Crisis and War in the Middle East: The Roots and Solutions

Masoud Dalvand
Freedom Star
Published in
14 min readJan 8, 2024

Originally published at the NCRI websitd

As the world watched in shock on October 7, a new conflict erupted in the Middle East, leaving many countries and analysts bewildered. The sudden outbreak of hostilities caught many off guard, raising questions about what they failed to see and what they should have anticipated.

The events that transpired post-October 7 triggered intense discussions, most of which centered on Iran’s role in the crisis. Initially, Iranian regime officials vehemently defended the attack, hailing it as a significant victory. However, as the U.S. deployed warships to the region and increased its military presence, its rhetoric shifted. They claimed this was a “completely Palestinian” decision, asserting Iran had no role in the planning and execution.

Despite the varying viewpoints, most analysts concur on a critical point: whether or not Iran was directly involved, its financial, weapons, and training support has played a pivotal role in creating the crisis. The proxy forces of the Iranian regime owe their current standing to this support, making Iran a central figure responsible for the ongoing turmoil in the region.

Therefore, to address the crisis comprehensively, most analysts agree that the key lies in addressing its root cause: Iran.

The pressing question now is why Iran chose to foster this crisis in the region and what objectives it seeks to achieve. Equally significant is the exploration of potential solutions to this crisis and the actions required to alleviate the situation.

Understanding the Iranian regime’s Goals in the Crisis

To comprehend Iran’s motives in the ongoing crisis, it becomes imperative to retrace the steps and understand the regime’s overarching objectives and its persistent intervention in the region. Only by examining this can one truly fathom why Iran chose to instigate this crisis at this particular juncture.

Since its ascent to power following the 1979 revolution, the Iranian regime has anchored its governance on two fundamental principles. The first revolves around internal repression, while the second centers on the global dissemination of crisis under the pretext of the “export of revolution.”

This strategic framework was chosen in response to the regime’s incapacity to effectively address the challenges of a progressive society post the anti-monarchical revolution. Hampered by its antiquated and archaic disposition, the clerical regime struggled to meet the aspirations of the Iranian populace, who yearned for democratic reforms, social liberties, and individual freedoms.

Recognizing the need to preserve their authority, the clerics deduced that the suppression of internal dissent and the exportation of internal conflicts beyond national borders were essential. Consequently, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was established with a dual mission: quelling domestic opposition and engineering unrest and conflict outside Iran’s territorial boundaries, thereby exporting the regime’s crises abroad.

For the past four decades, Iran’s aggressive regional interventions have been conspicuous. Eight years of war with Iraq, coupled with a history of fomenting hostilities in Lebanon, Yemen, and Syria, have been accompanied by the strategic establishment of proxy groups, notably Hezbollah in Lebanon and Islamic Jihad in Palestine, and in other regional territories.

During the past four decades, the regime has repeatedly sought to counter internal crises by fanning the flames of external turmoil. The regime’s Supreme Leader, Ai Khamenei, and other regime leaders have consistently acknowledged that failure to engage in conflicts in Syria and Lebanon would inevitably lead to battles within Tehran and across the streets of Iran.

Moreover, the regime’s leaders have emphasized Lebanon and Syria’s pivotal significance as their strategic depth, underscoring that their endeavors to foment crises beyond Iran’s borders do not stem from any genuine concern for the well-being of the Palestinian people or the broader region. Instead, these actions serve as a calculated sacrifice of thousands of Palestinians and people of the region to ensure the preservation of the regime’s power, thus diverting attention from its internal challenges. This policy has remained the cornerstone of the regime’s governance for over four decades.

In effect, this approach has transformed Iran into a primary state sponsor of global terrorism. Unfortunately, the West’s policy of appeasement has not only failed to curb the regime’s belligerent stance but has emboldened its destructive endeavors. Western powers have not only refrained from decisive action against the regime’s terrorist activities and malign conduct in the region but have also provided the regime with a shield through their lenient stance and inaction.

The events of October 7 and the following crisis align with this established pattern. It is crucial to recognize that the regime’s primary objective in fomenting this crisis is not rooted in genuine sympathy for the Palestinian cause. Instead, it serves as a calculated maneuver to sacrifice the lives of thousands of Palestinians and Jews to divert attention from a more significant crisis within Iran and facilitates the suppression of domestic protesters. The regime’s ultimate aim is to ensure its continued hold on power, employing this method to cloak its internal vulnerabilities and maintain its grip on the nation.

The internal crisis gripping the Iranian regime manifests in the form of widespread uprisings and calls for its overthrow by the Iranian people.

