Iran’s interests in the ambush targeting Gen. Michael Flynn

We have been learning quite significantly about the corrupt nature of the Obama administration. One specific case is the exoneration of Gen. Michael Flynn who happened to be the U.S. President Donald Trump’s first National Security Advisor. Lesser talked about is the media these days is the interests Iran’s regime had in the ambush targeting Gen. Flynn.

Now, one may ask where does Iran play in this already complicated legal and political dispute that has been ongoing for more than three years now? The answer is actually quite simple.

From Iran’s perspective, Gen. Flynn had the audacity of adopting a very strong stance against this malign regime and famously placed Tehran’s mullahs “on notice” in the very early days of the Trump presidency.

Now, one may ask where does Iran play in this already complicated legal and political dispute that has been ongoing for more than three years now? The answer is actually quite simple.

From Iran’s perspective, Gen. Flynn had the audacity of adopting a very strong stance against this malign regime and famously placed Tehran’s mullahs “on notice” in the very early days of the Trump presidency.

Of course, these remarks were made after President Trump entered the Oval Office. A legitimate question would be: Did Gen. Flynn sound alarm bells for the Iranian regime even prior to the Trump presidency? Most certainly.

Gen. Flynn was one of the few voices to stand firm against former U.S. president Barack Obama’s highly flawed 2015 Iran nuclear deal. This is his tweet on the very day the pact was signed.

Gen. Flynn also realized how the deal played right into Tehran’s hands, providing it billions of dollars to fund its terror groups across the Middle East.

In August 2016, more details of the Obama/Iran nuclear deal were emerging, especially the $400 million ransom Obama paid in cash to Iran for a number of hostages.

And it is interesting that one of the U.S. citizens released by Tehran was none other than Jason Rezaian who very conveniently came back to the U.S. and began pushing Iran’s talking points in his Washington Post columns. This, of course, is another story for another time.

Gen. Flynn had a very good understanding of Iran’s threat and he was hated by Tehran apologists/lobbyists in the West; most specifically, members of Iran’s main lobby group, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) founded by Trita Parsi. They were quick to push Tehran’s narrative against Flynn following the General’s position against the mullahs’ regime.

Considering his strong position vis-à-vis Iran, Gen. Flynn would have certainly not tolerated Iran’s influence in U.S. government, especially those figures who had reached high places during the Obama administration.

Gen. Flynn would have not tolerated the likes of Sahar Nowrouzzadeh of Iran’s lobby NIAC in the White House. Nowrouzzadeh worked directly on Obama’s Iran nuclear deal. While she may deny it, this card proves her previous membership in NIAC.

“NIAC’s most accomplished alum is Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, who is now National Security Council director for Iran in the Obama admin & the top US official for Iran policy, bringing together various departments working on US strategy toward [Iran],” reads a Daily Beast article form back in September 2015.

1_tpwasj2c_r0rwpxhizgfea
Sahar Nowrouzzadeh alongside former U.S. President Barack Obama in the White House apparently prior to a TV interview

Nowrouzzadeh was probably effective in having NIAC founder/then president Trita Parsi & a former Iranian regime ambassador to Germany invited to the White House more than 30 times. Their objective: pave the path for the 2015 Iran nuclear and Obama providing the utmost concessions to Tehran.

“Two high-level Iranian government backers, including a former Islamic Republic official and another accused of lobbying on Tehran’s behalf, were hosted at the Obama White House for more than 30 meetings with top officials at key junctures in the former administration’s contested diplomacy with Iran, according to White House visitor logs that provide a window into the former administration’s outreach to leading pro-Iran advocates,” according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Remember how President Trump had to work through many obstacles until finally tearing up the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in May 2018? Knowing General Flynn, he would not have tolerated the deal and all the lies behind it.

It is worth noting that in July 2015, Obama Treasury Secretary Jack Lew assured the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that, under the nuclear accord, Iran “will continue to be denied access to the [U.S.] financial and commercial market” and that “Iranian banks will not be able to clear U.S. dollars through New York, hold correspondent account relationships with U.S. financial institutions, or enter into financing arrangements with U.S. banks.”

However, Senate Republicans unveiled a report indicating that “the Obama administration secretly tried to help Iran use U.S. banks to convert $5.7 billion in Iranian assets, after promising Congress that Iran would not get access to the U.S. financial system — and then lied to Congress about what it had done,” according to The Washington Post. This is more reason that should Gen. Flynn have remained as National Security Advisor, the Iran nuclear deal would have most likely been torn apart far before May 2018.

