Iran honestly abiding by nuclear deal or terrified of changing times?

Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, recently issued his latest report to the agency’s Board of Governors. At a first glance the text leaves you thinking Iran is honoring the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA.

However, considering the rapid pace of international developments, and US President Donald Trump’s harsh remarks against the nuclear deal, we are seeing Iran going the limits to maintain the JCPOA intact. This is a staunchly different approach from the Obama era.

The latest IAEA report contains very important technical aspects, showing how weak Iran has become. Despite all the threats of abandoning the JCPOA ship altogether, Iran’s recent measures proves it needs the JCPOA more than any other party.

By the statistics

On November 8th, 2016 the IAEA verified Iran’s heavy water reserves reached 130.1 metric tons. Iran also informed the IAEA about sending 11 metric tons of heavy water outside of its borders on November 6th and 19th, also verified by the IAEA.

After this transfer Iran has not dared to exceed the 130 metric ton limit, and on February 14th the IAEA verified Iran’s reserves have decreased to 124.2 metric tons, meaning even 6 metric tons less than the JCPOA specified amount.

During the Obama administration Iran had twice exceeded the 130 metric ton limit, and yet rushed to send the excess amount to Oman prior to Donald Trump taking the helm at the White House.

Natanz

Under the JCPOA Iran is permitted to maintain more than 5,060 IR-1 centrifuges in 30 cascades in the Natanz enrichment site. Again, terrified of the incoming Trump administration, reports indicate Iran has significantly lowered the number of such centrifuges.

Iran is continuing to enrich UF6 uranium at Natanz, yet not daring to enrich any uranium above the 3.67 percent standard set for nuclear fuel production. Iran has also not exceeded the 300-kilogram amount of 3.67 percent uranium 235, equal to 202.8 kilograms of uranium.

By February 18th Iran had stored 101.7 kilograms of 3.67 percent uranium, showing the regime has not only abided, but even halved their stocks. This is another sign of Iran’s concerns of the change in guards in Washington.

Ferdow

The controversial Ferdow uranium enrichment, with a capacity of 3,000 centrifuges, currently has 1,044 IR-1 centrifuges, where 1,042 are placed in six cascades, and two such centrifuges are set aside for research purposes.

During the past three months (especially following the November 8th US elections) Iran has suspended all of Ferdow’s uranium enrichment and R & D activities.

Surveillance

All stocked centrifuges, along with their components, are under constant IAEA surveillance. The IAEA enjoys orderly access to related facilities in Natanz, including daily inspections based on IAEA inspectors’ requests.

Iran continues to allow the IAEA use electronic surveillance devices and online seals on its uranium enrichment facilities to provide continuous monitoring. Iran has also agreed to provide for the presence of a larger number IAEA monitors.

Iran has agreed to abide by the Additional Protocol, once considered a red line for the regime, allowing the IAEA monitor a large number of sites and other facilities affiliated to Iran’s nuclear program.

Iran’s enriched uranium in Oman

Another sign of Iran giving in to major setbacks is the regime’s agreement to stock their enriched uranium in Oman, and seek its sale to foreign buyers from there. This also includes stocks of excessive heavy water. And yet, Iran is also concerned about the fate of its money in Oman banks, as expressed by a number of parliament members.

The irony

In the meantime, one cannot say for certain that the mullahs have actually relented their nuclear weapons drive. It is in the mullahs’ nature to continue their pursuit for terrorism, nuclear weapons and domestic crackdown. These are the Iranian regime’s three main pillars.

It is common knowledge that the mullahs enjoy no social base, and this is seen in remarks made by Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency chief saying in most of his interviews how Tehran intends to relaunch the nuclear program once the JCPOA time limit ends.

Despite all this, the mullahs very well understand the language of force. Iran only succumbed to the nuclear talks once international sanctions began crippling their economy.

During the Obama years Iran understood very well his administration would take no serious actions against their aggressive nature, as seen in the West’s relative silence in the face of more than a dozen missile test launches.

