Iran: From human rights violations to dangerous meddling

From day one the regime of Iran has been based on the pillars of domestic crackdown, and exporting terrorism and a reactionary, religious mentality.

As we speak, spreading extremism and Islamic fundamentalism remains a cornerstone policy of Iran’s state-run strategy, all hacked into this regime’s constitution.

The real image

Earlier this year Amnesty International’s 94-page report, “Caught in a web of repression: Iran’s human rights defenders under attack,” detailed this regime’s drastic human rights violations, with a specific focus on its extensive overdose of executions.

As witnessed for years running, Iran is the world’s leading executioner per capita, with many hangings continuously and horrendously carried out in public. All the while, secret executions are ongoing in dungeons across the country, including Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison.

This is the real image of Iran, cloaked by the ruling regime and their appeasers in the West for years, who continue to portray Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani as a moderate worth dealing with.

ANALYSIS: Does the Middle East’s stability hinge on Iran’s expulsion?

Rouhani heads a corrupt system responsible for executing around 3,500 people, and counting, from 2013 to this day. 350 such counts have been registered this year alone.

Iran lacks anything even remotely comparable to a justice system and the current Justice Minister, Alireza Avaie, has been on numerous terrorist lists since 2011 for human rights violations.

Avaie is also known to have played a leading role in the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners, consisting of mostly members and supporters of Iran’s main opposition, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

Nursing home

Iran is the godfather of human rights violations and terrorism, known as the main source of systematic human rights violations and expanding conflicts across the region.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), and the Quds Force, responsible for the IRGC’s extraterritorial operations, led by Qassem Suleimani, famed for his ruthlessness, are the main parties responsible for Iran’s internal repression, and mainly, aggressively expanding Iran’s influence throughout the Middle East.

For decades the IRGC has been responsible for terrorist attacks in this flashpoint corner of the globe, including the countries of SyriaIraqLebanon and Yemen. In this regard, Tehran’s continuing practice of being the nursing home of proxy extremist groups is no matter of dispute or questioning.

What Iran has maintained a lid on has been its close collaboration with terror elements. For decades, the world has been deceived – conveniently for and by Iran – into believing that significant differences exist between Sunnis and Shiites, and thus cancelling any possibility of Tehran having links with its Sunni rivals.

Tehran has usurped this window of opportunity to portray itself and claim to be a de facto ally of the West in the fight against extremism, especially recently in the form of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Discussions in Washington are ongoing over how the US military, short of a direct conflict, can deter and contain Iran’s meddling in Middle East countries. The Pentagon has refrained from public comments.

One official familiar with the mentality of US Secretary of Defense James Mattis has hinted to the media that Iran is the focus of much attention in the Pentagon recently.

Last week Secretary of State Rex Tillerson chaired a meeting between the US, UK, France and Germany to blueprint US-European collaboration aimed at countering Iran through the course of diplomatic and economic practices. Other senior Trump administration officials have also resorted to significant remarks.

“What the Iranians have done across the broader Middle East is fuel and accelerate these cycles of violence so that they can take advantage of these chaotic environments, take advantage of weak states, to make them dependent on them for support,” US National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said to a security forum last weekend.

“We have to address what is a growing Iranian capability and an ability to use proxies, militias, terrorist organizations to advance their aim, their hegemonic aims in the region,” McMaster added.

This file photo taken on May 15, 2003 shows Yemeni ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh (L) welcoming former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami at Sanaa International Airport. (AFP)


Game-changing revelations

Newly released documents obtained by US special forces in their raid on the residence of the now dead al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan prove what many scholars have argued for years.

Iran’s regime, known as the beating heart of Islamic fundamentalism, has never considered sectarian differences an obstacle to cooperate with extremists. Tehran seeks to strengthen its resolve in the objective of furthering influence and global support for fundamentalism and terrorism.

These documents prove how the Iranian regime was working closely with al-Qaeda, including bin Laden himself, which could have subsequently led to Tehran’s inevitable cooperation with ISIS.

Iran’s rulers, and their cohorts spread in various countries, seek the same objective of establishing a ruthless caliphate by deploying global jihad. This practice hinges on unbridled brutality, misogyny and immorality to its utmost extent. No limits in barbarity and viciousness is accepted by these parties in their effort to reach their objectives.

Further reports are emerging detailing the growing amount of ties linking the regime in Iran with extremists groups, such as al-Qaeda and ISIS. New evidence confirms how despite the existence of various factions of extremist groups such as the Taliban, al-Qaeda and ISIS, at the end of the day, they all look at Tehran as the main source fueling this infamous mentality.