A Glance at Iran’s Internal Crisis and its Need for an International Crisis

Since 2017, a series of uprisings have reverberated throughout Iran, steadily gaining momentum and evolving into a formidable force demanding the establishment of a democratic government. The principal opposition, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) and its Resistance Units within Iran, have played a pivotal role in organizing and mobilizing these uprisings. Despite the regime’s relentless and brutal crackdowns on both the uprisings and the Resistance Units, the fervor for change has only intensified. Each successive wave of dissent has not only grown larger but has also spread more extensively across the nation, with the MEK Resistance Units gaining ground nationwide.

Realizing the potent threat posed by these uprisings, the regime undertook a series of calculated measures. The installation of Ebrahim Raisi, a key figure involved in the 1988 massacre of political prisoners, as the President, served to consolidate the regime’s ranks and solidify internal unity. Raisi’s infamous role in the mass execution of over 30,000 political prisoners, predominantly comprising members and sympathizers of the MEK, underscores the regime’s brutal suppression tactics.

Further exacerbating the situation, the regime opted to escalate its uranium enrichment activities, intentionally triggering an international crisis in the nuclear arena. Simultaneously, it heightened its global terrorist activities, as evidenced by a foiled plot in 2018 to bomb the annual meeting of the Iranian Resistance in Paris. European security forces apprehended members of the network, including the diplomat-terrorist Assadollah Assadi, operating under the auspices of the regime’s embassies in Europe.

In September 2022, a watershed moment transpired as the Iranian populace orchestrated the largest and most protracted uprising in the nation’s history, directed squarely at the regime. In a bold and direct challenge to the regime’s authority, the people specifically targeted its figurehead, Ali Khamenei, with resounding chants of “Death to Khamenei” and “Death to the dictator.” The regime was acutely aware that the uprising posed an imminent threat to its very existence.

Despite their concerted efforts to quell the uprising, including the ruthless slaying of over 750 protesters and the arbitrary imprisonment and torture of more than 20,000 individuals, the regime understood that the Iranian society simmered beneath the surface, poised to erupt at any given moment. The proliferation and expansion of the MEK Resistance Units across the nation served as a catalytic force, swiftly transforming localized protests into a formidable national movement challenging the regime’s grip on power.

Faced with this internal turmoil, Khamenei’s strategic response materialized in the form of exacerbating a significant crisis beyond Iran’s borders. The regional turmoil, which commenced on October 7, was meticulously engineered to thwart the burgeoning uprising within Iran. It was a deliberate maneuver intended to stifle the momentum of the people’s movement and forestall any possibility of the regime’s overthrow.

Exploring Viable Solutions and Actions

Analyzing the events in the Middle East over the past four decades reveals that the Iranian regime is identified as the fundamental source of crises and challenges in the region, acting as a significant impediment to achieving peace. In the current crisis, a pivotal question emerges: should the Iranian regime be perceived as an integral part of the solution or as the root cause of the problem? Some argue that the Iranian regime’s reluctance to engage in direct warfare should be construed as a willingness to contribute to a resolution. Advocates of this view propose that the Iranian regime be urged to leverage its influence over proxy groups, thereby curbing the proliferation of conflict through these surrogate forces.

Conversely, others contend that engaging with the Iranian regime in this manner entails overlooking the core issue. They assert that such an approach neglects the underlying agenda of the Iranian regime, which aims to establish hegemony in the region. According to this perspective, the regime is not merely an influencer but the orchestrator behind proxy forces, exercising direct control. It posits that the regime issues directives for continued attacks, exacerbating crises in the region.

Considering these divergent viewpoints, it becomes imperative to explore various scenarios:

First Scenario: Continuation of the Status Quo

The prevailing crisis in the Middle East can be attributed to the West’s policy of appeasement towards Iran and its reluctance to acknowledge the destructive actions of the Iranian regime over the past four decades. Iranian regime lobbies in the West have persistently asserted that any significant confrontation with Iran would escalate into a war between the US and Iran. Exploiting the guise of promoting peace and averting a conflict between the two nations, these lobbies have actively advocated for the policy of appeasement.

Influential groups in the West, swayed by the same narrative, have chosen to overlook the interventions of the Iranian regime, all in the name of preventing a war between the US and Iran. Unfortunately, this policy has not only failed to prevent war but has inadvertently enabled the Iranian regime to fuel bloody conflicts in the region for years. The Iranian regime has been instrumental in financing, arming, and training proxy forces in various countries, resulting in the proliferation of violence.

The Iranian regime’s proxy forces, particularly in Iraq, have instigated a sectarian war that has claimed thousands of lives. Similarly, in Syria, Iranian-backed forces have been responsible for the deaths of thousands of Syrians. This cycle of war and bloodshed has persisted across the region, with the Houthis in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon being additional manifestations of Iran’s destabilizing influence. The consequences of this appeasement policy are evident today, with the region embroiled in yet another significant conflict.

