New revelations confirm Iran has failed to moderate its hostile behavior

By Amir Basiri

Iran has failed to moderate its hostile behavior following the strong cautionary threats issued by Washington placing Tehran “on notice” in response to Iran’s late-January intermediate-range ballistic missile launch.

This can more vividly be seen in yet another pair of anti-ship ballistic missiles test-fired by Iran during this weekend, one on Saturday and again on Sunday. To further the tension, Iranian fast attack boats resorted to another episode of aggressive measures by coming within 600 yards of a United States Navy surveillance vessel in the sensitive Gulf waters of the Strait of Hormuz.

The Revolutionary Guards, the entity behind Iran’s ballistic missile tests and naval provocations, is the subject of new revelations unveiling its grip on strategic assets in Iran used to boost its support for terrorism, Iran’s nuclear program, missile drive and the effort to obtain weapons of mass destruction.

A press conference on Tuesday in London was hosted by the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), shedding light on the IRGC’s expanding control over Iran’s economy.

The group cited information obtained from sources inside Iran affiliated to the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) with access into the IRGC ranks and files. This new data, gathered in the past several months, clarifies the IRGC’s ownership of 90 docks to pursue its illicit intentions. This count is equivalent to 45 percent of Iran’s 212 officially-registered piers, mainly spread across its southern shores.

The IRGC employs these docks to send dire logistics to proxy militia groups across the Middle East, and Iran’s support for such lethal entities throughout Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon are known to all.

The history of these docks dates back to 1982, when the Iranian regime leadership first ordered the IRGC to begin such a network. The main objective was to provide a window of opportunity for the IRGC to enjoy freedom of state supervision and customs limitations, and most importantly, remain beyond the reach of international monitoring.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has continued this legacy through the years by instructing an increase in the number of these “Bahman Docks,” as they are dubbed. This allowed the IRGC to become ever more involved in the country’s economy, reaching a point today of being known as the regime’s economic powerhouse and covertly bypassing international sanctions.

These docks have also provided further means for the IRGC to flood Iran’s markets with an enormous volume of usually low-quality, cheap goods without any customs concerns. Such a practice has literally brought many aspects of Iran’s production economy to its knees and fueled the current financial crisis riddling the country.

 

The annual income pocketed by the IRGC through illegal imports and exports, from alcoholic drinks and pharmaceuticals to even major oil and gas shipments, hovers around a whopping $12 billion. This is all parallel to the irony that the IRGC also receives a significant bulk of Iran’s annual economy.

Considering the monitoring imposed on Iran’s activities by the international community, the IRGC especially employs such docks to deliver arms and military equipment to groups throughout the region, including missiles targeting U.S. ally Saudi Arabia.

The NCRI revelations presented various names of docks and shipping companies tasked by the IRGC to provide cover for its variety of transfers. The IRGC now also owns a number of large oil tankers usually rented to foreign states and rendering even more revenue for the IRGC’s export of terrorism.

According to the NCRI intelligence, the IRGC arms-flow through these docks and shipping companies is a constant trend, and yet only a small portion of such measures were discovered and prevented in recent years by the international community.

As measures against Iran and the IRGC are currently weighed in the White House and Congress, such important revelations emphasize the fact that action against the IRGC, being Iran’s main medium in support of terrorism and extremism across the Middle East, is needed more than ever before.

Originally published in Washington Examiner

Donald Trump’s Possible Iran-To-Do List

One year into the highly boasted Iran nuclear deal, the work of the Obama administration dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the world witnessed how Iran returned the favor. Tehran continued to cause havoc across Syria with a conglomerate of Shiite militias rampaging and massacring innocent civilians. Iran also launched provocative war drills further destabilizing the flashpoint Persian Gulf region. We were also witness to how Qassem Suleimani, the notorious commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Quds Force, was paraded in Falluja, Mosul and Aleppo. All in all, Tehran has taken advantage of Obama’s craftsmanship to accelerate its aggression across the region. As a result, President Donald Trump has before him a slate of available to-do measures against Iran.

