Iran’s missile launches: A sign of strength or weakness?

How should we evaluate Iran’s medium-range missile strikes, boasted by the mullahs as an official response to the June 7th twin attacks allegedly staged by ISIS in Tehran? As a sign of strength showing Iran’s ability to take on ISIS while also sending a message to all adversaries, most importantly Washington? Or a desperate attempt by the mullahs to maintain a straight face against increasing domestic and foreign crises?

Iran last resorted to such drastic measures of launching ballistic missiles from its soil back in the final days of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988 after suffering major defeats, and once again in 2001 against former bases of the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) in Iraq in response to a vast opposition camp inside the country. This proves Tehran will fall to such lows when pinned against the wall as a last resort.

The question is, why would Iran launch expensive medium-range missiles, knowing it has yet to perfect a precision guiding system (as three of the seven missiles landed in Iraq and three others were far off their targets in Deir Ezzur)? Furthermore, Iran boasts of having tens of thousands proxy shock troops in Syria propping the Assad regime and there are also reports of Tehran launching missile factories in Syria. So why the need to use such poorly guided medium-range missiles from their own turf?

This was nothing but a publicity stunt following the June 7th attacks, and Iran seeking to take advantage of the entire scenario to press the gas pedal on domestic crackdown and justify their foreign meddling in the Middle East and beyond. I have explained my thoughts extensively in a Forbes and Al Arabiya English article.

Despite targeting Syria in this missile attack, Iran mainly intended to deliver a message to Saudi Arabia. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) accused Riyadh and also Washington over the June 7th attacks.

However, we should also take into notice that Tehran launched its missiles into the deserts of eastern Syria. And while the IRGC accuses Saudi Arabia and the U.S., rest assured Iran’s mullahs are not so foolish as to launch missiles into the Kingdom or target American interests in the Middle East.

Iran’s leaders may be extremists, but they are very pragmatic and know exactly when to back off. One such lesson was learned when the U.S. Navy in 1988 launched Operation Praying Mantis and nearly annihilated Iran’s naval forces in retaliation to the Iranian mining of the Persian Gulf during the Iran–Iraq War, with subsequent damage to an American warship.

The Iranian regime’s senior hierarchy and IRGC were in dire need of such a missile launching especially following five months of setbacks:

a) The election of Donald Trump as President of United States and the end of Obama’s dreadful era of appeasement.

b)  Iran being placed “on notice” by the Trump administration.

c)  Washington slapping two rounds of sanctions and a recent Senate resolution calling for sweeping action against Iran’s ballistic missile program, support of terrorism and human rights violations.

d)  The U.S. military taking direct action against Assad’s airbase in April, more recently attacking Iran-backed troops and two Iran-made drones in southeast Syria, and downing an Assad regime bomber near Raqqa.

e)  And possibly most significant of all, at a time when the Trump administration continues to weigh its comprehensive Iran policy, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is heard in a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing emphasizing Washington will support elements inside Iran seeking peaceful regime change.

All this places a heavy burden on a regime that only enjoys merely four percent popular support, as explained by a candidate in last month’s faux presidential election.

As a result, to maintain a straight face Iran will resort to any and all desperate measures. All the while, such a turn of events and severe setbacks have come at the worst possible time for Tehran, as the PMOI/MEK, under the political umbrella of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), are preparing for their annual Paris rally scheduled for July1 this year.

Over 100,000 Iranians and hundreds of American, European and Middle East dignitaries gather to voice their support for NCRI  President Maryam Rajavi and her ten-point plan for the future of Iran enjoying gender equality, peaceful coexistence, abolishing capital punishment, torture and crackdown, and bringing an end to Iran’s nuclear program, meddling and support of terrorism.

As a result, from the mullahs’ perspective desperate times call for desperate measures. Considering the bleak-looking future for Tehran, expect more such reactions.

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Analysis: The Iranian regime and evolution of ISIS

Support for international terrorism received a major boost the moment the mullahs hijacked Iran’s 1979 revolution. After a very short-lived period of a so-called open political atmosphere, their thugs organized in the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and paramilitary Basij militia, launched a campaign of oppression, arrests, torture and executions targeting not only dissidents, but anyone daring to raise a voice.

Born was “the first ISIS” and through the past 38 years this entity has proven to be more ruthless than anything resembled today in ISIS. Iranian regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini, sitting on the throne in Tehran, was determined to focus all power under his grip, unleashing his wrath against all Iranians.

As he established his crackdown apparatus, Khomeini began setting his sights abroad, imposing his hegemonic desires through a doctrine of suicide attacks. The IRGC began training numerous proxy groups to help spread the Khomeini’s terror under the pretext of Islam.

Khomeini’s “ISIS” in Iran, more than three decades before ISIS’s charge from Syria into northern Iraq, became the nesting ground for many fledgling groups now wreaking havoc across the Middle East, Europe and as far away as Argentina.

