Trump's decision to pull out of the nuclear deal with Iran was criticized in America. But, for the people of Iran, this was good news. Often commenting on how the deal would fail to bring them any benefits, the Iranians had been skeptical of it. Their discontentment rose under the Obama administration.
Against this backdrop of a failed deal, the American pull-out was a relief for the people of Iran. For long, their attitude towards the US was blotted by mistrust, owing to the history that the two countries shared. Back in 1953, the world power had helped topple over a democratically elected government in Iran. This brought in the Islamic Republic. But, with time, the lack of trust began to disappear. The overwhelming American support for Iranian resistance and the cordiality with which the President has addressed issues on Iran fueled a shift among the masses.
All early attempts at conducting public opinion polls in Iran failed to bring out the true views that the people held. They would choose the safer side out of fear and reluctance. The people didn’t know whom to trust, particularly when the interviewers were strangers from a nation other than theirs. These polls, as a result, misled others across the globe into believing that popular support was in favor of the incumbent leaders. But, the growth of educated youth in Iran has changed the country's socio-political scenario.
The strange political system of Iran (which forces the president to remain subordinate to the ‘Supreme Leader’) had been enraging the Iranians for decades and now, they wish to break away from this bewildering system. The prospects that have opened up ahead of them give these people the confidence to retaliate. Retaliatory power has pushed the forty-year-old dictatorial rule towards the brink of collapse. Adding pressure to this situation that the ruling forces face is the American condemnation of their policies.
Since the 2016 elections, Donald Trump has been vocal about his support for the people of Iran. A recent survey conducted by the Phoenix Project of Iran shows that the backing that Trump has offered gets the approval of Iranians. 71.5% of them expressed positive views about the President while 21% were dissatisfied with his stand. Acceptance of Trump is not restricted to those residing in Iran. When the President held a gathering in Beverly Hills this year, 20% of the guests were Iranian-Americans. Such a public display of support for the Trump Administration and its pro-people policies cannot be overlooked.
In 2009, when the people of Iran took to the streets to voice their dissent and demand an end to the chaotic rule of the Islamic Republic, they were received by violent suppression, torture, and death. When they let their demand for free and open elections be known during these protests, Obama ignored their pleas. The US's silence on the issue of Iran seemed like an outright defenestration of the popular interest. While the Iranians clamored for their rights, the US initiated negotiations with Iran’s rulers. With Trump's advent, America’s passivity has been altered for good. Unlike President Bush, Trump expressed his solidarity to the people of Iran during the second phase of protests in 2017-2018. His people-driven policies form the kernel of popular opinion that is being aligned in his favor.
The question that lingers now surrounds the future of bilateral ties between the US and Iran. In Iran, the educated youth and women are keen on bettering foreign relations between the two countries. The youth, constituting 70% of the population, proved with their demonstrations that the digital network in Iran is frequently depended upon. The tech-savvy populace has been arranging protests by making use of the digital medium. Movements like 'White Wednesdays' and 'My Stealthy Freedom' evolved in this manner. Both movements were spearheaded by women and aimed at dismantling mandatory dress codes in the country. The reliance of Iranians on modern methods of mobilization suggests that the promotion of open technology and advancements is necessary for the country. Countries like America can play a huge role in this arena.
Sanctions are effective only if these specifically target the regime and its agents like the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. A war, on the other hand, would be catastrophic without any doubt. Further, limited airstrikes would strengthen the current regime since these tend to boost nationalism among people. Instead of subverting the power structure in Iran, the war would feed it and push commoners towards harm. One must note that the people of Iran have always opposed military or political interventions and they continue to do so. The only forms of assistance that they're open to are technological aids and moral support.
This strong hostility towards foreign intervention is rooted in the Revolution of 1979 that ushered in the Islamic Revolution with global support. Iranians today, want the revolution to be their own. Keeping this in mind, President Trump must refrain from direct negotiation with the Islamic Republic. War too must not be advocated for. Instead, the US should engage the people and opposition in Iran through technological support.
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About the Author
Slater Bakhtavar is a published journalist, policy analyst, practicing attorney and author of Iran: The Green Movement. His interest in politics has enabled him to contribute his knowledge to several journals, magazines, and nationally syndicated talk shows. Slater has earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Kennesaw State University, a Juris Doctorate Degree from South Texas College of Law, and a LL.M in International Law from Loyola Law School. In addition, Slater Bakhtavar received a certificate in alternative dispute resolution from the University of Georgia Law Center. To add to this list, Slater has decided to pursue a Master’s of Business Administration Degree from West Texas A&M. Currently, Slater resides in Dallas, Texas where he is engaged in the practice of law at his own law office. Outside of his law practice, Slater can be found devoting his time to The Republican Youth of America organization, where he sits as the founding President.