Basiji-led attack on British Embassy in Tehran shows sanctions are working

As the U.S. and its European allies begin to impose effective sanctions on the Islamic Republic, the Western democracies should anticipate that the regime will initiate more of these fully authorized, staged incidents under the guise of a student movement.

The so-called students who have attacked the British Embassy in Tehran, of course, are plain-clothed Basiji — the mullahs’ paid mercenaries — following orders from the regime. Even Moussa Ghornani, a member of the legal committee of the Iranian Parliament, admitted unwittingly in a statement that “the students who entered the British Embassy yesterday were members of one of the official and effective organizations within the regime.” The Basiji “students” published an announcement in the Raja News (the official news agency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) that railed against the government of Britain because “this evil government had the audacity to sanction our Central Bank.”

The Western democracies should take this incident as evidence that the recently imposed sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) have infuriated the regime. And for good reason. The CBI sanctions will disrupt the smooth flow of revenue to the regime that is essential to pay its loyalists, the Basiji and the Revolutionary Guard Corps leadership. The imposition of CBI sanctions is a major step in the right direction.

Contrary to the regime’s propaganda, the Iranian freedom student movement believes the regime has lost its legitimacy and has called repeatedly for its removal. The Western democracies should not be misled by the regime’s subterfuge. The Iranian freedom student movement seeks a free, democratic and secular Iran. The Confederation of Iranian Students, in particular, has been at the forefront of this fight for basic human rights and freedoms that the Iranian people desperately seek. The Iranian regime, not the average Iranian citizen, is affected by the CBI sanctions and only the imposition of oil sanctions would have a decisive impact on the Islamic Republic.

The imposition of oil sanctions against the Islamic Republic will cut off the lifeblood of the regime, and the revenue essential to meet the payrolls of its domestic security forces, the Basiji and the Revolutionary Guard Corps leadership.

The oil sanctions report prepared by the Confederation of Iranian Students presents a detailed analysis illustrating how a carefully developed and implemented plan — coordinated closely with the Saudi government — could cripple the Iranian regime and avoid shocking international oil markets during the current period of international financial turmoil.

Those seeking an Iran free of the current theocratic dictatorship should strongly support French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s call for international sanctions on the Iranian regime’s oil exports and encourage Congress to adopt bipartisan legislation toward that end.

Amir Abbas Fakhravar is an Iranian dissident, award-winning writer and the recipient of the prestigious Annie Taylor Journalism Award. He is the secretary general of the Confederation of Iranian Students and the president of the Iranian Freedom Institute in Washington, D.C. Currently, Fakhravar serves as a research fellow and visiting lecturer at the Center for the Study of Culture and Security at The Institute of World Politics.