ANALYSIS: Strangling the Iranian regime

There has been a turning point in the covert war Israel and Iran have waged for years.

Yochanan Visser ,

US/Iran nuclear showdown
US/Iran nuclear showdown

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo presented 12 conditions Iran would have to meet in order to facilitate negotiations on a new improved nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic.

Most of these conditions were not related to Iran’s nuclear program, however, but dealt with Iran’s hegemonic drive in the Middle East and its support for terror organizations via the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Here are the conditions dealing with Iran’s imperialistic agenda for the Middle East:

“Iran must end support to Middle East terrorist groups, including Lebanese Hizballah, Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Iran must respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi Government and permit the disarming, demobilization, and reintegration of Shia militias.

Iran must also end its military support for the Houthi militia and work towards a peaceful political settlement in Yemen.

Iran must withdraw all forces under Iranian command throughout the entirety of Syria.

Iran, too, must end support for the Taliban and other terrorists in Afghanistan and the region, and cease harboring senior al-Qaida leaders.

Iran, too, must end the IRG Qods Force’s support for terrorists and militant partners around the world.

And too, Iran must end its threatening behavior against its neighbors – many of whom are U.S. allies. This certainly includes its threats to destroy Israel, and its firing of missiles into Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It also includes threats to international shipping and destructive – and destructive cyber attacks.”

“These are 12 very basic requirements. The length of the list is simply a scope of the malign behavior of Iran. We didn’t create the list, they did,” Pompeo said after outlining the conditions.

Prior to the presentation of the requirements, Pompeo made clear what the real goal of the list was: Strangling the Islamist regime of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“Iran will be forced to make a choice: either fight to keep its economy off life support at home or keep squandering precious wealth on fights abroad. It will not have the resources to do both,” the new Secretary of State, who is an expert on Iran, said in reference to the new sanction regime.

He then said the State Department would “work closely with the Department of Defense and our regional allies to deter Iranian aggression” and that “Iran would never again have a carte blanche to dominate the Middle East.”

By now it is already clear the regime has no intention to meet Trump’s requirements and soon could resume its nuclear weapons program.

It’s hard to believe the Administration expected something else because Pompeo’s speech was, in fact, the official presentation of a comprehensive new strategy to roll back the rise of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Middle East.

The military aspect of that strategy is best visible in Syria where Israel together with the U.S. military and its local partners have been targeting the Iranians since the beginning of February, when in one week's time Israel and the U.S launched two devastating attacks on the Iranian axis in Syria.

On February 10, the Israeli air force reacted strongly to an Iranian attempt to attack the Israel city of Bet Shean with an explosive-laden attack drone and destroyed a number of Iranian targets in Syria.

The event marked a turning point in the covert war Iran and Israel have been fighting for decades, Arutz 7 reported on February 11.

Five days later, on February 15 the U.S. military stopped an Iranian attempt to take over an oil-rich area in eastern Syria by launching a series of devastating airstrikes on an Iranian-led force which included some Russian mercenaries.

More than 300 fighters of the Iranian-led force died in that attack which was a clear attempt by the U.S. Army to enforce a new strategy which was devised to stop the creation of a contiguous land-bridge that would connect Iran to the Israeli border and the Mediterranean Sea.

The U.S. Army and its partner, the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces are in control of 30% of Syrian territory today which is crucial in the effort to prevent an Iranian takeover of the country.

Last week, the U.S. again launched an aerial attack on the Iranian-backed pro-Assad coalition in eastern Syria.

Local sources reported American warplanes bombed an IRGC base near Deir Ez-Zur in eastern Syria, killing twelve Shiite fighters.

The attack followed a spate of Israeli aerial attacks on Iranian targets in western Syria which are still continuing daily after the IAF bombed fifty Iranian targets on May 10 when the IRGC again attacked Israel and lobbed 32 missiles at northern Israel.

The IAF strikes destroyed almost all of Assad’s air defenses and exposed the weakness of the Iranian forces in Syria while preventing the build-up of an Iranian missile arsenal in Syria.

On Friday, the U.S. warned the Iranian axis in Syria not to attempt conquering territory adjacent to the Jordanian and Israeli border in Syria after the axis appeared to be gearing up for an attack on rebel groups in the Deraa and Quneitra provinces.

The State Department warned against “any actions that risk broaden the conflict” and vowed to “take firm and appropriate measures” to protect the so-called ‘de-escalation’ zone along the border with Israel and Jordan.

This was followed on Sunday by an Israeli warning to prevent the production of “deadly weapons” in Lebanon and Syria.

Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said Israel has the right to protect itself and that the country was working to prevent “the establishment of an Iranian military presence” against the Jewish state.

On the economic front, the U.S. has already increased the pressure on Iran by imposing sanctions on the head of Iran’s central bank and other entities that were funneling money to the IRGC Qods Force and to Hezbollah Pompeo said and many more will follow.

The economic situation in Iran is rapidly deteriorating since president Trump announced he would pull the U.S. out of the 2015- landmark nuclear deal with the Mullahs.

“Two major oil companies, Total of France and Eni of Italy, are leaving development projects. The Danish shipping companies TORM and Maersk will no longer call on Iranian ports. An Italian steelmaker, Danieli, which a year ago opened a big factory near Tehran, will have to sell its shares and pull out,” New York Times reporter Thomas Erdbrink reported from Tehran.

“Procter & Gamble, the American consumer goods giant, which was already selling products like Head and Shoulders shampoo and Braun shavers, is laying off all local staff, employees say, and heading for the exits,” the NYT reporter added.

Erdbrink quoted local Iranian employers who told him they “lost 20 percent of their customers in one week” while some 60 percent of the foreign companies in Iran have put their work in the country on a temporary hold.

The economic problems are aggravating because of the devaluation of the Iranian currency Rial which has fallen 47% against the dollar since the beginning of January, and a severe drought that has reduced agricultural output dramatically.

As a result, unrest and demonstrations continue in cities across Iran where women now play a significant role in defying the regime.

Women are increasingly removing their mandatory headscarves, the most powerful and visible symbol of the Islamist regime, Iranian dissident Masih Alinejad reported this weekend.

Since 2014 Iranian police had to deal with 3.6 million cases of “bad Hijab” obedience, according to Alinejad.

“Women used to merely fear the Islamic Republic; now the Islamic Republic fears its own women,” The Iranian dissident wrote while adding that the Iranian people want regime change.