As the world continues to debate the recent Iranian outburst of protests, its “lack of leadership” as they claim, and the road ahead, there is no doubt in the minds of senior Iranian regime officials over who led, and continues to lead, this latest uprising that continues to rattle the very pillars of the mullahs’ rule.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei made his thoughts crystal clear.
“The incidents were organized” and carried out by the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), he said although using a different term. “The [MEK] had prepared for this months ago” and “the [MEK’s] media outlets had called for it.”
The MEK is best known for first blowing the whistle on Iran’s clandestine nuclear program back in 2002 and raising awareness over the possible military dimension (PMD) of this drive, a subject awaiting full clarification as we speak.
Interesting is how Khamenei’s remarks, however, mirror those of influential American figures.
“The resistance is making a difference,” said Newt Gingrich, former House of Representatives Speaker and an individual very close to U.S. President Donald Trump, at a “Regime change in Iran” meeting held recently by the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, the sole significant Iranian opposition coalition. The MEK is a member of this umbrella group.
“The MEK is making a difference. I have no doubt that, in the long run, you are on the right side of history. The resistance is knitting together both in the country and in the world a tremendous force that is sustaining the right to believe that you can be free,” Gingrich added while joined by former Democratic Senator Robert Torricelli.
Their participation marks bipartisan support the NCRI and MEK enjoy in Washington, considered rare these days.
“This is the beginning of a revolution. A regime that stays in power by killing its people has a numbered life. When Rouhani called French President Macron and asked him to clamp down on the MEK it made one thing clear: This is not a revolution without a leader. The leader is sitting here,” Senator Torricelli, in reference to NCRI President Maryam Rajavi.
“I agree with Khamenei on nothing except one thing: he is putting responsibility on the MEK and the PMOI and blaming Mrs. Rajavi. He is right about it. This has been organized for years, network has been created, by never compromising with the regime, never being part of it. The MEK and Mrs. Rajavi have kept credibility… So in identifying the MEK and Mrs. Rajavi, he is right because the MEK and the entire international community that supports it, we are all coming for Khamenei to end this nightmare,” he added.
Iran’s history of uprisings and the 1979 revolution specifically have witnessed their ups and downs. The current movement is undergoing a similar phase today and any argument that this round of protests have come to an end are baseless.
“The uprising showed that Iranian society is in an explosive state, simmering with discontent,” Rajavi said in her speech. “It showed that the regime is much weaker than perceived. It showed that the billions of windfall dollars from the nuclear deal did nothing to cure the regime’s instability. And finally, the uprising showed that the people of Iran detest both regime factions and want it overthrown in its entirety.”
Invited by numerous parliamentary groups, Rajavi continued her efforts on Wednesday in the European Parliament by calling on the Green Continent to break its dangerous silence in the face of ongoing protests in Iran and the regime resorting to numerous crackdown measures.
Khamenei understands the Iranian opposition’s threat and wastes no time in pinpointing the main sources of his regime’s concerns that is fueling and guiding the recent unrests. For decades West-based pro-Iranian regime lobby have also gone the distance in expressing their utmost abhorrence, especially in regards to the MEK.
A lobelog.com piece – later republished by the iran-interling.org, a site reportedly ran by known agents of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence to demonize the Iranian opposition– reads that rallies staged abroad recently in solidarity with Iranian protesters are “organized by a fringe, cult-like group,” referring to the MEK.
In this resort to yellow journalism, the piece fails to mention the fact that no other Iranian coalition or group was able to hold such organized rallies، and refuses to discuss the NCRI campaign calling for international action to pressure Tehran into releasing all political prisoners, especially the recently detained 8,000+ protesters.
The mere fact that such voices literally blow their horns in this regard not only raises eyebrows, it places us before this question of why?
The answer is simple. Iran’s regime is facing a major impasse, feeling the growing pressures of internal dissent and international isolation.
In response to Trump’s 120-day ultimatum to improve the Iran nuclear deal after waiving sanctions for “the last time,” France, Germany and the United Kingdom are discussing measures targeting Iran’s ballistic missile program and meddling in countries across the Middle East.
More than ever before, the Iranian people have shown their readiness for democratic change. The time has come for those governments that are pursuing appeasement policies with the Iranian regime to take a new approach.Washington and Europe should lead the global community into providing support for the Iranian people and recognizing the Iranian opposition NCRI in its call for regime change and the election of a representative government.
The Iranian people have spoken and continue to prove their legitimate demand for regime change to welcome a democratic and secular republic. Those countries continuing their appeasement vis-à-vis Tehran should set aside unreliable short-term benefits and begin thinking about their long-term interests.
The French “Pascal Coquis” recently wrote in an editorial piece describing the recent protests as a “volcano.”
“When it erupts, it can no longer be contained. The intensity of the fire may decrease, yet it will continue to erupt. Forever.”
Khamenei has genuine concerns over the NCRI, being the largest Iranian opposition coalition enjoying sweeping support on both sides of the Atlantic and having rooted connections to a vast network of supporters inside the country. This has provided the necessary tools for the NCRI to become the leading force of regime change with a clear blueprint for a democratic future for Iran.
On this highly imperative subject, we should actually listen to Khamenei’s words.
They say a news event has a three-day lifespan. The regime in Tehran is counting on such a theory to have the international community move on after the recent earthquake that shook western Iran. Each passing day further reveals the scope of this vast catastrophe.
“More than 1,000 people have lost their lives,” Iranian MP Ahmad Safari said to the official ILNA news agency 72 hours after the quake. “I went to a village where they said they pulled 20 corpses from under the rubble. They were not even counted in the death toll. 70 people died just in one alley of the town of Sarpol-e Zahab. Another 250 were killed in the Mehr housing complex.”
Experts advised the government of former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005-13) to build 25,000 homes under the Mehr blueprint. Ahmadinejad, however, ordered the construction of 1.5 million such units, raising questions of possible negligence in construction and lack of proper supervision.
