Recognizing the Limitations of American Influence in Iran

February 14, 2018 Topic: Security Region: Middle East Tags: IranProtestsTrumpSanctionsWashington

Recognizing the Limitations of American Influence in Iran

Many people are falsely assuming that the outcome of the protests is centrally dependent on the United States.

Washington should tread very carefully in its statements and actions given that recent reports indicate that there are an increasing number of deaths and continued detentions across dozens of Iranian cities. It must scrupulously avoid the temptation to make the protests about American policy or desired outcomes. These protests are ultimately about the people of Iran and should remain as such. And whether or not they lead to transformative change or eventually fizzle out, just like the movements that have come before them, the underlying and very real grievances, if left unaddressed, are likely to persist and fester under the skin of Iranian society.

Andrew Miller is a former director for Egypt on the National Security Council and current deputy director for policy at the Project on Middle East Democracy and a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Sahar Nowrouzzadeh is a former Director for Iran on the National Security Council staff from 2014-2016 and currently a research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the U.S. government.

Image: An Iranian worker rests in front of a huge portrait of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on a wall near a university during Friday prayers in Tehran February 24, 2012. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl