Qatar World Cup 2022: The ‘Beautiful’ Game
This world cup should be set in stone as a reminder of failure of our collective conscience where some lives were deemed more important than others.
The FIFA World Cup, scheduled to be hosted in Qatar in December, will undoubtedly be one of the defining events of 2022. This is the only the second World Cup to be held in Asia (the previous one was hosted jointly by South Korea and Japan in 2002). It is also the first world cup to be held in the winter, owing to sweltering summer of Qatar.
FIFA recently announced that within the first twenty days of the sales period, fans had already applied for 17 million World Cup tickets. All in all, the World Cup is expected to draw an estimated 1.5 million foreign visitors to the country, giving Qatar an economic boost close to $20 billion. However, this comes amidst controversies surrounding the world cup, from allegations of Qatar buying votes from voting members of FIFA to be declared hosts in 2010, to the rampant human rights abuse of migrant workers involved in World Cup related projects.
Human Rights situation in Qatar
It is reported that more than 6,500 migrant workers from Nepal, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh have died in Qatar since 2010. The actual fatalities are expected to be higher after taking into account the deaths of workers from other countries such as the Philippines, Nigeria and Kenya. These numbers average around deaths of 12 migrant workers per week for the past 12 years and can be imputed to construction of stadiums, roads, railways, airport and an entirely new city.
This blatant disregard for human rights of migrant workers can be sourced to the kafala system. The kafala is a system of governance of labour that is native to the Middle East. This system grants disproportionate power to the employer (the kafeel) over employment terms by making it mandatory to sponsor any worker before granting them entry into the country. While, technically, all foreign workers require such sponsorship, inequalities exist in the case of ‘migrant workers’ who do not enjoy negotiation powers over their employment contracts (as opposed to high income earning ‘expats’). Additionally, this system obligates workers to obtain permission from their employers if they wish to leave or change their employment or even exit the country (with some employers also requiring their workers to deposit their passports). If the employers report any of the workers for absconding, the workers face may arrest, imprisonment or deportation.
In a place where such an exploitative system is deeply entrenched, abuse of the workers is bound to be commonplace. To this extent, Qatar has emerged as one of the ‘global hotspots’ of modern-day slavery. Workers toil for up to 20 long hours without adequate water in extreme heat.
Workers are often promised high wages prior to their recruitment, however, such contracts are discarded or modified upon arrival in Qatar, and wages are withheld. Their living conditions, in accommodations provided by the employers, are unsanitary and without proper ventilation.
Human rights activists refer to the untimely deaths of many young, able-bodied employees as “unnatural deaths” as a result of a lack of adequate nourishment combined with harsh physical labour in extreme circumstances. Apart from deaths, as a result of working incredibly long hours in extreme heat, thousands of migrant workers who have returned home from Qatar, are diagnosed with chronic kidney ailments with many of them requiring regular dialysis.
As more people and activist groups have voiced their protests against the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar, the government and their spokespersons have played down most of the allegations. The World Cup organizing committee of Qatar has reported mere 38 deaths till date, with a claim that 35 of these deaths were non-work related.
Qatar introduced labour reforms in August 2020, which includes the implementation of a revised minimum wage of 1000 Qatari Riyals (approx. $275) per month. Moreover, this reform abolished the requirement of employers’ approval for workers quitting or changing their jobs, in an aim to cripple the kafala system. The Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA) stated that reforms would be implemented completely in the six months of introducing them. While human rights groups have welcomed these efforts, the implementation has not been as promised. Workers claim that there have been no significant changes in their working conditions and changing jobs or quitting still remains a Herculean task for the migrant workers.
Is Qatar in violation of international law?
In 2018, with pressure from the international community ahead of hosting the World Cup, Qatar finally agreed to ratify two multilateral treaties- the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), two focal instruments in present day international human rights law. Ratification of these treaties imply that Qatar is now legally obligated to guarantee and protect the fundamental human rights for all residing within the country, including that of the migrant workers.
In addition, Qatar is a member of the International Labour Organization and has ratified some key conventions such as the ILO Forced Labour Convention, 1930, and the Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957. The ICESCR guarantees rights to safe working conditions, fair wages, and reasonable working hours, none of which are implemented. Freedom to movement is one of the pivotal guarantees made by the ICCPR, and if implemented in line with the intent of the instrument, no migrant worker can be prevented from returning home, contrary to what has been happening routinely. In light of aforementioned conventions and multilateral treaties, practices that are rampant in Qatar are in gross violation of safeguards that these instruments guarantee.
