The 1986 nuclear disaster at Chernobyl did not merely kill dozens of people and poison hundreds more with deadly levels of radiation. It also exposed just how bankrupt, corrupt, and incompetent the Soviet regime really was, setting in motion a crisis of legitimacy from which the regime never recovered. Just five years later, the mighty Soviet Union had disappeared.
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Some may have been surprised at the mass demonstrations that have rocked Iran since the regime admitted to having accidentally shot down a Ukrainian airliner, killing all 176 civilians aboard. I was not. As someone who escaped Iran in 1979 as an infant with my family because of the regime’s brutality and intolerance, I understood all too well what has enraged the Iranian people. The downing of the Ukrainian airliner could prove to be the mullah’s own Chernobyl moment.
The downing of Ukraine Airlines Flight 752 exposed the secrecy, brutality and incompetence of Iran’s government. Initially, Iran said that a technical program caused the crash. But because of Canadian intelligence, just three days later, Iran’s military had to admit that it mistakenly shot down the Ukrainian airliner. Moreover, it was obvious that the regime knew all along what the real cause of the crash was, and tried to cover it up—just like the Soviets at Chernobyl.
Iran’s people are tired of living under a government whose entire claim to legitimacy is religious intolerance. They are sick of living under thugs and terrorists. President Trump’s decision to eliminate General Qassem Soleimani, the country’s second most powerful powers, was a heroic and historic event for the people of Iran most of all.
President Trump’s message of support for the people of Iran stands in stark contrast to the indifference of President Barack Obama when an earlier generation of Iranians looked to America for support. In 2009, after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won a rigged presidential election, there was a huge uprising and Iran’s Green Movement began. But President Barack Obama squandered any hope that the Iranian youth who are pro-American and pro-democracy, may have had for assistance from the U.S. Many felt abandoned in their hour of need.
After the Green Movement, many Iranians put their hopes in economic sanctions to put pressure on the regime to finally open up. Instead, President Obama reached a nuclear deal with the mullahs that lifted the economic pressure. In effect, he gave the regime a lifeline, and billions of dollars to use for terrorism. Again, Obama gave hope to the mullahs, while dashing the hopes of the Iranian people.
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The Iranian people aspire for democracy and to have the support of a nation like the U.S. and its President. As an American of Iranian heritage, I am thankful for the bold actions of President Trump over the last two weeks. Of all the years of witnessing statements by President Obama who tried to turn Iran’s ruling clerics from foe to friend, I never saw a tweet or a message directed to the brave Iranian people. It was not until President Trump directly addressed the protesters by sending a Saturday night tweet, which is now the most popular tweet ever that was written in Farsi.
Instead of hearing Iranian sponsored media clips chanting “Death to America,” we see Iranians taking to the streets to cheer “Death to the Dictator” – not something to be thought of lightly. In America, we have the ability to speak freely, but in Iran, you can be killed for speaking against the Supreme Leader. Those brave Iranians are the real heroes today.
Let’s stand with President Trump and with these bold, tireless and brave Iranian people to support and help them get from under this oppressive regime that has taken Iran and its people hostage for almost 41 years.
Let’s keep the pressure on Iran, just like President Reagan did to the Soviet Union decades ago. The end of the Iranian regime, and the moment of Iran’s liberation, could be closer than anyone realizes.
Amanda Makki is a Republican lawyer, Capitol Hill congressional aide (2004-2014) and a political appointee in the George W. Bush administration at the Pentagon (2001-2002). She was born in Tehran, Iran and legally immigrated to the U.S. with her family in 1979. She is a Republican currently running to represent Florida’s 13th Congressional District.