Reports are piling up about the Iranian regime's destructive meddling in the region. Lebanon's prime minister has resigned, citing growing Iranian influence through Hezbollah. Bahrain said iran terrorism was behind an explosion at a major oil pipeline on Friday. And US officials say that a ballistic missile fired by pro-Iran militias in Yemen toward the Saudi capital bore "Iranian markings." So dangerous were the regime's regional adventures that France suggested on Monday that new sanctions could be imposed on Iran over its ballistic missile program.

Growing domestic unrest

Iran depends on its regional meddling as a show of force, intimidating neighbors and warning global leaders to back off. But events at home tell a very different story. Growing domestic unrest has plagued the regime and reveals to the international community the biggest chink in Iran’s armor.

That chink was on display on October 29th, as the regime launched a massive crackdown to prevent a planned gathering marking International Cyrus Day, in memory of the ancient Persian emperor known to be the author of the world's first human rights charter. His choice by the people was not accidental, and Tehran officials got the message. Reports indicate the government deployed more than 6,000 Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), Basij and Intelligence Ministry agents to prevent the gathering from getting out of control.

Further Domestic unrest surfaced in the growing number of protests by ordinary investors who discovered their life savings in state-run institutions had been plundered. The Iranian regime has usurped billions from ordinary people’s investments to fuel its wars across the region. After 38 years, this has left the Iranian people in dire straits.

Rampant corruption and pervasive mismanagement add to the problem, leaving little hope for any improvement in economic or social conditions.

Poverty and executions

“The middle-class in Iran has been all but extinguished,” a report by Iran Human Rights Monitor indicates, adding that a majority of Iran’s 80-million populace currently lives in poverty.

City walls are filled with hand-scrawled advertisements by people willing to sell various body parts, such as kidneys for $2,000, to survive.

Protests are mushrooming in cities across the country, responded to by the regime with arrests and other harsh measures. The per capita rate of executions in Iran is the world’s highest. Self-described “moderate” president Hassan Rouhani is known to have carried out over 3,100 executions during his tenure. Tehran’s human rights violations include issuing long prison terms for dissent, torture, public hangings and even mass executions. Yet, political prisoners are bravely challenging this system.

The theocracy is also widely known for its practice of repressing ethnic and religious minorities, involving persecution, discrimination, and cultural and economic marginalization.

Iran cannot but resort to such measures, knowing it lacks all social support. When Rouhani’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that all Iranians are supporters of the murderous Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (after Washington imposed sanctions on the IRGC), thousands of Iranian citizens reacted angrily in social media, rejecting Zarif's abhorrent claim.

End of policy of engagement

Developments across the globe in the past year or so have given Iranians hope that the times are changing. For eight years, the ruling regime fed off the engagement policy adopted by the Obama administration, which turned a blind eye to the domestic crackdowns and foreign meddling. To their dismay, President Obama turned his back on Iran’s people during the 2009 uprisings, in contrast to the expressions of support and solidarity they have received from the current administration under president Trump.

This is a welcome change.

On three different opportunities, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has voiced the Iranian people’s desire for freedom.“There are strong feelings and values inside of Iran that we want to promote in terms of one day the Iranian people being able to retake control of their government,” he said during his recent trip to India.

In the United Nations General Assembly and in his October 13th Iran policy speech, President Trump sent a message of unity, describing Iran’s population as the primary victims of the regime’s atrocities. “We stand in total solidarity with the Iranian regime’s longest-suffering victims: its own people. The citizens of Iran have paid a heavy price for the violence and extremism of their leaders.

The Iranian people long to -- and they just are longing, to reclaim their country’s proud history, its culture, its civilization, its cooperation with its neighbors,” the President said.

That longing is being expressed on a daily basis, as the Iranian people give voice to their discontent and anger in protests, demonstrations, and messages of dissent on banned social media platforms. It is time for the international community to stand up and stand with them. That is the regime's worst nightmare.