Our Allies in Iran - New York Times:
"Iran's modern middle class, which is increasingly urbanized, wired and globally connected, provides particularly fertile soil for these aspirations. The Stanford University scholar Abbas Milani has described Iran's middle class as a 'Trojan horse within the Islamic republic, supporting liberal values, democratic tolerance and civic responsibility.' And so long as that class grows, so too will the pressure for democratic change.
If Mr. Ahmadinejad's foreign policy results in further global economic isolation or military intervention, however, the situation for Iran's democracy-minded middle class could deteriorate. Foreign hostility will furnish additional pretexts for the regime to frighten its people and crack down on dissent. Particularly if the European Union decides to participate in a tougher sanctions regime, liberal-minded Iranians will lose contact with the foreign investors, educators, tourists and businessmen who link them to the outside world.
Now more than ever, middle-class and other democracy-minded Iranians need to preserve and expand their network of institutions independent from the government - institutions in which they can take refuge from the rapacious hardliners who seek to control all aspects of Iranian life. That network should include a strong private sector; a rich array of nongovernmental organizations dealing with issues like poverty, women's rights and youth unemployment; and social, intellectual and cultural associations that communicate with counterparts abroad.
Unfortunately, United States sanctions now prevent any American person or group from financially supporting, say, a microfinance bank, a program to train future political leaders or even an education initiative for rural women in Iran. That is a mis- take. Elsewhere in the Middle East, the United States has programs that provide exactly these kinds of grants, in the name of democratization."