There is a growing number of Iranian officials and key allies of President Donald Trump who are urging the new administration to take steps to topple the clerical Tehran regime, Politico reports.
“The policy of the United States should be regime change in Iran, I don’t see how anyone can say America can be safe as long as you have in power a theocratic despotism”, Senator Tom Cotton said.
Cotton advocated a combination of economic, diplomatic and covert actions to pressure Tehran’s government and “support internal domestic dissent” in the country, noting that Iran has numerous minority ethnic groups, including Arabs, Turkmen and Balochs who “aren’t enthusiastic about living in a Persian Shi’ite despotism”.
As Trump’s administration formulates its policy, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Representative Ted Poe that “peaceful transition of that government” is possible.
The suggestion brought a response from the foreign minister of Iran, who noted that “U.S. officials should worry more about saving their own regime than changing Iran’s”.
As the White House formulates its official policy on Iran, senior officials and key Trump allies are calling for the new administration to take steps to topple Tehran’s militant clerical government.
Critics say that political meddling in Iran, where memories of a 1953 CIA-backed coup remain vivid, risks a popular backlash that would only empower hardliners, Politico adds. That’s why President Barack Obama assured Iranians, in a 2013 speech at the United Nations, that “we are not seeking regime change”.
As a candidate, Trump was sharply critical of U.S. efforts to topple dictators in Iraq, Libya, and Syria, though each of those instances involved the use of military power, which virtually no Iran hawks currently advocate as an instrument within Iran, Politico reports.
Along with Tillerson, key Trump officials are on the record as saying that Iran will remain a U.S. enemy until the clerical leaders and military officials who control the country’s political system are deposed, even under the administration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a reformer with whom President Barack Obama cultivated ties and who was re-elected in May.
“Iran is susceptible to a strategy of coerced democratization because it lacks popular support and relies on fear to sustain its power,” the memo argued.
As a member of Congress, Trump’s CIA director, Mike Pompeo, last year publicly called for congressional action to “change Iranian behavior, and, ultimately, the Iranian regime.” And the Trump national security council’s director for Middle East affairs, Derek Harvey, told an audience at the conservative Hudson Institute in August 2015 that the Obama administration’s hope of working with moderates to steer Iran in a friendlier direction was a “misread” of “the nature and character of the regime,” whose structure he said he has carefully studied.
The case for political subversion in Iran has also been pressed to the White House by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a hawkish Washington think tank that strenuously opposed President Barack Obama’s 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran and which has close ties to many key Trump officials.
In 1979 Iran underwent an Islamic revolution that overthrew a pro-U.S. shah who counted Richard Nixon and Andy Warhol among his friends, replacing him with a Shiite fundamentalist government fiercely hostile to the U.S. and Israel.
While the country does have a democratically elected parliament and president, they answer to a repressive clerical leadership led by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and backed by the military’s Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.