This weekend marked one year since the nuclear agreement with the Iranian regime – known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – was reached between Iran and the group of nations known as the P5+1 and subsequently adopted by the United Nations Security Council and European Union.
The Iran lobby made it a life or death struggle between forces of good and moderation versus dark and hardliners. The Iran lobby promised a new era of rising moderate political influence and an opening to the West. The Iran lobby warned that failure to approve the agreement would plunge the region into chaos and open the door for decades of unremitting violence and turmoil.
The Iran lobby promised that failure to approve a deal would lead to a cataclysmic war with Iran that could unleash nuclear weapons. It warned of a war-mongering hunger within the U.S. government intent on eradicating the poor, peaceful mullahs.
“War against Iran has been on the agenda in Washington since at least 2005. The 2007 National Intelligence Estimate is credited with thwarting the George W. Bush administration’s plans — confirmed to me by administration officials — to attack Iran by revealing that the U.S. intelligence community had concluded that Iran did not have an active nuclear weapons program,” wrote Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council last June 2015 in Foreign Policy.
His warnings were part of the “good cop, bad cop” playbook the Iran lobby used in praising Iran’s intentions and denouncing the threat of war from those opposed to the deal.
Unfortunately for the rest of the world, they were spectacularly wrong in their promises and warnings. One year later the Middle East is in chaos with three full blown wars raging across Syria, Iraq and Yemen, causing the largest refugee crisis the world has seen since Adolf Hitler went goose-steeping across Europe.
Yousef al-Otaiba, the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the U.S., wrote in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal of the uncertainty and angst being felt throughout the region with a newly empowered and aggressive Iranian regime since the nuclear deal.
“Since the nuclear deal, however, Iran has only doubled down on its posturing and provocations. In October, November and again in early March, Iran conducted ballistic-missile tests in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.
“In December, Iran fired rockets dangerously close to a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Strait of Hormuz, just weeks before it detained a group of American sailors. In February, Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan visited Moscow for talks to purchase more than $8 billion in Russian fighter jets, planes and helicopters.
“In Yemen, where peace talks now hold some real promise, Iran’s disruptive interference only grows worse. Last week, the French navy seized a large cache of weapons on its way from Iran to support the Houthis in their rebellion against the U.N.-backed legitimate Yemeni government. In late February, the Australian navy intercepted a ship off the coast of Oman with thousands of AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades. And last month, a senior Iranian military official said Tehran was ready to send military ‘advisers’ to assist the Houthis,” Otaiba writes.
The laundry list of militant acts by the Iranian regime grows longer each day to include smuggling warheads and arms to Shiite cells in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, widespread crackdowns at home aimed at political dissidents and religious minorities, large-scale human rights violations including historic levels of executions of women and children, and rigging of parliamentary elections to remove over half of the candidates from even appearing on the ballot, including the most loyal agents and officials of the same regime in the past few decades.
The swiftness of the transformation of the Iranian regime since the nuclear deal was approved last year has been stunning. The mullahs are flush with cash, they’ve invited foreign companies to invest billions, not suffered any repercussions from human rights violations or involvement in proxy wars, kept their nuclear enrichment infrastructure intact and elevated development of their ballistic missiles to reach Europe, Africa and American military bases from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean.
And the regime has no intentions of taking its foot off the gas, especially in the area of boosting its missile capability.
Ali Larijani, the regime’s parliamentary speaker and someone lauded by the Iran lobby as a “born-again moderate” said that Iran should continue to develop its missile capabilities despite opposition from western countries.
“Although some excuses recently raised by a number of Western countries about Iran’s missile [tests] are flimsy and legally worthless, they are indicative of their long-term policy which [shows] that they do not want the Islamic Republic to be powerful enough to ensure regional security,” he said according to Tasnim News on Saturday.
“For this reason,” he added, “we should insist on strengthening the country’s defense capability, especially in the field of missiles.”
There is a certain irony that last year the world was worried about nuclear warheads and now it has to worry about missiles to carry those warheads and battlefields across the region, as well as a sharp rise in terror attacks striking at cities around the world killing hundreds.
The ultimate irony came in President Obama’s remarks at the so-called National Security Summit this weekend in Washington in which he criticized the regime for undermining the “spirit” of the agreement even as they stick to the “letter” of the deal.
“Iran so far has followed the letter of the agreement, but the spirit of the agreement involves Iran also sending signals to the world community and businesses that it is not going to be engaging in a range of provocative actions that are going to scare businesses off,” Obama said at a press conference.
“When they launch ballistic missiles with slogans calling for the destruction of Israel, that makes businesses nervous.”
“Iran has to understand what every country in the world understands, which is businesses want to go where they feel safe, where they don’t see massive controversy, where they can be confident that transactions are going to operate normally,” he added. “And that’s an adjustment that Iran’s going to have to make as well.”
I can’t tell if the president is naïve or just-plain dumb when he equates a burgeoning missile program and threat of nuclear annihilation to a need to improve Iran’s business climate. The problem the world is dealing with in Iran is not that businesses are skittish of investing, but rather that the mullahs are intent on remaking the world in their own image.
We can only hope that come November, a new administration will be more intent on reigning in Iranian extremism rather than the opening of a new McDonalds or Starbucks in Tehran.
By Michael Tomlinson