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Dangerous leniency towards Iran

by Alireza Jafarzadeh

The international community is making a strategic blunder by lending unwarranted credibility to a regime that has proven time and again that it does not deserve to be regarded as a legitimate regional power.

This becomes all the more apparent because more and more people are realizing that Islamic fundamentalism has emerged as the greatest threat to global peace and security. The Iranian regime has acted as the fountainhead of religious fundamentalism that has spread across continents. The theocratic regime has no regard for democratic ideals, and adheres to a toxic ideology that stands in direct contradiction to global aspirations of freedom and peace.

The Iranian regime serves as a role model for all Islamic fundamentalists whether Shiite or Sunni, in the Middle East or in North Africa. Moreover, the Iranian regime, due to its deficit of legitimacy and popular base at home, seeks to expand its regional influence to guarantee its survival. Tehran’s continued training, arming and funding of major terrorist groups around the world, including militias in Iraq and Syria, its direct involvement in Yemen and Lebanon, and its efforts to regain the lost influence in Iraq, should all be seen as acts of desperation by an increasingly vulnerable regime.

Tehran’s unscrupulous transgression beyond its borders over the past decade has laid bare the full extent of its regional hegemonic ambitions.

The disaster we face in Middle East today is largely due to Iran’s nefarious meddling as it colludes with brutal regimes and employs proxies to implement its policies. The emergence of ISIS has shocked the world, but it doesn’t surprise those who are familiar with Iran’s modus operandi in the regions and how it prepared the ground for violent groups to flourish by pursuing sectarian policies in Iraq and supporting Bashar Assad in Syria.

To make matters worse, some in the international community have naively believed that partnering with Iran to fight ISIS would yield positive results. Under the pretext of fighting ISIS and supporting Baghdad, the Iranian regime has been empowering Shia militias to target Sunnis in certain provinces of Iraq and to spread the regime’s influence. When such a regime is allowed or even encouraged to act freely in another country, the results can only be disastrous.

Similarly, the ongoing nuclear talks have emboldened the regime, which had come to the table out of utter desperation. The P5+1 countries have gone out of their way to accommodate the regime, which has done nothing to deserve the concessions being thrown in its way. The proposed agreement does not prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon; at best, it just delays it by leaving Iran’s nuclear infrastructure intact and capable of developing weapons quickly.

Fundamentalism cannot be fought successfully while simultaneously empowering the epicenter of global Islamic fundamentalism, i.e., the Iranian regime. The regime is the problem, and it has to be dealt with to stem the tide of Islamic extremism. To this end, the first order of business is to evict Tehran from Iraq and Syria in order to prevent it from doing further damage and undermining the efforts of the international coalition as well as the local populace. In the view of Iranians, the ultimate solution is regime change, not through a foreign military intervention, but through empowering the citizens themselves. The world needs to refrain from helping the Iranian regime stay in power by denying legitimacy, cash, and lucrative deals.

Alireza Jafarzadeh is a member of Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran.