Allah's Three Strikes Against Iran's Mullahs

by LT. COLONEL JAMES G. ZUMWALT, USMC (RET) January 18, 2017

During the November 2016-January 2017 timeframe, Allah has not been particularly good to Iran's mullahs. Three setbacks have occurred in rather short order.

First, Tehran's mullahs undoubtedly counted on Hillary Clinton winning the November 8th U.S. presidential election. Her victory would have assured them a continuation of President Barack Obama's one-sided policy of submission to the theocracy-a policy that has yielded Tehran enormous benefits.

While Obama embraced a non-confrontational policy with Tehran for eight years that only encouraged greater Iranian aggression, he also negotiated a nuclear deal-the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)-paving the way for the mullahs to acquire a nuclear arsenal.

JCPOA, along with a side deal to release American hostages, resulted in a cash-strapped Iran-listed by the U.S. State Department as the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism-receiving billions of dollars to continue financing such violence. Additionally, Tehran has been able to significantly increase its defense budget.

Obama's refusal to challenge the mullahs allowed Iran-as he proclaimed in an interview last year should be done-to "share the neighborhood" with its regional challenger, Saudi Arabia. The void Obama left there was quickly filled by Tehran.

However, with Donald Trump's win, the mullahs will quickly learn a new American expression: "There is a new sheriff in town!" As such, an Iran nuclear deal that gravely endangers regional stability stands gravely endangered itself of surviving.

Second, on January 8th, a pillar of Iran's Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, 82, died. The former president allied himself before the Shah of Iran's fall from power in 1979 with the man who would replace him as the country's authority figure-Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. 

Rafsanjani became Khomeini's right hand man in structuring the regime's domestic and international policies. Dressed in sheep's clothing as a moderate, he was far from such. He spent the last four decades-almost half his life-actively involved in cracking down on dissenters. He also exported Islamic fundamentalism abroad and headed the country's clandestine effort to obtain nuclear weapons.

Rafsanjani's global reach of violence was reflected by an outstanding international arrest warrant for  "crimes against humanity." Prosecutors in Argentina linked him to a terrorist attack in Buenos Aires in 1994 on a Jewish community center that killed 85 and injured hundreds more. Conducted by the terrorist group Hezbollah, it was determined Rafsanjani had approved the attack while president.

The third setback Allah has dealt the mullahs is Marine General James Mattis's nomination as U.S. Secretary of Defense. His taking office will be somewhat disconcerting for them.

It has been nearly seven decades since the Office of the Secretary of Defense has been occupied by a former career military leader-General George Marshall under President Harry Truman in 1949. But with the numerous threats America faces today, it perhaps has never been more important for us to grant a leader who fully understands these threats the authority to deal with them. Too many of our previous civilian secretaries simply have not.

Mattis's service both on and off the battlefield is disconcerting enough for Tehran. But the fact he brings with him the nomen "Mad Dog"-given to him by the press-suggests he is a decision-maker who is much less concerned about protocol in confronting interests contrary to ours and much more focused on protecting our interests. One can expect the mullahs to put this to the test as, after January 20th, they gradually begin harassing U.S. Navy ships operating in the Persian Gulf again.

Hopefully, the next four to eight years will be haunted continuously with bad news for Iran's mullahs.

Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.), is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam war, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf war. He is the author of "Bare Feet, Iron Will--Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam's Battlefields," "Living the Juche Lie: North Korea's Kim Dynasty" and "Doomsday: Iran--The Clock is Ticking." He frequently writes on foreign policy and defense issues.

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