Iran’s regime and its lobby group NIAC also realized that Gen. Flynn was a threat to all the relatives of government officials granted U.S. citizenship by the Obama administration as the Iran nuclear was being hammered out.

“When Obama, during the negotiations about the JCPOA, decided to do a favor to these men, he granted citizenship to 2,500 Iranians and some officials started a competition over whose children could be part of these 2,500 Iranians,” Mojtaba Zolnour, a member of the regime’s Majlis (parliament), claimed back in July 2018.

Gen. Flynn most likely had realized that “the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah,” according to a Politico report. Hezbollah procures massive funds through such a network and any disruption would be a devastating blow to Tehran.

Of course, much more can be added to this text. The point is that Gen. Flynn would never tolerate appeasement vis-à-vis Iran’s regime. This was realized early on and there is belief it was one of the main reasons he was attacked in such dishonorable fashion.

Despite all the kicking and screaming regarding the exoneration process of Gen. Flynn, justice is finally being done. And the sky is the limit to the goods Gen. Flynn can do, and the devastating defeats Iran’s regime can suffer.

Originally published in Quodverum

Iran lobby gets excited over nothing

The State Department officially notified Congress on Wednesday that Iran has met all its commitments under the Obama-negotiated nuclear agreement. The certification is required every 90 days and the previous administration dutifully rubberstamped it each time.

What was unusual is that this approval was the first under the Trump administration and was being closely watched by regime supporters and foes alike. The decision to provide the approval was being loudly hailed and trumpeted by the Iran lobby, especially the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a known pro-Iran lobby, as a sign that the nuclear deal was working and even U.S. President Donald Trump had to admit so.

In the immortal words of ESPN college football analyst Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend!”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the nuclear deal has failed to squash Iran’s ability and determination to develop atomic weapons, arguing that the country’s ambitions still threaten international peace and security, according to The Washington Post.

“An unchecked Iran has the potential to follow the same path as North Korea and take the world along with it,” Tillerson said in remarks to reporters in the formal setting of the State Department’s Treaty Room. “The United States is keen to avoid a second piece of evidence that strategic patience is a failed approach.”

The White House has decided to conduct a top-to-bottom review of its Iran policy, including an evaluation of the deal officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. To this end, the granting of approval was a pro forma act and means relatively little moving forward.

“With this certification, President Trump must now uphold the United States’ obligations and renew the sanctions waivers,” said NIAC president Trita Parsi. “If not, Trump will place the U.S. in violation of its commitments and be responsible for unilaterally killing the nuclear deal.”

Parsi is correct in saying President Trump can effectively kill the Iran nuclear deal in a heartbeat by not renewing sanction waivers granted by the Obama administration. He, however, misses the entire point of the Trump administration’s review, aimed at finally tying together all of Iran’s actions in areas such as human rights, support for terrorism, and active military campaigns against its neighbors.

This was the crucial missing link in the Obama administration’s approach to Iran, willing to excuse Iran on a number of issues and delink the regime from the agreement.

Support the Assad regime as it drops chemical weapons on civilians? Not a problem.

Busy executing thousands of Iranian citizens and political dissidents? Go for it.

Allowing the beating and mistreatment of Iranian women for violations of moral codes and denying them education and job opportunities? Okay by us.

The effort to appease the regime only enabled and emboldened the mullahs, and now the Trump administration has to do the heavy lifting and hard work the Obama administration couldn’t and wouldn’t do, which is why this review will be so critical.

In a slap at the Obama administration that negotiated alongside the P5+1 for the deal, Tillerson said, “The Trump administration has no intention of passing the buck to a future administration on Iran.”

Congress has introduced bills extending U.S. sanctions against Iran related to its alleged support of terrorism, human rights violations and missile tests. Lawmakers have put the legislation on pause, however, because of the impact the bills could have in Iran’s presidential election scheduled for next month.

  •   Should the U.S. confront Iran directly by using military force against proxies such as the Lebanese Hizb’allah and Afghan mercenaries in Syria?
  •   Should Washington re-impose a broad swath of sanctions on Iran and target the commercial enterprises of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)?
  •   Should the Trump administration affirmatively embrace and recognize Iranian dissident groups, such as the National Council of Resistance of Iran, and focus efforts on their inclusion back into Iran?

