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Geopolitics

Iranians Can Only Topple The Dictatorship With Help From The West

Inside Iran, people are risking their lives to fight the oppressive Islamic Republic. Now, they need support from compatriots abroad and Western democracies to bring an end to this decades-long fight for democracy.

Photo of protersters in Munich, Germany, in November, after the killing of Mahsa Amini. One protester carries a sign that reads "do something for Iran".

November protest in Munich, Germany, in the wake of the killing of Mahsa Amini

Elahe Boghrat

-OpEd-

For years now, the fate of Iran has been a concern for many Iranians living abroad as migrants or exiles, regardless of their political views or socio-cultural origins.

Some are concerned for personal reasons, because they want to travel safely to Iran and back or do business there. Others want their homeland to regain a sense of "normalcy," of living in a country with acceptable levels of freedom, security and prosperity — conditions we might reasonably find in a 'normal' country (even if they are in fact a privilege).

But things are not normal in Iran.

For more than 40 years, its rulers have devoted time, effort and public funds to exporting revolution, sectarianism and fundamentalism that harms both religion and people. They have fueled terrorism and backed gangs and militias in the Middle East, and pushed ahead with a nuclear program that has brought Iran's economy to its knees.

In turn, Western states have made every effort to maintain a dialogue, not with Iran but with the parasitic entity that calls itself the Islamic Republic. This policy of appeasement is embellished through the use of fancy terms like "critical dialogue" or "nuclear talks" to ensure regional security.

 40 years of repression

The West has preferred to keep the Republic in place, as long as it implemented reforms and ceased threatening states like Israel and Saudi Arabia, or stopped sending assassins into the European Union and arresting dual nationals on phony charges.

Hoping for benign evolution, Western leaders were above all concerned with business and diplomacy continuing. And as for the crushing of Iran and its people's rights and freedoms? For the world, the 40 years of repression, which rose to vicious peaks in certain years like 2019, were an internal matter. It was for the Iranians — ordinary, unarmed folk — to resolve such matters with a ruthless regime.

We owe the necessary support for rights in Iran to the courage of protesters and their families.

The police killing in September of Mahsa Amini, a young girl whose crime was to have let her headscarf slip in public, sparked another showdown between people and the regime. She is not the only figure to have become a symbol of suffering and resistance in Iran, but this time around, the level of international interest and attention was at its highest in decades, and briefly even overshadowed the West's principal concern, the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Photo of an anti Iran government protest in Washington in November

Anti Iran government protest in Washington in November

Stephen Shaver/ZUMA

Price of courage

Interest has sadly waned. Sadder, perhaps, is the fact that it was the regime's decision to work with Russia and provide military aid that have hardened the West's tone and deterred it from resuming its preferred business-as-usual with the regime.

We owe this necessary attention and support for rights in Iran — in spite of its hesitancy — to the courage of protesters and their families.

They have paid, and continue to pay, the heaviest price for creating a diplomatic shift. Now, it is for Iranians living abroad and Western democracies to give their support to people in Iran, to ensure their sacrifices and exemplary solidarity are not in vain.

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Future

Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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