The 100-thousand-strong rally of Iranians in Berlin on Saturday and similar protests in other major cities show the mobilization and unity of diaspora communities.
The Berlin rally was the biggest-ever gathering of Iranians outside Iran, which took place peacefully and successfully, drawing crowds from most European countries.
There is little doubt that for now the protest movement, that many call ‘the revolution,’ has brought about a strong unity on one major issue – people in Iran and in the diaspora do not want the clerical regime.
Gone is the idea of being patient and waiting for reforms in Iran.
Since 2017, the governing military-clerical elite has proven that it is increasingly tilting toward more despotism and radicalism in domestic and foreign policies. Even regime insiders who were a bit more moderate have been completely sidelined since February 2020, when an engineered election handed over the parliament to hardliner elements mostly connected with the Revolutionary Guard.
They were the ones who in December 2020 voted for high levels of uranium enrichment, bringing Iran very close to a nuclear threshold state. They also refused direct talks with the United States in the long and fruitless negotiations in Vienna since April 2021.
A graffiti on a wall in Iran as a message to US Special Envoy for Iran, Rob Malley
The current mobilization and unity among diaspora Iranians in Europe, Canada, the United States, Australia and elsewhere, pose a challenge to Western governments who are suddenly faced with their own citizens of Iranian descent demanding stronger policies toward the Islamic Republic.
A case in point was a tweet by US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley on Sunday who praised Iranian marchers in Washington DC and Los Angeles, but then said that demonstrators are asking “their government to respect their dignity and human rights.”
More than 2,500 people responded to his tweet mostly challenging his formulation that Iranians simply want respect from their government. They said that Iranians reject the current regime, not that they are asking for a change of behavior by the authoritarian system. There were as many critical comments as ‘Likes’ that Malley’s tweet received. Some even asked for his resignation as a Biden official who in their perception is not sympathetic to what most Iranians want.
American Iranian activist and women’s rights advocate Masih Alinejad tweeted on Sunday, saying it is time for Malley to be replaced.
An Instagram post by Iran International on Sunday asking the public what they think about Malley’s tweet elicited almost 7,000 comments, almost all critical of the US envoy.
The criticism of Malley goes back to his role as an architect of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and the lead negotiator to restore that accord in the Biden Administration; a step that would provide tens of billions of dollars to the clerical regime, giving it the means to suppress protests and enrich its militant proxies in the region.
The activist segment of the Iranian American community has become self-assured and more determined to support the protesters inside the country. Wobbling by Democrats will cost them votes, as there is already a degree of skepticism about Jimmy Carter’s party seen as responsible for abandoning the Shah in 1978 and helping to bring the Islamic Republic to power.
European governments will also soon realize that there is a substantial Iranian voting bloc in Germany, Britain, Sweden and some other countries. Already, second and third generation Iranians are getting elected to public office in some European countries. Two young Iranian women became ministers in Sweden this month.
The rallies in support of protesters in Iran are giving the Iranian diaspora an organization and grassroots leaders who reject pro-regime lobbying groups they have come to discredit lately. Their role is most evident in Canada, where the government in October adopted sanctions against the Revolutionary Guard.