Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” strategy on Iran is likely to succeed because the opposition groups within Iran will help to facilitate the external pressure, according to Professor Raymond Tanter, a senior member on the Middle East Desk of the National Security Council staff in the Reagan-Bush administration.
So what should happen next?
Well, the US needs to find a comprehensive strategy to fracture the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as well as embrace the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
The Trump administration has welcomed the Resistance so far, but this effort would be more successful if Trump explicitly recognised them by mentioning their name and supplying them with technological tools, i.e. free internet access and secure messaging applications, that would stop the Regime from attacking the Iranian people. This would accelerate regime change by Iranians by allowing protestors to communicate and take action before the IRGC cracked down on them.
Importantly, Tanter cautions, there’s no need to arm the NCRI. In fact, he called it “ill-advised” because it would make the NCRI look like an American weapon to attack the Regime, as opposed to “the genuine representatives of the Iranian people”.
Unlike Ronald Regan’s conflict with Iran over oil tankers in the 1980s, Trump is not just protecting oil interests but trying to stop Iran from gaining nuclear weapons, supporting terrorists, and creating havoc in the Middle East. By increasing sanctions pressure on Iran without actually starting a military war, Trump is devastating the Iranian economy and forcing Iran to reallocate resources from its military.
The Iranian Rial has dropped in value considerably during the tankers wars, with Iranian police cracking down on foreign-exchange offices, the central bank trying to introduce new measures to encourage bank deposits, and the Regime even artificially fixed the exchange rate. All the while, the basics are getting more expensive and the Iranian people more distraught.
Tanter said that there are three key lessons the US should heed in this conflict:
Iran is ripe for revolution, as long as the people hold the reigns.