Iran erupts again: How should Australia react?

January 9, 2018

Dr Ameer Ali

Iranian protests: Dr Ameer Ali says Australia would lose international credibility if it chooses to support protesters in Iran.

By Dr Ameer Ali, School of Business and Governance, Murdoch University

Iranians have come out on the streets once again. They came out against the Shah in 1979 and caused a regime change. They came out again in 2009 protesting against shockingly rigged election results engineered by the hierocracy. That protest ended in a bloody massacre.

Now they have come out again and this time against rampant corruption, mounting economic difficulties and astonishingly incompetent governance.

As usual in these protests the gendarmerie is on a rampage to arrest, beat and kill the protestors. Yet, the protestors are not relenting.

Iranian eruptions, although they occur in the minority Shi'ite quarter, have a habit of sending shocking waves to the Sunni regimes, especially in the Middle East. Even the 2011 Arab Spring had its genesis in the 2009 civil rights uprising in Iran. Shi'ism is the religion of the oppressed.

That does not mean there is liberty, equality and fraternity in the Sunni regimes. The tyranny of the Iranian hierocracy is no worse than the tyranny of the dynastic rulers in the Middle East and Muslim dictators elsewhere.  One should not be surprised if the regime in Iran ironically receives at least covert support from the Sunni tyrants.

How should Australia respond to this upheaval? There is a view that we should support the protestors and follow Donald Trump’s lead.

Such support has to consider the possibility of the uprising spreading to other equally oppressive and tyrannical but Sunni Muslim regimes in the Arab world. Australia will lose its international credibility if it chooses to support the protestors in Iran while keeping silent when uprisings break out against Sunni tyrants elsewhere in the Middle East.

Secondly, President Trump’s recent decision to shift the US Embassy to Jerusalem and to cut economic aid to the Palestinian Authority and to Pakistan have already led to riots in those regions. The anti-American feeling is on the rise in the Muslim world.

At this juncture, Trump’s threatening posture on Iran will be an unexpected bonus to the Mullah regime to strengthen their hold on power. Already the regime is accusing the US and Israel of instigating the unrest. To counter the protestors, supporters of the regime are also coming to the streets with their usual slogan “Death to America”.  Obviously, if Australia were to follow Trump’s lead we will also be deemed aiding the regime.

The best policy is to stay neutral and allow the Iranians to sort out their problems by themselves.  No regime can remain in power even with all the weapons available in the world if the people come out in millions against it.

The Shah in Iran, Mubarak in Egypt, Ghaddafi in Libya and Zein el-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, among several other tyrants had all the weapons they needed but those weapons lost their fire power in front of the people in millions.

Mullahs had never ruled successfully anywhere in the world and their days are numbered in Iran.

A version of this article was published in the West Australian on Monday 8 January 2018.

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