With its retaking of Mosul, the Iraqi government has scored a victory against ISIS. It’s important for the cause of civilization that the Islamic State be shown that it is incapable of maintaining a state. The movement is based on the idea of a caliphate as a territorial entity, but to discredit this type of movement, it is necessary to remove that territory.
Yet, in the midst of this victory against ISIS, the international community has a moment to look at state of the Middle East as a whole. This is a region that was lagging behind in terms of democracy and human rights, but after the invasion of Iraq by the U.S. in 2003, the plan seemed to be encouraging democracy within the region.
In the years since, democracy has not flourished. The current U.S. president seems to be throwing his might behind the authoritative regimes that exist throughout the region. While many explanations have been given, from Islam to the Arabs not being ready for democracy, the reality seems to be something completely different.
The balance of power in the region, moreover, seems to have given a larger role to Iran and Saudi Arabia. Now President Trump has decided to take advantage of that rivalry, using a divide and conquer strategy.
This was evident during his visit to the Middle East, where he declared Iran to be the source of all the woes of the region and invited the countries in attendance to unite against the Iranian regime. While the grand alliance that he envisioned has not yet materialized, it is clear the U.S. is now throwing its lot in with the Saudis and the Gulf states against Iran’s influence in the region.
What does all of this mean for Iran? It means that the talk of regime change has become more frequent. Members of the international leadership recognize that negotiation with Iran is fruitless. It doesn’t produce real change toward a true democracy within that country. What was lacking during the Arab spring was a democratic alternative to step into the leadership void. As a result, dictatorships have returned in those countries.
Iran, however, is different. This is because there is a viable alternative to the current regime. The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) is that viable alternative with a democratic plan to rebuild Iran without a nuclear program and a focus on human rights. The question now is whether the international community will support this alternative, or if they will continue to appease the current Iranian regime?