To this end, Iran’s recent compliance by JCPOA articles should only be perceived as a result of its deep fear in the new US administration’s possible policies.

Investments

After Obama left office foreign investment in Iran has also witnessed a nosedive, adding to the mullahs’ growing concerns. Tehran curbed a portion of its nuclear program, yet receiving nothing in return and continuously being described as the main state supporter of terrorism, instability and insecurity.

Iran’s unfrozen money has been transferred to Oman, and yet the government says it cannot release the assets to Tehran. Iran has at least $18 billion blocked in China, with no means to gain access to.

British Petroleum also had double thoughts following Trump’s entrance into the White House. This major international oil company has currently taken a major step back from participating in Iran’s oil projects.

Total in France, seeking to develop the major gas fields south of Iran, has also taken similar measures, suspending its activities until the summer of this year to allow Trump to clarify his JCPOA policy.

Foreign banks and companies

Why are French companies unable to invest in Iran? This country’s largest banks are holding back on any cooperation with Tehran, blocking any major investment by large French companies in this country. In addition to Total, Renault, AirBus and others are unable to invest in Iran without the support of major French banks such as Societe Generale.

These banks, however, are very concerned of unilateral punishing measures by the US against foreign entities investing in Iran. For example, the BNP Paribas was slapped with an $8.9 billion fine by Washington for bypassing US sanctions against Iran.

Airline restrictions

Japan’s Mitsubishi ended its negotiations to sell planes to Iran, citing concerns of the new US administration’s possible future sanctions and policies.

Despite Tehran seeking to expand its airlines and reach abroad following the nuclear deal, New Delhi delivered yet another blow by suspending its flights to Iran.

“Air India Express, the low-cost unit of the South Asian nation’s flag carrier, has put on hold a plan to fly to Tehran amid renewed tensions between the US and Iran after President Donald Trump imposed fresh sanctions on the Persian Gulf country,” according to a Bloomberg report.

Money laundry warnings

The Financial Action Task Force, the international body assigned to fight back against money laundering, issued a stark warning to Tehran to live up to its obligations or else face serious actions.

The FATF recently issued a strong reminder saying “in June 2016, the FATF suspended counter-measures for twelve months in order to monitor Iran’s progress in implementing the Action Plan. If the FATF determines that Iran has not demonstrated sufficient progress in implementing the Action Plan at the end of that period, FATF’s call for counter-measures will be re-imposed.”

Conclusion

More than a year after the JCPOA implementation, and with Washington adopting a completely new mentality and overhauling any pro-appeasement policies vis-à-vis Iran, the mullahs in Tehran have realized the global balance of power has shifted completely against their interests.

To this end, their recent measures to curtail their nuclear stocks should not be considered a coming to mind by Tehran. Not at all. The mullahs understand the language of force, just as President Ronald Reagan came to office in 1981 the fledgling mullahs’ regime rushed to release all American hostages after a 444 ordeal.

Now, Tehran is once again comprehending a significant shift in international politics, and it is taking measures accordingly to limit all possible damages. And rest assured they will jump to the occasion if they sense any weakness or hesitation.

As a result, Iran must be held at the ropes and the next necessary step in this regard is the long overdue designation of its Revolutionary Guards as a foreign terrorist organization. This will begin to limit its ability to wreak havoc across the Middle East and limit its human rights atrocities.

This is in the interest of all nations.

Originally posted in Al Arabiya English

Flogging and Eye-Gouging Are Among Iran’s Medieval Punishments for ‘Morality’ Violations

Despite the many flaws in the nuclear deal with Iran, Tehran’s nuclear program has been curbed. Yet at what cost? As the new Trump administration realizes, the Islamic Republic is still a major violator of the human rights of its people.

The regime’s continued practice of “cruel and inhuman punishments, including floggings, amputations and forced blinding over the past year, exposes the authorities’ utterly brutal sense of justice,” Amnesty International reported, continuing to express concern over executions in Iran, all of which highlight how Iran’s so-called justice system, by legalizing such brutality, has no sense of humanity.

