Signs of change in Iraq?

Iraqi security forces raided a central command compound of an Iran-backed proxy group in southern Baghdad late on Thursday, June 25, detaining more than a dozen members of the group, government officials and paramilitary sources told Reuters. Other reports are indicating 23 individuals were arrested.

Iraqi security sources are saying those arrested not only played major roles in attacks on the U.S. Embassy and sites where U.S. bases are stationed/housed, they were also involved in planning for future attacks of similar nature.

The move is being described as the most brazen measure by Iraqi forces against a militia group backed heavily by Tehran in years and specifically targeted the Kataib Hezbollah, which U.S. officials accuse of firing rockets at bases hosting U.S. troops and other facilities in Iraq.

Kataib Hezbollah is the strong and most organized militia group affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Quds Force in Iraq. Their former leader was Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, commander of Iraq’s Hashd al-Shaabi, or the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), a paramilitary umbrella grouping heavily backed by and under the influence of Iran’s regime.

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Iraqi security forces arresting members of Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah in southern Baghdad, Iraq – June 25, 2020

Reports indicate four Kataib Hezbollah senior commanders and 16 members, alongside at three one senior IRGC Quds Force were detained, according to an Iraqi official talking to the media on the condition of anonymity. There are also unconfirmed reports that all individuals detained in this raid have been transferred into the custody of U.S. forces. Iraqi security forces also confiscated a number of rocket launchers from the site, according to Reuters.

Spokesperson for the international coalition forces in Iraq, however, has denied any role in the raid targeting Kataib Hezbollah members in Baghdad’s Al-Doura district.

The Iraqi Joint Operations Command issued a statement saying the individuals were detained based on arrest warrants. Following the raid there were rumors on social media about the release of the detained Kataib Hezbollah and IRGC Quds Force members. None were confirmed and it appears pro-Iran users on various platforms had launched a desperate face-saving initiative considering the major embarrassment and realizing the consequences of the raid.

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Iraqi security forces conducting the Thursday night raid targeting the Kataib Hezbollah site in southern Baghdad, Iraq – June 25, 2020

Directly targeting Iran’s interests

The Iraqi military said the raid, carried out in the middle of the night by the U.S.-trained Counter Terrorism Service, was directed at militiamen suspected of firing rockets at foreign embassies in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone and its international airport.

Iraqi authorities were questioning the individuals detained during the raid, the statement adds. The incident took place after a number of rocket attacks near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and other U.S. military sites in recent weeks.

Before the military issued its statement about the raid, Iraqi government officials and paramilitary sources had given contradicting versions of what happened.

The paramilitary sources and one government official claimed those held were sent to the security branch of the PMF. Such statements further indicate Tehran’s need to save face following the raid.

A second government official, however, flatly denied any such transfer and said the militiamen were still in the custody of other security services. One PMF source initially said 19 men had been detained. A government official told Reuters it was 23.

After the operation, unidentified gunmen entered Baghdad’s Green Zone and drove vehicles towards government buildings and a headquarters of Iraq’s Counter Terrorism Service, according to the military, as PMF officials demanded the release of the detained militiamen.

More footage of intimidating measures that were not fruitful at all for Iran’s regime and their Iraqi proxies.

Early Saturday morning local time there were reports of gunfire near the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad. Knowledge of Tehran’s tactics say these were measures aimed at intimidating the Iraqi government to release the detained individuals. Signs indicate the days of these measures being of any use are over.

Adding insult to injury

On Saturday, June 27, Iraqi media began reporting of significant changes in the Iraqi security hierarchy. Falih Fayyadh, the country’s National Security Advisor and PMF chief, was sacked from his government post and replaced by former defense minister Khaled al-Obeidi, a member of Iraq’s Sunni minority.

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Former Iraqi defense minister and now National Security Advisor Khaled al-Obeidi

It is worth noting that Fayyadh has very strong ties with Iran’s regime. There are further claims that Fayyadh has also been sacked from his role as the PMF chief. Don’t be surprised if he ends up in Iran in the coming days or weeks in fear of being apprehended by Iraqi or U.S. forces.

Former Iraqi national security advisor Falih Fayyadh seen with Iranian FM Mohammad Javad Zarif (Top), Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad (Bottom Left), Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (Bottom Center), and former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki (Bottom Right) who is described as one of Iran’s main allies in Iraq.

The message

This raid also signals that new Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, whose government is currently in talks with Washington over Iraq’s security, political and economic ties with the U.S., intends to take serious action based on pledges made to rein in militia groups that have attacked U.S. installations.

Iran-backed parties and factions have shown rising hostility to Kadhimi, who is due to travel to the United States in coming weeks as part of talks over Iraq’s ties with Washington, according to Reuters.

Most importantly, this is a strong message to the mullahs’ regime in Tehran considering the billions they have poured into Iraq, especially after the 2003 war. Moreover, this further indicates Iran is losing the influence and grip it enjoyed on its western neighbor prior to the killing of Qasem Soleimani by the U.S. military on January 3 of this year.

This latest development indicates a strong initiative aimed at preventing Iran from taking advantage of the strategic talks between Baghdad and Washington, especially with only months left to the U.S. presidential election.

The balance of power in the region is shifting against Iran. This can also be seen in recent anti-Tehran demonstrations held in Lebanon and Syria.

To make matters even worse for Iran, crippling sanctions are leaving the regime economically bankrupt, thus preventing the IRGC from pouring cash into its proxies for further malign initiatives across the Middle East. And even more important for Tehran is the impact of these developments inside Iran. People across the Iran will realize the regime is weakened, further encouraging them to launch uprisings similar to that of November 2019.

Developments during the past few months are further indicating the importance of Qasem Soleimani’s elimination in weakening the IRGC Quds Force and Iran’s regime. This shows the downgraded status of regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the IRGC inside Iran.

Iran’s regional policies of warmongering and terrorism are tools used to strengthen the regime’s position inside Iran. When Tehran’s influence in the region is downgraded and weakened significantly, the regime’s crackdown machine inside the country also suffers a major blow. This is a nightmare scenario for the mullahs’ ruling Iran.

For now, the Iraqi people, such as those protesters who remain in Baghdad’s iconic Tahrir Square, are celebrating the recent turn of events. And the Iranian people are watching very closely.

Originally published in The Medium

The regimes of Iran & Venezuela go way back

It is no coincidence that the regime’s of Iran and Venezuela have tag-teamed in a display of “resistance” against U.S. sanctions to score a few cheap political points through sheer propaganda that will only last a few weeks max. Iran has been sending five tankers to Venezuela and the main purpose is to show defiance in the face of measures taken by the Trump administration against both regimes.

Tehran and Caracas have been boasting about an “anti-imperialist” victory of bypassing sanctions through the transfer of 1.5 million liters of gasoline and petrochemicals from Iran to Venezuela. Of course, it goes without saying that there are high suspicions there is much more involved here than a mere transfer of oil-related goods and far more malign objectives are at stake here.

Lesser discussed in the media, however, is the fact that both regimes in Caracas and Tehran were able to take full advantage of the careless appeasement policy practiced by the Obama administration. This is the main topic of this blog.

Recently, Iran has been bailing out Maduro by sending:

-blending components used for producing gasoline

-workers, equipment for oil refining

-and discussed sending gasoline cargoes into Venezuela

(And remember Iran says it needs money to address COVID-19.)

Mahan Air (designated as a terrorist entity), associated directly to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC-designated by the State Department as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization”) has direct flights between Iran and Venezuela.

