This Conservative Lawmaker Explains Why the Embassy Move to Jerusalem Matters

President Donald Trump’s administration is working to build peace in the Middle East, and a big part of that process is the administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, one lawmaker says.  

In the Arab world, if you are acting swiftly and with strength, that is something that makes a big impression on a lot of those leaders, even if you are acting against those interests,” Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., said in a speech Thursday at The Heritage Foundation, adding:

If you are the strong horse, that is something they respect. When you show yourself to be backing down and be a weak horse, even if you are doing it in a way and taking a position that they agree with, that causes them to wonder whether you can keep your word or not, and so I think for Trump’s personal prestige, it was important. I also think it was good for the country.

DeSantis, who chairs the House subcommittee on national security said Trump’s Dec. 6 reaffirmation recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his order to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem showed a resolve to leaders of countries in the Middle East not seen before.

Speaking about the embassy move, DeSantis noted that Trump isn’t the first president to commit to it. “Bush promised it and didn’t do it, Clinton promised it and didn’t do it, Obama—although I find it hard to believe he actually meant it when he promised it, … he obviously was never going to move the embassy to Jerusalem or recognize it.”

In March, DeSantis went to tour possible embassy sites in Jerusalem, expecting that the president would make good on his campaign promise to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“We identified all the sites, potential sites where you could establish an American embassy,” the Florida lawmaker said. “And I am engaged in this now about what sites they are choosing and I think that we might find out very, very soon some very positive news about one of the sites we profiled.”

DeSantis said he thinks Trump’s leadership will inspire other Middle Eastern countries to work with the United States toward stabilization in the region.

“This is a president who understands the threat posed by Iran and posed by the Iran nuclear deal,” DeSantis said, adding:

That is music to the ears of the gulf states, places like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, they fear Iran’s influence … Do they want our embassy moved to Jerusalem? No. But are they going to cry a river over that when they need to work with us, and work with Israel, to combat Iranian influence? Of course not. Their interests are to align with the United States and with Israel to combat the Iranian threat.

Elliot Abrams, senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, spoke on a panel after DeSantis’ remarks and said he thinks the road to stability in the Middle East is often misrepresented.

“Frequently, the question is asked is, how do we get to the two-state solution? And that is not the right question,” Abrams said. “The right question is how do we get to peace, the two-state question is a derivative of [it]. If it helps peace, it is a good thing. If not, it needs to be rethought.”

Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, joined Abrams on the panel discussion and said bringing peace to the Middle East will be a process of changing hearts.

“By my analysis over the past century, 80 percent of Palestinians have been rejectionists, and 20 percent have accepted Israel, and the goal must be to expand that 20 percent to 40-60 percent,” Pipes said. “My goal is encourage an increasing number of Palestinians to recognize that the conflict is over, I am less focused on leaders … I think [if] you want a change of heart, you want a people to recognize that it is no longer worth their while to engage in, say, suicide attacks, because it is futile.”

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To the Citizens of Iran: We Stand With You

Nothing is as powerful as the truth.

That’s why repressive regimes actively suppress free speech and assembly of their citizens. It’s also why America’s Founding Fathers enshrined these basic rights into our nation’s founding documents.

On Dec. 28, 2017, protesters in Iran’s second largest city, Mashhad, took to the streets to voice their concerns over their country’s economic distress and rising food prices. These protests quickly grew, spreading to dozens of cities across Iran.

Iran’s leaders cannot dismiss concerns about the rising price of goods and increasing unemployment in their country. The Iranian regime received a generous influx of cash in 2015 as part of the Obama administration’s nuclear deal. Iran’s citizens believed these payments would give their economy a much-needed boost.

The truth is that Iran’s government would rather fund terrorist groups, like Hezbollah and Hamas, than meet the basic domestic needs of its people.

Now, as citizens push back and call for change, the regime’s brutality is on display. In attempt to squash the protests, the government has restricted use of internet applications commonly used to communicate and share news.

The government has even at times resorted to using gunfire to disperse crowds. To date, more than 20 protesters have died and more than 450 have been arrested. Additionally, there are news reports of brutal treatment of protesters who have been imprisoned.

Given the regime’s crackdown, the future of these protests is uncertain. While it is unlikely the deep concerns of the Iranian people will be resolved quickly, we do know they will not easily be silenced. The average age of the protesters is 25, meaning the next generation of Iranians long for change.

