In Lead-Up to Iranian Elections, the Nuclear Deal Becomes a Heated Topic of Debate

It is clear why Iranian President Hassan Rouhani would defend the pact, which is the cornerstone of his foreign policy legacy. His rivals, including influential cleric Ebrahim Raisi and Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, defend the deal in principle and yet pinpoint its lack of effectiveness.

What must not go forgotten is the fact that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is the true sculptor of the Iran nuclear deal, which is also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Prior to Rouhani’s presidency, Khamenei contacted the Obama administration through Oman to signal his readiness for negotiations.

Today, grave concerns of international reactions, especially the new U.S. administration, have kept all presidential candidates in line regarding the JCPOA. And voices in Washington are now constantly describing the JCPOA as the worst possible deal and calling for major reviews, causing deep worries in Tehran. This is exactly why Raisi, known to be Khamenei’s preferred candidate, has described the JCPOA as a national document. Ghalibaf in his remarks described the JCPOA as an initiative to be respected by all governments.Khamenei had been informed of all the details during this process. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif underscored how all red lines in the talks enjoyed Khamenei’s signature. Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi confirmed as well that all fine lines were checked with Khamenei, being the regime’s final arbiter on all matters of state.

Senior Iranian officials have sensed the tides are changing and that the Obama “golden era” is over.

Iran’s economic circumstances are in such a condition today that its leaders are, in fact, in desperately in need of the JCPOA’s continuation, despite all the accompanying dilemmas. Tehran is at least permitted to sell its oil now and a few low-level banks from overseas are doing business with this regime. If not, Khamenei would have pulled the plug when the United States extended its ten-year embargoes or imposed new non-nuclear sanctions.

Iran is also facing a range of challenges severely limiting its economic endeavors.

“Many foreign investors have been put off by obstacles to doing business such as the poor state of Iranian banks, the heavy role of powerful hard-line institutions such as the elite Revolutionary Guards in the economy, a lack of clarity about the legal system as well as lingering unilateral U.S. sanctions,” according to a Reuters report.

“More than a year after the deal between Tehran and the U.S., UK, France, China, Russia and Germany came into effect, Iran’s attempts to woo international investors have borne little fruit,” the Financial Times explains.

Major French banks have also refused to do business with Iran’s financial institutions.

“Despite the efforts made, unfortunately major French banks are refusing to cooperate with Iranian banks in fear of US punitive measures,” Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported, citing Ali Ahani, Iran’s Ambassador to France.

“Banking restrictions are intact and money cannot be transferred through the SWIFT international systems,” said Iran’s Aeronautics Organization chief Hamid Pahlavani.

In the meantime, U.S. lawmakers are calling for additional attention to Iran’s use of commercial planes to assist terrorists and raising the stakes by demanding the cancellation of the Boeing deal to sell new planes to Tehran.

“These photos of Boeing executives smiling and glad-handing with a prominent member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are truly sickening. No self-respecting American should shake Hossein Alaei’s hands. They have American blood on them,” one report in the Washington Free Beacon noted.

It is the same picture on the other side of the Atlantic and further to the East.

“A preliminary deal signed by Bouygues last year to build and run a new terminal at Tehran’s Khomeini airport has been canceled, a spokesman for the French construction group said,” Reuters reported.

“All the positive results of the nuclear deal and lifting of sanctions have been overshadowed by the low prices of oil,” economist Saeed Laylaz told Reuters in a phone interview from Tehran.

All said and done, whatever the result of Iran’s presidential election, the regime has no capacity to abandon the JCPOA.

Trump Must Pressure Iran

Iran was involved in a long slate of aggressive measures up to the very doorsteps of President Donald Trump taking the helm in Washington. This concerning pattern of escalating extremism ironically increased following the Iran nuclear deal sealed between the P5+1 and Tehran, despite many in the West arguing such an accord would rein in the mullahs. And now, a new U.S. president has rightfully pinpointed “radical Islamic terrorists,” of which the root lies in Iran.

Further to the mullahs’ advantage was the Obama administration’s reluctance to adopt any serious stance against Iran running its Shiite extremist rampage across the region. Obama’s White House only imposed sanctions considered anything but harsh.

This paved the path for Iran to unleash its Shiite puppets and proxies throughout the region, cementing sectarian strife and as a result pushing more Sunni youth to join ISIS and other radicals.