Well into the 21st century, such an aggressive approach vis-à-vis human dignity is quite appalling, to say the least, and deserves serious attention, as Iran continues to neglect, and violate, international prohibitions issued against torture and other abuse.

The fierce battles that continue to rage against US President Donald Trump and the new administration in Washington, DC that…

The regime’s so-called “laws” provide for flogging as punishment for 100 different “offences.” Many flogging victims are protesters under the age of 35, arrested for activities considered protected under internationally recognized rights for freedom of association, belief, expression and religion. Yet Iran is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), making it legally bound not to engage in “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Nevertheless, its obligations have been completely ignored by Tehran, with its penalties for crimes regularly including stoning to death — under the ridiculous claim of “protecting religious morals.” Such a horrific practice proves this regime knows nothing of Islam, or of any other religion, for that matter.

Journalists and bloggers in Iran are also subject to flogging for practicing their freedom of speech rights. One member of the press was sentenced to a ruthless 459 lashes for what the regime’s ruling described as “publishing lies” and “creating unease in the public mind” through his work.

Even women have received lashings for attending mixed-gender parties – considered banned under the mullahs’ sick interpretation of Islam – after being caught at such gatherings by Iran’s so-called “morality police.” Indeed, authorities are known to storm parties and beat attendees prior to their being brought to police stations, where they are insulted, interrogated and tortured. Such individuals usually receive 74 lashes and spend three nights behind bars.

While flogging remains a highly practiced method by the mullahs, Amnesty International also reported on a case in which a man’s eyes were forcibly gouged out — in a punishment known as an “eye for an eye” retribution — a horrible fate many imprisoned individuals face.

Other of Iran’s medieval practices include “cross amputations” for thieves, whose fingers and toes are cut off unevenly on either side of their bodies.

It is worth noting here that all of the above atrocities were recorded in 2016, well into the tenure of President Hassan Rouhani, ironically dubbed as a “moderate” and/or “reformist.” Rouhani, in fact, has presided over nearly 3,000 executions, surpassing any recent records set by his predecessors, including firebrand Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ahmed Shaheed, former United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, voiced his concerns in a report revealing that Iranian authorities in 2015 alone sent to the gallows 966-1,054 people, four of whom were under the age of 18.

Just over a month into the new year, the trend is in full swing.

“The execution of at least 57 prisoners, mostly youths, has been registered in Iran since the beginning of 2017. Twenty of the victims were hanged on January 14,” according to a statement issued by Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an umbrella group of dissidents, including the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

NCRI President Maryam Rajavi has long called for a firm stance on  Iran’s long slate of human rights violations, most importantly referring Iran’s dossier to the U.N. Security Council.

“The Iranian Resistance declared years ago that it calls for abolition of the death penalty and an end to torture and all forms of rights abuses in Iran,” Rajavi says.

Originally published in Algemeiner

Iran: Women “Sold” Abroad

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By Heshmat Alavi

Reports of Iran’s executions across the country and involvement in horrific killings in Syria, parallel to billions in embezzlement and extortion, and senior officials stashing huge wealth, have every now and then covered the news headlines. However, an atrocious phenomenon has unfortunately gone neglected: The organized smuggling and sale of Iranian women and girls abroad!

Read a few lines from the Airal website under a report titled, “Iranian women and girls smuggled to neighboring countries.”

“… head of Iran’s Reprimand Organization spoke of Iranian women and girls smuggled to neighboring countries…

“… statistically, the number of Iranian women and girls’ smuggled can be compared to the crisis of smuggled goods.

“… no serious measure is taken to control this trade.

“… such conditions have without a doubt imposed all-out sexual slavery for Iranian women and girls.”

“These women and girls are presented in coffee shops and luxury hotel restaurants in the country’s capital, recreational islands such as Kish (southern Iran) and other vacation outposts in northern Iran.”

