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.

The story of “honor killings” in Iran

The misogynist ideology promoted by the mullahs’ regime ruling Iran is the main reason behind an unfortunate phenomenon known as “honor killings” that have long plagued this country.

Two new cases of “honor killings” in Iran under the mullahs’ regime. This includes Reyhaneh Ameri, 22, killed on June 15 by her father with an ax for coming home late; and Fatemeh Barihi, 19, beheaded by her husband.

In late May, Romina Ashrafi, 13, was beheaded in her sleep by her own father. These innocent women are the victims of honor killings in Iran which are sanctioned & institutionalized by the laws of the clerical regime.

Romina-Ashrafi-Victim-of-Honor-Killings-in-Iran

The story of Reyhaneh Ameri

Reyhaneh’s sister went to her parents’ home on Monday at around 8:30 or 9 am. When she entered there was no one home and Reyhaneh’s room was locked. She knocks constantly and no one answers. She notices the rugs are in disarray. A few minutes later her father comes home.

Her mother says when left the house in the morning Reyhaneh was still in her room & her door was open. Then she tells her daughter what happened the night before. Reyhaneh had returned home at around 11:30 pm & had a quarrel with her father. After that she went to her room.

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Reyhaneh’s father tells his wife, “One day I will kill that girl!”

In 2017 he once tried to kill her and severely beat her with a stick, leaving her entire body swollen. Reyhaneh’s arms & leg were broken & her sister intervened to save her life.

Reyhaneh’s sister becomes nervous & says something might have happened to her. Reyhaneh’s mother and sister finally open her door & see the room in a mess. All her clothes are on the floor. Her mother begins to gather up the clothes, only to see they are wet.

ریحانه+عامری+در+ماشین

When she pulls the clothes aside Reyhaneh’s mother sees the middle of the room is full of blood. There is blood also on the walls. They call the police. When they arrive, the officers see blood under the rugs. They believe Reyhaneh was dragged from her room to a car.

Reyhaneh’s father had many axes and they realize one of them is not in its place. They start thinking he may have used it to attack Reyhaneh. While the police wait for Reyhaneh’s father to come back home, they track Reyhaneh’s mobile phone to a deserted area.

The tracking device shows the location near the village of Ekhtiar Abad, a 15-min drive from the city of Kerman in south-central Iran. When Reyhaneh’s father comes home he is immediately arrested by the police. He is angry and denies knowing anything.

+عروسی+سوگل+طهماسبی+با+لباس+بختیاری

The trunk of his car was full of blood. So was the back license plate. Reyhaneh’s father is arrested and her mother is sent to a hospital. They search for Reyhaneh until 11 pm. Her father wouldn’t say anything other than that it wasn’t him & he hadn’t killed Reyhaneh.

At 11 pm he says with a smile that he did kill Reyhaneh with a blow of his ax to her head, and left her body in an open area near the city of Kerman. When they find Reyhaneh she was dead. Physicians at the forensics said she was alive until 9 pm. She was suffering for hours.

The story of Fatemeh Barihi

Fatemeh was forced to marry to her abusive cousin at the age of 17. She was beheaded by her husband. State media justified this heinous murder by writing this is the result of Fatemeh fleeing her husband & betraying him the day after their marriage.

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This is the regime’s attempt to justify this killing under the mullahs’ laws that allow men to kill his wife in case of adultery. One of Fatemeh’s relatives has spoken out & shed light on the truth.

A few years ago Fatemeh’s sister was forced to marry a few years ago (Fatemeh’s future brother-in-law). The result was nothing but being beaten by her husband, a miscarriage due to blow to her body, and finally, a woman without any hope in life. Fatemeh didn’t want this.

Fatemeh’s husband was more of the same & she was constantly under physical & psychological pressure. As a result, with the help of a friend, Fatemeh fled her husband a few months into their marriage & goes to the city of Mashhad in northeast Iran.

Mashhad

Some time later Fatemeh’s father finds her (how, it is not certain) & returns her to Abadan, southwest Iran. Her father remembers how they his own sister was beheaded. She was accused of adultery for seeking a divorce from her husband who was sentenced to life in jail.