Flashpoint Yemen

Iran’s support for the Houthis in Yemen has escalated and gained much attention recently. For example, a missile launched by the Houthis on November 4 was strikingly similar to an Iranian-made Qiam-1 short-range ballistic missile, added to its collection by Iran in 2010, and yet never before seen in Yemen’s missile arsenal, according to a confidential report prepared by a UN panel of experts missioned to monitor a 2015 arms embargo imposed on Yemen.

One component — a device, known to be an actuator, used to assist in steering the missile — was found among the debris bearing a metal logo of an Iranian company, Shadi Bagheri Industrial Group, known to be the subject of UN, EU, and US sanctions.

The Houthis “obtained access to missile technology more advanced” than what they had prior to the conflict’s birth in 2015, according to the panel report.

“The design, characteristics and dimensions of the components inspected by the panel are consistent with those reported for the Iranian manufactured Qiam-1 missile,” the text adds.

Serious measures

The dangerous nature of Iran’s regime is obvious to all. Parallel to military and terrorist measures throughout the globe, Tehran targets naïve and vulnerable subjects, using them to relay their reactionary mentality. This includes the various Western parliaments and significant international bodies, including UN and EU institutions. Tehran’s demonization agendas have shown to be predecessors to violent attacks.

Only serious measures against Iran’s regime, and ultimately the collapse of this ruthless entity, will mark the end of Iran’s human rights violations, and meddling and support for terrorism being spread deceivingly under the flag of Islam.

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Iran’s increasing meddling abroad is not a policy signaling this regime’s strength. In fact, facing deep domestic crises, Tehran is attempting to cloak its internal weakness by increasing its influence across the region on the one hand, and resorting to saber-rattling to prevent the international community from adopting a firm policy.

Iran entered negotiations and succumbed to curbing its nuclear program due to fears of uncontrollable uprisings resulting from crippling international sanctions. This is the language Iran understands and more major sanctions are needed against this regime.


Forecast: Increasing Isolation for Iran

After enjoying eight “golden” years of President Barack Obama’s all-out appeasement approach, the mullahs in Iran are feeling the wrath of isolation, with senior international figures lashing out at the regime in Tehran and calling for action against it.

British Parliament members from all leading parties registered a resolution discussing crimes of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) against the Iranian people and its terrorist meddling across the Middle East. The move calls for the expulsion of the IRGC and all its dispatched proxy foot-soldiers spread out across the region.

Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker called Iran the world’s greatest state sponsor of terrorism, saying:

Regionally, we’ve seen an escalation in Iranian intervention. Iran, along with its allies in Russia, has continued to prop up Assad at the cost of countless lives in Syria. Iran’s support to the Shia militias in Iraq threatens the interests of Sunnis and Kurds alike, not to mention the Shia in Iraq…Iran is arming the Houthis in Yemen, who are in turn attacking our Saudi allies and targeting our ships… Iran remains the foremost state sponsor of terrorism. It counts Lebanese Hezbollah – an organization that has killed hundreds of Americans – as among its closest allies.

US Senator Robert Menendez delivered a speech on Tuesday on his proposal to increase missile sanctions on the Islamic Republic and completely embargo the IRGC, explaining:

Many of us rightly predicted that an Iranian regime that prioritized funding terrorism over the well-being of its own citizens would see sanctions relief as a cash windfall for their terrorist proxies across the region. And on terrorism, we feared that much of Iran’s new economic capacity would be used to propagate violence…It is no surprise then that Iran has not suddenly transformed into a responsible member of the international community. Rather it remains an agent of instability throughout the Middle East, a nefarious actor that continues to undermine American national security interests and our efforts to partner with countries throughout the region working to protect civilians and build democratic governance structures.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reiterated his criticism of the deal sealed between Tehran and world powers in July 2015, describing it as a “windfall” gift to Tehran. He said that the US can now take action against Iran’s financing, training and arming of terrorists, such as Hezbollah, Hamas and proxies in Syria.

House Speaker Paul Ryan suggested designating the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization.

The above remarks can and should be seen as preparatory measures for the next round of practical actions. It is worth noting, however, that in the world of politics nothing is resolved overnight. Each practical action requires the undergoing of a process in stages.

Unlike Obama, President Donald Trump and his administration are confronting Tehran, causing the regime to become nervous about the road ahead. This is why it has been attempting to save face. For example, the Iranian Foreign Ministry just blacklisted 15 US companies — a move that even Iranian media outlets are ridiculing. After all, it is obvious that  it is the mullahs suffering from a weak and weakening economy, not the US.

With presidential elections in Iran to take place in May, rest assured that the regime will be trekking very carefully not to light a spark under Iran’s societal powder keg  — and unleash an explosion of nationwide uprisings similar to those in 2009. At that time, Obama was new in office and abandoned the demonstrators to the regime’s iron fist. Today, Trump is in the White House, and has a very different attitude.