This report intended to portray the situation as completely normal by continuously using the term “natural” and referring to examples of corruption in other countries, aiming to eliminate any shame in such smuggling. The repot ends as:

“It is natural to witness the daily escalation of this smuggling and trade.”

However, the report cites the reason behind this atrocity as:

“Unemployment, low wages, increasing addiction across the country, and most importantly, the unfortunate number of divorces… are amongst the main reasons behind women and girls being smuggled to other countries.”

Truly, what factor other than the mullahs’ regime is to blame?

The rise in unemployment is due to nearly all factories closing across Iran, bringing the country’s production lines to a near standstill.

The escalating addiction epidemic in Iran is the direct result of enormous poverty across the country.

Increasing number of divorces is rooted in rising unemployment and poverty. Iran’s women are the first victim of the enormous poverty phenomenon, forcing many to commit suicide. Iran is the Middle East record holder in women committing suicide, as this trend is the second leading cause of death in Iran.

From March to December 2013 more than 11 people committed suicide each day in Iran, according to numbers provided by the Iran Forensics Organization.

Increasing poverty is forcing many Iranians to sell kidneys and other body parts. Even children being sold on the black market is becoming a common norm.

Unemployment, drug addiction and the daily increase in executions are turning Iranian women into single parents.

The truth is living conditions have become utterly harsh and unbearable for women in Iran.

According to the Khabareg website, “Nearly 2.5 million households are run by single mothers… who can barely find jobs, most are not insured and suffer from various physical and psychological illnesses… As explained by Iran Statistics Center chief Adel Azar, only 18% of single mothers are actually able to find jobs. This means women without jobs are not insured and rely on their family and friends to make ends meet.”

The truth is the regime ruling Iran is the root and main element behind all these atrocities. However, despite all the poverty and Iranians resorting to selling their own children and/or smuggling women and girls abroad for trade, how is this regime actually spending the country’s budget?

We are all now aware how Tehran is allocating billions to support its allies and Shiite militias in the killing sprees launched in Syria, Iraq and … We are all aware of how the ruling elite are plundering the Iranian people’s God-given wealth. We are all aware of the enormous salaries enjoyed by senior Iranian officials. All this proves this regime’s sole interest is to maintain its entire entity intact.

Just one example may shed some light: Tehran has allocated $6 billion for a shrine built in memory of its founder Ruhollah Khomeini. $6 billion! God knows how many single Iranian mothers could have been supported with such a budget…

At a time when the country is knee-deep in economic crises, why has this regime suggested $13 million in next year’s budget for an institute responsible for publishing Khomeini’s writings?

Above all this reveals an undeniable and fundamental fact. The root of all these dilemmas, from smuggling women and girls, drugs and an enormous amount of goods, is in the very regime ruling the country. This is exactly why “no serious measure is taken to control this trade…”

Despite the fact Iran’s women are the target of the regime’s utmost pressures and crackdown, the Iranian opposition is led by a woman named Maryam Rajavi, pioneering a serious struggle against extremism and seeking to establish gender equality in her country.

Rajavi is President of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an umbrella group of leading Iranian opposition organizations, including the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), seeking peaceful regime change in Iran. Advocating the true message of Islam, this movement believes women are the vanguard in the effort against Islamic fundamentalism.

Iran: What to do?

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By Heshmat Alavi

When it comes to Iran, the transition from the Obama administration to the Trump administration is a hopeful one.

There is high hope the incoming administration will challenge Iran’s domestic policies, expansionism and support of terrorism, and its controversial nuclear program.

Those who have negotiated with the regime and trusted its envoys have actually deceived themselves, and in the process endangered the rest of the world, including particularly the people of Iran. Their hopes blind their eyes to the truth.

Nothing has changed in Iran under Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. In fact, there is a good argument to be made the status quo has excessively deteriorated.

The Nuclear Ordeal

We are now moving to a new administration, not protective or defensive of the Iran nuclear agreement, but ready to challenge it. President-elect Trump has emphasized in his words the disastrous nature of the agreement. It is in his words a disaster, as agreed by many across the American political spectrum. He has even expressed his readiness to tear up the entire agreement.

