Deafening silence? As Iranians continue to protest for freedom, West remains largely quiet

Experts believe part of reason the international community hasn’t condemned the regime is a desire to revive a nuclear deal with Tehran.

Updated: May 29, 2022 - 5:53am

As Iranian demonstrators begin a third week calling for the death of Iranian supreme leader and the overthrow of his hardline regime, the opposition is taking to social media to express its frustration at being generally ignored and unsupported by the international community. 

The protesters, whose platform is mainly centered upon the government’s corruption and lack of human rights, have a global message: the regime is spending billions of dollars on its terror ambitions and leaving the Iranian people without subsidies to purchase basic goods and live comfortable lives. 

In cities throughout the country and more escalated in Khuzestan and Abadan, protesters have continued their campaign, marching, chanting, and engaging in brawls as they’ve been met with the regime’s most brutal forces who are suppressing the protesters by firing guns directly at the people and rounding up hundreds of peaceful protesters. 

“I just want the international community to place themselves on our situation, and explain how they would feel,” said one anti-regime activist. “If your entire life is ruined because of a bunch of terrorist and others don’t care about you, how would you feel?”

Experts believe that part of the reason the international community has not commented on the protests or condemned the regime’s actions has to do with the desire of major Western countries to negotiate and revive the 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran. Like the Obama administration, the Biden White House has not called on the international community to support the protests, given that many officials are trying to not upset the Islamic Republic and obtain a political win on the nuclear agreement. 

In addition, the invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin, resulted in countries that heavily relied on Russian oil to now seek new suppliers like the Islamic Republic, causing many to now want to find favor with the mullahs in Tehran.

“It is not in their interest to act, that’s why we have silence,” said another protester. “Whenever something was in their favor, they inserted themselves; take a look at Afghanistan for example.” 

Taking advantage of the nonresponse from the international community, Iran’s Judiciary has issued orders to the IRGC, urging the militant organization to prepare for a comprehensive plan to prevent protests from growing into a revolution.

As protests continue and the Islamic Republic engages in harsher tactics against Iranians, many wonder what it will take for the world to finally pay attention.

When the Islamic Republic came to power in 1979 after the toppling of the Shah’s monarchy, the world community condemned the newly created government, going insofar as to enact economic sanctions, embargos, and to cut ties with the country completely. When Iraqi President Saddam Hussein decided to invade Iran in September 1980, the international community placed their entire support behind Iraq to curtail and weaken the Islamic Republic. After the war, nations mostly issued condemnations against Iran and continued with economic sanctions against the regime, until the Obama administration began in his long and very dedicated plan to engage in negotiations with Tehran and improve the regime’s global standing. 

In 2009, when Iranians took to the streets in protests that began with the contested presidential election results between Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Mir Hossein Mousavi, the Islamic regime responded by sending the IRGC and its security forces to brutally suppress protesters. While ordinary individuals in places like the United States and Europe showed solidarity with the Green Revolution through social media, the United Nations and its members simply issued condemnations against the Islamic Republic and its crackdowns without any action to back up their statements. In the end, the Supreme Leader and his government prevented the Green Revolution from overthrowing the regime, facing no outside repercussions.

All throughout, the Obama administration had its sights set on connecting with the mullahs through its brand of diplomacy and a nuclear deal that would normalize relations and supporting protesters on the streets of Iran would disrupt that vision. 

Meanwhile, the Islamic Republic has not stopped placing blame on countries like Israel and the U.S. for “fomenting” protests and trying to overthrow the regime. 

Iranian protesters had a small window of opportunity under President Donald Trump, whose cabinet, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Ambassador Nikki Haley, advocated and supported protesters in Iran, calling for the international community to act and enact sanctions against the regime and its brutal suppression of its own people.