Former United States President Barack Obama admitted Friday that he made a “mistake” by not supporting the Iranian people’s 2009 Green Movement in their march against the Islamic Republic. The former president admits the failure to support the last major movement against Iran’s government as massive protests continue to rock Iran, now into a fifth week.
Speaking to the Pod Save America podcast, Obama described the lack of public support from his administration for the 2009 protests as a missed opportunity to back the democratic and freedom-seeking dreams of the Iranian people.
“In retrospect, I think that was a mistake. Every time we see a flash, a glimmer of hope, of people longing for freedom, I think we have to point it out. We have to shine a spotlight on it. We have to express some solidarity about it,” said Obama.
The former President also noted the “deep dissatisfaction with the Iranian regime,” noting that Iranian women have been subjugated under a series of cruel discrimination and laws exercised by the state, making them fed up and tired of the regime.
When asked whether or not the current uprisings ignited by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Islamic morality police will result in regime change, Obama stated that it is “hard to predict.”
Looking back at the situation in 2009 and 2010, Obama noted the huge debate inside his administration about whether he should “publicly affirm” the Green Movement. Obama stated that the activists were “accused of being tools of the West” and that some that the administration would undermine their movement if he made public statements of support.
“Our moral response to the incredible courage that is taking place in Iran and those women and girls who are on the streets knowing that they’re putting themselves in harm’s way to speak truth to power” is “to affirm what they do and I hope that it brings about more space for the kind of civic conversation that over time can take the country down a better path,” said Obama.
In response to Obama’s statements, many users on social media argued that the former President was too late to condemn the regime and his actions in 2009. Many users noted that Obama and his administration created a nuclear agreement that allowed the mullahs to have economic sanctions relief to support their oppressive rule against the Iranian people.
Others on social media were surprised to see Obama issue statements of regret and now call on the Biden administration to cease any future negotiations with the regime over its nuclear program.
Since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Islamic morality police, many Iranian Americans and experts have called on the Biden administration not to take the same steps the Obama administration did during the 2009 Green Revolution. Many Iranian Americans have particularly called on President Biden to fire his Iranian envoy, Robert Malley, given his commitment to finalize a nuclear agreement with Iran.
Human rights groups, pro-Iranian democracy groups, and lawmakers have called on the President to support the protests and enact economic sanctions against the regime to punish them for their crackdowns. The outcries over the ongoing situation in Iran have pushed the administration to back away from its priority in getting another nuclear deal.
Over the last five weeks, the administration’s stance on the nuclear deal has weakened while its public support for Iran’s protesters has has become louder. More and more Iranian experts are calling on the President and other Western countries to rally behind protesters and to expel regime officials and their family members currently working and living in Europe and America.