Washington, under Obama, remained unfortunately mute in response to Tehran threatening America’s Middle East allies through known saber-rattling tactics. The Obama White House continuously ignored Iran’s threats and only responded with non-nuclear sanctions, aimed mainly at maintaining face amongst his critics.

To this end, Obama’s foreign policy in 2016 specifically paved the path for Iran to embark on a more emboldened journey throughout the Middle East.

The JCPOA shortcomings have been discussed to a full extent, as we have witnessed Iran’s nuclear drive only delayed, especially since Tehran has twice exceeded its heavy water production limit. In the process the West ear Deal, has lost significant leverage over Iran.

President Trump has the opportunity to adopt a policy aimed at isolating Iran by making Iranian intransigence come at a high cost for the regime. The Trump administration can take on issues that have always been vital with Iran, and far beyond the JCPOA’s reach. This most specifically involves a strong approach vis-à-vis Iran fueling Middle East crises through the spread of its Islamic fundamentalism mentality.

Through the course of JCPOA talks, Iran used the opportunity to dispatch tens of thousands of Shiite proxy militias from Afghanistan, Pakistan, its own forces and … to Syria to shore up Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. This sparked eleven Arab states to take unprecedented measures voiced in a recent letter accusing Tehran of supporting Middle East terrorism and demanding a halt in Iran meddling in their internal affairs. Even the U.S. State Department could not neglect this troubling reality and once again designated Iran as the world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism.

Needed now is a comprehensive drive to pressure Iran. The tools and assets available before President Trump are plenty and the first step in the right path would be to correctly and strongly enforce existing sanctions. A policy which, unfortunately, the Obama administration simply refused to abide by.

Senior Iranian officials, including Suleimani, are under a United Nations travel ban that the previous administration failed to enforce. This goes alongside Iran feeling no fear of any accountability as it launched numerous ballistic missile tests and streamlined frequent arms shipments to Yemen, neglecting the U.N. embargo in this very regard. The JCPOA was enshrined by U.N. Resolution 2231, and yet such measures by Iran have gone without any international response, thanks to the Obama administration’s continued silence. Here is another platform where the Trump administration can make it crystal clear for Tehran that the tides have changed and the mullahs’ can no longer count on Obama’s golden era.

Iran has also enjoyed the benefits of a major windfall resulting from the JCPOA, and President Trump can bring this to an end. Licenses for Airbus and Boeing deals can be revoked by the U.S. Treasury Department and conditioned on the mullahs halting their use of various Iranian airlines to transfer personal and arms to Assad and the Lebanese Hezbollah. And Iraq should be pressured by the U.S. to restrict its airspace to Iranian planes flying for such dangerous intents.

While the Obama administration drastically failed to live up to its Syria red line, the new administration in Washington has before it a chance to draw clear lines in the sand.

  1. Assad and Iran’s militias must be ordered to end all hostilities and attacks, especially against civilians that have resulted in uncountable cases of massacres.

  2. Iran must pull out all Shiite militias from Syria and dismantle the Popular Mobilization Units, acting as the Iraq IRGC parallel to the Iraqi classic army.

  3. Iran’s human rights violations must be curbed, especially the horrific practice of executions, including women and juveniles, public floggings and limb amputations. All this has continued under the so-called “moderate” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

  4. Despite its flaws, the JCPOA regulations must be abided by Iran and enforced meaningfully by the international community, bringing an end to all existing loopholes.

This would resemble the right start for the Trump administration to springboard into reining in Iran’s regime. And yet, the Trump administration has potential to further broaden its agenda and bring an end to all of the mullahs’ unacceptable practices. A recent letter, signed by a rare bi-partisan slate of former senior U.S. government officials, and hand-delivered to President Trump encourages Washington to work with the Iranian opposition represented by the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

Iran’s regime has left no choice but for the U.S. and the international community to start a new campaign of pressuring all its assets to make Tehran understand the costs of continuing such behavior. Rest assured that after four decades of failed appeasement, the only option available is a comprehensive agenda of tough policies to confront the mullahs.

Originally published in The Daily Caller