While the ruling regime failed to provide any first aid relief, Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi made an early call asking supporters to rush to their compatriots in need.
“Just as opposed to the practices of the clerical regime, now is the time to show solidarity. Assisting and saving the victims of the earthquake is a sacred national duty,” she said.
The incoming statistics of this recent quake are devastating.
“There are still people stranded in villages where 90 percent of the homes are left destroyed. No official has visited these areas. The locals, along with their children, are forced to sleep the nights in their farm fields without any shelter,” a reported wired by the semi-official ISNA news agency reads.
Instead of focusing measures to rush aid for the victims, Iran’s regime imposed martial law in Sarpol-e Zahab, the epicenter of the earthquake.
Was such a catastrophe preventable? Is Iran the only country prone to earthquakes?
Japan has a history of earthquakes and thanks to technological advances we no longer witness skyrocketing number of casualties and damages.
Australia also experienced a powerful 7.0-magnitude earthquake on Tuesday that resulted in tsunami warnings. No casualties or major damages were reported.
Preventing quake damage is nothing out of the ordinary or impossible. A truly popular government allocating the necessary manpower, means and budget can do the job. Here is exactly where the problem lies in Iran.
On August 13th members of the Iran’s parliament unanimously adopted a 16-article bill providing around $600 million to further develop Iran’s ballistic missile program and additionally fund the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), especially the extraterritorial unit known as the Quds Force.
Iran’s five military entities enjoy a budget of $13.5 billion for the current Persian calendar year (March 2017 to March 2018), of which $7.4 billion belongs to the IRGC. This is a 24 percent increase from the last calendar year.
It is worth noting that the Iranian regime has a nearly $7 billion budget deficit, equaling to nearly half of its military budget.
Proper now would be to evaluate the money sent by the Iranian regime to Lebanon. There is actually no figure of Tehran’s financial support for the Lebanese Hezbollah.
While recent reports have placed this value at over $800 million, back in 2011 Al Arabiya Farsi shed further light in this regard.
“Hezbollah used to receive $350 million each year from Iran. In addition to Hezbollah’s own activities, this budget was used to provide for members’ salaries, the families of killed Hezbollah members, various projects in southern Lebanon and Beqaa, and bribing Lebanese political figures to back Hezbollah.”
One such $400 million construction project in Lebanon, including parks, was paid for completely by Iran. All the while millions in Iran remain under poor living conditions.
“As long as there is money in Iran, we will have money,” said Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, making it crystal clear how the terrorist-designated group’s entire budget is bankrolled by Tehran.
Deprived of this budget, 40 percent of the Iranian people are living in complete poverty. 13 million homeless in city outskirt slums. 14 million literally cannot pay for their daily meals.
State-affiliated websites in Iran report nearly 20,000 homes were completely destroyed in the recent quake. Whereas in Japan, simple homes made with a budget of $10,000 each, have proven to be earthquake-resistant.
If we take into consideration just the abovementioned $600 million, Iran’s government could have provided 60,000 such homes for victims of the past three major quakes across the country.
This includes 20,000 in Kermanshah province, the site of the recent quake designated as the most powerful in 2017 so far; another 20,000 for the victims of the 2012 East Azerbaijan quake in northeast Iran; and 20,000 more for the victims of the 2003 Bam quake that left tens of thousands of innocent people killed.
This is all aside from sitting on an ocean of 125 billion barrels of oil, 227 trillion cubic meters of gas and a daily revenue of $200 million from exporting oil.
The point is the solutions are out there. Iran, however, is ruled by a regime that could care less about its populace. For those sitting in Tehran, this is a recipe for disaster.
Mohammad Biranvand, another member of Iran’s parliament said, “Do you know that the people now trust athletes and celebrities more than they trust government institutions? All this indicates that the earthquake of distrust will be far more destructive than the recent earthquake.”
Tehran received a major blow following the blacklisting of Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a terrorist organization by the U.S. Treasury Department after President Donald Trump’s October 13th landmark Iran policy speech. This has senior Iranian officials extremely concerned as the regime in its entirety is desperately attempting to cope with the aftermath.
There are those heard struggling to downgrade the impact and save face.
“Sanctions against the IRGC are nothing new… The IRGC is not an economic entity for them to attempt to impact its future through sanctions. The IRGC is a military entity that will negotiate with no one regarding its duties,” said Hessam-edin Ashena, an advisor to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to a state daily.
Understanding the importance of U.S. sanctions, Gholamreza Tajgardoon, chairman of the Budget & Planning Commission in Iran’s parliament resorted to similar remarks.
“Sanctioning the IRGC will have no impact on the country’s economy… U.S. sanctions are an issue of international relations. The IRGC has no role in international economic relations. The IRGC is, however, active in military affairs inside Iran and the region,” he also said to state media.
Despite these remarks, and the fact that the IRGC dominates the Iranian economy, merely two days later on October 17th the Vatan-e Emrooz daily, known to be linked to the faction loyal to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, made a major U-turn in a piece titled “Black hole!”
This article shed light on the “unprecedented economic impact and expenses expected through the mother of all sanctions” – a term used by Iranian experts – on the entire regime apparatus.
This piece very explicitly explains the crippling results of new U.S. sanctions for Tehran. The piece, under the subtitle of “The Impact of Economic Sanctions Against The IRGC” explains:
“Despite its initial goal of numerous security objectives across the Middle East and inside Iran, this section of the mother of all sanctions seeks to dysfunction Iran’s economy, or as U.S. senators have described, shut down and turn off Iran’s economic cycle. Based on the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, first the IRGC and all branches and entities in any way related to the IRGC, alongside all companies cooperating with the IRGC will be designated in the SDN sanctions list.”