Originally published in Algemeiner

ANALYSIS: Here’s how to blueprint the most effective Iran policy

Iran has been continuing its series of blatant measures in defiance of norms accepted as standard by the international community, all as the Trump administration continues to weigh on blacklisting the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). Iran has gone as far as pledging to launch “roaring missiles” in response to threats. To this day, several ballistic missile launches – capable of delivering nuclear payloads – have been Tehran’s report card.

Reports also show Iran increasing its support of the Houthis in Yemen by providing “Kamikazi” drones, water and airborne, to threaten shipping lines in Bab el-Mandeb and most certainly Saudi Navy ships, as weapons analysts confirmed forces aligned with former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh are also using these weapons to target missile-defense systems used by Saudi-led coalition units.

And after harassing US warships in the Strait of Hormuz, Iran has gone as far as not only denying the entire ordeal, but also holding Washington responsible for any future face-offs in a shipping route key for international oil trade.

Iran’s objective

Fully aware of its weak and outdated military capabilities, the mullahs are attempting to both keep a straight face at home and obtain as much leverage as possible in regards to the new White House completely overhauling its predecessor’s Iran engagement approach.

Trump has shown his muscular perspective through an array of thorny statements followed by new sanctions, welcomed by the Iranian opposition. However, if Washington is truly serious about returning peace and security to the Middle East, targeting the destabilizing epicenter is crucial.

The Trump White House is continuously pledging more severe US action if the mullahs see their interests in continuing to breach international norms by taking on prohibited missile launches.

A number of Iranian first official dismissed the tough talk by President Trump over the deal that initially aimed to curb Iran’s nuclear program as nothing but empty rhetoric usually resorted to on the campaign trail. However, through appointing Gen. James Mattis as his defense secretary and with a second round of sanctions against Iran, many voices are being silenced.

A bad deal

With the nuclear deal being described as “weak and ineffective” by President Trump, his administration has moved forward to addressing another very important matter in the US-Iran relationship. As Tehran was witnessing its money and influence going down the drain, the nuclear deal provided the regime an escape route to evade a military conflict.

And while the accord was claimed to focus on weakening the mullahs’ regime and boosting the Iranian people’s status, the concessions provided by the Obama administration delivered the exact life support the regime needed both economically and symbolically.

As sanctions were rolled back, Iran’s practice of resorting to destabilizing measures across the region was provided a waterfall of financial support to sidestep a military conflict. This also greenlighted Iran to relaunch its illicit activity, only to be slapped warnings and sanctions in the past month or so by a new White House.

Despite senior Iranian officials being very active in voicing dissent, the consequences of America and allies regaining a very serious position on Iran and closing the nuclear deal faucet is crystal clear.

Targeting the roots

Trump has also taken the initiative of challenging Iran’s extended offensive with proxy groups throughout the region, threatening America’s interests and allies. After eight years of the Obama administration adopting a policy of nearly abandoning the Middle East at Iran’s will, the Trump administration has shown signs in complete contrast.

Iran’s support for the Assad regime in Syria, sectarian Shiite militias in Iraq, the Houthis in Yemen and the Lebanese Hezbollah are the leverages Tehran must be deprived of.

Iran also comprehends quite well its firepower is no match for US arsenal, and resorting to mercenaries to obtain a charade of regional dominance. The White House has acknowledged the fluid and dynamic nature of the Middle East, and pinpointing Iran’s support for the Houthis as a group affronting the Saudi’s southern border.

This is a significant change of attitude as the Obama administration never acknowledged such a relation. This provided Iran a green light to expand its impact and direct regional proxy groups to spread terrorism and havoc throughout the Middle East. All eyes are now on the Trump administration, seeking a major strategy against Iran’s network of proxies. This can most specifically be achieved by severing all flows of funds and arms from the source: the IRGC.

Riyadh has also welcomed the new White House’s more serious approach regarding the Middle East, and backing America’s allies who are currently struggling to prevent transnational terrorists, including ISIS, and specifically focusing efforts to end Iran’s meddling in countries such as Yemen.

Swift and punitive response

Iran poses a major concern for international security, demonstrated in the Trump administration condemning the country’s support for terrorism on a broad scale. Funding and arming the Lebanese Hezbollah, knee-deep in the Syria crisis with arms and boots transferring, Shiite proxies on a rampage against Sunni minorities in Iraq in the name of fighting ISIS, and as mentioned above, the Houthis in Yemen.

True, the Trump administration has many cards to play against the regime in Tehran. Iran’s crusades in these four Arab countries can be brought to an end through one single measure. A swift and punitive response from the White House can be found in the US and all international correspondents designating Iran’s IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization, ending the naïve policy of appeasement vis-à-vis Iran.

Through such measures the Trump administration will have correctly acknowledged the actual source of turmoil in the Middle East. It is high time for the West, and especially the US, to adopt a smart strategy targeting Iran’s key pillars in its network of international terrorism and draining the swamp of Tehran’s overreach across the region.

