How Will Iran Respond To The Syria Attacks?

Forbes

We can consider the April 14th airstrikes against the Syrian regime’s chemical infrastructure as a point of no return in regards to this country’s future developments. For many years Bashar Assad and Iran were able to take the utmost advantage of the Obama administration’s policy of appeasement, and thus pave the path for Russia’s entrance into the Middle East. The main victims have been directly the peoples of Syria, Iraq, Yemen and other regional states.

Iran seeks to respond to these attacks, both to lift the spirits of its military and security forces across the country, and in regards to the regional balance of power. Facing increasing anti-government protests and its consequences, however, Tehran lacks the capacity to take on measures outside of its borders .

Considered Assad’s main sponsor after spending dozens of billions of dollars in Syria, Iran had prior to these attacks threatened repeatedly that such a US-led initiative will not go unanswered.

Tehran, however, has yet to take any action after the early morning April 14th airstrikes, while further reports in Middle East outlets indicate other bases associated to the Assad regime and Iran-backed militias in Syria are being targeted.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei unprecedentedly described the leaders of the United States, France and the United Kingdom as “criminals,” going against all diplomatic norms. Can such remarks be considered a green light for terrorist attacks by Iran and/or its affiliates?

The semi-official Tasnim news agency, associated to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Quds Force, claims the Asaeb al-Haq, a 40,000- strong militia group affiliated to Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Force (PMF) with long-term relations with Iran, has several units currently besieging U.S. forces stationed in the Al Zahra airbase located northwest of Baghdad.

Tehran’s rulers are comprehending clearly how Obama’s appeasement policy, in the face of this regime’s crimes inside the country and those of its affiliated militias abroad, has ended. Ever since the Trump administration has entered the White House, we have witnessed firm actions against Iran’s belligerence, rendering significant results.

For some time, we are no longer hearing reports of IRGC boats harassing US warships in international waters of the Persian Gulf. It has been months since Tehran last test-launched a ballistic missile. Instead they are using Yemen’s Houthis to launch Iranian missiles into Saudi Arabia to both cover any tracks and save face to some extent.

In the nationwide uprisings of the past months that rocked the very pillars of Tehran’s entire apparatus, the Iranian people are extensively protesting the regime’s Middle East meddling. This, parallel to the recent currency nosedive crisis, is preventing the Iranian regime from executing widespread military initiatives in the region.

Trump’s firm policy has also forced North Korea to agree into significantly curbing its nuclear weapons program and ballistic missiles. Russia, able to voice demands in the past few years due to Obama’s weakness and gaining a significant Middle East foothold through its Syria campaign, refused to respond to the US-led airstrikes against Assad’s forces.

Iran took advantage of the highly flawed appeasement policy by staging military attacks seeking physically elimination, and also demonizing its opposition, being the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and specifically the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the main member of this political coalition that is considered the alternative to the Iranian regime.

In Iraq PMOI/MEK members were target to numerous ground and rocket attacks by Iran-associated militias. Tehran resorted to such methods to  balance in the face of regional defeats, including a lethal September 2013 raid into the PMOI/MEK’s main base in Iraq as Tehran’s nuclear negotiators began secret negotiations to curb their nuclear program.

Following the transfer of all PMOI/MEK members to Albanian in the Balkans, Tehran’s ability to carry out military attacks against them is limited. Iran, however, has launched an active propaganda machine and extensively expanded its embassy mission in Albania.

The PMOI/MEK in Albania have hosted senior American dignitaries such as Trump’s new National Security Advisor John Bolton, Trump’s cybersecurity advisor Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senator John McCain and senior delegations from Congress all on separate occasions. Tehran’s lobbyists, especially those in the U.S., label such developments as the U.S.’ leniency towards war against Iran. This is Tehran’s effort to distract attention from the main issue at hand, being the existence of a popular resistance movement and an Iranian democratic alternative representing the Iranian people’s true will of regime change.

In response to senior U.S. figures supporting the PMOI/MEK and the policy of regime change in Iran, Tehran is focusing its main demonizing measures against this organization to both distort Albanian sympathy regarding the PMOI/MEK’s presence in Albania on one hand, and claim the Iranian regime has no alternative.

“Considering their own experience with dictatorship and oppression, Albanians understand the PMOI/MEK’s pain and suffering,” said former Albanian MP Namik Kopliku. “We are proud to provide a safe haven to the PMOI/MEK who seek freedom for Iran. On the other hand, we are witnessing a long slate of measures by Iran’s lobbyists in Albanian media attempting to spread lies and tarnish the PMOI/MEK’s image amongst our people.”

As a result, this possibility exists of Iran responding to setbacks in Syria by launching a new media campaign against PMOI/MEK members in Albania through its ties to western media outlets, attempting to delegitimize this alternative and portray the Iran dossier as a decision merely between war and appeasement.

If Washington intends to materialize its firm Middle East policy into meaningful results it must place its crosshairs on Iran . This is not a call for a new and unnecessary war in the Middle East. In fact, this is a call to support the Iranian people and their organized resistance movement in the ongoing anti-government protest, coupled with imposing crippling sanctions against the IRGC and Iran’s Central Bank. US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin recently signaled the possible return of “very strong” sanctions against Iran.