It’s almost 18 months since the Iran nuclear deal was signed. We have to ask, has anything about Iran’s behavior changed? No. Iran, under the alleged but not real moderate Hassan Rouhani, has already violated terms of the Iran nuclear agreement. These are real substantial terms. The limits on heavy water production and ballistic missile development, both contrary to a United Nations resolution embracing Iran nuclear agreement.

Middle East Mayhem

Iran continues to violate the sovereignty of the neighboring countries of the region. Under Rouhani, Iran extended its funding and training violent extremists terrorists in the Middle East and beyond.

Iran-backed militias, commanded by Revolutionary Guards Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani, have launched horrendous crime and killing sprees across Syria and Iraq, and most recently in Aleppo, targeting even innocent women and children in summary street executions.

The appeasement policy adopted by the West during the past four decades has provided both the political green light and the economic greens necessary for Iran to pursue such atrocities. The international community must recognize the failure of this approach and begin tracing a new road map.

Disastrous Human Rights Record

Iran under Rouhani continues to punish and imprison Iranians who speak their minds against the regime or advocate independent ideas. Unprecedented numbers of citizens of Iran have been executed under this allegedly “moderate” regime.

Numerous international human rights figures and organizations have expressed grave concern as over 3,000 have been sent to the gallows under Rouhani’s tenure. 2015 came to be a year when an average of nearly three people each day were executed in Iran.

The regime in Iran is holding this country’s proud nation, its culture and history hostage. While claiming to be a religious government, the mullahs in Tehran are continuously resorting to measures considered profoundly sacrilegious. It is denying the people of Iran the human rights provided by most religions, including Islam, as are the direct endowment from God Almighty.

The Way Forward

U.S. Congress has been the bulwark and the foundation on a truly bipartisan basis of support for measures against the Iranian regime. Just recently, Congress returned to the bipartisan ground on Iran policy and extended the Iran Sanctions Act with overwhelming bipartisan support.

This is a very helpful sign and provides open territory and responsive ears as the case for more sanctions and a tough administration policy against Iran are made. Those continuing to advocate the appeasement policy believe it is actually possible the current regime in Iran could become a democratic entity respecting the rule of law. However as the past 38 years have shown, don’t hold your breath.

Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin declared long ago, “Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.” That is the same mantra adopted by National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a political umbrella group of opposition movements seeking peaceful transition to peace, freedom and democracy for all people in Iran.

NCRI President Maryam Rajavi, a Muslim woman who is strongly against a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam and who enjoys vast international support, has placed forward a 10-point plan. This proposal provides a realistic solution for a future Iran ensuring gender equality, freedom of speech, religion and the media, an end to all executions and torture, a nuclear free Iran and more of the values cherished by today’s free world democracies.

Iran Will be Free

A new day is dawning for the cause of a liberated, stable, free and independent Iran, free of the rule of the mullahs.

We must choose to become part of history, not to sit passively by, but to act in support of the long and proud history of courageous people who have fought and achieved their freedom, often against extreme odds.

History is on the side of those struggling for freedom, democracy, and human rights. Iran seeks to return to its place in the community of civilized nations.

Seeing horrifying scenes from Aleppo and the entire Middle East in chaos, one questions is it really possible that the regime in Iran, with its growing wealth and military strength, can be stopped and overturned? Based on history, this is possible.

We must never underestimate the capacity of a small group of ordinary citizens in bringing about huge change in this world. In fact, history has proven this is the only method such changes have ever formulated.

“The moral arc of the universe often bends slowly. But it always bends towards justice,” the great Dr. Martin Luther King once said.

The evil regime that now rules over the good people of Iran will also collapse, and it will happen in our time. Iran will once again be free.

Originally posted in American Thinker

IRAN SHIITE MILITIAS ENDANGERING FUTURE OF IRAQ

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By Heshmat Alavi

The regime continues on its path of death and destruction.

