Iran protests: Why is Europe bailing out the ruling regime now?

Iranians protesting their repressive government need to know the world supports them.

Iranians have been protesting their regime since last month. Only in the last few days, however, has the world begun to learn the full scope of the repression they face.

There are the videos posted to social media and aggregated by news sites that show security forces firing on demonstrators. There are statements from leading Iranian opposition figures such as Mir Hossein Mousavi, one of the leaders of the 2009 uprising who has been under house arrest since 2011. There are headlines reading, “With Brutal Crackdown, Iran Is Convulsed by Worst Unrest in 40 Years.” There is the report from Amnesty International saying that at least 208 people have been killed.

So it’s puzzling that America’s European allies chose last weekend to announce that six more countries are joining a bartering system, known as Instex, designed to evade the U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil. Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden announced Saturday they were joining France, Germany and the U.K..

“Do they think we don’t see what is happening in Iran?” asked Alireza Nader, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who is closely tracking the unrest. “To push Instex at this moment reveals a remarkable lack of attention to human rights. I hope they come to their senses.” …

But corruption is only part of the story. Iran also diverts its wealth to its foreign interventions. The U.S. State Department estimated in 2018 that Iran has spent $18 billion since 2012 in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, including paying the salaries of thousands of non-Iranian militia fighters. Iranians know this, too. A popular slogan among protesters is: “No Gaza, No Lebanon, Our Lives Are for Iran.”

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