Hassan Rouhani, president of Iran, addresses the United Nations General Assembly on September 22. File Photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo
BRUSSELS, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- President-elect Donald Trump made some bellicose remarks about Iran during his campaign. At a rally held on the steps of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., in September 2015 he called the nuclear agreement between Iran and the world's six major powers the worst deal he'd ever seen in his lifetime. "I've been doing deals for a long time," he told the crowd. "I've been making lots of wonderful deals, great deals. That's what I do. Never, ever, ever in my life have I seen any transaction so incompetently negotiated as our deal with Iran. And I mean never." He later told Chuck Todd, host of NBC's Meet the Press that the deal could "lead to a nuclear holocaust."
Trump's selection of Congressman Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., to serve as the next CIA director has gained significant praise from senior congressional insiders and foreign policy experts, who say the lawmaker won plaudits for taking a tough line on Iranian intransigence and investigating the Obama administration's secret negotiations with Tehran. Pompeo exposed the way the U.S. government, despite its denials, paid over $2 billion to Iran in ransom money, in exchange for the release of American hostages.
Nominee for the post of attorney general is veteran Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who called the Iran nuclear deal "a mistake" and "a wrong decision for the U.S." and voted against it in the Senate. He claimed the deal could be repudiated if the incoming president disagreed with it.
Rudy Giuliani, the ex-New York City mayor is one of Trump's highest-profile backers. He was a loyal supporter and protagonist during the campaign and has been hotly tipped as a possible secretary of state. Giulliani is a fierce critic of the Iranian regime and a longtime supporter of the Mojahedin-e Khalq, the main Iranian opposition movement.
Also potentially in the frame for a key post is ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich who was a top adviser and television spokesman for Trump during the campaign. Like Giulliani, Gingrich is a fierce critic of the Iranian regime and a key backer of the Iranian democratic opposition.
Trump and his potential Cabinet appointees are sure to watch closely how Iran adheres to the nuclear pact and they will be ready to pounce at the first sign of any breach. Unlike U.S. President Barack Obama, Trump is not likely to be easily fooled by the so-called "moderate" Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. They know that Rouhani is far from moderate. More than 3,000 people have been executed during the three years he has been in office. Under his leadership Iran has the highest per capita rate of executions of any country in the world. The smiling Rouhani justifies such barbarity by saying that the death penalty is God's judgment on offenders. Nevertheless juveniles and women are regularly hanged, often in public and medieval punishments such as amputations, eye gouging, lashing and stoning to death are commonplace.
Obama chose to base his Middle East policy on reaching out to the Iranian regime. It was perceived that a policy founded on appeasement and concessions could transform a regime renowned for seeking nuclear weapons, a sponsor of terrorism, an exporter of fundamentalism and an outspoken enemy of the United States and western democracies into an ally that could help Obama resolve the many crises riddling the Middle East.
The past eight years have proven this policy to be an utter failure.
Far from curtailing Iran's expansionist agenda, the nuclear deal has significantly strengthened the mullahs' position in the Middle East. Iran's efforts to build a nuclear weapon have only been slowed down. The United States has lifted sanctions and released over $150 billion in frozen assets. This was a windfall for a regime whose biggest export is terror; a regime which funds Hezbollah in Lebanon, Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the Houthi rebels in Yemen and the brutal Shi'ite militias in Iraq. Even John Kerry has admitted that some of these newfound resources have gone toward funding Iran's proxy wars in the region.
Trump and his team know the nuclear deal may have postponed Iran's ability to produce a nuclear bomb, but they also know that this has not made the world a safer place. Iranian expansionism continues apace in the Middle East and the 80 million Iranian citizens who believed the ending of sanctions would offer a glimmer of hope for a better future have had their hopes sorely dashed. These 80 million oppressed Iranians will now look to Trump to hold the fascist theocratic regime in Tehran to account.
Struan Stevenson, president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association, was a member of the European Parliament representing Scotland (1999-2014), president of the Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009- 2014) and chairman of Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup from 2005-2014.