Trump seeks 'regime disruption' in Iran – report

US attack would “rattle the delicate internal balance of forces" within Iran.

President Donald Trump announced on June 22 that the US would impose “major” additional sanctions on Iran. (photo credit: REUTERS/CARLOS BARRIA)
President Donald Trump announced on June 22 that the US would impose “major” additional sanctions on Iran.
The US government's targeted killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani – an EU- and US-classified terrorist – was part of a plan to cause regime disruption within the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Bloomberg columnist Eli Lake secured US government memos outlining the “regime disruption” plan and reported on the strategy in a Tuesday article.
“The case for disruption is outlined in a series of unclassified memos sent to former national security adviser John Bolton in May and June 2019 – the period when Iran’s latest round of escalations began in the Persian Gulf,” wrote Lake.
The author of the memos is David Wurmser, who served as a consultant to the National Security Council.
Lake wrote that “Wurmser argues that Iran is in the midst of a legitimacy crisis. Its leadership, he writes, is divided between camps that seek an apocalyptic return of the hidden imam, and those that favor the preservation of the Islamic Republic founded in 1979. All the while, many Iranians have grown disgusted with the regime’s incompetence and corruption.”
Wurmser wrote that “Iran has always been careful to execute its ambitions and aggressive aims incrementally to avoid Western reactions which depart from the expected,” adding that “In contrast, were unexpected, rule-changing actions taken against Iran, it would confuse the regime. It would need to scramble.”
The consultant said that a US attack would “rattle the delicate internal balance of forces and the control over them upon which the regime depends for stability and survival.”
Lake wrote that “Trump and top US officials have said repeatedly that the US does not seek regime change in Iran, but they have also in recent days cheered on Iranian protesters who have flooded the streets, blaming their country’s supreme leader for the downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet.”
Iran's regime fired a missile last week at a Ukrainian passenger jet, murdering all 176 people aboard the plane.
The Bloomberg national security columnist said that the targeting killing of a senior Iranian official will, according to Wurmser, sow confusion and "will create momentary paralysis – and the perception among the Iranian public that its leaders are weak.”
Lake noted that “Wurmser’s memos show that the Trump administration has been debating the blow against Soleimani since the current crisis began, some seven months ago. In addition to Bolton, the memos were also shared with senior State Department officials. (I obtained them through a source who supports the Soleimani strike.)”
In response to Iran’s shooting down a US drone in June, Wurmser advised Bolton, wrote Lake, “that the US response should be overt, and designed to send a message that the U.S. holds the Iranian regime, not the Iranian people, responsible.”
Wurmer wrote in the June memo: “This could even involve something as a targeted strike on someone like Soleimani or his top deputies.”
Lake said that, “in these memos, Wurmser is careful to counsel against a ground invasion of Iran. He says the US response ‘does not need to be boots on the ground (in fact, it should not be).’ Rather, he stressed that the US response should be calibrated to exacerbate the regime’s domestic legitimacy crisis.”
Lake concluded that, “for now, it looks like Wurmser’s analysis has proved correct. As The New York Times has reported, the Iranians sent a message following a volley of missile strikes to another Iraqi base last week that they would not escalate further for the killing of Soleimani.”
The Bloomberg columnist added that “Wurmser predicted that many Iranians would welcome a strike on a senior commander such as Soleimani.”
“Iranians would both be impressed and potentially encouraged by a targeted attack on symbols of repression,” Wurmser wrote.
Amid Iranian civilian unrest against the regime, over the last few days, online videos showed Iranians ripping down posters of Soleimani.