Earlier this month, the Iranian regime fired a volley of missiles into northern Iraq, near a US consulate and a residential compound it alleged belonged to an Israeli national. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) took responsibility for the attack. The move could therefore be easily interpreted as an open threat to other countries of the region.
Of course, those warnings also confirm that the regime is committed to the preservation and further expansion of its aggression in the surrounding region.
Ironically, this is happening just as nuclear talks are reaching their end in Vienna. Specifically, they are on the verge of a conclusion that lifts a number of sanctions on Iranian entities and allows the regime to once again benefit from open access to international oil markets, in exchange for few, if any, meaningful concessions on its own side. The prime beneficiary of lifting sanctions would be IRGC and powerful financial institution belonging to Khamenei’s office.
Now there is even talk of the United States removing the IRGC’s designation as a foreign terrorist organization, as well as removing sanctions on dozens of Iranian officials including those working in the office of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The purveyors of these concessions are presumably hopeful that Tehran will respond in kind to a show of good faith, as by scaling back on its confrontational foreign policies.
Not so. It is increasingly apparent that this hope is groundless, as the search for a moderate faction within the regime over the past 30 years proved to be illusion. The attack on Erbil, Iraq is only one of the latest reminders of the Iranian regime’s destructive policies in the region. Others include the ongoing smuggling of weapons to groups like the Houthis in Yemen. With the assistance of Iranian ballistic missiles and UAVs, the Houthi have penetrated deeper and deeper into foreign territory, striking Saudi Aramco refineries and residential areas of Dubai.
Since the renewal of the nuclear negotiation almost a year ago, the regime has not only stepped up its nuclear activities and violation of the JCPOA but is has aggressively intensified its meddling in the region. While the regime is desperate for a deal, the West’s conciliatory approach has assured it its intransigence will be met with more concessions, rather than any adverse repercussions.
Therefore, if anyone expects this sort of activity to diminish in the wake of a nuclear deal, they do not understand that the Iranian regime depends upon this sort of force-projection to preserve its rule, now more than ever. “It would be ridiculous someone were to suggest that we reduce our defensive strength so that the enemies would not get sensitive about us. Presence in the region is the depth of our strategy, which consolidates the state. It is the power of the state. How could we abandon it,” said Khamenei in a March 10 meeting with the members of the Assembly of Experts.
In a speech marking the Iranian New Year last weekend, NCRI’s President-elect Mrs. Maryam Rajavi underscored that “the religious dictatorship has irreversibly entered a state of overthrow, and a period of unstoppable uprisings by the Iranian people.” Eight major uprisings have taken place in Iran since the start of 2018, and nationwide protests by teachers and other social groups have become a near-daily fact of life. This year, “Resistance Units” began showcasing new tactics in their fight to overthrow the clerical regime, as when they disrupted state media broadcasts and public address systems in major cities.
In light of these developments, Tehran is desperate for anything that can be portrayed as a victory in foreign operations, so as to boost the morale of institutions like the IRGC which are vital to the suppression of dissent and the promotion of its brand of fundamentalism and extremism. In this sense, Western concessions in Vienna only play into the regime’s hands by implying it has leverage over the most powerful nations on Earth.