Opinion

The Iranian Threat

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Posted: Jun 20, 2019 12:01 AM
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The Iranian Threat

Source: AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi

The Iranian regime has been operating unopposed in the Iraq battlespace since 2003. They have disproportionate influence and access in Iraq and Syria because of the ISIS fight and civil war in Syria. They own Lebanon. We are witnessing the "Lebanonization" of Iraq. The U.S. government's intelligence effort at penetrating and curbing Iranian regional and global expansion has been unfocused and largely unsuccessful for more than two decades. Iranian advances in Iraq since 2004 have been unopposed.

The CIA has experienced three major counterintelligence compromises at the hands of Iranian intelligence, assisted by Hezbollah special security and their liaison surrogates throughout the 1990s up until today. A comprehensive national security policy directive should be crafted and issued, directing a coordinated global Iranian program aimed at penetrating the Iranian regime leadership and intelligence services, disrupting their global financial and support networks and, most importantly, making a comprehensive global effort to cripple their surrogate force and militia structure globally. This effort should focus on their covert financial mechanisms and material infrastructure that support Hezbollah and the militia units currently operating in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

The covert business infrastructure built over many years, unopposed in West Africa, South America, Central America and the Middle East -- specifically in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq -- is shocking. The Iranians have constructed a covert infrastructure to ensure they can weather any international sanctions regime and continue to navigate through political and policy turbulence with the West. A comprehensive national policy discussion on how to deal with Iran has yet to be undertaken by the Trump administration. Why? Iran is a long-term challenge that will be solved by a comprehensive Iranian global engagement/pressure policy.

The U.S. government should declare all elements of Hezbollah -- and their known leadership and business figures, such as Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah -- and the Shia religious and business leadership structure in Iraq and Syria part of the terrorist support and leadership structure. Declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Badr Brigade, Quds Force and key Iranian leaders -- by name -- terrorist support organizations. Use targeted sanctions to seize assets, freeze accounts and restrict movement of these officials. Identify and separate the terrorists and corrupt Iranian religious and intelligence leaders from the Iranian people. Name them and expose them and their vast wealth. Sanctions that are narrow and precisely focused on people and groups can have a profound impact. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has a global business empire. Striking a financial blow to their covert funding system would severely impact the Iranian regime and its ability to covertly support, fund and direct terrorist activities and intelligence operations, forcing them to use official money to fund their global intel efforts.

At this time, Iran is draining the financial resources out of the nation of Iraq. We have direct contact with the former minister of finance who can lay out, in excruciating detail, how Iran, with the help of Nouri al-Maliki, has stolen billions from the central bank of Iraq and sent that money directly to Iran. The agency should have presented a thorough picture of the Iranian covert funding and support system globally, with a map of financial links. This is intelligence that should be used to deliver a coordinated, comprehensive financial blow. The administration could prepare this financial attack plan and wait to launch it when Iran conducts their next major terrorist attack, violation of the Iranian nuclear agreement, etc. and tie the new financial policy directive to an Iranian action. Carefully timing major policy actions to specific Iranian actions will help create the new narrative for the administration's strategic communications program to separate the corrupt Iranian regime from the Iranian people.