Iranians protest again: Is the regime going down a slippery slope?

The scenes of protests and rallies in cities across Iran on Tuesday night are a major reminder. This regime is on thin ice.

Many cities became scenes of people using the national “Fire Festival” to stage anti-government protests. Tehran, Tabriz, Mashhad, Rasht, Ahvaz, Kermanshah, Sanandaj and many others became witness to such major acts of protests.

This proves Iran’s nation will not rest until they realize their ultimate objective of regime change.

State measures

Very telling is how state security forces remain on high alert in cities across the country, including Qom, central Iran, known as the Iranian regime’s hub where numerous seminaries are located.

Protests are continuing daily across the country. Marking International Women’s Day, several protesters outside the Labor Ministry in Tehran were demanding equal rights for women. Marginalized farmers east of Isfahan continue to protest authorities’ rerouting of river waters and destroying their agriculture products as a result. All the while strikes and protests continue to mushroom across the country.

Understanding the nation will continuously discover new methods to express their protests, Iran’s authorities have taken numerous precautions.

“State police is using 5,000 officers, 10 million accomplices, 1,100 traffic police vehicles, 27,000 special police patrols, installing 1,330 police trailers, 3,770 patrol vehicles, 2010 motorcycle patrols, 2,900 on-foot patrols, 1,700 temporary inspection centers, 104 permanent inspection centers and 30 helicopters,” according to Iran’s state police spokesperson in an interview with state TV.

The Supreme National Security Council, chaired by the so-called “moderate” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, most certainly adopts and approves such actions.

Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani depicts the road ahead best by indicating challenges lay ahead for the clerical regime.

Driving force

What superficially began as a protest over poor living conditions quickly swelled into an uprising growing nationwide aiming to overthrow the Iranian regime in its entirety.

As proven again on Tuesday night, these protests can no longer classify as isolated incidents of unorganized nature. This grassroot movement is proving conditions will never be same following the uprising born on December 28th.

The driving force behind these protests, rapidly spreading to over 140 cities and towns through Iran, are women and the deprived social sectors.

Protesters have been chanting and writing in graffiti, ‘Death to Khamenei’ and ‘Death to Rouhani,’ formally referring to the regime’s supreme leader.

“Despite any ups and downs, the uprising will move on. The regime is incapable of stopping it. There are signs of alarm and concern even inside the IRGC and Bassij militia. The wall of fear has been cracked, and nothing including arrests, killings and torture can prevent the advancement of the protests to overthrow the regime,” Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi said back at a February session in Paris held by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

The stakes at hand are grave, to say the least. The West has finally begun to acknowledge the threats Iran poses for its Middle East neighbors through ballistic missiles and regional meddling.

It is time the entire international community realizes the undeniable fact that the Iranian people are demanding sweeping regime change.

Tuesday night’s protests also prove a direct link between the protests and the Iranian resistance movement, following a call made by the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the largest member of the NCRI coalition.

The NCRI is pioneering the struggle to realize regime change in Iran and that is what the people of Iran want. It is high time for the West to realize appeasement vis-à-vis Tehran is not welcome as protesters express their abhorrence of this clerical rule.

Known for blowing the whistle on Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program, the PMOI/MEK is the spearheading protest organization inside the country. Khamenei went public on January 9 acknowledging the PMOI’s leading role behind these protests.

Effective measures

The European Union and each member state should not only recognize the Iranian people’s legitimate demand for regime change, but to adopt effective measures aimed at compelling Tehran to release all recently arrested protesters, guarantee freedom of speech and assembly, end suppression targeting women and abolish laws imposing compulsory veil.

Iran’s regime is currently on shaky grounds.

As a result, the EU should refrain from any deals with companies and individuals affiliated to Iran’s crackdown apparatus, most specifically the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

As the people voice their demands ever so clearly, the future of political and economic relations with Tehran should hinge on the release of all political prisoners and an end to executions.

In line, it would be quite encouraging to witness the United Nations launch a commission missioned to investigate the arrests, disappearances and mysterious suicides of Iranian protestors while in custody.

Europe should jump on board with its Middle East allies and the United States in adopting a firm Iran policy. Silence in regards to Tehran’s unrestrained quelling of protestors simply seeking their God-given right of freedom is unacceptable.


New Round In Iran’s Nationwide Protests?

Celebrating fire festivities marking the last week of Iran’s calendar year, people in many cities across the country took to streets staging yet another round of protests challenging the mullahs’ rule.

People transformed this national celebration into a major act of protest. This followed a recent call issued by a network based inside the country associated to the opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) encouraging people to take advantage of this opportunity to stage nationwide demonstrations. People from all walks of life have also issued letters and statements supporting this new initiative.

Prior to this event Tehran’s concerns focused on such an occasion providing the people an opportunity to stage a large number of pocket, hit-and-run protests throughout various areas of all cities and towns.

Fox News interviewed a protester inside the country saying, “We are like a wave — we come back even stronger, and the Iranian people want regime change… There is no going back.”

Following the Dec 2017/Jan 2018 nationwide uprising that caught the regime by surprise, Iran has witnessed a surge in over 8,000 arrests and more than 50 protesters killed in custody, according to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

Greater Tehran police chief Hossein Rahimi emphasized all measures are being taken in regards to a variety of possibility forecasted for such an occasion, adding all forces are on full alert. Tehran’s main concern focuses on such protests avalanching into sweeping and uncontrollable storms.

Authorities insist people can uphold their traditional ceremonies on the condition of not disrupting public order. Interesting is how this regime hangs people and carries out lashings in public, yet now is thumping its chest about “public order.” Based on the Iranian regime’s terminology, “public order” is tantamount to the mullahs’ rule.