These coordinated measures will significantly weaken Tehran inside the country and abroad, and facilitate true change by the Iranian people and their rooted opposition.

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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.

ANALYSIS: How Iran fueled and used al-Qaeda

Iran’s relations with al-Qaeda is under the spotlight following the CIA’s release of nearly half a million documents obtained during a 2011 raid that killed the extremist group’s leader Osama Bin Laden.

How Iran at least facilitated the efforts leading to the 9/11 attacks has been discussed extensively. For decades US authorities have argued Iran-al-Qaeda ties date back to 1991, referred to in a 19-page report amongst the trove.

“Anyone who wants to strike America, Iran is ready to support him and help him with their frank and clear rhetoric,” the report reads.

REVEALED: Bin Laden daughter’s letter addressed to Khamenei

The US government’s 9/11 Commission explained how Iranian officials met with al-Qaeda leaders in Sudan as early as 1991 or 1992. This led to the Lebanese Hezbollah, an offspring of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) to begin training al-Qaeda militants in Lebanon, the commission said. IRGC training camps inside Iran have also been exposed by the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

Al-Qaeda further enjoyed the backing of Iran and Hezbollah in the 1998 truck bombings targeting US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that left 224 people killed, including 12 Americans, US prosecutors said in their indictment of Bin Laden. This proves Iran recognizes no religious borders in allying with al-Qaeda. To reach its objective Tehran is bounded by no principles and will resort to any measures necessary, a viewpoint very rarely discussed.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei arrives to deliver a speech in Tehran on November 2, 2017. (Reuters)

Pragmatism in politics

Important for Tehran regime is to utilize all means to safeguard its rule by extending influence and reach across the Middle East. This includes wreaking havoc for the region’s nations and targeting all assets of the “Great Satan,” as the Iranian regime describes the United States.

When needed Iran provided al-Qaeda their necessities. When interests alter, however, Tehran easily changes course. The 19-page report mentioned above describes how Iranians later placed al-Qaeda members under house arrest following the Sept. 11 attacks. Tehran understood the importance of al-Qaeda for Washington after its victory in Iraq, and began planning long term.

“They decided to keep our brothers as a card,” the report said. In 2015 Iran made this true, reportedly exchanging a number of al-Qaeda leaders for a diplomat held in Yemen by the terror group’s local branch. “In my experience, the Iranian regime is the best example…of pragmatism in politics,” according to an al-Qaeda official quoted in the 19-page report.

Tehran taking advantage

While Iran and al-Qaeda shared a common enemy in the U.S., the relationship also had its sour days. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei reportedly received a letter from al-Qaeda operatives – said to be Bin Laden’s daughter – demanding Tehran release detained operatives’ family members.

In 2003, Tehran reportedly weighed a possible deal with Washington, offering to exchange a number of al-Qaeda numbers for members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) then stationed in Iraq. Nothing materialized, however.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attends a meeting with students in Tehran on October 18, 2017. Leader. (Reuters)

Al-Qaeda’s apparent siding with Iran may seem surprising, considering the ostensible enmity extremists like those of ISIS have for Shiites, and vice versa. “The relationship between al-Qaeda and Iran demonstrated that the Sunni-Shiite divisions did not necessarily pose an insurmountable barrier to cooperation in terrorist operations,” the 9/11 Commission reported.

Prior to 9/11, Iranian intelligence facilitated border passage to al-Qaeda militants without stamping passports or with previously provided visas by its consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, according to the 19-page report.

This mirrors US intelligence, showing how eight of 9/11’s hijackers passed through Iran before arriving into the mainland United States. One can now doubt claims of Hezbollah or Iran not being aware of the 9/11 planning. Experts have also noted how Iran leads a campaign, if you will, seeking short and long term interests.

Also read: CIA files shows depth of al-Qaeda’s relationship with Iran

Iran has trained militias to fight in Iraq and Syria under the pretext of “protecting” Shiite holy sites and shrines. Described as a “mere dog-whistle aimed at rallying sectarians to prop up the Assad and Maliki regimes,” reports show how Iran-backed groups have deployed forces to areas lacking any shrines to “protect.”

All the while, Iran’s proxy groups have staged horrific massacres against Sunni communities across Iraq and Syria. Furthermore, in the past several years the Iran-backed Assad regime has suspiciously retreated from various positions, only to see ISIS gain ground, while mutually attacking the grassroot Syrian opposition.

Numerous intelligence reports indicate how Tehran provided long-term shelter to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, founder of al-Qaeda in Iraq. The IRGC protected and groomed Zarqawi, whose group become the predecessor to ISIS, the reports add. The IRGC also facilitated resources allowing al-Qaeda in Iraq to rebuild infrastructure to launch its blitzkrieg offensive from Syria, taking over large swathes Iraq.

U.S. intelligence has well documented Tehran’s ties with al-Zarqawi, strongly doubting the narrative provided by the Obama administration following ISIS’s rampaging of numerous Iraqi cities.