Abadan

Therefore, seeking an “easier death,” he poisons Fatemeh. But Fatemeh’s mother finds out & saves her life. Fatemeh was then taken to a river & beheaded. It is said that since Fatemeh’s father will not seek justice due to his fear. Fatemeh’s murderer will walk free.

The story of Somayeh Fat’hi

According to the Hengaw human rights organization, Somayeh Fat’hi, an 18-year old woman from the city of Kermanshah, western Iran, was murdered by her father, brother and other family members in what is being described as an “honor killing.” Somayeh was reportedly married and pregnant and was poisoned on Thursday, June 18, due to having “contact with a young man.”

The family has not held a ceremony and “none of the murderers were arrested,” according to the Hengaw report. It is also worth noting that state police officials have denied reports of Somayeh Fat’hi being killed.

This is the fifth case of women being killed in “honor killings” by their fathers, brothers or husbands during the past few weeks. The exact number of such acts of murders in Iran are not declared by officials and state institutions. However, back in December 2019 the state-run ISNA news agency issued a report citing university research saying “around 375 and 450 honor killings” are taking place each year across Iran.

This reports further adds that “honor killings” add up to around 20 percent of all murders in Iran and 50 percent of family-related murders.

Increasing number of cases

There are reports of new cases being reported from across Iran.

Hajareh Hossein-bor was murdered on May 4 by her husband. Her digestive tract had been burned by acid forced down her throat. She was unconscious and could hardly breathe. Her body was found with her head full of thorns, and both her arms and hands had been pounded by stones.

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There are also reports that Leyla Farrokhi has recently been killed by her husband in the city of Karaj, west of the Iranian capital Tehran. Her husband then committed suicide. Their 19-year old daughter, witness to this tragedy, is reportedly injured.

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Leyla Farrokhi—Karaj, west of Tehran, Iran

There are also cases of women being severely beaten by their husbands.

This 22-year old woman was beaten and tortured by her 80-year old husband! The man literally attacked his wife with a hot metal rod for not working in their farm! Reports indicate neighbors helped the beaten young woman and her 5-year old son flee to find refuge.

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22-year old mother beaten with a hot metal rod by her 80-year old husband

This lady’s husband — a drug-addict for a few years according to sources — had been transferred to a rehabilitation camp by members of his family and those of his wife’s. However, when the husband returns home he takes his wife to a deserted field and nearly beats her to death. Due to the severity of his wife’s injuries he takes her to a hospital on June 4.

Unfortunately, murder and domestic violence takes place everywhere in our world.

But in Iran, the laws of the mullahs’ regime literally support murderers, allowing them to pre-plan and kill their female family members, knowing they can walk free.

In Iran under the mullahs’ regime, violence against women, domestic violence and honor killings have not been criminalized in the so-called Constitution and other laws of the clerical regime in Iran. In fact, they are sanctioned and institutionalized.

Such honor killings and shocking tragedies are the tragic result of the mullahs’ misogynistic laws. Laws that do not criminalize violence against women, including domestic violence, serve to perpetuate it.

The adoption of such hideous and medieval laws, as well as unfair trials, all come into play following four decades of miseries and misfortunes the mullahs’ regime has imposed on the people of Iran.

What’s the solution?

Regime change in Iran by the people of Iran. No need for a new war, nor even a single dollar to be spent. Supporting the Iranian people and recognizing their right to establish a free and democratic Iran that fully recognizes human rights for all, regardless of gender, faith, race, and ethnicity.

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 claims 225 killed in November 2019 uprising, opposition says at least 1,500

After six months of denial, Iran’s interior minister says up to 225 people were killed during the November 2019 protests following a petrol price hike imposed by the ruling regime to help compensate a devastated economy, according to reports on Sunday, May 31.

Officials in Iran have yet to issue an overall death toll for the unrest and refuse to provide any names. The timing of this acknowledgement is of no coincident. Knowing the world is focused on developments inside the U.S. and the global coronavirus pandemic, Tehran has chosen now to make this announcement with hopes of putting a lid on the actual death toll and bringing an issue to an end.