We’ve seen anti-government protests in Iran before. In 2009, Iranians questioned then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reelection. The regime took the same actions, which led to thousands imprisoned and hundreds dead.

As the world watched this violence break out, the Iranian people looked to America for support, but our government largely stayed silent.

Thankfully, this administration has chosen a different approach. President Donald Trump has already taken vital first steps, vocalizing support from the executive branch and even implementing new sanctions on five entities who are subsidiaries to the regime’s defense ministry. More sanctions could follow as a direct result of the treatment of these protesters.

I believe the people of Iran deserve bipartisan American support in their pursuit of reforms and a democratic government.

I recently introduced a House resolution that formally stands with the citizens of Iran and calls for a peaceful outcome to the demonstrations. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, introduced a Senate version of this resolution that has bipartisan support.

The House is expected to pass legislation this week that supports the rights of Iranians to free expression.

At this critical time, it is vital to lend our support to the Iranian people and their pursuit of freedom. As protests continue, we, as Americans, need to join together and say one thing to the brave citizens of Iran: We stand with you.

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What’s Next for Iran After Protests? 4 Elements to Watch

After backing the protesters standing up to the Iranian dictatorship, President Donald Trump will decide next week on whether to again waive sanctions–part of the Obama-era nuclear deal he has long criticized.

“In terms of signing a waiver later in January, the president hasn’t made a final decision on that,” @PressSec says.

The peaceful uprising, which began in late December in the city of Mashhad, has spread to cities such as Tehran, Qom, and Shiraz.

The protestors objected to the Iranian government concentrating much of the windfall from the $100 billion in unfrozen Iranian assets—resulting from the U.S.-led multilateral nuclear deal—to expand regional influence in the Middle East instead of dealing with domestic economic problems. Among the reported chants was “Leave Syria, think of us.”

Here’s what experts say could be next as the Iran drama unfolds.

1. What Else Can or Should the U.S. Do?

“Trump and Pence have been very good with rhetoric in comparison with the failed Obama approach of saying nothing in 2009,” Michael Makovsky, president of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America, told The Daily Signal.

“But the administration needs to pivot beyond rhetoric,” Makovsky continued. “Iran wants to clamp down on demonstrations. They might win this round, but the administration can raise the cost. The administration is playing defense if they are playing at all.”

That doesn’t mean combat boots on the ground, Makovsky said. Rather, it means providing money, advisers, and perhaps even weapons to groups opposing Iranian expansion in the Middle East. He added that the U.S. should push for a “loose confederation” of groups to make up a government in Syria—replacing the Bashar Assad regime being buttressed by Iran.

“The Reagan doctrine was about supporting anti-communist forces,” Makovsky said. “The Trump administration should take a page from Reagan’s book about raising the cost of Soviet expansionism.”

Other experts are more cautious about direct involvement, but all agree on the need to increase dissent internally in Iran against the ruling Islamic regime.

Even as the Iranian regime seeks to block social media, the U.S. government should continue promoting their message on Radio FARDA, said Jim Phillips, senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at The Heritage Foundation. Radio FARDA is the Iranian branch of the U.S. government’s Radio Free Europe, which was used to help fight Soviet Union censorship during the Cold War. It broadcasts from the Czech Republic.

Phillips said the U.S. should also impose more sanctions on the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps, the elite division of the military charged with protecting the Islamic Republic system and carrying some political power.

2. End of Regime?

The protests prompt speculation about whether this is the beginning of the end of the government’s rule that first began with the Islamic revolution in 1979. That’s not yet likely, Phillips said.

“I doubt the regime will crumble from this protest but it will weaken the foundations of the regime,” Phillips told The Daily Signal. Noting the failure of the larger 2009 protest, he added, “Unless there is a big increase in the number, it’s not likely to succeed.”

The government crushed student demonstrations calling for freedom in 2003. After a disputed presidential election, the even larger “Green movement” began in 2009, with protesters demanding free and fair elections.

Still, the new protests have another dimension missing from the previous protests that involved mostly young, urban, and educated Iranians.

“The difference with this one is that it’s centered on the rural poor. Up to now, that has been the pillar of support for the regime,” Phillips said. “That’s where much of the Revolutionary Guard is pulled from. So, perhaps, down the line, the Revolutionary Guard will not be as dependable.”

