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OPINION: Stronger Western Response Needed Against Iran’s Brutal Regime



via @Mojahedineng on Twitter

The United States, Britain, and the European Union have all duly condemned the Iranian regime’s brutal crackdown of recent protests. But vague expressions of support are not enough in light of thousands of Iranian citizens risking their lives on a daily basis as part of a long-frustrated effort to secure their most basic rights.

Western powers issued similar messages of disapproval at the outset of crackdowns on prior nationwide uprisings, but at no point did those words prove capable of manufacturing shame in the hearts and minds of Iranian officials, and so mass arrests, killings, and torture went on unabated.

In November 2019 alone, Iranian authorities killed upwards of 1,500 people when the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) carried out mass shootings. Now, they are threatening more aggressive treatment not only of those participating in the current uprising but also those sharing videos and eyewitness accounts which the IRGC describes as “rumors” and “fake news”.

There is little doubt that the judiciary, headed by notorious human rights abuser Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei, is prepared to follow suit. He was promoted into his position after serving as deputy to Ebrahim Raisi, before the latter was tapped by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to take over the presidency last year. This reshuffle of key positions led to a predictable upsurge in the regime’s familiar human rights violations, and the current uprising is a response to its effects. Ordinary Iranians are also tired of decades-long poverty, rampant inflation, structural corruption and the regime’s brutal oppression.

On September 16, Mahsa Amini, 22-year-old, was pronounced dead while in detention by the clerics’ “morality police”. She was accused of wearing her mandatory head covering too loosely, showing too much hair. Mahsa’s story is part of a broader revolting and despicable pattern of gender apartheid in Iran.

After Raisi’s directives for more suppression against women this summer, countless videos and personal accounts have circulated on social media depicting similar mistreatment of other women. In some cases, the targets of that harassment pushed back against it or even challenged the forced veiling laws themselves.

The latest protests indicate the expansion of anti-regime sentiment to virtually all of Iran’s communities and demographics. Prior uprisings have been notable for their inclusion of poor, rural Iranians who were once falsely viewed as strongholds of support for the theocratic dictatorship. Worsening economic conditions and growing awareness of government mismanagement has turned many of them strongly against the regime and has helped to reveal the regime’s true Achilles’ heel.

The regime’s stability is most threatened by its own population. Recent protests, led primarily by women and young generations, have expanded to close to 162 cities in all Iran’s 31 provinces in a matter of days. Women have suffered some of the worst oppression since the theocracy was established. Their leadership is natural.

They have also played a prominent role in pro-democracy activism, with one woman, Maryam Rajavi, even being designated as Iran’s prospective transitional president by the main democratic opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

In Congress, I had the privilege of supporting the democratic objectives of the Iranian Resistance for many years. Mrs. Rajavi’s Ten-Point Plan for the future of Iran, which calls for a secular, democratic and non-nuclear republic in Iran that respects human rights and gender equality, is a beacon of hope for the country.

What is more, the coalition’s Resistance Units have sprung up across the country, leading and organizing protests in order to ensure their persistence and expansion. The regime’s top leaders, as well as various senior and lower-ranking officials, constantly express worry and anxiety over the growing role of the MEK and its Resistance Units inside Iran. Risking detention, torture and even death, these brave Resistance Units infuse ever greater inspiration into the broader society for the overthrow of the misogynist regime.

The uprisings in Iran have mobilized women from all walks of life. This is a terrifying prospect for the regime. And as prior crackdowns on nationwide uprisings demonstrate, it is one against which they will deploy all manner of political violence if they are permitted to do so.

Iranian women and men will surely continue to challenge that permission, but the only thing that will conclusively deny it is a vigorous international response. For their part, consistent with our Declaration of Independence, and the Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Western powers must recognize the rights of the Iranian people to rebel and defend themselves against the regime’s repression and lethal onslaught with all possible means at their disposal.   

America should remember the words of President John F Kennedy 60 years ago: “let every nation know, whether it wishes as well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to ensure the survival and success of liberty.” The people of Iran are looking are fighting for LIBERTY.

Judge Ted Poe represented the Second district of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2005 to 2019 and is the former chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade in the House Foreign Affairs Committee

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China Expands Charm Offensive in Southeast Asia to Squeeze out U.S.



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Similar to what is happening in the Pacific, the US is facing a significant uphill battle to balance China’s rise in Southeast Asia. During the recent G20 and ASEAN summits in Indonesia and Cambodia, the Chinese Community Party (CCP) media upped its propaganda war against the United States over Southeast Asia. Outlets like Global Times and Xinhua claim that China’s interests in Southeast Asia are focused on mutual benefits, while the US is a malicious force in the region. The CCP press also claims that China is generously giving robust and purposeful aid to the Southeast Asian countries, while the US is neglecting them.