It is worth noting that the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) was repeatedly issuing statements with updates on the number of protesters killed, injured and arrested by the Iranian regime’s authorities during the November 2019 uprising. After a string of similar reports, the NCRI reported on December 16 that over 1,500 protesters were killed by the regime’s security forces.

Death toll in Iran crackdown exceeds 300, Amnesty says
Riot police disperse protesters against increased gas prices on a highway in Tehran, Iran, on November 16, 2019. Nazanin Tabatabaee/West Asia News Agency, via REUTERS

One week later, on November 23 Reuters issued a special report also indicating over 1,500 protesters were killed, citing three officials inside the Iranian regime’s Interior Ministry.

“About 1,500 people were killed during less than two weeks of unrest that started on Nov. 15. The toll, provided to Reuters by three Iranian interior ministry officials, included at least 17 teenagers and about 400 women as well as some members of the security forces and police,” the report reads.

Did Iran authorize three Interior Ministry officials to talk to Reuters and provide the 1,500 count to help keep a lid on the actual number of protesters killed and at least bring a political end to the NCRI reports? Quite possibly.

Now after six months of denial, at a time when the world is focusing on the global COVID-19 pandemic and the U.S. is engulfed in domestic developments just four months from the November 2020 presidential election, Iran’s regime considers this the perfect timing to issue a report with numbers far below that of the NCRI and Reuters, and even less than that of Amnesty International’s 304 death count report. From the regime’s perspective, this will bring a desperately needed end to this ordeal.

However, scenes of the November 2019 massacre launched by the regime against peaceful protesters will never be forgotten. Just recently, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli and other senior law enforcement officials in connection with serious human rights abuses.

“The Iranian regime violently suppresses dissent of the Iranian people, including peaceful protests, through physical and psychological abuse,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.

Hassan Shahvarpour Najafabadi, Commander of the IRGC’s Vali Asr Base in Khuzestan province during the IRGC’s violent suppression of protestors in Nov 2019. In this province & Mahshahr alone, the IRGC killed at least 100 protestors in 3 days.

The scenes became horrific as regime security forces opened indiscriminate fire into crowds of protesters, killing men, women and children. This footage from is from the Saveh road located southwest of the Iranian capital Tehran. Scenes of protesters shot by the regime’s security forces opening fire. A man is heard saying four people were killed in this scene.

Shiraz was described as the epicenter of the Iranian people’s uprising against the mullahs’ regime. It was also probably the city where regime forces showed the utmost brutality. This footage is from November 18, 2019.

WARNING – DISTURBING FOOTAGE

The smaller cities surrounding Tehran were also scenes of major protests. Regime officials were ordering security forces to open fire and even shoot at point blank range, knowing the protesters were only just a few kilometers away from rallying towards sensitive regime headquarters in the capital Tehran.

This footage is from the city of Shahriar on November 16, 2019.

And regime forces resorted to unspeakable brutality. This footage is dated November 16, 2019, from the city of Karaj, located west of Tehran.

WARNING – DISTURBING FOOTAGE

Saveh, another city located southwest of Tehran, witnessed scenes of security forces opening direct fire at protesters as demonstrations continued over the gasoline price hike.

On May 20, 2020, the U.S. administration further indicated its insistence on standing alongside the Iranian people and not tolerating the regime’s dreadful human rights violations.

The Iranian people support sanctions against the mullahs’ regime ruling Iran. Listen to this internet taxi driver recording a message on March 25 saying specifically, “”Please do not provide any money to the Islamic republic. Not a single rial [Iranian currency] reaches the people. Please do not lift the sanctions from the filthy mullahs… That is exactly what they want.”

Even when the regime’s own state-media ask ordinary people about U.S. sanctions and their conditions, the answers provided are quite interesting, to say the least. This young man specifically points the finger at the mullahs’ regime and the ongoing financial corruption and embezzlement plaguing the country.

The Iranian people understand very well that U.S. sanctions also prevent the regime from funding the Assad regime & terrorist groups across the Middle East.

