Washington needs a more aggressive Iran policy

When the Tehran fanatics recently accused the U.S. of an attack on elite forces in Iran’s southeastern province of Baluchistan, they not only lied but revealed one of their many and growing problems. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rejected as “outrageous” Iranian claimthat the United States and its regional allies were to blame for a suicide bombing that killed 27 members of the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

More important than Pompeo’s continued verbal taunting of the Iranian fanatics is the knowledge that the militant Sunni Muslim separatist group called Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice) claimed responsibility for the February 13 attack. It was one more indication of the growing instability throughout the country, in part brought on by American sanctions which are cutting into Tehran ’s oil exports and crippling what is left of its economy.

But Iran and its proxies continue to plot violence abroad and not just in the Middle East. German intelligence officials accused Iran of trying to acquire nuclear materials in 2016, after a ban was supposed to have gone into effect. Last summer an Iranian attempt to bomb the meeting of an opposition group near Paris was foiled. In October, Copenhagen recalled its ambassador to Tehran after another Iranian assassination attempt was prevented in Denmark. In January, Germany banned Iran’s Mahan Air because it was ferrying arms and fighters to commit atrocities in Syria. These are all countries that want better relations with Iran and have made efforts to steer a course independent from the Trump administration.

In the welter of foreign policy issues for the Trump Administration, it is clear that only regime change is an answer to a Tehran regime, which while tottering, has shown enormous resilience in the face of an increasingly restive population. Washington has failed to cope with the Iranian subversion around the world. In part, this was the result of the failure of the U.S. to seize the opportunity to support the 2009 “Green Movement” in which a presidential election with protesters demanding the removal of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from office.

But there are now reports that the U.S. has begun covert actions against Iran’s missile and rocket program through countries and companies that supply Tehran’s aerospace operations. French and British officials have joined the United States in calling for ways to counter Iran’s missile program even their cooperation on the sanctions has been irregular.

But Last month Trump noted the Jan. 15 failed space launch. Had it succeeded, he said, it would have given Tehran “critical information” it could use “to pursue intercontinental ballistic missile capability, and a capability, actually, of reaching the United States.”

So far, Iran has failed to successfully test the newest generation of its satellite launcher. The vehicle, roughly nine stories tall, debuted in April 2016. Iran wrapped the test flight in secrecy but foreign monitors know for sure only that no satellite went into orbit. In July 2017, another missile roared off a launch pad which Tehran called a success. But once again, with no satellite seen, Washington concluded there was a “catastrophic failure.”

Seemingly without a strategy plan, the Trump administration has instead focused on tactical questions by imposing extra sanctions on Iran. But how do they fit into a larger strategy? On the one hand, a weak economy translates into more domestic dissatisfaction with the regime. But the administration has said that regime change is not its policy.

The Administration’s policy grew even more publicly confused when Rudy Giuliani, a personal lawyer of the U.S. President announced he favors the “overthrow” of Iran ‘s theocratic regime. Giuliani was speaking to RFE/RL’s Radio Farda on February 13 on the sidelines of a major Middle East conference in Warsaw which Iranian officials blasted as an “anti-Iran circus.”

“I believe there has to be an overthrow of this regime,” Giuliani said, adding that he was speaking in his personal capacity and not as an official representative of the U.S. administration. “I don’t think this theocratic dictatorship can possibly become some kind of democratic, liberal democratic force,” Giuliani added while accusing Iranian leaders of killing their opponents.

Until now, the Trump administration has consistently said it is not seeking “regime change” in Tehran, only a “change in behavior.”


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