ANALYSIS: Is it time for the US and Saudi Arabia to combine efforts on Iran?

The new administration in Washington has chosen to stand alongside its Arab allies to voice a clear message. This is how this message reads: The regime in Iran is domestically repressive and resorts to flagrant human rights violations, and expansionist outside of its borders, wreaking havoc across the Middle East and beyond.

To take the next needed step, an all-out strategy is necessary to rein in Tehran and confront its belligerence inside the country and beyond.

Far too long the international community has failed to recognize the fact that the regime in Iran is controlled by aggressive fanatics that will literally stop at nothing to seek their interests, while knowing their internal status is extremely fragile.

Important lessons

While it is high time for the United States to lead the West and Saudi Arabia to lead the Arab world in this initiative, there is no need to launch yet another devastating war in the Middle East. The past 16 years have taught us many important lessons:

– The war in Afghanistan toppled the rule of Taliban and the al-Qaeda safe haven, and yet the lack of a legitimate post-war strategy allowed Iran take complete advantage of this void.

– The invasion of Iraq was unnecessary and again played into the hands of Tehran’s regime, providing it the opportunity to spread its devious mentality of fundamentalism, sectarian extremism and terrorism.

– The Arab Spring has reiterated to us that without an alternative opposition, no regime change will render any positive outcome. The current state of Libya is an unfortunate reminder.

– Most important of all, the international community is coming to understand that a policy of engagement and appeasement vis-à-vis the regime in Iran will only further fuel instability. Take the cases of Syria and Yemen, for example, where Iran has allocated enormous manpower and financial/logistical resources to create the mayhem it thrives on.

Highly-flawed deal

On a broader scale where Iran’s counterparts were the P5+1, thanks again to Obama’s highly flawed approach, the regime has been able to cheat around the nuclear accord. Tehran has staged over a dozen ballistic missile tests despite being strictly forbidden by UN Security Council sanctions.

New reports from German intelligence indicates further illicit measures by Iran’s operatives painting a very disturbing image. “Iran is targeting German companies in its bid to advance its missile program, in possible violation of an international agreement, and at least on occasion with the aid of a Chinese company,” Fox News reported citing a damning 181-page German intelligence agency report.

Tehran is actively seeking to obtain “products and scientific know-how for the field of developing weapons of mass destruction as well as missile technology,” according to the report, adding the mullahs are using various fronts to target German companies.

Further disturbing revelations regarding the Obama administration’s poorly crafted nuclear deal with Iran found little or no decrease has been witnessed in Iran’s effort to obtain the technology needed for missiles capable of delivering nuclear warhead as payloads, according to Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV).

To add insult to injury, with North Korea successfully test-launching its first intercontinental ballistic missile and on the path to its sixth nuclear detonation, there are increasing voices of concern over the possibility of Pyongyang selling more of its ballistic missiles, the technology or maybe even a nuclear warhead to Tehran.

With a windfall of billions of dollars flowing into Iran after the nuclear deal and oil sanctions lifted, Iran has both the money and oil that North Korea craves.

Bold, necessary measures

Washington and Riyadh should begin pushing back at Tehran by targeting this regime’s financial assets to begin with. Considering the fact that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, known as the regime’s praetorians, control around 40 percent of the country’s economy, it is vital to designate this entity as a foreign terrorist organization.

If not, its support for the Lebanese Hezbollah, Shiite proxies in Syria, sectarian groups in Iraq and the Houthis of Yemen, to name a few, will continue. And peace will forever elude the Middle East.

The international community should finally begin pressuring the ruling mullahs by standing alongside the Iranian people and their struggle for freedom and democracy. The recent presidential “election” and protests before and after have proven the rift between Iran’s population and the regime is elevating dangerously against the regime’s interests.

The Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran, led by its President Maryam Rajavi, has presented a 10-point plan able to facilitate the changes needed for the better good of the Iranian people, and nations across the Middle East.

The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), being the main NCRI member, enjoys a vast network of supporters inside Iran and has blown the whistle on Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

It is time for the mullahs in Tehran to understand pressures will rise from the international community unless they succumb to the demands of the Iranian people for the future they deserve, being the democracy and freedom they have been wrongly robbed of for the past four decades.

What Does The Future Hold For Iran?