Barack Obama speaks about the nuclear deal with Iran on Aug. 5, 2015. (AP)

Obama’s appeasement

With Bin Laden killed in 2011, why did the Obama administration keep a lid on this valuable source of vital intelligence?

CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani told Bloomberg the new documents specify “Iran and al-Qaeda have an agreement to not target each other. The documents indicate Bin Laden referred to Iran as the ‘main artery’ for al-Qaeda to move funds, personnel and communications.”

The Obama administration released selected sets of Bin Laden files, in an attempt to emphasize a fierce rivalry between Iran and the extremist group. We now understand the Obama administration had complete knowledge of Tehran’s lethal cooperation with al-Qaeda.

The timing of Obama obtaining such vital intelligence about Tehran’s relations with al-Qaeda suspiciously overlaps Iran’s extensive meddling in the region, especially the lethal crackdown of its opposition in Iraq.

Iran has gone the limits in attempting to annihilate its opposition. As WikiLeaks revelations shed light on Iran’s conspiracies against the PMOI/MEK, rest assured the future has more such exposures.

President Trump speaks about the Iran nuclear deal in the White House on October 13, 2017. (Reuters)

Outstanding threat

Iran will deny any relations with al-Qaeda. Interesting is how Iran initially denied any role in Syria and Iraq. The status quo proves Iran’s lethal footprint in literally opening the gates of hell upon these two nations.

The Obama years are over. Al-Qaeda and ISIS have lost their organizational structure, after Iran took complete advantage of them. Iran and the IRGC, however, continue causing mayhem.

The CIA release follows US President Donald Trump’s landmark decision to decertify the flawed Iran nuclear deal. The Trump administration has also ended decades of rapprochement, highlighted in the IRGC blacklisting. This very necessary measure needs full-throttle implementation without any loopholes.

Despite their differences, the European Union and United States should join force in the long overdue effort to end Iran’s foot-print in Syria and Iraq.

New Light On Iran’s Human Rights Violations

Two of the major crises the international community is currently engaged with are terrorism and nuclear proliferation. Iran, in particular, is negatively involved in both fields, being known as the central banker of international terrorism, and suspicious for its own controversial nuclear program at home parallel to its nuclear/missile collaboration with North Korea.

As these subjects are of significant importance and deserve even more attributed attention, what must not go neglected is the fact that Iran is taking advantage of such circumstances to continue an equally important campaign of belligerence against its own people. The scope of human rights violations carried out by Tehran is continuously on the rise, with the ruling regime interpreting the mentioned international crises as windows of opportunity to extend its domestic crackdown.

And yet, a promising report issued from the United Nations has shed very necessary light on a specific dossier Iran has gone the limits throughout the past three decades to cloak. In 1988 the Iranian regime carried out an atrocious massacre sending tens of thousands of political prisoners to the gallows. Unfortunately, the world has until recently remained silent in this regard.

Twenty nine years after the atrocious carnage, Asma Jahangir, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, issued a report on September 2nd for the first time referring to the massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners, mostly members and supporters of the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

This document, coupled with a note by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and presented to the UN General Assembly, has for the first time specifically attributed a number of articles to the 1988 massacre. Thousands of men, women and juveniles were sent to the gallows, and buried in mass, unmarked graves, all according to a fatwa, or decree, issued by the deceased Iranian regime founder Ayatollah Khomeini.

Raising the stakes to a level Tehran has sought to avoid through the years, this damning UN report has called for an independent and thorough inquiry into these crimes to unearth the truth of the atrocities carried out in the summer of 1988.

Activists and the Iranian Diaspora have for 29 years focused their measures on presenting evidence of the killings. This has finally been acknowledged in this UN report.

“Between July and August 1988, thousands of political prisoners, men, women and teen-agers, were reportedly executed pursuant to a fatwa issued by the then Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini. A three-man commission was reportedly created with a view to determining who should be executed. The bodies of the victims were reportedly buried in unmarked graves and their families never informed of their whereabouts. These events, known as the 1988 massacres, have never been officially acknowledged. In January 1989, the Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Reynaldo Galindo Pohl, expressed concern over the “global denial” of the executions and called on Iranian authorities to conduct an investigation. Such an investigation has yet to be undertaken.”

The atrocities, of such grave nature, rendered a major rift amongst the regime’s leadership and highest authorities. The late Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, then Khomeini’s designated successor, expressed his opposition to the killings and the massacre came back to haunt a presidential hopeful in the most recent such election held back in May.

“In August 2016, an audio recording of a meeting held in 1988 between high-level State officials and clerics was published. The recording revealed the names of the officials who had carried out and defended the executions, including the current Minister of Justice, a current high court judge, and the head of one of the largest religious foundations in the country and candidate in the May presidential elections. Following the publication of the audio recording, some clerical authorities and the chief of the judiciary admitted that the executions had taken place and, in some instances, defended them.”

The mentioned “head of one of the largest religious foundations” is none other than conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi, said to be groomed by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to replace the incumbent Hassan Rouhani as president. Khamenei, battling with cancer, sought this as a launching pad in Raisi’s rise to succeed him as the regime’s leader.

