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No level of diplomacy will fix Iran's malign incompetence - opinion

The regime will brutalize the Iranian people, jail and torture dissidents, oppress women and execute gays regardless of whether it has nuclear weapons or not.


No level of diplomacy will fix Iran's malign incompetence - opinion
The regime will brutalize the Iranian people, jail and torture dissidents, oppress women and execute gays regardless of whether it has nuclear weapons or not.

PROTESTERS ON Saturday burn US and Israel flags during a demonstration against the the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran’s top nuclear scientist, in Tehran.


During the Obama administration, when the Islamic Republic of Iran received a large sum of cash after signing the nuclear deal, it had only one responsibility: Use those funds for the welfare of the Iranian people. When President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal and began his maximum pressure campaign to include crippling sanctions against the regime, Iran had one responsibility: Stop financing endless wars and terrorist militias and divert those funds to the Iranian people. The regime failed in both cases. Let us be honest. No level of diplomacy with the regime can change its malign incompetence.

Although President-elect Joe Biden asserts that he has no illusions about the brutality and corruption of the regime in Iran, his plans to reconcile with it contradicts that claim. The strongest evidence showing how misguided the upcoming administration is with respect to the regime is Biden’s promise to return to the nuclear deal. In essence, Biden is revisiting the antiquated policy of tying every instance of the regime’s criminal behavior to the nuclear issue. To that end, he hopes that loosening the sanctions on Iran or perhaps rewarding it with large sums of cash will engender meaningful change in the regime’s behavior.

Biden acknowledges that the Iranian regime is malignant, but he contends that the thought of nuclear weapons in the hands of a menacing regime is more troubling. That is true, but possessing nuclear weapons without having the apparatus to launch them makes that a flawed logic. That is why the regime’s access to ballistic missiles cannot be an isolated issue and must be addressed in the context of nuclear weapons. The two are inextricably intertwined.

The regime will brutalize the Iranian people, jail and torture dissidents, oppress women and execute gays regardless of whether it has nuclear weapons or not. Therefore, reaching an agreement with Iran on the nuclear issue alone will provide the regime with a carte blanche to continue its human rights violations.

The logic behind the original nuclear deal was that without it, war was inevitable. This was the narrative promulgated by the so-called echo chamber that was collaboratively crafted by some of president Obama’s advisers and Iran’s unofficial lobby groups in Washington. In spite of President Trump’s exit from the deal, and notwithstanding the incessant calls from Washington think tanks that a conflict with Iran was imminent, no war ever broke out. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps carried on with its belligerent conduct at the same rate it did before the nuclear accord and during the period the deal was active.

IN ESSENCE, the nuclear deal did not necessarily prevent a war, because withdrawal from it did not lead to one.

However, renewal of the nuclear deal with the Iran could lead to war. Settlement Affairs Minister Tzachi Hanegbi alluded to this, saying, “If Biden stays with that policy, there will, in the end, be a violent confrontation between Israel and Iran.” That is alarming.

New alliances are forming between Israel and Arab states. Anticipating the reinstitution of a regime-appeasement policy by the Biden administration, these countries are prepared to take matters into their own hands should the regime in Iran continue or increase its belligerent activities in the region. That is congruent to war. These countries have armed themselves enough to confront Iran without the aid or a green light from the United States. Renewal of a deal with Iran will alienate US allies in the Middle East and force them to fend for themselves, and they will.

Furthermore, giving Iran the freedom to resume its nuclear activities would lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is already entertaining the prospect of a nuclear program in anticipation of a deal between the Biden administration and Iran. Tensions would subsequently rise with the potential for nuclear weapons falling in the hands of unscrupulous actors in the region.

The 2015 nuclear deal is a failed policy. As Gen. H.R. McMaster so eloquently put it, the deal was a “political disaster masquerading as a diplomatic triumph.”

Things have changed tremendously since 2015. The Iranian people have increasingly distanced themselves from the idea of reforming the regime. The boundary between the regime’s “moderates” and “hardliners” has become more indistinct than ever. The same “moderates” whom the Obama administration thought could solicit and engage in negotiations turned out to be virtually indistinguishable from their “hardliner” counterparts.

Widespread anti-regime protests have erupted multiple times in Iran over the past four years. Finally, with the domino effect of Arab-Israeli peace deals, the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East has changed significantly. We can hope that foreign policy experts working with Mr. Biden are noticing these changes and will use the leverage created by the Trump administration to pressure the regime on matters that are as important as, if not more critical than the nuclear issue.

Reza Behrouz is a physician and member of the advisory board for Iranian Americans for Liberty.

Shervan Fashandi is a banking and economics expert, and a member of the board of directors for Iranian Americans for Liberty.



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