Written by Barry Shaw
Regime change in the Middle East seems to be flavor of the month. Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Syria. Bahrain, and the threat to the Arab kingdoms, all are hitting the headlines and, generally, have been welcomed.
One country seems to off the radar in the international discourse of regime change, and that country is undoubtedly the one nation that truly warrants regime change, namely Iran.
All the other countries are minor players compared with the main partner in the axis of evil. Iran is the great regional destabilize. It is the main sponsor of Middle East and global terror. It is, arguably, the greatest human rights abuser. Its record of repression, suppression, torture, rape, and executions against its own people is appalling. It is a real threat to peace and security in the region and the world. Its leaders have, repeatedly, threatened to wipe another nation off the face of the earth. Such a regime has absolutely no legitimacy to continue to remain in power.
It can be said that the world has a duty and obligation to remove the leaders of such an evil and threatening regime. Such a change would make a critical, strategic, difference to the long term stability of the region and the world at large and offer hope for a reduction of terror and violence generally.
The call to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities has been growing for over a decade. The time is rapidly approaching when such an attack in increasingly likely however complicated and tactically difficult it may seem to execute. Any attack to remove or reduce Iran’s nuclear capability is perceived to simply delay their overall drive to attain nuclear weapon status, not to remove their ability to threaten the region and the world. Any military attack on their nuclear and weapon assets that will leave their leadership in statu would be detrimental to future regional development.
Given the choice of having a nuclear weapon or remaining in power, Tehran would decisively choose to remain in power, and that would be awful for the Iranian people and bad for the world. Whichever way you look at it, the removal of their nuclear threat would not turn the Ayatollahs into Mother Theresa overnight. The insult of being forced to remove their big ace to regional dominance would lead them to adopt other covert ways of imposing themselves in the region. They would also seek to strike out at their enemies be it Israel, America, the West, Sunnis, or others perceived as standing in their way, such as Turkey. So a non-nuclear Iran would continue to be a threat to world peace and security.
Taking all of the above into consideration, regime change looks the best option. Some equate Iran’s contribution to world terror to be greater than that of Al Qaeda and from Saudi Arabia. If it was legitimate to knock off Bin Laden isn’t it equally legitimate to “cut off the head of the snake”, as the King of Saudi Arabia cutely put it? What he meant was regime change in Tehran.
The benefits of forcing an Iranian regime change, even by force, are huge. The most immediate beneficiary would be the people of Iran. Back in 2009 and 2010 they rose up in their thousands to overthrow their leaders. They failed. The West, full of lip service but zero operational support, failed them badly, and left them victims to the brutal repression of the Tehran theocratic tyrants.
A second beneficiary would be Israel. Israel has been living under the looming mushroom cloud for a decade or more. Only the removal of either the nuclear threat or the Iranian regime would remove that threat for the people of Israel.
A regime change would benefit most of the Arab and Muslim nations in the Middle East. They have been looking with increasing nervousness at the march to nuclear supremacy by a Shiite Iran.
The free world has only recently learned to understand that a nuclear Iran is not solely an Israeli concern. With reports that Iran is developing a rocket fuel capable of carrying a warhead the distance of ten thousand kilometers has been a wake-up call to Europe and beyond.
Iraq would be allowed to get their house in order without Iranian meddling.
So who would be the losers from a regime change in Iran? Clearly Syria, whose regime is on its way out anyway. Syria was the key to Iran’s negative influence in the Arab world.
Hizbollah would be a major loser of both Assad and the Iranian regime fall. They would be reduced to a barking dog whose teeth have been pulled. As a result Nasrallah’s terrorists would be isolated and contained, even if their huge weapon stockpiles could be used to defend themselves from internal and external threats. The fall of the regime in Tehran could lead to the fall of the regime in Beirut.
Hamas has thrived through three channels. The moral support of radical pro-Palestinian activists give them comfort and encouragement to continue their extremist declarations and deeds against the Jewish state. The misuse of European funds, the work of UNWRA, and Israel opening its border to the flow of good and aid into the Gaza Strip, has allowed Hamas to develop a social economy in Gaza which strengthens their popularity there and removes the last vestiges of Fatah-Palestinian Authority influence in the Gaza Strip. But the main sponsor to the strengthening of Hamas has been Iran. The fall of the regime would put an end to this conduit of financial and weapon oxygen. This is not to say that Hamas would shrivel up and die. They now have a fresh supply source to take up the slack with the newly elected Muslim Brotherhood Egyptian government. They are, literally, brothers in arms.
The Western media pumps out non-stop exhortations to encourage the removal of the Assad regime, just as they did to remove the Mubarak-regime and the Gaddafi-regime, and many others before them. They echo the same message emanating around the Arab and Muslim world.
If regime change has become mainstream then surely it must apply against the mad mullahs of Tehran? To do so by Western forces must not be seen as a war between the West and Islam. It is not. The leaders of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, must lead the call to their Muslim constituents that a nuclear Iran threatens them all, and a change of regime in Iran is a vital necessity for regional peace and stability. Such a call would head off the false accusation that it is a Western and Zionist plot against the Islamic world. Indeed, Saudi and Gulf forces must join the Coalition forces to head off such an accusation as was done in Iraq. Iran will not turn into another Iraq. The people of Iran will ensure this will not happen. We are not talking about the instability of sectarian and ethnic divisions when considering a future peaceful and non-threatening Iran.
An attack should target the political and military heads of the regime, not the nuclear facilities. It should target all the main bases and weapon storage facilities of the Iranian Republican Guard. It should degrade any retaliatory capability to prevent the Iranians from striking back at Western and regional targets. Calls should be made to the people of Iran to rise up and take control of their country. They should be helped by all mean possible. A militia of the peoples opposition should be armed and trained. If this was legitimate in Libya, and is being spoken about with regard to Syria, so it should be done in Iran.
Everything must be done to ensure that an Iranian peoples’ revolt succeeds and that they bring their oppressors to justice.
The world can be confident that, of all the Middle East countries that have experienced an uprising in the last few years, Iran will be the one that will introduce proper democratic institutions and true democratic freedoms to their people. The new Iran can be the beacon of example to other regional nations.
With such a people, the world can be assured that they will be the ones that will dismantle and remove the military nuclear facilities and turn them into peaceful civil use, and the world will applaud and assist them in their efforts on the road back to democracy and prosperity.
Barry Shaw | A View from Israel