However, a nationwide campaign led by the network of PMOI/MEK-associated activists inside Iran exposed Raisi’s past and raised immense emotions and opposition amongst the Iranian population. This development left Khamenei no choice but to place his blueprints aside and allow another term for Rouhani as his regime’s president.

The UN report also refers to Raisi’s candidacy in May’s election.

“During the period of candidate registration, a total of 1,636 individuals, including 137 women, submitted their names as candidates for president. However, in April, the Guardian Council, a body of six clerics appointed by the Supreme Leader that oversees the electoral process and vets the candidates, announced that the candidatures of only six men (0.37 per cent of the applicants) had been approved. Among them was Ebrahim Raisi, who reportedly had served on a committee that had ordered the extrajudicial executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988.”

The 1988 massacre victims’ families have throughout these years desperately sought to find the final resting places of their loved ones. All have been provided next to no information by the regime’s authorities and left to search and grieve amongst the dozens of mass graves sites checkered across the country.

“In March, families who visited a mass grave located in the city of Mashhad, Razavi Khorasan Province, where up to 170 political prisoners are believed to be buried, reportedly discovered that the previously flat area had been covered with soil to create a raised mound over the grave. In mid-May, bulldozers were reportedly seen working on a construction project directly alongside the mass grave site at Ahvaz, located on a barren piece of land 3 km east of Behesht Abad Cemetery, where the remains of at least 44 people killed during the summer of 1988 are believed to be located. The plan is reportedly to ultimately raze the concrete block marking the grave site and build a “green space” or commercial development over the site.”

After decades of endless efforts by Tehran to keep a lid on the 1988 massacre, this UN reports demands dignity for the victims and their families.

“Over the years, a high number of reports have been issued about the [1988] massacres. If the number of persons who disappeared and were executed can be disputed, overwhelming evidence shows that thousands of persons were summarily killed. Recently, these killings have been acknowledged by some at the highest levels of the State. The families of the victims have a right to know the truth about these events and the fate of their loved ones without risking reprisal. They have the right to a remedy, which includes the right to an effective investigation of the facts and public disclosure of the truth; and the right to reparation. The Special Rapporteur therefore calls on the Government to ensure that a thorough and independent investigation into these events is carried out.”

The Iranian regime has considered the international community turning its back on this crime against humanity as a green light to continue its rampage of domestic crackdown and human rights violations.

The so-called “moderate” Rouhani has a dismal report card of over 3,000 executions during his first tenure, over 100 executions in July and at least 55 such cases in the month of August, according to reports.

The regime also has no tolerance for even the slightest protest by political prisoners in its own jails. Nearly two dozen such inmates in Raja’i Shahr (Gohardasht) prison of Karaj, a town west of Tehran, are continuing their hunger strike for well over a month. They are protesting their illegal transfer to a section of the facility placed under 24/7 audio and visual surveillance, even in bathrooms and showers.

As Iran’s other bellicosity have rightfully raised international concerns in recent years, it is vital to understand that human rights violations are this regime’s chink in the armor. No matter what their position, all ranks and files of the Iranian regime involved in the 1988 massacre must be held accountable in an international tribunal and face justice.

ANALYSIS: Unveiling the secrets of Iran’s 1988 massacre

Ali Fallahian, Iran’s intelligence minister during the tenure of Rafsanjani’s presidency back in the early 90s, is a name most notoriously known for his role in a series of chain murders across the country that saw the elimination of many dissidents.

Fallahian has recently been heard making shocking revelations in reference to mass executions, especially targeting members and supporter of the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

A German court raised charges against Fallahian for his direct involvement in the September 1992 assassination of Iranian Kurdish dissidents in Berlin. In 2007, Interpol placed Fallahian on its most wanted list for his role in the 1994 bombing the AMIA in Buenos Aires Jewish center that left 85 killed.

The 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners, mostly MEK members and supporters, has in the past year inside Iran become a major issue for the general public, especially the younger generation who are beginning to demand answers.

Fallhian’s remarks, aired in a recent interview, have caused quite a stir in social media inside Iran and amongst Iranian communities living abroad. In this interview, Fallahian sheds light on his role in the Iranian regime’s die-hard enmity against the MEK as the only opposition truly threatening their rule.

Q: “Can we blame only the MEK for taking up arms, or did we also make mistakes… for example, attack their gatherings, pressure their members and supporters…?”
Fallahian: “They had such an analysis. [Iranian opposition leader Massoud] Rajavi had maybe written 36 articles against armed conflicts.” (Khazar website – July 18) This is Fallahian acknowledging the fact that the MEK had sought to continue their peaceful political activities. The mullahs’ regime, however, dispatched their forces to attack, arrest, torture and kill MEK members. Fallahian moves on to discuss the 1988 mass executions across Iran.