All these questions and more will have to be part of the White House review.

The administration is inclined to adopt a “more rigorous application of the tools at its disposal,” a senior White House official told Foreign Policy, referring to sanctions policy. Among the options under consideration: broadening U.S. sanctions to include much larger chunks of the Iranian economy linked to the IRGC.

In his remarks, Tillerson focused not only on the nuclear deal, but also on what he called Iran’s “alarming and ongoing provocations that export terror and violence.”

He specifically cited Iran’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Houthi rebels in Yemen, as well as hostility to Israel, the harassment of U.S. naval vessels plying the Persian Gulf and cyberattacks targeting the United States and its Gulf allies.

“Iran spends its treasure and time disrupting peace,” he said.

Time is of the essence considering the upcoming April 25th meeting between Iran and the P5+1 in Vienna for a quarterly review of the accord.

But President Trump doesn’t have to tear up the deal to tighten the screws on Iran. The agreement, which is not a treaty, provides broad leeway to signatory governments in interpreting its terms, and the Trump White House is mulling taking a much more forceful stance on enforcing the deal to the letter.

There are already signs that the Trump administration is using existing legal authorities in a more forceful manner than its predecessor. Last Thursday, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Sohrab Soleimani, the brother of IRGC Quds Force chief Qassem Suleimani, for his role in abuses in Iran’s prisons. And in February, the Treasury Department also blacklisted eight IRGC-linked organizations, including an official based in Lebanon.

At the end of the review, the question of whether or not to keep the nuclear agreement may not exactly be centered on the agreement itself, but rather on whether or not the cost of keeping the pact intact in place is too high compared to the cost of not containing Iran as it expands into Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen, along with new threats to Bahrain and other Gulf states.

Is Iran expanding its spying and lobbying efforts?

The Iranian intelligence minister’s recent remarks, pertaining to Tehran overseeing a spy/lobby network in important capitals across the world, is cause for concern. Mahmoud Alavi, Iran’s spy chief, bragged about the regime’s capability to run a lobby group in Washington with the aim of promoting Tehran’s hardline agenda.

According to Alavi, Iranian dual citizens in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom have maintained their loyalty to the “Islamic revolution,” the mullahs’ hallmark motto ever since 1979, through which they have wreaked havoc across the region and beyond.

A “lobby group for the Islamic Republic of Iran” is actively bolstering Tehran’s status in the international stage and helping to sell and legitimize its nuclear ambitions as just causes to the globe, Alavi claimed

The head of Iran’s intelligence apparatus did not bother to name the specific lobby entity. One certain group, however, the National Iranian American Council, has been the target of major criticism in the past several months, with accusations of the group lobbying on Tehran’s behalf. Various dissident organizations are demanding the Trump administration to launch an official probe digging into NIAC’s history and nature of its current events.

Congress has also been petitioned to investigate ties between Iran and the NIAC, and the latter’s active drive to promote a pro-Tehran agenda in Washington. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., who chair the foreign affairs committees in each chamber of Congress, have received specific letters signaling the importance of urgent action in this regard.

NIAC was once again under the spotlight this January for its actions of presenting a positive image of the Iran nuclear deal and advocating a pro-diplomatic approach with Tehran. The media reported extensively on how two senior Iranian regime supporters, former Iranian nuclear diplomat Hossein Mousavian and NIAC founder and president Trita Parsi, enjoyed access to the Obama White House on more than 30 occasions, conducting meetings with senior administration officials.

Such meetings took place at critical points of the Obama administration’s decision-making process and engagement with Iran in their effort to push forward the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Alavi’s recent remarks are source for serious concern as entities advocating Iran’s agenda in the American capital are obliged by the Foreign Agents Registration Act to disclose the nature of their work. This even includes conditions where the relationship does not involve money exchanges, at least not through legal and opaque channels.

A legitimate question now hovers over the possibility of any ties between the groups referred to by Iran’s intelligence minister and the Islamic Republic’s positions on foreign policy.

Another just query circles around the many visits Parsi has made to the White House and the State Department during former President Obama‘s tenure, and can they be attributed to what the Iranian intelligence minister describes as lobbying for Tehran.

Any group seen to be advocating the promotion of Iran’s ballistic missile program, and caring less about the Iranian people’s human rights and the regime’s crackdown, should be subject of suspicion.