The origin of the narrative suggesting that the provocation of the Iranian regime could lead to a war with the United States can be traced back to the Iranian regime itself. Over the years, the regime and its lobbies in the West have propagated this narrative to such an extent that it has been ingrained as a “proven fact” in the political circles of the West. Many governments and political parties consider it an indisputable reality. However, a deeper understanding of the Iranian regime’s motivations for intervention in the region and its penchant for warmongering reveals a more nuanced perspective.

Contrary to the narrative perpetuated by the regime, those familiar with the reasons behind the Iranian regime’s interventions recognize that a direct war with the U.S. and the West poses an existential threat to the regime. The regime strategically employs a policy of exporting internal crises and engaging in foreign warmongering to prevent the extension of conflict within Iran itself. The ultimate goal is not to incite war for the regime but rather to safeguard its existence. Consequently, the regime intervenes in other countries through proxies, avoiding direct responsibility.

The regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei explicitly articulated this strategy during a speech amid the regime’s tensions with the Trump administration on August 13, 2018, when the prospect of war seemed imminent. Khamenei emphatically stated, “There will be no war and we will not negotiate.” He clarified that the avoidance of war was rooted in the understanding that both sides, Iran and the U.S., stood to lose significantly in the event of armed conflict.

In essence, the regime’s interventions in other countries through proxies are solely aimed at maintaining its grip on power, concealing internal crises, and preempting uprisings that could threaten its rule. Turning a blind eye to these interventions and appeasing the regime only serves to fuel its strategic objectives. Understanding the regime’s motivations is crucial for crafting informed policies that promote stability and accountability in the region.

In the current crisis, despite the evident connection between the proxy forces of the Iranian regime and the Iranian regime itself, certain lobbies and apologists for Iran persistently downplay Iran’s role, insisting that the crisis is solely a Palestinian-Israeli issue. They vehemently oppose any mention of Iran in this context and label those who point to Iran as warmongers seeking to escalate tensions between the US and Iran. This tactic follows a familiar pattern of inducing fear of war to discourage scrutiny of Iran’s actions, ultimately paving the way for continued appeasement.

Rather than addressing the root cause of the problem — Iran’s involvement — these groups attempt to redirect attention, only acknowledging a portion of the issue. However, in the aftermath of the regional disaster unfolding, the consequences are expected to be more severe than in previous instances. Some of these repercussions include:

  1. The Iranian regime, along with its proxy forces, emerges as a hegemonic force in the region, consolidating its control over strategically vital points. This enables the regime to strengthen its influence over key strategic locations in the region.
  2. The Iranian regime intensifies the engagement of its proxy entities in regional conflicts, perpetuating a cycle of violence and bloodshed. This creates an environment conducive to the proliferation of terrorist activities. It also leads to a rise in the frequency and intensity of attacks against neighboring countries and institutions deemed contrary to the interests of the Iranian regime, thereby diminishing the prospects for peace in the Middle East.
  3. The prolonged policy of appeasement towards Iran results in the alienation of numerous countries in the region from the West, contributing to the fragmentation of the Middle East. Particularly following the ongoing crisis in the region, this approach is expected to prompt shifts in diplomatic alliances and power structures. There is the potential for various actors aligning themselves with the Iranian regime to either safeguard their interests or shield themselves from the destructive actions and proxies of the regime. Consequently, the regional power balance becomes increasingly complex.
  4. The international community’s disregard for Iran’s regional aggression through its proxies has provided a breeding ground for terrorism and extremism. Concurrently, with the Iranian regime’s acquisition of nuclear capabilities, there emerges not only a threat to the security of neighboring countries but also a significant menace to global stability and peace.

In sum, the implications of maintaining the status quo in dealing with Iran’s interventions in the region carry profound and multifaceted consequences that extend beyond the borders of the Middle East. From escalating terrorism and bloodshed to fostering global insecurity and reshaping diplomatic alliances, the ramifications of inaction underscore the critical need for a decisive and comprehensive approach toward addressing the Iranian regime’s hegemonic aspirations.

The Regime’s Mindset Behind Avoiding Direct War and Embracing Proxies

Recognizing the core of the ongoing crisis, characterized by persistent warfare and bloodshed, requires an understanding that the oppressive control wielded by the clerical regime lies at its heart. Crucially, the regime’s consistent strategy of fomenting conflicts and actively fostering warfare in the region serves as a fundamental pillar sustaining its grip on power. It is imperative to underscore that the regime, cognizant of the dire consequences it would face in a direct confrontation with the United States, refrains from engaging in direct hostilities. The regime’s ultimate goal is not to directly confront powerful adversaries like the U.S.; as such, a conflict would undoubtedly mark the end of its rule.