Q: “Did the Intelligence Ministry suggest the 1988 executions to [Iranian regime founder Ruhollah] Khomeini?”
Fallahian: “Khomeini himself ordered it… saying the ruling for all moharebs [term used for MEK members, meaning enemies of God] is execution. There were discussions in this regard back then. Mr. Mousavi Tabrizi believed there was no need for prosecution, arguing prosecuting those who are at war with us has no meaning. Others believed those arrested should be prosecuted… however, [Khomeini] constantly emphasized to beware they don’t slip out of your hands… [Khomeini] would always say be careful in this regard… how? For example, if there was a confusion about someone being a murderer or not, execution would not be the first option of punishment. However, about the MEK [Khomeini] would say an opposite approach is needed. I know them, he would say, they must not slip away and their rulings are execution. This was his constant ruling, before and after the 1988 issue…

“… there are discussions and some are asking why were those sentenced to prison terms again condemned to death? First of all, keep in mind their rulings are execution, even if a judge hadn’t ruled for an execution, he had violated the law… If an armed mohareb was arrested, his/her ruling would be execution, even if he/she hadn’t killed anyone… the ruling for a hypocrite (another term used for MEK members) and mohareb is execution. This was [Khomeini’s] fatwa. There was no discussion in this regard. In 1988… the discussion reached the point that all of them must be executed, even those not sentenced to death. [Khomeini] would ask why have you still kept them alive.”

It is worth noting that the Iranian opposition has for the past year launched a justice movement shedding light on the 1988 massacre both inside Iran and across the globe. These efforts went into full gear weeks prior to Iran’s May 19th presidential election, forcing Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to sack his plans of engineering election results as he desired.

Conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi, known to be Khamenei’s preferred candidate to replace the incumbent Hassan Rouhani as president, suffered a major defeat due to revelations of his role in the 1988 massacre. Raisi was a member of the notorious four-man “Death Commission” appointed by Khomeini himself to facilitate and hasten the execution process.

Q: “Raisi was in the commission. Who were the other members?”
Fallahian, however, refrains from naming other Death Commission members and begins discussing the process which political prisoners were executed and the summer 1988 massacre. He placed all the blame on Khomeini, emphasizing he had issued the execution and massacre ruling long before.”

Fallhian: “Yes, the poor guy [referring to Raisi] insisted he hadn’t issued the ruling, the ruling was issued in advance… but no one would listen, and they would also think the executed were innocent… if we hadn’t killed them there would be no country today. These are not my words, they are the words of [Khomeini]…”

The reporter seeks to make a reference to a groundbreaking sound file unveiled last September of Khomeini’s then successor, the late Hossein Ali Montazeri, in which he sheds light on unknown aspects of the 1988 massacre.

Q: “What was Mr. Montazeri’s mistake?”
Fallahian: “He came in disagreement with [Khomeini]… [He] believed history would judge these executions against us and Islam. He would say it would be better to refrain, as when the enemy begins to write, they won’t cite us harshly. However, [Khomeini] ordered to carry out your religious duty and don’t wait for history’s judgement.”

Q: “Were all those executed arrested while armed?”
Fallahian: “No, not all of them were involved in the armed revolt. However, many of them were living in team houses. We would go there and find only one or two weapons, or arrest them on the street without any arms.”

Q: “So how were they linked to the armed revolt?”
Fallahian: “Well, they were part of the organization.”

Q: “Wasn’t it necessary for each individual to have taken up arms to be convicted of being a mohareb?”
Fallahian: “No, when someone is a member of an armed current, the individual being armed or not, their ruling is mohareb.”

Q: “Even if they are arrested with a newspaper?”
Here the interviewer is referring to the fact that many MEK members and supporters were arrested, and eventually executed, for the mere fact of having a pro-MEK newspaper at their possession.
Fallahian: “Yes. They were part of that organization and were operational. Now, its possible someone would merely buy bread for those living in ‘team houses’, another would, for example, procure other necessary items. They were all involved.”
On a side note, Fallahian referred to the extensive MOIS role in dispatching its spies abroad under various pretexts.

“… we do not dispatch an intelligence officer, let’s say to Germany, the US or Russia, and there he would say, ‘well, I am from the Ministry of Intelligence, please provide me your information.’ (They would do it) under the cover of business or media jobs. Many journalists are intelligence agents … A journalist is not paid well, so he needs to work with an intelligence service.”

Revelations and shocking remarks about the 1988 massacre are made by numerous senior Iranian officials recently. What has made these figures acknowledge the nature of the mullahs’ regime of carrying out such massacres and mass murders?

This has been the true, yet unfortunately cloaked, nature of the mullahs ruling Iran. Nearly three decades after that horrific summer of 1988, the efforts placed by the Iranian opposition through its vast network of brave activists inside the country and abroad have forced the mullahs to literally confess to their role in these killings.

It is now high time for the international community to demand a fact-finding mission, and bring to justice all perpetrators of the 1988 massacre and all the atrocious human rights violations throughout the past 38 years.

Iran opposition convention pioneers call for regime change

A massive gathering of the Iranian Diaspora in a vast convention hall north of Paris voiced their compatriots’ demands for regime change in Tehran. The colossal and energetic event, staged annually by opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), led by its President Maryam Rajavi, brought together hundreds of former US, European and Middle Eastern officials and dignitaries.

Saturday’s rally was headlined by NCRI President Maryam Rajavi calling on the international community to acknowledge the Council as the legitimate voice and representative of the Iranian people, abandon once and for all the appeasement policy and adopt a firm strategy of standing alongside the Iranian people’s true demand of regime change.