The liability of FIFA, its sponsors and other stakeholders
The FIFA, a non-profit body, is the highest international governing body of football around the world with 209 member countries. Article 3 of its statute provides that “FIFA is committed to respecting all internationally recognised human rights and shall strive to promote the protection of these rights.”
Back in 1961, FIFA was the first international sporting body that imposed sanctions on South Africa during its apartheid regime, which culminated in South Africa’s global sporting and political isolation.
However, one could argue that FIFA has not maintained the same sanctity of the game given the numerous allegations of corruption made against the body. In 2020, United States Department of Justice claimed that FIFA officials had accepted bribes from Russia and Qatar in exchange for awarding the countries with hosting rights of the World Cup for 2018 and 2022 respectively. The US Department of Justice indicted three senior FIFA officials on counts of bribery. While the decision as to which nation is selected as the host is based on the voting of FIFA member countries, Qatar’s successful bid raised many eyebrows across the globe, mainly due to the fact that the country, at that time, did not have adequate infrastructure to host the world cup.
In July 2019, FIFA admitted to the abuse of human rights committed against the workers in Qatar through a press release and stated that they would undertake an investigation in the matter. In that press release, FIFA alleged a sub-contractor but did not imply any liability on the host state. Activists called upon the sponsors of the World Cup to act on the human rights abuse of the workers in Qatar.
Coca-Cola and Visa, two of the major sponsors of the world cup, each released their statements claiming that they have expressed their concerns to FIFA. Another issue that was raised was that of Qatar’s stance on homosexuality, as it is a criminal offence in the country and can be punishable by death. As a response to these concerns, the World Cup Committee of Qatar announced that it would comply with FIFA rules of promoting tolerance and rainbow flags will be allowed in stadiums at the world cup. However, there has been no change in law of the nation and the stance of the country on homosexuality largely remains the same.
A large number of stakeholders including activists, human right groups and footballers have called for the boycott of the Qatar World Cup with some countries such as Netherlands, Germany and Norway expressing their dissent on the conditions of the workers in Qatar by wearing human rights t-shirts at their games. However, some ten months ahead of the world cup, a boycott seems very unlikely. If no action is taken against Qatar for the rampant disregard for human rights over the past decade, it could set a very dangerous precedent for the future of human rights and football.
The way forward
The 2018 Football World Cup clocked more than 3.5 billion viewers across the world. Given the massive following of the sport, FIFA must demonstrate a high level of accountability to prioritize human rights and other fundamental values over corporate gains. It is imperative that the values of FIFA and the fundamental human rights must be protected throughout the process of hosting the sporting event.
In order to avoid such violations of human rights in the future, workers must be allowed to form trade unions as a matter of right so that they can engage in collective bargaining in a more effective manner. The decision to award the World Cup should not be set in stone and should be made reversible. An independent body must be constituted in which certain seats must be reserved for human rights groups, for effective monitoring and implementation of the applicable international law as well as FIFA values. The said body must be vested with the rights to impose sanctions so that breach of laws can be addressed, with immediate effect.
With around ten months left before the start of the world cup, it is widely expected that the world cup will go ahead as planned. However, the world cup 2022 in Qatar should be remembered as a tainted lesson in history where corporate greed was prioritised over values of humanity and equality. This world cup should be set in stone as a reminder of failure of our collective conscience where some lives were deemed more important than others. Let this world cup be remembered as a moment when the beautiful game did not seem as beautiful anymore.
View Turkey’s Life Following the 2023 Elections
Turkey has just celebrated the victory of its presidential election amidst inflation and also just recovering from the earthquake that occurred some time ago. The vote advantage in this election certainly leaves many pros and cons for the figure of an authoritarian leader in the country that oversaw the Arab Spring revolution. President Erdogan managed to win with only about 52% of the vote based on the results of the incomplete official vote count. This is because almost half of the voters in the deeply divided country do not support Erdogan’s authoritarian vision for Turkey. But in other parts of the world, Erdogan is still a favorite and a role model as a Muslim leader who can lead and last. In essence, no politician or president is truly good and ideal, each has its vices and disgraces. It’s just that the standards of good and bad are judged by time and the needs of the times.