Eventually, the government is doomed, but the timing is unpredictable, Phillips said, drawing a historical parallel.

“With the Soviet Union, once the people’s loyalty to an idea was shattered, the government had to fall back on coerced repression,” Phillips said. “When that happens, a regime’s days are numbered. I just don’t know the number.”

3. What Happens to the Obama-era Nuclear Deal?

The 2015 U.S.-led multilateral nuclear deal with Iran lifted sanctions on the regime in exchange for a temporary halt in development of nuclear weapons. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, included Britain, Russia, China, France, and Germany.

In October, Trump announced the United States would not exit the deal entirely, but would decertify it under the terms of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, or INARA, by asserting the deal isn’t in America’s best interest.

While the Iran deal was never a treaty ratified by the Senate, critics say the 2015 INARA law, sponsored by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., helped codify in a congressionally-passed law an agreement that would otherwise be an executive action easily overturned by a future president.

Next week, by Jan. 12, Trump must decide whether to renew temporary waivers to U.S. sanctions against Iran—waivers he has previously issued.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was unclear about the president’s intentions when asked about the waivers on Jan. 2.

“We certainly keep our options open in terms of sanctions,” Sanders said. “In terms of signing a waiver later in January, the president hasn’t made a final decision on that, and he’s going to keep all of his options on the table in that regard.”

More than likely, Trump will continue the waivers, said Behnam Ben Taleblu, senior Iran analyst for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

“This [support for the protesters] should not be mixed with a debate about pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal,” Taleblu told The Daily Signal. “The decision on granting another waiver comes up next week. I expect he will waive. Even before the nuclear deal, the U.S. could impose non-nuclear sanctions. They can continue non-nuclear sanctions now.”

With that waiver, should come action from both Trump and Congress, Taleblu said. He said that Trump must continue to show the will to support protesters, call for Congress to make changes to INARA to make it stronger, and put pressure on European allies to demand that Iran change its behavior.

4. Will the Global Response Change?

Many experts agreed the bulk of European allies and the United Nations offered a muted response, even as the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Canada have criticized the Iranian regime.

“Europeans are trailing far behind because they are less concerned about security and ideas and more concerned about business and commercial interests,” Taleblu said. “Canada has been more responsive than Europe.”

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said this week, “Canada will continue to support the fundamental rights of the Iranians, including freedom of expression.”

French President Emmanuel Macron called for the Iranian government to show restraint against protesters, but later followed up with comments accusing the governments of the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel with using rhetoric that “would lead us to war.”

France at least seems to be saying more than most European allied, Phillips said. He said U.S. leadership is likely needed.

“Washington needs to do more to pressure Europe. Most of Europe has glossed over the Iran regime’s abuses and concentrated on commercial priorities,” said Phillips. “Europeans operate under the misconception that trade will help open up the country, but it won’t evolve into a European-style democracy.”

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As American Women Put Their Pink Hats Back On, Iranian Rip Off Their Hijabs

As American women prepare to put on their pink hats for a second time to protest President Donald Trump on the anniversary of his inauguration, women in Iran are taking off their hijabs, protesting an oppressive theocratic regime.

For nearly 40 years since the 1979 revolution, Iranian women have been forced to follow the country’s mandatory dress code, which includes long, loose garments and headscarves known as hijabs. While wearing a hijab here in the United States is a sign of female empowerment, taking them off in Iran is the ultimate sign of defiance.

The anti-regime protests in Iran ignited days after the American press declared 2017 the “Year of the Woman,” where women here in the United States took to the streets by the millions to protest President Donald Trump, and shared their #MeToo moments of sexual harassment and assault. Given this, you’d think it’d be a no-brainer to align themselves with women reportedly leading their protests in search of freedom in cities like Isfahan.

But no. The Women’s March along with celebrity feminists have been silent, instead, choosing to tweet about their own happenings here in the First World.

According to Human Rights Watch, women in Iran are routinely and systematically discriminated against and oppressed. They’re banned from sports stadiums, even when their husbands, brothers, or sons are playing in the game. If they’re married, they can’t leave the country without their husband’s permission. And according to the BBC, they can’t even be “Happy.”

In 2014, three men and three women were reportedly arrested for the crime of dancing on camera to Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy.” They were sentenced up to 91 lashes and one year in jail.

