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Biden Administration Faces Criticism for Slow Response as Iran Protests Continue


As Iranians young and old continue to flood the streets in peaceful protest against the Islamic Republic, many have pointed out that President Joe Biden and the United States State Department have not done enough to support their cause.  

What began as grievances over the price of bread and a cut in state-owned food subsidies has now escalated into a full-steamed political movement met with deadly violence and aggression by the Islamic Republic. Five protesters have been killed by regime forces over the past week.

Through videos captured on mobile phones and uploaded to social media and messaging apps, protesters have been able to gain support from individuals all throughout the world in describing the current situation in Iran.  

People have taken to the streets chanting death to the Supreme Leader and praising the country’s former monarch, the Shah of Iran. Iranian women have taken to the streets to protest for political freedoms, burning posters of Khamenei and chanting death to his regime. 

At the same time, the State Department’s Iranian page on Instagram and Twitter did not make mention of the protests and merely posted about national parks and spin classes. This prompted members of Congress, pro-democratic groups, and experts to criticize the administration’s silence.  

In response to such outcry, the U.S. State Department’s spokesperson, Ned Price, took to social media to convey support for the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression without fear of violence and reprisal. Both President Biden and Vice President Harris have not said anything about the protests. 

The Islamic Republic has responded to the protests by sending the Revolutionary Guards Corps and its security forces throughout the country to suppress the protests using live ammunition and batons. In smaller towns and cities, Basij headquarters have fallen to the protesters who have no arms to fight back against the regime forces and are using whatever they can to fight.  

While the protests began in small cities and towns outside of Tehran, they soon grew larger with Iranians taking to the streets and calling for freedom and the downfall of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his subordinates.  

For many, this round of protests is igniting memories of the Obama Administration’s handling of the Green Revolution protests in 2009 over the controversial and rigged presidential election between the Islamic Republic’s favored candidate, former Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) official Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the reformer candidates Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi. The protesters, composed of newer and older generations of Iranians, took to the streets in massive droves to protest not only the results of the election, but against the Islamic Republic in its entirety. In response to the protests, the Islamic Republic under Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei responded by brutally suppressing the protesters using the IRGC’s Security Forces. 

While the protests were praised by people all throughout the world on social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook, the response from the U.S. under the Obama administration was not as strong as many had hoped it would be. Before and during the protests, the Obama administration was engaged in negotiations with the President Ahmadinejad and his administration over Iran’s nuclear production, causing concern from many that President Obama was ignoring the regime’s brutal behavior against its citizens and its terrorist activities abroad. When the Islamic Republic began brutally suppressing protesters, President Obama and his officials simply condemned the regime’s actions but did nothing to punish the mullahs for their actions. 

When asked whether the current situation in Iran with the Biden administration mirrors President Obama’s response to the Green Revolution protests, Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum stated that it “exactly does” and that the U.S. “does not want to upset the Iranian regime because getting the JCPOA signed remains its priority.” 

Ever since coming into office, President Biden and his officials have vowed to return the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran, regardless of any other missteps by the regime. While protests have been building up in Iran, the administration has ignored or given noticeably light statements on the subject to not upset the negotiations with Iranian officials. Iranian pro-democracy groups and members of Congress have condemned the Biden administration’s silence on Iranian protests, arguing that the President and his team are more focused on getting a deal done with the Islamic Republic instead of addressing the prominent issue of freedom in Iran. 

“The U.S. must support Iran’s protesters with money and arms to defend against the Islamic Republic and its soldiers,” Pipes said.   

Pipes also believes that members of Congress must also show their support for the protests through speeches and passing legislation to send money and arms regardless of whether the Biden administration acts. 

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