As the debate heats up between Congress and the Administration over new Iran sanctions and Houthi rebels take over Yemen’s government while the U.S. continues to battle the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria – there needs to be a different focus for a solution in the war against terrorism; and that could be a “Persian Spring.”
Whether fighting the Islamic State in Iraq or Syria, Boko Haram in Nigeria, or militants in Yemen, Iran seems to be an underlining problem. The global war against terrorism should include ‘degrading’ the Iranian Regime, and not only focus on the war against the Islamic State. Countries that are supporting terrorism need to be included in the global strategy and Iran is one of those states.
The Obama Administration continues to pressure Congress against implementing additional sanctions against Iran, pressuring for a diplomatic solution and negotiations, believing that Iran’s nuclear program is for “peaceful purposes.” Senator Menendez, the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee calling for more sanctions against Iran, said during a Senate Hearing last Wednesday that “the more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Iran.” Iran is not the solution, but the problem.
It is important to look at Iran’s Constitution to understand that Iran’s ideology is no different than the ideology of the Islamic State, except for being a Shiite version of worldwide Islamic domination using military force. In the Iranian Constitution under “The Religious Army,” it states that the Iranian Army is to conduct jihad to establish God’s Law in the world, stating:
In the organization and equipping of the countries defense forces, there must be regard for faith and religion as their basis and rules. And so the Islamic Republic’s Army, and the corps of the Revolutionary Guards must be organized in accordance with this aim. They have responsibility not only for the safeguarding of the frontiers, but also for a religious mission, which is Holy War (JIHAD) along the way of God, and the struggle to extend the supremacy of God’s Law in the world.
“Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of God and your enemies, and others beside. (Quotation from the Arabic)
Again in the Iranian Constitution, under “The Army and The Islamic Revolution Guard Corps, Article 151”:
In Accordance with the Noble Qur’anic verse: (Prepare against them whatever force you are able to muster, and horses ready for battle, striking fear into God’s enemy and your enemy, and others beyond them unknown to you but known to God…[8:60])” the government is obliged to provide a program of military training, with all requisite facilities, fob all its citizens, in accordance with the Islamic criteria, in such a way that all citizens will always be able to engage in the armed defense of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The possession of arms, however, requires the granting of permission by the competent authorities.
Richard Horowitz, in an article titled “A Detailed Analysis of Iran’s Constitution” wrote that the Iranian Constitution “…makes clear its objective to promote Islam worldwide. Its preamble states that ‘the mission of the Constitution’ is ‘to create conditions conducive to the development of man in accordance with the noble and universal values of Islam’ and that ‘the aim of government is to foster the growth of man in such a way that he progresses towards the establishment of a Divine order (in accordance with the Quranic phrase “And toward God is the journeying” [3:29]).’”
Horowitz continues saying, “And while Article 11 states ‘All Muslims form a single nation,’ the preamble states that the constitution ‘provides the necessary basis for ensuring the continuation of the Revolution at home and abroad’ [emphasis added] and ‘will strive with other Islamic and popular movements to prepare the way for formation of a single world community’ (in accordance with the Quranic verse ‘This your community, and I am your Lord, so worship Me’ [21:92]).”
Iran’s Constitution is clear that their goal is similar to the Islamic State’s of creating a global caliphate, but the difference is the Islamic State is Sunni and Iran is Shiite, which creates a power struggle for dominance. The power struggle is similar to the differences between Al Qaeda and the Islamic State; although both organizations have the same mission and goals, they want to consolidate the power for themselves.
The Iranian Quds Force, a special forces unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, have been responsible for wounding and killing American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran has also been tied to numerous terrorist attacks in the past, including the October 23, 1983 bombing at the Marine compound in Beirut that killed 241 U.S. service personnel, including 220 Marines. The bombing was traced to Hezbollah, including Iran and Syria.
Iran has also been accused of supporting Boko Haram in Nigeria. Catherine Herridge of Fox News reported in October 2013 on Iran’s influence in western Africa, particularly in northern Nigeria. Herridge referenced an article published by Jacob Zenn titled, “The Islamic Movement and Iranian Intelligence Activities in Nigeria.” She wrote, “Zenn, whose research is noteworthy because little study has been done on Tehran’s strategy to spread ‘Khomeinism’ in West Africa, states there is now ‘no religion outside of the Middle East where Iran’s ideology has a greater impact in northern Nigeria.'”
There is a clear contrast between countries such as Iran that believe in no borders and countries like Egypt that believe in state sovereignty. Egypt is a model to follow in the war against terrorism. Islamist Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was in power for only one year and was taking Egypt into an “Iranian theocracy,” not caring about Egypt as a nation but implementing a global caliphate. The Egyptian people took a stand to take their country back by removing the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood government and implemented a democratic roadmap instead.
What happened in Egypt could happen in Iran today. There is a strong native opposition to the Iranian Regime that does exist outside and inside of Iran. During the 2009 Green Revolution, thousands of Iranians took to the streets after the election of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to take a stand against the brutal Iranian Regime but, without the support they needed from the international community, the opposition failed to succeed.
Dr. Majid Sadeghpour stated in a recent article that Iran is at the heart of radical Islam. He said “The Islamic State, Al-Qaeda in Yemen, the Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Taliban must hence be beheld as only ‘hardware’ fragments of complex machinery. The ‘software,’ the beating heart, the inspiration for their treacherous ways is located within the government Khomeini fashioned in Tehran.”
Dr. Majid Sadeghpour is the political director of the Organization of Iranian American Communities (OIACUS). The OIACUS is one of several organizations that want to see the future of Iran be democratic. The National Council of Resistance of Iran is another organization that represents multiple groups who want see a democratic Iran.
An ‘Egyptian style’ revolution where millions of people took a stand against terrorism could be possible in Iran, but the people need the political support of the United States and international community.
A problem in funding and aiding the Iraqi Army to fight against the Islamic State is the influence of Iran in Baghdad. In a recent article, Josh Rogin and Eli Lake reported on U.S. weapons getting into the hands of Iranian militias, stating, “U.S. weapons intended for Iraq’s beleaguered military are winding up in the possession of the country’s Shiite militias.”
A Peshmerga soldier spoke to Breitbart News about the influence of Iran in the Baghdad government, stating that “you see pictures of Khomeini in the government buildings.” He said that “soon you will see Iranians as pilots in the jets that you [U.S.] are providing them” and “the equipment and weapons that the U.S. gives to Baghdad will go the Iranians, and help Iran.”
Iran is an underlying problem in the global war against terrorism. As the world witnessed in Egypt, miracles can happen. The people of Iran can stand up against the terrorist theocracy of the Iranian Regime, but they will need the support of the international community.
There are several different ways that the United States could support Iranian opposition groups. One example lies in how the U.S. funds multiple “democracy programs” through USAID and other State Department initiatives in various places throughout the world. The United States should start focusing on increasing democracy programs for Iranian opposition groups. There are Iranian opposition groups are all over the world, including the United States and Europe.
The United States is also training opposition forces to remove Assad, but another idea is to start training opposition forces for the removal of the Iranian Regime, which would then remove a pillar holding up the Assad Regime.
The United States spends millions on programs under the Broadcasting Board of Governors, such as “Voice of America” and “Alhurra,” which were created to support freedom and democratic values to people all over the world. These are programs that should be utilized to bring about democratic reform in Iran.
President Obama will host a summit on February 18th to fight “violent extremism” where a global strategy to defeat terrorism will take shape. Part of this strategy should include supporting opposition groups against the Iranian Regime. Egypt should be the model to follow on how a nation can stand against a terrorist regime.
Tera Dahl is the Executive Director of the Council on Global Security.