There’s something happening in Iran.
Amidst a complex background of economic and political grievances, droves of protesters have taken to Iran’s streets. As the movement grows and intensifies, so does the debate over the United States’ foreign policy and its role with Iran.
Coincidentally, the Trump administration will soon have to make some high-stakes decisions about Iran. Here’s why it all matters, and what you need to know.
What’s going on with the protests in Iran?
The protest movement sweeping Iran’s streets began with a small gathering in the city of Mashhad, in response to the sluggish economy. From there, it has grown to tens of thousands of people in multiple cities, and at least 20 have died so far. Ordinary Iranians are bravely putting their bodies on the line to express a complex set of economic and political grievances. Some protestors have called for an end to the Iranian clerical regime.
What is the United States’ role?
Beyond expressions of solidarity and support, there is little that the United States government can do to resolve the situation in Iran. In fact, many on the ground are concerned that an intervention from the United States could result in harm to the cause or the protesters themselves.
However, there are a number of U.S. policies that affect the lives of ordinary Iranians, and it is crucial for us hold our government to account when it acts as a force for war and destruction in the world, instead of peace and human rights.
What will the Trump administration do about all this?
It’s still too early to tell, but there are troublesome signs. Trump himself, along with top administration officials, have tweeted gushing support for the people of Iran.
But don’t be fooled – the Trump agenda doesn’t back up that lip service.
Some of the hypocrisy is obvious. After all, Trump wants to block Iranians from the United States through his Muslim ban. He also scoffs at protest movements right here within our own country.
But there’s another key piece of the puzzle that will soon fall into place. That’s the Iran nuclear agreement. There are several deadlines coming up for Trump to decide whether to sabotage the nuclear deal between Iran, the United States, and five other countries, and what he decides will have a major impact not just on Iran, but on the world.
What happens if Trump hurts the Iran deal?
If Trump causes this deal to fall apart, the results could be catastrophic. There will be international economic consequences, and new sanctions could throw Iranians into further poverty. The United States will be further isolated from our European allies, who have long been urging Trump to protect the deal. Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon will again be opened.
Even worse, those who have long wanted the United States to invade Iran and install a new government could have their chance. Many of these same people helped the Iraq war happen, and are now pressuring Trump to try regime change again in Iran. They are using the protests as excuses to justify a “bomb Iran” campaign.
It should be obvious how devastating a new war with Iran would be. Those same Iranians that Trump now tweets his support for would be at risk of death. More American lives and resources would be poured into yet another strategy-free conflict. There would be generational consequences to the region and to the world.
Additionally, the risk of conflict with North Korea would elevate. It would be difficult to find a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the nuclear showdown with North Korea when the United States shows it can’t be counted on to keep its end of the bargain it struck with Iran.
We’re all at risk if the deal falls apart.
What can we do?
The outcome of the Iranian protests will ultimately be determined by Iran, but the United States should not make things worse or use the protests as an excuse to shirk its international obligations. Right now, before Trump disrupts the situation with Iran, your Members of Congress should start hearing from you that you will not tolerate war with Iran, and that you demand the nuclear deal be protected.
Each Member of Congress must commit now that they will vote to save the Iran deal if Trump sends the issue to Congress. They also must commit that they will do everything in their power to block Trump from starting a new war with Iran.
Click here for a running list of the ways Trump is making us less safe, then call your MoCs and refuse to be complicit in his dangerous gamble on Iran.