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Opinion

US must actively work for regime change in Iran (+video)

As sanctions take hold, Iranians are more dissatisfied with their government than ever. The time is right for the US and other democracies to actively support freedom seeking Iranians and regime change. That would also solve the crisis over Iran's nuclear program.

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The timing for an Iranian Spring could not be better. The Kaleme website reported that the government’s economic commission has concluded that the country will run out of its foreign currency reserves in the next six months and that inflation plaguing the Iranian currency will see another steep rise. This week the rial hit a record low against the dollar.

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Several Iranian parliamentarians in recent days have warned against price increases on common goods and have requested that the government delay its decision to remove consumer subsidies, saying such action would exacerbate the worsening situation. Even the ayatollahs have voiced fears of a backlash by the people.

The regime dreads another uprising such as the one in 2009 in the wake of the fraudulent election of Ahmadinejad. Leaders worry not only about those who resent this regime, who are many, but those who can no longer feed their families. Although such an uprising could see the end of the mullahs’ regime in Iran, the leadership adamantly pursues its nuclear program with the expectation the program will make the regime untouchable in expanding its ideology and power regionally.

In preparation for an uprising, the regime has formed thousands of fast-response units within the Basij paramilitary forces and the Revolutionary Guard to suppress protesters, according to news reports.

It is clear that sanctions are affecting the Iranian economy, but it’s also clear that the regime is determined to move ahead with its nuclear program despite UN resolutions and sanctions. The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency released Aug. 30 indicated an expansion of Iranian enrichment activity and stonewalling of inspections of the site where possible nuclear weapons experiments are said to have taken place.

If the West were to support regime change in Iran, of course Tehran would halt negotiations over its nuclear program. No loss there, as talks have yielded nothing so far. Indeed, the choice now is between external support for regime change from within, or a military strike – most likely by Israel – to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons.

With the ayatollahs out, the nuclear-bomb question becomes moot. The US, along with other democracies, must take advantage of the current climate and openly support the Iranian people’s prayers to live free. Washington should not turn its back this time.

Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and author of the award winning book “A Time to Betray” (Simon & Schuster, 2010). He serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and the advisory board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI).

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