Secretary of State Pompeo gave what can perhaps be considered the most comprehensive Trump Administration policy statement on Iran, and it is a memorable moment.
The speech at the Heritage Foundation was the total opposite of the Appeasement Obama policies, which culminated with the horrendous nuclear deal, as well as with the transfer of cash money to the rogue regime in return for the release of the 10 American seamen captured illegally by Iran. What made it a remarkable speech was the fact that it left no stone untouched — no more bits-and-pieces approach of criticizing certain elements of Iran’s foreign policy, rather a detailed, concrete attack on the entire foreign policy of the regime in Tehran and the philosophy behind it. While it was not a specific call for a regime change, it was a very clear call for the type of change that will not be possible with the current people and ideology in charge, unless they decide to go through the mother of all political metamorphosis.
The speech referred to the intervention in Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon, terrorism, the genocidal threats against Israel, the nuclear program and the terrible suppression in Iran of most basic human rights. First, came the historic President Trump speech, then the specifics of the policy. A textbook diplomatic approach, one which put to rest a lot , if not all the criticism about the amateurish handling of foreign policy under President Trump.
People can like or not the policy and what is behind it, but whether in The New York Times or in CNN, or in Congress, people cannot any more argue that there is no thinking, no planning, no strategy. They all exist and they present the rogue regime with a stark choice: change or be out. On top of all that, there is another element of high significance-timing. The great Winston Churchill once said that in foreign policy, timing is fifty percent of everything. In fact, in the case of Iran, now is the time to go all out against the imperial designs of the Ayatollahs. It is so, because most of the main actors who have a say and interest about Iran are now finding themselves at the edge of their patience. For them, the time for statements is over, the time for action has come. This is what the Saudis, Bahrainis, Kuwaitis, Emiratis, and Egyptians think. This is what the Israelis want. This is also, though to a lesser extent, what erstwhile Shi'ites allies of Iran feel. Example: Muqtada Al Sadr, the great winner of the Iraqi elections, not a peace-loving guy by no stretch of the imagination, but somebody who wants Shi’ism in Iraq, but not Iranian Shi’ism domination. In this case, Iraqi nationalism seem to supersede Shi’ite sectarianism. It is still not the case with Hezbollah in Lebanon, but even there, one can see signs, that this particular Shi’ite movement wants to consolidate its emerging dominant position in Lebanese politics, rather than be a blindly-obedient tool of Iranian foreign policy. So we are left with three other actors, Turkey, Russia, and the EU.
Turkey seems to have defined its territorial ambitions in Syria, and they focus on North-West Syria, with Idlib and even more so Aleppo being the main targets. These are Sunni areas, and the Turks have no desire for any Iranian influence and presence there. Russia made it officially clear, that they want the Iranians and Hezbollah out of Syria, and the Russians follow this statement with a ringing inaction when dealing with the recent devastating aerial attacks on Iranian military installations in Syria, which were allegedly carried out by the Israelis. Yes, the Russians oppose the abandonment of the Iran nuclear deal, as proposed by President Trump, and surely it is also the EU policy. Here comes Secretary Pompeo, who in simple English threatens Iran with the most stifling sanctions in history. Not just words. Now every potential trade partner of the Iranians understands that this is an administration which follows words with actions. So huge corporations, like Total and Engie the French, the shipping giant Maersk and the second largest German bank DZ, are on record announcing that they are about to terminate business with the terror regime in Tehran. Trump policy seems to be working.
This piece focuses on Syria and the sanctions for one crucial reason, and this is the impact of them on the very fragile domestic situation in Iran itself. A successful American-Israeli action to drive the Iranians out of Syria, thus exposing the waste of billions of dollars by the regime, coupled with effective sanctions, will inevitably lead to a popular rebellion against the Islamists. Today it is in Kazerun in South Iran, very soon it can be all over.
This is now the moment of truth for all those who want the Ayatollahs out-the time to squeeze, to tighten the pressure, to take the unavoidable risks. To dare and to succeed.
Dr. Josef Olmert is currently a professor of political science and Middle East Studies at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Olmert got his BA and MA magna cum laude from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and his Ph.D. from the London School of Economics. Dr. Olmert is a native of Israel, where he taught at the Tel Aviv University, and fulfilled senior positions in the service of Likud governments, including dealing with senior American statesmen and diplomats. Dr. Olmert is the author of three books and numerous articles in academic magazines and media outlets all over the world. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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