  1. Flight W5138 from Tehran to Las Piedras (Source)
  2. another Mahan Air Airbus A340-600 from Iran to Venezuela
  3. April 27—Mahan Air A340s landing in Caracas

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Iran did not establish such strong ties with the Chavez/Maduro regime in Venezuela overnight. Back in 2011, former president Hugo Chavez agreed to permit Iran build missile bases in the South American country. And the Obama administration denied everything.

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“The U.S. State Department said it reviews all information pertaining to Iranian military involvement in the hemisphere, but that it could not vouch for the report,” according to a CNN reported on May 21, 2011. Keep in mind this is just a year prior to the start of Obama’s secret talks with Iran in Oman over the regime’s controversial nuclear dossier that paved the path for the infamous 2015 nuclear deal.

“We have no evidence to support this claim & therefore no reason to believe the assertions made in the article are credible,” Obama’s State Department added.

Maduro, Chavez’ Foreign Minister at the time, described the allegations as an “extravagant lie.” He is seen in this image with his then Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki.

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The cozy relationship between Tehran and Caracas goes all the way back to the early days of Obama’s tenure.

“The missile base is part of a pattern that began in March 2009, when President Obama met Chavez at an Organization of American States meeting in Trinidad,” The Daily Caller wrote on January 3, 2011.

President Obama shook hands with the dictator, as usual, and said he wanted to be friends and reset US-Venezuelan relations. Chavez responded by presenting Obama with a book that claims the United States plunders Latin America,” the piece adds, indicating a clear lesson in “Appeasement 101.”

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Seeing such reactions from Obama, Iran felt the confidence with its plans and was establishing a very dangerous relationship with the Chaves/Maduro regime in Venezuela, involving uranium & Hezbollah sleeper cells, as reports show.

“Iran uses Venezuela and other Latin American countries as havens for its terrorists. For months Hezbollah, Iran’s terror army, has metastasized across our undefended border with Mexico to set up sleeper cells in our cities. And now we learn a senior Hezbollah thug was appointed as Venezuela’s Deputy Chief of Mission to Syria?” The Daily Caller asked.

Iran was also quite busy establishing at least three Iranian missile bases in Venezuela, according to another damning report.

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And years later, “the radicals ruling Iran are emboldened by the confusion of the Obama administration in confronting Iran’s nuclear program,” as put by a Fox News piece. Obama, of course, had broader issues in mind with Tehran & went the distance to prevent any interruptions.

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There’s more when you dig into it with simple googling, one stumbles upon the utterly corrupt nature of the Iran-Venezuela relationship. “The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook” was a bombshell Politico report that explained the distance Obama went to keep Iran’s mullahs pleased, even if it endangered the lives of the American people.

“… the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah,” the report reads in part.

It is mind boggling how many millions of people were placed at risk as a result of drug trafficked into the U.S. by the Iran/Hezbollah-linked network. ““The eight-year investigation came to a head just as the Obama administration was negotiating a deal for Iran to put aside their nuclear ambitions,” according to The Telegraph. Priorities, priorities, priorities.

Iran-backed Hezbollah’s sophisticated $1 billion-a-year drug network was actively involved in laundering money and smuggling cocaine into the United States. However, Obama’s departments of Justice and Treasury constantly undermined agents’ efforts to arrest and prosecute important members of the criminal ring, as put by The New York Post. Why one would ask? Because the Obama White House feared offending Tehran ahead of the 2015 nuclear deal.

“This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,” said David Asher, an illicit finance expert. “They serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.”

When appeasement entered dangerous sectors of the government, we witnessed how Obama officials literally parroted the Iranian regime’s talking points. “John Brennan, Mr. Obama’s counterterror chief who later led the CIA, had argued in May 2010 that Hezbollah was evolving into a political party,” according to The Wall Street Journal. Here’s a look at what John Brennan calls a “political party”…

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And Obama continued their appeasement of Iran by making sure nothing slipped through the cracks. “Project Cassandra officials told Politico that they were transferred to other assignments after Mr. Obama’s deal with Iran was announced in January 2016,” according to The Washington Times.

Further astonishing is that U.S. authorities literally had specific targets in their grasps. If apprehended these individuals could have provided far more information into Iran’s malign activities and brought more corrupt figures to justice. “… the Obama Justice Department refused to pursue Abdallah Safieddine, the leader in charge of coordinating Hezbollah’s global drug trafficking operations, who also serves as Hezbollah’s liaison officer in Tehran,” according to The Hill.

It has now become quite obvious that Obama’s appeasement vis-a-vis Iran/Chavez/Maduro had no limits. Daniel Byman wrote in Lawfare:

  1. The Justice Department did not file criminal charges against Hezbollah members because of tacit White House pressure;
  2. The U.S. government refused to press hard for the extradition of a key Hezbollah weapons supplier in Czech custody, allowing his eventual release;
  3. The United States allowed “an entire Quds force network” in the United States to function and otherwise did not aggressively target Quds Force members;
  4. The administration did not target a Lebanese bank linked to drug laundering; and
  5. The administration stymied the DEA’s effort to go after Hezbollah. Over time, the agency’s task force was denied permission to expand its efforts, and its personnel and resources were steadily drained.

And Obama’s obstructionism rendered the following:

  1. “Multi-ton loads of cocaine” entered the United States;
  2. Hezbollah procured hundreds of millions of dollars from illegal drug money;
  3. The United States lost track of various networks and associated conspiracies with adversaries such as Russia, Syria and Venezuela; and
  4. Drug networks were allowed to flourish and also served as overall logistics hubs. These networks also “procured parts for Iran’s illicit nuclear and ballistic missile programs” smuggled in night-vision goggles and even Bell helicopters.

As noted previously, Iran and Venezuela also have established a dangerous relationship involving Tehran launching missile bases in America’s backyard. It is worth the while to take a look at how former president Hugo Chavez agreed to permit Iran’s regime build missile bases in the South American country.

Chávez has signed a secret strategic cooperation agreement with former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on October 19, 2010, aiming to build an Iran-Venezuelan missile base on Venezuelan soil. The base was to be built on the Peninsula de Paraguaná, about 120 kilometers from the Colombian border. A small group of leading Iranian engineers from the Revolutionary Guard-owned construction company Khatam al-Anbia had paid visits to the designated site on the northern tip of the South American continent.

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The secret visit in early February 2010 was approved by the IRGC Air Force commander, Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who voted him with the Venezuelan partners. The Iranian delegation had plans to develop an infrastructure to protect against air attacks. Also planned is the construction of a command and control station, residential areas, watchtowers and bunkers where warheads, rocket fuel and other relevant assets can be stored. 20-meter deep rocket silos were also blueprinted.

Iran had in mind methods to launch a strategic threat to the U.S., much as the Soviet Union planned to do so in Cuba back in the early 1960s.

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“The cost of the Venezuelan military project is being paid for with Iranian oil revenue. The Iranians paid in cash for the preliminary phase of the project, which amounted to “dozens of millions” of dollars, Die Welt wrote,” according to a May 17, 2011, translation by The Jerusalem Post.

The site was to “include missile defenses, special forces units, and control stations. Iran’s oil revenue is reportedly going to the construction of bunkers, watch towers, barracks, and 65-foot deep rocket silos,” according to the Business Insider.

The German daily claims that according to the agreement, Iranian Shahab 3 (range 1300-1500 km), Scud-B (285-330 km) and Scud-C (300, 500 and 700 km) were to be deployed in the proposed base.

(File photos)

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“The leaders of Iran and Venezuela hailed what they called their strong strategic relationship, saying they are united in efforts to establish a ‘New World Order’ that will eliminate Western dominance over global affairs,” according to a Fox News report posted on May 17, 2011.

