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Beyond Iran sanctions: Iran's failing legitimacy

Sanctions on Iran should be a secondary issue for the International community. The priority should be challenging the moral and political legitimacy of violence by the Iranian state against its own citizens.

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As necessary as sanctions may be in thwarting Iran’s nuclear program, they are a secondary issue. Challenging the moral and political legitimacy of violence by the Iranian state against its own citizens ought to be the urgent priority of the international community.

After enduring a year of extraordinary cruelty, solidarity with those struggling for democracy and human rights is every bit as critical as sanctions aimed at Iran’s rulers.

The Iranian presidential elections, which took place on June 12 2009, changed the destiny of the Islamic Republic. The unprecedented protests that followed the elections presented serious challenges not only to the political credibility of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the president of Iran, but also to the moral status of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his legitimacy as the supreme leader of the Revolution.

The public anger and the ensuing infighting among the founding architects of the Revolution, have presented the most serious challenge to Iran’s clerical regime since it replaced the Shah in 1979. Those among the reformists who believed that the system allowed scope for reform found themselves face-to-face with an authoritarian structure that used extreme violence to ensure its political survival. Others, who dared to speak out for their civic rights risked imprisonment, torture, rape, and execution. The intensified crackdowns on journalists, intellectuals, students, and women activists indicate just how determined the Iranian regime is to secure its political future.

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