How the Iran deal is empowering America's enemies
In an attempt to prevent the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) from falling apart, U.S. President Barack Obama continues to pursue the failed policy of appeasement and giving concessions to the Iranian regime. The latest round includes the easing of financial restrictions against sanctioned entities such as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and paying a hefty ransom to free Americans held hostage by Iran.
There are two fundamental mistakes in the current administration's approach toward Iran. First, it is assumed that that the nuclear deal will solve all the problems the international community is faced with in respect with Iran. Second, it is believed that doling out concessions to the government of Hassan Rouhani will strengthen the so-called "moderates" against the ambitions of the "hard-liners."
Both beliefs have proven to be wrong since the nuclear deal was hammered and came into effect. As opposed to what the proponents of the appeasement policy hoped, the Iranian regime has become more aggressive in its illicit activities, including the funding and export of terrorism and the violation of human rights.
In the past month alone, U.S. ships off the coast of Yemen were attacked on several occasions by Houthis, a rebel group backed, funded, and trained by the Iranian regime. Now, thanks to the easing of sanctions, Tehran will be even better positioned to further funnel cash and weapons to the Houthis and its other terrorist proxies in Iraq and Lebanon – many of which have a known history of attacking and murdering U.S. troops – and to further aid the regime of Bashar al-Assad in slaughtering the people of Syria.
But aside from fueling its indirect enmities, the Iranian regime is also becoming bolder in its direct moves against the U.S. interests. Having tasted the hostage ransom business, Tehran has become more aggressive in its arrest and detention of foreign nationals. Last week, the Iranian regime sentenced two U.S. citizens to 10 years in prison under espionage charges, and earlier, a British woman was given a five-year prison sentence for unknown charges. The U.S. nationals were arrested by the IRGC, the same entity that recently dispatched boats to intercept and harass U.S. vessels in the strait of Hormuz and the same entity that will be the main beneficiary of the easing of economic sanctions against Iran.
There are two main lessons to be drawn from the continued failed policy of the Obama administration toward Iran.
First, moderation under the clerical regime in Iran is a total myth. In fact, the same figures who are now in key positions under Rouhani's "moderate" cabinet have been endemically involved in the Iranian regime's crimes in the past three centuries.
Two stark examples are Justice Minister Mostafa Pourmohamadi, who played a pivotal role in the 1988 massacre of thirty thousand political prisoners by the regime, and Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan, who was one of the founding members of Hezb'allah's military wing and one of the masterminds behind the 1983 bombing of U.S. Marines barracks in Lebanon.
Second, the siloed approach toward Iran's nefarious activities must be abandoned for a holistic one. Ignoring Iran's terrorism and human rights violations for the sake of keeping the lid on its nuclear ambitions will only make things worse and result in further plunging the region into mayhem and chaos. Ironically, this is against the initial goal of the nuclear negotiations, which was to establish global security and stability.
This is a mistake that the current administration has failed to recognize and amend. Hopefully, the next president will adopt a more rational and effective policy toward Iran by first predicating any economic and political ties with Tehran to its halting of human rights violation and its support for terrorism and extremism. This is a first step that can bring the U.S. on the side of the oppressed people of Iran, the winning side.
Amir Basiri is an Iranian human rights activist. He tweets at @amir_bas.