What Erdogan means to Turkey
Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a very influential figure in the Turkish political landscape. He has been a prominent politician in Turkey for over two decades and has held various positions of power, including Mayor of Istanbul, Prime Minister, and now President of Turkey. Throughout his political career, Erdogan has been known for his conservative, nationalist, and Islamist political views.
Erdogan’s leadership has been praised by many for his ability to bring stability and economic growth to Turkey. During his tenure, Turkey has experienced significant economic development, and Erdogan has been credited with spearheading many of the country’s modernization efforts.
However, Erdogan’s leadership has also been criticized for its authoritarian tendencies, with many accusing him of eroding democratic institutions and muzzling opposition voices. In recent years, Turkey has been the subject of international scrutiny for its crackdown on dissent, including the imprisonment of journalists and human rights defenders. Erdogan’s role in Turkish politics is complex and controversial, with opinions on his legacy varying widely depending on one’s political beliefs and values.
A brief biography of the leader
Recep Tayyip Erdogan was born on February 26, 1954 in Rize, Turkey. Before entering politics, he worked as an imam and was active in Islamic organizations. In 1994, he was elected Mayor of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality of the newly established Justice and Development Party (AKP). In 2003, Erdogan was elected Prime Minister of Turkey and became President in 2014. During his tenure, he succeeded in bringing Turkey economic progress and gained widespread support from Turkey’s conservative and Islamist society. However, Erdogan’s leadership has also been criticized for being accused of restricting press freedom and curbing political opposition as well as being associated with human rights violations.
The strengths and weaknesses of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s leadership in Turkish politics have always been a topic of debate among the public and politicians. Here are some examples of the strengths and weaknesses of Erdogan’s leadership:
Strengths of Erdogan’s Reign
Erdogan has managed to create economic stability in Turkey and attract foreign investment to his country.
He has succeeded in removing the ban on women wearing headscarves in Turkish state institutions.
Erdogan has strong support from conservative and Islamist circles in Turkey.
He has built adequate infrastructure in Turkey, such as fast railways and new airports.
Erdogan has successfully introduced education reforms and protected the rights of minorities.
Erdogan has been criticized for being authoritarian and suppressing political opposition, such as the arrest and detention of activists and journalists critical of his government.
He is also accused of restricting media and internet freedom in Turkey, such as shutting down media critical of him and suspecting people active on social media.
Erdogan has played a role in the conflict in Syria, which some say has caused security problems in Turkey.
He is in cahoots with conservatives and Islamists in Turkey and has taken no decisive action to push the country towards modernity.
Erdogan is considered unresponsive to humanitarian issues, such as failing to respond quickly to natural disasters, such as the earthquake in Turkey.
Erdogan in Turkish and Global View
The international community’s view of Recep Tayyip Erdogan varies. Some view him positively and appreciate his success in creating economic stability and modernizing infrastructure in Turkey, while others criticize him for being authoritarian and suppressing political opposition as well as limiting civil liberties and human rights.
Some of Erdogan’s controversial moves, such as granting mosque status back to Hagia Sophia and taking military action against Kurdish terrorists, have created pros and cons in international circles.
In addition, Turkey’s relations with neighboring countries are also sometimes not harmonious. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey, has been involved in several conflicts and disputes with neighboring countries. Here are some of them:
1. Syria: Erdogan has been involved in the Syrian conflict, including supporting rebel groups fighting against the Bashar al-Assad regime. Turkey’s relations with Syria are already not good, however, and Erdogan has also been criticized by some neighboring countries for perceived interference in Syria’s internal affairs.
2. Military Coup in Turkey and Relations with Greece: In 2016, an attempted coup was staged by followers of fethullah gulen in Turkey. Erdogan claimed that Fethullah Gulen fled to neighboring Greece and accused them of refusing to hand over Gulen to Turkey. This conflict caused relations between Turkey and Greece to deteriorate further.
3. Armenia and Azerbaijan border: Erdogan has supported Azerbaijan during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that took place in 2020 and called for the withdrawal of Armenian soldiers from the region. This has worsened Turkey’s relations with Armenia and its relationship with Russia, which mediates the conflict.
4. Libyan conflict: Erdogan has given support to the UN-recognized Libyan government and has denounced the support of the United Arab Emirates and Egypt for giving support to different parties. This has worsened relations between Turkey and these countries.
