On Sept. 22, I testified to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs regarding the abuse of human rights in Iran and Syria. The wide-scale human rights abuses we are witnessing in these countries are atrocious, but they are certainly not new. The abuses perpetrated by Bashar al-Assad's Syria and Ali Khamenei's Iran stretch back for years and are a key element in those regimes' system of authoritarian control over their people. The Iranian and Syrian regimes have, in an effort to establish and maintain this control, cultivated illusions of democracy, prosperity, and stability which are belied by the underlying realities of these countries. The great achievement of both the Iranian and Syrian opposition is to have shattered these illusions, which neither regime will easily be able to reconstruct. Looking ahead, the U.S. should do all it can to assist opposition activists in both Iran and Syria to break the control exerted by their regimes. Whether in Iran or in Syria, preventing human rights abuses necessarily means supporting democracy.
You can read my entire written testimony here.
ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images