Furthermore, individuals and entities cooperating in any way with the IRGC must be designated and included in the SDN sanctions list under Executive Order 13224. The scope of these new sanctions will be extreme and far from any expectation under this executive order.
For example, more than 5,000 private companies are cooperating with the IRGC’s Khatam al-Anbiya construction company. Based on Trump’s new orders, all these companies are on the verge of being designated in the new list of sanctioned companies.
If Iran’s Central Bank or National Bank provides services and facilitations to these companies, and the U.S. State Department identifies this cooperation, these firms will be blacklisted in the SDN list of sanctions by the Treasury Department.
This major economic quagmire before the Iranian regime is the reason this bill is described as the “black hole” of sanctions.
What are we to believe?
On one hand there are claims of the IRGC not being an economic entity for sanctions to impact its future. On the other hand, there are those describing the IRGC blacklisting as a terrorist organization as pinning and shutting down the Iranian regime’s economy.
The simple truth is that the new U.S. sanctions against Iran are unprecedented of such plans imposed on a country. These economic and national security measures seek to patch loopholes in the highly flawed Obama-blueprinted Iran nuclear deal.
Following Trump’s speech, the Senate responded with a draft legislation proposed by Senators Bob Corker and Tom Cotton set to impose tough terms on the Iran nuclear deal. Sanctions lifted under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal would “snap back” if Iran tests ballistic missile enjoying the capability of delivering a warhead, or prevents nuclear inspectors’ access to all sites.
The House of Representatives also adopted four new sets of sanctions. The U.S. government is obliged to sanction individuals and entities facilitating financial resources and recruiting new members for Hezbollah.
Another bill calls on the White House to pressure the United Nations Security Council to level sanctions on Hezbollah for its use of civilians as human shields.
Wednesday’s last legislation focusing on the Iran-backed militia was a resolution calling upon the European Union to designate the Tehran offspring as a terrorist organization.
All three pieces bill, not in violation of the Iran nuclear deal, enjoyed bipartisan support with over 320 votes in favor.
The fourth and final bill, voted in nearly unanimously on Thursday with 423 in favor against two, aimed to sanction Iran in response to further developing its ballistic missile program.
Iran, sensing an end nearing to its days of cheating the nuclear deal with impunity, is showing signs of frustration. The Iranian Foreign Ministry has filed 18 instances claiming the U.S. has violated the deal. Analysts believe this could set the stage for Tehran to abandon ship while blaming Washington for the whole ordeal.
Lifting the entire issue to a whole new level, escalating protests by thousands of ordinary Iranians who have invested their savings into state-owned financial institutions are causing grave concerns for the ruling elite in Tehran.
Raising eyebrows is the fact that such protests are evolving politically in nature and gaining coverage among mainstream media.
“According to a report and video from an Iranian opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), there were more than 2,000 people protesting outside the country’s parliament, known as the Majlis. The protesters who were accosted by the police shouted slogans against the regime:
“Shame, shame on the police force!”
“Death to the dictator.”
“Death to the demagogue.”
Welcoming these rallies, Iranian opposition NCRI President Maryam Rajavi hailed the brave protests and called on her fellow countrymen to join in solidarity and express their support.
“Institutionalized fraud along with institutionalized murder and belligerence constitute the pillars of the mullahs’ decadent regime… As long as this regime is in power, there will be no end to the astronomical embezzlement, poverty, unemployment and catastrophic economic conditions,” she said.
And once again, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson voiced his government’s support for the will of the Iranian people.
“There are strong feelings and values inside of Iran that we want to promote in terms of one day the Iranian people being able to retake control of their government,” he said during his trip to India.
After describing it as the “worst deal ever” and threatening to scrap the entire accord, U.S. President Donald Trump has decertified the Iran nuclear deal, describing it as against U.S. national security interests, and outlined significant measures targeting the regime in its entirety. Trump took a major step in ordering the Treasury Department to fully sanction Iran’s notorious Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), describing the entity as Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s “corrupt terror personal terror force and militia.”
This is a major U.S. policy shift vis-a-vis Iran dating back to the early 1950s since Eisenhower turned against the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh.
The U.S. Treasury Department followed suit by designating the IRGC “pursuant to the global terrorism Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 and consistent with the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.” Such a move against the Guards will have major implications in Iran and the region.
In an expression of his deep disregard of the Iran nuclear deal Trump said, “In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies in regards to Iran, then the agreement will be terminated.”
While always harsh on Trump, the Weekly Standard provided good reasoning for his recent decision.
“It is unassailably obvious that the Iranian regime has not complied with the agreement. The Iranians have not given international inspectors unfettered access to nuclear and military facilities, as the agreement requires. They have attempted to acquire banned nuclear and missile technology. They have exceeded the agreement’s limits on advanced centrifuges and heavy-water production. They continue, moreover, to sponsor terrorism around the world and abet the brutalities of Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.”
The U.S. House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee approved a new law imposing more sanctions on Iran for its Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Program on Thursday. A legislation, set to come under consideration in the House, will require Tehran to accept harsh new conditions on the JCPOA or face a “tidal wave of sanctions.”
The Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the first to blow the whistle on Iran’s nuclear program back in 2002, welcomed Trump’s decision.
NCRI President Maryam Rajavi said previous “U.S. administrations’ policies of turning a blind eye on flagrant human rights violations in Iran, the regime’s deadly meddling in the region and concessions made to it in the course of the JCPOA have been disastrous, and for which the people of Iran and region have paid heavily,” according to a statement.
This comes after the NCRI’s Wednesday conference releasing a 52-page report titled “Iran’s Nuclear Core: Uninspected Military Sites,” shedding light on the regime continuing its nuclear weapons ambitions through secret military sites. Back in April this coalition also provided extensive information on over forty different missiles sites checkered across the country.
Voices opposing Trump’s decision, however, argued Iran continued to abide by the JCPOA.
