By Hamid Bahrami
3 May 2018
Conflicts in the Middle East are reaching a decisive point as all involved sides hold their finger on the trigger.
But what is evident amid this chaos is that despite West’s recent military strike against the Syrian dictator, the Iranian regime still has its safe Tehran-Mediterranean corridor to augment its proxies in the region.
Neither Arab states nor Israel are yet to challenge Tehran’s control over this corridor while Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) targets both Riyadh and Tel Aviv.
In fact, this disastrous situation was predicted almost a decade ago by the leader of the Iranian opposition, Maryam Rajavi, as she warned “the regime’s regional mischief is more perilous than its nuclear program because the theocracy’s fundamental pillar is based on exporting terrorism.”
Any politician or pundit who naively expects dictators to destroy their pillars will not be able to analyze and resolve this type of crises.
On the other hand, many experts and Western officials have repeatedly expressed grave concerns over direct military confrontation between Arab countries or Israel and the regime’s terrorist force IRGC, which I believe will be inevitable, at least in Syria, if the world does not tackle Tehran.
The regime in Tehran practically holds hostage, and hence controls, governments of four Arab countries including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen through its puppets or paramilitary proxies.
Leverage to Balance Power
Countries trying to tackle Iran may not have these kinds of leverage to balance the power. Thus, when necessary, they have to defend themselves by direct confrontation. According to reports, Israel has already done this several times by attacking IRGC’s military bases near its borders.
In this regard, General Hossein Salami, IRGC’s Deputy threats Israel saying “wherever you are in the occupied land, you’ll be under fire from us, from east and west. You became arrogant. If there's a war, the result will be your complete elimination.”
On the other hand, Israel’s defence minister Avigdor Lieberman said that “Israel doesn’t want war ... but if Iran attacks Tel Aviv, we will hit Tehran”.
The regime considers Syria as the frontline of its “holy struggle” against “enemies”. Following President Trump’s decision to pull out the US forces from Syria, he called for an Arab army to replace them. If the intention is not to reduce domestic pressure on Trump, one should ask what is the mission of this Arab army?
If the Arab-West block considers Syria as the main battlefield against the Iranian regime’s expansionism, it is unclear whether they have commensurate leverage on the ground.
Expel the IRGC
To defeat and eventually expel the IRGC from the region at the least cost, the solution is to be found inside Iran, where the Iranian regime admits that the popular dissent is the greatest danger to its survival.
Some experts argue that cutting off Iran’s income could limit capabilities of IRGC’s proxies abroad. However, any action to this end will have to include punitive measures, which would not be enough to counter the regime in Tehran.
But What Is The Useful Policy?
Iranian people are determined to overthrow the regime as thousands of demonstrators chanted “beware of the day we get armed” during an anti-regime protest in Fars province on April 20.
When the Iranian people are ready to challenge the regime, despite the heavy price and personal sacrifices, they are worthy of and deserve a helping hand from Western democracies.
Snipping the Tehran-Mediterranean corridor without vast military operations is possible if the IRGC is forced to defend the regime’s survival inside Iran.
In light of this reality, the IRGC faces a certain defeat because no Iranian will back such a repressive and corrupt force. Moreover, demonstrators have been chanting the following during protests: “tanks, machine guns, will no longer intimidate us”.
Hamid Bahrami is a former political prisoner from Iran. Living in Glasgow, Scotland, he is a human right and political activist and works as a freelance journalist. Bahrami has contributed to The Hill, Al Arabiya English and the Daily Caller as his work cover’s Iran’s Middle East actions and domestic social crackdown.