“Security sources have stated that the plans for the underground missile depots will be prepared by experts from the chemical engineering department of the Sharif Industrial University and Tehran Polytechnic,” the report adds.

There is far more on the disturbing relationship between the regime’s ruling Iran and Venezuela.

“Venezuela is said to have significant reserves, something that Iran is desperately in need of for the continuation of their nuclear bomb project. Other activities include housing of the Quds forces, along with Hezbollah cells in these facilities, so they can expand their activities throughout Latin America and form collaborations with drug cartels in Mexico and then enter America.

“Many of the Iranian so-called commercial facilities in Venezuela are under strict no-fly zone regulations by the Venezuelan government and are only accessible by the Iranians in charge of those facilities!

“With Iran’s refusal to halt its nuclear program and the progress they’re making with their missile delivery system, this new military alliance with Venezuela is most alarming for our national security here in America.”

The breadcrumbs of these warnings were everywhere, only for Obama to deliberately overlook.

“Iran has already built what it calls a ‘tractor factory’ in Venezuela, the most heavily guarded and secret tractor factory in the world. The fenced compound is so secret that even Venezuelans are not allowed to enter it; only Iranians are allowed inside.”,” according to The Daily Caller.

“The factory is in a remote area, not far from a uranium deposit former Venezuelan official estimate holds 50,000 tons of ore. Is it a stretch to connect the secret ‘tractor factory’ and the uranium?”

The malign ties between Tehran’s mullahs’ and the Chavez/Maduro regime expanded to more dangerous spheres: terrorism.

“Iran uses Venezuela and other Latin American countries as havens for its terrorists. For months Hezbollah, Iran’s terror army, has metastasized across our undefended border with Mexico to set up sleeper cells in our cities. And now we learn a senior Hezbollah thug was appointed as Venezuela’s Deputy Chief of Mission to Syria?” The Daily Caller read adds.

And talking about links & ties, we all remember how Obama had good relations with Chavez. In my opinion, as Obama betrayed the people of Iran in 2009, one could say he also betrayed the people of Venezuela.

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I wouldn’t be surprised that Assad in Syria also benefited from Obama’s appeasement of the regime’s in Iran & Venezuela. Of course, we all remember how Obama backed off from his famous Syria “red line”…

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The Trump administration, however, does understand the risk of Iran-backed Hezbollah being active in Venezuela.

Worth noting that while Iran describes transferring gasoline halfway across the globe to Venezuela, the regime doesn’t answer the question why they can’t or are not willing to provide for Iranians back home?

 

The most effective method to support the people of Iran and Venezuela in their struggle for freedom & democracy is to bring a complete end to the appeasement policy once and for all.

Why doesn’t Iran enter talks with the U.S.?

The recent prisoner exchange between the United States and Iran resulted in U.S. Navy veteran Michael White returning home on Thursday, June 4. Following this welcomed development U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, “So great to have Michael home. Just arrived. Very exciting. Thank you to Iran. Don’t wait until after U.S. Election to make the Big deal. I’m going to win. You’ll make a better deal now!”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted a seemingly defiant response. “We achieved humanitarian swap *despite* your subordinates’ efforts, @realDonaldTrump. And we had a deal when you entered office. Iran & other JCPOA participants never left the table. Your advisors—most fired by now—made a dumb bet. Up to you to decide *when* you want to fix it.”

First and foremost, Trump’s invitation of Iran for talks is not a change in U.S. policy. It also proves wrong all the mainstream media propaganda, especially pushed by the Iran apologists/lobbyists crowd, about Trump being a warmonger and seeking armed conflict with Iran.

However, we also need to keep in mind that Iran understands very well that Trump’s policy differs from his predecessor, and any negotiations with Trump will not be without significant consequences for the regime’s future.

If the regime in Iran enjoyed the capacity to enter talks with the U.S., it should be doing so now prior to the U.S. presidential election. Considering the coronavirus and social unrest crises in the U.S., Iran’s regime could be considering now a good time to enter talks as Trump is entangled with troubles at home and there is no better time to obtain concessions. Tehran agreeing to talks could provide Trump a political victory prior to the elections and allow Iran’s regime to demand for more concessions.

So why doesn’t Iran enter talks with such a window of opportunity? A subject not discussed in western media is the utterly fragile state of Iran’s regime and the fact that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei completely lacks the capacity to enter talks with the “Great Satan,” as he likes to call the U.S.

Khamenei’s level of authority is nowhere near regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s previous supreme leader. Khomeini relied on his internal support to give in to ending the 1980s Iran-Iraq war despite his eight-year modus operandi of continuing the war until the very last house in the Iranian capital Tehran. Furthermore, the regime in its entirety is far weaker in 2020 than it was back in 1988.

Khamenei, the current supreme leader, cannot hold together the regime’s ranks and files and internal disputes are escalating with each passing day. Khamenei has lost Qassem Soleimani, a key behind-the-scenes figure during the three years of talks that led to the 2015 nuclear deal with Obama. Soleimani was able to continue Iran’s expansions in the Middle East (thanks to Obama’s appeasement) and thus portray a strong image to help Khamenei convince his dismal social base to follow his blessing of talks that led to the 2015 deal with Washington, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

And again, thanks to Obama’s appeasement, Khamenei was able to obtain a long list of incentives in the JCPOA. These flaws led to Trump’s decision to tear up the nuclear deal in May 2018 and impose crippling sanctions that have wreaked havoc to the regime’s economy, plunging its currency parallel to nearly all its desperately needed oil exports.

Khamenei is also very much concerned about defections from his ranks and files. Twice in recent years he has specifically voiced concerns about defections and disillusionment among the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), the entity that is supposedly the strongest ideological force keeping the regime in power and missioned to safeguard the regime’s “Islamic Revolution.”

Khamenei has also signaled that a new deal with the U.S. will inevitably result in more deals demanding the regime to scale back on its very pillars of domestic crackdown and foreign warmongering. These are absolute red lines for the mullahs’ regime.

More recently, Khamenei has been preparing his regime for difficult times ahead. He is publicly calling for a “young Hezbollahi government.” In parallel nature, a senior IRGC officer, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, has been selected as the new Majlis (parliament) speaker after a record low voter turnout in February’s parliamentary elections, and Ebrahim Raisi, known for his role in the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners, is the regime’s judiciary chief. This line-up is no signal of a regime gearing for talks.

And why doesn’t Iran follow North Korea’s lead of entering talks with the U.S. and kicking the can down the road? Quite simple. Pyongyang has the bomb. Iran does not, thanks to decades of revelations made by the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), especially the August 2002 exposure of the Natanz uranium enrichment site and the Arak heavy water reactor. Ever since, Iran has been involved in a cat-and-mouse game with the international community in its ongoing drive to obtain nuclear weapons while claiming to only seek peaceful nuclear energy.

All in all, Iran’s is now desperately hoping for Trump to somehow lose in November or at least for the Democrats to gain control of Congress, making Trump a lame duck president for at least two years. This is highly unlikely, to say the least.

Tehran giving in to talks with Washington will portray a very weak image of the mullahs’ regime inside the country. This will without a doubt leave the mullahs’ regime very fragile in the face of an increasingly restive population that is described as a powder keg. The next round of nationwide uprising will dwarf the November 2019 protests that swept over 140 cities across Iran. This is the Iranian regime’s main concern.

