Remember when, during President Trump’s presidential campaign, the Iranian regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said, “If [the U.S.] rips the nuclear deal, we burn it”? Well, contrary to the theocracy’s blustering, both before and after the American withdrawal from the deal, the regime has little chance to escape increased pressure.
Earlier this week, the U.S. made clear that it has not only made the decision to leave the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but it has also presented a list containing 12 basic demands relating to the regime’s nuclear-military ambitions and regional mischief that it expects Iran to implement as part of a future agreement. Now, the clerics in Iran are counting the cost of such decision.
In a half-hour-long speech at the Heritage Foundation, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “We’ll continue to work with allies to counter the regime’s destabilizing activities in the region, block their financing of terror, and address Iran’s proliferation of missiles and other advanced weapons systems that threaten peace and stability. We will also ensure Iran has no path to a nuclear weapon — not now, not ever.”
Indeed, the U.S. took the decision to send a strong message to all involved parties from East Asia to Western Europe as the Trump administration presented its new Iran strategy.
In Iran, the main audiences are the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its commanders who have the real power in the Islamic regime. In fact, most of Pompeo’s 12 demands focused on nuclear and missile threats, regional behavior, imprisonment of U.S. citizens and protecting the human rights of every Iranian are directly related to the IRGC’s roles in the country. In other words, the U.S. faces a terrorist organization.
In this regard, IRGC’s Major General Mohammad Bagheri said, “Iran would not bow to Washington’s pressure to limit its military activities,” according to Reuters.
Some of Pompeo’s demands cross the regime’s red lines.
For example, if the regime’s missile program and regional intervention are both restricted, the theocracy will lose all its ideological, political and practical leverage over its paramilitary forces and proxies inside and outside of Iran, which is extremely dangerous for its repressive forces that guarantee and secure its survival at home. This is the main reason that I strongly believe the IRGC will never pull out its forces from the region through diplomatic negotiations or sanctions. Restrictions on the regime’s source of income, however, will limit its influence but the US should eventually consider expelling them from the region.
On the other hand, the Iranian people welcomed Secretary Pompeo’s remark as the hashtag #IranRegimeChange was trending on Twitter following his speech at the Heritage Foundation. It seems that the people in Iran listened attentively when Secretary Pompeo said, “At the end of the day, the Iranian people will decide the timeline. At the end of the day, the Iranian people will get to make a choice about their leadership. If they make the decision quickly, that would be wonderful.”
But, in fact, the U.S. government should notice that suppressed people in Iran need practical support while their organized opposition coalition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), is yet to be recognized.
The NCRI has advocated regime change in Iran for four decades as the only viable solution and it is preparing to hold its annual gathering in Paris in support of a free and democratic Iran. The gathering is an excellent opportunity to listen to what the Iranian people expect from the international community. World leaders should understand that, apart from economic reasons, the Iranian people ideologically do not want an Islamic regime.
A few hours after Secretary Pompeo vowed unprecedented sanctions against Tehran regime, the EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini repeated her miscalculated defense of the nuclear deal and said “there is no alternative” to JCPOA. Fortunately, EU lobbyists could not persuade President Trump to stay in the dea,l but they egocentrically insist on maintaining and carrying on with a dead deal.
As EU leaders are discussing and misleading the member states over trade with the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism, European companies have understood the message and are leaving the Iranian market one after another.
EU leaders themselves have no plan to address and counter the major threats from Tehran but oddly, they are barking up the wrong tree to maintain the status quo.
Logically, the European companies should pull out from Iran, an unstable and corrupt country, regardless of the EU leaders’ daydreaming. This is clear from the comments of the German Finance Minister who recently stated, “We will help where we can, but there is no way of completely averting the consequences of this unilateral withdrawal.”
The U.S. has decided to put unprecedented pressure on the Iranian regime in the coming months, and EU leaders should join these efforts; the threat posed by the Iranian regime concerns them as well as the entire world. Any other decision would be irresponsible and extend the theocracy’s life-line to the detriment of the Iranian people, region and the world.
Hamid Bahrami is a former political prisoner from Iran. He currently lives in Glasgow, Scotland, where he is a human-rights and political activist and works as a freelance journalist. Follow Bahrami on Twitter and visit his blog.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.