With developments regarding Iran and the Middle East on fast forward recently, voices are heard speaking of winds of change in Iran. Iran’s society, described as a powder keg due to social discontent, is literally simmering.

And after far too many years, the international community is gradually but surely realizing how appeasement will only yield further destruction. Catapulting events further is Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s failure to engineer the recent presidential election to unify his regime for the tsunamis ahead.

Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi was the keynote speaker of a recent convention in Paris where she delivered a very different and new perspective on how to resolve the Iran dilemma.

We are also only a week away from July 14th, marking the second year of the Iran nuclear deal signing. Despite a windfall of over $100 billion dollars pouring into Iran, this agreement has failed to provide meaningful change in people’s lives.

And yet, Tehran has in fact allocated these funds to fuel turmoil across the Middle East, in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and beyond.

Returning to Iran’s milestone May 19th presidential “election”, Khamenei attempted to end his regime’s impasse by placing his weight behind conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi in that race.

Considering Raisi’s notorious role in the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners, and a massive campaign launched by activists of the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) inside Iran, Khamenei’s candidate stood no chance.

However, the fact that the incumbent President Hassan Rouhani was able to secure a second term will not render any change in the regime’s status quo. In fact, quite the opposite.

In an attempt to fabricate the final vote tally, the mullahs’ regime boasted a 70+ percent voter participation. Merely a month later, however, Iran’s Assembly of Experts, an 88-cleric body tasked to select the next supreme leader and supposedly maintain him under their oversight, issued a statement declaring “people’s votes, demands and views” are of no significance whatsoever. This is the Iranian regime’s definition of democracy.

Thus, with a look at the past 38 years and the ever so changing status in and out of Iran today, there are three initial conclusions we can reach:

1) The rule of the mullahs’ dictatorship in Iran must come to an end.

2) Such an objective is now within reach more than ever before. Rifts inside Iran’s political hierarchy are inflicting deep, irrecoverable wounds.

3) In contrast to its neighbors, Iran enjoys a democratic alternative and an organized opposition movement fully capable of setting this regime aside.

For those continuing to advocate a policy of encouraging reform from within, this regime will not be reformed. Period. This has been proven through 20 years of three presidents claiming to be reformists/moderates. The slate includes Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Mohammad Khatami and the current Hassan Rouhani.

All the while, for three decades the West has gone the limits in testing the appeasement policy. Unfortunately, lessons have not been learned from Chamberlain’s disastrous agreement with Hitler.

And yet, despite the deafening propaganda orchestrated by the mullahs’ regime, this apparatus is threatened most not by a foreign foe, but the numerous protests and revolts witnessed each day through Iran. This is a ticking time bomb winding down fast.

The regime’s incompetence in resolving domestic and foreign dilemmas, and its failure to obtain nuclear weapons has left the ruling regime highly concerned over the road ahead.

Unfortunately, the countries going through the Arab Spring had no alternative apparatus to replace their ousted ruling governments. This is not the case with Iran.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran, (NCRI), an umbrella coalition with the PMOI/MEK as its core member, enjoys vast influence inside Iran, seen in the following developments:

1) Back in 2009 the NCRI established the main uprising core across Iran, elevating the motto of “Where is my vote?” to a more demanding, “Down with the Dictator.”

2) For a year now the NCRI has directed a campaign focusing on seeking justice regarding the 1988 massacre. Iran, with its very young population, witnessed the regime succumbing to the people’s will of condemning Raisi for his role in the mullahs’ decades of executions.

From day one of their rule the mullahs have been at war with the entire Iranian population. All other wars, especially the devastating Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, the ongoing onslaught in Syria and Iran’s role in the killings, and the regime’s faceoff with the international community over its effort to build an atomic bomb, have been aimed at cloaking this ultimate war.

Thus, it is a mistaken conclusion to believe Iran resorting to such wars are signs of its strength. With no government stepping up to the plate to confront Tehran’s all-out belligerence.

It has only been the Iranian opposition, represented by the NCRI, leading the effort to expose the mullahs’ true nature. The NCRI hoisted the flag peace and freedom in response to the mullahs’ warmongering, been the sole supporter of the Syrian people from their first protests back in March 2011, and continuously blown the whistle on Iran’s notorious nuclear and ballistic missile ambitions.