Originally published in Al Arabiya English

Iran’s latest terrorist plots

Iran is continuing its blatant belligerence against the international community, especially the Middle East, despite President Donald Trump and his administration threatening to take major action. During the past month alone Iran has test launched a number of ballistic missiles enjoying the capability of delivering a nuclear payload. This includes last weekend’s pair of ballistic missile launches.

Knowing its military capabilities are outdated and limited, Iran is resorting to a range of different terrorist measures in an attempt to maintain the leverage gained through the preposterous concessions they enjoyed during the Obama years.

The most recent scenario involves fast-attack vessels approaching a U.S. Navy surveillance ship in the Strait of Hormuz in a threatening manner described as “unsafe and unprofessional” in a recent statement.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, under major discussion in Washington to be designated as a foreign terrorist organization, has suffered a major blow after the discovery of a terrorist network in Bahrain. This unveils, yet again, further aspects of Iran’s unbridled meddling in the region.

The IRGC Bahrain network consists of 54 members focusing on planning and executing terrorist plots. To date, 25 such individuals have been arrested. These individuals were coordinating with Tehran to assassinate, terrorize, and target Bahrain security forces.

Following their raids, Bahrain authorities announced a significant cache of arms, explosives, and ammunition were also confiscated.

All individuals are reportedly Bahrain natives, further indicating the sophistication of Iran’s blueprints in using locals for such plots. Following their arrest, it was revealed the cells received support from both Iran and Lebanon, procuring arms or coordinates where such logistics were hidden. In the past weeks Bahrain witnessed two bomb blasts killing and injuring civilians, and most specifically, Shiite Muslims. This can be assumed as an attempt to instigate Shiite dissent in the small Gulf island.

It is crystal clear how the IRGC commanded this proxy group, as the individual calling the shots is currently in Iran. Other members of this group are even stationed in Iraq and directly involved in the attacks carried out in Bahrain.

Iran also has intentions to increase its use of suicidal drone boats in Yemen through the Houthi militias. The U.S. Navy command issued a recent warning over this threat against ships in the Red Sea. This warning follows a recent revelation of the Houthis obtaining drone boats in their attack against a Saudi Navy frigate.

Vice Adm. Kevin Donegan, commander of the Bahrain-based U.S. Fifth Fleet and head of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, accused Iran of supporting the Houthis in preparing such boats.

This new development can pose a major threat to shipping lines in strategic naval routes, Donegan said in an interview with Defense News, adding that terrorist groups can now obtain such lethal boats.

It is worth noting that the attack on the Saudi frigate Al-Madinah on January 30th was carried out with a remote-controlled drone suicide boat packed with explosives. This was the first such attack resembling actual suicide attacks in the past.

The U.S. has recently issued a warning that the Iran-backed Houthis and forces loyal to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Salah are placing underwater mines in the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait passage near the entrance of Port Mokha.

The Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, narrowing to 25 kilometers in width at some points, is of grave importance for global shipping lines, providing access to the Red Sea, the Suez Canal, and the Mediterranean Sea. Much of the world’s oil and other goods are transferred through these very strategic waterways.

More than 60 ships containing commercial goods pass through the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait each day, carrying around 3.3 million barrels of crude oil. The U.S. Navy’s warning indicates the closing of such a crucial water passage can lead to major financial costs and a significant rise in global oil prices.

Further reports also indicate that Iran is having a tough time digesting a series of defeats suffered by the Houthis in Yemen. In response, Iran is weighing the possibility of dispatching Shiite militias from Iraq to Yemen, according to Khalij Online. As the fighting has decreased in Iraq, Tehran may dispatch units of the 140,000-strong Popular Mobilization Front, consisting of 54 different sectarian militia groups, to Yemen.

In an international scene undergoing drastic changes, all of them threatening Iran’s short and long-term interests, the mullahs in Tehran are desperately searching for a method to both keep a straight face and maintain their previous leverage across the Middle East.

Such developments gain even more importance as we inch closer to Iran’s presidential elections in May, when the regime in its entirety will face a major test.

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Iran: The story of proxy militias

By Shahriar Kia

Iran’s destructive role across the Middle East has become common knowledge and crystal clear for all. During the past two decades, especially, the presence of this regime’s proxy militias and affiliated Shiite groups has been considered an overt secret. Yet the question is how has Iran been able to dispatch so many fighters, and on a constant basis, to various flashpoint scenes in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Iran has trained, equipped, financed and dispatched thousands of fighters to various battlegrounds across the region. However, with its own economy literally in peril, how has Tehran afforded such an expensive campaign?

