Now is the time to act against Iran

After Netanyahu declared his intention to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent base in Syria, the US and Israel should embolden the Kurds to act against the Iranian regime.

Ebrahim Raisi speaks during a campaign meeting at the Mosalla mosque in Tehran, Iran, May 16, 2017. Picture taken May 16, 2017.  (photo credit: REUTERS)
Ebrahim Raisi speaks during a campaign meeting at the Mosalla mosque in Tehran, Iran, May 16, 2017. Picture taken May 16, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In recent days, it appears that both Israel and the United States are increasingly determined to act against the Islamic Republic of Iran. After Iran shot down an Israeli jet, the need for Israel to take strong action against Iran and its proxies has become apparent, for the Iranian regime is a threat to the entire free world and the State of Israel in particular.
The Iranian regime calls for the annihilation of Israel. With the Iranian nuclear deal, the Iranian regime has become emboldened to spread its tentacles across the Middle East, thus creating a “Shi’ite crescent” that connects Tehran to the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. And presently, it is in the process of building a terrorist base in Syria that poses a direct strategic threat to the State of Israel.
Speaking at a Munich Security Conference, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu implied that the State of Israel will no longer sit by silently as Iran creates a terrorist base along the country’s northern border: “Israel will continue to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent military presence in Syria. Israel will continue to act to prevent Iran from establishing another terror base from which to threaten Israel. Israel will not allow Iran’s regime to put a noose of terror around our neck. We will act without hesitation to defend ourselves. And we will act, if necessary, not just against Iran’s proxies that are attacking us but against Iran itself.”
Netanyahu’s remarks come after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson proclaimed that the US will stay in Syria to ensure that areas newly liberated from Islamic State (ISIS) will not fall into the hands of Iran: “We cannot repeat the mistake of 2011. A premature departure from Iraq allowed al-Qaida in Iraq to survive and to eventually become ISIS.”
Given these new developments, the time has come for both the US and Israel to form an alliance with locals in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and in Iran itself, to bring the Iranian threat to a halt once and for all. As the recent war against ISIS demonstrated, air-strikes alone will not do the job of eliminating any threat to the free world. To eliminate the danger posed by the Iranian regime, one truly needs boots on the ground. During the war against ISIS, the Kurds were America’s boots on the ground, and combined with the coalition air-strikes successfully rid most of Syria and Iraq of the ISIS menace.
Based upon this model, both the US and Israel should be reaching out to the Kurds, Druze, Beduin and moderate Sunni Arabs in Syria; the Christians and Druze in Lebanon; the Balochis, Kurds, Azeris, Ahwazi Arabs and young Persians opposed to the Iranian regime in Iran; and of course, the Kurds who have autonomy in northern Iraq. They are our best hope for countering the negative influence of the Iranian regime in the Middle East.
Both Israel and the US should empower them to take on the Iranian regime directly on the ground while both countries provide them with support from the air. This is the only effective way to rid the Middle East region of the Iranian threat. Anything short of this will not have the desired result of countering negative Iranian influence in the Middle East.
As we speak, on the ground in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, Iran has created essentially a Persian terrorist empire. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi, Hezbollah and Syrian President Bashar Assad are all puppets of Iran who have much in common with the Iranian regime. Each of these Iranian-backed regimes is brutally suppressing any and all dissent. Each of these regimes is a major human rights abuser opposed to Israel’s right to exist and willing to use brute force to suppress its own people.
And given the present weakness of Hezbollah, the Assad regime and Abadi, all of these puppets rely upon Tehran to stay in power. When Iran is their lifeline, these regimes won’t be persuaded to distance themselves from Iran no matter how much foreign pressure is placed upon them.
Without Iranian support, Iraq would have been divided into three states, Assad’s regime would have fallen and Hezbollah would have been significantly weakened in Lebanon long ago. For this reason, Iran has become deeply entrenched in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. In fact, Iran has become so deeply entrenched within these three countries that Iranian influence will not fade away with a couple of air-strikes; Iran’s control over Iraq, Syria and Lebanon impacts every aspect of life in these countries.
Therefore, it is only via complete regime change in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and in Iran itself that the adverse influence of the Iranian regime will come to an end. And who is most likely to bring this regime change about? In Syria and Iraq, there already is some Kurdish autonomy. This autonomy has been weakened after Abadi and his Shi’ite militias, backed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, attacked the disputed areas of the Kurdistan Region, and Turkey, backed by its ex-Muslim Brotherhood, ex-ISIS and ex-Al Nusra Front allies attacked Afrin and the surrounding areas. However, the damage that was done can be undone with both Israeli and American air support.
Despite the damage inflicted upon the Kurds in Afrin and Kirkuk, the Kurds remain our most trusted partner, who have the potential to entirely block the pathway of the Shi’ite crescent from Tehran to the Mediterranean Sea. The Kurds together with the Christian Arabs and Druze in Lebanon, the Druze and Beduin in Syria and the Balochis, Ahwazi Arabs, Azeris and young revolutionaries in Iran present a viable alternative to the Iranian regime’s reign of terror. If emboldened by Israeli and American air support, they can change the status quo in the region in both America’s and Israel’s favor.
The author is a senior media research analyst at the Center for Near East Policy Research and a correspondent for the Israel Resource News Agency. She is the author of Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab media.