Erdogan’s conflicts with leaders of neighboring countries have created tensions and worsened bilateral relations. Nevertheless, Turkey remains an important player in global geopolitics and Erdogan continues to be active in international relations including in the role of mediator in various regional and global conflicts.
However, Turkey remains an important country in global geopolitics, and Erdogan continues to be active in international relations, including in the role of mediator in various regional and global conflicts.
Turkey: Glance the Near Future
Following his election victory in 2023, Erdogan’s leadership in Turkey will enter a period that extends his rule after nearly 20 years in office. Here are some of the changes that can be seen in Erdogan’s leadership:
Extension of the term of government: With the victory, Erdogan extends his term as Turkey’s leader. This will allow him to implement a longer and more extensive political and economic agenda.
Consolidation of power: Erdogan’s election victory implies that he still receives strong political support from conservative and Islamist circles. This strengthens his position in allocating power and maintaining political control.
Economic Issues: Erdogan will be faced with the challenge of improving Turkey’s economic situation which still suffers from several problems such as inflation and budget deficit. Consolidation of political power may provide the stability needed for the implementation of economic policies.
Future of Foreign Relations: Erdogan needs to find ways to strengthen Turkey’s relations with several neighboring countries and international organizations. Appropriate foreign policy is needed to maintain stable regional and global relations.
Human rights and civil liberties: There are concerns about the suppression of political opposition, human rights and civil liberties in Turkey. Erdogan needs to take appropriate measures to improve this situation.
Erdogan’s victory in the 2023 election gives him strong political power to carry out the policies and programs of the Turkish government. However, the policies and actions he takes during his leadership will still be monitored and assessed by a number of national and international parties.
It is uncertain whether the future of Turkey will continue under Erdogan’s leadership in the economic atmosphere and post-recovery from natural disasters. But it is likely to be more complex.
Gulf support for Turkey’s Erdogan is about more than economics
When jailed Turkish politician Selahattin Demirtas apologized for his pro-Kurdish party’s poor performance in recent Turkish elections, he did more than take responsibility.
Mr. Demirtas implicitly questioned the notion that Turks vote primarily along ideological and identity lines rather than based on assessing which party will best further their economic and social interests. However, the reality is that all the above shape how Turks vote.
Mr. Demirtas’ Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), running under another party banner due to a potential ban over alleged militant ties, won 8.79 percent in last month’s parliamentary election compared to 11.7 per cent in 2018. Even so, it remains the third-largest party in parliament.
At first glance, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s economic performance suggested that Turks would choose change. Inflation hovers around 44 per cent; the Turkish lira has lost 90 per cent of its value over the last decade and hit a new low a day after Mr. Erdogan’s electoral victory.
In addition, many blame corruption and a failure to enforce building standards for the degree of devastation caused by earthquakes in February in eastern Turkey, parts of which are predominantly Kurdish.
Stunning as those statistics and allegations may be, they tell only part of the story.
Counterintuitively, Mr. Erdogan likely benefitted not only from skills that best come to the fore when he is in a political fight but also from his religiosity, religious lacing of politics, and promotion of greater freedom for public expressions of piety in a country that long sought to restrict them to the private sphere.
Conservative religious women were one major constituency that benefitted economically and socially from Mr. Erdogan’s rollback of Kemalist restrictions that barred women from wearing headscarves in government offices and universities.
“Erdogan is loved that much because he changed people’s lives,” said Ozlem Zengin, a female member of parliament for the president’s Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Similarly, religion may have been one reason voters in earthquake-hit areas favoured the AKP above Mr. Demirtas’ HDP.
Economist Jeanet Sinding Bentzen notes that “individuals become more religious if an earthquake recently hit close by. Even though the effect decreases after a while, data on children of immigrants reveal a persistent effect across generations.”
Economics in mind, some voters questioned whether opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu with his vow to reintegrate Turkey into the Western fold, would have been able to secure badly needed support from Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
After years of strained relations, Saudi and Emirati support for Mr. Erdogan was displayed within days of the Turkish leader’s electoral success.
The UAE ratified a five-year, US$40 billion trade deal with Turkey three days after the vote. ‘This deal marks a new era of cooperation in our long-standing friendship,” said UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani al-Zeyoudi.
