The United States has imposed sanctions on 30 foreign companies or individuals for transferring sensitive technology to Iran for its missile program or for violating export controls on Iran. The new sanctions imposed on entities and individuals who have assisted the Iranian regime’s missile program comprise a positive step to prevent the mullahs’ expanding missile program, which pursues no objective but warmongering and the spread of fundamentalism.
Designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), and imposing sanctions against all its affiliated institutions and entities is a necessary and important measure to stop Tehran’s belligerent and terrorist activities in the region.
When it comes to the question of Iran, a change of guards in Washington has also brought a new, significant and change bearing high potential.
The past 12 months a deal aimed at curbing the Iran nuclear program was in full effect and it is quite obvious how negative the agreement was and is. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) found a second major violation in November of Iran exceeding the 130 metric tons heavy water limits. This is a serious matter and quite consequential.
Iran’s ballistic missile tests, in violation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929 and 2231, are also sources of grave concern. The recent behavior has been seen again from Tehran in Persian Gulf waters, harassing U.S. Navy ships on two different occasions are all aspects of the belligerence seen from Tehran.
The advocates who vigorously encouraged the international community to sign the nuclear agreement with Iran argue that despite not being a perfect agreement on its own terms, the deal still holds the hope of transforming Iran into a regime with moderate and civilized characteristics.
A legitimate question to be asked is where has this agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), left us now? Harsh reality now lies in the fact that the situation has actually degraded.
According to the U.N. human rights monitor, Iran is the global leader in the number of executions per capita. Human Rights Watch, criticizing Tehran’s mass execution of Sunnis in 2016 said the number represents “a shameful low point in its human rights record.” Iran’s terror at home is matched by its terror abroad and expansion across the Middle East.
In the summer of 2016, almost 70,000 Iranian proxy forces were stationed in Syria alone. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the IRGC are not only aggressors, but also plunderers of this country’s national wealth. Nearly 50% of Iran’s GDP is controlled by the two, providing the money needed to pursue warmongering efforts across the Middle East.
A recent publication by the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) highlights the fact that Khamenei, the IRGC or their affiliates directly or indirectly control 14 economic powerhouses valued at over dozens of billions of dollars. This money is being poured into the objective of realizing the extremist regime’s domestic and foreign policies.
Tehran is allocating 15 to 20 billion dollars each year in Syria to fund their war and maintain Assad in power. Qassem Suleimani, the IRGC Quds Force chief, spends billions to fund Shiite militias in Iraq and Yemen. This leads to the instigation of sectarian violence across the region.
To this end, the mullahs’ regime in Tehran has not only not changed after the JCPOA, it has actually worsened its behavior. Thus, the rational conclusion is there will be no change from within this regime. The ultimate solution to this most serious threat lies in the West beginning to work with the Iranian people and the NCRI as the most organized Iranian opposition group. The goal should be to bring about regime change in Iran.
What deserves celebration this year, as a source of hope against the larger struggle against the Iranian regime, is the fact that Iranian dissidents incarcerated in Iraq were liberated into safety. While many voiced doubts in this regard, this feat was accomplished thanks to enormous efforts placed by members from both sides of the aisle in Congress, parallel to leaders of the Iranian-American community across the globe and friends in Albania. Tehran suffered a strategic setback in its effort to annihilate the general body of its main opposition.
Shahriar Kia is a political analyst and member of Iranian opposition (PMOI/MEK). He graduated from North Texas University. He tweets at @shahriarkia.