“The Trump administration is right that Iranian behavior destabilizes the region, but wrong when it says that such behavior contradicts the ‘spirit’ of the agreement,” former U.S. diplomat Wendy Sherman argued in a recent New York Times piece.
The JCPOA text itself begs to differ.
“The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action states the anticipation of JCPOA participants that ‘full implementation of this JCPOA will positively contribute to regional and international peace and security,’” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement. “However, Iran’s other malign activities are serving to undercut whatever ‘positive contributions’ to regional and international peace and security were intended to emerge from the JCPOA.”
“Iran tried to obtain illicit technology that could be used for military nuclear and ballistic missile programs, raising questions about a possible violation of the 2015 agreement intended to stop Tehran’s drive to become an atomic armed power…”
The Iran nuclear deal is comprised of key botches:
The JCPOA fails to confirm Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful, delivers no agreed-upon punishments for Tehran’s violations and actually paves the path to nuclear weapons,
provides a very opaque inspections regime, especially on military sites,
permanently benefits Iran in return for “sunset” nuclear restrictions,
sets no limits on Tehran’s ballistic missile program,
and Iran, known as the leading state sponsor of terrorism, is emboldened to expand its influence and escalate its destabilizing activities.
The ball is now in Congress’ court to decide on the future of the accord.
Having passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act in 2015, Congress now has 60 days to launch legislation based on accelerated procedures bearing the potential of snapping back nuclear sanctions on Iran and take even further action against the IRGC.
All states considering establishing economic ties with Iran will also have to think twice. The IRGC has tentacles spread to at least 40% of Iran’s economy through front companies. This includes key oil, gas, telecommunications and construction sectors.
Foreign firms seeking relations with Iranian firms will risk violating US sanctions. BNP Paribas learned this the hard way in 2015 after being slapped a record $8.9 billion fine for violating Iran sanctions.
The Trump administration will most likely seek further non-nuclear sanctions against the Iranian regime. This would need at least 60 votes in the Senate, meaning eight Democrats have to jump aboard.
Considering the existing consensus on Capitol Hill over Tehran’s Middle East meddling especially in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, supporting proxy groups such as the Lebanese Hezbollah and domestic human rights violations, this doesn’t seem an uphill battle.
The measures needed from this day forward are:
Closing JCPOA loopholes and aiming to permanently prevent Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Bringing a definitive end to Iran’s ballistic missile program, regional aggression and sponsorship of terrorism, and flagrant human rights violations.
Dismantling Iran’s weaponization program through airtight control mechanisms covering all aspects of the regime’s nuclear program.
Gaining true “anytime, anywhere” access to sites, civil and military, and interviewing nuclear scientists and experts. This is needed to clarify outstanding issues in relation to possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson provided the case against the IRGC.
“Iran supports the Assad regime, even as it commits atrocities against its own people, including with chemical weapons. Iran provides arms, financing, and training, and funnels foreign fighters into Syria. It has also sent members of the Iran Revolutionary Guard to take part in direct combat operations.”
Senior Iranian officials even prior to Trump’s speech had resorted to known rhetoric and threats.
“If the news is correct about the stupidity of the American government. . . then the Revolutionary Guards will consider the American army to be like Islamic State,” IRGC chief Gen. Mohammed Ali Jafari said.
Former Iranian diplomat Hossein Mousavian wrote Trump’s decision returns “US-Iran relations to a state of overt hostility.” Interesting is that Mousavian has conveniently forgotten how Iran’s IRGC has a history of killing Americans, beginning with the 1983 Beirut bombing that left over 240 US military personnel killed.
The international community has no problems with the Iranian people who are rightfully proud of their thousands of years of heritage. It is the Iranian regime that wrongfully hijacked the 1979 revolution, unjustly claims to represent this nation and continues to create mayhem domestically, across the Middle East and beyond.
Trump’s strategic US policy revision for regime change in Iran is indispensable to ending and rectifying Washington’s disastrous past strategy vis-a-vis the Iranian people.
President Trump underscored, “In this effort we stand in total solidarity with the Iranian regime’s longest suffering victims: Its own people.”
The pro-Iran deal camp is recently making much noise about how the Trump administration and critics of the pact, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), are making rightful complaints of the text failing to address Iran’s destructive belligerence in the Middle East.
These are valid concerns, considering the fact that even if the deal remains intact come October’s decision by President Donald Trump to find Iran in compliance or not, the mullahs are hell-bent to continue wreaking havoc and expanding influence across the region.
The pro-Iran deal camp claim Washington has no evidence to hold Tehran in violation of the JCPOA terms. Not true.
Tehran has exceeded its heavy water production cap, necessary for a plutonium nuclear bomb,
testing more advanced centrifuges,
illicitly procuring highly sensitive nuclear and ballistic missile technology in Germany, according to Berlin’s intelligence services,
surpassing its uranium enrichment cap, another key non-compliance factor
The pro-JCPOA camp also argues this deal has prevented Iran from becoming the next North Korea. This is partially true and misleads only the uninformed reader. A deal very similar to the JCPOA, led by the Clinton administration, was signed with North Korea and ended up in dismal failure. This left the world with a rogue state now equipped with at least 20 nuclear bombs, intercontinental ballistic missiles and the technology to miniaturize a nuclear warhead in its payload.
While the JCPOA was intended to keep Iran away from nuclear weapons, why shouldn’t Washington lead the West in demanding Iran curb its further belligerence, such as advances in its ballistic missile drive, increasing executions and atrocious human rights violations, and stirring mayhem in the Middle East?
Iran must be held responsible for “its missile launches, support for terrorism, disregard for human rights, and violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said Tuesday.
Speaking of this flashpoint region, legitimate concerns exist over Iran establishing a “Shiite crescent” stretching from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean. Important to note is the fact that JCPOA flaws, and the Obama administration’s desperate nature to sign a deal as a foreign policy legacy, provided Iran a windfall of billions to stoke its support for the Assad regime in Syria.
