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An Inconvenient Truth: Back-Seating Iran's Terrorism

Open Policy Of Regime Change Needed, Not Nuclear Deals

By Steve Schippert | March 28, 2007

In the wake of the debate and criticism of the weak United Nations Security Council sanctions levied against Iran this past weekend, one thing remains clear: Iranian state-sponsored terrorism remains decidedly back seated to the more comfortably addressed nuclear crisis. The United States and the rest of the West continue to erroneously shelve Iranian terrorism, with its rich and bloody three-decade history, in complete deference to a still-undeveloped nuclear threat. While a nuclear-armed Iran cannot be tolerated, this reversal of priorities is a grave mistake.

In a war against Islamist terrorists, how can their chief state sponsor conceivably proceed unaddressed and unconfronted? Is it not Iranian terrorism that is the principle source of the nuclear fear held by the West? Is it not Iranian terrorism that causes the West to cringe at a nuclear Iran decidedly less so than a nuclear India, or even a nuclear Pakistan under the stewardship of Musharraf?

Iran Sanctions Are Hollow And Weak
Perhaps we are to draw comfort that the UNSC sanctions exist at all, but even the paper measures to address the maturing Iranian nuclear threat are weak and not compelling. In fact, they are likely to be ignored by Iran once again. Victor Comras noted the alarmingly weak language in UN Security Council Resolution 1747. The language included repeated calls on states to “exercise vigilance and restraint” when dealing with travel of select named individuals and the sale of a short list of military items, rather than to call on states to block or disallow.

The sanctions unanimously approved against Iran on March 24 are not even new, but simply an expansion of the existing set of minimal limitations stated in UNSC Resolution 1737 from December 23, 2006. Comras also notes that, when held under review, the sanctions now levied against Iran are less penalizing and less restrictive than recent sanctions against Serbia, Lybia, Iraq, Congo, Afghanistan, and Sudan.

To the extent that the Iran sanctions exist, they are in place because of mistrust over the Iranian nuclear program, its clandestine nature and the nature of the regime itself. Observers should bear in mind that Iran’s quest for ‘peaceful nuclear power’ was placed under the direct military supervision and guidance of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, wrested from its civilian nuclear department in 2004, just its existence was publicly revealed. Recall also that under the December UNSC resolution intended to curb Iran’s nuclear quest, the Bushehr nuclear facility under Russian construction was exempted and permitted to proceed.

Iranian Terrorism Is Clearly Not Compelling
The existing sanctions proffered by the UN Security Council are weak and not compelling. On the other hand, Iran’s history of state sponsored terrorism is compelling. Correction: It should be.

Iranian terror continues apace, just as it has for nearly 3 decades, without the international address and concern that its nuclear program is afforded. Since the 1979 storming of the United States embassy in Tehran during the Islamic revolution in Iran, Iran’s complicity in terrorist attacks around the world is clear. The US embassy bombings in Kuwait and Lebanon in 1983 along with the US Marine Barracks is commonly known by Americans.

But do many know of Iran’s support for Ayman al-Zawahiri’s planned Egyptian coup in 1990, according to top al-Qaeda operative Ali Mohamed now in US custody? He also divulged that Iran paid Zawahiri $2 million for information on Iranian military plans in the Persian Gulf. Do many consider that Iran met with (eventual) al-Qaeda operatives and Hizballah at the Popular Arab Islamic Conference meetings held in Sudan after the Gulf War of 1990-1991? That bin Laden met regularly with Iranians in Sudan for the purposes of uniting against the West, principally the United States?

How many, while pondering the prospects of a potentially nuclear Iran, consider such in context with Iran’s Hizballah training al-Qaeda terrorists in the art of suicide truck bomb operations in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley ahead of the 1998 simultaneous US embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya? Perhaps also lost is that the 2003 al-Qaeda attacks on three housing complexes in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia were ordered by al-Qaeda commanders Saif al-Adel and Saad bin Laden, operating from within Iran while under “house arrest.”

And this is just cherry-picking the lot. Yes, Iran’s history of state sponsored terrorism should be compelling, but it clearly is not.

Rewarding Terrorism And Building Iran’s Plants
According to the Security Council statement following the listed UN sanctions, if only Iran will cease its uranium enrichment, the members propose “a fresh start in the negotiation of a comprehensive agreement with Iran.” Without regard to the state’s extensive activities in terrorism, past and present, the members agreed to “actively support the building of new light water power reactors in Iran through international joint projects.”

In keeping with the tradition of dismissing Iranian terrorism activities, it would also be acceptable to wave one of the few penalties levied against Iran for the hundreds murdered through its terrorist activities. For if Iran will only let the West build and fuel their nuclear reactors, on the table will also be the “possible removal of restrictions on United States and European manufacturers in regard to the export of civil aircraft to Iran.” Provisions are included for economic, telecommunications, energy partnership and agriculture cooperation with the world’s leading terrorist regime.

These are not rewards befitting a murderous regime whose only record worse than international terrorism is its brutality towards its own people, including political imprisonment and torture. Nothing will change with the current regime in place. These are the rewards that should await the good people of Iran once the mullahcracy is defeated and removed from their midst.