One should ask why such authorities are taking no measures to provide decent education, create jobs and the needed recreation needed for the country’s younger generation.

While claiming many people were killed and injured in such celebrations held in previous years, there is no action taken to resolve increasing air pollution across the country that is sending thousands of people to hospitals. Why are no measures blueprinted to prevent thousands of road accidents each year?

Iran has the highest number of deaths caused by road accidents in the world, according to the World Health Organisation’s most recent report on road safety.

Iran’s authorities are facing a crackdown impasse, extremely concerned of opening fire on such increasing protests across the country. There was a time, however, that Iran’s mullahs severely quelled any dissent, such as the 1994 Qazvin uprising where authorities even launched rockets at protesters, according to former senior intelligence officer Saeed Hajjarian.

This year, however, protesters across the country are chanting “Death to (Ali) Khamenei” and “Death to (Hassan) Rouhani” targeting the regime’s supreme leader and president, respectively.

IRGC chief Mohammad Ali Jafari specifically said, “the PMOI prevented us from taking measures to silence the recent Dervish Gonabadi protests in the northeast suburbs of Tehran.”

If authorities order forces to open fire, the uprisings will flare in an uncontrollable manner. If they refuse to open fire, the protests will spread gradually expand and engulf the entire country.

Tehran cannot deny the undeniable. Iran’s 80-million+ population is demanding change. Regime change.

Washington has realized the changing times and the Trump administration has been showing signs of intending to stand alongside the people. Further measures targeting the regime’s Central Bank and the Revolutionary Guards are necessary to support Iran’s uprising nation.

In line, Europe should build upon its recent pressures on Iran to significantly curb its ballistic missile program and meddling across the Middle East. These demands must expand and also place the crosshairs on Tehran’s atrocious human rights record.

This is how the West can stand alongside the Iranian people and their organized resistance in the face of a malevolent regime.

What Comes After French FM’s Iran Visit

Monday’s Tehran visit by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is startling a wide variety of responses, especially from inside Iran.

Kayhan daily, known as the mouthpiece of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, ran a piece titled “French Foreign Minister heading to Tehran with a JCPOA-2 hat,” using the acronym for the Iran nuclear deal, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, while describing Paris’ efforts to impose further setbacks upon Iran’s regime.

The semi-official Ruydad 24 website in Iran writes, “The JCPOA, ballistic missile program and Iran’s role in the region are of the most important challenges before Iran, Europe, the United States and Middle East countries.”

This is what concerns Tehran the most, being crystal clear the Europeans would never side with Iran over the U.S.

Seeking to raise the stakes prior Le Drian’s visit, Tehran on Monday announced it enjoys the capability of producing higher enriched uranium within two days if Washington’s abandons ship on the 2015 nuclear deal between.

“If America pulls out of the deal … Iran could resume its 20 percent uranium enrichment in less than 48 hours,” Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi told al-Alam TV.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said Le Drian will be merely involved in discussions and there are no negotiations involved. France’s official position says otherwise.

“Iran’s ballistic missile program, with a range of a few thousand kilometers, is definitely non-consistent with United Nations Security Council resolutions and goes beyond Iran’s need to defend its borders,” Le Drian said in an interview with the French daily Le Journal du Dimanche.

“If this dilemma is not resolved directly, Iran will be facing the threat of new sanctions,” he added.

France is leading Europe in talks with Iran and it is very likely Le Drian discussed with Iran’s officials the conditions raised by U.S. President Donald Trump.

“The U.S. has asked France to lay Trump’s conditions before Iran. European countries have confirmed these conditions,” according to the semi-officials Fars news agency, said to be linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).

In his meeting with Le Drian, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s remarks vividly displayed Tehran’s deep concerns about the JCPOA’s future.

“The JCPOA is a litmus test for all parties and its dismantling will bring disappointment for everyone,” Rouhani said.

We must also take into consideration the timing of Le Drian’s visit, coming prior to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington, in which Iran was the main issue of talks.

Two weeks later Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman to Washington where Iran’s regional meddling will most likely be discussed. Tehran’s role in Syria has raised major concerns.

“…if we don’t push Iran out and come up with an agreement in Geneva that gives Syria back to the Syrians. This war never ends. So, Mr. President it’s just not about defeating ISIL. If you leave Syria in the hands of Russia and the Iranians this war never ends,” said Senator Lindsey Graham in a recent interview.

Finally, Trump will be hosting his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, as the leader of Europe in regards to the JCPOA.

As a result, the objective of Le Drian’s visit to Iran can be described as placing Trump’s significant pressures and imposing his conditions. Tehran will most definitely be concerned, knowing all meetings will evolve in Trump’s talks with Macron in Washington. Two weeks later Trump will announce his decision on the JCPOA.

This leaves Tehran before a particular dilemma. Succumbing to the new conditions set to preserve the JCPOA will deliver a strategic setback, being, to say the least, significantly curbing its ballistic missile program and Middle East influence. Iran considers these two pillars its pride and regional strategy depth.

Choosing to reject Washington’s conditions, however, will most certainly lead to the return of crippling sanctions for Tehran.

Add to this dilemma the ongoing protest staged by Iranians across the country. This goes alongside calls for further nationwide protests next Tuesday, marking the country’s annual “Fire Festivities” held on the last Tuesday night of the Iranian calendar before inviting in the new year.

Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) has issued a call for a nationwide uprising to mark this celebration. Senior Iranian officials have acknowledged how the PMOI/MEK organized the recent flare of protests across the country.

Tehran’s troubles are only beginning.

