KAHLILI: Iranian talk is cheap
The third round of negotiations between Iran and six world powers Monday and Tuesday in Moscow are likely to fail, just like the first two. The talks will see Iran continue to string along the P5+1 powers ( China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and United States plus Germany) while continuing to work on its illicit nuclear-weapons program, as North Korea did, or it finally will end the charade, walk away from the talks and dare the West to take its best shot, even as a new round of sanctions begins July 1.
Iran will never fully abandon its nuclear-enrichment activity. It knows that nominal allies Russia and China won’t allow military action and that the European powers, focusing on the Syrian crisis and their own potential economic disaster, are constrained from acting. President Obama, facing a tough re-election campaign because of the state of U.S. unemployment, isn’t about to launch a financially devastating war.
Ever since the 1979 revolution that consolidated power in the clerics in Iran, the regime’s main goals have been to expand the ideology of the revolution and force America out of the region. Their gripe with the West stems from their ideological belief that Islam will conquer the world. As a CIA agent in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the 1980s who also collaborated with the CIA on Iran in the 1990s, I saw firsthand how radicals ruling Iran pursued their goals. The regime poses a threat not only to its own people but to the world.
The West closed its eyes on the atrocities and human rights violations the regime committed at home over the last third of a century. Now it hopes the radical mullahs will change their stance against the West. That’s not going to happen.
The regime’s officials see the Arab Spring as an “Islamic Awakening,” creating instability in Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region. At the same time, they boast of their progress on the nuclear front as they have amassed six times the nuclear material they possessed when President Obama took office.
A recent editorial in the Iranian Keyhan newspaper, which is directly under the supervision of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei states that the events of the past three decades have totally changed the calculations of the big powers on the Middle East.
The editorial recalls the defeat of America in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan and concludes that the West, which defeated Germany and Japan in World War II, is incapable of controlling the Middle East. “The West, and its Shock and Awe policy, has tasted defeat with its confrontation with Iran, Syria and Hezbollah and now understands that they can’t confront this front with their classic military,” writes Saadollah Zarei. “Looking at the 2006 war between Hezbollah and the Zionist regime, … the Zionists’ superior military armament [not only] did not frighten Hezbollah but resulted in more missiles being launched on [Israeli] cities.”
The editorial says America tasted the same defeat in Iraq despite all of its might, and in fact the West has become “disarmed” in the Middle East because its militaristic policies are no longer effective. Iran doesn’t fear America’s might because, as the Ayatollah Khamenei said recently, “the real and complete glory belongs to God and those who remain in God’s front.” In other words, the mullahs truly believe they are carrying out the desires of Allah, and no amount of military or economic threats will sway them in their quest for nuclear weapons.
The West must realize finally that the regime’s goals and ideals are not based on economics or even regional strategies but rather on an ideology that ultimately seeks the destruction of the West. The regime has slaughtered thousands of Iran’s bravest sons and daughters. After a decade of negotiations, we must join their call. The only solution to this problem is to oust the mullahs, and Iranians are our best allies to achieve that. We must deport Iranian diplomats and affiliates from Western countries, cutting diplomatic ties to a minimum. Iranian leaders must be prosecuted in international courts for crimes against humanity. The West must prioritize providing secure communication to the Iranian people so they can correspond with the outside world without fear of arrest for promoting civil rights in Iran. Above all, the West must give the Iranians signs that we are serious about helping them with change.
Negotiations and sanctions will not deter the Islamic regime from obtaining the bomb. Once it has nuclear weapons, world peace will be at risk. We must act now; time is no longer on our side.
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the author of “A Time to Betray” (Simon & Schuster, 2010). He is a fellow with EMPact America and teaches at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy.