Iranian regime will not change its destructive behavior 

Iranian regime will not change its destructive behavior 

Several world governments have been working ceaselessly and calling for the remaining members of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — China, the United Kingdom, Russia, France and Germany — to uphold the Iran nuclear deal. 
 
The Islamic Republic is also not sitting idly by.
 
President Hassan Rouhani has been dispatching the regime’s experienced diplomats in order to negotiate and lobby the European countries, plus Russia and China. 
 
At the same time, Iran’s hardliners, specifically Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and senior cadres of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, are continuing to pressure and threaten the international community that Tehran will pull out of the nuclear agreement if the world powers do not act swiftly to preserve the pact. Tehran also wants to ensure the signatories maintain Iran’s major sanctions reliefs and fulfill Khamenei’s five demands, including no interference by the world powers and the UN in Iran’s domestic and regional policies or its ballistic missile program. 
 
From the perspective of the Iranian leaders, their strategy is working well due to the fact that several world leaders have recently vowed to protect the nuclear deal and address the demands of Iran’s ruling clerics. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini are currently the key players and are among the most vocal world leaders who are assuring the Iranian regime that the nuclear pact will stay in place and sanctions relief will persist.
 
When examining the arguments of the proponents of the nuclear deal, there appears to be two predominant thoughts as to why the nuclear deal ought to remain intact. The first argument lies in the premise that the international community has the power to change Iran’s behavior only through means such as offering economic incentives, close cooperation, concessions, allowing it to re-enter the global financial market, and other appeasement policies. 
 
The second argument is based on the idea that, if the international community continues to cooperate closely with Iran, giving it worldwide legitimacy through international agreements, Tehran will be compelled to alter its destructive behavior domestically, regionally and globally. The argument contends that the ongoing diplomatic rapprochements, sanctions reliefs and international agreements are empowering the “moderate” forces in Iran, such as Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, who would ultimately alter the regime’s destabilizing behavior. 
 
Arguing that Iran's regime will alter its attitude with concessions and financial rewards is nothing more than wishful thinking.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
 
Not only do such arguments appear to be idealistic and unsophisticated, but they also fail to meticulously examine the underlying pillars of Iran’s clerical establishment. 
 
Treating the Iranian regime like every other modern nation-state is a critical political gaffe because the Islamic Republic is essentially a revolutionary regime. This means that it governs and operates on different parameters compared to a rational state. The Iranian regime rests on the bedrock of the ruling mullahs’ 1979 revolutionary principles and ideological fanaticism, which include anti-Western sentiments, anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism, anti-Arabism, and seeks to export such revolutionary ideals to the rest of the world. 
 
Regardless of status, influence and political affiliation, any individual or group that demonstrates discontent toward these revolutionary principles will be brutally crushed by the clerical establishment. Iran’s history has shown us that even founding fathers or presidents of the Islamic Republic are not immune to this underlying rule. 
 
In addition, it is not the first time that world powers are resorting to appeasement policies in an attempt to alter the destructive behavior of the Iranian regime and turn it into a rational and constructive player at home and abroad. For nearly four decades, the international community has ignored Iran’s military adventurism, support for terrorism and egregious human rights violations. 
 
Instead of changing their aggressive behavior, the ruling mullahs have been leading in various fields, such as being top in the world when it comes to executing people per capita, being the world’s leading executioner of juveniles, according to Amnesty International, and being the top state sponsor of terrorism in the world. 
 
Based on almost 40 years of history of Iran’s theocratic establishment, any astute observer of the nation’s politics can see that none of the efforts by the international community has compelled the regime to alter its destructive behavior. This is due to the fact that Iran’s current policies are the raison d’etre of this revolutionary regime.
 
From the mullahs’ perspective, if they make any fundamental changes in their policies, their establishment will lose its revolutionary identity, its nature, its ideology, and ultimately it will lose its hold on power. 
 
Arguing that the Iranian regime will alter its attitude with concessions and financial rewards is nothing more than wishful thinking. Wishful thinking might be convenient and comfortable for some politicians, but the truth is that neither wishful thinking nor appeasement policies will compel Iran’s ruling clerics to alter their behavior. 
 
As long as the Iranian regime’s theocratic oligarchy is in power, and as long as the concepts of “Velayat-e Faqih” or the “Supreme Leader” govern the political establishment, Tehran will not change its belligerent and destructive behavior, neither inside Iran nor abroad. 

 

  • Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh
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