ANALYSIS: Why is Iran raising the stakes in Syria?

As the world continues to fail in stopping the bloodshed of innocent people in Syria, Iran seeks two main objectives of saving face back home & raising the price any possible deal in the future that is becoming more and more likely now.

The Assad regime is continuously bombing innocent people in Eastern Ghouta near Damascus, killing at least 500. Rescue workers are continuously pulling dead civilians from the rubble. As the United Nations Security Council has adopted a 30-day ceasefire resolution, it has become crystal clear that strong actions need to back-up such demands.

As the killings are appalling, we must keep in mind how Tehran is the driving force to maintain Syria as part of a dreamed Shiite-Persian empire. Iran continues to expand its foothold in Syria, while Arab countries across the Gulf, Germany and France are also being heard making strong demands. The European Union as a whole should also be making Iran understand such hostilities are unacceptable.

‘Proxy army’

Ever since the Assad waged war on the Syrian people back in 2011 Iran has placed its entire weight behind his dictatorship, and pleading Russia’s air support in 2015 to ensure the regime’s survival, knowing its own rule would be threatened in the case of losing Damascus.

Following the fall of Aleppo and ISIS being routed from Raqqa, and especially after enjoying Obama’s appeasement approach, this Tehran-Moscow-Damascus axis now has its crosshairs focused on the Syrian opposition’s remaining strongholds.

This alliance will thus seek to re-establish Assad’s control over Syria through Russia-sponsored peace, degrading an already weak UN-backed effort in this regard. Russia will demand to maintain its military bases, and Iran seeks to achieve its long desire of establishing meaningful influence across the region to the Mediterranean.

As widely reported, in areas now controlled by Assad, Iran is in the effort of establishing a lasting military presence for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Lebanese Hezbollah, hired mercenaries from Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan, and local Syrian proxies.

US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster expressed concerns back in December about “the prospect of Iran having a proxy army.” Estimates indicate Hezbollah building an armada of 100,000 rockets based in Lebanon and possibly Syria. Such an Iranian fortification in Syria bears the potential of another Middle East war, although Tehran will most definitely back down knowing its apparatus lacks such a capacity.

Hassan Rouhani, Vladimir Putin and Tayyip Erdogan meet in Sochi, Russia, on November 22, 2017. (Reuters)


While Iran may publicly boast the ultimate goal of seeking “the eradication of Israel,” as the leader of the IRGC’s Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, said recently, its main intention is twofold.

Tehran’s need for growing belligerence abroad is increasing as recent protests flare at home. Earlier this month tensions sparked across the region as the Israeli military shot down a drone launched by Iran-backed forces from the Syrian city of Homs. Fighter jets were also deployed to target the base controlling the drone, parallel to other military targets.

This escalation in provocation stems from Iran’s mentality of showing a strong stance abroad to maintain influence among an already dwindling social base at home. Today’s circumstances are forcing Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to publicly admit people are criticizing the ruling state and his position.

At such an extraordinary situation for Iran’s clerics, boasting a powerful position abroad against foreign enemies also provides a pretext for Tehran to quell domestic dissent.

Global collaboration

For Iran it is highly important how the global community responds to its bellicosity, understanding when is the time to dial down and when the timing is proper to further hostilities.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir in a European Parliament speech emphasized the necessity for global collaboration to prevent Iran’s interference abroad, adding Tehran should end its efforts and the “revolution is over.” Across the Atlantic, US Vice President Mike Pence reiterated the fact that Tehran remains the main state supporter of terrorism, warning Washington will no longer tolerate Iran’s destabilizing activities across the region.

And returning from his Middle East tour, Ed Royce, Chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee issued a statement emphasizing the threat Iran poses for the entire region. Financial and diplomatic measures against Iran’s missile program and its support for terrorism were discussed in his meetings, according to a statement.

Moving back to the Green Continent, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on the European Union to increase pressure on Russia and Iran to end Syria’s violence. Merkel enjoys the opportunity and influence to lead Europe into putting aside its appeasement policy vis-à-vis Iran and stand on the right side of history.

Understanding the situation at hand, Iran is raising the price in Syria – such as the horrendous bombing campaign of East Ghouta – to use as a lever in possible future talks over its ballistic missile program and meddling in other states’ internal affairs.

Final thoughts

The international community, and especially the European Union, should be concerned over the Middle East experiencing a new wave of dangerous tension. US President Donald Trump promised last October to counter Iran’s “destabilizing activity and support for terrorist proxies in the region.”

It is high time to realize how Iran needs to escalate the stakes in Syria to both continue quelling dissent at home and renew saber-rattling for its correspondents.

The answer lies in supporting the Iranian people’s uprising against the ruling clerics and significantly elevating the price of Tehran’s destructive role outside its borders by threatening a return of crippling sanctions targeting the regime’s entities.

Digging Into Iran’s Latest Plane Crash

On Sunday, February 18th, Flight No. 3704 of Aseman Airlines, Iran’s 3rd airline company with a fleet of 29 planes, left Tehran’s Mehrabad International Airport at 8:03 am local time, heading for Yasuj. The plane, with 66 aboard, including six crew, never reached its destination, crashing into a mountainous region near the town of Semirom, close to Isfahan, south-central Iran.

All on board were confirmed perished as rescuers reached the site on foot at an altitude of around 4,000 meters (4,375 yards) after authorities failed to land a helicopter failed on the snowy mountain.

While such an incident in any ordinary country is followed with the government taking measures to quickly find the crash site in an attempt to save even one passenger, the Iranian regime is no such entity.

Many questions and concerns are circling since the crash, especially since Iran’s regime is not known for its transparency.

