From Consortium News
Now that the Trump administration has derailed the Iran nuclear deal, the old issue of regime change in Iran is back again. National Security Adviser John Bolton is obviously the chief regime-change advocate in the administration, and there is every reason to believe he has begun to push that policy with Donald Trump in his first month in the White House.
Bolton was part of the powerful neoconservative faction of national security officials in the George W. Bush administration that had a plan for supporting regime change in Iran, not much different from the one Bolton is reportedly pushing now. But it was a crackbrained scheme that involved the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) exiled terrorist organisation that never had Bush's support.
Bolton may find history repeating itself, with Trump resisting his plan for regime change, just as Bush did in 2003.
Trump has appeared to flirt with the idea of Iranian regime change in the past. During the December protests in Iran, he said on Twitter that it was time for a change, noting: "The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years."
Trump's killing of the nuclear deal, however, stopped short of rhetoric signalling the aim of overthrowing the Islamic Republic. Instead, Trump suggested that "Iran's leaders" are "going to want to make a new and lasting deal, one that benefits all of Iran and the Iranian people." He added: "When they do, I am ready, willing and able."
A few days after the Trump announcement, an unnamed National Security Council (NSC) official avoided any hint of regime change, telling the neoconservative Washington Free Beacon: "Our stated policy is to change the Iranian regime's behavior."
Now, Bolton has issued an even more explicit denial, telling ABC News: "That is not the policy of the administration. The policy of the administration is to make sure Iran never gets close to deliverable nuclear action."
And on CNN's State of the Union, he said: "I've written and said a lot of things when I was a complete free agent. I certainly stand by what I said at the time, but those were my opinions then. The circumstance I'm in now is I'm the national security adviser to the president. I'm not the national security decision-maker."
It's not difficult to read between the lines: the implied message is that his views on regime change have not prevailed with Trump -- so far.Bolton: Bomb Iran
Bolton has long been one of the most vocal supporters of such a policy, although he is better known as the primary advocate of bombing Iran. He has been one of the most enthusiastic clients among former U.S. officials who have associated themselves with MEK, which seeks to overthrow the Tehran regime with US backing.
Bolton has not only appeared at MEK rallies in Paris, along with other former U.S. officials on the take from the well-endowed paramilitary organization. In July 2017, he declared that the Trump administration should adopt the goal of regime change in Iran, calling MEK a "viable" alternative to the regime. And his final line, delivered with his voice rising dramatically, noted that "before 2019, we here will celebrate in Tehran."
It appears that Bolton was still pushing the idea within the administration earlier this month. The Washington Free Beacon reported on May 10 that a three-page paper outlining a regime-change strategy from a small far-right organization called the Security Studies Group, with which Bolton is said to have close ties, was circulated among NSC officials. The quotes from the paper in the story make it clear that the strategy is based largely on seeking to exploit ethnic and religious conflicts in Iran.
The paper reportedly makes the point that ethnic minorities -- such as Kurds, Azeris, Ahwazi Arabs and Baloch -- represent one-third of Iran's population, and argues that the Iranian regime's "oppression of its ethnic and religious minorities has created the conditions for an effective campaign to splinter the Iranian state into component parts."
It adds: "U.S. support for their independence movements, both overt and covert, could force the regime to focus attention on them and limit its ability to conduct other malign activities."
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