This is Khomeini’s ideology of “Islamic Revolution,” spreading his foul interpretation of a divine religion. He dreamed of a Shiite empire and to this end started targeting all potential countries beginning with Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and so forth.

Lethal campaign

Iran’s lethal campaign has resulted in death and destruction across the Middle East. Over a million killed and hundreds of billions lost in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. Countless others killed and injured in the aftermath of the 2003 war in Iraq, which Iran used to covertly occupy this land and destroy the lives of so many. Not to mention half a million killed and over 11 million displaced from their homes in the Iran-backed inferno engulfing Syria.

All this has been parallel to Tehran’s spree of assassinations against dissidents exiled across Europe. Iranian intelligence service, using embassies across the Green Continent as safe houses to dispatch their killers, began eliminating exiled dissidents in a campaign dubbed as the “chain murders.”

While pursuing this onslaught, Khomeini’s successor, now Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has continuously maintained executions up at an atrocious rate. Understanding the threat of any day passing without at least one execution somewhere in Iran, even the so-called “moderate” President Hassan Rowhani has a report card of nearly 3,000 executions during his four year tenure.

Yet probably the most atrocious carnage of all launched was aimed at cleansing an entire generation by massacring over 30,000 political prisoners in the summer of 1988. Most of these victims were members and supporters of main Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

Iran also has no tolerance for freedom of speech as academics, bloggers and journalists are targeted and quelled by the regime’s crackdown apparatus. The West must come to realize this true nature of Iran’s regime.

The international community’s failure to adopt serious measures against the mullahs has encouraged Tehran to continue hangings and lethal meddling across the Middle East. This is Iran’s campaign of establishing a “Shiite Crescent,” again launched decades before any notion of Daesh and its onslaught in the Levant and Mesopotamia.

Thanks to the Obama administration, Iran received Iraq in a silver plate and enjoys significant influence over Assad with troops in Syria. This has also encouraged Tehran to look further. “The victory in Aleppo will pave the way for liberating Bahrain,” said IRGC General Hossein Salami.

Rest assured one day the world will come to realize how ISIS considered Khomeini, the founder of the first ever “ISIS,” as its mentor on how to spread their reign of terror. No wonder the Iranian people consider the current mullahs ruling Iran, all minions of Khomeini, the Godfathers of ISIS.

Is there a solution?

“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 Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi, President of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an umbrella group consisting of a long slate of various Iranian dissident groups, including the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

The administration of Donald Trump, as advised in a hand-delivered letter written by 23 senior former American government officials, enjoys the opportunity to adopt a policy supporting the Iranian people’s call for regime change. This goes in line with President Trump’s first position against “radical Islamic terrorism,” terrifying the Iranian regime from top to bottom.

“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,” President Trump said.

What to learn from Iran’s unconventional naval tactics

irgc_naval_execise-2015_4

Tehran took advantage of Obama’s appeasement to increase its Middle East influence. An alternative is available, and it’s not war.

 

Once again Iran resorted to its desperate and unprofessional tactic of dispatching fast-attack boats in the Persian Gulf to harass U.S. Navy ships, this time leading to warning shots fired by the USS Mahan destroyer.

 

This latest incident, taking place on Monday, January 9th, was the first such case recorded in 2017 and can be a prelude to what lies ahead. A weak Obama administration policy vis-à-vis Iran, based on appeasement, allowed Tehran take advantage especially for domestic purposes.

 

Iran understands perfectly it stands no match against the U.S. in conventional military warfare, including naval combat. The Iranian navy suffered devastating blows by the U.S. Navy throughout the 1980s through the course of the Iran-Iraq War.

 

Following a year of significant tension in the Gulf and Strait of Hormuz–through which a significant amount of the world’s oil exports passes–Iran is bracing for a new administration in Washington.

 

After Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei succumbed to the humiliation of signing a nuclear accord with the international community, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he desperately needs to continue boasting the anti-American mantra through such measures and provocative marital encounters.

 

Despite the U.S. designating Iran as the leading state sponsor of terrorism, the mullahs understood fully how former U.S. president Barack Obama sought to hallmark the Iran deal as his foreign policy legacy. As a dismal consequence, amongst many others, Tehran was able to pursue its lethal policies in Syria to maintain Bashar Assad in power, knowing the Obama administration would refrain from any action threatening the nuclear talks.

 

Betting on the notion Obama would avoid any confrontation potentially endangering the JCPOA, Iran escalated its use of unconventional military methods to maintain a satisfactory image and reputation for its already dwindling and dismal social base.

 

Back in January of 2016 Iran’s Revolutionary Guards members apprehended a number of U.S. Navy sailors, launching a wave of criticism in the U.S. against Obama and his Iran doctrine. It is believed the general political atmosphere established by the Obama administration twisted the U.S. Navy’s arm from taking any measures even authorized by the books.