Instead, the regime adopts a calculated approach of exporting crises beyond Iran’s borders through its proxies, strategically intervening in the region to divert attention from domestic discontent and save itself from internal upheaval. The cyclical pattern of crisis creation and warmongering becomes inseparable from the regime’s survival strategy. In essence, the regime’s interventionist policies in the region are geared towards redirecting internal discontent and maintaining a semblance of control.

In summary, the intricate web of crisis creation and warmongering in the region is intrinsically tied to the regime’s survival instincts. A lasting resolution to this multifaceted dilemma necessitates a transformative shift — regime change in Iran — as the current regime’s very existence is intricately entwined with its ability to export crises and manipulate conflicts to perpetuate its rule.

In this context, two distinct possibilities come to the fore, each presenting its own set of challenges and ramifications that demand careful consideration and analysis.

The Second Scenario: Military Intervention and Occupation

In this picture, the prospect of replicating past strategies, such as those employed in Iraq and Afghanistan, involves the direct military intervention and subsequent occupation of Iran by the United States and its allied countries. However, drawing from the experiences of previous military interventions, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, this option appears laden with a host of complexities and challenges, with potentially far-reaching and undesirable consequences, and therefore it is infeasible.

The Third Scenario: Regime Change by the Iranian People

Contrasted with the military intervention model, this option entails fostering and supporting a grassroots movement from within Iran that advocates for and actively works towards a democratic transformation and the removal of the existing regime.

The Iranian populace, as evidenced by recent uprisings, has expressed a desire for regime change and the establishment of a democratic republic in Iran. The Iranian regime maintains its authority through repressive measures, including executions and torture. Conversely, there exists a potent and well-organized opposition with a broad network across the country. The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has put forth a comprehensive plan for Iran’s future, garnering significant international support. The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI-MEK), a key member of the NCRI, has played a pivotal role in organizing and sustaining these uprisings through its extensive network of Resistance Units across Iran.

Regrettably, in recent decades, the Western policy of appeasement has deviated from actively supporting the Iranian people’s democratic aspirations and the organized opposition. Instead, it has taken a path of constraining the opposition and placating the Iranian regime.

By actively endorsing organized opposition groups within Iran, particularly the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), and by recognizing the Iranian people’s struggle to overthrow the regime, and the courageous fight of Iranian youth against the terrorist IRGC, the international community can play a crucial role in empowering the Iranian people.

For the Iranian regime, this represents the most perilous and potentially fatal scenario as it recognizes the imminent threat of its own overthrow. The regime is acutely aware that despite the simmering discontent within Iranian society and widespread dissatisfaction, its continued reign is assured as long as there exists no organized nationwide opposition capable of sustaining the protests.

Hence, in recent years, the regime has spared no effort to dismantle its primary organized opposition, the MEK, or at the very least, isolate it politically. This endeavor has entailed a significant investment of resources, amounting to millions of dollars, in a concerted campaign to vilify the MEK. Since the onset of the 2016 uprisings, the regime has vigorously employed its international lobbies to propagate the narrative that the MEK lacks a popular base in Iran and therefore the regime has no viable alternative.

In its efforts to curb dissent and forestall the emergence of a credible alternative, the regime has resorted to endorsing false alternatives, even promoting the return to the oppressive dictatorship of the Shah’s era. Notably, during the 2022 uprising, the regime clandestinely endorsed the former Shah’s son, perpetrating a covert campaign within Iran to distort the notion of an alternative to the current regime.

Regrettably, the West’s policy of appeasement has contributed to the regime’s deception. Persian-language television and media outlets in Western and regional countries have contributed to nurturing this misleading perception. By intentionally censoring news related to the MEK, these media channels promoted the son of the former dictator, creating a sense of disillusionment among the people. This perception, suggesting the replacement of one dictator by another, subsequently led to a decline in the momentum of the uprisings.

In summary, as the West grapples with pressing scenarios, it is increasingly crucial to address Iran’s regional hegemony and curb its destabilizing actions. Maintaining the status quo poses a threat to peace and security in the Middle East, while military intervention risks further regional instability. On the contrary, supporting the Iranian people and their organized opposition presents a pathway to enduring change, aligning with democratic principles, freedom, and regional cooperation.

The pivotal question is not just how to confront Iran but how to adopt the right policy for sustained change in harmony with democratic values, freedom, and regional cooperation. The initial step for the West involves implementing the right policy measures. This includes designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization, closing regime embassies in Europe, expelling regime agents from European institutions, reinstating UN Security Council resolutions, recognizing the Iranian people’s struggle for the regime’s overthrow and the young people’s fight against the IRGC, and holding regime leaders accountable for genocide and crimes against humanity. Deeming the Iranian regime an immediate threat to global peace and security under Chapter VII of the UN Charter is deemed imperative.

Originally published at on January 8, 2024.



Masoud Dalvand
Freedom Star

Human rights activist and advocate of democracy, freedom, and justice in Iran.