BY REP. LEE ZELDIN
THE HILL, 8 January 2018-- It’s 2009. Millions of Iranians have poured into the streets to protest the fraudulent reelection of then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. An entire nation, those from every walk of life, men, women and children, have courageously raised their voice in a unified cry for democracy.
Their cries would unfortunately be suffocated not only by a brutal Iranian regime, but the silence and apathy of the United States and the rest of the free world. As a result, a once emboldened movement and protest would fail to achieve the positive change everyday Iranians so desperately sought.
In the years that would follow, the Iranian government would deprive its people of economic prosperity, continue to trample human rights, and squander Iran’s limited capital on ill-advised, destabilizing activities abroad. As it does to this day, Iran would serve as the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, illegally developing and test firing Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) in violation of UN Security Council Resolutions, overthrowing foreign governments and providing finances and arms to the Assad regime in Syria, Hezbollah and others. With the blood of U.S. service members on its hands, Iran would pledge to wipe Israel off the map while chanting “Death to America” in its streets, calling Israel “the Little Satan” and America “the Great Satan.”
It’s now 2018. Iranians have once again courageously poured into the streets to protest the brutality of President Hassan Rouhani’s regime. Seemingly an entire nation, those from every walk of life, have boldly and purposefully raised their voice in a unified cry for democracy. Instead of caring for its own people, the Iranian regime focuses all of its energy on suffocating their cry, murdering protesters, while choking off communication via the internet and social media apps.
We have been down this road before, and we must learn from history or be doomed to repeat it. As freedom-loving Americans, we must support the Iranian protesters in their inherent right and noble quest to create a more free and peaceful country, one that ensures a brighter future for not only their children, but our own. We know for certain that the current regime in power not only seeks to harm its own people, but bring death and destruction to the United States, Israel and others.
A free Iran would mean a more stable Middle East, closer allies in the region and stronger U.S. national security around the world. A free Iran would mean the end of their blank check to the terrorist organizations that seek to attack Americans at home and abroad.
This is our second chance. The Iranian people, smothered by their own government, look to us and, instead of the chill of silence, this time, they’re rightfully met with the full, immediate and resounding support of the United States.
The time is ripe to renew consistent and effective American strength abroad. There is nothing to fear or apologize for regarding American exceptionalism. Millions of Iranians are desperate for support to help them turn the tide in Tehran and all throughout Iran.
Make no mistake, we cannot stay silent; not because we want war, but because we want to prevent it, and because Iran deserves a brighter future of peace, stability and freedom.
Zeldin represents New York’s 1st District and serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.