US Congress moves to tighten screws on regime

Sen Kirk croppd

The United States Congress is taking bipartisan moves toward tightening the screws on the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Lawmakers have introduced legislation that they say is based on the successful precedent of supporting dissidents in the Soviet Union – a policy that was crucial to helping the Communist system collapse on itself. The legislation, cosponsors say, is merely a component of a far more comprehensive strategy to be introduced in Congress later this month.

Yesterday, lawmakers in both houses introduced the Iran Human Rights and Democracy Promotion Act, which is designed to make support for Iranian dissidents an official part of US foreign policy. The bill would also target the repressive structures of the regime and complicate their ability to travel and move money internationally.

Co-sponsor Senator Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) calls the bill a human rights component of the larger Iran bill to be introduced by congressional leaders later this month. The lawmakers’ explicit goal is to promote “regime change” in Iran.

The Senate version of the bill would also create a special representative on human rights and democracy in Iran, according to the Washington Times.

However, the bill falls far short of the oil sanctions needed to choke off the regime’s financial lifeline. That shortcoming could change, however, since Democrats and Republicans are calling the Obama policy “weak” and increasingly calling on a tightening of the embargo of Iranian state-controlled oil. A recent Heritage Foundation event called for “targeting the choke points” of the Iranian state-controlled sectors of the economy to help bring down the regime.

Senators Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) and Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-New York) introduced the legislation on the Senate side, with Congressmen Robert J. Dold (R-Illinois) and Ted Deutch (D-Florida) introducing the bill in the House.

Congressman Deutch is co-chairman of the bipartisan Congressional Free Iran Task Caucus, whose formation he announced in January at the Iran Democratic Transition Conference sponsored by the Confederation of Iranian Students.

Iranian opposition groups and human rights advocates are praising the legislation, and hoping that the law, if enacted, will prompt the United States and other countries to tighten the Iranian economy further.

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