And yet, liberal feminists in America such as Joy Behar think it’s us that have the problem. Speaking on “The View,” Behar compared what’s happening in Iran’s oppressive autocratic regime to protests against Donald Trump.

Here’s a wake-up call for American women who can’t seem to open their eyes to the true intolerances against women worldwide. In America, when men and women take to the streets to protest a democratically-elected president who they don’t like, they have police putting their lives on the line to protect them.

In Iran, when men and women dare to speak out against their government, they’re suppressed and sent to jail. Seven days into these rallies, at least 20 people are dead.

So let’s be clear: The uprise happening in Iran is far more important for women’s rights than any of our First World problems here in the United States. Instead of being silent—or worse, trying to draw parallels between Iranian women and ourselves—American women should support them. Because in Iran, unlike the United States, women’s lives may actually depend on it.

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Trump Just Cut Aid to Pakistan. Why This Long-Overdue Move Could Have a Real Impact.

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. It’s a lesson the U.S. government has learned the hard way in Pakistan.

Fortunately, the Trump administration’s recent decision to suspend $255 million in aid to Islamabad serves as a welcome injection of sanity into the deeply dysfunctional U.S.-Pakistan relationship.

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” President Donald Trump declared in a Jan. 1 tweet. “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

The anger and frustration expressed by the president is not only justified, it’s long overdue. Through its support to the Taliban, the Haqqani network, and their militant allies, Pakistan has for over a decade consistently and critically undermined the U.S.-led effort to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan.

In efforts to persuade Islamabad to abandon this nefarious “double game,” the U.S. government has deployed a constant stream of diplomatic and economic carrots—including $33 billion in aid and “reimbursements” since 2002—but virtually no sticks.

Predictably, each attempt has failed. It turns out it’s quite difficult to change a country’s cost-benefit calculation when you’re unwilling to impose any costs.

Pakistan’s double game, on the other hand, has brought it tangible benefits.

Islamabad has clear and consistent objectives in Afghanistan: It seeks a government in Kabul that is pliable, submissive, and hostile to India. Since the Afghan people—who are now deeply, understandably hostile to Pakistan and favorable toward India—will never vote such a government into power, the next best outcome for Pakistan is to ensure the government and the country are divided and unstable.

Not only has their quest for instability in Afghanistan been wildly successful, they’ve convinced America to foot much of the bill.

After being subjected to this double game for more than a decade, the patience and generosity of the American people has reached its limit.

Frustration has been building on Capitol Hill for years, reflected in a steady decline of U.S. aid to Pakistan. From $2.60 billion in 2013 to $1.60 billion in 2015, the request for aid appropriations and military reimbursements in 2018 fell to just $350 million.

The Trump administration is rightly signaling to Islamabad that “business as usual” has come to an end.

Pakistan can’t say it wasn’t warned. “We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations,” Trump declared in August. “We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting. That will have to change and that will change immediately.”

Similarly, the Trump administration’s December 2017 national security strategy insisted: “[N]o partnership can survive a country’s support for militants and terrorists who target a partner’s own service members and officials.”

On the ground, the Trump administration has authorized the U.S. military to launch more—and more potent—drone strikes targeting militants operating along Pakistan’s western border after they were curtailed during the Obama administration’s second term.

This week, the administration also placed Pakistan on a special watch list for religious freedom violations.

At least one influential Pakistani politician seems to be taking the Trump administration seriously.

On Jan. 3, Nawaz Sharif, who resigned as prime minister in July, implored Pakistanis to “appraise our actions” and “break this spell of self-deception.” He said the time had come to put Pakistan’s “house in order” and “reflect on why the world holds negative opinions about us.”

Unfortunately, Pakistan’s all-powerful military appears unable to escape a prison of perpetual denial. “We have defeated extremism. … Now the terrorists come from Afghanistan,” Pakistan’s chief of air staff declared in November.

When U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley accused Pakistan of “harbor[ing] the terrorists that attack our troops in Afghanistan,” a Pakistani military spokesman noted that Haley is of Indian origin and that the “current misunderstanding between Pakistan and the U.S. is created by India.”

That’s simply not going to cut it anymore. The status quo, long viewed by Washington as lamentable but tolerable, will no longer be a costless affair for Pakistan. Whether this leads our two countries toward a vicious cycle of hostility and recrimination is entirely dependent on Pakistan’s behavior.