Meanwhile, Saudi Aramco, the kingdom’s national oil company, met in Ankara with some 80 Turkish contractors this week to discuss US$50 billion worth of potential projects.
“Aramco wants to see as many Turkish contractors as possible in its projects. They are planning refinery, pipeline, management buildings, and other infrastructure construction that will be worth $50 billion in investment,” said Erdal Eren, head of the Turkish Contractors Association.
In a bow to foreign investors, including Gulf states that increasingly tie aid to recipients’ economic reform policies, Mr. Erdogan on Saturday named Mehmet Simsek, a widely respected former banker and deputy prime minister and finance minister, as his new treasury and finance minister.
Foreign investors and analysts saw the appointment of Mr. Simsek, an advocate of conventional economic policies, as a sign that Mr. Erdogan may shift away from his unorthodox refusal to raise interest rates that fueled inflation and an exodus of foreign money.
In addition to stabilizing the economy, Mr. Erdogan faces challenges funding reconstruction in earthquake-hit areas as well as northern Syria as part of an effort to facilitate the return of refugees.
With 3.7 million registered refugees, Turkey is home to the largest Syrian exile community. Anti-migrant sentiment and pledges to return refugees were important in last month’s election campaigns. Refugee return is also part of the Gulf states’ renewed engagement with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In a twist of irony, Gulf support for Mr. Erdogan, despite his Islamist leanings, may be driven as much by economics as geopolitics.
At a time when the UAE and Saudi Arabia adopt positions at odds with the policies of the United States, the region’s security guarantor, they may see Mr. Erdogan as an increasingly important partner irrespective of whether the Gulf states’ moves constitute a genuine policy shift or merely a pressure tactic to persuade the US to be more attentive to their concerns.
Like the two Gulf states, Mr. Erdogan, despite Turkey’s NATO membership, has pursued an independent foreign policy involving close ties to Russia and a military intervention in Syria that impacts Gulf efforts to drive a wedge between Syria and Iran.
In its latest charting of an independent course, the UAE said it was pulling out of a US-led maritime security force, the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).
Led by a US admiral, the CMF groups 38 countries, including Saudi Arabia, in a bid to halt Iranian attacks on commercial ships, weapons smuggling, and piracy.
The UAE said its withdrawal was part of an assessment of “effective security cooperation” in the Middle East.
However, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and his Emirati counterpart, Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, did not mention a UAE withdrawal in a joint statement on Friday after talks in Washington.
“Sheikh Tahnoon praised the United States’ strong security and defense partnership with the UAE. Mr. Sullivan confirmed the US commitment to deterring threats against the UAE and other US partners while also working diplomatically to de-escalate conflicts and reduce tensions in the region,” the statement said.
Moreover, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will meet in Saudi Arabia this week with his Gulf Cooperation Council counterparts, including the UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan.
At the same time, various Iranian and other media quoted a Qatari news website, Al Jadid, saying that China was facilitating talks between the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Iran to create a joint naval force to enhance maritime security in the Gulf.
The report did not clarify whether China would play an active role in the force or whether participation would be limited to Middle Eastern states.
Iranian naval commander Rear Admiral Shahram Irani discussed plans for a joint maritime force on local television but did not mention Chinese involvement.
In a first response, CMS and US Fifth Fleet spokesman Commander Tim Hawkins dismissed the notion of maritime forces that includes Iran. ““It defies reason that Iran, the number one cause of regional instability, claims it wants to form a naval security alliance to protect the very waters it threatens,” Mr. Hawkins said.
Nevertheless, the force, if created, could cast a different light on Emirati and Saudi efforts to boost Mr. Erdogan.
Taken together, the UAE’s alleged withdrawal from the US-led CMF, the creation of a China-associated alternative force, and support for Mr. Erdogan would signal a Gulf willingness to take greater responsibility for the region’s security.
It would also indicate a qualitative change in Chinese engagement in the Middle East following the China-mediated agreement in March between Saudi Arabia and Iran that restored diplomatic relations.
Turkey has been conspicuously absent in discussions about Gulf security even though it is a regional powerhouse with a battle-hardened military, an expanding homegrown defence industry, and regional ambitions. The UAE and Saudi Arabia account for 40 per cent of Turkish arms exports.