Four decades of appeasement in the face of Iran’s human rights violations, deadly meddling in the Middle East and beyond, terrorism and a concentrated nuclear/ballistic missile drive, have failed miserably. There is also no need for another devastating war in an already flashpoint region.

A solution is at hand, demanding strong and brave decisions by the United Nations, European Union, United States and regional countries.

a) Designating the Revolutionary Guards as a foreign terrorist organization;

b) Revoking Tehran’s membership from all international organizations, including mainly the UN and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation;

c) Setting international tribunals to hold Khamenei and other senior Iranian regime officials accountable for gross human rights violations and crimes against humanity;

d) Recognizing the Iranian people’s legitimate resistance to topple the mullahs’ rule.

This regime has taken advantage of a highly flawed appeasement policy for too long. The Iranian people and their organized resistance, pioneered by the NCRI, need not a single dime, rifle or bullet. Together they are more than able and absolutely capable to end the mullah’s rule.

“…the ultimate solution to the crisis in the region and confronting groups like ISIS, is the overthrow of the Iranian regime by the Iranian people and Resistance,” Mrs. Rajavi said.

A Solution at Hand for Iran

There is no doubt that the Middle East is the epicenter of many major crises in the world today, with Iran fueling many of these conflicts. Syria, Iraq, Yemen and supporting the Lebanese Hezbollah are the main pillars of these calamities, parallel to Tehran’s dangerous pursuit of ballistic missiles and highly controversial nuclear program.

As the Trump administration continues to weigh its comprehensive approach vis-a-vis the mullahs’ regime, the Iranian opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) held its annual convention in Paris on Saturday. The event hosted a massive gathering of the Iranian Diaspora and hundreds of influential and dignitaries expressing their support for NCRI President Maryam Rajavi and her ten-point plan for a future democratic and non-nuclear Iran.

Aside from the powerful speech delivered by Rajavi focusing the Iranian regime’s dilemmas escalating as never before, the tone of her movement’s international supporters have become much more forward-looking against the mullahs in Tehran.

“You, I, my government and your leadership, we see Iran in exactly the same way,” former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, known to be an adviser to US President Donald Trump, said. “The regime is evil and it must go.”

“Iran must be free,” emphasized former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, another individual considered close to the US president. “The dictatorship must be destroyed. Containment is appeasement and appeasement is surrender… The only practical goal is to support a movement to free Iran.”

“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 former Senator Joseph Lieberman, representing a strong voice from the other side of the aisle in US politics.

Heard throughout the years are Tehran’s claims of lacking any opposition and the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the main NCRI member, being insignificant and even completely dismantled.

And yet each and every year the NCRI and PMOI, known more commonly as the MEK in the US, prove yet again how the struggle to topple the mullahs’ regime to bring about freedom and democracy in Iran continues stronger than ever before.

While claiming this organization is nothing but dismal, Iran’s own response pinpoints the very fact that this Iranian opposition, under Rajavi’s leadership, represents the main threat to Tehran.

“Our foreign minister met with [the French] just two days before and his plan had yet to leave that their ambassador in the United Nations Security Council describes us being in violation of the nuclear deal resolution,” said Mohammad Javad Larijani, a conservative politician with close relations to the inner circle of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

“This was completely baseless and they insulted Iran. Then, they launched a completely ISIS-like rally with a new tag because the [PMOI/MEK] are no different from ISIS. The fact that they gather from all corners of the globe, and speak and plot against the Islamic Republic, and then for the French to say we have no connections with them resembles a political joke, which they should save for their own people,” he said, resorting to completely unprofessional and unorthodox language for a political figure.

“France’s behavior has been very aggressive and insulting… not only would I downgrade diplomatic relations with France, but also revoke contracts signed with the French regarding Peugeot and others,” Larijani added.

Such a response shows how truly terrified the Iranian regime is of its main opposition, represented by the NCRI. Furthermore, Tehran is in no position to be threatening to revoke economic contracts.

Due to Washington’s very strong position on the Iran nuclear deal and three rounds of new sanctions, there are no foreign governments, institutions or companies willing to wade very easily into economic waters with Iran.

In fact, considering the possibility of more sanctions on the way, and all parties realizing Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is very ill, it is crystal clear the days of the Tehran regime are numbered.

As anticipation grows for the Trump administration to declare its all-out Iran policy, more voices in Washington are heard advocating the necessity of regime change. The reason Iran is more terrified is that these calls are coming at a time when the Iranian opposition NCRI is more able than ever before to deliver the solution needed for Iran.