Iran allocates a large portion of its annual budget to finance a massive domestic crackdown machine, parallel to exporting terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism. This goes part in parcel to Tehran’s continuous effort to obtain weapons of mass destruction, including its clandestine nuclear drive and ballistic missiles program. A percentage of the capital necessary for such endeavors, and the repressive forces inside the country, have ironically been provided by the highly boasted Iran nuclear deal.

The mullahs’ regime is also known to plunder billions from the Iranian people’s pockets, leaving millions across the country living in poverty. Whereas it is worth noting Iran is one of the richest countries in the world in natural resources, registered as enjoying the second largest gas reserves and fourth largest crude oil reserves.

Not long ago Iranian and western media showed how many Tehran locals were resorting to sleeping in graves in the winter cold. The number of homeless people in Iran is skyrocketing at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, many Iranians have been forced to sell body parts, such as kidneys, to help make ends meet, making this a huge market in Iran.

Rallies and demonstrations are also on the rise in Iran as more and more people are protesting very poor living conditions rendered through the disastrous policies implemented by the mullahs’ regime. Just recently residents of Ahwaz in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan in southwest Iran staged a week-long rally demanding Tehran bring an end to its disastrous desertification campaign that has devastated the local economy. Thousands of people also took to the streets in Tehran in late February demanding secure employment and delayed paychecks.

As the Iranian people suffer, the money needed to provide for their needs is used by the mullahs’ regime to pursue their own domestic and foreign agendas. As a voice focusing on unveiling such efforts, the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) relies on a vast social base inside the country to gather such intelligence to unveil some of the regime’s most sensitive projects.

Senior U.S. officials have in the past acknowledged how the Iranian opposition, People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), has warned the globe over the most important aspects of Iran’s nuclear program, such as the Natanz uranium enrichment plant and the Arak heavy water plant back in 2002 that sent shockwaves across the globe.

The Iranian opposition has through the years delivered significant blows to the mullahs through over 100 different revelations shedding light on most specifically Tehran’s nuclear weapons program. Without such an important campaign the mullahs’ will most definitely have obtained nuclear weapons by now, placing them in a dangerously powerful position in a tumultuous Middle East.

The MEK has also provided valuable information on Iran’s terrorism and Islamic extremism, such as unveiling the names of 32,000 hired agents in Iraq back in 2007; training and financing Iranian and non-Iranian forces in Syria in the summer of 2016 along with details and maps; and the Revolutionary Guards’ role in massacring Aleppo residents in December 2016.

To train its foreign fighters Iran has launched a network of bases across the country, 14 of which were identified and made public by the NCRI in a February press conference held in Washington. Other such militias are being trained in Syria and Iraq near the very warfronts they are then sent off to.

Iran trains Iraqi Shiite militias in bases across Iraq, dispatching such individuals to pursue Iran’s objectives in Iraq. Iran also used this asset to target Iranian opposition members formerly in Iraq in 8 different attacksthat targeted their camps, Ashraf and Liberty, leaving over 175 MEK members killed and more than 1,000 injured. These attacks were mainly carried out by Iraqi militias under IRGC orders.

To end Iran’s ability to use proxy militias to wreak havoc across the Middle East the new U.S. administration should target the main entity behind this campaign, being none other than the mullahs’ cherished IRGC. The designation of this lethal entity as a foreign terrorist organization is long overdue, and such a measure will most definitely send a signal to Iran that both America, and the international community, mean business.

Tehran has to understand that such undertakings will no longer be tolerated, and continuing with such actions and further missile tests will bear a heavy price tag. This approach will place America as a shoulder to shoulder with the Iranian people’s plight to establish freedom and democracy.

Shahriar Kia is a political analyst and member of Iranian opposition (PMOI/MEK). He graduated from North Texas University. He tweets at @shahriarkia.

Originally posted in The Hill

To Contain Iran, Blacklist the Revolutionary Guards

The Guards are the main force behind Iran’s nuclear program, lethal meddling across the Middle East, ballistic missile drive and domestic crackdown.

Iran has been dubbed a “de facto Islamic Caliphate” due to increasing domestic crackdown and lethal meddling across the region, especially through the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).

Acting as Iran’s main armed force and sidelining the classic army, the IRGC has earned its reputation as an “Iranian expeditionary force for invading strategic Arab spaces.”

The Obama administration fostered a highly-flawed nuclear agreement with the theocratic regime riddled with far too many loopholes, leaving the new administration of President Donald Trump a handful of dilemmas to weigh.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the deal is known, has enabled Iran to take advantage of and engulf the entire Middle East into unimaginable mayhem, as we have unfortunately witnessed in Aleppo.

Yes, the JCPOA did suspend a portion of Iran’s nuclear program for a few years – with emphasis on “suspended” and “a few years.”

