Peter Kohanloo and Ben Tabatabaei
ago, then-candidate Donald Trump vowed to keep America out of costly, perpetual
wars in the Middle East. Last year, President Trump doubled down, declaring
that Washington should “stop the endless wars.”
before Iran’s ayatollahs faced the most serious popular challenge to their
misrule in four decades, in response to their blunderous shoot-down of a
Ukrainian passenger jet and the ongoing repression and poverty that mark the
lives of most Iranians. The question now is: Can US policy affords to tip the
internal balance against the mullahs, even as Trump tries to extricate us from
is yes. These goals — regime change in Iran and ending endless wars — are, in
durable, responsible way for the United States to leave the region is to see
the Tehran regime replaced in the long term. Otherwise, Iran will continue to
sow instability that will inevitably draw us back in. It’s up to Iranians to do
the heavy lifting, but Americans can help.
heart of the Middle East, the Islamic Republic projects power into Mesopotamia,
the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula. Its aims are to undermine US allies and
dominate one of the most strategically crucial parts of the world in the image
of Ayatollah Khomeini’s fanatical Shiite ideology. To this end, the Islamic
Republic funds a network of terrorist proxies, including Hamas, Hezbollah and
Islamic Jihad, the Houthi rebels in Yemen and Shiite militias that brutalize
September, the regime attacked Saudi petroleum facilities, bringing more than
half of Saudi oil production to a halt. Then there is the Iranian
nuclear-weapons program, worrisome in itself in a tinderbox region — doubly so
in light of Iranian leaders’ not-infrequent threats to erase the world’s sole
Jewish state from the pages of history.
mullahs’ expansionist vision isn’t limited to their own neighbourhood,
moreover. In South America, Iranian proxy Hezbollah has forged ties with
anti-American governments in Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. Hezbollah
has even emerged as a global drug-trafficker, according to the Obama and Trump
administrations, pushing tons of cocaine from Latin America plus heroin
obtained from the Taliban into American cities.
Not only do
Iran’s rulers have a presence in our backyard, but they also pose a direct
threat to the homeland. Sleeper cells of Hezbollah’s Islamic Jihad Organization
exist in the United States, and one such agent, Bronx-based Ali Kourani, was
sentenced to 40 years in federal prison last year for staking out potential
the regime in Iran has helped grease the wheels of North Korea’s missile
programs, and Tehran and Pyongyang collaborate to evade sanctions. The mullahs
are also cozy with major US rivals Russia and China, working together to
strategically undermine US interests regionally and globally.
line: We can diminish the nefarious influence of the Islamic Republic, but we
can’t end it without ending the regime. Even a weakened regime in Iran
continues to pose a national security threat to the US.
a world in which Iranians have an accountable government that upholds their
dignity and pursues prosperity. A world where Iran functions as a normal
nation-state and works with Israel and the US as partners. Such a change would
make it dramatically easier for us to decrease our regional footprint.
can’t “fix” Iran. It can’t create a new regime for the Iranians. And no one
expects that after the “nation-building” disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan. But
Team Trump can assist Iranians — foremost; by not rushing to ink a new nuclear
deal with a regime that is losing its grip by the day. Such a deal could
stabilize the regime’s finances and prolong its life.
The policy of
maximum economic pressure should continue, as it buys time for the opposition
to organize itself around a clear vision for Iran’s future, one that is
inclusive and nationalistic. More pressure on the regime will provide a space
for Iranians inside and outside the country to merge their efforts and create
the leadership that will be necessary to replace Iran’s current rulers.
anti-Trump pundits’ claims, Trump’s words and deeds haven’t unified Iranians
behind the regime. His most recent tweet in Persian, for example, was the
most-liked tweet in that language in Twitter’s history. By continuing the
economic pressure and steering clear of the regime’s bazaar-style nuclear
tricks, Trump has a great chance of success. Success that only the likes of Ronald
Reagan and Franklin Roosevelt have achieved in the history of American foreign
Kohanloo is president of Iranian-American Majority, where Ben Tabatabaei is a
member of the board.
Headline: How America can help Iranians free themselves
Source: New York Post