Iran’s interests in the ambush targeting Gen. Michael Flynn

We have been learning quite significantly about the corrupt nature of the Obama administration. One specific case is the exoneration of Gen. Michael Flynn who happened to be the U.S. President Donald Trump’s first National Security Advisor. Lesser talked about is the media these days is the interests Iran’s regime had in the ambush targeting Gen. Flynn.

Now, one may ask where does Iran play in this already complicated legal and political dispute that has been ongoing for more than three years now? The answer is actually quite simple.

From Iran’s perspective, Gen. Flynn had the audacity of adopting a very strong stance against this malign regime and famously placed Tehran’s mullahs “on notice” in the very early days of the Trump presidency.

Now, one may ask where does Iran play in this already complicated legal and political dispute that has been ongoing for more than three years now? The answer is actually quite simple.

From Iran’s perspective, Gen. Flynn had the audacity of adopting a very strong stance against this malign regime and famously placed Tehran’s mullahs “on notice” in the very early days of the Trump presidency.

Of course, these remarks were made after President Trump entered the Oval Office. A legitimate question would be: Did Gen. Flynn sound alarm bells for the Iranian regime even prior to the Trump presidency? Most certainly.

Gen. Flynn was one of the few voices to stand firm against former U.S. president Barack Obama’s highly flawed 2015 Iran nuclear deal. This is his tweet on the very day the pact was signed.

Gen. Flynn also realized how the deal played right into Tehran’s hands, providing it billions of dollars to fund its terror groups across the Middle East.

In August 2016, more details of the Obama/Iran nuclear deal were emerging, especially the $400 million ransom Obama paid in cash to Iran for a number of hostages.

And it is interesting that one of the U.S. citizens released by Tehran was none other than Jason Rezaian who very conveniently came back to the U.S. and began pushing Iran’s talking points in his Washington Post columns. This, of course, is another story for another time.

Gen. Flynn had a very good understanding of Iran’s threat and he was hated by Tehran apologists/lobbyists in the West; most specifically, members of Iran’s main lobby group, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) founded by Trita Parsi. They were quick to push Tehran’s narrative against Flynn following the General’s position against the mullahs’ regime.

Considering his strong position vis-à-vis Iran, Gen. Flynn would have certainly not tolerated Iran’s influence in U.S. government, especially those figures who had reached high places during the Obama administration.

Gen. Flynn would have not tolerated the likes of Sahar Nowrouzzadeh of Iran’s lobby NIAC in the White House. Nowrouzzadeh worked directly on Obama’s Iran nuclear deal. While she may deny it, this card proves her previous membership in NIAC.

“NIAC’s most accomplished alum is Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, who is now National Security Council director for Iran in the Obama admin & the top US official for Iran policy, bringing together various departments working on US strategy toward [Iran],” reads a Daily Beast article form back in September 2015.

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Sahar Nowrouzzadeh alongside former U.S. President Barack Obama in the White House apparently prior to a TV interview

Nowrouzzadeh was probably effective in having NIAC founder/then president Trita Parsi & a former Iranian regime ambassador to Germany invited to the White House more than 30 times. Their objective: pave the path for the 2015 Iran nuclear and Obama providing the utmost concessions to Tehran.

“Two high-level Iranian government backers, including a former Islamic Republic official and another accused of lobbying on Tehran’s behalf, were hosted at the Obama White House for more than 30 meetings with top officials at key junctures in the former administration’s contested diplomacy with Iran, according to White House visitor logs that provide a window into the former administration’s outreach to leading pro-Iran advocates,” according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Remember how President Trump had to work through many obstacles until finally tearing up the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in May 2018? Knowing General Flynn, he would not have tolerated the deal and all the lies behind it.

It is worth noting that in July 2015, Obama Treasury Secretary Jack Lew assured the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that, under the nuclear accord, Iran “will continue to be denied access to the [U.S.] financial and commercial market” and that “Iranian banks will not be able to clear U.S. dollars through New York, hold correspondent account relationships with U.S. financial institutions, or enter into financing arrangements with U.S. banks.”

However, Senate Republicans unveiled a report indicating that “the Obama administration secretly tried to help Iran use U.S. banks to convert $5.7 billion in Iranian assets, after promising Congress that Iran would not get access to the U.S. financial system — and then lied to Congress about what it had done,” according to The Washington Post. This is more reason that should Gen. Flynn have remained as National Security Advisor, the Iran nuclear deal would have most likely been torn apart far before May 2018.

Iran’s regime and its lobby group NIAC also realized that Gen. Flynn was a threat to all the relatives of government officials granted U.S. citizenship by the Obama administration as the Iran nuclear was being hammered out.

“When Obama, during the negotiations about the JCPOA, decided to do a favor to these men, he granted citizenship to 2,500 Iranians and some officials started a competition over whose children could be part of these 2,500 Iranians,” Mojtaba Zolnour, a member of the regime’s Majlis (parliament), claimed back in July 2018.

Gen. Flynn most likely had realized that “the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah,” according to a Politico report. Hezbollah procures massive funds through such a network and any disruption would be a devastating blow to Tehran.

Of course, much more can be added to this text. The point is that Gen. Flynn would never tolerate appeasement vis-à-vis Iran’s regime. This was realized early on and there is belief it was one of the main reasons he was attacked in such dishonorable fashion.

Despite all the kicking and screaming regarding the exoneration process of Gen. Flynn, justice is finally being done. And the sky is the limit to the goods Gen. Flynn can do, and the devastating defeats Iran’s regime can suffer.

Originally published in Quodverum

Fake news MSM supporting the regime in Iran

By Heshmat Alavi

March 26, 2020—You know the regime in Iran is desperate when a variety of MSM outlets, such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and USA Today rush to the mullahs’ support with articles by their editorial boards calling on the Trump administration to lift sanctions. USA TODAY falls as low as providing a platform for Majid Takht Ravanchi, Iran’s ambassador to the UN, while describing him as an “Opinion contributor.”

Let’s begin by taking a look at The New York Times piece.

“Demonstrating compassion in times of crisis is good foreign policy,” NYT argues. When correctly translated into plain English, this means let’s return to the Obama-style full-throttle appeasement of this regime and provide it with financial incentives with the knowledge that the money will never be used to support the Iranian people.

NYT says: “Iran has appealed to the International Monetary Fund for $5 billion in emergency funding and a long list of essential equipment…”

Of course, NYT will not tell its readers that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei sits on a vast economic empire worth at least $95 billion dollars, according to Reuters. Back in April 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad estimated that Khamenei owns assets worth about $200 billion.

If Iran needs “emergency funding” to provide for “a long list of essential equipment,” why does it not simply tap into Khamenei’s own billions? And where is the guarantee that Tehran will not be spending this money to fuel its malign purposes?

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Iran’s regime has been known to prop the murders Assad killing machine in Syria along with numerous other terrorist militia extremist groups checkered across the Middle East (Credit: FDD)

Back in 2016 former U.S. secretary of state John Kerry said they realized after the 2015 nuclear deal that some of the generated money would be used by Iran’s mullahs to fuel their terrorist groups. Of course, if Kerry were to honest, he would have said all of that money would be used to fuel Iran’s malign objectives, such as boosting its domestic crackdown machine, supporting terrorism, further developing ballistic missiles, and continuing its clandestine drive to obtain nuclear weapons.

Furthermore, back in July 2019, the chief of staff of Iran’s president himself wrote a letter saying that one billion euros ($1.12 billion) in hard currency allocated for importing medicines and essential goods “has disappeared.” And NYT expect us to trust this regime with a $5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund?

