by Amir Basiri
A year after the nuclear deal has come into effect, not only has the Iranian regime failed to manifest a modicum of cooperation on the crises riddling the region, but it has also grown bolder in its efforts to expand terrorism, to fan the fires of sectarianism in neighboring countries, and to threaten global peace and stability
In a news conference held after signing the nuclear deal with Iran, President Obama, who had reached the pinnacle of his foreign policy toward Iran, expressed hope “to have conversations with Iran that incentivize them to behave differently in the region, to be less aggressive, less hostile, more cooperative, to operate the way we expect nations in the international community to behave.”
He also stipulated that the U.S. would continue to engage Iran to cooperate in resolving issues in Syria and Iraq, and to stop encouraging Houthis in Yemen.
Last Thursday, State Department Spokesman Mark Toner admitted just how misplaced those hopes were by saying, “[W]e continue to see Iranian behavior in the region that is, frankly, not positive, that is unconstructive.”
A year after the nuclear deal has come into effect, not only has the Iranian regime failed to manifest a modicum of cooperation on the crises riddling the region, but it has also grown bolder in its efforts to expand terrorism, to fan the fires of sectarianism in neighboring countries, and to threaten global peace and stability.
During this time, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which controls a large portion of Iran’s economy and has benefited the most from the economic incentives of the nuclear deal, has spent the cash windfall to send arms to the Houthis in Yemen, which the latter fires at U.S. ships off the coast of Yemen.
Iran’s contribution to the resolution of the Syrian conflict has been the dispatch of tens of thousands of troops to shore up the Assad regime and prolong a crisis that has helped a despot maintain his rule and has so far claimed the lives of nearly half a million Syrians.
And in Iraq, Iran-backed militias continue to keep the country on the precipice of sectarian strife while national security forces are pushing forward a campaign to root out the Islamic State.
Obama thought Iran’s agenda in the Middle East would change on the morrow of the nuclear deal. The past year’s events only show how much the estimation was far off the mark.
General Hossein Salami, the Deputy Chief of the IRGC, boasted of Iran’s expansionism in the region during a speech he delivered on the anniversary of the occupation of the U.S. embassy in Tehran. He also threatened that Iran would scrap the nuclear deal and reactivate its centrifuges if the U.S. didn’t stand up to its commitments.
Salami’s remarks are only the latest in a wave of menacing and insulting rhetoric being spewed out by top Iranian regime officials.
The threats were taken a step further by another IRGC commander who recently promised elite fighters would be in the U.S. and Europe very soon, alluding to possible terrorist activities being carried out in those regions.
However, in contrast to the powerful image that Tehran is trying to exude, Iran is engulfed in economic and social crises, and its increased hostility toward its neighbors and the international community is not a display of its might but rather a testament to the failure of the West -- especially the Obama administration -- in adopting a decisive plan of action toward Tehran, and opting to curb the nefarious deeds of the Iranian regime through incentives and leniency.
This is yet more proof of the reality that the Iranian regime’s belligerence cannot be undercut through appeasement and concessions, and only a firm policy will force Tehran to retrace their steps and toe the line. Anything less will further drive the region into chaos and mayhem.
After eight years, the Obama administration has run its course. The next president will have the chance to right the wrongs and correct past mistakes by taking the right side and standing with the people of Iran and the region, who have suffered the most at the hands of the mullahs and have the greatest potential to bring change that can put Iran and the Middle East on the path toward the re-establishment of peace and stability.
Amir Basiri is a human rights activist. Follow him on Twitter at @amir_bas
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