OpinionMiddle East

The urgent need for regime change in Iran

The international community must make a concerted effort to empower the Iranian people.

Exiled Iranian Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi attends an event in Ramat Gan, Israel, on April 19, 2023. Credit: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.
Exiled Iranian Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi attends an event in Ramat Gan, Israel, on April 19, 2023. Credit: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.
Erfan Fard
Erfan Fard is a counter-terrorism analyst and Middle East Studies researcher based in Washington, D.C.

The Islamic Republic of Iran finds itself at a pivotal juncture, increasingly alienated from the global movement towards democracy and human rights. For over four decades, this outlaw regime has steadfastly chosen ideological rigidity, sidelining the welfare and ambitions of its citizens. Its governance, characterized by repressive domestic measures and aggressive foreign policies, not only suppresses its people’s voices but also escalates threats to regional tranquility and international security.

Furthermore, Iran’s reluctance to engage in meaningful reforms exacerbates its isolation, straining its relationship with the international community. All this has resulted in severe economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation, which have plunged the Iranian people into economic hardship and social unrest.

This underscores a clear and present need for change, especially given the regime’s relentless pursuit of nuclear capabilities, coupled with its support for proxy militias across the Middle East.

Regime change in Iran would be a major victory for fundamental human rights and dignity. The international community’s pursuit of such a victory must be calibrated and multifaceted, aiming not only to dismantle the oppressive structures of the regime but also to pave the way for a democratic and peaceful Iran. This involves economic sanctions that target the regime’s lifelines, diplomatic endeavors to isolate it further on the international stage, and robust support for a unified and democratic opposition.

The path to regime change is certainly fraught with complexities. It demands a nuanced understanding of Iran’s political landscape, a commitment to non-interventionist principles, and a concerted effort to empower the Iranian people. The goal should not be to impose a new order from the outside but to support the Iranian populace in their quest for a government that reflects their aspirations, respects human rights, and adheres to democratic principles.

The narrative surrounding regime change must be reframed. It is not a call for military intervention but a plea for the international community to stand in solidarity with the Iranian people. It is a challenge to global powers to rethink their strategies, ensuring that their actions do not exacerbate the suffering of the Iranian people but instead contribute to a peaceful transition of power.

Saudi Arabia and Israel have made attempts to engage with high-ranking Iranian military officials and ministers, seeking to shift the balance of power internally. However, these efforts have been systematically rebuffed by the regime, an example of the many challenges involved in influencing Iran’s tightly controlled political structure.

Restoring relations between Iran and the United States following regime change would be very much to Israel’s and the U.S.’s strategic advantage. It should be remembered that, before the 1979 Iranian revolution, the U.S. and Iran maintained a close alliance that facilitated regional stability, advanced mutual economic interests—particularly in oil supplies—and provided a counterbalance to Soviet influence. For Israel, a détente between the U.S. and a post-regime Iran could herald a new era of diplomatic possibilities and security dynamics.

A normalization of ties could result in an Iran that distances itself from anti-Israeli groups, reduces security threats to Israel, and engages in dialogue or indirect cooperation on shared regional concerns. For the U.S., reestablished relations with Iran could unlock significant economic opportunities, enhance energy security, and contribute to a more stable Middle East, benefiting U.S. strategic interests and allies, including Israel.

Moreover, such a change might facilitate a broader regional realignment, with Iran potentially rejoining the international community as a constructive actor, contributing to counter-terrorism efforts and stabilizing regional flashpoints. This scenario would not only benefit U.S. and Israeli strategic interests but also offer a pathway to resolving long-standing regional conflicts and fostering a more secure and prosperous Middle East.

The necessity of regime change in Iran is, therefore, evident. It transcends political ideologies and represents a fundamental aspiration for freedom, dignity, and peace. The international community, guided by a principled approach and commitment to the Iranian people’s aspirations, must play a supportive role in fostering such a historic transformation. It is a cause worth championing.

For the United States in particular, the insidious spread of the Iranian regime’s influence, which threatens global stability, demands decisive action. America’s failure to take such action thus far mirrors its 1979 inability to perceive the threat posed by Iran’s theocrats. Today, American inaction risks further nuclear proliferation across a volatile region.

There is an urgent need for an American strategic pivot on Iran in order to safeguard global peace. America must shift from passive observation to active countermeasures, prioritizing global security over historical complacency.

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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