American dignitaries representing both sides of aisle, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Senator Joseph Lieberman, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Governor Ed Rendell and a slate of many other political and military officials also added their voice.

“You, I, my government and your leadership, we see Iran in exactly the same way. The regime is evil and it must go. #FreeIran,” said Mayor Giuliani.

“This is a regime which thinks it’s justice to kill 30,000 people. This is a regime which thinks it’s justice to have an election where no one is allowed to run. This is a regime which threatens all of its dissidents, all of its critics with jail at best and death at worst,” said former US presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.

“The capital since 1979 of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism has been in Tehran under this extremist regime, and that is why it’s got to go,” said Senator Joseph Lieberman.

“We must avoid allowing the regime in Tehran to achieve its long sought objective of an arc of control from Iran through the Baghdad government in Iraq, the Assad regime in Syria, and the Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon,” said Ambassador John Bolton, former US envoy to the United Nations.

Decidedly vitriolic statements were also made by the high profile American delegation of influential figures. This significant slate of names issued a statement prior to Saturday’s convention emphasizing, “We believe that change is within reach, not only because the regime is becoming engulfed in crisis, but also because there is a large and growing movement organizing for positive change. A viable organization capable of ending the nightmare of religious dictatorship by establishing freedom and democracy, tolerance, and gender equality has steadily gained visibility, popular support and international recognition.”

A significant statement was the presence of a key Arab World figure, especially considering conditions simmering currently between Iran and its Middle East neighbors.

“The Iranian people are the first victims of Khomeini’s dictatorship,” said Turki Faisal, former Saudi ambassador in the United States and United Kingdom. “Your effort in challenging this regime is legitimate and your resistance for the liberation of the Iranian people of all ethnicities, including Arabs, Kurds, Baluchis, Turks and Fars of the mullahs’ evil, as Mrs. Rajavi said, is a legitimate struggle.”

A large Arab delegation consisting of many former and current officials from more than a dozen countries also placed their weight behind the NCRI’s platform to bring about change in Iran.

The Iranian opposition leader delivered the keynote speech of the event.

“Our people want a constitution based on freedom, democracy and equality. The time has come for the international community to heed the demands of the people of Iran,” she said.

Rajavi also referred to the wide range of extensive activities carried out inside Iran by the vast network of supporters affiliated to the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the leading member of the NCRI coalition, emphasizing how the exiled opposition is very much linked to the restive powder keg society inside the country.

“The overthrow of the religious dictatorship is possible and within reach because of the regime’s inabilities, including its inability to contain the country’s economic disintegration and environmental disasters, the inability to provide for the most rudimentary needs of our oppressed people,” Rajavi added.

On a different note, the NCRI President said it is high time to make Tehran understand its crimes will no longer go unanswered.

“Khamenei and other leaders of the regime must face justice for violations of human rights, crimes against humanity, particularly the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran, and for their war crimes in the region,” she said.

As the Trump administration continues to weigh its comprehensive policy on Iran, Rajavi called for sweeping sanctions targeting Iran’s belligerence, the blacklisting of the Revolutionary Guards, and supporting the Iranian people and their organized opposition in their quest for regime change.

“The mullahs’ time is up and the time has come to march forward,” she underscored. “This has also been stated in the American Declaration of Independence where it says, ‘whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of’ the people’s rights, ‘it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new Government’ of their liking.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iran Opposition Unveils IRGC Missile Sites

Iran has been pursuing an extensive ballistic missile program through dozens of very important sites, including twelve unknown to this day and one specifically linked to its highly sensitive and controversial nuclear program, the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) revealed at a press conference Tuesday in Washington.

The NCRI, citing sources of coalition member People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) network inside Iran, in this case in Iran’s Defense Ministry & the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), has a history of blowing the whistle on Tehran’s ballistic missile program, nuclear weapons drive, terrorism and meddling across the Middle East and beyond, and human rights violations.

Various aspects of the dozen hitherto-unknown sites involved in ballistic missile production, testing and launches, all controlled by the IRGC, were also unveiled.

NCRI US Office Deputy Director Alireza Jafarzadeh presented satellite imagery on the sites and details of North Korean experts who took part in the construction of such highly essential centers.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei demanded the acceleration of missiles production and tests following the nuclear deal signed with the P5+1 and specifically tasking the IRGC Aerospace Force to realize this objective.

The scope of Iran’s IRGC-pursued missile program is far more extensive than previously perceived. In this press conference the NCRI identified the locations of 42 IRGC sites, of which 15 are involved in missile manufacturing and containing several factories linked to a missile industry group.

Four of Iran’s most important missile sites are located in the cities of Semnan (east of Tehran), Lar (southcentral Iran), Khorramabad (western Iran) and near Karaj (west of Tehran), according to the PMOI/MEK sources. Iran has only acknowledged the existence of two of these sites to this day.

The Semnan site has been actively associated to SPND, Iran’s organization in charge of building a nuclear weapon, PMOI/MEK sources revealed. SPND has carried out many of its tests at this site.

SPND is the Persian acronym for the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, including Iran’s nuclear weapons program engineering unit. The NCRI first unveiled the existence of SPND in July 2011, leading to its sanctioning three years later.

