The following article, The Power of Sanctions Against Iran’s Worldwide Jihad, is part two of an exclusive UnityCoalitionForIsrael.org six-part series entitled, A History of Jihad, by Clare Lopez.
Ms. Lopez is the Vice President for Research and Analysis at the Center for Security Policy, a Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, and a member of the Board of Advisors for the Canadian Mackenzie Institute. She was a career operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency and has amassed many accolades in the research on and training and reporting about security issues in both media and governmental arenas.
Her latest collaborative effort, the book, Ally No More: Erdogan’s New Turkish Caliphate and the Rising Jihadist Threat to the West features Clare’s research along with luminaries in the security field such as Harold Rhode, Christopher Hull, Daniel Pipes, David Goldman, Burak Bekdil, Uzay Bulut and Deborah Weiss.
The Power of Sanctions Against Iran’s Worldwide Jihad
A History of Jihad, Article 2 of 6
by Clare Lopez, CenterForSecurityPolicy.org
Moving on to sanctions, this is a big deal isn’t it?
Yes, certainly for the Iranian economy which, I’ve said, is fragile no matter, even, the cash-infusions received by the billions from the Obama administration. By the way, “aiding and abetting the enemy in a time of war” – what do we call that? But now, as the Iranian mismanagement of its own economy and massive corruption continues – of course all of the Iranian leadership are fabulously wealthy, for example the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is the “supreme leader” is said to have at his disposal a private hedge fund that totals over $90 billion (with a B) dollars. Lots of this money is tucked away in special accounts in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, wherever money can be hidden… So, despite all of that, the cash infusions as I said, the mismanagement continues. And so when President Trump decided to pull the US out of the disastrous JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), that nuclear deal that was agreed to back in July, 2015, among what we call the P5 – the permanent 5 – members of the UN Security Council – China, Russia, France, the US and the UK plus one, and the plus one is Germany, and Iran and, of course the IAEA, the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, that agreement President Trump pulled us out of this year in May, 2018, because it was so badly misdirected. It basically, as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has said, provided a glide path for Iran’s overt nuclear weapons program to achieve nuclear weapons capability while, at the same time, completely ignoring where Iran’s actual nuclear weapons program is, which is covert, hidden literally, sometimes, under mountains, bunkers, tunnels. And so when he abrogated, when President Trump pulled us out of that deal, what followed, kind of automatically, was a re-imposing of some pretty tough sanctions against commercial dealings with Iran. And he extended those restrictions to a secondary level which meant the United States would also sanction any company or party or country that continued to do business with Iran.
Now that was the first launch of re-imposed sanctions, and it’s really caused a lot of grief to the Iranian economy and, unfortunately, to the Iranian people who are having a very tough time economically. But also, of course, the intent is for the regime itself and, in November of this year, 2018, additional sanctions will be re-imposed and these will target the oil and gas sector. The first set targeted commercial sectors like automobiles and parts and other things like that. In November, the sanctions will target oil and gas and that will be a real tough set of sanctions there.
I think what we’re looking at is a phased, or sort of stepped plan, if you will, by the Trump administration to collapse the Iranian regime. Of course, they’re not going to say that. I’ll say that, but they’re not going to. And that the financial aspect of it is the first step. Now it’s obviously not going to be adequate. That regime is not going to come down just with financial measures and sanctions, no matter how tough things get for their economy, the Rial, the Iranian currency, being right now in free fall. I think I saw yesterday it was up to something like 150,000 (Iranian) Rials to the (US) dollar – or something in that range.
But that’s not going to be enough. In the end, it’s going to get very violent, as it must… and the Iranian people, though… their destiny is in their hands. We can help. We can support. But they will decide what their future will be… and that is yet to come.
Yes, we’re very concerned for the Iranian people. It seems there are increasing amounts of activists, protestors and other forms of expression of disgust with this thug-ocracy. And we’re really hoping that the people do pull together and find a way to overthrow this regime. Do you see success on the part of the Iranian people who are mostly moderate and lovers of the West?
Yes, I do think that the Iranian people will succeed in overthrowing this Jihad “Thug-ocracy” – that was a great to put it, there. They have been in the streets demonstrating, protesting and now, more recently, going on strike. Since the end of last year – it was late December, 2017 – when these protests began. And they’ve never let up ever since. The important thing about them, this time, by contrast with 2009 when folks might remember Iranian people poured into the streets to object to the obviously fraudulent re-election selection of Mahmoud Achmadinijad to a second term of the presidency there, is that, at that time, in 2009, that was more of a big city, Tehran, other big cities-focused political protest and struggle that pitted named, known, actual the regime figures, Mehdi Karroubi, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who were in no way seeking an end to the regime itself, but pitted them against the regime’s fraudulent elections… but, sort of, no more than that. It wasn’t aimed at overthrowing the regime.
This time, even though the impetus and a lot of the catalysts for the protests and demonstrations is economic, no question about that, the signs and placards people are carrying in the streets very quickly showed that it was not just about the price of eggs. It was very quickly showed that they were demanding nothing less than regime change. They’re shouting slogans like, “Death to the dictator,” “Bar bar Dictatur,” “dictatur” meaning Supreme Leader, Khamenei, “Death to Khamenei” explicitly, lots of graffiti on walls, saying the same thing – “Bar bar Khamenei,” death to Khamenei. And so, not only is it not confined to big cities – it’s all over the country – including, importantly, the ethnic minority periphery.
As you might know from the geography of Iran, perhaps barely 50% of the population of Iran is Persian. But the other half, or so, is geographically spread out around the periphery of the country and, if you think of that, you’ve got Balochis over in the East border with Pakistan, you’ve got Kurds and Azeris in the north, you’ve got, of course, Arabs in the Khuzestan province down along the Persian Gulf in the South, and many of those ethnic minorities resent greatly being oppressed and ruled, as they see it, from Tehran by Persians. As a matter of fact the Ahvaz Arabs of Khuzestan actually consider themselves OCCUPIED territory! And they said so.
So when the protests spread to those places, then you can see that this is something that covers the entire country and that’s what makes me think, not only is this different than in 2009, but the agenda is very clearly regime change.
And I think that coincides with the agendas of the Trump administration and in particular, of course, Ambassador John Bolton, now the National Security Advisor at the National Security Council, also Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has given a number of really important speeches this year, but, altogether, which indicate, to my way of looking at it any way, that that is the policy of the Trump administration as well.
Now how much is going on behind the scenes, we have no way of knowing. Certainly Amb. John Bolton and former Mayor of New York City and Lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, like Ambassador Bolton has been a long time, decades long, supporter of the Iranian opposition. In particular, the largest, the oldest, the best organized, the most dedicated of Iranian democratic opposition, the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK for short) and its umbrella group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran. I, myself, have been in Paris at their annual rallies which draw a hundred thousand and more people every single year with people like Rudy Giuliani, John Bolton, Tom Ridge, Newt Gingrich and so many more every year.
So that relationship which goes back, as I said, a couple of decades at least if not maybe more, leads me to say that there’s probably more going on behind the scenes of the Trump administration that need to be made public. But, to answer your question, yes, I think the Iranian people will succeed in achieving regime change. And then what happens after that is in their hands.
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The Unity Coalition for Israel will continue our series, A History of Jihad by Clare Lopez, in our Monday, September 17th, newsletter. Subscribe and stay tuned!
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