The Islamic Republic of Iran poses a grave challenge to both the United States and the region.
Two decades after exposure of Iran's then-covert nuclear enrichment program, Tehran is close to a nuclear weapon, even by its own admission. Its Revolutionary Guards prop up the Syrian regime, Hezbollah, the Houthis, and various Iraqi militias. The regime openly engages in hostage diplomacy. Meanwhile, U.S. Iran policy has become a political football, with partisanship trumping any honest assessment of what works and what does not.
But there are three strategies, sometimes openly embraced and sometimes percolating just below the surface in internal policy debates and think tanks, guaranteed to fail. If the U.S. truly cares about checking the Islamic Republic's growing threat and enabling the Iranian people to embrace a moderate future, then it is time for consensus about what not to do.
Iran: a man sentenced for flight amputated fingers, according to Amnesty
First, it is time to retire any support for the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, also known as the MEK. At best, the group is a creepy cult; at worst, it is a terrorist group. What it is not and has never been is popular or democratic. Maryam Rajavi, leader of the group and "president-elect" of its political front, is the closest thing Iranians have to the late American conspiracy theorist and huckster Lyndon LaRouche. Iranians living inside Iran might not agree on much, but they do despise the MEK based on its terrorism and past alliances with first Ayatollah Khomeini and then, after falling out with him, Saddam Hussein.
That the group sometimes reveals intelligence is no metric of its influence or infiltration within the Iranian system. First, its intelligence is often wrong. Second, even when right, it simply represents how the Israelis, Saudis, or perhaps even the CIA use the group to launder information to the public so that the real fingerprints of those who gathered it are not exposed. Any endorsement or embrace of the MEK is a gift to the Islamic Republic, as it allows the regime to rally an otherwise apathetic public around the flag.
Saudi Arabia Flirts with Iran and Israel As Biden's Peacemaking Flounders
"Everything is possible when it comes to international relations," former Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry official Salem al-Yami told Newsweek.Riyadh does not maintain relations with either nation, but parallel diplomatic tracks have the potential to transform not only the Kingdom's role in the Middle East, but the geopolitics of the region itself. Both paths, however, are lined with pitfalls that also run the risk of sparking underlying tensions among the three countries.
Second, forget any division of Iran along ethnic lines. Iran is an ethnically diverse country: Persians, Azeris, Kurds, Arabs, Baluchis, Lors, and others. But it does not matter that it is an artificial state pulling apart at the seams. Whereas many states arose against the backdrop of ethnonationalism in the 19th or 20th centuries, the identity of Persian statehood predates that by millennia. Attempts to spark ethnic separatism in Iran by the Soviets after World War II or Iraq in 1979 failed, but in each case, the backlash resulted in a stronger Iranian dictatorship. True, some Azeris might chant slogans at soccer matches and Arabs rally against regime corruption, but in each case, the broader motivation is antipathy toward a corrupt regime rather than a desire for independence. Consider Tabriz: It may be ethnically Azeri, but it is also a former capital of Iran, the traditional seat of the crown prince, and the epicenter of Iran's constitutional movement. To bring Iran into the international community means winning over Iranians of all ethnicities and sects, not signaling to them that the goal is the destruction of Iran.
Iran says 'optimistic' after EU proposal for nuclear deal
Iran said Monday it remains "optimistic" about a possible revival of the 2015 nuclear deal after the European Union tabled a proposal aiming for a compromise in the talks stalled since March. "We remain optimistic that the negotiation process will lead us to a logical and reasonable outcome," foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said at his weekly news conference. The comment comes after EU foreign policy chief and coordinator of the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, Josep Borrell, last Tuesday submitted a new draft text and urged the different sides of the negotiations to accept it or "risk a dangerous nuclear crisis".
The final strategy guaranteed to backfire is endless diplomacy.
Partisans are wrong to say "Maximum Pressure" did not work. Such a claim, though, is not evidence that resourcing Iran's regime is wise. Because of the Revolutionary Guard's stranglehold over the economy, any windfall from sanctions relief strengthens the most reactionary elements of the regime. More importantly, engagement for its own sake ignores the Islamic Republic's motivations: both ideological and tactical. For the White House, diplomacy might be about the search for a win-win solution. For Iran, it is an asymmetric warfare strategy to distract the opponent while centrifuges spin and terrorist groups arm.
There is no magic formula to resolve disputes with Iran, nor are there shortcuts. It will take bipartisan solidarity, a credible military threat, maximum pressure, and a strategy to break the Revolutionary Guard's ironclad grip on society. But first, it is important to drop the strategies that do more harm than good.
Michael Rubin (@mrubin1971) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential. He is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
The United States targets Chinese companies in the context of new sanctions against Iran
Iran-Petrole-USA-Sanctions: The United States targets Chinese companies within the framework of new sanctions against Iran by Daphne Psaledakis and Arshad Mohammed Washington (Reuters) - The United States imposed sanctions on companies on Monday, especially Chinese, which, according to them, contributed to the sale of "tens of millions of dollars" of oil and petrochemicals Iranians in East Asia.
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Tags:Opinion, Beltway Confidential, Blog Contributors, Iran
Original Author:Michael Rubin
Original Location:Three Iran strategies that are guaranteed to backfire
Biden must stop the diplomatic babble and force Iran to release American hostages .
President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken are fond of saying that human rights are at the center of the administration’s foreign policy, but after nearly 18 months in office, Americans are still being held hostage in the Iranian prisons where they found themselves on Jan. 20, 2021. Hostage-taking is a violation of the…Last month, the White House determined that hostage-taking is a “national emergency” posing “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States.” Yet President Biden has not taken the necessary steps to bring Americans home from Iran or to stop Iran from taking Americans hostage in the future.