IRGC missile sites have all been constructed based on North Korean blueprints, according to PMOI/MEK sources, adding Pyongyang’s experts have also been present at sites assisting their Iranian counterparts.

The NCRI revelation comes at a sensitive timing as the US Senate levied extensive new sanctions on Iran covering particularly its ballistic missile program, and support for terrorism and human rights violations.

All factions of the regime in Iran are fully supportive of their drive to upgrade their ballistic missile program, considered a critical aspect of the mullahs’ national security framework and foreign policy.

“We will have a new ballistic missile test in the near future that will be a thorn in the eyes of our enemies,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani boasted recently.

The region is currently engulfed in escalating tension as Iran launched six medium-range ballistic missiles targeting ISIS in eastern Syria on Sunday. Adding to the list of turmoil, the US military shot down a Syrian regime Su-22 fighter jet near the city of Raqqa for dropping bombs on US-allied ground forces. This is a first for Washington in the six-year long multi-faceted Syrian conflict.

This increase in foreign crises, parallel to Iran’s powder keg society causing major dilemmas for the mullahs as protests elevate across the country, will be a major issue of discussion in the upcoming NCRI annual convention scheduled for July 1st in Paris.

The NCRI, representing the most powerful Iranian opposition coalition, is calling for the following measures against Tehran:

  • Enacting and implementing effective and comprehensive sanctions targeting Iran’s ballistic missile program and all associated individuals and entities,
  • Designating the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization as the institution behind Iran’s missile program, terrorism and meddling,
  • Evicting the IRGC and all affiliated proxy militias from Middle East countries, specifically Syria and Iraq.

Understanding The New Iran Sanctions

Acting as a major wake up call for Iran, the US Senate on Thursday sent a strong message to the mullahs through a bill fit to place new sanctions targeting Tehran’s ballistic missile program, its support for regional and global terrorism and human rights violations.

Experts have noted the powerful nature of these new measures and analysts close to the Iranian regime have dubbed this measure as the “mother of all sanctions.”

Foad Izadi, a Tehran University assistant professor, in a recent interview with state TV reflected on the depth of this advantage and described the nuclear sanctions as child’s play in comparison.

When we place these new sanctions alongside US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s support for regime change in Iran through peaceful steps and Members of Congress calling for blacklisting Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization, we find the mullahs on the receiving end of very commanding signal.

The 98-2 vote has approved a sleek text that abides by the Iran nuclear deal. These sanctions, technically considered secondary, are in compliance with the nuclear deal due to the very characteristics of Iran’s missile program being excluded from the so-called “landmark” agreement that has failed to provide anything to boast about for the Iranian people. This was yet another concession provided by the Obama administration to Tehran, and the mullahs are seeking to capitalize by operating hand in hand.

“It truly is astounding what Iran continues to do around the world,” said Sen. Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “For a people that are capable of so much, their foreign policy is shockingly counter to their own interest.

“We see destabilizing act after destabilizing act — from missile launches, to arms transfers, to terrorist training, to illicit financial activities, to targeting Navy ships and detaining American citizens — the list goes on and on.”

The Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017 enjoys an overwhelming focus on sanctioning any foreign individual or entity doing business with a counterpart pre-designated by the US administration in association with Iran’s ballistic missile program. For example, these sanctions can be imposed on any financial institution or foreign company involved in providing key parts or components necessary for Tehran’s controversial missile program.

Two other such actions by the Treasury Department in February and May were preludes, as the administration officially slapped sanctions against a slate of individuals and entities procuring for Iran’s ballistic missile program. The February sanctions were in response to Iran’s medium-range ballistic missile test in late-January, considered by many as a United Nations Security Council Resolution violation.

There are also voices heard questioning the effectiveness of this new measure able to add any particular new bite considering the already extensive landscape of US measures. And yet it is also recognized how such an initiative will be sending a very dominant political message to Iran.

The mullahs in Tehran are also one of, if not the, leading state in human rights violations. While many boasted of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gaining a second term launching a new drive for moderation, there are already increasing reports of dozens of executions ever since the May 19th vote and sweeping crackdown across the country. The recent twin attacks in Tehran on June 7th, which was claimed by ISIS, are also being exploited by the mullahs’ to increase domestic crackdown and foreign meddling.

  • At least 30 inmates in a Southeast Iran prison are on the verge of execution, reports.
  • As the Middle East is engulfed in a rift with many states severing diplomatic ties with Qatar, Iran continues to fuel the dilemma through capitalizing on this sensitive subject.
  • Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen recently targeted three Saudi aid trucks delivering relief aid.
  • Iranian boats resorted to new “unsafe and unprofessional” moves in training a laser on a US Marine Corps CH-53E helicopter as three US Naval ships were transiting Strait of Hormuz international waters.

The world has already experienced how a policy of appeasement and engagement has only emboldened the mullahs to the point of taking advantage of such dismal practices by the international community.

The Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) have a history of unveiling Iran’s plots and warning the world about Tehran’s nuclear weapons program, ballistic missile drive, meddling across the Middle East and supporting terrorism, and resorting to unspeakable human rights violations.