Conditions allowing the PMU’s presence and its foreign connections have raised major concerns across the board. Human rights violations and crimes by this group against dissidents in areas retaken from Daesh are amongst the many other reasons intensifying anxieties about the very nature of this alliance. The PMU is also accused of launching revenge attacks and atrocities against displaced Sunnis fleeing these areas.

A strange and disturbing irony lies in the fact that the arms provided by a broad spectrum of the international community are being used for ill purposes.

“Paramilitary militias nominally operating as part of the Iraqi armed forces in the fight against the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) are using arms from Iraqi military stockpiles, provided by the USA, Europe, Russia and Iran, to commit war crimes, revenge attacks and other atrocities,” Amnesty International reported.

The PMU “have used those arms to facilitate the enforced disappearance and abduction of thousands of mainly Sunni men and boys, torture and extrajudicial executions as well as wanton destruction of property,” the alarming statement adds.

The report highlights “four main militias that Amnesty International has documented committing serious human rights violations: Munathamat Badr (Badr Brigades or Badr Organization), Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (League of the Righteous), Kata’ib Hezbollah (Hezbollah Brigades) and the Saraya al-Salam (Peace Brigades).”

Other international human rights organizations have time and again exposed the sectarian crimes committed by PMU ranks and files.

“Human Rights Watch and the UN have previously blamed the pro-government militias for perpetrating atrocities against civilians,” Alaraby reported.

“Members of Shia militias, who the Iraqi government has included among its state forces, abducted and killed scores of Sunni residents in a central Iraq town and demolished Sunni homes,” HRW warned back in January 2016.

While such warnings fell to deaf ears, HRW demanded from Baghdad to “prevent militias with records of serious abuses from taking part in planned military operations for the city of Mosul.”

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein cited strong evidence that Kata’ib Hezbollah perpetrated atrocities against a Sunni community.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubair has gone as far as describing this group as extremely sectarian and run by Iranian military officers. Topping this list of commanders is none other than Revolutionary Guards Quds Force chief Qassem Suleimani.

The Iraqi Parliament in late 2016 adopted a bill recognizing the PMU as an official security entity, throwing “a wrench into efforts to adopt a national settlement proposal — basically a grand plan to abolish sectarian and ethnic quotas,” as described in Al-Monitor.

This law is in fact in violation of the Iraqi Constitution Article 9 banning the establishment of any militia group not falling under the command and control of the armed forces. The PMU is a force parallel to the Iraqi military – much like Iran’s IRGC alongside its classic army – and not part of its structure and framework. Their very existence is in violation of the Iraqi Constitution and as a result lacks any legality.

It is an undeniable fact that the PMU pursues the fundamental interests of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, receiving their orders directly from Tehran. The Iranian opposition, itself the target of the Iranian regime’s attacks, has time and again warned of Tehran’s increasing meddling in Iraq.

“Commander of Iraq’s al-Hashd al-Shaabi militant group affiliated to the Iranian regime, referring to the possibility that these mobilization forces are present in Syria to help Assad regime for more killings and massacre of Syrian people, claimed that Hashd al-Shaabi could help Syria to get rid of terrorism,” according to a report posted by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an umbrella group of Iranian dissident organizations including the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) and others.

With a sectarian structure, the PMU first poses a major threat for Iraq and its sovereignty, and will move on to spread their disease across the Middle East. If the international community seeks to calm and resolve crises plaguing the Middle East, one very necessary step is to bring an end to Iran’s meddling across the region.

As NCRI President Maryam Rajavi explained, “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.”

Originally published in FrontPage Magazine

Iran’s ‘moderation’ myth is coming to an end

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It has been proven time and again that evil prevails if the good remain quiet. We have witnessed this so atrociously in the brutality of Aleppo. But the first step in bringing stability to Syria, is to bring justice to Iran.

Iran is an evil regime. There is no freedom of the press. There is no freedom of religion. Human rights violations are extraordinary.

This regime rules with an iron fist and is highly active in destabilizing the region. And all the while, enjoying significant Western support amongst those who actually believe in change and “moderation” from within this regime.

