Iran sits on one of the largest natural gas reserves in the world and is close enough to Europe to export it to the continent. In other words, Iran can be a credible rival to Russia’s dominance in the European Union’s gas market. However, large multinational companies require long-term stability before committing massive investment to such a project. The Islamic Republic’s threatening, erratic, and destabilizing behavior in the region allowed Russia to dominate the natural gas market in Europe, giving Moscow political leverage over its European customers.
Advancing the collapse of the Islamic Republic will not bog the United States down into another Middle Eastern war or cost further blood and treasure. It can be done by maintaining sanctions on the Islamic Republic and its officials and by beginning a policy of maximum support of the Iranian people, including providing Internet access, a strike fund for laborers, and a defector fund to encourage regime officials to step aside to ensure a stable and bloodless transition. Such a change presents the potential to end one of the most significant threats to America and its allies. It also offers opportunities for economic growth and for rebalancing American involvement in the world. It is a policy that will promote America’s vital interests while advancing its most cherished principles.
Cameron Khansarinia is Policy Director for the National Union for Democracy in Iran (NUFDI). Saeed Ghasseminejad is a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow them on Twitter @khansarinia and @SGhasseminejad.