Sputnik: The National Iranian American Council slammed the establishment of the Iran Action Group calling it an attempt to enforce Pompeo's dangerous vision for Iran. To what extent would you agree or disagree with this assessment? How could the creation of such a group exacerbate the already existing tensions?
Mahan Abedin: Well, I think the establishment of this focus group is not necessarily something extraordinary in how the United States conducts its international affairs generally and more specifically in relation to how it conducts its relations with Iran. I mean, these focus groups are often established to coordinate policy on certain countries which are deemed to be of special import to the US or indeed certain region which has deemed to be of special interest.
I mean in relation to Iran, I mean the US has been very closely scrutinizing Iranian affairs for four decades. I mean, it's interfering in domestic Iranian affairs by trying to foment unrest, trying to foment dissent as part of a barely concealed regime change policy. Everybody, every observed informer knows that the United States' undeclared policy in relation to Iran is to change the political system there in order to create political conditions which can then align Iran back with the United States; basically in effect establishing what existed before the 1979 Revolution. I don't see the establishment of this focus group as being a particularly radical departure from established US policy towards Iran.
Sputnik: What they said is that this is really enforcing [Mike] Pompeo's dangerous vision for Iran, that's what the National Iranian American Council said.
Mahan Abedin: Well I mean look, this current administration, there is no doubt that they are more hawkish towards Iran than their predecessors. They are arguably more hawkish than the George W. Bush administration. [US Secretary of State] Mike Pompeo set out 12 demands in May following Donald Trump's withdrawal from the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], that's the nuclear deal, and these 12 demands are quite frankly ridiculous because they amounted to a call for Iran to basically surrender; for Iran to accept becoming a vassal state to the United States and that's never going to happen. Iran is not going to abandon its regional policy of supporting the Syrian government and of supporting resistance groups across the region. Iran is not going to give up its ballistic missile program simply because it's an essential feature of Iran's deterrent defense strategy. Iran has weak conventional military forces therefore it needs ballistic missiles to create a degree of deterrence in relation to its regional rivals, Saudi [Arabia] and Israel.
And more broadly, Iran is going to press ahead with trying to establish and consolidate its geopolitical influence across the region. Mike Pompeo's so-called dangerous vision for Iran, quite frankly, it's a fantasy. It's not going to become a reality. Iran is not Libya or Iraq, it's not a pushover. It's a very well established proper entity and the system there may have difficulties right now in terms of economics and other issues, but the fact remains it is a deeply rooted system with a lot of legitimacy. It's a big country with 80 million people and the Americans are not going to achieve their desired outcome, that's the bottom line.
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