As always, the path to stability, prosperity, and a true strategic partnership with America is clear: Abandon your support for Islamist extremists, end your paranoid infatuation with India, make peace with your Afghan neighbors, and respect freedom and religious liberty at home.

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Once Manipulated by Obama Administration on Iran, Media Still Peddles Wrong Narrative

Dramatic images of the protests rocking Iran should be a reminder of how good we have it in the United States and how easy it is to lose perspective.

In America, a “war on women” is defined by progressives as failing to force nuns to pay for birth control. In Iran, a woman can be punished for not wearing a hijab and a man can be brutally executed for being gay.

While the left has a penchant for accusing America of oppression while excusing foreign malfeasance, its refusal to criticize Iran still stands out.

CNN oddly defined the movement as “pro-government protests,” before issuing a correction.

The New York Times Tehran bureau chief, Thomas Erdbrink, reported on New Year’s Day that the protests were ongoing as the Iranian people “ignored calls for calm,” as if the movement was simply driven by a few rowdy troublemakers instead of having larger political implications for a tyrannical government.

Many have compared Erdbrink’s reporting to the actions of infamous New York Times Moscow bureau chief, Walter Duranty, who denied the communist forced famine in Ukraine in the 1930s that killed millions of people.

In November, Erdbrink reported that Iran had “united” in opposition to Trump and Saudi Arabia.

Clearly, they weren’t.

While the nature of the decentralized group of protests remains somewhat clouded, Jim Phillips, Heritage Foundation senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs, explained in The Daily Signal how corruption, a sudden surge in food prices, and importantly, the repressive Islamist ideology of the powers that be, have contributed to the toxic stew of resentment.

“We don’t want an Islamic Republic,” “Down with Hezbollah,” and “Death to the dictator,” are reportedly common chants by protesters.

The fact is that there is deep discontent with the Islamist theocracy that has ruled the country since the 1979 revolution and many are now willing to risk their lives to end its abuses. The nation’s rulers are hardly pro-Western moderates.

Phillips wrote:

Rouhani’s faction is more pragmatic than the ultra-hardliners, but it is by no means ‘moderate.’ Rouhani is the tactful leader of the Iranian state, but Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, remains the implacable spearhead of Iran’s Islamist revolution. The two have worked closely for years and continue to collaborate as a ‘good cop/bad cop’ tag team.

For a media that likes to perceive itself as speaking truth to power, coverage has been strangely tepid as it continues to define the government as a moderating force compared to more dangerous hard-liners. It has also danced around the Iranian government’s role in perpetuating Islamist doctrines, both at home and abroad.

This is par for the course.

The media collectively yawned last month when a bombshell Politico report came out claimed the Obama administration put the lid on an investigation into Iran-backed Hezbollah’s drug-trafficking and terrorism activities during the nuclear deal negotiations.

So why is it that the media is ignoring this ongoing story and skating around the facts?

Conservative writer Lee Smith answered that question in Tablet Magazine, writing that the nature of their reporting derives from two main sources of information: “the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Obama White House.”

“Without government minders providing them with story-lines and experts, American reporters are simply lost—and it shows,” Smith wrote.

President Donald Trump was quick to tweet about the protests and explicitly call out the Iranian regime’s repressive and destructive policies.

This contrasted sharply with former President Barack Obama’s reaction to the wave of Iranian unrest that sprung up after a disputed election in 2009. Obama initially said he was “troubled” by the turmoil but ultimately hoped that Iran would sort things out. He refrained from explicitly condemning the regime and made no signal that he would support protesters, even rhetorically.

The legacy media still closely follows the message peddled by Obama and his former deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, who was one of the chief architects of the Iran nuclear deal.

To lay the groundwork for the deal, Rhodes, whose background was in fiction writing, proudly boasted of manipulating clueless media allies in a 2016 New York Times Magazine profile of his work.

“We created an echo chamber,” Rhodes said in the profile. “They [the media] were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”

Changing the negative public perception of Iran was a tall order. Not too long before the George W. Bush administration had labeled the country, which has been a long-term thorn in U.S. Middle East policy, among the “axis of evil” along with North Korea and Iraq.

To get Americans and Congress on board with this shift in strategy, the Obama administration had to convince them that loosening up sanctions on Iran was a good thing because Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was a “moderate.”