FDD
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)

Mark my word: The at least 1,500 innocent Iranians killed by the mullahs during the brave November 2019 uprising did not die in vain.

I’ll end this piece with this footage. This is just one reason we, the Iranian people, will never forget the regime’s massacre back in November 2019. The scene is indeed painful and heartbreaking. But justice will be served.

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

User ID leak: Iran using coronavirus crisis to spy on ordinary Iranians

As the world rightly focuses on addressing the coronavirus pandemic, a lesser discussed issue is how the Iranian regime is taking advantage of the status quo in many different ways. And with China’s support.

42 million Iranian “Telegram” user IDs and phone numbers leaked online, according to a recent report. Iran’s regime has a history of using apps to place the general public, especially activists and dissidents, under a watchful eye.

The incident follows a similar case in 2016 when Reuters reported 15 million Telegram user IDs, phone numbers, and one-time verification codes were identified by Iranian hackers, resulting in more than a dozen compromised accounts.

The information contained in this recently exposed database poses a clear risk to users. Not only does it reveal who in Iran uses Telegram (or a Telegram fork), it also opens them up to attack.

SIM swap attacks are one example. A SIM-swap attack occurs when the attacker convinces a phone carrier to move a phone number to a new SIM card, allowing them to send and receive the victim’s SMS messages and phone calls. The attacker could then receive their one-time access verification codes, granting full access to app accounts and messages.

Affected users could also be at risk of targeted phishing or scams using the phone numbers in the database.

IRGC role

Just recently Google Play removed an Android app developed by Iran’s regime—supposedly launched “to test and keep track of COVID-19 (coronavirus) infections”—while users accuse the regime of collecting phone numbers and real-time geo-location data.

Once installed, the app asks for access to real-time geo-location details, which it would immediately upload to a remote server. Furthermore, it was soon discovered that the app had been developed by a company that has previously built other apps for the Iranian regime.

Smart Land Strategy, linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), previously built Telegram Gold and HotGram, both removed from Play Store for secretly collecting user data and reports of the apps being developed at the behest of Iran’s intelligence agencies, according to a report.

“… the Iranian government could be using the current COVID-19 pandemic as a ruse to trick millions of Iranians into installing the app, collect their device and location details, and then install malware on their devices through a subsequent update,” the report warns.

Malign past & China’s support

Back in February 2018, the Iranian opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) held a press conference in Washington warning, “… the regime has created close to 100 spyware apps, including Mobogram, Telegram Farsi, Hotgram, Wispi, and Telegram Talayi, that resemble popular apps and spy on the unwitting Iranians who download them by mistake.”

NCRI press conference in Washington, DC
Alireza Jafarzadeh, Deputy Director of the Washington office of the dissident National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), speaking to reporters at a Feb. 15, 2018 news conference on “cyberwarfare” being waged by Iran’s government. (Photo courtesy of NCRI)

Iran’s regime is now taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis to launch an app aimed at spying on ordinary Iranians further indicates the mullahs are lying about the numbers of COVID-19 deaths and cases and are only concerned about maintaining their establishment in power.

Back in March 2012, a Chinese telecommunications equipment company sold Iran’s largest telecom firm a powerful surveillance system capable of monitoring landline, mobile and internet communications, according to Reuters citing interviews and contract documents show.

“The system was part of a 98.6 million euro ($130.6 million at the time) contract for networking equipment supplied by Shenzhen, China-based ZTE Corp to the Telecommunication Co of Iran (TCI), according to the documents. Government-controlled TCI has a near monopoly on Iran’s landline telephone services and much of Iran’s internet traffic is required to flow through its network.

“Human rights groups say they have documented numerous cases in which the Iranian government tracked down and arrested critics by monitoring their telephone calls or internet activities. Iran this month set up a Supreme Council of Cyberspace, headed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who said it would protect ‘against internet evils,’ according to Iranian state television.”

