The real problem with Iran is its regime
Iran is beginning to realise the effects of the US sanctions against it and the weight of the American pressure on the Europeans, who have no choice but to bow to the demands of the United States.
Therefore, all of Iran’s threats are meaningless, even though there is near unanimity in Washington on the need to avoid a military clash with Tehran. US President Donald Trump knows that the American people do not favour such a war in the absence of a clear Iranian provocative action aimed at the US presence in the region.
In any case, there is an American war against Iran. The nature of this war is economic. There is nothing that calls for a military intervention and direct confrontation as long as the main US objective is to send a clear message to Iran, a message co-written with Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia, which recently hosted three summits — Arab, Islamic and Gulf — that strongly condemned Tehran’s actions outside Iran’s borders.
The content of the message is that the nuclear agreement is a thing of the past and that it is impossible to remarket it once a new cover has been found. Trump and his team are not Barack Obama and his associates, such as Valerie Jarrett, who was the former US president’s closest adviser and a friend of the Obama’s, and who was utterly fascinated by Iran given that she grew up there.
For the mediation of German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to succeed and for the success of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who also visited Tehran, Iran will have to change.
This change can’t just be in pretty rhetoric that speaks of a non-aggression agreement with the Gulf states. This change is linked to Iran’s behaviour in every country where Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-aligned militias are engaged in specific activities in the service of a project that serves to destabilise Arab societies.
What is Iran doing in Lebanon if not trying to destroy the state institutions of this small country, which, since the signing of the Cairo Agreement in 1969, has been subjected to the tyranny of illegal weapons and militias throughout its territory?
What is Iran doing in Syria other than supporting a bloodthirsty minority regime that seeks, in partnership with Tehran, to displace the largest number of Syrians from their homes to bring about an irreversible demographic change in the country?
What is Iran doing in Iraq except seeking to replicate in that country the experience of the Islamic Republic, where the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is the most important tool for exercising the power of the supreme leader in Tehran?
All it has to do in Iraq to attain that objective is to marginalise the role of the national army in favour of the dominance of the Popular Mobilisation Forces, with the idea of course that those forces would play in Iraq the role of the IRGC in Iran.
What is Iran doing in Yemen? Is there really a future for any part of the Yemeni territory controlled by the Houthis? Does Yemen need more ignorance, misery, underdevelopment and spread of disease in all fields? No one in Tehran has revealed the Houthis’ economic, political or educational programmes.
The problem with Iran does not reside in the agreement on the Iranian nuclear programme. It resides in a regime that believes that “exporting revolution” is its sole purpose and reason for existing. There is no room for the success of any renewed Iranian attempt to remarket the nuclear agreement. Europe is not convinced and the US administration knows all the details of Iranian behaviour of the last 40 years.
Does Iran have new marketable goods other than the nuclear deal? Let’s see.
Iran sought to own nuclear weapons. What was the result of that? The only result was pushing the region into an arms race, especially since no significant state in the region, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey, would yield to the fait accompli.
Iran lost the long war it thought it had been waging on the United States since the affair of the hostages at the US Embassy in Tehran in November 1979. It lost that war for two very simple reasons: It omitted to build a strong economy connected with extraordinary developments in the world and it has not built a model for a successful political experiment that can be exported outside its territory. Politically, Iran has nothing to export except an experience based on rogue militias that wreak havoc and corruption.
Whether or not the United States negotiates with Iran is not the problem. The problem is whether Iran will transform itself into a normal country like all the other states of the region.
For that to happen, it will take a fundamental change of regime. This is an inevitable change even if Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo keep repeating that the United States is not aiming to make such a change.