Killing the nuke deal won't bring the regime change Iran hawks want

Killing the nuke deal won't bring the regime change Iran hawks want
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The JCPOA was signed between Iran, the United States and world powers in the summer of 2015. Being hailed as the most comprehensive nonproliferation agreement of the past three decades, this agreement was forged and supported by a large coalition of American and Iranian diplomats, scientists, journalist, military personnel and peace organizations.

The deal capped Iran's ability to develop nuclear weapons while ensuring the lifting of crippling international sanctions that would allow Iran’s civil society access to the global economy. Many supporters of the deal had hoped the economic opening would strengthen Iran's predominantly young and moderate population to engage the world and push back against Iranian isolationists that opposed the accord.  

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In the aftermath of the deal, U.S. businesses, such as Boeing, were preparing for product sales to the 80 million untapped population of Iran that should have resulted in billions of dollars in profits for U.S. companies and a boost to American jobs.  

But Donald Trump, not believing in the potential profits of the Iran deal, withdrew the United States from President Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement, and distanced the U.S. from its European allies, France, Germany and the UK who maintain support for the nuclear deal.

Without the nuclear provisions on Iran's program, the U.S. has voluntarily placed itself back on track for a military confrontation with Iran. A war of choice that could cost the U.S. thousands of servicemen lives and trillions in tax payer dollars.

As for the Iranian people, the demise of the deal and the re-imposition of the nuclear sanctions will severely hurt their daily lives, while strengthening the hardline sectors of the regime. Most noticeably, the Revolutionary Guard has thrived in the black markets created by sanctions. The implementation of the umbrella sanctions will again consolidate the Revolutionary Guard’s economic power.

The hope of President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff: Surveillance warrant docs show that Nunes memo 'misrepresented and distorted these applications' Chicago detention facility under investigation following allegations of abuse of migrant children Ex-Trump aide: Surveillance warrants are 'complete ignorance' and 'insanity' MORE and his allies in the Middle East is to apply endless economic pressure on Iran to force its people into further misery, and consequently into desperate street protests that will topple the regime and bring forth “democracy.” Unfortunately, the Trump coalition has not taken into account the recent history of regime changes in Iran. When Iranian governments have been toppled through chaotic and violent street protests, the democratic sectors are damaged while strong men rise to power.

In the 1900s, when the British installed King Reza Pahlavi and his son Mohamad-Reza through rowdy street protests, Iran’s constitutional government was damaged and replaced by the Pahlavi dictatorship. And in 1979, when the Pahlavis were toppled, the democratic wing of the resistance was destroyed by chaotic street protests that brought to power another strongman, Ayatollah Khomeini.

Throughout history, a sizable sector of Iranian society has believed in kings and strongmen ruling their country. Today, a large minority is still protesting in the streets for another strongman to rise and end the theocratic reign of the Ayatollahs. But short of a disastrous U.S. military ground invasion and occupation, the only group positioned for a takeover is the Revolutionary Guard.

A Revolutionary Guard takeover of Iran would again spell defeat for the democratic forces working to reform Iran’s government. Through elections over the past decades, Iranian democrats have tried to infiltrate the theocratic system. They have recently elected reformists into the presidency and parliament with the goal of democratizing the system all the way up to the theocratic political posts of the Guardian Council and the Supreme Leader.

The Guardian Council, a group of six civil jurists and six Islamic jurists who approve the designation of the Supreme Leader, are in part appointed by the Parliament. Many democrats within Parliament, who have been elected by the people, are working to strengthen the position of civil jurists in the Guardian Council, and to ultimately enhance the hand of Iran’s electorate into regulating and or even dissolving the position of the theocratic strongman at the top.

But if international sanctions continue to devastate Iran’s economy and desperate street protests follow, the Revolutionary Guard, led by a group of generals, will declare martial law and scrap the entire government for a new authoritarian system. Again, setting back democratic gains for decades.

Preservation of the Iran deal and further economic engagement with Iran will strengthen Iran’s civil society to democratize the government, while adding security and economy to American interests.

The American and Iranian citizens, diplomats, scientists, journalist, military personnel and peace organizations, who supported the Iran deal and are a majority in their respective countries, should double down and apply pressure on their congress and parliament to keep the deal intact. They should push for an economic opening that will end the reign and military policies of strongmen.

Farshad Farahat, an Iranian-American actor, is a member of the Board of Directors of Ploughsares Fund, a global security foundation that supports initiatives to prevent the spread and use of nuclear weapons. Farshad serves as a member of and ambassador for the National Iranian American Council and he costarred in the Academy Award winning film “Argo” and is now starring in the theater adaptation of “All the Shah’s Men.”