It is also worth noting that Iranian regime officials stole more than $1 billion in humanitarian funds meant to be used to help the country’s people fight the spread of coronavirus, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Furthermore, despite the coronavirus crisis in Iran, Tehran-backed militia groups in Iraq are continuing their attacks against U.S. forces. Of course, NYT would never mention that and would never call on the mullahs’ regime to allocate the funds used by these terrorist groups to provide for the Iranian people.

NYT goes on to cite an October 2019 report by the Human Rights Watch to further its argument about U.S. sanctions constraining the Iranian regime’s ability “to finance humanitarian imports, including medicines.” What NYT will not tell you is that the HRW report was a parroting of Tehran’s lies and talking points already easily debunked.

Furthermore, the report was compiled by Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division, who has recently joined the Quincy Institute, a think tank co-founded by Trita Parsi, the founder of NIAC, Iran’s DC-based lobby group. Parsi has always been fond of Whitson’s work as she runs Tehran’s talking points and diverts attention away from the mullahs’ atrocious human rights violations. Whitson’s recent controversial remarks also caused quite a stir that forced her into an embarrassing apology.

NYT argues that “the United States should be at the forefront of offering what help it can.” What NYT will not tell its readers that the U.S. did offer help and Tehran has ruled out help from “foreign forces” in dealing with the coronavirus epidemic. Tehran even kicked out a team of Médecins Sans Frontières, but NYT won’t tell you that either.

Why would Tehran kick out a team of foreign doctors seeking to provide help to its COVID-19 crisis?

Simple. The mullahs cannot risk foreign doctors inside Iran seeing the truth of the Iranian people left without adequate support and realizing the astronomical death toll and number of cases. It would reveal to the world that Tehran is lying about its death toll, the number of cases and how it is not providing any decent support for the 80+ millions of Iranians during this crisis.

NYT further argues “American generosity might be the best way of persuading Iran to release American and other foreign detainees.” Such a measure would justify Iran’s illegal apprehension and hostage taking of American and other foreign nationals, encouraging the mullahs to continue with this practice to gain further incentives in the future.

But of course, there is nothing wrong with that the in the eyes of the NYT editorial board. Iran should be held accountable for taking American and other foreign nationals as hostages and using them as foreign policy bargaining chips. The NYT editorial board should be ashamed of such hideous remarks.

In its argument, NYT cites a Foreign Policy magazine piece by Robert Malley and Ali Vaez of the International Crisis Group. Malley is a former Obama administration official pushing for a return to appeasing the mullahs’ regime. Vaez is a known Iranian regime apologist parroting Tehran’s talking points whenever possible.

NYT will not tell you that Vaez has very close ties to senior Iranian regime leadership. This is him with former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani who was very close to the mullahs’ regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini.

Ali Vaez with Rafsanjani
Ali Vaez of the International Crisis Group with former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (now dead)

There is good reason why NYT will continue pushing the Iranian regime’s talking points. This thread sheds light on NYT’s direct ties to Tehran and a state-run outlet of the mullahs.

WaPo

The Washington Post also published an editorial piece calling on the U.S. to lift its sanctions on Iran. The post claims the United States is being blamed by ordinary Iranians for making it more difficult for authorities to combat the epidemic. Yet the Post provides no source for such a claim.

The Post goes on to cite an NYT piece written by Narges Bajoghli of Johns Hopkins University and Mahsa Rouhi of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, two known Iran apologists/lobbyists that have been criticized for pushing Tehran’s talking points. Of course, WaPo will not mention anything about Bajoghli and Rouhi’s ties to Tehran’s lobby.

WaPo argues for the U.S. to greenlight the IMF providing a $5 billion loan to Iran, citing the fact that the “regime has already paroled one of the U.S. citizens it had been holding in its prisons.” Following NYT’s footsteps, WaPo is also justifying Tehran’s practice of taking American and foreign nationals hostage. This is truly shameful for any media outlet.

In another low even for WaPo, the article claims U.S. President Trump launched a confrontation with the Iranian regime, and never mentions the fact that Tehran declared war on the U.S. over 40 years ago, ever since its paramilitary forces climbed up the U.S. Embassy walls in Tehran and took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days back in 1979.

USA TODAY

As mentioned before, the USA TODAY actually provided a platform for Majid Takht Ravanchi, Iran’s ambassador to the UN, while describing him as an “Opinion contributor.” Ravanchi used this opportunity to push Tehran’s lies, claiming “Iran’s ability to deal with [coronavirus] in an effective manner is limited due to the unjust U.S. sanctions imposed on the Iranian people.”

Ravanchi also claims: “The U.S. maintains that humanitarian goods are exempt from its extra-territorial sanctions. However, that is not the reality. The financial channel required for facilitating transactions, even for humanitarian commodities, is not available…”

This is a lie. The U.S. Treasury Department specifically indicates: “The United States maintains broad exceptions and authorizations for the sale of agricultural commodities, food, medicine, and medical devices to Iran by U.S. and non-U.S. persons, provided such transactions do not involve persons designated in connection with Iran’s proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), or Iran’s support for international terrorism.”

Ravanchi claims Iran “is actually less equipped to contain Covid-19 than others.”

This is also a lie. Iran’s own state-run English media outlets are claiming “Iran exports medical equipment to Europe” and “Iran exports medical equipment to 55 countries worldwide.”

Some 105 medical equipment produced by 23 Iranian companies are exported to 55 countries across the world, Reza Masaeli, an advisor to the health minister said.

“Currently, a total of 280,000 medical equipment is produced in the country,” Fars quoted Masaeli as saying.

While the pro-appeasement MSM outlets seek a soft approach vis-à-vis Tehran and a return to the Obama years of full-throttle appeasement of the mullahs, this is exactly the time to further pressures on the regime and break its back for good. As an Iranian, I know for certain that such a policy would weaken the mullahs’ regime and be in favor of the Iranian people.

Iran’s mullahs are obviously desperate. The very fact that such a choir of MSM articles are calling for sanctions to be lifted under the bogus pretexts of providing medical supplies is a clear sign that Mr. Trump’s maximum pressure campaign is working. Even a small fracture in this initiative, that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said three years of hard work have gone into, would be a desperately needed propaganda victory for Tehran. And as always, MSM is ready to pounce on anything anti-Trump and willing to publish anything of any nature, without providing their readers the truth.

Iran’s IRGC deliberately shot down the Ukraine airliner

On January 8, Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 took from Khomeini International Airport in the Iranian capital Tehran. Just minutes later the plane crashed, leaving all 176 onboard dead as a result.

This tragedy took place on the same night that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) was launching ballistic missiles targeting military bases in Iraq housing U.S. troops in response to the killing of IRGC Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani by the U.S. military in Baghdad.

During the three days of Tehran’s denial of any wrongdoing, various video footage and images posted on social media raised questions about the plane being shot down and how regime authorities dealt with the issue afterwards, all escalating suspicions of deliberate actions taken to shoot the plane down.

Initial reports from Tehran claimed engine failure. However, “Ukraine’s embassy in Iran dropped an initial reference to engine failure as the cause of a Ukrainian plane crash outside Tehran,” according to Reuters.

Ukraine Int’l Airlines said a Boeing 737-800 involved in a fatal crash in Iran was one of the best planes in its fleet and its pilots were very experienced. No sign anything was wrong before the plane took off, last routinely serviced on January 6, another report adds.

If there was an engine fire the plane would have slowed down and the pilots would have made it back to the airport. The plane kept climbing. Fire suppression systems would have prevented the plane from turning into a ball of fire.

Remember when Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists accidentally shot down MH17 in 2014? The investigation took almost two years to complete, even with a Dutch-led international task force. How can the Iranians claim to have figured out it was engine failure in five minutes?