Normalizing the regime provided a chance to cool their nuclear aspirations, so the reasoning went.

This was a farce that the media ate up and still continues to peddle.

One doesn’t want to fall too much into the trap of thinking all populist, democratic movements, even ones under tyrannical governments, are good.

But it is important, when the time is right, for American leaders to forcefully rebuke tyranny and repression.

Right now, the media is too worried about the president blocking people from his personal Twitter account and protecting Obama’s legacy to bother uncovering the truly heinous policies and ideology of a cruel Iranian regime.

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What the US Should Do as Protests Escalate in Iran Against the Islamist Regime

Iran has been rocked by a wave of protests against the Islamist regime since Dec. 28.  Popular demonstrations ignited by smoldering resentment about Iran’s mismanaged economy quickly escalated to political denunciations of Tehran’s rulers.

President Donald Trump was quick to offer support to the protesters in a series of tweets. At 7:44 a.m. New Year’s Day, he tweeted:

Iran is failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration. The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food & for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!

Early chants about price hikes have given way to increasingly bold criticisms of what the protesters see as a corrupt and repressive government that fails to meet their needs. Their demands varied.

Early chants about price hikes have given way to increasingly bold criticisms of what the protesters see as a corrupt and repressive government that fails to meet their needs. Their demands have varied.

Some chanted, “We don’t want an Islamic Republic” and “Death to the dictator,” the latter being a reference to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Economic Resentments Amplify Political Revulsion

The protests apparently were triggered by a surge in prices of basic food supplies, which also had contributed to early Arab Spring protests six years ago. Protests spread quickly, sparked by social-media posts, as state-controlled media blocked press coverage.

These are the largest protests since millions of Iranians flooded the streets in 2009 to protest against then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s rigged re-election. But the regime crushed those protests in a brutal crackdown in which at least 30 people were killed and thousands were arrested, tortured, and imprisoned.

So far, the ongoing protests have not reached the size of the 2009 Green Movement demonstrations, when millions of Iranians took to the streets in protest. Twelve people have been killed in demonstrations, with 10 of the deaths inflicted amid intensifying clashes on Sunday night.

Some of the early protests in Mashhad reportedly were organized by ultra-hard-line regime supporters opposed to Rouhani, and may have been designed to undermine his authority.

Pro-regime demonstrations denouncing the 2009 Green Movement leaders also may have provoked a political backlash.

Unemployment remains high at more than 12 percent, and inflation has resurged to 10 percent. A recent increase in egg and poultry prices by as much as 40 percent, which a government spokesman blamed on a cull over avian-flu fears, appears to have been the spark for the economic protests.

Hundreds of students and others joined a new economic protest at Tehran University, a hotbed of prior student protests against the regime.  Iranian students historically have played a leading role in several revolutionary movements, including the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The tense situation at Tehran University will be a litmus test for the strength of the protest movement and of the regime’s ability to contain, suffocate, or crush the protests.

The Revolutionary Guards, which crushed protests in 2009 and take the lead in exporting Iran’s Islamic revolution and terrorism, remain a strong repressive force that is likely to crush the student rebellion if the local police prove to be inadequate.

Trump’s Rapid Response

Trump tweeted out his support for the protests Saturday morning:

Trump is right that simmering resentment over the costs of Iran’s aggressive foreign policy have led protesters to call for more spending at home and less on support of radical groups abroad.

Some of the new protests have specifically denounced the regime’s extensive corruption and its costly involvement in regional conflicts, such as those in Syria and Iraq.

In Mashhad, some chanted, “Not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life for Iran,” a reference to what protesters say is the regime’s focus on exporting the revolution, rather than responding to domestic needs.

They also denounced Iran’s theocratic leaders: “The people are begging; the clerics act like God.”

Washington must continue to drive up the long-term political, economic, and military costs of Iran’s military interventions in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. It should underscore that the regime’s economic mismanagement, corruption, and support for terrorism and Islamic revolution, which provoked sanctions, have exacerbated Iran’s economic problems.

U.S. policy should also highlight and denounce the regime’s repression and human rights abuses. But the protests might soon be quelled, dissolve into competing camps led by rival leaders, or be hijacked by hostile anti-Western forces, as many of the Arab Spring revolts were hijacked.

Washington should support the right of Iranians to challenge the heavy-handed repression and corruption of a tyrannical regime, but it should hold off on endorsing specific opposition leaders or movements until their character and goals are assessed.

