Regarding Iran, it seems that over the last days, the US has taken a more potential step to support the conspiracy attempts by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to de-stabilize Iran.
Regarding Iran, it seems that over the last days, the US has taken a more potential step to support the conspiracy attempts by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to de-stabilize Iran. These conspiracy attempts include overthrowing the Islamic government, as pointed out by US Secretary of State, and forcing Qatar to join in with the policies of Gulf States to target Iran and appointing an experienced covert-operation officer, as the head of Iran’s operations in CIA. Even if the US administration and the Congress are contemplating restoring US sanctions against Iran, nevertheless, there is not yet complete consensus among influential institutions in US foreign policies over the target community to be sanctioned and they have not decided on a single target to impose economic sanctions on. The Congress is vehemently pursuing imposition of economic sanctions against Iran and especially IRRGC. In addition to sanctions, the US administration is trying to increase its presence in the region close to Iranian borders and pose direct military threat to Iran’s security so that it could apply pressure against Iran. In the following, an attempt is made to investigate US actions against Iran at two levels of think-tank, the Congress and the US administration.
- the US Administration
The US Administration policies against Iran could be divided into several categories:
- Direct military presence close to Iranian borders
- Increasing military-intelligence cooperation with US allies and regional partners to monitor and contain Iran’s financial actions and regional activities.
- Increasing intelligence efforts and intelligence-gathering within Iranian borders to achieve the ideal of ‘regime change in Iran’.
As to direct military presence in the region close to Iranian borders, the US administration is vehemently trying to increase its forces in such countries as Iraq, Afghanistan and even in Persian Gulf countries. As for military-intelligence cooperation, it is necessary to point out that the US attempts to coordinate military actions against Iran were a failure at the first stage. This is because following Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia and the announcement of the formation of an Arab NATO, there were two major concurrent setbacks: the first was the statements of Emir of Qatar in praising Iran and the second was the statements by Lebanese Foreign Minister, pointing out that the statement was issued after the participating delegates had left Saudi Arabia. However, it seems that the focus of US efforts against Iran and the upshot of Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia is coordinating intelligence efforts against Iran. As a next step, by appointing Michael D’Andrea, nicknamed as CIA’s Dark Prince, who had the experience of overseeing the hunt for bin Laden, to run CIA operations against Iran, US Central Intelligence Agency will probably adopt a far more operational approach, in the area of hardware and in line with Trump’s tough approach against Iran with support from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. This approach will probably involve applying pressure for regime change in Iran, a position clearly stated by US Secretary of State. In Foreign Relations Committee’s Hearing of the House of Representatives, Rex Tillerson announced, “Our policy towards Iran is to push back on this hegemony, contain their ability to develop, obviously, nuclear weapons and work towards support of those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government.” Last summer, Mike Pompeo, Director of CIA, also called for the Congressional action to change Iran’s behavior and ultimately bring about regime change. Of course, CIA had already gathered its analysts and staff in a center called “Persia House”. However, transforming “Iran’s Mission Centre” to a separate and distinct organization is an action indicating that the White House and CIA have raised Iran’s status in terms of intelligence activities. Mark Lowenthal, a former CIA official, believes that the new center should not be interpreted as coordination with extremists in Trump’s administration. Rather, it should be regarded as an effort for gathering all experts on Iran’s issues in the same place, ranging from spies who do intelligence-gathering to experts who analyze the intelligence.
The appointment of D’Andrea comes at a time at which it is possible to observe an emerging strategy in Saudi Arabia through which the Saudi Arabia is trying to intensify proxy wars with Iran by inciting uprising in ethnic minorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran and by also by countering groups backed by Iran in Syria and Yemen with the support from the US, especially given that in a sense, Trump formally supported the terrorist activities in Tehran. It is also possible to see an all-out support for intelligence activities against Iran in announcing support for terrorist activities in Tehran.
- The Congress
Over the last days, the most important action against Iran was carried out by the Congress. In line with intensifying non-nuclear sanctions and maintaining the regime of sanctions against Iran, the Bill S. 722 or “Countering Iran’s De-stabilizing Activities” was passed. The vote was 98, yeas to 2 nays. This act is so extensive and comprehensive that it is called “Mother of All Sanctions” and restores all sanctions suspended by JCPOA, destroys all the insignificant achievements of JCPOA, imposes extensive sanctions against Iran’s and IRGCC’s missile program and imposes economic sanctions in this area under the pre-text of human rights abuses. This is clear violation of Article 26 and 29 of JCPOA, a subject formally announced by Bernie Sanders, a vehement opponent of JCPOA. By passing this bill, the Congress showed that it does not believe at all in JCPOA. It is possible to see this attitude in the speech by Bob Corker, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, when he said, “Withdrawing from nuclear deal is even simpler than withdrawal from Paris Climate Accord…This is because in order to withdraw from this deal, it is not even necessary for the President to do anything. It is just enough not to renew exemption of Iran from sanctions”.
This bill, if ultimately passed, will have extensive political, security and defense repercussions, of which restoring the sanctions will be the most important one. By targeting missile programs of Iran and the IRGCC, and also by citing some reasons for imposing sanctions related to human rights, the members of the parliament have directly targeted the defense capabilities of the country and are trying to impose restrictions on the skills and practices associated with maintaining security in Iran, thereby trying to pave the way for creating insecurity and causing disorder within the country. In absolutely clear terms, the act mobilizes all intelligence communities in the US to monitor Iran’s activities and in addition to targeting Iran’s missile capabilities and defense power, politically speaking, it forces the US to try to get the support of the EU to impose sanctions and marginalize Iran. By setting a precondition for investment and commercial relationships with Iran, by lack of any relationships whatsoever with IRGCC and Iran’s missile program, this act is moving towards marginalizing Iran in the international arena and polarization of authority within the country. In fact, this act is the beginning of Iran’s disarmament and is a death blow to the very existence of Islamic Republic of Iran from inside and outside.
As a smart move, there is no direct reference to enlisting IRGCC by the Senate as a terrorist organization within the text, for concerns of security-related consequences and not wanting to generalize the fight to non-financial levels with Iran. However, by mentioning imposition of terrorism-related sanctions against IRGCC, under Executive Order 13224, which specifically targets terrorist organizations and individuals, in practice, all executive organizations in the US, such as Department of Treasury and Department of State will consider IRGCC as a terrorist organization. Given that full account of this act has been provided in the Bulletin (Issue Khordad 1396), and all aspects thereof have been explored, it is not necessary to make more comments on this act.
Traditionally, over the period following the Islamic Revolution, Republican governments have always tried to increase their aggressive attempts against Iran. These aggressive behaviours have always taken the form of a threat of using military force and show of power and rarely have taken the form of practical action. However, a significant development in the current Republican administration is that the Congress has taken the initiative and has not allowed the US administration to have freedom of movement. And when the Congress intervenes in an issue, it tries to accomplish its objectives by passing tough and to-the-point laws. Given the tough stance of the Congress against Iran, it seems that the US administration will have to take practical action against Iran in areas related to Iran’s’ defense and security. It is necessary to point out that these actions will not be in the form of direct confrontation with Iran. Rather, first, it will involve direct confrontation with Iran’s proxies in the region and when the relationship between these proxies and Iran is severed, it will take the form of direct confrontation. The actions of the Congress are in line with executing and implementing the first phase.