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Giuliani best suited to handle Iran threat, meet U.S. foreign policy challenges

By Majid Sadeghpour

A number of candidates have been reported as potential contenders for the Secretary of State in President-Elect Donald Trump’s administration. One of the leading candidates is former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani – we think he is the right man for the job and here is why.

In considering the person best suited for that post, the President-elect would have to engage in a sober assessment of the multitude of U.S. foreign policy challenges. These include the Syrian conflict, Russian belligerence, the fight against ISIS, and amending ties with US allies in the Middle East.

The critical piece linking many of these challenges, we submit, is Iran for the following reasons: (1) Iran is the number-one state sponsor of terrorism in the world; (2) Iran has the know-how to obtain nuclear weapon capability within a relative small timeframe; (3) the nuclear deal signed by President Barack Obama in 2015 does not eliminate this capability and at best postpones it; (4) Iran’s efforts at destabilizing the region have dramatically increased since the nuclear deal; and (5) Iran’s atrocious human rights record is worsening.

Any real plan for stability in the Middle East should include countering Iran’s malign regional interference. Such a policy should recognize and target Iranian regime’s vulnerabilities. Contrary to Obama administration’s assumption, Iran’s main vulnerability is internal instability and a lack of popular legitimacy. The “hardliner vs. moderate” game Iranian regime officials have played aims to mislead naïve observers into thinking that a true political dialogue is possible & vibrant within Iran. Such naivety is perhaps the reason why Obama administration missed a golden chance to support the popular Iranian uprising in 2009. Instead, Obama sided with the supposedly “moderates” within the Iranian ruling establishment in their fictional battle against the “hardliners.” The ultimate achievement of this policy has been a nuclear deal, which is wrought with unnecessary concessions.

If taming Iran’s extraterritorial ambitions is the aim, the latter approach has been a non-starter. This is evident in Iran’s post-deal test-firing of ballistic missiles, unprecedented level of destabilizing activities in the Middle East, and violation of a few of its commitments within the deal.

Instead of softening Iranian government behavior, the so-called policy of engagement – otherwise known as appeasement -, has emboldened it. In view of Tehran’s intrinsic vulnerabilities, increasing pressure on the regime by promoting democratic change from within would have much better prospects of success. The mullahs have demonstrated for 37 years that they do understand the language of strength.

The simplest way to implement a no-nonsense policy towards Iran would be to support the Iranian people and their organized resistance movement in their fight for democracy.

Here is an area of opportunity for the next Secretary of State.  The current administration has failed to grasp the significance of popular dissent against the Iranian regime. More specifically, Mr. Obama’s foreign policy gurus have chosen to ignore or sidestep the highly organized resistance movement formed under the umbrella of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its main component, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).

Mayor Giuliani has recognized the pivotal role Iranian people can play in changing the calculus of the fight against Islamic extremism.  His foresight and leadership is evident in his engagement with, and support for the Iranian people and their organized resistance. America’s Mayor has been cognizant of the fact that the fundamentalist regime in Iran is a major challenge to US interests.  While advocating strength and the need for U.S. to play an active role in the Middle East, Mr. Giuliani has called for democratic change in Iran and rejected the long -standing policy of appeasing Tehran’s terrorist rulers

The policy of pursuing democracy in Iran, rather than promoting military intervention, is based on a common-sense approach – changing the regime’s behavior without exacting irrational costs. This course is not only supported by bipartisan members of congress and our community, but is also advocated by dozens of former US officials.

This long overdue pivot in U.S. policy would provide the means for the United States to achieve its goals by showing resolve and sending the strongest possible message to both the Iranian people and the mullahs. Moreover, if we consider that achieving peace and security results from strength, not weakness – a cause Mr. Trump campaigned for – then Giuliani’s vision of a more decisive Iran policy is in direct harmony with the sentiments expressed by the American electorate.

Moreover, Mr. Giuliani has been a vocal critic of the Iran nuclear deal because of the unwarranted concessions it has made to Iran. Opposition to the deal crosses party lines and has also been a pillar of Mr. Trump’s campaign. As Giuliani and many others have suggested, the President elect’s administration needs to remedy the serious flaws in the deal.

Instead of assuming Iranian regime as internally stable and enjoying popular support—a flawed notion that underpinned an equally flawed nuclear deal—US foreign policy chief should recognize the massive undercurrent of dissent within Iran as that regime’s ultimate weakness. Washington must appreciate the role and language of strength in dealing with Iran and aim at blocking all of Iran’s possible pathways to nuclear weapons.

Mr. Giuliani is viewed internationally as a prominent expert on terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism. This is well-deserved, rightfully earned after his leadership in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attack against the United States.

Correctly addressing Iran is the greatest foreign policy challenge facing the new administration &and whoever its next Secretary of State will be. Recognition of the former fact is perhaps the first step in securing peace, security, and central to protecting American national interests. Projecting America’s many strengths, including its moral authority is certainly another key step.

We think the policy options advocated by Mr. Giuliani for dealing with Iran would represent a refreshing change in Washington’s flawed thinking.  Let’s hope America’s Mayor gets a chance to implement them.

Dr. Majid Sadeghpour is the political director of the Organization of Iranian American Communities in the United States (OIACUS)



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