Yet, it allowed the mullahs’ to take advantage of the lame-duck period to expand their regional hegemony, increase nuclear capabilities and build their ballistic missile program.

Ever since day the day in 1979 when the mullahs rose to power by hijacking the Iranian people’s revolution, countries of the Middle East have been targets of Tehran’s endless meddling.

America’s unfortunate strategic mistake of invading Iraq in 2003 provided Iran with an opportunity it was unable to gain after eight years of direct warfare in the 1980s.

Iran flooded Mesopotamia, gaining ground links to Syria and Iraq through its conglomerate of Shiite militias . Through its lackey, the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, it has provided an endless flow of arms and missiles to dangerous players in the region and expanded its tentacles like never before.

Iran now boasts of enjoying significant influence, if not full control, over four Arab capitals, stirring unrest with troops in SyriaIraqYemen and Lebanon.

These menacing measures were also made possible through the West adopting a failed policy of appeasement vis-à-vis Iran. The international community, spearheaded by the Obama administration, turned its back on Iran’s atrocities against its own people and across the Middle East creating an opening for the mullahs’ further exploitation.

Iran went as far as defying the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 (endorsed by the JCPOA) by testing (and continueing to test) a series of ballistic missiles capable of delivering a nuclear payload. The most Washington and its European partners could muster in response was a strong letter condemning such measures as “inconsistent with” and “in defiance of” the resolution adopted by the world’s highest governing body.

Iran has also breached heavy water production limits without consequences.

One crystal clear message to Iran would be to blacklist the IRGC, which is the main force behind Iran’s nuclear programlethal meddling across the Middle East, ballistic missile drive and domestic crackdown.

This strong and well-founded policy will send the necessary message to Iran to understand what needs changing, to thus render the ultimate change benefiting the Iranian people, all nations of the Middle East and the world over.

Originally posted in The Clarion Project


The right signal to Tehran’s mullahs.

It is a known historical fact that actions speak louder than words. Iran is beginning to understand this loud and clear with a new administration in Washington.

U.S. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, in his first public appearance, issued a stark warning Wednesday in response to Tehran’s latest ballistic missile test and continued support for Shiite Houthi proxies in Yemen.

The main apparatus behind Iran’s ballistic missile program, meddling across the Middle East, suspicious nuclear drive and horrendous domestic crackdown is none other than the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). Shiite militias trained, financed and armed by the IRGC have also killed hundreds of Americans in Iraq.

Supplementary reports indicate U.S. President Donald Trump is preparing new sanctions against Iranian individuals and entities, intended to send a firm message to the mullahs: you may have enjoyed such leeway during Barack Obama’s tenure. But no more.

As Flynn condemned Iran’s recent medium-range ballistic missile test–which ended in failure–he went on to warn Tehran over instigating instability across the region.

Such a reaction marks a serious, and long due, tonal difference necessary in Washington vis-à-vis Iran. For too long the mullahs’ took advantage of the Obama “golden era” as they viewed it, furthering their reach across the region with their involvement in Syria and Iraq, both leading to unspeakable atrocities.

Iran has resorted to its old tactic of testing the new Trump administration and risking a bold move to win points domestically amongst a small, and depleting, social base. Yet this new measure is beginning to backfire significantly, unlike what Iran enjoyed during the past eight years.

President Trump is also considering how to approach the Iran nuclear deal, which he threatened to tear up during the elections campaign.

As heated discussions continue in this regard, the Trump administration should begin “vigorously enforcing” the deal, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as proposed by Senator Dan Sullivan of Arkansas.

For example, there should be no more toleration of Iran violating already excessive limits set on sensitive heavy water production.

While Washington is preparing to slap new sanctions and ratchet up further punishment measures against Iran by possibly beefing up military presence in the flashpoint Persian Gulf region, one silver-bullet-type measure is available with the potential of inflicting damning results on the mullahs.

The IRGC, considering its role in spearheading Tehran’s ballistic missile program, nuclear drive and meddling across the Middle East, should be blacklisted as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and sanctioned appropriately.

Such an initiative enjoys support in Congress.

U.S. lawmakers have called on the new administration to support designating the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization. They cited its ongoing support of the Assad regime, where hundreds of thousands have been killed during the civil war,” reports show.

Iran’s “missile program is against the Iranian people’s interest and must be stopped,” Maryam Rajavi, President of the main Iranian opposition, National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), said recently.

“Banning all deals and trade with IRGC-affiliated companies” are further necessary measures proposed by Rajavi.

The NCRI is a coalition dissident organs, including the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), enjoying a history of consistently unveiling various aspects of Iran’s nuclear programballistic missile initiativesmeddling across the region and human rights violations.

The IRGC has become a vast political and economic empire in Iran, enjoying an iron grip and “network of companies that came to dominate Iranian industries from energy to telecommunications,” according to The Wall Street Journal. The IRGC is also known to broker deals with China, as the country’s oil-hungry economy seeks to increase crude imports.

