OpinionMiddle East

America must reassess its Iran policy

An international coalition must set regime change in Iran as its ultimate goal.

Members of an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps special forces unit. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Members of an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps special forces unit. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Erfan Fard
Erfan Fard is a counter-terrorism analyst and Middle East Studies researcher based in Washington, D.C.

The Oct. 7 Hamas massacre and the ensuing war between Israel and the terrorist group are not isolated events, but a wake-up call. It will have reverberations that go far beyond its immediate aftermath. In particular, while the specifics of Iranian collaboration in planning the attack remain murky, there is no doubt that Iran’s financial, military and strategic support for Hamas implicates Tehran in the atrocity.  Far from a spontaneous act, the massacre was the culmination of Iran’s meticulous long-term strategy to reshape the Middle East.

Over decades, the Iranian regime has systematically spun a web of terrorist proxies across the Middle East, including in Gaza, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. Along with the Oct. 7 massacre, recent clashes between these proxies and the U.S. and Israel show that an alarming escalation is underway. This aligns with Iran’s overarching goal of exploiting the humanitarian crisis in Gaza in order to signal its readiness to attack Israeli and U.S. personnel through its proxies.

In addition, the mullahs’ regime in Iran seeks to attack and vilify Israel in order to thwart rapprochement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, thus validating Iran’s terrorist strategy, enhancing its regional influence and emboldening its leadership.

All of this is not only a direct challenge to Israel, but also to the U.S. Iran’s strategy is predicated on systematically eroding U.S. influence in the region, not only by attacking U.S. allies but also through periodic attacks on U.S. assets via its proxies. Thus, even if Hamas is ultimately destroyed by the IDF, the broader threat to U.S. interests will remain.

As Israel moves towards eradicating Hamas, the U.S. faces a crucial decision: Will it adopt a similar policy towards the Iranian regime? Clearly, Iran’s campaign to tilt the regional strategic balance in its favor demands decisive retaliatory action. Although the U.S. has deployed significant forces to the region and set various red lines, Iran’s persistent pursuit of destabilization warrants a more comprehensive approach. Clearly, the U.S. must recalibrate its resistance to Iran’s ambitious agenda in favor of a more aggressive posture.

To counter Iran, the U.S. must implement an overall strategy combining military, diplomatic, informational and economic policies. Essential components of this strategy include an aggressive defense of U.S. troops and U.S. allies, a robust public information campaign, combatting disinformation on social media, strengthening diplomatic efforts, broadening sanctions and collaborating on regional peace initiatives. Forming a broad coalition of nations committed to ending Iran’s malicious activities is also imperative.

The U.S. and the international community as a whole find themselves at a critical juncture. A resolute decision to confront Iranian ambitions, challenge its leaders and proxies, and lead a coalition against Iranian terrorism is essential. It is now clear that, unless Iran’s covert operations are stopped, the region will remain trapped in a cyclical pattern of destabilization and conflict. Reinstating the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” strategy and utilizing the “snapback” sanctions is a good first step to countering this. Then, advocating for regime change in Iran could be considered a viable alternative.

The ultimate goal must be regime change. There is no way for the world to reconcile itself to the mullahs’ regime, because that regime refuses to reconcile itself to the world. A region without that regime, devoid of the Shiite Crescent, Shiite terrorism, radical Islam and the prospect of a Shiite caliphate in Tehran would be a vastly improved and more stable place. The Iranian regime is a malignant force, akin to a cancerous tumor, and without major surgery, it will continue to spread.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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