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Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Opportunity in Iran

There is a simple rule of warfare, divide and conquer. I once spoke to an expert about Israel and they told me that Israel may not necessarily want either Hamas or Fatah destroyed. That's because the two are just as much now rivals to each other as to Israel. By having their main enemies fighting each other, they have less time to fight Israel itself.

In Iran, we have something similar forming and we have a chance, behind the scenes, to stoke our enemies against each other. This is the opportunity to divide and conquer. In many ways, what is happening in Iran is an extension of a rivalry that has been percolating between the Mullahs and the military faction of Iran.

JUST after Iran’s rigged elections last week, with hundreds of thousands of protesters taking to the streets, it looked as if a new revolution was in the offing. Five days later, the uprising is little more than a symbolic protest, crushed by the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Meanwhile, the real revolution has gone unnoticed: the guard has effected a silent coup d’├ętat.The seeds of this coup were planted four years ago with the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And while he has since disappointed his public, failing to deliver on promised economic and political reforms, his allies now control the country. In the most dramatic turnabout since the 1979 revolution, Iran has evolved from theocratic state to military dictatorship.

Both the Revolutionary Guard and the Mullahs are enemies to peace and to the United States, however this revolution may have brought to the surface their rivalry toward each other. Such a rivalry can be used to turn the two against one another and thus we would divide and conquer.

Meanwhile, Hamas is also making their presence felt.

Palestinian Hamas members are helping the Iranian authorities crush street protests in support of reformist presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, two protesters told The Jerusalem Post On Tuesday.

They made their allegations as rioting on a scale unseen in Iran for nearly a decade continued in the wake of the elections and the allegations that the results were falsified. The protests have now spread from Teheran to other major cities.

Hamas formally welcomed incumbent Ahmadinejad's ostensible reelection victory on Saturday. The Palestinian Islamist movement receives arms and funding from Iran, and its members have often received training there, including in terror tactics and weapons manufacture.

So, with Hamas weighing in, many of our enemies are all in Iran choosing sides. It appears that Ahmadinejad has sided with the Revolutionary Guard and so that means that so has Hamas.

I have on more than occasion said that this revolution shows that regime change should be our policy toward regimes like Iran. Had that been the case, we likely would have had detailed information on exactly how all of these rivalries had played out to lead us here.

That said, we could play, behind the scenes, a role in stoking all of these rivals so that they turn on each other. Through a series of propaganda, psy ops, and other intelligence techniques we can use this moment to get all our enemies to turn on each other.

The revolution has left a power vacuum. It isn't merely the people versus the government. If we see it this simplistically, we may miss an opportunity to turn our enemies against themselves. That the Revolutionary Guard is vying with the Mullahs for power should be seen as an opportunity. That Hamas is in country looking to stoke the chaos can also be used to our advantage. With several of our enemies all vying with each other, the opportunity is there to divide and conquer.

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