Months later, the FBI launched an investigation into allegations that a top Chinese maker of phone equipment supplied Iran with U.S.-made hardware and software, including a powerful surveillance system, in violation of federal laws and a trade embargo, according to the Wired citing a report by The Smoking Gun.

Investigators, who began their probe earlier in 2012, also found evidence that the company planned to obstruct a Department of Commerce inquiry into the contract behind the sales.

Apologists/lobbyists to the rescue

Chief Iran apologist/lobbyist Trita Parsi was quick to push Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s talking points about U.S. sanctions after Google took actions against Iran’s spying app.

Negar Mortazavi, another known Iranian apologist/lobbyists, claimed this could “help people self-diagnose the coronavirus.” Self-diagnosing is scientifically impossible. But that is not important for Mortazavi.

Why? Because as an Iran apologist/lobbyist with close ties to Zarif, her sole focus is to push Tehran’s talking points. Even the article cited by Mortazavi in her tweet reads:

“But that app was booted from Google’s Play Store recently, reports ZDNet.”

Why? Because of “misleading claims,” according to the report, that it could detect COVID-19 infections, something that is impossible through an app.

Another important reminder: Iran’s regime uses indigenous apps to gain information about Iranian dissidents. Even despite the ongoing coronavirus, security and maintaining their grip on power is the regime’s number one priority.

Who’s to blame for Iran’s coronavirus outbreak?

It is now common knowledge that the regime in Iran is concealing the truth about the coronavirus epidemic engulfing this country. Criticism is escalating over the mullahs’ refusal to impose quarantine measures similar to those adopted by governments across the globe.

As a result, Iran is the source of around nine out of ten COVID-19 cases throughout the Middle East. As of Monday, April 5, Iran is reporting around 60,500 cases 3,739 deaths as concerns grow that officials are deliberately under-reporting the truth.

COVID-19 was discovered in Iran on January 30, according to a report published by the state-run Jahan-e Sanat daily.

Weeks of denials provided this dangerous virus ample time to spread throughout Iran as the regime could not afford any element leading to low turnout for its marking of the 41st anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution on February 11.

To make matters worse, the mullahs desperately needed a mandate with a large voter participation during the February 21 Majlis (parliamentary) election in which regime authorities urgently sought to claim high popularity and a ratification from the Iranian public.

To this day criticism continues as reports show Iranian authorities were aware of coronavirus symptoms in the country in early February. Other reports indicate an employee of the Ilam Medical Sciences University died of COVID-19 symptoms in Tehran’s Masih Daneshvari Hospital on February 2 after being hospitalized for a few days. Lung specialists informed the individual’s loved ones that he/she died of coronavirus. This indicates that the individual could have been infected with COVID-19 as early as January 20.

Hospitals across Iran are overwhelmed with patients being placed in hallways. While regime officials are requesting a $5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund and aid such as 172 million masks from abroad, concerns exist over such aid being allocated for malign objectives, such as supporting terrorist groups checkered throughout the region. The regime is also under criticism over hoarding and even exporting medical goods for revenues to be used by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).

The Shokat-pour logistical base in the Mohammad Shahr district of Karaj, west of Tehran, under the command of IRGC Quds Force Colonel Kalateh Arabi, is where hygiene products used against coronavirus (masks, gloves, special gowns and …) are stored, a report indicates. These items are sent to Iraq and Syria to be used by units of the Lebanese Hezbollah and Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces).

Sensing the escalating pressure of such criticism, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is blaming U.S. sanctions for the regime’s failures and refusal to provide medical aid to the Iranian people. His recent tweets have rallied Iran apologists and lobbyists abroad to push Zarif’s anti-sanctions talking points in western media.

Iran apologists - lobbyists
Iran apologists – lobbyists, all connected to NIAC – pushing a certain article in choir fashion

Simple questions Zarif and the apologists/lobbyists crowd dodge are as follows:

-If sanctions are truly hindering Iran’s fight against coronavirus, why did the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi say on February 4, “… medicine & food, as you know, were not on any sanctions…?”

-Did “sanctions” prevent Iran’s regime from stopping Mahan Air flights to/from China?