1) Why did authorities rush to announce all passengers dead before the crash site was found?

One family member of a crash victim was seen weeping and saying she was at the mountain and no rescue team was sent. They called from the crash site and said we are alive, she added.

2) If weather conditions grounded helicopters and prevented search and rescue teams to rush to the scene instantly, why was the flight given a green light?

Bad weather disrupted several Tehran flights on Sunday, according to the state-run IRNA news agency.

Authorities at Abadan International Airport in southwestern Iran were also forced to ground two domestic flights due to pollution that severely reduced visibility to literally two meters.

Iranian MP Mohammad Damadi has reportedly said mismanagement in Aseman Airlines can be one of the reasons behind the crash, adding the Weather Forecast Organization had warned of dangerous conditions around the mountainous area.

Damadi adds many Aseman Airlines pilots had filed complaints & more than 30 very capable pilots had resigned due to mismanagement.

3) Human error is also ruled out. The flight pilot, Hojatollah Fooled, successfully landed a similar plane despite an engine problem in 2013, according to an Aseman Airline Instagram post, adding Fooled was “very experienced.”

“On a previous flight from Yasuj to Tehran in 2013 he had an issue where the second engine of the ATR72 went out,” the post adds. “But he managed to land the plane safely at Yasuj airport.”

4) The translation of this Farsi tweet reads: “Aseman Airlines did not provide the budget needed for the ELT system on this plane. The system went inactive. Only a few planes flying abroad have the ELT system active. ILNA”

This text is citing the state-run Iran Labor news agency.

ELTs are emergency transmitters carried aboard most general aviation aircraft in the world today. These devices are designed to transmit a distress signal in the event of an aircraft incident.

5) Only one drone was deployed in the aftermath of the crash, according to CNN. This raises concerns as Iran is currently in the middle of a regional crisis of a drone being downed by Israeli air force after flying from Syria into that country’s airspace. How is it that Tehran has the budget to provide capable drones to take on such sensitive missions abroad and yet its rescue teams lack the means to carry out their duties?

6) This plane was grounded for seven years to undergo repairs and overhaul, according to the The Guardian. Furthermore, Aseman Airlines flights are banned to enter the European Union due to safety reasons. Why was this plane suddenly allowed into service only months ago?

To add insult to injury, Iranian news website Roozarooz reported the aircraft suffered “technical problems midair during a recent flight a few weeks ago” and had to make an emergency landing, according to The New York Post.

Questions regarding the ATR-72 planes’ suitability to fly over mountainous regions are already raised in various reports.

In an interview with EuroNews on Wednesday, ATR spokesman David Vargas said Iran has not purchased this company’s new generation planes available since 2011. The Tehran-Yasuj plane was an old generation plane, he added.

7) Iranian MP Mohammad Reza Tabesh, linked to the parliament’s environment faction, made remarks indicating a number of environment/natural resources experts, who in recent weeks had defended the work of such activists, lost their lives in this crash.

This follows the mysterious death of Iranian-Canadian environment expert Kavoos Seyed Emami.

Moreover, from 1989 to this day Iran has been home to 31 air incidents, 17 being severely fatal accidents where at least a dozen passengers lost their lives. By comparison, in the same timeframe UK airlines witnessed only two air crashes resulting in 12 or more fatalities.

In 2009, a Caspian Airlines Tupolev TM-154 experienced a bird strike and crashed, killing 168 on board.

In 2011, an Iran Air Boeing 727 crashed in north-western Iran en route to Armenia, killing 78 people.

Iran’s most recent case was in 2014, when a Sepahan Airlines flight crashed near Tehran minutes after taking off, killing 40 passengers.

Iran also has a long history of such disasters and failing to take necessary measures, including the February 2004 Neishabur train crash in northeast Iran; the January 2017 Plasco building fire in Tehran; the November 2017 Kermanshah earthquake and the January 2018 Sanchi oil tanker sinking in the East China Sea.

More disturbing is how Iran’s regime takes advantage of such disasters to divert attention from its own calamites. The recent Aseman Airline crash came just in time to cloak reports about the Dervish Gonabadi protest in Tehran and the mysterious “suicide” of Prof. Emami while in detention.

This entire crisis is arriving as internal feuds are flaring with former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his deputy, Hamid Baghai, daring to make strong remarks against the country’s judiciary, known to be highly influenced by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

The regime leader has also been forced to acknowledge increasing criticism from the people targeting his ruling apparatus, and even him personally. This is a significant turn of events in Iranian politics.

Parallel to all this is the brewing friction Tehran is experiencing in the region, especially as its future interests in Syria seem threatened.

The United Nations has recently filed a damning report about Iran’s involvement in the Yemen and providing ballistic missiles to the Houthi militia. And Iraq, another country where Iran has invested billions in, will be entering parliamentary elections in three months. The result of this poll will prove crucial for Iran’s future in the region, especially considering that Obama is gone and President Donald Trump is in office in Washington.

The end result looks very grim for Tehran, both domestically & on the world stage.

How The World Views Iran’s Role In Syria

As protests across Iran experience a variety of ups and downs following a major surge early this year, a wide array of analysts are seen writing about this important country’s domestic and foreign developments.

More recently, concerns for Tehran are also increasing abroad as its international isolation begins to take its toll.

To stand alongside the Iranian people, the international community must raise the cost of Tehran’s belligerence.

In a piece some time ago I discussed How Iran Is Losing Europe, especially taking into consideration the distancing of France from Iran and President Emmanuelle Macron’s improving relations with the United States.

