Will Be War
A former CIA agent
Last week, Iran's opposition leaders Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi canceled anti-government demonstrations timed to commemorate the anniversary of last year's disputed presidential election. Secretary of the State Hillary Clinton called the cancellation "regrettable," but missed the larger point. The reform these two men offer is not what the majority of Iranians want: They want an end to the current Islamic regime.
One year ago, the Obama administration missed an opportunity to support Iran's uprising. They mistakenly calculated that back-door negotiations with Iran's clerics and promises made by its rulers would bring cooperation on the nuclear issue. The Americans were duped and now find themselves grasping for another chance to support an Iranian uprising.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has ordered a massive buildup of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf starting with Carrier Strike Group 10, headed by the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier. Just last Friday an armada of more than 12 U.S. and Israeli warships passed through the Suez canal amid extreme security provided by Egypt. The ships are headed for the Red Sea and from there to the Persian Gulf. Another four U.S. warships will be making their way to the region to join the Strike Group. The Americans have also conducted joint air and naval strike practices with France and the U.K. under the command of American forces, while Germany is sending warships to the area, also under the command of American forces.
Both Israel and the U.S. have positioned nuclear-armed submarines in the region. Israel has conducted multiple tests on its missile defense systems to protect its citizens once war breaks out. U.S. and Israeli Special Forces have been deployed inside Iran to investigate potential targets and gauge the willingness of Iranians to overthrow the current regime. Russia--up to now a key backer of the regime--recently announced a freeze in sales of its S-300 missiles to Iran. Vladimir Putin confirmed this himself last week.
Iran, for its part, is also preparing for an all-out war in the Middle East. Before even a vote was cast at the U.N. on recent sanctions, Iranian leaders had ordered the Guards to build up. Reinforcement troops have been dispatched to the Iraqi and Afghanistan borders. Hezbollah has been armed to the teeth, and Syria was presented with missiles carrying larger payloads and longer range.
Meanwhile Iran is busy pursuing its nuclear bomb project and enriching its supply of uranium faster than ever before, with the hope of testing its first nuclear bomb. Accomplishing this will fulfill the prophecy sought by the radical members of the secretive society of Hojjatieh, particularly its leader Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, the person responsible for the initial election and fraudulent re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Hojjatieh movement impatiently seeks the end of times and the return of Imam Mahdi, the last messiah.
The Islamic Regime is prepared to suppress any uprising. They are well aware of the West's intention to crumble Iran's economy in coming months and to create the conditions for a massive rebellion. Iran's Revolutionary Guards have set up detention centers in rural areas capable of housing thousands in the event of any further unrest. The Guards have been anticipating this day ever since Mohammad Ali Jafari was picked as commander by Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei. Jafari has said that Iran's opposition is an even greater threat to Iran than its former archenemy Saddam Hussein had been. He has facilitated the establishment of 31 command and control centers in and around Iran that can operate independently in case of a break in communication during a war. Each center is authorized to suppress any unrest and to confront any enemy. Jafari has also brought Iran's Basij militia--a group of pro-government vigilantes--under Guard command to insure greater coordination.
The clock is ticking and the lives of hundreds of thousands--if not millions--are at stake. Now is the time to pursue all non-violent approaches: cut all diplomatic ties, expel Iranian officials and openly support the people of Iran. Only with international support will Iran's people be emboldened to rebel and will regime loyalists abandon ship. The desire to overthrow the regime is already so great within Iran that this alone could be enough to lead to successful rebellion.
But if war cannot be avoided, the West should keep in mind Iran's rich history of principles, humanity and dignity. Bombing Iran into the stone age is not the answer, for the country is rich in culture and its people are much more pro-West than most Americans realize. The focus of any war must be the Guards and the Basij forces. If Western forces can defeat them, Iran's people will do the rest, and its Islamic Regime will join other barbaric regimes in the trash bin of history.
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for an ex-CIA spy who requires anonymity for safety reasons. A Time to Betray, his book about his double life as a CIA agent in Iran's Revolutionary Guards, was published by Simon & Schuster last April.