Until then, the Trump administration should do its best to publicize and promote the legitimate political and economic grievances of frustrated Iranians and support their efforts to recover freedom from an Islamist dictatorship that depends on thugs to suppress its own people.

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Podcast: The Big Differences Between Obama and Trump’s National Security Strategies

The Heritage Foundation’s Nile Gardiner joins us to discuss why President Donald Trump’s national security strategy, released today, matters–and how it differs in it is treatment of Islamist terrorism from President Barack Obama’s strategy. We also discuss the long-ranging cultural implications of the tax bill, and why Chick-fil-A is once again the hero.

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Following Trump, These Countries Also May Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

Many U.S. allies roundly criticized the Trump administration’s move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but America doesn’t stand alone on the white-hot issue.

“President Trump has planted the seeds of this long overdue shift,” @PastorJohnHagee says.

In fact, the Czech Republic appeared to jump at the opportunity to say that it already considered Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv, to be the capital of the Jewish state.

The Czech foreign ministry announced:

The Czech Republic currently, before the peace between Israel and Palestine is signed, recognizes Jerusalem to be in fact the capital of Israel in the borders of the demarcation line from 1967. … The ministry can start considering moving of the Czech embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem only based on results of negotiations with key partners in the region and in the world.

For its part, the United States is delaying moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, pending a State Department review.

On Tuesday, the European Union denied a request from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to recognize Jerusalem as the U.S. government has.

Meanwhile, top lawmakers from two African countries, Ghana and Tanzania, indicated their nations could support a similar move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Hungary blocked an EU resolution condemning the U.S. decision, but hasn’t taken action to recognize Jerusalem on its own.

Much work remains, but the U.S. move gives hope to Israel supporters such as the Rev. John Hagee, senior pastor of a large evangelical church in Texas and founder of the group Christians United for Israel.

“America acts and the world takes notice,” Hagee told The Daily Signal in a written statement. “We’ve already seen the Czech Republic recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”

“In addition, due to the Israelis’ incredible emphasis on humanitarian assistance,” he said, “the Jewish state has deep relations with many African countries and other nations in the developing world, and that is perhaps the reason we’ve seen leaders from Tanzania and Ghana indicate a willingness to follow President Trump’s lead.”

Hagee, president and CEO of John Hagee Ministries, added that Trump simply “confirmed a 3,000-year-old historical fact,” but acknowledged that the rest of the world would be a challenge.

“This said, the unfortunate tradition of not recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has 70 years behind it—it will take some time to reverse,” Hagee said. “But President Trump has planted the seeds of this long overdue shift, and with persistence, it will eventually be accepted more broadly. America leads once again.”

Aaron Mike Oquaye, speaker of Ghana’s parliament, told Israel’s i24News that “whatever Israel wants, we in Ghana will go by that, because that is essentially an internal decision.”

Job Ndugai, speaker of the National Assembly of Tanzania, told the outlet:

It is a very commendable decision to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I believe it will be followed suit by several African countries, Tanzania included, to move said quarters from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, because we believe where the parliament is … then the government should be there, and embassies should be there too.

The United States filled a vacuum of moral leadership, said Sarah Stern, president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth, a pro-Israel think tank. She is “cautiously optimistic” that more countries will follow, Stern said.

“I’m cautious because the virus of anti-Semitism is taking different forms. Today, it has taken the form collectively against Israel,” Stern told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. “Throughout the world, we are seeing horrible demonstrations.”

She noted some demonstrations, including in London and New York, contained calls for violence against Israel.

Under the Israeli-Palestinian peace accord of 1993, the status of Jerusalem was to be determined through negotiations. The Palestinian Authority has claimed East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Muslim state.

Despite that, Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all vowed to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel at some point.

Trump’s decision clearly hasn’t destabilized the Middle East, as some critics predicted, said James Phillips, senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at The Heritage Foundation.

“Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas and other Islamic extremist organizations will continue to try to whip up people as long as they can, but I think it will eventually die down,” Phillips told The Daily Signal.

“Saudi Arabia, the [United Arab Emirates], and Bahrain have moved closer to Israel in a number of areas, and have covertly cooperated,” Phillips said. “I don’t think we’ll see the covert cooperation end. This may delay public reconciliation by moderate Arab states with Israel.”

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