Claim #1: China’s Interest in Southeast Asia is Peaceful and Mutually Beneficial

China’s approach to Southeast Asia is benevolent and focused on mutual benefits, according to the CCP-run press. “China’s goal is to achieve a truly prosperous and peaceful ASEAN,” and “doesn’t interfere in ASEAN members’ internal affairs,” according to Global Times. “China focuses on pragmatic issues, such as promoting infrastructure construction, living standards, which are needed in those countries,” and “China is seeking a cooperative path toward common development,” according to another Global Times article. That same article quoted Chinese Premier Li Keqiang as stating that China and the ASEAN countries “are good neighbors who will always be there for each other…”

One country that is particularly thankful for growing Chinese influence, according to the CCP press, is Indonesia. Indonesians want China to “lead…the world to a more peaceful and prosperous future,” and view Chinese President Xi Jinping “with an apparent sense of affability and affection,” according to Global Times. Marzuki Alie, former speaker of the People’s Representative Council of Indonesia, praised China as “becom[ing] essential in improving global governance,” and that “the visionary concept of building a human community with a shared future proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping shows China is willing to work with other countries to create a peaceful and secure world with openness and inclusiveness,” according to Xinhua. And perhaps the most perplexing aspect of China’s “benevolence” in Indonesia is the “Peace Ark” – a hospital ship that has recently docked in Indonesia, but that is also a navy ship run by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), according to Global Times.

Malaysia has a favorable view of China as well, according to the CCP press. Koh King Kee, president of Center for New Inclusive Asia, a Malaysian think tank, stated that “China is the backbone of the global supply chain and acts as a ballast stone of the global economy in times of uncertainty,” according to Xinhua.

And in response to US concerns over rising Chinese influence in Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base, Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian dismisses the base as not targeting any third party, according to Global Times. Cambodia’s Minister of National Defense Tea Banh further claimed that the Chinese involvement in that base is benevolent, stating that the base helps Cambodia “in cooperating with friendly countries and help[ing to] maintain regional peace, stability and prosperity,” according to that same article.

Claim #2: The US’ Interest in Southeast Asia is Manipulative, Malevolent

In contrast to China’s benevolence, the United States “only wants [ASEAN] to serve as its pawn to counter China, and to fulfill its own hegemony goal, according to Global Times. At the G20 conference in Bali, the US takes a “hegemonic, unilateral and protectionist approach,” and “is preaching war and confrontation,” according to that same article.

The US and the West are merely using the G20 summit in Bali “to advance their own geopolitical agenda against Russia, therefore preventing the crucial meeting from tackling serious economic issues,” according to another Global Times article. “Such a geopolitical focus “will worsen this uncertain and unstable world,” according to Veronika S. Saraswati, China Study Unit Convener at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies Indonesia.

According to another Global Times article, the US is using ASEAN “to drive a wedge between China and Southeast Asian nations in the future,” is attempting to “rope in the region via political, security, and value-oriented agendas,” and is trying “to buy off” Southeast Asian countries “by pledging to spend certain amount[s] of money.”

Claim #3: China gives Robust, Targeted Aid to Southeast Asia

CCP media taunts the extensive aid that China is giving to Southeast Asian countries. China has pledged $1.5 billion in “development assistance” to ASEAN countries in November 2021, and Chinese-ASEAN trade was about $878 billion in 2021, according to Global Times. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang claims that of the 160 “cooperation initiatives” that China has suggested with the ASEAN countries in the previous 10 years, over 99.5 percent of them have been implemented, as reported by another Global Times article.

Li also stated that China is planning to build emergency storage for medical supplies and rise within the ASEAN Plus Three (China, Japan and South Korea) framework, according to Global Times.

Chinese state-run media is particularly touting China’s Belt and Road investments in Southeast Asia, particularly in Indonesia and Laos. According to Global Times, the Jakarta-Bandung high speed railway will be operational in June 2023, and as a “flagship project of China-Indonesia cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative,” will be the first high speed train in Southeast Asia, according to Xinhua. China’s ambassador to Indonesia praised the project, claiming that the railway “will greatly reduce traffic jams, make travel more convenient for local people, improve local investment environment, boost businesses and tourism along the route, and accelerate the building of a high speed railway economic corridor.” The ambassador also mentioned that existing Belt and Road initiatives with Indonesia like the Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park and the PT Virtue Dragon Nickel Industry Park, “have generated tax incomes, job opportunities and foreign exchange earnings, and provided Indonesia with opportunities for greater participation in global industrial chains of stainless steel and new energy.”

Meanwhile, Global Times asserts that the China-Laos Railway has generated at least $1.7 billion in trade and has transported almost 10 million tons of goods.

Claim #4: US Investment Lags Behind China

On the other hand, the CCP media claims that the US is lagging far behind Chinese investments in Southeast Asia. President Biden’s newly announced “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” with the ASEAN countries “…looks more like a symbolic act. The US is playing the catch-up game with China,” according to Koh King Kee, president of a Malaysian think tank, according to Global Times.

US and ASEAN trade, at $441 million in 2021, was almost half that of Chinese investment for that same time, according to Global Times. President Biden pledged to ask Congress for $850 million in aid for electric vehicles and clean energy to ASEAN countries, but this amount is “symbolic” and a “mere ‘drop in the bucket’,” according to Global Times. In May, Biden “announced a $150 million development and security package” for the ASEAN countries according to that same article, which pales in comparison to the amounts in aid that China claims it is giving those same countries.

According to Global Times, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang mentioned that US investment in ASEAN is “a drop in the bucket if compared to US support for Ukraine” during the Biden administration, which Global Times claims is “over $18.9 billion in security assistance.”


CCP media is waging a charm offensive targeting Southeast Asia. While China is investing heavily in these countries, the US has yet to devise a credible counter to such influence.

You can follow Steve Postal on @HebraicMosaic 

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