Historically, political confusion has led to inadequate responses to international crises, and with disastrous consequences. Today, the West's ties to Iran are overshadowed by the widespread anti-regime protests across the country. Now, as it looks as if the dust does not intend to settle, and it seems clear that the conflict inside Iran will only deepen.
After the suspicious death 22-year-old Mahsa Amini -- who was taken into custody by Iran's "morality police" apparently for a hijab violation, was reportedly beaten, fell into a coma, and died three days later on September 19 -- the Iranian people began pouring out onto the streets.
At the time of writing, at least 185 protestors have been killed by security forces. Bloodbaths in the provinces of Sistan and Baluchestan, in southeastern Iran, killed 63 peaceful protestors.
The current nationwide protests in Iran highlight a genuine and strong potential to overthrow the theocratic regime, and require an appropriate new policy toward Iran. The international community, celebrities and mainstream media fully understand the need for a new approach toward human rights abuses in Iran.
Although Canada, the US and its European allies have tried to pressure Tehran by imposing new sanctions on the regime for censorship and other human rights violations, it seems that the Western leaders have not fully understood the main message of Iran's protests.
While the world has witnessed the willingness of the Iranian people to sacrifice their lives to overthrow their oppressors and establish a secular democracy based on liberal values, the Biden administration entered into a deal with the Iranian regime to retrieve two imprisoned dual citizens. Nour News, linked to Iran's Supreme National Security Council, claimed that the Iranian regime had received billions of dollars in exchange for releasing the hostages.
The Biden administration has rejected Iranian reports that the deal led to unfreezing Iranian funds abroad. However, if the US did not unfreeze the Iranian funds, what was given to them in return for releasing the hostages?
Worse is that the Biden administration, even during the Iranian regime's current brutal crackdown on its own citizens, and the US Special Envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, are still seeking to revive the lethal "nuclear deal" -- allowing the regime to enrich uranium to acquire an arsenal of nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them -- and reassuring the mullahs that the US has no "policy of regime change."
The US merely imposed ineffective sanctions on seven Iranian officials, including Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi and Communications Minister Eisa Zarepour, over the shutdown of the internet access and the vicious crackdown on peaceful protesters.
Vahidi has been on Interpol's Red List since 2007 for his participation in the bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on July 18, 1994. It is not difficult to understand that he does not seem likely to have any intention of traveling to the US.
Canada appears to be ambling along the same path. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that his government is taking steps to prevent members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from entering Canada. It is clear that the IRGC's top members will not be travelling to Canada or making investments there. It is unclear what Trudeau's response will be to questions about his soft approach toward Iran.
European and British leaders are still pursuing a policy of appeasement. The EU has limited itself to symbolic actions and issuing statements condemning the Iranian regime's human rights violations. Belgium's foreign minister, for instance, in solidarity with protestors in Iran, cut her hair while the Belgium government also sought to swap prisoners with Tehran. Released was Assadollah Assadi, a staffer of the Iranian embassy in Vienna, who had been given a 20-year prison term by a court in Belgium for organizing a plot to bomb a large rally of an exiled Iranian opposition group in France in 2018.
While the West is unwilling to hold Iran's regime to account, the IRGC, officially designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the US Department of State, does its best to reinstate repression, sparking grave concerns about further bloodshed in Iran and abroad. If that is how Iran treats its own citizens, why would anyone expect it to treat others any better?
Sadly, the US and its allies are still using every diplomatic and political resource to revive the lethal nuclear deal, which would permit the Iranian regime to enrich uranium for an arsenal of nuclear bombs and the missiles to deliver it in just a few years -- all to safeguard the West's economic interests and energy supply, which the US already has in abundance.
President Joe Biden and his foreign policy team's failure in Afghanistan, and their preliminary message to Russian President Vladimir Putin that a "minor incursion" would be acceptable, undermined any credible deterrence to Putin to discourage him from invading Ukraine. Now, the policies of the Biden administration seem to be repeating similar disasters in Iran and Taiwan.
To support the Iranian people, the White House should announce that the Iran nuclear deal will not be revived and end the negotiations – which are not even being conducted by the US, but by Russia - which has most gallantly offered to hold Iran's "excess" enriched uranium, presumably for future use.
Biden also should replace Malley with someone who understands the Iranian regime's malevolence not only to its own people, but to other countries as well, both in the Middle East and throughout Latin America.
Canada needs to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization, as the US did in 2019, and hold Tehran accountable for the shooting down of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752.
The British and European leaders could recall their ambassadors. In addition, since the UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee already recommended designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization, the new government of Prime Minister Liz Truss would do well to support the peaceful protests in Iran and impose punitive measures on the Iranian regime's military and security forces.
Hamid Bahrami is an independent Middle East analyst based in Glasgow, Scotland. He tweets at @HaBahrami