Second, the White House should engage in proactive steps to discredit the disinformation campaign fueled by Tehran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and seize the narrative on Iran policy resulting in the Iran nuclear deal, by no longer ignoring Iran’s malign activities by the Obama administration. A 2012 report by the Library of Congress Federal Research Division titled, Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security: A Profile, identified several individuals and organizations operating for years for MOIS, against the opposition. It seeks to tarnish the resistance’s reputation to reinforce rule of Ayatollahs. We suggest a thorough counterintelligence review of the Iranian influence operation worldwide to combat regime disinformation.
Third, the National Security Strategy is out-of-date. Reassess and change it so that it takes into consideration the demonstrations and subsequent violence by security forces against protestors. Expansion and acceleration of protests in Iran means regime change from within needs to be in U.S. national-security and human-rights strategies.
Consider historical risks taken by protestors to defy authorities and how quickly events turned in parallel cases: 1989 alone saw movements for change in Romania, Tiananmen Square, and the Berlin Wall, and in what came to be known as the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia.
Will 2018 bring revolution to Iran? Perhaps. The diverse coalition of demonstrators that have taken to the streets is making it clear that the theocracy ruling Iran has no future. As nuclear strategist, Fred Charles Iklé, remarked in his classic treatise: “Just as every war must end,” we say all dictatorships will fall, because they lack popular support. If ongoing, nationwide demonstrations do not reflect a lack of popular support and a regime on the ropes, what does? If not now, when?
CIA Director Pompeo rightly observes: “The economic conditions in Iran are not good. That’s what caused the people to take to the streets,” Pompeo observes. “Meanwhile, the Iranian regime threatens violence. Qassem Soleimani wastes their money in places like Lebanon and Syria and Yemen trying to foment goodness knows what.”
As former American UN Ambassador John Bolton said in Paris to the Grand Gathering of Iranians for Free Iran: “The behavior and the objectives of the regime are not going to change, and therefore the only solution is to change the regime itself!”
The question is not if regime change will happen, but when it will happen.
Raymond Tanter served as a senior member on the Middle East Desk of the National Security Council staff in the Reagan-Bush administration, personal representative of the secretary of Defense to international security and arms control talks in Europe, and is now professor emeritus at the University of Michigan. Follow him on Twitter @AmericanCHR.
Ivan Sascha Sheehan is director of the graduate programs in Global Affairs and Human Security and Negotiations and Conflict Management in the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Baltimore. Follow him on Twitter @ProfSheehan.
Image: A gas flare on an oil production platform in the Soroush oil fields is seen alongside an Iranian flag in the Gulf July 25, 2005. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/File Photo