“Iran has been helpful in Iraq by fighting the Islamic State,” is how The New York Times describes Tehran’s campaign in its western neighbor, failing to even mention how Iran-backed Shiite militias and death squads have launched massacres, killing sprees and forced displacements targeting Iraq’s Sunnis and other minorities. While Iraq was a melting pot of peoples of different backgrounds living intertwined in peace and for centuries, Iran’s fueling of sectarian wars has created a dangerously wide rift of hatred.
Iran’s measures in supporting Yemen’s Houthis in their illegitimate fight against an internationally recognized government, funding of the Lebanese Hezbollah and supporting the Afghan Taliban as an ally against the US add all the more reason for strong action against Tehran.
In parallel fashion, the pro-appeasement camp continues to seek ties between Washington and Tehran, similar to the “working relationship” established between former US top diplomat John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Iran apologists are quick to criticize current US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for refusing to meet Iranians, while easily brushing aside the undeniable truth that Tehran usurped its warmed relations with the Obama administration to concurrently prop up the Assad regime and its massacring of innocent Syrian women and children, especially with chemical weapons.
Another question Iran apologists have allowed Tehran to go by never answering is this: Why do the mullahs continuously insist on such a politically and economically expensive nuclear program while sitting on the world’s second largest natural gas reserve and fourth largest crude oil reserve?
If the mullahs truly sought the better interest of the “Iranian nation,” as they have claimed for the past forty years, why don’t they turn off the lights on their nuclear program and reap in all the incentives and lucrative economic contracts that will most definitely follow?
And why the sudden regime change-phobia on Iran? Yes, many critics correctly point out the fact that regime change policies in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya have gone south. Yet why do these critics fail to go the distance and carefully evaluate the main reason behind these failures?
Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya lacked any solution and alternative to replace their ruling states with true democracies. This is not the case with Iran.
The Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a coalition of numerous dissident groups and individuals, led by its charismatic President Maryam Rajavi, has a ten-point plan for the future of Iran.
Universal suffrage, pluralism, individual freedoms, abolition of the death penalty, separation of church state, gender equality, rule of law, commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, peaceful coexistence and a non-nuclear Iran all meet the modern democracies in the West.
The NCRI, with the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) as its core member, has been gaining serious momentum in the past few months. Senator John McCain, Chairman of the US Senate Armed Services Committee met with NCRI President Rajavi in April. Last month hundreds of international dignitaries and over 100,000 members of the Iranian Diaspora voiced support for regime change in Iran in a massive Paris rally.
And as the Trump administration is weighing its comprehensive Iran policy, a high-profile delegation of US senators recently visited Maryam Rajavi and PMOI/MEK members in Albania. This visit sends strong signals as Rajavi and the PMOI/MEK are the legitimate flagbearers of regime change in Tehran.
At such a sensitive timing, Tehran is on its last leg and Iran apologists are desperately attempting to provide a crutch. This is a highly mistaken approach.
Washington should lead the West in raising the stakes for Iran. Demands must be placed before the mullahs to end all its menacing activities, parallel to the international recognition of the Iranian opposition NCRI to realize regime change in Tehran.
Following the recertification of Iran’s compliance with a nuclear deal aimed at curbing its controversial nuclear program, there is quite a stir over the Trump administration possibly adopting a regime change policy in the face of Tehran’s belligerence.
There are those who favor such a trajectory, while Iran lobbyists and apologists have promptly argued otherwise, saying war should not be an option and citing ongoing campaigns in countries across the region to back their opinions.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s strong position of supporting regime change in a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee sent shockwaves in Tehran and beyond.
“Our policy towards Iran is to push back on (its regional) hegemony, contain their ability to develop, obviously, nuclear weapons and to work towards support of those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government,” he said.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis, known for his “Iran, Iran, Iran” description of the source of Middle East dilemmas, followed suit.
“Until the Iranian people can get rid of this theocracy, these guys who think they can tell the people even which candidates they get a choice of. It’s going to be very, very difficult,” Mattis said in a special interview.
It is broadly assumed that the diplomatic pressure and sanctions initiative embarked upon by the White House and Congress are aimed at serving a regime change objective in Iran. The next necessary step would be to make this policy crystal clear to Tehran and all relevant parties.
Such strong statements made by Tillerson and Mattis dig deep into the Iran dossier and realize one stark, and very positive, difference between Iran and its neighbors. In contrast to others, the Iran regime change enterprise enjoys a long-term plan presented by a grass-rooted opposition movement, symbolized in the Iranian opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
Unfortunately, the campaigns launched in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and even Syria, after former US president Barack Obama said the dictator Bashar Assad must go, all lacked this very necessary element, and the world remains witness in horror of the drastic consequences. Millions left killed and injured, scores more displaced, trillions of dollars literally wasted and entire cities and countries leveled. And the only benefactor has been the mullahs’ regime…, being an entirely different topic of discussion.
Tehran lobbyists stationed in Washington are heard saying Iran also lacks any such organized opposition capable of delivering anything different from what we have witnessed in other countries. For years they have been inaccurately mischaracterizing the NCRI as lacking adequate organization, support and resources.
To spare time, one needs only refer to this coalition’s recent July 1st convention in Paris, held annually, for a glimpse of its social base and international backing. Over 100,000 members of the Iranian Diaspora, joined by hundreds of international dignitaries from all walks of life representing a conglomerate of political trends, shows how the NCRI, and its President Maryam Rajavi, have garnered growing support both inside Iran and abroad to bring about regime change and establish freedom and democracy in their homeland.
Advocates of the appeasement approach vis-à-vis Iran will further continue quarreling over how the West must continue its effort of seeking internal Iranian elements of moderation.
Ever since the 1980s a slate of senior Iranian regime officials, including former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, former presidents Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami, and now Hassan Rouhani have been naively dubbed as “moderates” or “reformists.”
