Larijani is one of the most powerful politicians in Iran. He is the head of the Islamic Republic’s judiciary, and a close advisor to, and an ally of, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist, and expert on Iran and US foreign policy, writes in his article for the Arab News, “The Iranian regime has threatened a ‘severe’ response to the US sanctions. While these kinds of threats by the Iranian generals are political posturing and boasting, the regime will most likely ratchet up its asymmetric warfare in the region. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) will likely increase its financial, military, intelligence and advisory support to those militias and terrorist groups in the region that have as their mission inflicting damage on US and Arab nations’ national security interests and scuttling their foreign policy.”
Iranian leaders and their state-owned media have downplayed Trump’s sanctions in an attempt to project power to their fundamentalist base and proxies. Still,
it is important to point out that Trump’s decision on the nuclear deal, as well as the new sanctions, are a political blow and a warning to the leaders of the Iranian regime.
According to Dr. Rafizadeh, the sanctions imposed on Larijani are a victory for human rights defenders and the Iranian people. The people are empowered to pursue their demands for justice, rule of law, democracy, and to bring those who have committed human rights violations closer to justice. As well, the sanctions on the IRGC’s cyber unit are also a step towards establishing a larger program to promote peace and stability by combating the regime’s attempts in hacking other governmental systems and organizations.
“White House’s decision to set an ultimatum to fix the nuclear deal is a political blow and a warning to Tehran, which has used the JCPOA to heighten its interventionist and expansionist policies in the Arab world,” writes Dr. Majid Rafizadeh.
The White House is sending a message that the Iranian regime will not only be monitored for its nuclear defiance, development, research and proliferation, but it will also be closely watched for human rights violations.
At the international level, Trump’s re-certification for “the last time”, gives the administration a stronger platform to persuade the UK, France and Germany to fix the nuclear agreement or to pull out of it. At the domestic level, the White House allows the US Congress additional time to either work on legislation that would address the loopholes of the nuclear deal, or increase the president’s leverage with other members of the JCPOA enabling him to pressure the other JCPOA members into fixing some of the inadequacies of the nuclear deal.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh writes, “Iran must also be required to adhere to the spirit of the nuclear deal, as it is continuously heightening interventionist and expansionist policies in the Arab world and violating human rights inside Iran and abroad. The nuclear deal has empowered the IRGC and its militias in the region due to the sanctions relief. This has further radicalized, militarized and destabilized the region. Iran continues to escalate its antagonistic policy towards other Arab nations, the US and other Western nations.”
While the Iranian regime downplays US sanctions, Trump’s final waiver builds a robust plan to counter the Iranian regime’s destructive behavior and hegemonic ambitions in the region.