Considering the fact that Iran’s economy is in desperate need of business ties with large French firms, such developments have become increasingly concerning for the Iranian regime’s ruling elite.

President Macron recently threatened military action against the Assad regime in Syria, widely known to be remaining in power thanks to the support of Iran and Russia.

“France will strike” if the Syrian conflict witnesses the use of chemical weapons against civilians, being in violation of international treaties, according to Reuters.

“On chemical weapons, I set a red line and I reaffirm that red line,” Macron added. “If we have proven evidence that chemical weapons proscribed in treaties are used, we will strike the place where they are made.”

Last May Macron emphasized chemical weapons use would represent a “red line” crossing. Updating his position, Macron took advantage of last Friday’s telephone call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to weigh in grave concern over signs of chlorine bomb usage against civilians in Syria.

In recent weeks, rescue workers and aid groups in Syria, and the U.S. government, have been accusing Damascus of repeatedly deploying chlorine gas as a chemical weapon against civilians in Ghouta and Idlib.

This highly dangerous chemical substance, which Syria claims to possess legally for purposes such as water purification, can be lethal when used as a weapon and causes suffocation.

The “Syrians for Truth and Justice” organization is reporting how missiles carrying poisonous gasses targeting Ghouta belonged to Iran:

“According to Bellingcat, the munitions used in the February 1 attack are Improvised Rocket Assisted Munitions (IRAMs), based on modified Iranian 107mm rockets. The standard warhead has been replaced with a large pressurized gas cylinder, and tail fins have been added to the rocket.”

Such developments go alongside further troubles brewing for Iran, emanating from strong remarks by other senior U.S. officials and figures.

Daniel R. Coats, Director of National Intelligence at a Senate Select Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday:

“Iran remains the most prominent state sponsor of terrorism, providing financial aid, advanced weapons and tactics, and direction to militant and terrorist groups across the Middle East and cultivating a network of operatives across the globe as a contingency to enable potential terrorist attacks.”

In yet another reminder of Iran’s troubles regarding the controversial nuclear deal, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton emphasized in a FOX News TV interview of only three months remaining to U.S. President Donald Trump’s deadline regarding a decision over the accord’s future.

Promises were made Tehran would join the community of civilized nations as a result of this deal. The result, however, has been anything but.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday renewed his government’s call on Iran to withdraw from Syria, accusing Tehran of destabilizing the Middle East through military presence.

“Iran needs to withdraw its military, its militia from Syria, and allow a hope for the peace process to take hold in Geneva,” Tillerson emphasized at a news conference in Amman, the capital of Jordan.

As argued extensively in the past, an interesting insight is now provided into how Washington can impose meaningful pressure on Tehran at a time when protesters are chanting for Iran’s regime to “Let go of Syria, think about us.”

New York Post article reads in part:

“Now is the time for Trump to re-establish a robust military deterrent toward Iranian expansionism in close collaboration with regional allies. His administration declared the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist entity in October, and he should target key Guards’ bases and weapons in Syria accordingly. Such an approach could help prevent a larger-scale conflict.”

Iran understands how more money pumped abroad will flame their already crisis-riddled political status quo back home.

Washington may particularly be focusing on also closing Iran’s “land bridge,” connecting Tehran to Damascus to easily influence the entire region and connect to the Mediterranean.

Iran’s regime is very vulnerable following the recent uprising. Public unrest and the protesters’ demands for fundamental change are Tehran’s Achilles’ heel.

Identifying and supporting the very element that can realize this change is crucial.

ANALYSIS: How Iran’s regime enters its 40th year as an Islamic Republic

February 11 marked the beginning of the 40th year Iran’s clerics are ruling over what they describe as an “Islamic Republic.”

The fact that this regime is facing a whirlwind of domestic and foreign crises goes beyond doubt. While Tehran’s state media boasts massive support among the populace, remarks heard recently from Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei portray a canvas of impasse, a weak entity and the road ahead being uphill, to say the least.

In response to increasing unrest across the country protesting political and economic corruption, Khamenei acknowledged the fact that “fighting cruelty and corruption is very difficult… it will not be resolved easily.”

He is acknowledging the growing scope of systematic corruption riddling the ruling apparatus, and his regime’s weakness in tackling such a demanding issue. Khamenei’s words also indicate Iran’s population will no longer tolerate discrimination, injustice and state-sponsored corruption.

Interesting is how in his latest remarks Khamenei refuses to discuss the 120-day ultimatum issued by U.S. President Donald Trump over the fate of the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. This further shows his weak hand, especially since Europe is cooperating with Washington’s demands of taking on Tehran’s meddling across the Middle East and ballistic missile program.

Khamenei’s silence is very meaningful and will be devastating for his regime in the near future.

“Systemized corruption”

Political and economic corruption is now considered institutionalized in Iran’s governing systems, ranking this country as one of the world’s most corrupts states. Obviously, economic corruption is merely one result of political corruption, and after 40 years we have come to learn the very subject of corruption has become an inseparable aspect of Iran’s regime.

Iranian Vice President Es’hagh Jahangiri says “termite corruption” is infecting every essence of Iran’s political and economic infrastructure, while Ahmad Tavakoli, head of Iran’s Expediency Council goes further.

“Unfortunately, corruption has become systematic. If measures are not taken, corruption will most definitely bring an end to the Islamic republic,” he adds, cited by the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

Changing times

Once known for its chest-thumping in refusing to discuss its role in the internal affairs of countries across the Middle East and the so-called “defensive” ballistic missile program, Iran, sensing the changing times, is now signaling steps back in this regard.

