Containing Iran

The new White House with President Donald Trump at the helm has rightfully placed Iran "on notice."  Washington also responded with a new round of sanctions after Tehran's January 29 ballistic missile test, in defiance of a United Nations Security Council resolution in relation to the controversial Iran nuclear deal.

The firm policy adopted vis-à-vis Iran is a step in the right direction toward a new Middle East foreign policy.  And as the White House and Congress have begun to weigh new measures and designating Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization, there are voices heard raising the alarm about the U.S. intending to go to war.

It is a known fact that the IRGC is behind all of Iran's terrorist activities, including the regime's involvement in SyriaIraqYemen and Lebanon.  Through the past decades, the IRGC has also gained an iron grip over the regime's economy, with some estimates ranging between 30 to 50 percent.

To this end, blacklisting the IRGC would certainly target the very entity that is also behind Iran's nuclear program and a massive apparatus, including the paramilitary Basij and state security forces, responsible for a long slate of human rights violations across the country.

Unfortunately, those continuing to advocate a policy pivoting on appeasement – despite failing to achieve any true results – remain steadfast on their promotions for such a perspective.

The truth is that the nuclear deal, or JCPOA, a byproduct of the Obama appeasement mentality, has also raised a long list of critical remarks, as the accord is now functioning as an instrument of leverage that Tehran took advantage of.

Whenever there was even a rumor of the Obama administration seeking strong action against Iran, Tehran's lobbyists, with their unprecedented access to the White House, would warn that such measures would provoke the IRGC to attack American allies and interests in the region.

Tehran also effectively held a hanging sword over the Obama administration, threatening to abandon the JCPOA ship in case of punitive economic measures in reaction to Iran's regional belligerence, 14 different ballistic missile tests, and violating the JCPOA itself.

During the Obama "golden era," Iran felt completely free to pursue its dangerous ambitions, and the end result was atrocious.  The world witnessed in horror as Syria burned, leaving 500,000 dead and millions displaced across the Middle East and Europe.

Iraq remains a land of havoc as Iran-backed Shiite militias roam free and carry out horrendous atrocities, all in the name of battling the Islamic State.  Tehran continues to ship boatloads of weapons to Yemen's Houthis and threaten the security of Saudi Arabia.

Hezb'allah chief Hassan Nasrallah openly confirms that his group is receiving financial support from Iran.  The mullahs' meddling in Bahrain and Afghanistan also goes without need of mentioning.

A quick look at the Middle East brings us to a correct conclusion that the current flashpoint status is the end result of many years of appeasement, parallel to the strategic mistakes of launching wars that all played into the hands of Iran's mullahs.

The West, spearheaded by the U.S., placed its crosshairs on all the wrong targets, further engulfing the region in bloodshed and allowing Iran to instigate sectarian hatred that lacked any such existence for centuries.  Yet now, the scene before us resembles an image of an ongoing and vicious dispute, all thanks to Iran taking advantage of a highly flawed engagement policy.

What is needed now is to end this failed policy and set aside any talk of U.S.-led military attacks against Iran, which would only play into the mullahs' hands.

Instead, a correct parallel approach consists of implementing the JCPOA to its true nature and punishing all of Iran's aggressive measures and its atrocious human rights record with more economic sanctions.  We must not forget how the crippling effect of international sanctions brought Iran's mullahs to the negotiating table, fearing an explosive powder keg of domestic social unrest.

In line with these measures, the U.S. should take the long overdue action of designating the IRGC, as the main element behind Iran's nuclear program, warmongering across the region, and domestic crackdown, as a foreign terrorist organization.

This would be the first major ultimatum the mullahs have received in a long time.  And rest assured: as the senior Iranian regime leadership have toned down their rhetoric in response to President Donald Trump taking office, they will fully understand the meaning of the IRGC blacklisting.

This is how the regime is contained, without firing a single bullet, and all the while weakening the very force that is preventing the Iranian people from voicing their demands for regime change to establish a free and democratic Iran.