Other measures include enforcing travel bans already imposed on IRGC Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani, the man who visited Moscow and begged the Russians to rush to Bashar Assad’s support in Syria, and who has been roaming the streets of FallujahMosul and Aleppo.

Iran is also vehemently seeking a United Nations blessing to begin executing a $10 billion purchase of Russian conventional weapons. While the Obama administration turned a blind-eye to Russia’s delivery of the S-300 anti-air missile system to Iran, Washington can make it clear to Moscow that any further arms deals with Iran will significantly damage bilateral relations.

To this end, the Trump administration has before it a variety of measures that can effectively teach Iran’s mullahs a dire lesson. The IRGC is the entity the mullahs consider most dear, and should be the focus of Trump’s crosshairs.

Originally published in FrontPage Magazine

Trump Must Pressure Iran

Iran was involved in a long slate of aggressive measures up to the very doorsteps of President Donald Trump taking the helm in Washington. This concerning pattern of escalating extremism ironically increased following the Iran nuclear deal sealed between the P5+1 and Tehran, despite many in the West arguing such an accord would rein in the mullahs. And now, a new U.S. president has rightfully pinpointed “radical Islamic terrorists,” of which the root lies in Iran.

Further to the mullahs’ advantage was the Obama administration’s reluctance to adopt any serious stance against Iran running its Shiite extremist rampage across the region. Obama’s White House only imposed sanctions considered anything but harsh.

This paved the path for Iran to unleash its Shiite puppets and proxies throughout the region, cementing sectarian strife and as a result pushing more Sunni youth to join ISIS and other radicals.

Obama’s nuclear deal, with all its flaws made evidently clear, only placed speed bumps in Iran’s quest for the bomb. This came at the heavy price of America losing the trust of its regional allies, disheartening them also in their efforts against Iran-supported terrorism in their backyards.

President Donald Trump has rightfully pinpointed the root of all crises in the Middle East.

“We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones — and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth,” he said.

This is exactly where the Trump administration has an extraordinary opportunity to begin launching a widespread strategy vis-à-vis Tehran, targeting specifically the disease Iran is spreading: meddling across the region and fueling sectarian emotions.

While the international community was focused sealing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran used the opportunity to storm Syria and Iraq with Shiite militias dispatched from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and its own paramilitary forces, all commanded by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).

While Obama continuously boasted the JCPOA campaign, Iran’s Middle East interference reached a point where 11 Arab states unprecedentedly voiced their rage by accusing Iran of supporting terrorism and completely disrupting the sheer Middle East fabric.

Iran’s atrocities had reached the point that even Secretary John Kerry’s State Department cited Tehran’s scope of “activities to destabilize the region” in designating Iran as the world’s state sponsor of terrorism.

President Trump and his team can easily take action by simply covering the numerous loopholes left by the Obama administration. U.N. travel bans on senior Iranian figures, including IRGC Quds Force chief Qassem Suleimani. This individual is known to travel across the Middle East and literally wreak havoc by commanding Iran’s Shiite militias.

Iran has also taken advantage of Obama’s negligence — aiming to safeguard his previous Iran-JCPOA legacy — to pursue its ballistic missile ambitions and carry out major test launches. This has been in violation of U.N. Resolution 2231, and President Trump can easily begin holding Tehran accountable.

Iran came to the nuclear negotiations following continuous revelations made by Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance (NCRI) and under pressure from international sanctions. This policy has worked once and it can work again. President Trump and his team should care less about Iran’s remarks or reactions in threatening to “burn” the JCPOA.

Iran’s financial pipeline, established through a windfall of billions provided to Iran under the nuclear pact, should come to an end, and licenses revoked for Airbus and Boeing deals. Iran’s airlines are known to provide manpower and weapons to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and Lebanese Hizb’allah.

These efforts only promote further killings and, as previously explained, instigate a Shiite-Sunni conflict across the Middle East. Iran is profiting from the existence of ISIS, using this phenomenon as a pretext to justify its presence in Iraq and Syria.

President Trump can also team up with Congress under a new bipartisan effort aiming to curb Iran’s destabilizing role in the region. A strong foundation can be found in the Preventing Destabilization of Iraq and Syria Act of 2016 aiming to mandate new sanctions against foreign states and terrorist organizations.

This initiative must include Iran, as the mullahs are known to “threaten the peace or stability of Iraq or Syria,” as the bill explains. U.S. allies can benefit extremely, especially the Gulf Sunnis that Obama sidelined in the past eight years.

“The regime in Tehran is the source of crisis in the region and killings in Syria; it has played the greatest role in the expansion and continuation of ISIS. Peace and tranquility in the region can only be achieved by evicting this regime from the region,” said NCRI President Maryam Rajavi.