For years Iran has been known to forward an official plot of boosting relations with groups promoting anti-war and pro-regime policies in the West. Improving contacts with Iranian dual nationals living in the West has been high on Tehran’s agenda on this matter.

One major task of this network has been discrediting those opposing the regime in Tehran and taking measures against any efforts voicing support for Iran regime change. The main Iranian opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, and its most important member, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), have been the constant target of smear campaigns launched and orchestrated by the Iranian regime and NIAC.

Their nightmare involves Washington discussing possibilities with Iranian opposition groups, and upscaling the effort into direct cooperation aimed at further sanctions and ultimately regime change.

Originally published in Washington Examiner

Amir Basiri (@amir_bas) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner and an Iranian human rights activist.

How Deep Was the Obama-Iran Relationship?

The Obama administration’s effort to engage Iran remained a matter of suspicion until the 44th American president left the White House. Concerns began mounting especially after Obama turned his back on the 2009 uprising  in parallel to the revelation of secret correspondence with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

As more light is shed, the more we realize how far this relationship expanded. Known members of Iran’s lobbies and others enjoyed unprecedented access to the White House. This new knowledge calls for a complete overhaul of the corrupt U.S. foreign policy establishment.

Shocking Numbers

Through the course of the nuclear talks that rendered the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Obama White House welcomed a slate of different Iranian-American so-called “experts” and organizations who agreed completely over how Washington must engage in Tehran rapprochement.

Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a known Iran-funded lobby, was reportedly welcomed in up to 33 meetings in the White House, from 2013 to 2016.

Seyed Mousavian, a former Iranian diplomat and head of its national security council, was hosted at the White House at least three times,” the Washington Free Beacon explained.

Parsi’s record was second only to Jeremy Ben Ami, President of J Street, described as a strong advocate of the Iran appeasement camp, who visited the White House on 44 occasions.

And finally, one NIAC alumni, Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, National Security Council Director for Iran in Obama’s White House, reached the point of obtaining daily access to the White House and promoting a pro-Iran regime approach.

“President Obama’s NSC Director for Iran, Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, apparently worked as a lobbyist for NIAC,” according to Western Journalism.

Who is Trita Parsi?

Described as having links to the Obama White House’s cheerleading of the narrative in support of the Iranian regime, Parsi, head of NIAC, was able to meet with several senior Obama administration officials in dozens of White House visits, according to the logs.

Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security advisor, provided exclusive access to Parsi in private talks. He also arranged meetings with Colin Kahl, former Vice President Joe Biden’s national security advisor.

Various sources also indicated Parsi meeting with other senior officials including NSC director for Iran.

One instance shows West Wing intern Solomon Tarlin, known to support J Street, signed Parsi into the White House.

However, Parsi is a figure who during the Bush administration dined with Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, suggesting that he pursues the interest of the Iranian regime in its entirety, and not the so-called “moderates“.

Parsi was also pictured in conversation with the brother of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Parsi is known to brag about his access to senior Iranian regime officials.

“Few analysts in Washington have the access of Dr. Parsi to decision makers in Iran,” he described in a bio.

NIAC

NIAC, a Washington-based lobbying organization founded by Parsi in 2002, focuses on influencing senior American officials and politicians. A piece written by Iranian dissident Alex Shirazi in the Daily Blaze sheds more light on NIAC’s intentions, serving completely in Iran’s interests.

NIAC was architected by the little known Namazi family in Iran, described as favoring “political interests in the Islamic Republic.”

Insight into NIAC’s background can be obtained from regrets made public by Carl Gershman, President of the National Endowment for Democracy. Gershman accused NIAC of misrepresenting its true nature.

“… NIAC showed itself as a lobby organization, so we have nothing to do with them anymore.”

Al Arabiya English cited the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg referring to Parsi as an individual who “does a lot of leg-work for the Iranian regime.” (Goldberg at one point retracted this description, but shortly afterward retracted his retraction.)

NIAC misleadingly presented its agenda as meeting U.S. national interests. The very regime NIAC sells is known for “Death to America!” mantras and killing at least hundreds, if not thousands, of American personnel.

NIAC goes as far as claiming to advocate “human rights” in Iran and “civil rights” in the U.S., insulting Americans by placing their country alongside the ruthless regime in Iran.

In fact, NIAC lobbies for a friendly U.S. relationship with the current Iranian regime and strongly opposes economic sanctions. All this goes while Iran state media describe NIAC as the “Iran lobby in the U.S.”

