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Friday, September 18, 2015

Iran deal confirms need for regime change - but where?

In testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, Matt Levitt reports that the main beneficiaries of the sellout to a nuclear-armed Iran are the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and Hezbullah.
While the Iran deal leaves much open to interpretation, one thing is certain: for Iran this deal is strictly transactional, not transformational. To the contrary, Iran is almost certain to increase its clandestine activities and support for proxies engaged in asymmetric warfare and reasonably deniable intelligence and terrorist operations. In other words, Hezbollah is about to take a place of even greater prominence within the planning of Iran's revolutionary elite. Hezbollah heeded Tehran's call to step into the breach of the Syrian war, and as a result has drifted even further into the Iranian orbit as a result of its intimate operations with the IRGC there.
But designating only Hezbollah entities -- or those connected to other Shiite militia or terrorist groups answering to Iran -- is not enough. Whether through Treasury designations or other tools, IRGC and Qods Force officers and entities engaged in Iran's ongoing illicit conduct must also be taken to task.
There are many areas of the Iran deal that warrant close attention as the agreement moves toward implementation. Contending with what Secretary Lew referred to as "Iran's menacing behavior" -- in particular through its own IRGC Qods Force and Lebanese Hezbollah -- must be at the top of the list. Failure to do so would not only undermine the logic of the Iran deal as articulated by the administration, it would also add to the very real trust deficit currently affecting our relationships with allies both in the region and around the globe...
Michael Rubin argues that the 'deal' is done, and the only answer now is for the West to push regime change in Iran.
With a deeply flawed JCPOA now a fact-of-life, with Iran empowered and able to walk away with an industrial-scale, advanced nuclear weapons program in 15 years, perhaps the best Plan B for the next administration to consider is an all-out effort for regime change. After all, the problem isn’t the Iranian people but rather the unrepresentative theocracy which rules over them, nor is the problem really the potential nuclear weapons; rather, it is those that would wield them.
Regime change does not mean direct involvement, let alone military involvement. Instead, it requires broadcasting geared to undermine the regime and its legitimacy on bands to which the Iranian public actually listens. It requires real and consistent support for Iranian trade unions. With the IRGC or revolutionary foundations controlling most Iranian industry and often failing to pay workers on time or failing to provide them safe working conditions, there is ample room to organize. If the Iranian government is forced to pump its windfall into back wages rather than missiles, even Obama, and Senator Bernie Sanders cannot object. And if those workers then organize and disrupt Iran’s oil fields, for example, no one in Washington should shed any tears. There are other economic tools in the U.S. arsenal as well which might exploit the inflation that Iran will face as its economy absorbs its windfall of cash.
There is no magic formula for regime change, but Obama and the Democrats in Congress have effectively initiated a 15-year countdown. Obama has cast America’s lot with Iran, and there is some wisdom to an “Iranian strategy” so long as Iran is not led by the Islamic Republic. Let the conversation begin, and efforts to undermine Khamenei’s rule to accelerate exponentially. That would not only be the path to peace, it would also be realization of a strategy that is decades too late in coming.
Well, yeah, but who says we have 15 years (that assumes Iran abides by the deal)?

I also doubt that the Obama administration - or any successor Democratic administration - would be willing to do anything that would undermine the Iranian regime.  Obama's whole goal in making Iran a nuclear-armed power was to provide a counter-balance to Israel in the Middle East. If Iran does not become a nuclear power, or is not willing to use that power, Israel remains the dominant power in the region, something the obsessively anti-Israel Obama (and the Left-dominated Democratic party) wish to avoid at all costs. This will only change if the Republicans win the next US Presidential election.

What could go wrong?

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