An Open Policy Of Regime Change Needed
Apologists continue to forward the concept that Iranian attacks on Americans and Iraqis in Iraq are the work of ‘rogue elements’ of the IRGC’s Quds Force, dismissing yet more terrorist activity. This is absurd. In Iran, the regime deals with ‘rogue elements’ of its society by publicly hanging teenagers from cranes and burying women up to their necks and arranging brutal public stonings. The message is both public and unmistakable. There have been no such public disciplinary displays to discourage ‘rogue elements’ within its own ranks who are brazen enough to potentially spark international incidents. That’s because the attacks on American troops and Iraqi civilians are not the work of any such illusionary ‘rogue elements’ of Iran’s Quds Force terror operators.

With the regime controlling the Iranian state sponsorship of international terrorism, the only cure is the demise of the regime itself. In the absolute best case nuclear scenario, Iran would cede its program and domestically produced Iranian nuclear arms would be avoided. But what of their terrorism? Any deals made regarding their nuclear intentions would serve to strengthen and reward the regime. But their terrorism would remain.

Critics now say that we cannot attack Iran or we will drive the people into the regime’s arms in nationalistic fury. This increasingly popular argument is usually presented when any direct action against an Iran is discussed. While not advocating an attack here, this argument must been seen as the false choice it is. It presumes that the Iranian general public is on our side and we on theirs. While that is certainly true, especially among the booming Iranian youth population, since when have we as a government really determined to support the Iranian people? In what manner are we supporting them? Two radio stations, Voice of America and Radio Farda? Worrying about ‘losing’ the Iranian public without actually fundamentally supporting them is a disgracefully self-serving and myopic position.

It is ironic that the one place where Middle Eastern democratization would work most naturally is the last place we seem interested in fostering it. The people of Iran already have a democratic system in place. More importantly, what awaits the thirsting Iranian people – unlike the cases of Iraq and Afghanistan - are already-existing institutions, including a judicial system, a parliamentary system, and an electoral process. The problem is that the Islamist regime rigs the system by eliminating candidates that may pose a challenge to their power.

Imagine the devastating effect on Islamist terrorist groups worldwide when the plentiful jihadi resources of the Iranian mullah regime are taken off the marketplace. Some groups, especially Hizballah, would find themselves effectively crippled without the lifeline from their terror masters. As an added bonus for the UN Security Council, the Iranian nuclear crisis will be effectively resolved.

With haste, we should implement an open policy of regime change in Iran and actually and materially support the Iranian people before arrogantly lamenting how we just might ‘lose them.’ Here’s an intelligent start.

6 Comments

There is little that economic sanctions would do to hurt Iran. After close to 30 years of rule by the mullahs, the Iranian economy is pretty much in ruins-----they don’t need any further help from the UN!

Correct, Steve, that we need to institute a policy of regime change.

As you indicate, the problem now is that so much thinking on Iran seems polarized between endless negotiations and a direct military strike. In reality there is much we could do to rachet up the pressure without bombing.

For example, we could institute a serious human rights campaign, something the West is pretty much ignoring right now.

But as you say, it's much more comfortable to pretend like we're addressing the nuclear issue. Except that the way things are going now, Iran on the fasttrack to get the bomb.

Schippert is correct that it is not Iran's potential nuclear capability but its government's international behavior that poses a critical problem for the world's established powers. Consider that these powers - while far from enthusiastic about China's, Israel's, India's, Pakistan's, or, yes, at one time even South Africa's possession of nuclear weapons - could live with same because these upstart states were willing to abide by rules that forbade an 'export of instability.'

Not so with the present Iran. Especially not so given the global energy crisis and Iran's coastline lying athwart a main artery of the world's oil and gas traffic. So the established powers will do what they can to try to modify the mullahs' behavior with concessions, bribes, flattery, etc.

But a great obstacle: The powers themselves have divergent interests. Instance: With the fall of the Soviet Union, America, for a time, squeezed Russia out from a major role in the Middle East. Now, rearmed and rich from gas/oil, the Russians will shoulder their way back in.

Kodus to the author, Shippert, for having the courage to go against the "softly softly" de-escalation disaster of a policy being timidly and appeasingly conducted towards Iran by the State Department right now. Only yesterday, Condi Rice directly said the opposite of what must be done, she said out right that the US is NOT seeking regime change in Iran! All of this begging Iran to attend the Sharm-Al Sheikh Iraqi Peace conference for what??

The Mullahs are laughing at the weak, and painfully transparent so-called policy of US state Department towards their illegitimate regime.

It's way passed time for the serious grown-ups in the administration to take full charge of Iran policy by declaring 'regime change' as our one and only policy towards Iran, and then helping the Iranians achieve just that.

Iran got a reformist government, held candle light vigils after 9/11, helped US beat the Taliban in Afghanistan and then got included in the Axis of evil speech. As a result, we ended up with a grease monkey and a much more conservative government.

I can assure you that even the mullah hating Persians are not too happy with the current strategy.

Want to hurt the Mullahs where it hurts? establish diplomatic relations and hand over 50000 student visas.

Any regime change in Iran has to start from inside Iran by the Iranians.