Obama’s nuclear deal, with all its flaws made evidently clear, only placed speed bumps in Iran’s quest for the bomb. This came at the heavy price of America losing the trust of its regional allies, disheartening them also in their efforts against Iran-supported terrorism in their backyards.

President Donald Trump has rightfully pinpointed the root of all crises in the Middle East.

“We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones — and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth,” he said.

This is exactly where the Trump administration has an extraordinary opportunity to begin launching a widespread strategy vis-à-vis Tehran, targeting specifically the disease Iran is spreading: meddling across the region and fueling sectarian emotions.

While the international community was focused sealing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran used the opportunity to storm Syria and Iraq with Shiite militias dispatched from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and its own paramilitary forces, all commanded by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).

While Obama continuously boasted the JCPOA campaign, Iran’s Middle East interference reached a point where 11 Arab states unprecedentedly voiced their rage by accusing Iran of supporting terrorism and completely disrupting the sheer Middle East fabric.

Iran’s atrocities had reached the point that even Secretary John Kerry’s State Department cited Tehran’s scope of “activities to destabilize the region” in designating Iran as the world’s state sponsor of terrorism.

President Trump and his team can easily take action by simply covering the numerous loopholes left by the Obama administration. U.N. travel bans on senior Iranian figures, including IRGC Quds Force chief Qassem Suleimani. This individual is known to travel across the Middle East and literally wreak havoc by commanding Iran’s Shiite militias.

Iran has also taken advantage of Obama’s negligence — aiming to safeguard his previous Iran-JCPOA legacy — to pursue its ballistic missile ambitions and carry out major test launches. This has been in violation of U.N. Resolution 2231, and President Trump can easily begin holding Tehran accountable.

Iran came to the nuclear negotiations following continuous revelations made by Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance (NCRI) and under pressure from international sanctions. This policy has worked once and it can work again. President Trump and his team should care less about Iran’s remarks or reactions in threatening to “burn” the JCPOA.

Iran’s financial pipeline, established through a windfall of billions provided to Iran under the nuclear pact, should come to an end, and licenses revoked for Airbus and Boeing deals. Iran’s airlines are known to provide manpower and weapons to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and Lebanese Hizb’allah.

These efforts only promote further killings and, as previously explained, instigate a Shiite-Sunni conflict across the Middle East. Iran is profiting from the existence of ISIS, using this phenomenon as a pretext to justify its presence in Iraq and Syria.

President Trump can also team up with Congress under a new bipartisan effort aiming to curb Iran’s destabilizing role in the region. A strong foundation can be found in the Preventing Destabilization of Iraq and Syria Act of 2016 aiming to mandate new sanctions against foreign states and terrorist organizations.

This initiative must include Iran, as the mullahs are known to “threaten the peace or stability of Iraq or Syria,” as the bill explains. U.S. allies can benefit extremely, especially the Gulf Sunnis that Obama sidelined in the past eight years.

“The regime in Tehran is the source of crisis in the region and killings in Syria; it has played the greatest role in the expansion and continuation of ISIS. Peace and tranquility in the region can only be achieved by evicting this regime from the region,” said NCRI President Maryam Rajavi.

The NCRI is an umbrella dissident group including the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

And yet the nail in the coffin for the mullahs would be for the Trump administration to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Iranian people in their struggle to establish freedom and democracy. Nearly two dozen former senior U.S. government officials provided such a game-plan to President in a hand-delivered letter encouraging his administration to work with the NCRI.

Such initiatives send clear messages to Tehran about the unacceptable nature of its current involvement in the flashpoint Middle East. As President Trump takes actions to diminish Iran’s role across the region, especially from backing Assad, sectarian friction will diminish and all efforts can focus on ISIS.

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/01/trump_must_pressure_iran.html#ixzz4XbuXARGf
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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

Boeing/Airbus Deals Will Boost Iran’s Support of Terrorism

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By Amir Basiri

Mainstream media is rife with news about Iran sealing multibillion-dollar deals with Airbus and Boeing to purchase more than 100 passenger planes.

Unfortunately, Iran is no ordinary buyer. It’s a mistake for anyone to rejoice over such a deal or boast about it improving economies and creating jobs. This is a regime designated as the leading state sponsor of terrorism. Continue reading “Boeing/Airbus Deals Will Boost Iran’s Support of Terrorism”