The plane was flying at 8,000 feet and up 14,000 feet is considered safe altitude. If any incident is to occur, such as decompression inside the plane or anything else, the plane comes to 14,000 feet as it is considered the safest altitude for passenger flights. PS752 was flying at 8,000 feet, making it even safer and easier for the pilots to land the plane in case of an emergency.

It is worth noting that when the plane seeks to land at Khomeini Int’l Airport, when it is in park position, when the plane doors open and even when the stairs are connected to the plane, all these phases are controlled by IRGC units stationed at Khomeini International Airport.

As a result, any claim of the IRGC mistaking the PS752 for a fighter jet or a warplane is ridiculous. Through the entire process the plane is on the flight radars and the IRGC cannot claim human error.

The IRGC claims its units mistook the PS752 for a cruise missile or an American warplane. This is quite impossible as a Boeing 737-800 differs extensively in comparison. And this question comes to mind that how did an American warplane enter Iranian airspace and from what border, decreased its altitude to 8,000 feet above Tehran and the IRGC radar and air defense system suddenly detects it?

A video of two missile launches show the first missile hitting the plane’s wings where the fuel is stored, resulting in a massive fire and explosion. The captain was even able to change direction in an attempt to land the plane when the second missile was fired. This could not have been a human error.

Images from the crash site show shrapnel damage on the wings and fuselage.

Surface to air missiles explode near their target to spray it with shrapnel. This increases the impact ratio significantly. Images from PS752 shows clear signs of shrapnel.

More signs of shrapnel on a motor of the PS752. Notice how the piercing is towards the inner part of the fuselage. The first motor did not explode into pieces, further debunking the engine failure theory.

The second motor of PS752 is also fairly intact. More proof discrediting the engine failure claims.

In February 2019, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 suffered engine failures, yet the pilots were able to land the plane with support from safety standards procedures.

For those unfamiliar with the SA-11 or Buk missile system, it detonates in midair in proximity of the target plane, floods the cockpit with shrapnel and kills the pilots. Passengers die from depressurization and extreme cold as the plane crashes, usually in one piece.

Just think of the SA-11 as a missile system that tracks its target plane and then fires a shotgun blast of shrapnel to the cockpit upon reaching its range. It is not a high-explosive warhead.

The Dutch Safety Board produced this video to explain how the Buk missile system works, and how it crashed flight MH17 in July 2014.

A local took this image near the PS752 crash site clearly shows the control segment of a TOR M1 missile.

In Iran, the IRGC – designated as a “terrorist organization” by the U.S. State Department – has such TOR M1 units at its disposal. (Image from a parade in Iran back in September 2013.)

6

“Satellite imagery of the Ukrainian Airways crash site. The site appears to be being cleared by Iranian authorities using bulldozers. Lots of areas have been cleared of debris.”

Why did Iran raze/tamper the evidence? What are they hiding?

Read the words of a Ukrainian inspector at the site of the plane crash.

Pictures-7-8

Iran’s Armed Forces claimed they plane was “unintentionally” hit by a military unit and based on “human error” and that the plane was heading toward a sensitive IRGC site at a dangerous altitude and in the shape of a hostile aircraft.

While Iran’s regime claims the PS752’s flight path was heading toward a sensitive IRGC site, it is worth noting that four other flights had taken the same path from midnight local time prior to PS752’s departure at 6:12am local time.

Pictures-8

On January 8, The New York Times and Reuters quickly cited a “Canadian security source” claiming the plane was “not brought down by a missile” and crashed due to “technical malfunction”, and that “one of the plane’s engines had overheated”.

And pro-Iran regime media outlets quickly picked up the fake news reports.

All signs indicate the IRGC deliberately shot down the Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752. Ukrainian officials have indicated that they are not ruling out such a scenario. The motive remains a mystery. All the more reason an international investigation is needed on this very sensitive subject.

(Various videos are included below for you to judge for yourself.)

What does Iran think about ongoing protests in Iraq?

It goes without saying that the regime in Iran is deeply concerned over the events unfolding in Iraq. This massive popular uprising has not been quelled despite a deadly crackdown that has rendered an overall death toll of nearly 250 in the past month along with several thousands injured.

The Iraqi people, however, are setting fire to offices and headquarters of groups and other entities affiliated to Iran. This includes centers involved in plundering the Iraqi people and corrupt ministries, all leading to calls for the government of Prime Minister Adel Abdil al-Mahdi to resign. Iran’s state TV is running various shows providing the regime’s analysis on Iraq. “The scope of this conspiracy is quite enormous,” one state-linked analyst said.

“The volume of these protests and the expansion of this movement, parallel to the behaviors witnessed in attacks targeting government centers, senior officials, private property, assassinating certain individuals, torching banks, storming and torching governors’ offices, provincial headquarters, ministries, stealing from banks and chants calling for the government to resign, the constitution to be revoked and the government to be annulled… What next? I believe these are far beyond legitimate demands… All these events are taking place between Baghdad and Basra (southern Iraq). All these events, deaths and injuries are between Baghdad and Basra. This means nine Shiite provinces. Do they want to launch a Shiite-Shiite war? It appears the scope of this conspiracy is massive,” the report said.

On Sunday, October 27, in another state TV program focusing on Iraq, concerns were voiced over the protesters’ targeting Iran-backed militia groups. “There are now voices heard among the people calling for the official Iraqi government to resign.

“Iraqi protesters initially called for improvements in public services, employment and a concentrated effort against corruption. As footage was posted online showing direct fire from unknown areas targeting the people, these mercenaries recently assassinated two senior members of the Asaeb movement… In this attack, after unidentified men shot Osam al-Aliyawi, they followed him and his brother, martyring them in a hospital,” the report adds.

It is worth noting that none of the claims raised by the Iranian regime state TV program have been proven and the very tone used is quite obvious. Phrases such as “mercenaries,” “movement” and “martyring” all indicate a certain language aiming to place the blame on demonstrators, while relieving the Iran-backed government and militia units involved in the crackdown of any responsibility.

Sa’dollah Zarei, a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and a figure close to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, shed further light on Tehran’s concerns over its affiliated sites and groups being targeted central and southern Iraq. This clearly indicates the Iraqi people’s utter hatred of the IRGC Quds Force and its malign role in Iraq.

“Any event taking place anywhere can be inspirational for another area. It would be quite natural for us to say that Lebanon was inspired by Iraq, and Iraq can be inspired from another location. In Lebanon, we are witnessing a number of irregular signs. All in all, we may be witnessing this story for weeks and months to come,” he added.

“The situation in Iraq is very similar to the society in Lebanon. In these demonstrations we are witnessing attacks on various Shiite groups, meaning attacks on Asaeb Ahl al-Haq, their members being killed. Around 10 to 15 of them have been martyred. In recent development there was an attack targeting the al-Hekma party, their offices and various centers. They attacked Hashd al-Shaabi (PMF) offices and all of a sudden we witness attacks targeting Asaeb Ahl al-Haq, and ten individuals being viciously murdered,” Zarei continued.

Interesting that Asaeb Ahl al-Haq, the al-Hekma and Hashd al-Shaabi groups are all funded, armed, trained and fully supported by Iran’s regime.

It is worth noting that the number provided by Zarei and the descriptions of these deaths cannot be confirmed. All in all, these remarks made by an IRGC member and heard from reports aired on state TV resemble the general state of escalating concern for Iran’s mullahs.

After years of investing billions in Iraq, the mullahs in Tehran are witnessing a loss of vital influence in this country. Iraq has for years been a significant route to bypass U.S. sanctions and losing influence in this country has the potential of having deep impact inside Iran, and especially Tehran.

