on a hill and a beacon for democracy, it’s America’s responsibility to stand in solidarity with people pursuing self-determination and freedom in every part of the world. As administration officials have said, “America first does not mean America alone.”
As our country confronts Iran over its continued terror financing and material support, it’s critical that we separate Iran’s governing authorities from the Iranian people, many of whom crave basic human freedoms. Those brave men and women protesting on the streets of Tehran are risking everything to confront a tyrannical regime that takes its people for granted – a situation not dissimilar from our own beginnings.
President Trump and his administration have rightly signaled to the Iranian people that their struggle is not in vain, and that the United States will punish the regime for mass arrests, deaths during peaceful protests and, potentially, even executions. Such brutal treatment may scatter demonstrators temporarily, but it will not quiet a people’s deep-rooted quest for dignity and decency.
What’s more, Iran’s leaders will continue to be squeezed by sanctions and other pressure because of their persistent support for international terror and rogue organizations. Last year, Congress passed, and President Trump signed into law, the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which triggers sanctions if Iran participates in any of a variety of illicit activities. Additionally, the House will be bringing H. Res. 676, legislation that I’m a proud cosponsor of, to the floor this week. In an important show of support, this bill states that the House of Representatives stands with the people of Iran and condemns the Iranian regime for its crackdown on peaceful protests against its oppressive rule.
Finally, we have a President who is reigning in Iran’s rulers through strength and resolve, not the concessions that accompany a desperate push for a legacy-boosting deal.
The Obama administration’s bad negotiations unleashed tens of billions of dollars that the Iranian regime could use to further its anti-America and anti-Israel agenda. As I warned, along with then-candidate Donald Trump and many of my Republican colleagues, the Iranians have funded terror organizations and violent Yemeni rebels.
The Iranian people recognize the massive fraud perpetrated on them by their leaders. With their economy crumbling and prices soaring – in part because of harsh sanctions brought on by their leaders’ violent agenda – the Iranian regime chose to ignore domestic priorities and continue funding terror, ballistic missiles tests, and development of their nuclear program. This blatant disregard for the well-being of their citizens has exposed Iran’s rulers for what they are: tyrants enriching themselves and expanding their power at the expense of the people they govern.
Besides the fact that supporting the Iranian people in their pursuit of democracy and holding the Iranian regime accountable for its many abuses is the moral thing to do, it’s also critical to U.S. national security. Whether it’s setting up a shell company to fund the hiring of U.S. college professors with views supportive of their extremist government, cyber-attacks against U.S. financial institutions and a dam north of New York City, or continued ballistic missiles tests – it’s clear that the Iranian government is not our friend.
It’s shocking that some of President Trump’s political opponents refuse to express solidarity with the Iranian people. Shame on any elected official or candidate for office who, because a Republican president might get credit for his foreign policy, withholds expressions of hope and confidence in a subjugated people’s pursuit of basic rights.
Authoritarians who put their own interests ahead of their country’s won’t hold power forever. At some point, their people will organize and rise against them. It’s my sincere hope that the people of Iran can rid themselves of a corrupt regime and finally enjoy the basic human rights that so many others in the free world hold dear.
Donovan is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa. He represents Staten Island and South Brooklyn in Congress.