Congress to Hurt Iranian Reform Movement
Jill Marie Parillo and Laicie Olson
August 4, 2009
With two Iran Amendments to the $679.8 billion National Defense Authorization Act and one to the $33.3 billion Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, Congress looks to grasp some oversight on U.S.-Iran policy. As Iran's political stability after its June 2009 elections continues to deteriorate, these proposed actions could hurt the reformist movement that Congress would like to support. Congress should instead hold off on taking action until it is clear who will ultimately hold power in Iran for the long term.
Here are two of the Senate proposals:
Senate Amendment 1628 (S.A.1628) to the National Defense Authorization Act (S.1390), introduced by Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), pictured above, asks the President to impose sanctions on the Central Bank in Iran if Iran does not respond to President Obama's offer of engagement or suspended all nuclear activities by September 2009, and the United Nations Security Council fails to pass stronger sanctions.
Senate Amendment 1892 (S.A.1892) to the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R.3183), also introduced by Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), sanctions people that sell refined petroleum products to Iran valued at $1,000,000 or more and people that engage in any activity that enhances Iran's ability to import refined petroleum products valued at $1,000,000 or more.
The current U.S. offer to engage does not come with preconditions. That is the big change in Obama policy from Bush policy, yet Congress keeps trying to insert preconditions on U.S. engagement. Congressional preconditions include: Iran must show a certain amount of interest in engagement by September 2009, Iran must freeze its nuclear program, and the United Nations must pass more sanctions. These are all preconditions, and they must all be dropped if we are going to try a new policy with Iran. The former policy of threats, sanctions and silence only lead Iran to expedite its nuclear program.
Another Senate proposal to the National Defense Authorization Act (S.1390):
Senate Amendment 1775, Victims of Iranian Censorship Act or Voice Act (S.A.1775) was introduced by Senator John McCain (R-AZ). It condemns the recent acts of censorship and violence in Iran and authorizes $30 million to the Broadcasting Board of Governors for Radio Farda and the Persian News Network, as well as $20 million for a new "Iranian Electronic Education, Exchange, and Media Fund."
Unfortunately, this will not "support the Iranian people" as it states. Iranians that are part of the reformist movement clearly state that U.S. support will make their efforts look like an attempted U.S. sponsored coup. Iranian conservatives, President Ahmadinejad included, are saying that it is not the Iranian people that want change, but foreign governments. They are blaming the unrest on nations like the United States and the United Kingdom. This proposed amendment will give President Ahmadinejad the proof he needs to further suppress with violence the legitimate protests against his rule.