The meaning of sanctioning Iran’s Central Bank

On Friday, September 20, the U.S. Treasury Department upgraded the Trump administration’s maximum pressure policy targeting the regime in Iran by sanctioning the mullahs’ Central Bank. The regime’s National Development Fund and the Etemad Tejarate Pars, also sanctioned recently, have been used to cloak financial transfers for Iran’s Ministry of Defense Armed Forces Logistics’ military purchases.

These new measures are the U.S.’ first response to attacks targeting Saudi oil facilities on September 14. Despite the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen claiming responsibility, all signs and evidence indicate Iran’s regime playing a direct role in this attack and the use of Iranian weaponry, including cruise missiles and drones.

The latest sanctions are a continuation of a focus shift by the Treasury and State departments from the diplomatic quarrel over the 2015 nuclear deal – known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – and nuclear sanctions, to a policy pinpointing on the regime’s official entities, support for global terrorism and the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).

Back in April, the State Department designated the IRGC as “Foreign Terrorist Organization,” making any and all economic and logistical transactions with the IRGC sanctionable.

As Washington focuses on drying up Iran’s resources used to fund terrorism, the three latest entities slapped with sanctions provides a new stigma deterring any future financing initiatives with the Iranian regime.

Iran will most definitely use hidden overseas accounts to access newly sanctioned international accounts, allowing intelligence communities to gain more knowledge and render future actions to further deny Tehran of terror-supporting funds.

Furthermore, even though former Obama officials advise Iran’s regime to wait out U.S. President Donald Trump in hopes of a Democrat winning the 2020 elections, the latest round of sanctions will make reversing Trump’s Iran policy and returning to Obama-style engagement with Iran far more difficult, if not impossible.

In response to Washington’s new measures, Iran apologists and lobbyists, and those favoring Obama-style appeasement vis-à-vis Iran’s regime already have and will continue to argue that the U.S. administration has exhausted all sanctions options when it comes to Tehran’s regime. Experts on the other side of the aisle in this argument say there remains a long slate of measures available for the U.S. government to deny the mullahs’ regime the ability to overtly and covertly fund terrorist groups.

Those countries and voices claiming Iran was not behind the attacks on Saudi oil fields and new sanctions being meaningless are either unwilling to accept responsibility of any action, or merely apologist/lobbyists pushing Tehran’s narrative in mainstream media.

As a reminder, the Central Bank of Iran has been sanctioned especially for its role in financing terrorist groups, i.e. Hezbollah in Lebanon. Back in 2011, when Congress slapped sanctions on this bank, the multiple grounds stated were terrorism, money laundering and financing nuclear/missile development.

Parallel to his appeasement of Tehran’s regime, Obama classified these measures as a “nuclear sanction” to lift all sanctions from the Central Bank of Iran under the JCPOA framework. The latest measures, based specifically on terrorism, would make any decision to removing such sanctions as bending over backwards in the face of Iran’s unbridled and inarguable support for terrorism.

Alongside the Central Bank, these new sanctions also target Iran’s NDF, an entity Tehran has repeatedly diverted money from to specifically finance military operations.

In January 2018, media reports showed the regime authorizing $4 billion withdrawal from the NDF, allocating $2.5 billion to its defense sector, and the remainder to Iran’s state-run broadcaster – used to spread the regime’s propaganda – and various development projects. In January 2019, the Iranian regime authorized another $1.5 billion withdrawal to finance their military ambitions.

Senior Iranian officials are directing NDF’s decision, with a ten-member board of trustees including Iran’s president, attorney general and oil minister, along with the Central Bank governor. The Trump administration should make it crystal clear that their apparatus will target any entity in Iran involved in funding the mullahs’ bellicosity. The NDF board trustees and the executive board should also be sanctioned to cut off a vital regime lifeline.

Another talking point used by Iran pundits and apologists/lobbyists is the accusation of anyone supporting sanctions against Iran’s regime is “defending Saudi Arabia.” The new U.S. sanctions are, in fact, a clear response to a brash attack by the Iranian regime endangering global energy supplies.

Those sitting on the throne in Tehran and the IRGC only understand the language of force and firmness. Iran is carefully weighing the international community’s measures in response to its latest episode of malevolence and terrorism.

The facts are clear. Iran’s Central Bank and such entities fuel the regime’s terrorism using money that belongs to the Iranian people. As mentioned before, there is a wide range of measures that can add to the crippling effect of Trump’s maximum pressure. The more the mullahs are disabled, the more the Iranian people will be able to escalate their protests and ultimately bring an end to this ruthless regime.

How Iran’s mullahs facilitated the 1953 coup d’état

Let’s talk some history and how the regime ruling Iran manipulates facts. 66 years ago today, a coup d’état brought an end to Iran’s first democratically elected government of Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh. All “elections” since have been nothing but a farce and should actually be described as “selections.”

Why do I say the mullahs’ regime “manipulates” history? This is what Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted last year on this day.

“65 years ago today, the US overthrew the popularly elected democrat government of Dr. Mossadegh, restoring the dictatorship & subjugating Iranians for the next 25 years. Now an ‘Action Group’ dreams of doing the same through pressure, misinformation & demagoguery. Never again.”

Zarif sought to portray an image of Iran’s mullahs (currently ruling the country) as a party opposing the 1953 coup d’état backed by foreign intelligence services who actually enjoyed support from Iran’s then mullahs.

Here are a few facts. The first coup attempt failed on August 16 of 1953. On August 19, a second attempt was launched by a number of influential mullahs and corrupt army officers.

Scenes of the 1953 coup d’état in Iran

At 9:30 am of August 19, club-wielders supporting the ruling Shah began chanting slogans against Mosaddegh. At 10 am, the mob enjoyed the support of army tanks. This shows the role of the Shah’s corrupt army in the coup.

Simultaneously, the mob of club-wielders began attacking newspapers in support of Mosaddegh’s government. The “Bakhtar” newspaper belonged to Dr. Hossein Fatemi, Mosaddegh’s Foreign Minister.

Iran - August 19, 1953
The “Bakhtar” daily office attacked by a mob of club-wielders supporting the Shah and backed by the country’s mullahs – Iran – August 19, 1953

The mob went on to take over Tehran’s state radio building at 1:30 pm. The bloodiest attack targeted Mosaddegh’s home one hour later. The Shah’s supporters were seen parading dead bodies around the complex to instigate those inside the house. With bullets and tank shells barraging his home, Mosaddegh’s advisors begged him to leave the complex. Shortly afterwards, he was arrested by the mob.

The mob seen taking over Tehran’s state radio building (L) and parading dead bodies around Mosaddegh’s house – Iran – August 19, 1953

Abol-Ghasem Kashani, an influential mullah in Iran at the time who helped topple Mosaddegh and facilitated the Shah’s return to power.

Others have also been very suspicious of the mullahs’ role in the 1953 coup.

“The clergy had always been averse to the modernizing penchants of secular politicians such as Mossadeq and their quests for republican rule and liberalization. The mullahs much preferred the deference of the conservative, if vacillating, shah to the secular enterprise of Mossadeq. After the attempted coup, the esteemed men of religion in Qom gave their tacit endorsement to the speaker of Parliament, Ayatollah Kashani. Through their connections with the bazaar and their ability to galvanize the populace, they were instrumental in orchestrating the demonstrations that engulfed Tehran. Mossadeq was already isolated. As the street protests tilted toward the shah, the military stepped in and displaced Mossadeq,” according to an article written by Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Iran - Shah - Abol-Ghasem Kashani
An image said to be the Shah of Iran kissing Abol-Ghasem Kashani, an influential mullah, for facilitating his return to power following the 1953 coup

Unveiled document shows how the Shah of Iran paid a senior mullah and other operatives who carried out the coup against Mosaddegh’s government.

