Washington should walk away from the Iranian deal, says senior Mideast analyst

Iranian army cadets march during a parade marking National Army near Tehran on April 18, 2017. (AP)

“Iran is the biggest threat to the US interests and its allies in the region, including Israel, due to its activities in the region,” Hudson Institute Senior Middle East analyst Michael Pregent has said.

Pregent highlighted that Iran’s continuing support for Shiite militias in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Houthis in Yemen with the aim of building their capabilities would jeopardize the political stability and security in the whole region.

According to him, Iraq was the starting point where the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps – Quds Forces (IRGC-QF) had formed loyal Shiite militias directly under the command of Quds Force Commander Qassim Suleimani, such as Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), Kat’eb Hizbollah (KH), and al-Nujaba Movement (NB).

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“These militias became legitimate members of the Iraqi security forces, which means that, by law, we should actually halt the US military programs in the country, simply because it’s a violation of the Leahy laws that prohibit the US Department of State and Department of Defense from providing military assistance to foreign security force units that violate human rights with impunity,” said Michael Pregent.

But this is not enough, according to Pregent, who thinks that in order to bring stability back to the region, the main source of terrorism, aggression, and human rights violations should be confronted. He also said that starting with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) which was designed to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful.

Michael Pregent

Michael Pregent

JCPOA is the key

The JCPOA which was signed by Former US President Barak Obama turned out to be the worst deal for the United States. It emboldened the Iranian regime which did not hesitate to take provocative and emboldened measures to prop up Assad and lure Moscow into Syria, by engaging in weapons contracts with Damascus and securing oil rights in Iran.

The JCPOA, in its current state, allows Iran to run a ballistic missile program. This can lead to it becoming an economic and conventional military power, attaching nuclear warheads to their missiles if the Iranians choose to cheat, Pregent pointed out. Pregent also said that everything that Iran has done, all of its malign activities, all of its de-stabilizing activities, happened under the protection of the JCPOA

“Iran has sought to buy S-300 missile systems from Russia and run a ballistic missile program, both simultaneously. Tehran has been able to pay its IRGC militias based on the money received from the US deal and has been able to create new militias that are on the IRGC-QF payroll,” said Pregent.

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Pregent has been advocating walking away from the Iran deal, increasing leverage on Tehran, Baghdad, and the European Union, countries which are hesitant to invest in Iran, even with the JCPOA still in effect.

Furthermore, he recommends empowering Saudi Arabia and the UAE while the Iranian regime continues to face the rage of its people, who complain about all the money that has been expended towards strengthening their militias in the region which they say should be refocused on the local economy.

“We are going to get back the leverage we had before Obama lifted the sanctions; put sanctions back on the central bank of Iran. There will be sanctions on Iran’s economy. We will negotiate from a position of strength, not a position that the Obama administration negotiated, which was simply giving into demands with hope of success,” the senior Middle East analyst stressed.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, right, arrives at a Revolutionary Guard ceremony, while deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guard, Hossein Salami, second right, another other former commanders salute him in Tehran, Iran. (AP)

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, right, arrives at a Revolutionary Guard ceremony, while deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guard, Hossein Salami, second right, another other former commanders salute him in Tehran, Iran. (AP)

Target commanders

Should the key Shiite militia commanders be left untouched, while they threaten the US and its allies by creating the promised “Shiite Crescent” in the region?

Pregent does not think so. According to him, the intelligence community, along with Joint Special Operations Command, have wanted IRGC-QF Commander Qassim Suleimani on the Joint Targeting List (JTL), along with Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) Commander Qais al-Khaz’ali, and Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) Deputy Commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

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“Any IRGC-QF proxy militia leader who threatens to kill US soldiers in Iraq and Syria should automatically be placed on the targeting list,” he added. As much as maintaining peace and stability in the region seems complicated and difficult, Pregent suggested going straight to the core of the problem.

Iran is at a critical crossroads. Walking away from the JCPOA and imposing more sanctions on the Iranian regime would make it difficult for them to continue funding the IRGC-QF proxy militias in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen at the expense of the Iranian people.

In the end, Tehran’s fate lies in the hands of its own people. The US doesn’t have to dismember Iran’s government simply because the blood-boiled oppressed Iranian protestors will be more than capable of doing so themselves.

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