Tomorrow President Trump will announce the Administration’s new strategy for Iran. It is a welcome change from the delusional and dangerous belief of the Obama administration that Iran could somehow be a partner for peace. They cannot and the new plan acknowledges them as the greatest threat in the region and begins to address all of their malign activities. We agree and have contributed some of our ideas to the Administration.
The Iran Deal (JCPOA) has taken an inordinate amount of attention away from all of the other ways Iran destabilizes and attempts to dominate the region. The Trump team will now take a holistic approach to Iran that uses all aspects of US power and engages our allies in the effort as well. The goal is to roll back Iranian use of their proxies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere to extend Iranian influence toward eventual hegemony. It will also address Iranian support of terrorism and violations of other international agreements such as US Security Council Resolutions.
This will take many forms, one of which is the President declining to certify that the JCPOA as it currently exists is in the national interest. It most certainly is not and it’s time to either fix it or forget it. The entire reason to do a deal was to ensure Iran never got nuclear weapons, the JCPOA actually paved Iran a path to them with “sunset clauses” that remove all prohibitions after no more than 15 years.
Iran’s ballistic missile program was specifically excluded from the JCPOA in a stunning case of national security malfeasance. There is no use for these other than to deliver a nuclear warhead and allowing Iran to continue their development cannot be tolerated. This will be another area where the US will focus all elements of our influence on ensuring Iran will be unable to deliver any payload to our shores.
It remains to be seen if a better deal can be made, but we need to make the effort. That will require some leverage and another piece of the plan will be designating all of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization. They are and recognizing this will make it much tougher for them to use the many businesses and front groups they have developed to conduct and support terror operations worldwide.
There will also be actions to rein in the Iranian-led militias operating across Iraq and Syria. While they may be mostly made up of Iraqi citizens, too many have loyalty to the Mullahs in Tehran. These Shia militias now control large swaths of territory in the Sunni areas of Iraq that were just liberated from ISIS. They conducted amounts of massive sectarian slaughter during the counter-ISIS operations and it is still going on. They must be moved out.
Hezbollah is another Iranian proxy which has sent tens of thousands of fighters into Syria. They are flush with some of the hundreds of millions of dollars Iran has given them out of the cash bonanza from the Iran Deal. They have been receiving US funds which were given to the Lebanese Armed Forces and then funneled to Hezbollah. This will come to a stop under the new plan.
The strategy represents a solid US refusal to stand aside as Iran conducts and supports terrorism, attacks and intimidates its neighbors, and develops weapons that can threaten everyone worldwide. This is American leadership and long overdue.