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.

How Iran’s Mullahs Welcome The ISIS Attack

A total of six assailants armed with AK47 rifles and explosive vests launched two simultaneous attacks in Tehran targeting two heavily secured sites in the Iranian capital Wednesday morning. The unexpected twin assault left 17 killed and dozens more wounded in Iran’s parliament and the mausoleum of former Iranian regime leader Ruhollah Khomeini located south of the capital.

“Islamic State claimed responsibility and released a video purporting to show gunmen inside the parliament building and one body, apparently dead, on the floor,” according to Reuters in a wire from inside Iran.

The attackers, disguised as women, apparently were able to find their way in the parliament through the main entrance, the semi-official Tasnim news agency cited Deputy Interior Minister Mohammad Hossein Zolfaghari. Four hours into the entire rampage Iranian state media reported the incident over with all six assailants dead.

Condemnations cross the board

As ISIS claimed to have staged its first ever attack in Iran, the international community condemned this heinous act of terrorism. Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi, President of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, condemned the loss of innocent lives.

“ISIS’s conduct clearly benefits the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader Khamenei, who wholeheartedly welcomes it as an opportunity to overcome his regime’s regional and international impasse and isolation. The founder and the number one state sponsor of terror is thus trying to switch the place of murderer and the victim and portray the central banker of terrorism as a victim,” Rajavi added.

 “To uproot terrorism in the region:

– The IRGC must be designated as a terrorist entity.

– The IRGC and paramilitary proxies of the Khamenei caliphate must be removed from Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

– The Organization of Islamic Cooperation must expel the mullahs’ regime and recognize the Iranian Resistance for ending religious fascism.”

Devious past

However, there are also questions about the suspicious nature of this entire attack, especially considering the heavily fortified status of the two sites. One of the wounded individuals said in an interview people cannot bring even a pen into the parliament without passing through security.

There are also widespread signs seen in social media users inside Iran expressing uncertainty over ISIS being behind the attack.

There seems to be a general lack of trust on official sources. This is not without precedent.

Iran is also known to resort to such brutal tactics to tarnish the image of its opposition. In 1994 a staged bombing of the Imam Reza Shrine in Mashhad, northeast Iran, was staged by Iranian intelligence, leaving 25 dead and more than 300 injured. Iranian authorities immediately claimed of arresting the culprit and he confessed that he was a member of the opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). The PMOI, however, condemned the attack. Some years later it was publicly acknowledged that the bombing of Imam Reza’s shrine, similar to the murder of three Christian priests, also been blamed on the PMOI/MEK, had been planned and carried out by the Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) to tarnish the image of the group.

Paving the path

It is expected that authorities shall certainly use this incident to increase the level domestic suppression.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, in his first remarks following the attacks, specifically said, “When the central apparatus has such disorders, then you are weapons free.” Khamenei also used the term “soft war officers,” in a reference to principalists and hardcore elements of the Revolutionary Guards Basij paramilitary units, according to the BBC Farsi.

Iranian officials will take advantage of such a turn of events to justify their escalating intervention in Iraq, Syria and Yemen and counter growing popular opposition to its meddling in other states, while the country is in deep economic crisis and poverty is widespread. It is also feared that this incident may be used by Tehran to fuel sectarian wars across the region. Iran is known to support the Shiite Hashid al-Sha’bi in Iraq against ISIS and the minority Sunni community; Shiite Houthis to oust the legitimate government of Yemen and threaten its regional archrival Saudi Arabia; and Shiite militias from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to prop up the Assad regime against Syrian opposition forces and innocent people under the pretext of fighting ISIS.

Iran has blamed not only ISIS but also the United Sates and Saudi Arabia for the terror attack in Tehran. This is the Iranian regime in practice preparing the grounds for terrorist attacks across the Middle East against its rivals. However, this is the topic of an entire different discussion in the future.

Broader threats

A dangerous outcome of this incident would be the provision of ample opportunity to the Revolutionary Guards and Quds Force to escalate their regional meddling and demand more foothold.

Rest assured the Iranian regime will seek to capitalize this turn of events to boost the very pillars of its establishment, especially after the crisis-riddled presidential election where Khamenei failed to have his preferred candidate, conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi, replace the incumbent Hassan Rouhani.

