Keep an eye on Iran

We have much reason to be hopeful about the recent uprisings in the Middle East, but our optimism should be guarded. While revolutions there have dispensed of murderous regimes and are likely to cause the downfall of several more, they undeniably have created dangerous power vacuums, which can be exploited by radical forces such as the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaida.
If radical forces take control, human rights will suffer. The freedom protesters yearn for will be denied in favor of a twisted interpretation of Islam that promotes terror, tyranny and no freedom of expression.
But these recent changes in the Middle East also mark a new era of opportunity for America. The U.S. should aid Middle East opposition groups and take steps necessary to facilitate the growth of secular democracies that promote religious tolerance, freedom of expression and fair elections âÄî all necessary components of any stable, modern state. Peace treaties that have been proven to save lives âÄî including IsraelâÄôs treaties with Jordan and Egypt âÄî must be maintained despite any political cost.
Most importantly, these uprisings should be a wake-up call that IranâÄôs nuclear program must be stopped. The blood-stained Arab streets are an indication of what happens when tyrannical regimes feel threatened. Yet none of the Arab countries subject to protests in the past few weeks have possessed a nuclear weapon. LetâÄôs not find out what happens if IranâÄôs murderous leaders get the bomb. We only need to remember what happened in the summer of 2009 as an indication of the destruction this regime is capable of causing.
President Barack Obama was right in signing the overwhelmingly bipartisan Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act last summer. But he needs to make the transition from words to deeds and begin sanctioning companies that are still doing business with Iran.
Isolating Iran is a necessary strategy in the global quest to stop nuclear proliferation, and unless the president begins to step up the pressure, we risk the entire threat of sanctions collapsing like a house of cards. That would be a fatal blow to the hope of a democratic Middle East and potentially a nail in the coffin of IranâÄôs opposition green movement. If peace is our goal, the time to ramp up the pressure on Iran is now.