Walid Phares: ‘Second Phase’ of Iran Policy Must Engage, Support Iranian People

Free Iran rally (Angela Weiss / AFP / Getty)
Angela Weiss / AFP / Getty

Middle East analyst Walid Phares told Breitbart News on Monday morning that President Donald Trump’s foreign policy in the Middle East had successfully challenged the repressive Iranian regime, which now faces sweeping nationwide protests.

Whereas President Barack Obama had largely ignored the Iranian protest movement, preserving the regime for the sake of negotiating a flawed nuclear deal, the Trump administration had begun reaching out to the protesters and encouraging them in the wake of the successful airstrike against General Qasem Soleimani.

“Now we have a huge change in foreign policy,” Phares told Breitbart News editor in chief Alex Marlow, host of Breitbart News Daily on Sirius XM 125. “And I would say that the second leg of that foreign policy, which is to engage civil society in Iran, and have them being the real force of societal change, has begun.”

Phares said that Trump had begun doing something that no president since Ronald Reagan had done, “speaking to the Iranian people themselves.”

Trump tweeted in support of the Iranian demonstrators this weekend — even tweeting in Farsi several times. His first tweet in Farsi was reportedly the most-liked Farsi tweet in the history of Twitter, with over 350,000 likes as of Monday morning.

Phares warned that “once we engage in that path, we cannot just … cut a deal, and leave. We are now committed … all the way to the finish. But the central effort is not ours.”

He noted that if the Trump administration emphasized human rights, and enlisted other allies in the effort to pressure the regime, political change from within was possible — despite the efforts of the “apologist media, the media of the Iran deal.”

“What I see right now gives me hope” for the future of the Middle East, he said.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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