What deserves comprehension after 35 years of deception is the fact that Iran’s “moderate/reformist” pretext has long surpassed its expiration date. While the Iranian people are yearning for change, there is no such appetite, capacity or potential in Tehran’s ruling mullahs’ apparatus.
Mousavi supported the regime’s unnecessary continuation of the war against Iraq, devastating the lives of millions,
Rafsanjani supervised a domestic cleansing of dissident voices, and a string of assassinations and terrorist plots abroad,
Khatami presided over the 1999 student uprising crackdown and advanced Tehran’s clandestine nuclear weapons drive,
and Rouhani’s first term as president rendered the execution of over 3,000 individuals, and the trend continues as we speak with over 100 executions in July alone. Rouhani has also blessed a dangerous spike in ballistic missile advancements by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).
As a result, any form of moderation or reform is nothing but a hoax misused by Tehran to continue misleading and deceiving the international community, while threatening the rise of hardliners if the likes of Rouhani are deserted.
Returning to the decidedly significant statements made by Tillerson and Mattis, it is high time such game-changing rhetoric receives deserved backing from President Donald Trump himself.
Iran must feel the heat from Washington’s policies, especially as Tehran prolongs its Middle East belligerence plaguing Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, and endures its harassing of the US Navy in Persian Gulf waters.
America must take the lead in facing Iran over its fundamentalist nature both inside the country and abroad. The Trump administration should begin architecting an international coalition to back the NCRI’s drive for regime change and peaceful democratization of Iran.
After four decades of utter atrocities, it is the Iranian people’s right to live in peace and prosperity.
The recent Iran sanctions ratified by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump specifically target the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and have caused very interesting reactions from Tehran.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has remained silent, signaling his state of shock. His regime’s president, Hassan Rouhani, also indicated the toll of these new measures.
“…first, the Majlis (parliament) will take steps in this regard. If they have the Congress, we have the Majlis,” he said in a weak reaction. This is a president whose executive branch is in charge of the Iran nuclear deal, passing on the official response to the legislative branch.
Aside from legal and technical aspects of these sanctions, Tehran is currently facing regime change policy and support for the Iranian opposition, represented in the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
Ahmad Khatami, a member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts, said Iran’s enemies are seeking to topple the establishment. This has left the entire Iranian regime deeply concerned, rendering it unable to establish a strong position in the face of the status quo.
Prior to this Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi also expressed weak remarks in response to the new U.S. sanctions.
Members of Khamenei’s camp have used their platform in Friday prayers to call on Rouhani’s cabinet to take a strong stance. There are voices also saying that Iran’s Central Bank and the entire government will eventually be sanctioned.
Iran’s reactions are of political importance as they indicate how this crisis is resulting in major internal tension.
“This is the mother of all sanctions,” said Foad Izadi, a Tehran University assistant professor, in a recent interview with state TV. “Based on the text, for example, the IRGC will be linked to the government as the government approves the defense budget. Thus, as this military entity is considered a terrorist organization, the government will suffer the same consequences.”
Elements of Khamenei’s camp, known as the conservatives/hardliners/principalists, are demanding Iran exit the nuclear deal altogether, while Rouhani’s camp is arguing the IRGC was under such sanctions in the past.
The entire regime in Iran, however, is forced to follow in line with the nuclear deal and lacks the will to do otherwise. There are concerns inside Iran that the nuclear deal will lead to similar pacts demanded by the international community, such as Tehran’s ballistic missile drive, meddling in other countries, and support for terrorism abroad, and most importantly, the mullahs’ grave human rights violations dossier.
Khamenei, who has the last word in all national security and foreign affairs, had launched the nuclear negotiations even prior to Rouhani’s first term.
Iran’s regime is currently facing two paths of death or suicide. Khamenei himself has been heard saying any change in behavior will result in regime change. Therefore, his entire apparatus lacks any capacity for meaningful change.
To this end, it appears Iran is seeking to maintain the nuclear deal intact with support from the Europeans. However, even such a policy has its own problems for a ruling system of this nature. Khamenei knows the Europeans will also demand changes, especially in Iran’s human rights dossier. This means another dead end for the mullahs.
Even those who naively dubbed Rouhani a “reformist” have questions to answer after he recently met with several senior IRGC commanders. This is yet another sign that Rouhani is calibrating his ties with the belligerent IRGC. Under Rouhani’s watch the defense budget has risen and the IRGC’s ballistic missile production has advanced dramatically.
All the while, Tehran is facing even larger challenges of regime change. Iran’s powder-keg society continues to gain momentum with daily protests and the organized NCRI opposition is enjoying increasing support.
For over 35 years this organization has emphasized the fact that Iran only understands strong language and must be sanctioned meaningfully. The world is only now beginning to comprehend.
Even during the Bush administration, NCRI President Maryam Rajavi reiterated the fact that while her coalition had blown the whistle on Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program, the main threat emanating from Tehran was its meddling in Iraq and export of terrorism and fundamentalism. This phenomenon is far more dangerous than Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, Rajavi emphasized.
The recent sanctions imposed on Iran by the U.S. Congress is in line with this argument. They first target the Iranian regime and seek to tackle the mullahs’ destructive policies that have plunged the Middle East into flames and threaten the entire globe.
The world is beginning to understand how peace and stability in the Middle East hinges on reining in Iran’s utterly dangerous bellicosity.
As the Trump administration continues to weigh its Iran policy with a possibility of regime change on the table, there are voices heard arguing such a move, citing the failures witnessed in the past two decades.
The very reason regime change campaigns in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria have failed is the lack of an organized opposition movement ready to provide the alternative afterwards.
Iran enjoys such an alternative, symbolized in the NCRI, its President Maryam Rajavi and her ten-point-plan delivering a free and democratic Iran.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday placing new sanctions on Iran, North Korea and Russia. This follows a similar version adopted overwhelmingly by the Senate in a 98-2 vote last month.
