Trump Launches Slow-Drip Attrition of Ayatollahs’ Regime Ahead of Showdowns with Iran, North Korea

After seven days, the current wave of dissent in Iran began to slow down. However, it was just the opening shot of a comprehensive campaign against the corrupt theocracy in Tehran. DEBKA Weekly’s sources report that the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Israel are hiding in their bottom drawers a multistage plan, whose object is to sap the strength of, rather than topple, the ayatollahs’ regime in Tehran, while weakening its main prop, the Revolutionary Guards Corps IRGC).

This multistage strategy was prompted by the realization that a one-shot operation would not achieve the object. Needed were a succession of hammer blows unfolding in the course of 2018. This tactic would allow the Trump administration to keep a controlling hand on the turbulence and be ready to tackle a military showdown with Iran in the second half of the year, when the US may also be called on to support Israel against Iranian aggression.

(The prospects of an Iranian-Hizballah military conflict with Israel are discussed in a separate article.)

Since the viewpoint of most Western pundits discussing this week’s unrest in Iran depends on whether they approve or disapprove of President Donald Trump, they are less conscious of the complexity of the administration’s decision-making process leading up to it. In fact, all the relevant parts of the administration, from the White House National Security Council, to the Pentagon, the State Department, and the CIA, were actively involved in the planning and orchestration of the Iranian upheaval. Even presidential tweets on Iran were required to pass muster by National Security Adviser. Gen. HR McMaster, who, before their release, checked on whether they helped or impeded the operation.

It was broken down into stages partly as a means of attracting support from as many international players as possible, especially in Europe; and partly, because Washington believes that the year 2018 may hold not one, but two, military confrontations – against North Korea as well as Iran. So long as the dissent in Iran goes forward in controlled stages, Trump retains the flexibility to determine which to address first and judge the best possible conditions for success.

DEBKA Weekly outlines the stages so far charted for the anti-government campaign against the ayatollahs:

  1. The initial wave of protest sweeping through hundreds of towns and villages was meant to be the first shock for the regime and popular opinion. It was intended to break through the average Iranian’s cynical low opinion of America’s worth as an ally, after the Obama administration stood aside from the anti-regime protest in 2009 and Washington’s Kurdish and Sunni allies were let down in Iraq. It was seen important to instill in the Iranian people the belief that the Trump administration is different and worth trusting.
  2. Between this week and Jan. 17, Trump must choose whether to certify before Congress that Iran is compliant with the 2015 nuclear accord and whether, or not, to waive US sanctions. Re-imposing the sanctions would be deemed equal to America’s withdrawal from the agreement. At the same time, the president is more than likely to impose new penalties in support of the protest movement against the regime.
  3. International organizations will be asked to take a look at the Iranian government’s human rights violations. A UN Security Council session will be called. Most West European governments are expected to stand against Trump’s Iran strategy, especially Britain, France and Germany.
  4. More attempts will be made to organize general strikes after the first attempt failed on Tuesday – especially for targeting various branches of production and Iran’s oil exports, most of all. The regime will be subjected to a war of nerves by being plagued with demonstrations and strikes cropping up and dying down every few days without warning.
  5. Leaked revelations to the media will show up the Islamic regime as deeply implicated in overseas terrorist operations. On Wednesday, Jan. 3, Israel’s Shin Bet security service revealed that a Palestinian computer engineering student had been arrested for establishing a terrorist cell in Hebron on behalf of Iranian intelligence.
  6. The Trump administration has put together plans for curbing the expansion of Iranian influence and permanent presence in Iraq and Lebanon. (See a separate article on this.)
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