Among the documents provided by Ardeshir Zahedi, the Shah’s last Ambassador to the U.S., we see a hand-written note reading:

“800,000 rial to Kashani”

“200,000 rial to Shaban & his group”

(Note: This might have been written by Ardeshir’s father, Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi.)

Iran - Zahedi notes - Kashani - 1953 coup
Hand-written note reading: “800,000 rial to Kashani” and “200,000 rial to Shaban & his group”

There is more.

“[Kashani] then met several times with Fazlollah Zahedi, who had been approached by the British as a possiblecandidate for anti-Mosaddeq activity, and encouraged Zahedi to work against Mosaddeq.  U.S. officials received reports in this period that Kashani also met with Tudeh leaders, who agreed to help him replace Mosaddeq and work against U.S. influence in Iran.  Several other key members of the coalition also turned against Mosaddeq, including Hossein Makki, Abol Hassan Haerizadeh, and Mozaffar Baqa’i, who headed the pro-labor, anti-communist Toilers (Zahmatkeshan) Party.  U.S. officials were very alarmed by these events, viewing them as evidence that Mosaddeq was losing control over the situation.  They were especially concerned about the growing strength and independence of Kashani, who they believed was hostile to Western interests and more willing than Mosaddeq to tolerate the Tudeh,” wrote Mark J. Gasiorowski in his book, “The 1953 Coup d’État Against Mosaddeq.” Tudeh was a communist party in Iran supported by the then Soviet Union.

These facts prove Zarif’s hypocrisy of claiming to defend Mosaddegh while accusing the U.S. of misinformation and demagoguery. These are the same accusations raised by Iranians against the mullahs’ regime for 40 years now.

In conclusion, the 1953 coup d’état in Iran – facilitated by the mullahs in Iran – paved the path for another 25 years of dictatorship for the Iranian people under the Shah’s rule. In 1979, in another blow to the Iranian people, the mullahs hijacked the nation’s revolution, allowing the emergence of religious tyranny and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism that has been wreaking havoc in Iran and across the Middle East for the past four decades.

If the mullahs had not facilitated the 1953 coup d’état and the Shah’s return to power, democracy would have had the chance to flourish in Iran. This was never in the mullahs’ interest as they sought grounds to establish their own reign in Iran.

Therefore, the solution lies in the mullahs’ rule coming to an end through a democratic revolution. There is no need for a repeat of Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria. Iranians just ask the international community, especially Europe, to not support Iran’s mullahs in any way and we will take care of the rest.

There’s no need for a single soldier to be sent to Iran, not a single bullet fired, nor a single dollar spent. The world should stand shoulder to shoulder with the Iranian people in this struggle by ending all political and economic relations with the mullahs’ regime.

The deep impact of Zarif’s sanctioning

Remarks made by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at a press conference on August 5, followed by remarks by the regime’s government spokesman Ali Rabie shed interesting light into the mullahs’ inner apparatus. Their words also raise interesting questions:

-Why are Iranian officials and state media going the distance in praising Zarif these days?

-What role does Zarif play in the mullahs’ regime?

-And why are Iranian officials making such a fuss about Zarif’s sanctioning?

Zarif’s main argument

Zarif is accusing the U.S. of not being honest: Washington claims to seek negotiations while they sanction both Zarif – the regime’s main negotiator – and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the figure who calls all the shots in Tehran.

On August 6, when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visits the Foreign Ministry and meets with senior officials, he refers to this very issue. “You say you want to negotiate. You know our constitution. We cannot enter negotiations without the Supreme Leader’s notice. Then why did you sanction Khamenei?”

In other words, both Zarif and Rouhani attempted to portray the U.S. as the party to blame for closing the path to talks.

Expiration date

It is interesting that on the one hand Khamenei describes any talks and negotiations as a “deadly poison,” while Rouhani uses the word “negotiations” a whopping 40 times in his recent remarks.

Of course, Rouhani does understand that any negotiations in the current circumstances, with the U.S. placing 12 conditions before Tehran, are tantamount to the mullahs’ digging their own graves. In fact, despite using the word negotiations 40 times in his remarks, Rouhani does not forget to emphasize to the U.S., “We have no negotiations with you!”

“You are aware of our constitution. You know that fundamental decisions are made by [Khamenei], including the subject of negotiations. You know that the Foreign Minister is the administrative arm in such talks. Therefore, when you sanction both figures, there’s no longer any room for negotiations,” he continued.

This praising of Zarif, alongside Zarif’s own remarks, are aimed at cloaking the undeniable reality that following Zarif’s sanctioning, the entire Iranian regime has received a significant blow and suffered an unprecedented setback. Not only is it now revealed that the U.S. has no hopes in this or that faction of the regime, sanctioning the foreign minister discredits the regime’s diplomatic apparatus across the globe.

As a result, Zarif’s expiration date has expired and if Khamenei has it in his power, he should think about replacing him as he is no longer useful for the regime. One can also argue Zarif could be counterproductive, a constantly being a reminder of sanctioned figure representing the mullahs’ regime.

The main crisis now engulfing the regime, however, is crippling economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. that are targeting the regime and Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). What Tehran needs now is a lifeline from this economic suffocation and Zarif can no longer be of any use in this regard.

Internal turmoil

U.S. sanctions against the regime in Iran were reinstated in November of last year. Tehran was counting on eight oil sanctions exemptions and exporting 1.1 million barrels of oil per day to remain intact. This loophole was plugged in May of this year when all oil waivers were brought to an end. A short while later Iran’s exports dropped to 500,000 bpd, then to 300,000 bpd, and now reports indicate Iran’s vital oil exports have dwindled down to 100,000 bpd.

The status quo, parallel to a highly restive society, poses a very lethal threat to the mullahs’ regime. There is a high potential of a new uprising mirroring that of December 2017 / January 2018, when people in over 140 cities across Iran rose up against the entire regime apparatus. Experts inside Iran have said time and again that a repeat of such a scenario would be far more devastating for the ruling elite and the IRGC.

A short while ago Rouhani said the government employs around five million people. The country has 15 million workers and the government can only provide for a 20 percent raise in wages, he added. All the while, inflation at its lowest is calculated to be over 40 percent and food prices are witnessing an inflation of over 80 percent!

In such circumstances, the mullahs’ regime is facing an army of ordinary people suffering from poverty resulting from destructive policies implemented by the mullahs’ regime. To say it mildly, the Iranian society can be described as a powder keg with a very short and lighted fuse.

Dark shadow

While all media coverage maybe focused on Iran’s malign activities across the region, the main concern for the regime is none other than the Iranian people themselves. This is a force to be reckoned with and the mullahs understand very well the dark shadow of this ever-growing threat.

Zarif, with his smiles and devious language, is a pawn constantly used to gain time in the face of such escalating turmoil. The West had provided a desperately needed lifeline to the regime vis-à-vis their appeasement approach. This left the Iranian people, and Middle East nations, at the mullahs’ mercy for far too long.

The Trump administration, however, has set aside this harmful mentality and weak set of policies. The latest of such measures is sanctioning Zarif as the regime’s “chief apologist” and “terrorist enabler.”

At a first glance this maybe a hit at Zarif. Looking deeper, we realize the regime as a whole is in the cross hairs, leaving the mullahs extremely weakened. And the Iranian people posing a deadly threat to the entire regime apparatus.