When US President Trump was elected to office, policy toward Iran began to change. In his article for the Hill, former Ambassador Adam Ereli, who was the U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain and deputy State Department spokesperson during the Bush administration, outlines the ways that Trump can positively affect the Iranian peoples’ call for change.
When President Trump addressed the UN General Assembly in September, he said, “The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most. This is what causes the regime to restrict internet access, tear down satellite dishes, shoot unarmed student protesters, and imprison political reformers.”
Regarding the JCPOA, Ereli writes, “The deal does nothing to slow rampant arrests and mass executions, not to mention the regime’s continuing concealment of its nuclear facilities. Let’s stop giving the mullah’s a free pass to murder the Iranian people.”
In the two years since the signing of the JCPOA, Iranian influence in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon has reportedly increased. According to Ereli, “the Iranian regime has been emboldened. An agreement that ignores Iran’s extraterritorial incursions, chemical weapons and terrorism isn’t an agreement; it’s capitulation.”
While the JCPOA ended projects related to the nuclear fuel cycle for 10 years, which is now eight, ballistic missile testing was not addressed.
However, Trump has addressed the ongoing development of Iran’s missile program, saying, “We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides for the eventual construction of a nuclear program.”
Billions of dollars in frozen assets were released to Iran via the JCPOA, which also opened doors for deals worth billions more. Ereli writes that the IRGC and its Quds Force control approximately 40 percent of Iran’s total economy. “An estimated 80 percent of the profits of newly signed deals will directly benefit the ruling regime, not the Iranian people, with the Quds Force as perhaps the biggest winner,” he says.
Congress overwhelmingly passed H.R. 3364, last August. The bill sanctioned the IRGC under Executive Order 13224 issued by President George W. Bush. Ereli wants the United States to immediately and strictly enforce this legislation, with zero tolerance of any violations.
Secretary of State Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Mattis have publicly spoken about U.S. policy moving in in the direction of regime change. U.S. regional partners are also increasingly outspoken on this issue. Saudi Arabia, the Syrian opposition, Egypt, Yemen and the Palestinian Authority all sent official delegations to a gathering of some 100,000 supporters of the Iranian opposition in Paris, last July. When he spoke to the gathering, former Saudi Intelligence Chief and Ambassador to the United States Prince Turki bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz al Saud said, “The behavior of the regime in Tehran does not make it a democratic system, but a murderous dictatorship.”
The time for a genuine change is now.