Trump's Presidency hangs on Iran Policy
By Rob Roberts
Nov 22, Washington DC: As President-elect Donald Trump ponders over his list of candidates for Secretary of State, he must consider how his selection will respond to perhaps the single most significant policy conundrum for the Trump Presidency: What to do about Iran.
As could be expected, a controversy over the post of Secretary of State has been particularly contentious in the national media. The proponents of continued engagement with the regime in Tehran have reacted with unprecedented hysteria against candidates expected to pursue a ‘hardline’ agenda, whereas many voices in Congress are calling for an end to President Obama’s eight years of undue ‘concessions’ to Iran.
Let’s see what Mr. Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have achieved through their nuclear deal with Iran:
Has the deal led to Iran’s regime ending its hostile rhetoric against the U.S.? No. More importantly, has it cut back on its support for terrorist groups such as Hezbollah? Again, no. Has it ended its support for terrorist client states such as Syria? Do Tehran’s positions seem compatible with a two-state solution succeeding for Israel and the Palestinians? Has Iran’s sectarian agenda helped bring stability to Iraq or has it had the opposite effect? And what about Iran’s support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen? Any positive action from Tehran there?
Looking beyond the Middle East, does a regime that has stepped up its intercontinental ballistic missile production over the past year look like it’s doing so in the interest of international peace and stability, especially considering that much of Europe is in range of those weapons? And domestically, has the regime’s notorious human rights record improved or do UN records show a considerable increase in the number of executions last year?
Despite Tehran’s menacing behavior, Mr. Obama’s nuclear deal shouldn’t be written off entirely. As bad as it was for us, it was worse for the mullahs. It has removed considerable nuclear weapons resources from the hands of the mullahs, all but eliminating their chances of developing nuclear weapons, thereby making the regime strategically weaker. Despite the billions of unfrozen funds they have received in the past year, their economy is still in shambles, leading to continuous protests by the impoverished society and unprecedented factional infighting.
But weakened dictators often become more dangerous. Look at Syria’s Bashar Assad who, with Tehran’s support, has gone as far as gassing his people to death in order to end their uprising. We should expect far worse from the mullahs if we give them the chance to act out.
In June 2015 at the annual gathering in Paris of the main coalition of Iran’s democratic opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a bipartisan group of nearly forty prominent Americans including former senior US civilian and military officials and governors, announced a “policy initiative on Iran” that included dialogue with the Iranian opposition as a central theme.
On the crisis in the region, the U.S. dignitaries stated that “Iran’s destructive role throughout the region must be curbed and deterred. Far from being part of the solution, Iran is a major part of the problem.”
“Engaging with the democratic opposition has been the missing piece of US policy for many years under both Republican and Democratic leadership.”
What the proponents of concessions to Tehran have always failed to see was that Iran already has an organized opposition movement, which is led by a woman and which has sacrificed so much blood and treasure for more than three decades to bring freedom and democracy to the Iranian people.
The notable Americans who have called for a new Iran policy, most of whom served for many years in top national security and foreign policy positions, reiterated that whatever the outcome of nuclear negotiations and in virtually any possible scenario, the wishes of the Iranian people and their desire for change must be taken into consideration.
They expressed their support for the 10-point plan for the future of Iran long advocated by Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the NCRI, which would restore political legitimacy through universal suffrage, guarantee rights for all citizens and particularly women and minorities, end the cruel excesses of the judiciary and establish the rule of law, end the nightmare of fundamentalist Islamic dictatorship by once again separating church and state, protect property rights, promote equal opportunity and environmental protections, and – last but certainly not least – seek a non-nuclear Iran, free of weapons of mass destruction.
It is now up to President-elect Trump to decide whether he will continue President Obama’s eight-year legacy of offering countless concessions to the pariah regime in Iran or whether he will hear the patriotic voices of both Democrats and Republicans who support a democratic Iran that would contribute to world peace and stability.
The Oslo Times International News Network