-Did “sanctions” prevent Iran’s regime from quarantining Qom & other COVID-19 hotspots?

-Why did Iran just spend $67 million redecorating the Zeynab Shrine in Damascus, Syria? Shouldn’t that money be used to provide for the Iranian people during the COVID19 outbreak?

– The regime ruling Iran didn’t have a problem in providing 200 million euros for the IRGC Quds Force, a terrorist-designated group. And they don’t have money for the people?

– The regime in Iran, that Zarif represents, is also asking for a $5 billion loan from the IMF. Why should the international community trust Tehran when according to your own senior official one billion euros for essential goods were “lost”?

If Iran is requesting a $5 billion “emergency” loan from the IMF, why not first tap the vast riches controlled Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei? The regime dictator oversees an organization called Setad that has assets estimated at about $95 billion, according to Reuters. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, estimates that Khamenei owns assets worth about $200 billion, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Further reports are pointing the finger at the regime’s continued flights to and from China through the IRGC-affiliated Mahan Air airliner (sanctioned as a terrorism-facilitating entity). The regime’s Mustafa Association has actively been involved in transferring Chinese religious students to Iran despite pleas and criticism from the Iranian people to stop this practice.

Iran’s coronavirus outbreak began in Qom, a city in central Iran, located 125 kilometers (80 miles) southwest of Tehran, and established as the regime’s religious center.

Even the regime’s own media outlets, highly supervised to control criticism targeting the mullahs, ran pieces with headlines such as: “Mysterious virus at Iran’s gates,” as China initiated a lock-down back in January. All the while, travel between China and Iran continued.

In sudden fashion, Iran’s officials announced two coronavirus deaths on February 19 without any prior reporting of cases. Both victims had died in Qom and people immediately began raising suspicions, citing the fact that it usually takes up to two weeks for COVID-19 symptoms to expand and lead to an unfortunate death. Meaning the victims were most likely infected in early February and further fueling suspicions about the regime keeping a lid on the truth since late January or early February for political reasoning.

Iran’s mullahs refused to postpone the February 21 parliamentary election, suffering the lowest voter turnout since the 1979 revolution. The regime sought a highly needed legitimacy boost following the Ukrainian passenger jet blowout disaster, killing all 176 people on-board, and the November 2019 uprising quelling that left over 1,500 dead, more than 8,000 injured and over 12,000 imprisoned.

For more than a month officials even refused to close highly visited religious sites in Qom and Mashhad, the country’s second largest city in northeast Iran. Such large gatherings provided adequate environments for COVID-19 to spread exponentially. Adding insult to injury, the regime’s religious officials actually encouraged the public to visit these shrines and went as far as claiming the sites cure illnesses.

Unfortunately, the virus spread with rapid speed and hazmat-suited workers are seen burying coronavirus victims across the country. The Washington Post published a report about trenches and graves being prepared at such a scale in Qom that they could be viewed from space.

In fear of escalating public outrage over the regime’s concealment, officials are now desperate to whitewash their previous failures. “We found out a little late that the coronavirus had entered Iran because we mistook it for the flu,” said Reza Malekzadeh, a deputy health minister.

Knowing the crisis is getting out of control, the regime is resorting to desperate measures both inside the country and abroad. Signs indicate the mullahs’ military and IRGC apparatus are showing a more active presence on the streets, indicating that officials view the COVID-19 epidemic as a potential security threat to their rule. This is especially concerning as a slate of prisons across the country are witnessing riots by inmates protesting the authorities’ refusal to at least provide temporary leave during the coronavirus epidemic.

In parallel fashion, Tehran apologists and lobbyists are parroting talking points in a last ditch effort to maybe turn the tide of sanctions against the U.S.

What remains certain is the fact that the mullahs’ regime ruling Iran could care less about the Iranian people and the main focus is preserving its rule at all costs.

The regime in Iran, not sanctions, is to blame for the coronavirus epidemic in this country. Joining the U.S. maximum pressure policy will in fact support the Iranian people in the long run of their struggle against the mullahs’ regime.

 

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?

FDD
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.)

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“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.

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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.

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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.)