This camp continues to revisit the notion of a potentially “moderate” regime changing its behavior and being more welcome in the broader global community. Advocates of such a mentality are wishfully thinking this regime will alter its conduct towards its citizens, neighbors and frankly the rest of the world.
We know this hasn’t happened. If Tehran truly bore the intent to not only embrace the nuclear agreement but the spirit of the accord with the West, they would not have test-fired missiles in March or October of this year.

If the mullahs are actually sensitive about the human rights of ordinary Iranian citizens, then this regime would not have executed over 3,000 people in the past four years alone, and nearly 1,000 in 2015.

This regime, if actually sensitive about its “moderate” image, would not be executing women and minors, and would not be sending opposition supporters to the gallows. This certainly doesn’t sound anything similar to “moderate” behavior, at least not in the democratic world.

Iran is also deeply involved in destabilizing the region and the neighborhood. The single, most significant destabilizing factor throughout the Middle East was, is and will be in the foreseeable future none other than the regime ruling Iran, its President Hassan Rouhani, the mullahs and so forth.

Every one of us now unfortunately has a very depict image in their minds of the horrific genocide taking place in Syria. The little boy facing down on the shores of Turkey continues to haunt us today, add to that the small child in the back of an ambulance, for the first time seeing his own blood. They were all attempting to escape the oppression, the violence, the agony and the pain in Syria.

We have before us a massive refugee crisis with nearly half a million killed in the country, more than half the country’s population displaced, and millions involved in one of the largest exoduses in the history of mankind.

And again, what is the primary destabilizing force supporting the ruthless regime of Bashar Assad in Syria? Iran. They have troops and foot soldiers across the Levant and the entire region, parallel to their vast arms provision and funding for such proxies. Ironically, these efforts have all been boosted by the very money released thanks to U.S. President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Tehran.

This is alongside their measures in respect to Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and other parts of the region, leading to Tehran’s designation as the number one terrorist state in the world.

Continued human rights violations at unprecedented levels; massive destabilization in the region not only contrary to the interests of the region’s neighboring countries but to Western values and United States interests; and continued ballistic missile testing all prove there is nothing to be found “moderate” in Iranian regime.

There is, however, every reason to believe that President-elect Donald Trump and his foreign policy team bring a new set of eyes, a new attitude and a new approach toward this “moderate” theocracy.

While the West continues to weigh the various options available before Washington vis-à-vis Tehran, one practical opportunity lies in supporting the sole Iranian democratic opposition movement found in the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a political and truly moderate umbrella group seeking peaceful regime change in Iran.

The NCRI, led by Maryam Rajavi, herself a Muslim women despising the Iranian regime’s fundamentalist nature, enjoys strong bipartisan and apolitical support across the globe, as personified by numerous seniorU.S. and European politicians.

A relentless commitment and faith to a certain cause is the epicenter needed to bring about the very necessary changes in Iran. This is most definitely a worthy cause set to render a domino effect across the region. With Iran’s mullahs out of the picture, rest assured the very root of all extremism, radicalism, terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East will be exterminated.

The status quo in our world demands good people and countries committed to human rights, freedom and democracy, do all we can to effectively spark change.

As the pro-appeasement drive to portray the Iranian regime as moderate has failed miserably, Iran represents the most important stage where a new pro-human rights initiative must launch.

Originally posted in The Hill

Trump administration should hold Iran accountable for executions

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

By Ali Safavi
Nearly a year after the implementation of the nuclear deal with Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and the ensuing fanfare regarding the possibility of an age of reform within a feeble theocracy, Tehran’s behavior has taken a turn for the worse. The most tangible evidence of this can be seen in its treatment of the Iranian people.  Continue reading “Trump administration should hold Iran accountable for executions”

How Iran actually lost in Aleppo

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Following a historic period of perseverance, Syrian rebels and their families were forced to evacuate eastern Aleppo after its liberation back in 2012. An unjust, intense war was launched upon Aleppo by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and its proxy forces on the ground: Russia with its indiscriminate air strikes, and a lame-duck Syrian army of less than 20,000 deployable forces. Continue reading “How Iran actually lost in Aleppo”

The Need For A New Approach On Iran

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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani presents to the parliament his budget for 2017-2018, on December 4, 2016, in Tehran. (ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

As the world recently marked International Human Rights Day, it should be known that the regime in Iran considers its deplorable human rights dossier as its main weakness.

