Monday, April 3, 2017

Stop Iran’s expansionism in the Middle East - Reza Shafiee

by Reza Shafiee

Mullahs in Tehran have made their mission since 1979 to foster instability outside the regime.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei authorized for the first time an offer of Iranian citizenship to Afghans willing to fight in Syria. Javan, one of many Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) dailies officially broke the news on March 17. Many may not see it as something new, but indeed it is since; for months IRGC tried to hide its sending of organized fighting brigades of scores of Afghan and Pakistani nationals, known as Fatemiyoun Division for Afghans and Zenabiyoun Division for Pakistanis, to Syria. 

According to a recent report by Agence Presse-France, more than 2,100 Afghan citizens were killed in Syria. Mohammad Ali Shahidi, head of Iran’s veterans’ affairs office, said on March 7th that more than 2,000 “fighters sent from Iran have been killed in Iraq and Syria” and “Some 2,100 martyrs have been martyred so far in Iraq or other places defending the holy mausoleums,” Shahidi told the state-run IRNA news agency. 

Of course this figure is not at all accurate simply because it has left out the causalities of the IRGC in Syria. There, hardly a day goes by that in corners of Iran, one of IRGC’s men goes unburied. Some big names were among them last year. Senior IRGC commanders such as Hossein Hamedani came home in body bags. No one in Iran would miss not seeing the likes of him around because he was a butcher of Iranian dissidents at home and a war criminal in the eight year Iran-Iraq and Syrian wars. But he too was a casualty in this illegal war. 

Expansionism in the form of meddling in the affairs of neighboring countries and destabilizing the region is second nature to the Iranian regime. Khomeini and his predecessors have never hidden the idea of “glorifying Islam.” It is often said in the regime's inner circles that if: “We were to confine Islamic Republic to its borders it will suffocate.” Mullahs in Tehran have made their mission since 1979 to foster instability outside the regime. The eight-year Iran-Iraq War was but one bloody reminder of what mullahs in Tehran are capable of. The string of hostage-taking, bombings, including the U.S. barracks in Lebanon in early 1980s, and the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia in 1976 are but a few examples. These attacks cost many American lives.

Yemen is certainly the next stop for the Iranian regime to secretly occupy through its proxies. It is believed for some time now that IRGC and the Quds Force are actively supplying the Houthis minority rebels with sophisticated weapons and so-called advisors who are actually Quds Force members. What might come as shock to some is that IRGC is planning to turn them into yet another Lebanese Hezbollah. Some informed sources told Reuters on Tuesday how Iranian regime operates: “This mirrors the strategy it has used to support its Lebanese ally Hezbollah in Syria.” A senior Iranian official said Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force - the external arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps - met top IRGC officials in Tehran last month to look at ways to "empower" the Houthis.
One thing is for sure that the former U.S. administration and the rest of the Western world have tried vigorously for a long time to find “moderates,” “reformers,” and “good guys,” inside the regime. The gambit failed.

The Obama administration stretched itself thin trying to please and talk some sense to mullahs in Tehran. Some may argue that the nuclear deal was at least good for pushing back Iran’s “breakout” time to one year. But currently, the regime is bellyaching about the deal and refusing to ship out its excess heavy water out of Iran, as the terms call for. 

What the Obama administration could have done to ensure the regime would not be an actual threat would have been to uphold previous UN Security Council resolutions banning Iran from enrichment altogether. But it did not do the job and it has now left the world with current dilemma.

It is obvious that mullahs are shaken to the core by the prospect of Trump administration’s response to regime’s bullying in the region. One clear sign is Khamenei’s lack of desire for his usual tongue lashing at the United States. 

It is no secret that Khamenei is behind all strategic decisions made in Iran and every gesture his regime makes toward the United States. One crucial factor in this shift, although may be just tactical, is the fact that Obama’s “golden days” for the mullahs’ regime are certainly over. 

Ambassador John Bolton recent remarks at the Iranian Resistance’s Nowruz Celebration-Iranian New Year- in Albania made it abundantly clear that a new era in U.S.-Iran relations had begun. He said:
“I have a few words to Mullahs in Tehran. The golden era of relations with the United States is over. It is vitally important that the whole world understands that American policy on Mullahs’ regime in support of international terrorism and nuclear power program, is fundamentally changed.”
The regime may have let go of nuclear adventurism for now but surely it has hung up to something far more dangerous that is engaging in terrorism in the region. In 2004, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, president of the National Council of Resistance (NCRI) described Iranian regime’s destabilizing role in region: “Tehran’s meddling across the region is far more dangerous than the mullahs’ quest to obtain nuclear weapons.”

It is an open secret for a long time that the Iranian regime thrives on chaos because it has zero popular support at home and the only other option for it to sustain itself would be to stir unrest in the region. The single viable option to stop it would be to remove it from the neighboring countries and push it as far back as behind the Iranian borders as possible; something which should have been done a long time ago. The IRGC should not be allowed to roam around and wreak havoc.

Reza Shafiee is a member of Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)


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