Tags: obama | iran | phares

Phares: Obama Must Stand Up for Iranian Reformers

Wednesday, 24 Jun 2009 08:28 PM

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A leading scholar of the Middle East says that the Obama administration is perilously close to abandoning what could be the defining democratic revolution in the region.

Dr. Walid Phares tells Newsmax.TV that the administration’s timid response to the bloodshed and voter rebellion in Iran could actually be signaling unintentional support of the repressive mullahs leading the country.

That, in turn, could have a devastating effect on other reform movements in places like Lebanon, Syria and Egypt, where freedom-loving reformers have long been struggling against repression and cruelty.

See Video: Dr. Walid Phares discusses the demonstrations in Iran and the hopes for Iranian democracy - Click Here Now

There may be little time to change course, too, Phares argues, since the uprising against Iran’s apparently fraudulent elections is fast entering a violent phase.

The country’s leaders “have cut off Iran from the international community and shut off all the Web sites they can,” Phares said. “What we see right now is the third stage: that is to go and eliminate by force the leadership of the demonstrations.”

And that will be harder because “the protests are now smaller in size and more mobile so what we’re going to see from now on is an urban resistance. The crackdown is going to reach all over Tehran.”

Phares, Director of the Future of Terrorism Project at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, bristled at the notion put forth by President Barack Obama that he could somehow by endangering the reformers by putting America’s moral support behind them.

“This is basically an argument that has been advanced the by the Iranian regime,” Phares told Newmax TV’s Ashley Martella, referring to Obama’s argument.

“Iran today is a battlefield between on one hand the regime, and on the other hand an uprising by civil society. There is no third party that can be influenced in this direction or the other direction. There is the interest of the regime and the interest of civil society.

“The interest of the regime is not to have the United States administration or any other country saying any words. The interest of civil society is saying all the words possible in support. The United States saying words would shield the society in Iran and put pressure on the regime.

“But not stating these words would shield the regime and defeat the society.”

Phares said the country is now a “total repression state” with the official police and intelligence ministries buttressed by paramilitary militias known as basiji.

“The militias are “basically an army, much better equipped than any police, and they move with good training, and they have intelligence at their service.”

The bottom line is that the administration must take a stand, Phares said, sooner rather than later.

“I think the administration and the president is resisting the escalation because they are standing firm on their direction. They need to have another direction. They need to change their perception of the regime.

“The president said there is a debate in Iran. This is not a debate. They said that Iranians need to sort it out. They also said Iran would have to decide: but which Iran? The ayatollah or the people?”

“This is the real battle where the core of fundamentalism in Tehran is being challenged by its one people,” Phares said. “This can change the equation of the whole region.”

See Video: Dr. Walid Phares discusses the demonstrations in Iran and the hopes for Iranian democracy - Click Here Now

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