The House resolution, however, faced a more peculiar road even riddled with obstacles. Fortunately, the overwhelming 419 to three vote in favor of this bill, the bipartisan Countering Adversarial Nations Through Sanctions Act (H.R.3364) has made it veto proof. Despite the fact of alterations made in the initial text, all glitches have been set aside to gain White House consent.
“The Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), not just the IRGC Quds Force, is responsible for implementing Iran’s international program of destabilizing activities, support for acts of international terrorism and ballistic missiles,” the House Resolution text reads in part.
This development is a devastating blow to Tehran and a major success for the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
Calls for regime change in Iran and support for the NCRI have been gaining unprecedented weight in Washington, leaving Iran’s mullahs utterly terrified.
Iran has been found “threatening U.S. national security and undermining global stability with a range of aggressive acts” through ballistic missile tests, supporting terrorist organizations and meddling in the internal affairs of other states. The House bill is calling for political and economic measures to place Iran before accountability.
This resolution can fundamentally be considered the blacklisting of Iran’s IRGC as the criteria imposes mirroring restrictions, and at times goes even further.
The IRGC will be placed on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists following these procedures becoming law and US President Donald Trump taking the engagements necessary. The following is a list of the actions stated in this House resolution:
All assets and property in the US belonging to IRGC-linked individuals and entities will be frozen.
No American individual or entity has the right to establish financial, business, services or other affiliations with any individuals directly or indirectly associated to the IRGC.
No American individual or entity has the right to violate these sanctions through intermediaries or bypassing these procedures.
All individuals and entities having any relations with the IRGC must be sanctioned. Considering the fact that the IRGC officially enjoy a variety of connections and associations, this will effectively be paralyzing for Iran. One such example is the IRGC Khatam al-Anbiya group that is currently cooperating with more than 2,500 economic firms. All these companies will be sanctioned, rendering any relations with them illegal.
As these measures place the IRGC under secondary banking sanctions, practically no financial institution will be permitted to provide direct and/or indirect banking services to IRGC-linked individuals and entities. No foreign bank will cooperate with any Iranian entity that is in any way related to the IRGC and/or its affiliated entities.
These sweeping arrangements follow the NCRI’s annual convention held on July 1st in Paris this year with senior American figures such as former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich calling for even more drastic moves against Iran.
“It is long past time to declare the IRGC a terrorist organization. They on their hands the blood of so many of your people, and they have on their hands the blood of my people, too, whom they helped to kill in Iraq. We should declare them a terrorist organization so we can cut them off support around the world,” Giuliani said in his speech at the NCRI event.
Through Iran’s perspective, these new methods are the “mother of all sanctions,” as described by Hossein Shariatmadari, editor-in-chief of Keyhan daily, considered the mouthpiece of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. This sheds light on the significant political impact of these sanctions for Tehran.
These new sanctions come at a time when the Trump administration is blueprinting its comprehensive Iran policy, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis both mentioning regime change in recent remarks.
These actions are the building blocks for the next vital steps necessary for Washington and the international community:
Officially designating the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization,
Standing alongside the Iranian people and their organized opposition, represented by the NCRI, to realize regime change in Tehran.
We are at a critical juncture in our time in history. The Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has entered now its third year.
As the Trump White House is pending its Iran policy there is increasing support for regime change. All the while the Iran appeasement camp are boosting their efforts of claiming any firm policy on Tehran will lead to war. The question is do the measures professed by this party truly prevent war?
When Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) recently held its annual convention in Paris, with Trump “emissaries” such as former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaking powerfully of regime change in Iran. Former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton went as far as declaring the Iranian regime will not witness its 40th anniversary in February 2019.
In response, Iran and its lobbies in the West, terrified of such a surge behind the NCRI as the sole alternative able to bring about true change in Iran, have not remained silent. Iran apologists are yet again seen resorting to the old tactic of warning about a new war in the Middle East.
For decades now pro-Iranian regime writers have cautioned against adopting a firm policy on Tehran, allowing the mullahs’ regime to plunge the entire Middle East into havoc.
As we speak Iraq, Syria and Yemen are in ruins thanks to Iran’s support of proxy elements fueling sectarian conflicts and deadly civil wars.
The war in Afghanistan has yet to finalize after 16 years, and reports continue of Iran supporting the Taliban and al-Qaeda in this country.
Lebanon has yet to witness political stability in decades as Iran continues to funnel millions of dollars and arms to its offspring, the Hezbollah, brought to life by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) back in 1982.
Many other Arab countries can follow suit after Kuwait expelled Iran’s ambassador and more than a dozen other “diplomats” from its soil based on espionage charges.
But of course, the Iran apologists conveniently consider such matters as irrelevant or at best second hand. These very Iran lobbyists are the actual warmongers as their efforts have provided Tehran the opportunity to bring upon utter devastation to all Middle East nations.
Pat Buchanan in a Townhallpiece argues, “After Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, would America and the world be well-served by a war with Iran that could explode into a Sunni-Shiite religious war across the Middle East?”
Neglected here is the passivity encouraged by such Iran-apologists has actually empowered Tehran. The end result has been Iran engulfing Iraq and Syria into a horrific abyss of Shiite militias massacring innocent Sunni civilians.
Former MEP Struan Stevenson sheds light on such an unfortunate phenomenon.
“800,000 people have been rendered homeless from Mosul alone, millions when you count the refugees who fled from Ramadi and Fallujah. Thousands of innocent Sunni civilians have been killed, and tens of thousands among them were injured,” he wrote in a recent Al Arabiya article.
There is no question that the 2003 Iraq war was a strategic mistake. Yet why do Iran-apologists, again conveniently, neglect another drastic error of Obama prematurely pulling all US troops out of Iraq in 2011? This left the fledgling state of Iraq at the hands of wolves, being Iran, its puppet, former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, and Shiite proxies and death squads.