In a public acknowledgment of increasing international pressures and Europe distancing away from Iran, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said in Paris how Tehran would be willing to discuss “other issues” if the West makes certain the JCPOA remains “a successful experience.”

Although these remarks may seem rather harsh, those familiar with the language used by Iranian officials understand this is saber-rattling to save face, knowing discussions over “other issues” will be grueling and far more demanding than anything Tehran experienced during the Obama years.

Obvious is how Iran’s hardliners fiercely oppose such talks, yet all parties of this factionalized regime are realizing there is no good option ahead, and only choosing from bad and worse.

With Trump providing a last chance for what he describes as “the worst deal ever,” the Europe trio of Britain, France and Germany, all seeking to preserve the JCPOA due to their economic interests in Iran, are scrambling to blueprint a plan addressing Trump’s concerns over Tehran’s destructive role in the Middle East and ballistic missile drive.

Dirty money

Despite Araqchi’s claim of there being no link between the Iran nuclear accord and its influence across the region, new evidence shows the U.S. government tracing portions of the $1.7 billion released by the Obama administration to Tehran – as part of the JCPOA signing – has found its way into the hands of Iran-supported terrorists.

Informed sources are indicating how Tehran has been allocating such funds to pay members of the Lebanese Hezbollah, known as Iran’s main proxy group and provide the budget needed for the Quds Force, the Revolutionary Guards element described as Iran’s leading foreign intelligence arm involved also in covert action.

The Houthis of Yemen should also be sending their gratitude to Team Obama as evidence shows they, too, have received dividends of the notorious cash load airlifted to Iran. Tehran is using the Houthis to exert pressure on Riyadh from its own backyard.

This is not good news for Iran as such findings will most likely further convince Trump in his effort against the JCPOA. As heard from Araqchi, Tehran understands perfectly well the scrapping of this accord and the return of crippling sanctions, coupled with ongoing domestic protests, are a recipe for disaster.

Troubling months

In another sign of the Trump administration’s determination to take on the issue of Iran’s belligerence, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in the region, paying visits to Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Kuwait.

Iran is most definitely a major topic of his discussions and Tehran is bracing for possibly a new onslaught of regional pressure, similar to that of Europe, making costing demands.

With Iran protests taking a toll on the regime – as seen on Sunday with many cities witnessing people boycotting pro-regime rallies and protesters hitting the streets at night – and increasing word of banks going bankrupt, the months ahead look grim for Iran. This regime understands better than anyone that the public’s increasing wrath will be demanding, and it is using the JCPOA, its regional influence and ballistic missile program to bargain with the international community.

The difference between now and 2015 is that the White House is not at all fond of Iran’s bellicosity, and more importantly, the Iranian people are making serious demands of regime change.

What Do Iran’s People Think?

Following continuing reports of unrest in Iran, a recent opinion poll claims only 4.9 percent of the Iranian people seek regime change. Interesting is the fact that figures accused of having close relations with Tehran and Iran’s state-run media launched an orchestrated campaign to publicize this so-called survey.

What needs understanding is first the nature of this opinion poll, conducted merely through phone calls from Farsi speaking strangers, as if the Iranian people would trust such calls and express their true beliefs about the oppressive regime. Second, the background of those who claim to have gathered this information is worth a deeper look.

Why would one want to conduct a poll at a time when the state is rocked by protests across the board and slogans are targeting the ruling regime’s very existence? Unless those initiating the polls intend to depict a result contrary to public opinion, i.e., seeking to portray a rock-solid regime enjoying significant popularity.

Iran’s regime is in such desperate need to claim popular support that poll organizers don’t even take the time to portray their numbers as even slightly acceptable, making astonishing claims such as:

– Only 8.8 percent of the people believe Iran should decrease its ballistic missile program budget

– Only 11.3 percent believe the government is too involved in their personal lives

– Only 17.2 percent believe Iran’s role in Syria and Iraq is not in the country’s interests

– Only 21.5 percent believe Iran should decrease its Syria/Iraq budgets

– Only 21.7 percent believe the government should not impose seriously Islamic laws

This comes at a time that the majority of Iran’s populace lives in poverty, with disturbing images from inside the country showing the homeless living in graves, and others searching the trash for food or something to sell. People are also selling their kidneys and other body parts to help make ends meet. Moreover, one of the most prevalent chants by the protesters nationwide was, “Let go of Syria, think of us” and “We don’t want an Islamic Republic.”

A Voice of America Farsi TV report covering a similar poll in the past raised such a stir among the Iranian-American community that VOA Farsi removed it from its website.

This latest poll was prepared by Ebrahim Mohseni, a Research Associate at Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM), a Lecturer on the Faculty of World Studies at the University of Tehran, and a Senior Analyst at the University of Tehran Center for Public Opinion Research.

Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council, provided the publicity campaign support.

Mohseni is described as procuring “fabricated polls” and his “connection with the University of Maryland also helps him disguise the real paymaster of his fabricated polls, i.e. the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Parsi is also labelled as an “Iran apologist” and his disturbing views about the U.S. are quite interesting, to say the least.

This poll, naturally, received wide coverage by Iranian media linked to the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), such as the Fars news agency, and Khorasan daily.

Supporting the system, criticizing economic situation (Khorasan daily)

This organized “fabricated polls” effort and publishing in the U.S. dates back to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency (2005-2013), alongside Iran’s claim of having the right to a nuclear energy program and enjoying popular support for this drive.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry specifically launched this initiative in 2007. In 2009, with cooperation from Ahmadinejad’s cabinet, the Faculty of World Studies was established in Tehran University, headed by Mohammad Marandi, seen speaking in support of the Iranian regime in international media outlets. Activists have gone as far as describing him as affiliated to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the IRGC.