Turkey first proposed establishing a military base in Saudi Arabia in 2015, two years before the kingdom and the UAE initiated a 3.5-year-long diplomatic and economic boycott of Qatar that was lifted in 2021. The Gulf states demanded, among others, that Qatar halt military cooperation with Turkey and shut down a Turkish military base populated by Turkish forces at the beginning of the boycott.
“If the current trend of US detachment from the region continues, and Turkey’s rising regional posture keeps moving in a forward direction, Ankara may have an opportunity to fortify its position in the Gulf,” said Middle East scholar Ali Bakir.
Wanted: A Democracy Assistance Strategy for Iran
At the second Summit for Democracy, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken underscored the importance of advancing gender equality and women’s participation worldwide, including by commending the brave women of Iran for fighting for “woman, life, and freedom.” Yet, the people of Iran continue to face brutal repression as the Islamic Republic kills, tortures, arrests and assaults Iranians who are fighting for basic rights.
Iran has seen a sharp rise in human rights violations over the past seven months, when protests erupted across the country—sparked by the death of Mahsa Zhina Amini, a young Kurdish Iranian who died in the custody of the morality police for an “improper hijab.” These protests have trained a spotlight on deep societal grievances fostered by over four decades of persecution, oppression and impunity which cannot be reversed by the regime’s crackdown. The Islamic Republic now faces a dire crisis of legitimacy.
Although the United States has taken some steps to support the democratic movement in Iran, including by expressing solidarity with the demonstrators, the time has come for a more active stance in supporting those risking their lives to promote change by helping opposition leaders and providing assistance to pro-democracy forces to enable them to advance peace and human rights in Iran. Working through the State Department, USAID and independent NGOs, the U.S. can draw on existing resources and experience on promoting peaceful, political transitions to help democratic activists articulate their vision of a democratic future.
To begin with, the U.S. government should amplify and support the opposition leaders in developing a united vision for Iran’s future. Momentum for change has found footing as opposition leaders collaborate to establish a new political identity that rests on the principles of democracy, secularism, and human rights. This has also taken shape in inclusion, which is a first step in enshrining the principles of human rights, inclusion and a secular democracy.
The U.S. should seize this opportunity to provide dialogue platforms for opposition leaders and activists inside Iran to work across divides to refine their strategy, key policy priorities and their vision for democratic transformation. This could also entail providing technical assistance to Iranian activists on issues of peace, democracy, and governance. International support for the opposition as a legitimate alternative to the regime could reinvigorate hope among the protestors in Iran, while helping activists become better organized around clear goals could maximize the chance of a democratic breakthrough.
The U.S. government should adopt a long-term strategy and start planning how to support a democratic Iran, in line with USAID’s emphasis on supporting “bright spots” and leveraging the momentum of democratic openings. Given that protest movements and political transitions alike sometimes stall or encounter barriers, the U.S. should maintain flexibility as it anticipates and supports a democratic breakthrough. Whether the regime falls in the next few months or years, the U.S. should be prepared to provide assistance that empowers the Iranian people to build a new democratic foundation. This could include assisting an interim government, preparing leaders to govern, supporting political party development, codifying inclusion in a legal framework, mitigating the impacts of spoilers and managing security sector reform.
In designing these plans for assistance, policymakers should take care to encourage an inclusive approach that recognizes the rights and priorities of youth, women, ethnic, religious, sexual, and racial minorities. Under the Islamic Republic, these groups currently face extreme forms of discrimination, persecution and violations of human rights. After decades of oppression, women and youth are at the forefront of the uprising today—the U.S. should amplify their messages and support the fight for women’s rights as part of its policy objectives.
Minimizing the risk of elite capture and maximizing public participation will be critical to unifying the Iranian opposition, as well as helping ensure that inclusion is featured in a long-term vision for democracy in the country. This should include mitigating backlash from elite and dominant groups by educating and informing the public of the benefits of expanding political participation to include women and ethnic, religious, sexual, and racial minorities.
Advancing democracy and governance in any country is a long-term endeavor, and in Iran it would be no different. If the democratic movement in Iran were to succeed, it would represent an extraordinarily consequential event in the global fight for democracy. As President Biden has said, “We’re at an inflection point in history, where the decisions we make today are going to affect the course of our world for the next several decades.” Enabling the Iranian people to lead the way in defining the future of democracy in their country could impact the future for decades to come. The U.S. should stand on the right side of history.
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