For years the international community has been forced to believe in the existence of “moderates” and “hardliners” in Iran. Those advocating such a point of view have been calling for support of “moderates” to improve the human rights situation in this country.

This accord with Iran was presented as the beginning of a new era which would lead to respect for human rights in Iran and an end to the mullahs’ meddling in the region. That assumption has been at the heart of Western policy vis-à-vis Iran for decades.

However, a very close look is needed at the record of the last three or so years during the tenure of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, dubbed as a “moderate.” More have been executed under his watch than during the entire eight years of firebrand Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reign. Rouhani has never expressed any criticism regarding these executions and indeed he defends the death sentence as the rule of God.

Religious and ethnic minorities in Iran are suppressed more than ever before, and Iran has increased its participation in supporting Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, especially massacring innocent people of Aleppo and other cities. The world has been watching in horror scenes of women and children victimized to horrendous Iran-backed bombings and shelling.
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However, western policymakers have been completely ignoring these realities. Horrendously, more trade and business deals have been advocated with the Iranian regime. Let us not forget that most of Iran’s economy is run by the Revolutionary Guards, not by ordinary Iranian businessmen.
Therefore, Western policy has actually encouraged the mullahs’ regime to continue their domestic crackdown and carry on atrocious crimes in Syria without any concern of being held accountable.
Just one example is the international community’s complete failure in responding to the mass executions in Iran. In particular, the massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners back in the summer of 1988. Those responsible are still holding key government positions.

The current minister of justice in Rouhani’s cabinet was a member of the infamous “Death Commission” in charge of implementing that dreadful genocide. And he, Mostafa Pour Mohammadi, has actually boasted of being proud of his role in sending thousands of political dissidents to the gallows.

This frankly shames today’s free world in the 21st century. It is totally unacceptable for the West to remain silent and continue business as usual with the mullahs’ regime in Iran.

Iran’s past and present atrocities, inside the country and outside its borders, need to be condemned as crimes against humanity. The West must place firm conditions on future relations with Iran and take serious actions against this regime. One good start was the adoption of the Iran Sanctions Act by the U.S. Congress, sending a strong message to Tehran that the tides are changing.

The West must also demand a stoppage of the execution of minors, justice for women and respect for human rights in general. The people of Iran expect it from the West to stand up for them. U.S. President Barack Obama failed to do so back in 2009 and the Iranian people have paid the price heavily ever since.
The West has unfortunately sided with the brutal dictator in Tehran, and this must come to an end by standing shoulder to shoulder with the Iranian people and not ignoring their suffering.
Iran should not be viewed in a similar perspective as the Soviet Union, as there is no Yeltsin-type dove in Tehran. Unlike the Soviet Union, the regime in Iran has been misrepresenting and taking advantage of a very powerful religion to pursue its devious policies.
An anti-fundamentalist movement believing in a democratic and tolerant version of Islam, delivering a secular perspective of this religion that has been wrongly attributed to various extremist groups, is needed to respond to the current crisis. This will provide free futures for all nations across the Middle East.
The first step in this regard is referring Iran’s human rights violations dossier to the United Nations Security Council for review. This would deliver a blow to Iran the mullahs’ will fail to recover from.
Originally posted in Forbes

Time for a principled approach on Iran

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By Heshmat Alavi – December 21, 2016
The time has come to reassess, readdress, and readjust the course of action in Western foreign policy in respect with Iran.
Last year’s nuclear deal between the international community and Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has proven flawed on the global position over human rights and worldwide security. Continue reading “Time for a principled approach on Iran”