Anti-government protesters gather at Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo. (Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)
As protesters take to the streets across the Muslim world, Western governments watch and wait – hopeful that democratic government may be taking hold, but fearful that such moments can be seized upon by radical Islamic forces who have long sought an opportunity to rise up and impose their will on entire nations.
Radical Islamic movements throughout the world have long been funded and armed by Iran, which the United States has consistently described as “the most active state sponsor of terrorism.” Iranian government officials are not only publicly supporting the protests in Egypt; the Islamic Republic is taking credit for them. “The Revolution of the people of Tunisia and Egypt is modeled after Iran’s Islamic Revolution,” said Iranian Brigadier General Yahya Rahim-Safavi.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said, “Popular protests and movements in North African countries, including in Egypt, show necessity of an overhaul in the region and putting an end to dictatorial rules.” These Iranians have no problem brutally silencing a popular uprising on their own soil while seeking to capitalize on similar protests from afar. These assertions would be comical if they were not pointing to something so dangerous. Iran’s real intentions have nothing to do with democracy, and everything to do with their quest for power on the world stage.
Washington Institute for Near East Policy scholar Mehdi Khalaji observed in 2009 that, “Egypt has long been suspicious of the connection between the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and Iran, based in large part on Iran’s longstanding strong ties to Hamas – an offshoot of the Brotherhood.” During the 2008-09 Gaza War, Mr. Khalaji noted that, “Iran was highly vocal in their support of Hamas, blasting the Egyptian government for its inaction.”
Should the Iranian regime be allowed to continue in its quests for nuclear power, its ability to further destabilize the region will become even of an issue. Iran is positioning itself as the prime power in the region, and if Iran has nuclear firepower to add credibility to its threats, countries in the throes of unrest — like Egypt — will to some degree be kept in fear of what Tehran might do, directly or through organizations like Hamas.
Some hundreds of thousands of supporters of leading opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, who claims there was voting fraud in Friday’s presidential election, turn out to protest the result of the election at a mass rally in Azadi (Freedom) square in Tehran, Iran, Monday, June 15, 2009. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) (Ben Curtis – AP)
America can not allow this to happen. Should Iran become powerful, it will become both a military and economic threat not only to avowed enemy Israel, but to all nations who align themselves with the idea of real democracy and free-markets. Dictatorial regimes do not stop at the control of the hearts and minds of the people – they also seek to control the flow of wealth. If Iran builds nuclear capabilities, this kind of control is within its grasp.
During his State of the Union address, President Obama stated, “Diplomatic efforts have also strengthened our hand in dealing with those nations that insist on violating international agreements in pursuit of nuclear weapons … That’s why the international community is more united, and the Islamic Republic of Iran is more isolated. And as Iran’s leaders continue to ignore their obligations, there should be no doubt, they too, will face growing consequences.”
What the world needs now is for America to give Iran a strong sense of those consequences. The instability in Egypt and throughout the region ought to give Congress and the White House a wakeup call, and they should impose tough, more comprehensive sanctions against Iran immediately in an effort to halt its nuclear weapons program.
Iran’s intercession in Egypt fuels the uncertainty in the Middle East. A nuclear Iran with this kind of power should be a frightening concept to the rest of the world.
Christian Leaders for a Nuclear-Free Iran pray that the people of Egypt have the opportunity to embrace freedom and democracy rather than be hoodwinked into following a path similar to the Ayatollah’s revolution.