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The Mahsa Act, a bipartisan Iran sanction bill and urgent game changer

A mural of Mahsa Amini by artist Scott Marsh is seen in Alexandria, Sydney, Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (Photo: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

The Mahsa Act was introduced on Jan. 27, 2023, by Senators Rubio and Padilla to impose maximum sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran's “Supreme Leader,” President, and others, for their human rights abuses and support of terrorism. The bill passed in the House of Representatives on September 12 with an overwhelming 410 votes in favor. It should be supported by all Americans.

Iran’s “Supreme Leader” holds ultimate authority over the judiciary and all security in the country. He is also the leader of the “Axis of Resistance,” through whose proxies the United States and its allies and partners are attacked worldwide. The bill sanctions Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security, the law enforcement arm of the Interior Ministry, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Basij (a nationwide paramilitary group), all of which engage in human rights abuses. The IRGC, a United States-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, reports to the “Supreme Leader,” perpetrating terrorism around the globe, including attempts to kill and kidnap American citizens.

Unfortunately, despite being passed overwhelmingly in Congress the bill has been blocked in the Senate by Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who has refused to advance it to become law. Despite a campaign by Iranian American activists in favor of the bill, along with wider support, on December 21, Senator Cardin’s office told the Iranian activists, “At this time, our office will not be moving forward with this bill.” 

Supporting the Mahsa Act is not just critical for America, but for the world.

Senator Cardin’s blocking the bill raises many questions. Does it relate to the Biden administration policy of appeasing Iran, lifting sanctions instead of making them more severe? Enabling a terrorist regime that has never stopped repeating “Death to America,” “Death to Israel” and seeking the destruction of our country and our allies? 

Unfortunately, since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iranians are fighting on two fronts for their freedom. One front is against the murderous regime in Iran domestically. The second front is against those who have been exported by the regime, planted in places of influence in the West, infiltrating our politics and policies. The Islamic regime is the common enemy of America, Iranians, Israel, and nations all around the world. Its aim is to impose its dangerous revolutionary ideology globally. 

Like a cancer, the Islamic regime has metastasized evil throughout the Middle East, Europe, and America with its radical Islamic ideology. After the brutal and inhuman Hamas attack on Israel, which was backed by the Iranian regime, it’s evident how many were deceived by the actual nature of its Islamist perpetrators. 

During the 2009 Green Revolution, Iranians were betrayed by President Obama who sent billions of dollars in cash to the regime, billions used to kill Iranians and fund the regime’s terrorist proxies.  As a death row prisoner in Iran then, I witnessed first-hand the result of such a dangerous policy. In 2009, when Iranians had their best hope for freedom, countless protesters were arrested, tortured, and murdered as a result of Obama’s betrayal. 

Since the brutal 2022 murder of Mahsa Amini, the Biden administration has been repeating the same mistake by appeasing the terrorist regime. Her murder led to massive protests in Iran, and gave rise to the global "Woman-Life-Freedom" movement.  As noted in the Mahsa Act, since then the oppressive regime has killed over 700 protestors, deliberately blinded over 580 civilians, gassed 5,000-7,000 schoolgirls, and imprisoned over 22,000 peaceful protestors including children while subjecting them to rape and electrocution. Furthermore, the regime executed more than 684 in 2023 alone, including one juvenile and 16 women, the second-highest rate of executions in the world after China, and the highest rate of executions of women worldwide.

Despite this, last year President Biden decided to release billions of dollars in frozen funds, what Iranians call the #IranRansomDeal. If the Biden administration wants to protect American interests, support Iranians, and put an end to the regime’s using global terror as its currency, it must support the Mahsa Act and impose maximum sanctions on the regime. If the bloody Hamas slaughter taught the world anything is that Islamist terrorists cannot be negotiated with but, rather, must be defeated. As a Democratic leader, Senator Cardin should not just push the bill forward, but enthusiastically support it.

It is urgent to pass the Mahsa Act to cripple the regime’s domestic and international threats. Sanctioning the Islamic regime’s leaders will also loosen their terrorist grip and abilities, and weaken their agents and proxies. This matters to America as the regime and IRGC has attacked US troops through their proxies at least 77 times since October 2023. Their self-proclaimed aims for destroying Israel as well as the United States, expanding their nuclear weapons capabilities, and exporting their extremist and militant ideologies, pose significant threats to our national security, regional stability, and global peace.

Another important aspect of the Mahsa Act is that it will strengthen the US position among what are known as our moderate Arab allies. These are typically Sunni Moslem nations that are threatened overtly and indirectly by the evil and extremist Shia Islam represented by the Iranian regime and its proxies. The threats have been going on for years, but most recently with the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen blocking international shipping, many Arab states have skin in the game as never before. America needs to be a strong ally to them, otherwise risks pushing them into the arms of China or other hostile entities. 

The threat to Americans is real. The regime is the leading state sponsor of terror worldwide, providing more than $700 million to Hezbollah, $100 million to Hamas and hundreds of millions more to Yemeni Houthis and other militia in Syria and Iraq. The regime openly supplies Russia with war weapons for use against innocent Ukrainians. It is not a rational actor and cannot be reasoned with. 

As much as the Islamic regime has proxies in the Middle East, sadly it also has proxies in the United States as well. NIAC (the National Iranian American Council) is a group of Iranian Americans who always lobby for the regime and have many connections in the White House and other political leaders, trying to influence politicians and policies on behalf of the regime. 

NIAC is creating obstacles for the Mahsa Act, using arguments that are so baseless that it’s impossible not to question with whom their loyalty lies. Rest assured; it is not with the well-being of the United States. This is all the more reason the bill must be brought to a vote, and passed. No good can come out of Islamic regime agents influencing American policies.  

Supporting the Mahsa Act is essential for America and its allies to bring peace to the Middle East, and eliminate Iran’s terrorist threats worldwide.  America must stand with Israel, and with Iranians, who are fighting against the Islamic regime throughout the region and across Iran. More than 80 million Iranians are America’s allies, opposing the regime at great personal risk. They are ready to cut the head of this malignant octopus, and its tentacles. America must lead to defeat this extremist ideology that has spread all around the world. The Mahsa Act is urgent for America, and the world. 

All Americans should support this legislation that isolates the terrorist Islamic regime economically, holds them accountable, ceases their influence in our country, and gives maximum support to the Iranian people who are seeking freedom and a secular democracy. February 11 is the anniversary of the Islamic regime in Iran. Now is the time to act firmly by supporting the Mahsa Act. 

Americans of all backgrounds need to tell our politicians to stop the policy of appeasement and enabling the Islamic regime. We need to tell them that applying maximum sanctions on the regime is in all our interests. We must cripple the regime’s economy, and eliminate its global funding of terrorists.

Americans of all backgrounds, who love and care about our beautiful country should call and email their senators, telling them to tell Senator Cardin to advance the bill. 

Let us not allow the Mahsa Act, like innocent Mahsa Amini who was murdered in 2022, to die without putting maximum pressure on the Islamic regime. The bill is urgent for the United States, Iran and the world. 

Marziyeh Amirizadeh is an Iranian American who immigrated to the US after being sentenced to death in Iran for the crime of converting to Christianity.  She endured months of mental and physical hardships and intense interrogation. She is author of two books (the latest, A Love Journey with God), public speaker, and activist for religious freedom. She has shared her inspiring story throughout the United States and around the world, to bring awareness about the ongoing human rights violations and persecution of women and religious minorities in Iran.

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