The mullahs in Tehran will no doubt increase their nationwide crackdown measures through the police and intelligence apparatus, boost their meddling through proxy forces across the region and press the gas pedal on the ballistic missile program.

Trump’s Middle East Visit, New Alliances, and a Terrified Iran

The reaction seen from Iranian state media outlets to the visit paid by US President Donald Trump last week to Saudi Arabia have been unorthodox, to say the least.

State-run IRIB TV, May 22: “The US president is hand in hand with the supporters of terrorism, human rights victimized in the dances of swords… US raises allegations against Iran to ‘milk’ Saudi Arabia, according to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.”

Following Zarif’s undiplomatic and unprofessional remarks, Amir Abdullahian — an adviser to Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani and known to be close with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — provided a different perspective.

“First of all, they intend to strike a blow to the axis of resistance (read Iran’s coalition) in the region,” he said in remarks aired by IRIB TV. “This is a very important entity in the region as it has provided Iran’s utmost national security and interests.”

“This is the initiative pursue by the Saudis following the election of Mr. Trump,” Abdullahian continued. “In response to the existing Saudi Arabia, with a group of warmongering extremists at the helm, we must react with wisdom, power and force. We don’t consider Saudi Arabia as a strategic enemy. No. The Saudis lack such a capacity.”

While this senior Iranian official resorted to such claims in an effort mainly aimed at maintaining a straight face in the wake of continuous setbacks suffered by the regime, the semi-official Fars news agency, known as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) mouthpiece, shed light on the regime’s true concerns over Trump’s visit to Riyadh.

“The editor-in-chief of the Kayhan daily described recent remarks made by [Iranian President Hassan] Rouhani against various entities inside the Iranian government as fuel to provoke the US and the sheikhs of various Arab countries,” the piece reads. “Mr. Rouhani’s government, in its first day back in office has returned the shadows of war over our nation.”

“Despite Rouhani boasting of distancing the shadows of war from our country, the Riyadh conference, focusing on establishing an Arab NATO and sales of $110 billion in military equipment underscore how the weak actions of [Rouhani’s] cabinet not only emboldened the US to take aggressive actions against our country, even small Arab countries have reached the point of openly speaking of establishing an Arab NATO to launch a military confrontation against Iran,” the Fars piece continued.

As all elements of the Iranian regime are evaluating how to analyze and respond to the consequences of Trump’s visit to the region, the voice of the Iranian opposition welcomed the recent developments.

Maryam Rajavi — president of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a coalition of Iranian dissident groups leading the struggle to bring about regime change in Iran — hailed the positions adopted at the Arab-Islamic-American Summit in the face of Iran’s actions.

For nearly four decades Tehran’s measures have robbed the region, and the world over, of quiet and stability. It is time to take firm action against Iran’s terrorism and fundamentalism endeavors, its dangerous ballistic missile program and its meddling in the affairs of others. Steps similar to those embraced in the Riyadh conference are what are needed to bring a final end to terrorism, war and bloodshed, and establish peace and harmony. The recent tragic bombing in Manchester leading to the loss of too many more innocent lives was yet another reminder of the utter importance of this.

While condemning Iran’s actions and crimes is a constant necessity, practical measures, and more specifically, ending all diplomatic relations with the mullahs, expelling this regime’s delegations from international organizations, blacklisting the notorious IRGC and other military/paramilitary/security entities associated with the government, are necessary follow-ups.

Iran’s human rights violations and the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners, mostly members and supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), have gone ignored for far too long. This horrific dossier deserves immediate referral to the United Nations Security Council and The Hague to bring all affiliated Iranian regime officials to justice.

President Trump correctly described the Iranian people as the first victims of the mullahs’ regime. King Salman of Saudi Arabia, while delivering his respects to the Iranian nation, emphasized that ever since late regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini’s rise to power the mullahs have become the spearhead force behind global terrorism.

The ultimate solution for the current crisis engulfing the entire Middle East is regime change in Iran, carried out by the Iranian people and their organized resistance, symbolized by the NCRI.

Freedom and returning sovereignty to the Iranian people by ending the mullahs’ rule is the desire of all Iranians. Recognizing this nation’s true demand is essential to establishing peace and tranquility in the region, and indispensable to international security.