We simply cannot deny the fact that al-Maliki in Iraq, Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, all supported financially and logistically by Iran, paved the path for the rise of ISIS. They massacred Syria’s Sunnis, parallel to Maliki’s crackdown of the Iraq’s Sunni minority. This allowed ISIS to spread, and first in Iraq and Syria, and thus throughout the Middle East, Europe and beyond.
The regime in Iran actually benefited extremely from the rise of ISIS to claim legitimate its involvement in Iraq and Syria through Shiite proxy groups.
Again, as Iran-apologists across the board in the US and Europe encouraged engagement and rapprochement with Tehran, climaxing unprecedentedly during Obama’s tenure, Iran’s mullahs continued their killing spree across the region.
Looking back at the past several years, one can dare to accuse these Iran-apologists of paving the path for Tehran to legitimize its horrific killing sprees, and causing a horrible number of deaths. Can we not accuse them of warmongering?
These Iranian lobbyists, including Trita Parsi, head of the so-called “National Iranian American Council”, raise the flag of war being bad for business, and thus cheering diplomacy to encourage business. Yet he neglects Iran’s own warmongering in the Middle East.
All said and done, with the Trump administration seriously weighing regime change as policy vis-à-vis Iran, the international community sees before it the opportunity to finally adopt the right policy on Iran.
Engagement has failed. Wars in the Middle East have been disastrous. We do not want to go down that road in regards to Iran. And there is no need.
The Iranian people and their organized opposition, the NCRI, are more than capable of toppling the mullahs’ regime in Tehran. This organization has everything in place and seek only the international community to recognize their struggle and end the disastrous Iran appeasement approach. A course correction vis-a-vis Iran policy regarding is needed, too, in order for the people of Iran and their opposition to take on the rest.
With the recapturing of Mosul, the rein of ISIS in northern Iraq is coming to an end. This, however, can lead to the reemergence of a far more dangerous threat for the future of this fledgling democracy.
Iran and its destructive meddling Mesopotamia has devastated this entire nation, leaving at least tens of thousands killed, scores more wounded, injured and displaced.
Tehran has continuously targeted the Sunni community in Iraq and taken advantage of the war against ISIS to change the very fabric of this minority. Sunni provinces have been the target of this wrath especially after Nouri al-Maliki, described by many as Iran’s puppet in Iraq, reached the premiership in 2006.
Ever since 2003, with a surge beginning under al-Maliki’s watch, Iran has flooded its western border neighbor with financial, logistical and manpower resources, spearheaded by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).
The track record of Iran-backed proxy groups and death squads in Iraq is nothing short of deadly and atrocious. One group alone, Asai’b Ahl al-Haq, claims to have launched over 6,000 attacks targeting US soldiers from 2006 onward.
Amnesty International has also filed a disturbing report over Iran-backed militias being supplied US arms by the Iraqi government, only to carry out war crimes targeting the Sunni community.
War against ISIS
The defeat of ISIS must not be considered the end of the nightmare. Far from it. General Stephen Townsend, commander of the coalition forces against ISIS, recently emphasized the importance of all Iraqi parties reaching a political consensus in the post-ISIS stage.
To emphasize his point, Townsend touched on the sensitive topic of Iraqi Sunnis feeling unrepresented in Baghdad.
Former US defense secretary Ashton Carter, who supervised the anti-ISIS effort from early 2015 to January of this year, underscored “chaos and extremism” will follow if the “political and economic campaigns that must follow” fail to render the results needed for Iraq future’s.
The hidden occupation
On a side-note, the internal sectarian drives in Iraq are not be considered the result of an especially bloody history. Iraq’s conglomerate of communities experienced peaceful coexistence for over a millennium.
As Iran began its hidden occupation from 2003 onward, one campaign pillar focused on instigating sectarian strife with the objective of expanding its influence through Shiite communities in strategic areas across the country. Such policies have been carried out vividly in all Sunni provinces recaptured from ISIS control.
There is no need to divide Iraq into federalized states, as this would deepen the rifts amongst a nation that needs to begin rebuilding the bridges and bonds destroyed.
Despite all the flaws in the campaign against ISIS, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has the potential to be pulled out of Iran’s influence and act as an independent figure. This is especially true as he has stood in the face of Iran’s pressures, while there remains far more necessary cleansing of the mullahs’ influence in Iraq.
Following the historic Riyadh summit earlier this year, it is time for the Trump administration, allied with the Arab World, to take serious action curbing Iran’s influence in Iraq.
All al-Abadi government officials must prove their allegiance to the Iraqi people and not the Iranian regime. The Iraqi judiciary is also heavily under Tehran’s influence, seen specifically when the country’s supreme court last October blocking al-Abadi’s reform package aiming to “decrease the political space — and platform — for sectarian saboteurs and political spoilers like Maliki,” as explained in The Hill.
Iraq now lays in devastation and the road ahead will be difficult. This country needs the correct support from its well-meaning neighbors – not the regime in Iran – and the international community to once again stand on its own and play its expected part in today’s world.
This is a breakdown of the utmost necessary measures:
1) Stanching Iran’s influence, especially at senior levels in Baghdad and the security apparatus, and supporting al-Abadi distance from Iran
2) Confront Iran’s meddling by preventing al-Maliki from regaining the premier seat, and dismantling the Popular Mobilization Units and all death squads, parallel to blacklisting Iran’s IRGC
3) Supporting the Sunni community in all Iraqi hierarchy and security forces, and establishing an equal method of governance across the country.
In a recent speech, Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi highlighted how Iran has for 38 years been at war with Iraq and other nations in the region and beyond.
She underscored, “…the ultimate solution to the crisis in the region and to confronting groups like ISIS lies in the overthrow of the Iranian regime by the Iranian people and it’s Resistance.” That seems to be the only way to protect Iraq from Iran.