The Challenges President Trump Faces from Iran's Malign Act
Almost seven months have passed since President Trump received the keys to the White House, which forced him to address a series of wrong policies of past presidents.
Dealing with Iran's malign behaviors and destabilizing activities is one of the these challenges.
During the presidential campaign, President Trump described the nuclear deal with Iran, famously known as the Join Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as a disastrous agreement. He argued that the deal did not completely limit Iran's ability to make nuclear weapons. Appeasers of the Iranian regime and proponents of dialogue accused him of disregarding the reality and the advantages of the deal.
But comments from senior Iranian regime officials last week showed that all propaganda against critics of the JCPOA were dishonest and inappropriate slogans.
In a speech, the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, threatened that if the U.S. imposed new sanctions on Iran, his country will turn its nuclear program in a matter of hours to where it was before 2015.
Considering this threat, who can guarantee that Tehran will not surreptitiously abandon the deal.
Rightfully at the same time, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Hale asked officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) if Iran's military sites need to be inspected because past experience show that the regime in Tehran is able to bypass any scrutiny and is not to be trusted.
She pointed out to this fact by saying that “Iran is a country that has a clear history of lying and pursuing covert nuclear program."
Both Rouhani and the Supreme Leader know that President Trump reluctantly recertified Tehran’s compliance with the deal for a second time earlier this year. This was due to Tehran’s ability to skilfully maneuver between existing American and European disagreements about the deal. In the other words, the theocracy in Tehran has consistently prolonged its grip on power by capitalizing on international conflicts, especially disagreements between Western democracies and allies.
Now, why are the Iranian authorities trying to show a united front at home, which was indicated by President Rouhani's new cabinet? The answer should be in understanding its deceptive policy. Actually following a good cop/bad cop routine, Iran pretends that there are significant differences between the so-called moderates and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Indeed this trick does not deceive the U.S. but apparently cajoles the European Union into embracing Tehran’s empty economic promises. Consequently, one must ask the EU, how it wants to trade with Iran while nearly 70 percent of its economy is in IRGC's hands, a paramilitary force that seen as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. Congress.
Apparently, these EU officials have not read the new American bill imposing sanctions on Iran and the IRGC, dubbed the Mother of all Sanctions, which was recently signed into law by President Trump.
In this regard, President Trump should put pressure on EU allies to adjust their policy in accordance to this law.
How to end Iran's policy of hostage-taking
President Trump's election promises on Iran explain what he expects. In reality, he is not satisfied with the policies of the two previous U.S. presidents against Iran. His dissatisfaction is understandable considering Tehran’s increased interventions in the region since the 2015 nuclear deal.
It is crucial to point out that as history reveals, the Iranian regime has cosistantly forced the West into submission and offering consessions by taking international security as a hostage. For example, the seizure of U.S. Embassy in 1979, the protraction of nuclear negotiations for nearly 10 years, and now by the JCOPA.
To understand what the U.S. can do about this crisis, one should first explain what are the best policies to end the challenges Iran poses worldwide. There are the following choices:
Renegotiation of the JCOPA by forcing Iran’s hand
It is a known fact that the nuclear agreement paves the way for Iran to increase its threats of abandoning the deal and thereby holding the international community hostage. In this regard, on August 22, the Head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, threatened that the Tehran regime can ramp up its uranium enrichment to 20 percent in only in five days. This is one of the agreement's catastrophic shortcomings and no one can guarantee with certainty that the regime has not already done this in secret.
In this case, the U.S. can unilaterally abandon the nuclear deal and convince Iran's oil customers to put pressure on Tehran to comeback to the negotiating table. And the U.S. has enough economic leverage to do that. If Iran does not accept it, the clerics will be in a political impasse. In this way, the U.S. must issue an ultimatum to Iran’s customers to choose between the Iranian or the American market.
Cut Iran's tentacles in the Middle East
Iranian authorities and senior officials believe that their security borders are in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Thus, an international effort to expel the IRGC and its allies and proxies from these countries will be a major blow to the regime in Tehran and its policy of securing its survival through increased hegemony in the region.
A policy of regime change provides a permanent solution
Although U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced in a congressional hearing that the U.S. policy toward Iran will include support for “peaceful” regime change, in reality this has so far not yet materialized in concrete policies.
To understand how this policy will trap the regime in Tehran, we should ask what other ways are there to fulfill the democratic aspirations of millions of Iranians, who are not able to live up to their potential under the current theocracy.
In this regard, there is an influential organized opposition coalition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which leads a huge, organized movement against the mullahs inside and outside of Iran. Their motto has always been No to War, No to Appeasement, support the Iranian people and their legitimate resistance for a democratic change in Iran.
The NCRI is a criterion that determines whether one is a friend or an enemy of the Iranian regime. If President Trump really wants to end crises that Iran is causing, it is necessary to recognize the NCRI as the viable alternative to the current theocracy and support their efforts to organize the Iranian people to bring about a free and democratic Iran.
Hamid Bahrami is a former political prisoner from Iran. Living in Glasgow, Scotland, he is a human rights and political activist, and works as a freelance journalist. Bahrami has contributed to Al Arabiya English, American Thinker, Euractive, Newsblaze and Eureporter as his work cover’s Iran’s Middle East actions and domestic social crackdown. He tweets at @HaBahrami and blog at analyzecom