This new round of sanctions will be considered a significant blow to these the Iranian regime’s illicit efforts, especially as experts believe the path is being paved to blacklist Iran’s IRGC. The Guards play a major, if not the leading, role in all the above-stated belligerences, and most concerning today is the foreign meddling that continues to wreak havoc in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and a variety of international waterways that can disrupt billions of dollars of economic transactions.

The new US Senate sanctions are very necessary indeed, as Iran only understands the language of force. This very correct measure should act as the building block and cornerstone of a new foundation of strong action to rein in Iran’s mullahs and finally bring about true and everlasting change and peace.

ANALYSIS: Iran’s Khamenei and IRGC capitalizing on recent attacks

The remarks made by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei can be viewed as seeking to capitalize on the recent attacks in Tehran that left 17 dead and dozens more wounded.

“If the Islamic Republic had not taken a stance in the center of all this sedition, we would have experienced many problems inside the country,” he said in reference to his regime’s meddling in Syria. The Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), being the main lever at Khamenei’s disposal to pursue his policies, is also seeking its own interests.

The IRGC, being one of the main parties involved in developments inside Iran and the region, suffered damages in the recent attack and is seeking its own share of profit. The IRGC’s image also endured a major blow in the recent presidential election in Iran and more recently a US Senate vote seeking more sanctions. There questions rising on how convenient these attacks were staged on hours in advance of the Senate vote.

Thus, bouncing back from such this series of setbacks seemed impossible. In response, Tehran will seek to capitalize on this turn of events as a major platform to justify launching future measures.

Major setbacks

Following US President Donald Trump’s visit to the region and the severing of diplomatic ties by numerous Arab countries with Qatar, a known ally of Iran in the region, Tehran needed desperately to portray itself a victim of terrorism and pave a necessary path in this regard.

The IRGC is also terrified of even the slightest influence enjoyed by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Khamenei’s opinion and decisions. The recent attacks in Tehran can be described as a nail in the coffin for Khamenei to show any softness. This is exactly what the IRGC needed at this particular timing.

For a variety of reasons the IRGC will profit from establishing a certain high security atmosphere inside the country. Firstly, to begin an initiative to pressure Rouhani’s cabinet, and secondly, preparing the grounds for determining Khamenei’s successor, an issue discussed extensively in different circles across Iran.

“To those who sacrifice the country’s security, destiny and interests for short-term and factional political gains, have they learned nothing from the recent attacks? This incident should be considered a major wake-up call for those involved in politics, to know we are all sailing in the same ship here,” a piece read in the Kayhan daily, known to be Khamenei’s mouthpiece.

This February 17, 1989 Tehran photo shows Iranian people gathered in front of the Azadi Tower for the 10th anniversary of the plan, marking the Islamic revolution. (AFP)

The ultimate foe

The IRGC also sought to target the main source threatening the very existence of the mullahs’ regime. “This terrorist incident is similar to the crimes committed by the infidels in the 1980s,” the IRGC-affiliated Fars news agency wrote. Infidels is the term used in the Iranian regime apparatus for the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

“Now we must decide what actions must be taken to confront the terrorists. The judiciary and security forces must arrest these criminals, prosecute and execute them,” the piece reads, further signaling how the IRGC will seek to justify upcoming crackdown measures against an already restive Iranian society.

“Those who are against our struggles in Iraq and Syria should come to realize how sweet security is, and how bitter is insecurity,” the piece continued.

Questions

Eyewitness have pressed on the suspicious nature of this attack, especially armed assailants being able to enter the parliament building with assault rifles and vests full of explosives.

“They wouldn’t even allow us take a pen inside. They just said we will take your papers and documents upstairs. How can armed men come into the legislative building? There were no security guards and no security equipment,” one injured man said to Iran’s Health Minister Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi. Similar conflicting reports were also witnessed in other state and IRGC media outlets.

“Iran’s Deputy Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council said those involved in these attacks were of Iranian nationality. Whereas other state media, including Tabnak website affiliated to former IRGC commander Mohsen Rezaie, the accent heard from the terrorists indicated these individuals were not Iranian Arabs, but most certainly of foreign nationality,” according to the Tabnak website.

Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence also issued a statement announcing the first names of five of the assailants, refusing, for some reason, not to mention their last names.

Other objectives

On a broader scale, Iran also failed to prevent a highly significant US Senate initiative seeking to impose new sanctions on Iran. This regime has been described a destabilizing entity and if such a bill gains final approval after the 92-7 initial stage setting vote, Iran’s IRGC will be blacklisted as a foreign terrorist organization.

Was it a coincidence that Tehran’s attacks took place only hours before the Senate planned its bill discussion and a number of known regime lobbyists went the distance to delay the measure? You be the judge. As a final thought, this entire string of developments have played into the hands of Iran’s Khamenei and IRGC.

The Iranian regime desperately needs such an open hand to have any hope of confronting the status quo, especially since the Trump administration has yet to define its Iran policy, the future of the Iran nuclear deal is in questions, sanctions will not be lifted from Iran and Washington will most likely be demanding concessions from Tehran in the region.