Opinion: Couple US sanctions with Middle East expulsion of Iran

By: Shahriar Kia 
   The Iranian regime is attempting to secure a corridor through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, providing a supply route for its numerous terrorist proxies in the region.
Iran’s clandestine nuclear and ballistic missile drive, support for terrorism and domestic crackdown are all aimed at maintaining the Tehran’s fascist mullahs in power and pursue their regional policies.

This notorious objective, in direct conflict with those of the regional and global coalitions to fight terrorism and extremism, can be stopped. Eviction of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and all its proxy forces from the Middle East must complete the new US Congress sanctions. With President Donald Trump signaling his approval, this first and foremost step should be taken with hesitation following the sanctions.
The US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to rally major new sanctions on Iran, parallel to measures on North Korea and Russia. To impose additional sanctions on Iran’s defense sector, the House voted 419-3. Coming after three weeks of negotiations, this bill “tightens the screws on our most dangerous adversaries,” explained House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), welcomed the adoption of a bill by both chambers of the US Congress which imposes new sanctions on the Iranian regime for violating human rights and pursuing ballistic missiles.
“Since several years ago, the Iranian Resistance had urged the terrorist designation of the IRGC, as it preserves the entirety of the clerical regime and acts as its main apparatus for domestic suppression and export of terrorism and fundamentalism,” she stressed. “However, the policy of appeasing the mullahs’ religious dictatorship paved the way for the IRGC and its proxies’ rampage in the entire region.”
A look back at the pivotal role Iran played in the rise and flourishing of ISIS, parallel to sectarian conflicts in the region, will help find the right tracks for security in the region.
In 2008, a joint campaign led by the U.S. military and Iraqi Sunnis rooted al-Qaeda in Iraq, the precursor to ISIS. However, the Obama administration’s decision to pull back and deliver the country to former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, a close ally of the Iranian regime, eventually led to the unraveling of all previous achievements.
Maliki dismantled the Iraqi “Awakening Council” and gave Iran free pass to exert its full influence on Iraq’s political and military apparatus.
In tandem, the destruction and crimes committed by the IRGC and Bashar al-Assad regime against the Syrian people provided the prefect breeding ground for sectarian strife and allowed ISIS to occupy a wide swath of land straddling both countries.
The Iranian regime became the main beneficiary of the rampage caused by ISIS and subsequently used it as an excuse to expand its clout by forming and later legalizing the IRGC-equivalent Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). This entity has become notoriously renowned for its crimes against humanity, no less horrendous than those committed by ISIS.
Iran’s highest officials have time and again acknowledged funding and supporting the criminal militia forces in Iraq and Syria, expressing their vested interest in occupying neighboring countries through whatever means.
The Obama administration’s hands-off approach vis-à-vis Iran’s regional ambitions provided Tehran a far better opportunity to pursue its nefarious agendas under the pretext of fighting ISIS. Speculations raised U.S. officials on possible cooperation with Iran in the fight against terrorism only made matters worse.
Now, as ISIS is losing influence and ground, Iran is attempting to fill the gap. Letting it have its way would be a recipe for disaster, as proven in the past eight years.
Despite the threats and taunts broadcasted regularly Iran’s state media, the regime is far from capable or inclined to enter open warfare with any other state in the region or across the globe.
Tehran’s proxies are only as good as the funding and supplies the regime provides. Without IRGC support Iran’s proxies will be hard-pressed to spread their mayhem in the region.
Sanctions alone, however, will not be enough. Tehran has found ways to continue causing mischief under the toughest sanctions regime.
The threats rendered by Tehran will only end with regime change in Iran. This will initially benefit the people of Iran, being the first victims of this regime’s criminal ideology, and categorically reject its destructive foreign policy, both inside the country and abroad.
One of the greatest manifestations of the Iranian people’s desire for change was expressed at the July 1st Free Iran gathering in paris. Tens of thousands of Iranian expats as well as politicians, activists and religious figures from across the world attended the rally to express their solidarity and support for the cause of freedom and democracy in Iran.
The event had a clear message: regime change in Iran is the only viable solution for both the people of Iran and the region’s nations. There’s no need for another foreign conflict. The people of Iran and their organized resistance have the will, power and means necessary to realize this change.
Saudi Prince Turki Al Faisal also addressed the massive gathering.
“So, you have coming together now a mighty coalition of forces, joining with the Resistance, and that should give us hope that we can make that [regime] change,” he stressed.

*Shahriar Kia is an Iranian dissident and a political analyst on Iran and the Middle East. He is a member of the Iranian opposition and a graduate of North Texas University.


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