While, the Iranian post-election unrest back in 2009 did not come to a favourable conclusion, it had a considerable influence on people in North Africa and Middle East encouraging them to stand up for their desires of freedom.
Angered by self emulation of an impoverished man, protesting his own harassment by government authorities, Tunisians flared up a regional wave of revolutions in North Africa immediately reaching Egypt. In a short period of time, two previously considered untouchable and totally stable governments of Tunis and Egypt, toppled.
Libyans, oppressed for almost 40 years by the Qaddafi regime, rose up soon after. But it seems Qaddafi was not as lucky as Ben Ali in Tunis and Mubarak in Egypt, to have the chance to give in to the will of his people and step down as easily. He has decided to hold on to his rule at any price. Bloodshed followed and still continues.
The waves of change go on to rattle the countries in the region one after another and have reached the Middle East back to Iran and now Iraq.
While Iran tops the list of nations using torture and execution to control social discontent, brave Iranian youth persist to be present in streets, staging anti-government demonstrations, calling for freedom and democracy.
In Iraq, country wide protests are putting the already unstable Nuri Al-Maliki government in shambles. The government that he barely managed to form after nine months of tug-of-war among different parties seems to be breaking apart as Iraqis in streets call him a liar and corrupt.
In this situation, the West cannot just stand aside and observe the turnout of event hoping for something good to happen. Being on the wrong side has cost too much already. We can’t afford it anymore. If we don’t step in now then when are we going to do so?
If we don’t impose a no-fly-zone over Libya right now to save people their vicious dictator who has no regards for the lives of his people, what are we going to do when the truth about his actions come out? If we don’t stand by the Iranians and Iraqis who struggle to free their country, won’t we be ashamed of ourselves in the future? The international community and specifically the United States have responsibilities and should take appropriate actions.
The procedures through United Nations Security Council have begun for Libya but are too slow. Enough lives have been lost already. The international community should step in immediately.
The situation of human rights in Iran should immediately be attended to and the opposition, be empowered. We have seen many US former officials speak out in recent days against the designation of Iran’s main opposition movement, the MEK, as a terrorist organisation in United States. Our perception of the MEK, be it positive or negative, does not justify including them on the Foreign Terrorist Organisations list. Especially considering that the designation helps justify executions of political prisoners back in that country.
Let’s be honest, we did not know what to do with Iraq after the war. We inflected more damage than any good. We have pretty much allowed the Iranian regime to overtake and annex the country.
Nevertheless, the people of Iraq have stepped in now. They are ready to make the changes necessary. It is time we hand over the country into the hands that care about it and want to take responsibility for it. It is time we support the Iraqi people and help them establish a real democracy and a responsible government.
We stand at an important junction in history of our world. We should support and allow democratic changes to take place. Our own future and security depends on it. Democracy is the only remedy for terrorism. The world is ready for the big change and we should make sure we stand by those who will bring the change about.
Nima Sharif is a freelance journalist and author specialising on Iran and the Middle East.