Has US President Donald Trump’s position on Iran changed? Has he demolished his stated strategy as well as the statements of his senior administration officials, abandoned the conditions set by his foreign affairs minister and set closed doors and dead-end paths before the Iranian regime, the biggest sponsor of terrorism in the world?
These questions were raised by some observers in the past phase.
The answer to these questions is simple; no such thing has happened. President Trump’s recent offer is part of his strategy and vision in dealing with the Iranian regime. The Iranian regime is required to change its evil behavior, either under the threat of force or through sanctions that make it conform to international laws.
The extent of these sanctions’ strength and cruelty will specify the time needed to subjugate the regime, and this is what Trump has said more than once, that the Iranian regime should change its behavior, and that sanctions will force it to change and the Iranians will want to negotiate sooner or later.
The truth is that this is a desire shared by Saudi Arabia and its allies in the region in their confrontation of the Iranian regime and its destructive policies in the region. The Iranian regime should end its illegitimate interference in four Arab countries: Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and should also look after its people’s interests, and if it does not, it would be forced to do so, as was famously stated by the Saudi Crown Prince.
Despite its statements of defiance, the Iranian regime is desperately seeking to communicate with Washington. The US also welcomes any communication as long as it leads to the Iranian regime’s compliance. Messages are exchanged, some of which have been made public while others were not. However, all of them are in the same direction. The Iranian regime uses ideology and sectarianism in its expansionist project in the region but it had previously dealt with the country it calls ‘Great Satan’ and other countries which it opposes via its slogans so why would it be different this time?
The Iraqi people have risen up against Iran and its agents in the country, on politicians, parties and militias in all parts of the country and mostly in the southAbdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi
The popular discontent against the mullahs’ regime has reached an unprecedented level. The Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guards — the two most powerful bodies in the Iranian regime — are unable to see the strength, depth, and expansion of this discontent which is increasing and which will further increase due to the new sanctions.
The imposed sanctions and the sanctions which will be imposed in the coming months all aim to weaken the regime’s economy and its ability to meet internal commitments and resume external adventures. The Iranian regime would thus have two options. The first one is reverting to the concerns of the Iranian people and looking after their interests, not out of its desire to serve its people or make them happy but out of fear of a major revolution that it cannot confront and which may lead to its fall. The second one is to continue spreading destruction in the region and the world and this will subject it to more sanctions and increase the world’s awareness about the past 40 years during which this radical regime supported all kinds of terrorism – and in the end it will lose and suffer on several counts.
Iran’s proxies suffer
After North Korea’s bid to make a historical reconciliation with the world, the Iranian regime will become an orphan in the world with no one like it. The evil regime that’s internationally been outcast will have no supporters. All its tricks are exposed, and it would not benefit from playing the game of vacillating between the so-called reformists and hardliners. The world now knows very well that the Iranian regime does not have any moderates, as they are all hardliners with varying degrees.
Iran’s wings in the region are also suffering. The Iraqi people have risen up against Iran and its agents in the country, on politicians, parties and militias in all parts of the country and mostly in the south. This uprising is supported by the traditional reference in Iraq which represents the opposite of the reference of Vilayat-e Faqih which has been modernized at the hands of Khomeini and Khamenei after him. Iran’s militias in Syria are suffering a lot from the repeated Israeli targeting, from the regime’s desire to abandon them and from the ability of any Russian-American understandings to undermine them and lead to their expulsion from Syria.
Similar reversals now face the terrorist Hezbollah militia in Lebanon, which has hijacked the Lebanese state and which commits murder and massacres against the Syrian people. The party’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah admitted that the group’s wages, expenses, food and drink come from the regime in Tehran. Drug trafficking will not be enough for Hezbollah to cover the financial shortages that may happen after sanctions are fully re-instated on the Iranian regime.
The Houthi militia in Yemen might be the foremost of these Iranian affiliates to succumb from this pressure because it will face what similar militias are facing in the three mentioned countries and it’s also confronting an Arab alliance that has already regained legitimate control over large tracts of Yemen and which is winning every day and not losing. The Houthi militia is only holding on to what it has but it’s not regaining any liberated land. It’s facing a strong Yemeni army, an effective Yemeni resistance and a victorious Arab alliance on all fronts. All its practices are internationally condemned, while it keeps killing civilians and bombing markets as it did in Hodeidah earlier this month.
There are two clear military approaches in Yemen since the launch of ‘Operation Decisive Storm’. The first approach is that of the Yemeni state, the Yemeni army and the alliance and which is fully committed to the international law in all respects. The second approach is that of the Houthi militia and which violates international laws and commits crimes and atrocities. Any observer of what is happening in Yemen since the beginning of the war can easily see who is responsible for incidents like the Hodeidah bombing, the murder of civilians and the use of civilians as human shields.
The Iranian currency has fallen to its worst level. This is drastically affecting the Iranian economy. This fall has occurred before all sanctions are fully re-instated. The regime is incapable of waging a military war to escape from internal problems and is incapable of convincing its people that it cares for their interests or defends their rights.
These are two major failures that would make a huge impact in forcing the regime to obediently return to the international community and force it to fully comply with international laws and end its major adventures of sabotage and destruction and permanently betting on terrorism, whether Sunni and Shiite, and which it has done ever since the mullahs’ revolution in 1979 until today.
In the end, no one thinks that the Iranian regime will change overnight but after the strict sanctions, it will find itself obliged to change its behavior and policies and it will reluctantly give up its ambitions and delusions. It’s only a matter of time.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Abdullah bin Bijad al-Otaibi is a Saudi writer and researcher. He is a member of the board of advisors at Al-Mesbar Studies and Research Center. He tweets under @abdullahbjad