An Iranian student holds a caricature of US President Donald Trump during a protest against Trump’s latest speech on Iran, in Tehran..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The question of how to confront Iran still remains an open one with the Trump administration, after eight years of Obama appeasement. Despite President Donald Trump’s speech of October 13 on Iran, no coherent policy against Tehran’s aggression and subversion has yet emerged.
A few elements in President Trump’s statement, however, do radiate some light toward reaching the needed comprehensive strategy. He has decertified the disastrous nuclear pact with Iran signed two years ago. In so doing, he has sent the issue of expanding sanctions back to the US Congress, for now. He has launched a frontal verbal attack on the regime’s oppressive and corrupt Revolutionary Guards with promised measures to follow. Most interestingly, and rightly, he called the Gulf between Saudi Arabia and Iran Arabian and not Persian.
Tehran’s Achilles heel is indeed its population of Azeris, Arabs, Kurds and Baluchis, just to mention the larger minorities. The ethnic Persian power structure is based on an unstable and vulnerable majority using Shi’ite religio-fascism as its only political cement. Understanding Iran requires looking at an ethnographic map of that country.
This should be the starting point for actively engaging in a program of psychological warfare against the illegitimate nature of the Iranian unitary state. It is a veritable evil empire, with oppressed ethnic minorities making up almost half its population.
A number of further openings for confronting Iran on this have emerged over recent months.
Former ambassador Elliott Abrams of the US Council on Foreign Relations has made a major pronouncement branding Iran as an “evil empire.” Abrams was on the Reagan Team in 1983 when the president’s famous “Evil Empire” speech against the USSR was drafted and delivered. In a public “conversation” on June 6 with Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of the NGO-Monitor Association, Abrams stated:
“Iran is a very dangerous common enemy”; “The human rights situation in Iran is horrifying”; “Why don’t we have a huge global campaign against Iran? The model here would be Reagan and the Soviet Union. He [president Reagan] said, this is an evil empire – we had a huge campaign to delegitimize the Soviet Union. That’s what we need for Iran....” The issue of branding Iran as an evil empire has thus been raised a notch in American foreign policy circles. And now also by Trump, although only in passing.
And where is Israel in all this? For the first time in recent years, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his speech at the United Nations on September 19 stated: “imagine the danger of hundreds of nuclear weapons in the hands of a vast Iranian Islamist empire....” His intention was most likely to limit his attack to Iran as an aggressive empire in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Nonetheless, the “E word” is finally out in public discourse. Israel should be prepared to join a bold psychological warfare campaign against Tehran as an evil empire when and if this finally becomes official US policy.
A frontal attack on the very legitimacy of the Iranian unitary state, not just its regime, would be applauded by almost all Arab Sunni regimes. They don’t feel strong enough to lead with this, but they will surely be ready and willing to follow.
Any ethnic Persian opposition to the regime has been hobbled by Tehran’s success in showing the West to be impotent and money-hungry because it signed the disastrous nuclear weapons pact. That opposition’s importance is thus no longer as weighty as it might have been. Under these circumstances, there is little hope for regime change from the bottom up.
Psychological warfare against Tehran can have one clear message: the aggressive rule of the ayatollahs is jeopardizing the very existence of the Iranian state itself. When this message is internalized, the Iranian military may turn against the Revolutionary Guards, the major support that keeps the ayatollahs in power. Under present political realities in Iran, regime change can come from above, not from below.
Only constitutional change to a federal structure, in lieu of dismemberment, can offer hope of freedom for all the peoples of the Iranian empire, including, of course, freedom for the great Persian people itself. And freedom there can promise greater security for all against Islamic Shi’ite extremism.
The fact that Iran is an empire is a given. The will of the American and Israeli governments to act based on this, however, is not evident. Parliaments sitting in Washington and Jerusalem should help provide advice and counsel in this regard.The author served several American presidents as a US Foreign Service Officer (1966-96) with postings in Egypt, Tunisia and several West African Muslim countries in addition to Washington, DC. He is the founder of the non-profit, non-sectarian Jewish Covenant Alliance, R.A. that struggles against the totalitarian ideologies of regime evil in the world. (www.covenantalliance.org)
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