The Tehran University Center for Public Opinion Research was launched under Marandi’s supervision, with Mohseni in charge, to take over the role of launching and literally creating such fabricated polls. Mohseni is allegedly in collaboration with the IRGC Basij paramilitary. This is one of his speeches on the U.S. “Wall Street” movement.

Mohseni was then transferred to the U.S. and using the Iranian regime’s connections he began working at the University of Maryland. From that date forward Mohseni is said to have collaborated with Iranian officials in preparing such polls to be eventually published by the University of Maryland.

Mohseni, along with Parsi and a number of pro-Iran appeasement policy figures, published the first such “fabricated” poll, titled “Public Opinion in America and American on Key International Issues,” in January 2007. They astonishingly went as far as claiming 91 percent of the Iranian people supported the nuclear program and fuel cycle as very important.

In September 2009, as waves of Iranians were in the streets protesting the controversial re-election of Ahmadinejad and demanding their votes back, and the regime responding with a vicious crackdown, Mohseni conveniently prepared another poll claiming 81% of the people consider Ahmadinejad as Iran’s legitimate president.

The obvious question here is: Then why were so many people in the streets?

In February 2010, following months of further repression and killings in Iran’s streets, a new pollclaimed 83 percent of the Iranian populace considered the 2009 election to be free and fair.

In October 2012, an even more astounding poll published by Mohseni and his colleagues claimedthe wide majority of Iranians, already suffering in poverty, were willing to bear sanctions, war and all the leading hardships, yet unwilling to have domestic nuclear enrichment stopped.

Mohseni explained a question in a conference presenting the poll.

“Which is closer to your opinion:

1- Iran should continue its nuclear enrichment activity even if it results in war.
2- Iran should prevent war even if it means suspending nuclear enrichment activity.

“55 percent say we should continue enriching uranium while 33 percent say preventing war is of higher importance.”

When necessary, the Marandi/Mohseni team will also carry out certain campaigns inside Iran. In 2014 Iran’s hardliners sought to impose gender segregation at worksites and offices, beginning with Tehran’s municipality.

This initiative resulted in widespread protests across Iran, even inside the government and various factions of the ruling apparatus. Mohseni conveniently presented another fabricated poll actually claiming the majority of Iranians essentially support gender segregation “to render more calm among families.”

To conduct a “telephone poll” in a totalitarian state such as Iran on a subject related to the ruling system, and not on which brand of laundry detergent they prefer, is tantamount to conducting a poll in Germany under the Third Reich! Which would have undoubtedly resulted in showing outright support for Hitler.

Considering Iran’s intense crackdown and surveillance apparatus, especially when all secure means of communications are shut down, to believe one can obtain a measure of public opinion through calling Iranians on their landlines and asking them whether they support regime change borders on naiveté if not outright charlatanism.

Iran’s Future, In Its Own Words

On the very sensitive subject of how Iran plans to confront ongoing protests, described by some as an uprising, all the while attempting to resolve the very issues engulfing the ruling regime, there are critical concerns raising from various voices within.

And considering U.S. President Donald Trump’s powerful State of the Union message, underscoring “America stands with the people of Iran in their courageous struggle for freedom,” the stakes at hand in the months ahead for Tehran are extremely high.

Iran’s state-linked media are a good source, shedding significant and noteworthy light on the seemingly obscure nature of the Iranian regime.

The common tone heard in all such messages is hopelessness. Those loyal to the faction of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei see the solution in sacking the regime’s president, Hassan Rouhani.

Arguments from the other side of the aisle in Tehran’s politics rely on warning the Khamenei camp that such a scenario will not end the regime’s escalating quandaries. This is only the beginning and there is no stopping this train, adding the entirety of this regime is in the crosshairs.

There are those who believe dark days await those sitting on the throne in Tehran, speaking of future uprising waves. Providing no solutions, their words can mean nothing but succumbing to an inevitable downfall.

“Those who have continuously spread despair and anxiety through their platforms in state TV/radio and Friday prayers (in reference to the Khamenei camp) seek to portray Rouhani as incompetent. They issue and chant slogans of ‘Death to Rouhani,’ failing to answer the inescapable question of who after Rouhani. The answer is obvious: surpassing Rouhani means overcoming the government, reaching the very principle of our state, and finally surpassing the Islamic republic itself,” according to the Tadbir24 website, known for its affiliation to the Rouhani camp.

Interesting is how this piece considers Rouhani a synonym of the ruling state, or at least the velayat-e faqih regime’s last chance of survival, warning surpassing Rouhani is tantamount to the end of the clerical rule altogether.

Protesters in the streets, however, are crystal clear in their intentions and how they view the overall regime apparatus. Chanting “Death to Rouhani,” “Death to Khamenei,” and most interestingly, “Reformists, principalists, end of story,” the Iranian people are demanding sweeping changes, accepting nothing short of regime change. This ends Iran’s scheme of portraying a system established on two parties of conservatives and reformists.

“The issue at hand is not limited to merely surpassing Rouhani. More grave ends may be awaiting us,” according to the Jamaran website, explaining how these protests are raising eyebrows across the board amongst senior Iranian officials.

“Let us be frank: Taking into consideration the current heading, our destination will be nothing but all out ruin,” according to the Asr Iran website, another Rouhani camp mouthpiece.

“The society has become a cradle for numerous crises that will surface in other forms (read in further nationwide protests),” according to Rouhani’s economic advisor Hossein Zaghfar.

Warnings of other crises in the making and Iran anticipating further calamities are indicating signs of Iran’s ruling elite understanding very well there the harsh reality of these protests’ refusal to ever melt down.