 

Parallel to naval aggravations, Iran has invested in a dangerous ballistic missile program, threatening not only U.S. interests and allies in the Middle East, but also capitals in Eastern Europe. This must be evaluated through Khamenei’s perspective, how ballistic missile launches allows him to canvas a somewhat reputable image against the “Great Satan” and other Iran ill-wishers.

 

This need increased significantly following the sudden death of former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. While considered a staunch rival of Khamenei and seeking his throne, Rafsanjani was nonetheless the balancing element for the regime in its entirety. His absence has left a void, and Khamenei and the regime against dangerous times ahead.

 

“The death of Rafsanjani, one of the pillars of the religious fascism ruling Iran and its balance factor collapsed, and the regime in its entirety is closer now to its overthrow,” explained Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi, President of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an umbrella group of dissident entities including People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

 

The new U.S. administration has the opportunity to remedy the highly flawed Middle East doctrine adopted by Team Obama, most importantly its Iran policy dossier.

 

Supporting the NCRI is one serious option in this regard.

“Nearly two dozen former top U.S. government officials have urged President-elect Donald Trump to work with Iran’s opposition once in office,” based on a letter obtained by Fox News, signed by former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani; former Sen. Joe Lieberman; and retired Army Gen. Hugh Shelton, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Bill Clinton, to name a few.

Time to end the Iran “reformist-moderate” hoax

lopBy Heshmat Alavi

Eight years of Barack Obama’s tenure has come to an end. We are also winding down on the first, and maybe last, term of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. This should mark the long overdue end of the U.S.-Iran appeasement doctrine, based on a mirage of “reformists” and/or “moderates” actually existing inside the extremist establishment ruling Iran.

If you search mainstream media for news about Iran, there has always seemed to be an ongoing deafening chorus of “reformists” gaining the upper hand. This has a long history.

When then senior cleric Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani became president back in 1989, many claimed he was a newly found “reformists,” forgetting his role as commander of Iran’s armed forces through the 8-year-long Iran-Iraq War and the horrific summer 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners across Iran. Rafsanjani can also be dubbed the father of Iran’s nuclear weapons drive, and went on to launch an atrocious series of assassinations targeting exiled dissidents, dubbed the “chain murders.”

Then came Mohammad Khatami and the appeasement camp in the West went mad claiming he, too, was a “reformist” and “moderate,” with their sole argument most likely based on the fact that he smiled. During his first term Khatami showed his true face by blessing the vicious crackdown of the 1999 student uprisings that rattled the very foundations of the mullahs’ entire establishment.

When Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei needed to tighten his regime’s belts following the toppling the occupation of neighbors Iraq and Afghanistan, he selected–yes, selected–firebrand Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president to pursue his nuclear weapons drive, parallel to the covert meddling in Iraq and across the entire Middle East.

During this phase instead of admitting to their failure in finding any so-called “reformist” or “moderate” in Iran, the West appeasement entourage claimed their initiative was neglected and did not receive the support it deserves. They seemingly forgot the support they enjoyed from the long slate of governments and mainstream outlets.

In 2013 when Khamenei realized he could no longer continue his macho tactics in the face of international sanctions bringing his economy to its knees, he pulled another “reformist” out of his hat. Hassan Rouhani, another grinning mullah, was appointed–yes, appointed by Khamenei since there is no such concept of elections, as understood in the West, in Iran–to facilitate his decision to backtrack on his regime’s drive for nuclear weapons, and save face during the process.

Despite the West appeasement camp going the limits in portraying Rouhani as a “reformist/moderate” figure, they quickly forgot how he served as secretary the regime’s Supreme National Security Council, and boasted of deceiving the Europeans during the 2003 Paris nuclear negotiations. During his tenure, Rouhani has presided over nearly 3,000 executions, leaving a record far worse than his predecessors.

On the Syria conflict, Rouhani has continuously supported Iran’s backing of ruthless dictator Bashar Assad, and even opposed calls to halt the violence.

“Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday joined in opposing a call by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to halt all flights over Syria in efforts to get relief shipments through,” as reported by Daily Mail.

Obama is departing the White House, signaling the end of a “golden era” for the Iranian regime, and the new Donald Trump administration and Republican Congress is taking over in Washington. To this end, the time has come for America to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Iranian people and their long struggle for freedom and democracy.

Nearly two dozen former senior U.S. government officials hand-delivered a letter to now President Trump urging him to work with the Iranian opposition, symbolized in Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an umbrella group including the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

This represents the best possible launching pad to end the appeasement policy based on the illusion of any such notion of “reformists” or “moderates” inside the brutal Iranian regime.

Originally posted in American Thinker