Trump's decision on getting out of Obama's bad deal with Iran gives the Iranian people an opportunity for a democratic uprising
Spengler points out:
President Donald Trump finally made good on his promise Tuesday to get out of the Iran nuclear deal. As I have written, I would have kept the agreement in limbo and let the regime's clerics twist in the wind. But what's done is done.Iran's currency is in free fall in anticipation of the move by Trump and could reach Venezuelan proportions. There is clearly anger on the streets of Iran directed toward the mullahs instead of the US. While some predicted a spike in the price of oil as a result of Trump's move, that is unlikely and the price actually fell today.
Much will be written about what the U.S. and its allies should do on the nuclear file. Iran's leaders have made vague threats, and the West must prepare for the prospect of losing visibility into the country's declared nuclear infrastructure. That said, the most urgent task now for Trump is increasing the odds of success for Iran's democracy movement.
To understand why, consider the argument first put forward in 2005 by former CIA analyst and Iran specialist Kenneth Pollack. In his book, "Persian Puzzle," Pollack said there were two clocks for Iran: a countdown to nuclear weapons, and a countdown to democracy. He argued that the best guide for U.S. policy was to try to slow down the former to give more time for the latter.
In an interview last week, Iranian dissident Heshmat Tabarzadi told me he would shed no tears for the nuclear bargain. "Obama and the Europeans sacrificed the human rights of the Iranian people in order to achieve more security for themselves," he said. "This was a blatant mistake. The point is that the Islamic regime, through its blackmailing via its nuclear programs, managed to buy time, receive dollars, crack down on the Iranian people, meddle in Syria and Yemen, and make the world a less safe place through its development of missiles."
By virtue of being inside Iran, he has a pulse on the insurrections that are currently roiling his country — ranging from its drinking water crisis to the run on Iran's banks to the movement among young Iranian women to throw off the hijab. So it's important to listen to what he has to say.
He told me that now the best thing for the U.S. to do is to support technologies like Telegram that allow Iranians to communicate securely with one another. An Iranian court recently announced a ban on Telegram, which exposed again Rouhani's powerlessness. Tabarzadi told me that Telegram's founder, Pavel Durov, "managed to create an information revolution in Iran," something he said the State Department's anti-censorship programs did not.
Tabarzadi also said he supported targeted sanctions against the regime's propaganda organs as well as expanding sanctions against Iranian leaders for human rights violations. Iranian Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi made a similar point to me last month in an interview when she called for sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, the entity that runs the regime's domestic and foreign propaganda efforts. Tabarzadi said he opposed external investment in Iran at this point. Ebadi said the same.
Spengler points out:
...There is more. Iran is in deep trouble and the sanctions Trump will reimpose will only make its struggle more difficult.
Iran's economy is a catastrophe, as I wrote more than a year ago--despite higher oil prices and despite the lifting of sanctions under the Obama deal. The Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) runs the country the way Al Capone ran Cicero, Illinois, and has left the banking and pension system bankrupt. There are frequent strikes, demonstrations, riots and other expressions of popular disgust at the regime. But the IRGC won't give up. If the domestic opposition gains power, they'll be hanged, and they can't flee the country, because they have no place to go.
Two dozen Israeli missiles or bomber sorties could wipe out Iran’s economy in a matter of hours, and that makes a war unlikely for the time being. Fewer than a dozen power plants generate 60% of Iran’s electricity, and eight refineries produce 80% of its distillates. A single missile strike could disable each of these facilities, and bunker-buster bombs of the kind that Israel used last month in Lebanon would entirely destroy them. And as Hillel Frisch points out in the Jerusalem Post, with a bit more effort Israel could eliminate the Port of Kharg from which Iran exports 90% of its hydrocarbons.