Iran is determined to be the leader of the Middle East and it’s working hard to earn this title. The Shi’ite regime has been attempting to create a territorial continuity expanding from Tehran to the Mediterranean Sea, and it’s getting closer to realizing that goal. This is especially true after the nuclear deal Iran made with the U.S. and the billions of dollars that came with it. This money has been used to fuel Iran’s proxy Shi’ite terrorist organizations that are fighting against the Sunni Muslims and Israel in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza.
Of course, investing vast resources in military expansion instead of in its people has come with a price. Iran’s economy is now crippled. Iranian currency, the rial, has fallen to a new low of 90,000 to the dollar. Over 12 percent of Iranians are unemployed, inflation has skyrocketed and imports are too expensive for most citizens to buy. In addition, Donald Trump’s decision to exit out of the Iran nuclear deal will have a major effect on Iran’s economy, reinstating sanctions and forcing international businesses and investors to flee the country. President Trump’s decision will also result in a significant reduction in Iran’s main revenue asset — oil exports.
This recent economic disaster has prompted thousands of Iranians around the country to take to the streets and protest against their government. Videos of Iranians angered by Iran’s investment in terrorist organizations have emerged on the internet showing protestors shouting, “Death to Palestine,” “No to Gaza, no to Lebanon,” and “Invest in us — not in Syria.” The Iranian government tries to suppress the protestors, arresting them and even killing them, but the regime understands that bullets alone will not deter people who have nothing to lose.
The most recent set of protests is only one link in a chain of protests that have been erupting in Iran every few months over the last year and a half. Iranian women have been demonstrating against their Islamic government, violating one of its most fundamental rules by pulling off their headscarves in some of the busiest public squares and burning them in front of cameras. These images have spread across social media, inspiring other women to do the same, even at the expense of violent attacks and arrests.
History has taught us that giving in to a bully in hope that he will back off only convinces him to become a bigger bully with hope for an even greater reward. In 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain believed that if he would just appease Hitler by letting him take control of the “Sudetenland,” Hitler would refrain from further conquests. This move actually convinced the German leader that the Allies were too weak to stop his planned invasions of European countries.
The Oslo agreement, the disengagement from Gaza and the Iran deal have all proven that trying to appease terrorism only leads to further bloodshed. The Palestinian government and the terror group Hamas receive billions of dollars to help the Palestinian people but use them instead to promote terrorism and to pay families of terrorists. Just in the past three months, Hamas has spent more than $45 million in their riots along the Gaza-Israel border that resulted in 700 fires and the burning of 2,300 acres of Israeli forests, 2,000 acres of Israeli agricultural land and hundreds of acres of open fields.
Now that Iran’s economy is weakened, it is imperative that the U.S. and Israel block efforts by European countries to lift sanctions on Iran and to offer financial relief. An economically weak and unstable Iranian government will prompt Iranian protestors to continue their struggle to divert money invested in terrorism back to the Iranian people and perhaps even bring a change to the current regime, one that we know is determined to destroy Israel and the U.S.
Kobi Erez is executive director of the Zionist Organization of America-Michigan Region.