NIAC and Parsi Exposed by Others

There has been abundant reporting about the true nature of NIAC and Trita Parsi.

“…Parsi admits that his group only has 2,500 to 3,000 members. Internal documents, uncovered by Lake, show that less than 500 people responded to a membership survey that the group put out last year. So, far from representing the views of any appreciable number of Iranian Americans, it is far more accurate to say that NIAC represents the views of Trita Parsi.

“…may be guilty of violating tax laws, the Foreign Agents Registration Act and lobbying disclosure laws, according to law enforcement authorities…

“… former FBI special agent in counterintelligence and counterterrorism Kenneth Piernick, said, ‘It appears that this may be lobbying on behalf of Iranian government interests.’”

The report continues:

“…the group’s acting director for policy, Patrick Disney, authored a memo last year in which he stated, “I believe we fall under this definition of “lobbyist.’” And according to other communications Lake obtained, Parsi himself used the word ‘lobby’ to describe the purpose and mission of NIAC.”

Parsi and Zarif

Released email records indicate close ties between Parsi and Tehran, especially through Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Reports in this regard are quite vivid.

According to NIAC emails released under a lawsuit, in April 2006, Zarif, then Iran’s ambassador to the U.N., gave a copy of Iran’s 2003 offer for a “grand bargain” to Parsi, subsequently released to the press and used in a campaign to prove Iran was ready for peace and dialogue. (For more information on Parsi’s role in providing a copy of Iranian offer to the press, read theWashington Post, Anti-War, and IPS reports.)

A few weeks later, Parsi launched the “Iran Negotiation Project” and began arranging meetings between Congressional members and Zarif. Then in his 25 October 2006 email, Parsi told Zarif about Congressional members who had decided to oppose George Bush’s policy on Iran and requested a meeting.

A Deeper look into NIAC

Many within the Iranian-American community consider NIAC to be a de facto lobby for the Iranian regime. In 2008 as criticism against NIAC’s pro-regime activities mounted, NIAC and Parsi raised a defamation lawsuit against one of its critics, attempting to destroy him through the financial burden of a lawsuit and as a result silence all other critics.

In 2012 a court dismissed the lawsuit and sanctioned NIAC and Trita Parsi for abuses which included false declarations to the court, ordering them to pay $184,000 towards the defendant’s legal expenses.

This lawsuit forced NIAC to release some internal documents that turned out to be devastating. The Washington Times and many others published these documents.

NIAC claims to have a goal of preventing war between the U.S. and Iran. Critics, however, affirm NIAC’s lobby has always primarily focused on business and the peace mantle it wears is nothing but a face for its lobby efforts.

In a memo sent to Washington lobbyist Roy Coffee, Parsi explained the true nature of his efforts.

Back in 2002-03, Parsi used his access to the U.S. Congress to prepare reports about the latest developments regarding Iran and send the reports to Tehran.

Final Thoughts

This newly revealed White House log shows how the Obama administration bent over backwards in hosting advocates seeking Iran’s interests, and not that of America.

Allowing Parsi into the White House more than 30 times, despite his foreign policy positions being completely in line with the Iranian regime, provides intriguing insight into how far the Obama administration went to aid the mullahs, while they continued, and continue today, to describe America as the “Great Satan”.

The access provided to the likes of Parsi and NIAC provides all the knowledge needed about the true nature of the highly flawed nuclear deal sealed by the Obama administration with Tehran.

And this is only a tip of the iceberg of how far Obama’s failed appeasement policy provided unprecedented access to NIAC, and to this end, the Iranian regime.

This signifies the necessity of the new Trump administration to completely overhaul agencies dealing with Iran, and to impose radical changes on Washington’s Iran policy altogether.

Originally published in American Thinker

Iran resorting to new lobby efforts after Donald Trump victory

china-agreement
Iran signing military deals with China

Shocked after Donald Trump won the presidential election in the United States, Iran has resorted again to its lobbying efforts to shift the attention of the international community. Tehran is terrified of the fate of its precious nuclear agreement deal with the P5+1 and it will go to all efforts to maintain the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

This piece, The Great Lobbying Effort by Iran Has Begun, explains in full detail how Trita Parsi, a known Iran lobbyist and head of the Iran lobby entity, the National Iranian American Council, has gone the limits in ridiculous measures in this regard.