While President Donald Trump's intention to not certify the Iran nuclear agreement is on the minds of many Iranians, it's not their only worry.
Countless Iranians, especially religious and ethnic minorities, wonder when they will see their imprisoned relatives, when they will get some form of justice for the cousin who was hanged, or the uncle whose limbs were cut off as punishment. They wonder when they will be able not just to live without fear of nuclear war, but also without fear of being lashed by the vice police.
For the vast majority of Iranians, the nuclear deal has underscored a more basic question: when will the U.S. stand up for those values for which it is admired, including in Iran?
Each publicly televised launch of a ballistic missile violates the spirit of the deal and moves Iran closer to the ability to launch an intercontinental nuclear strike. Each military site that remains uninspected, aggressive interference abroad overlooked, or political killing ignored, further convinces the repressive rulers of Iran that they can continue their rule with impunity.
There must be a price to pay if the Iranian regime launches ballistic missiles or continues its egregious and destabilizing activities in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere. Reinstating sanctions instead of rewarding the regime with business deals makes adherence more likely.
A deal that penalizes Iran for bad behavior also sends an important message to the Iranian people, as well as the peoples in the region terrorized by the regime: America is with you if you are deprived of your rights and seek democracy and justice.
Many laud Iranians' resolve and commitment to freedom. For almost four decades, the regime has stayed in power via crackdowns and mass murder; that certainly ensures anger bubbling just beneath the surface. That anger has surfaced again and again, each time to be put down only by brute force.
The clerical rulers have raped, tortured, and murdered their own people every year since 1981, when they monopolized power after the 1979 revolution. They routinely execute juvenile offenders or women defending themselves against assault. Twenty-seven-year-old Reyhaneh Jabbari was hanged in 2014 for killing an Intelligence Ministry official allegedly attempting to abuse her.
In the summer of 1988, the regime murdered thousands of political prisoners, most of them activists of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), only because they remained steadfast in opposing the regime. The architects of the 1988 massacre now hold senior government positions.
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his gang of murderous thugs fear nothing more than the Iranian people, which explains why the death penalty rate under the supposed “moderates” currently in power is one of the highest in the world. There are few Iranians not connected in some way to someone that the regime has brutalized, and that has consequences.
Enter the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which acts as the parliament-in-exile and is led by a woman, Maryam Rajavi. The NCRI includes the MEK, whose members risk life and limb for freedom, have provided vital intelligence on Iran's nuclear program, and have exposed its crimes against humanity, including the 1988 massacre.
President Trump has announced that he will adopt a new policy on Iran. That new approach should not only act to ensure that the Iranian regime does not acquire a nuclear bomb, but also to significantly hamper its aggressive behavior in the region.
As part of this, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) must not be allowed any presence in countries in the region. The IRGC is the regime's instrument of chaos, instability, and sectarian violence. Treating the IRGC as a terrorist organization would send a strong signal to the people of Iran and the region.
Ultimately, any new approach should be based on the understanding that neither the region nor the world will be secure so long as the Iranian regime is in power. And it should recognize the inherent instability of a regime forced to suppress 11,000 anti-government protest acts all over Iran in the past year.