To add insult to injury for the mullahs, the brave Iranian people are showing how the regime’s crackdown machine no longer enjoys its previous teeth. For forty years the clerical regime has been relying on this entity to remain intact and in power. Scenes of protesters tearing down Khamenei posters and attacking sites of the Revolutionary Guards Basij paramilitary force, parallel to a wave of Basij members burning their IDs and credentials, speak for themselves.

Iran’s protests will continue despite the fact that authorities killed 53 protesters and sent over 8,000 others behind bars, reports indicate.

The Iranian people are proving to the world over their objective of seeking regime change and establishing a republic based on democratic values rightfully cherished by most of today’s countries.

History shows those movements presenting a specific alternative to the ruling state have a far better chance of realizing victory for the people. A leading entity with a publicized plan for the future and the courage that the populace can rely on.

The time has come to set aside the “reformist” mirage in Iran. For decades, Maryam Rajavi, as President of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, is providing the sole, realistic alternative for Iran with a ten-point plan that enjoys the support of thousands of elected officials across the globe.

For starters, however, there are certain duties and obligations before the international community:

  • Demand the release of all recently arrested protesters & political prisoners.
  • Provide free internet access to all of Iran to allow activists report the truth about this regime, unfortunately cloaked by mainstream media.
  • Continue cutting off Iran’s access to the global financial system. This will deprive the IRGC from the financial sources it desperately needs to continue its slate of domestic and foreign belligerence.

This is a noble launch of standing shoulder to shoulder with the Iranian people in “their courageous struggle for freedom.”

Understanding the latest ISIS attack in Iran

According to news reports clashes erupted recently between Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and a group of men allegedly belonging to the Islamic State, or ISIS. These clashes were reported in western Iran, in the Iran-Iraq border area of Ezgeleh in Kermanshah Province.

Ezgeleh in Kermanshah Province, western Iran

Theses clashes were located around the Imam Hassan Village, also known as the Bamo region, bordering the Iraqi town of Halabja. According to the IRGC, five ISIS members were killed and 16 were arrested.

This deserves a close look at this region on the map and to take into consideration who is actually in control on the Iraqi side of the border.

The Pishmarga forces of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, previously destroying ISIS forces on their soil, and to the south Hashid al-Shabi (aka the Popular Mobilization Force), known as the Shiite Iraqi Basij, are in control. Long ago, ISIS was in control of areas hundreds of kilometers west of this region.

The question is who were these so-called ISIS members? To what group were they affiliated to? Why did they choose this timing to stage an attack against Iran?

A few months ago it was reported that the IRGC used helicopters to transfer hundreds of ISIS members from Dezli in Iran’s Kurdistan Province to Kalar and Tuz Khurmatu near Iraq’s Kirkuk Province.

Map shows location of the town of Dezli in Iran’s Kurdistan Province, and the locations of Kalar and Tuz Khurmatoo in Iraq.

Warnings were issued about the IRGC transfer of these ISIS members, and how their logistical needs were completely provided by the IRGC. All these individuals had long beards, and eyewitnesses and regional sources confirmed such developments, reports indicate.

What happened that these individuals, after some time with no one ever having any problem with their stay near the Iran-Iraq border, suddenly decide to send a 21-man group into Iranian territory?

This issue is directly related to the Iranian people’s nationwide protests seeking to bring about regime change.

The Iranian regime’s plot focuses on a claim of being under an attack, the country is at risk, the IRGC – now completely abhorred by the Iranian public opinion – is a popular entity and is supporting the country (!)

In fact, the question is, why didn’t ISIS target Iran during their climax, when they vast power and influence, enabling them to launch attacks in the heart of Europe? Why didn’t anything happen in Iran back then?

Secondly, after ISIS was completely eradicated by Kurdish forces and Hashid al-Shabi in Iraq, confirmed by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, and IRGC Quds Force Qassem Suleimani writing a letter to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei explaining ISIS has been annihilated even as far as the Iraq-Syria border, what has happened ever since that ISIS is suddenly reborn and enters Iranian territory?

Rest assured the 16 ISIS members arrested by the IRGC will be brought before state TV to “confess” to whatever the Iranian regime demands. They will most definitely be rehearsed by the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), raising issues with the objective of preventing the continuing and rightful protests across Iran in the month of February, and especially on February 11th when the regime intends to celebrate the beginning of its 40th year in power.

These individuals will tell the viewers Iran is in danger, the threat of civil war is eminent, and the non-existing ISIS is attacking your country… with no way out other than measures to prevent such an attack.

For those lesser familiar with Tehran’s ruling clerics, this procures a license to crackdown to all of the regime’s security organs.

This is a known and old pretext resorted to by the Iranian regime. Let there be no doubt that no ISIS groups exist in Iran. Fundamentally, where have you ever seen ISIS send a group of its men to a mission ending in 16 members being arrested?

ISIS is known to fight to the death or committing suicide. In Iraqi Kurdistan reports indicate a 9-man ISIS group was surrounded by ground and air forces. They fought until the very last man died. None surrendered. There have been rare occasions when wounded ISIS members were apprehended.

In reality, this entire scenario is a pretext cooked by the IRGC.

Inside the country or abroad, there is no threat more dangerous than the continuing existence of the Islamic Republic of Iran itself. Various analysts believe this threat can lead to the disintegration of Iran into smaller separate states defined by ethnic lines (which I believe is wrong), result in increasing debauchery (possible) and the current economic impasse rendering completely bankruptcy for Iran’s financial system (very likely).

The main threat is none other than the Iranian regime itself.