The NCRI is an umbrella dissident group including the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

And yet the nail in the coffin for the mullahs would be for the Trump administration to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Iranian people in their struggle to establish freedom and democracy. Nearly two dozen former senior U.S. government officials provided such a game-plan to President in a hand-delivered letter encouraging his administration to work with the NCRI.

Such initiatives send clear messages to Tehran about the unacceptable nature of its current involvement in the flashpoint Middle East. As President Trump takes actions to diminish Iran’s role across the region, especially from backing Assad, sectarian friction will diminish and all efforts can focus on ISIS.

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Analysis: The Iranian regime and evolution of ISIS

Support for international terrorism received a major boost the moment the mullahs hijacked Iran’s 1979 revolution. After a very short-lived period of a so-called open political atmosphere, their thugs organized in the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and paramilitary Basij militia, launched a campaign of oppression, arrests, torture and executions targeting not only dissidents, but anyone daring to raise a voice.

Born was “the first ISIS” and through the past 38 years this entity has proven to be more ruthless than anything resembled today in ISIS. Iranian regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini, sitting on the throne in Tehran, was determined to focus all power under his grip, unleashing his wrath against all Iranians.

As he established his crackdown apparatus, Khomeini began setting his sights abroad, imposing his hegemonic desires through a doctrine of suicide attacks. The IRGC began training numerous proxy groups to help spread the Khomeini’s terror under the pretext of Islam.

Khomeini’s “ISIS” in Iran, more than three decades before ISIS’s charge from Syria into northern Iraq, became the nesting ground for many fledgling groups now wreaking havoc across the Middle East, Europe and as far away as Argentina.

This is Khomeini’s ideology of “Islamic Revolution,” spreading his foul interpretation of a divine religion. He dreamed of a Shiite empire and to this end started targeting all potential countries beginning with Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and so forth.

Lethal campaign

Iran’s lethal campaign has resulted in death and destruction across the Middle East. Over a million killed and hundreds of billions lost in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. Countless others killed and injured in the aftermath of the 2003 war in Iraq, which Iran used to covertly occupy this land and destroy the lives of so many. Not to mention half a million killed and over 11 million displaced from their homes in the Iran-backed inferno engulfing Syria.

All this has been parallel to Tehran’s spree of assassinations against dissidents exiled across Europe. Iranian intelligence service, using embassies across the Green Continent as safe houses to dispatch their killers, began eliminating exiled dissidents in a campaign dubbed as the “chain murders.”

While pursuing this onslaught, Khomeini’s successor, now Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has continuously maintained executions up at an atrocious rate. Understanding the threat of any day passing without at least one execution somewhere in Iran, even the so-called “moderate” President Hassan Rowhani has a report card of nearly 3,000 executions during his four year tenure.

Yet probably the most atrocious carnage of all launched was aimed at cleansing an entire generation by massacring over 30,000 political prisoners in the summer of 1988. Most of these victims were members and supporters of main Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

Iran also has no tolerance for freedom of speech as academics, bloggers and journalists are targeted and quelled by the regime’s crackdown apparatus. The West must come to realize this true nature of Iran’s regime.

The international community’s failure to adopt serious measures against the mullahs has encouraged Tehran to continue hangings and lethal meddling across the Middle East. This is Iran’s campaign of establishing a “Shiite Crescent,” again launched decades before any notion of Daesh and its onslaught in the Levant and Mesopotamia.

Thanks to the Obama administration, Iran received Iraq in a silver plate and enjoys significant influence over Assad with troops in Syria. This has also encouraged Tehran to look further. “The victory in Aleppo will pave the way for liberating Bahrain,” said IRGC General Hossein Salami.

Rest assured one day the world will come to realize how ISIS considered Khomeini, the founder of the first ever “ISIS,” as its mentor on how to spread their reign of terror. No wonder the Iranian people consider the current mullahs ruling Iran, all minions of Khomeini, the Godfathers of ISIS.

Is there a solution?

“The regime in Tehran is the source of crisis in the region and killings in Syria; it has played the greatest role in the expansion and continuation of ISIS. Peace and tranquility in the region can only be achieved by evicting this regime from the region,” said Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi, President of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an umbrella group consisting of a long slate of various Iranian dissident groups, including the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

The administration of Donald Trump, as advised in a hand-delivered letter written by 23 senior former American government officials, enjoys the opportunity to adopt a policy supporting the Iranian people’s call for regime change. This goes in line with President Trump’s first position against “radical Islamic terrorism,” terrifying the Iranian regime from top to bottom.

“We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones – and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth,” President Trump said.

Why is Iran, with the 2nd largest reserves, importing natural gas?

By Heshmat Alavi

The sheer fact that Iran, sitting on the world’s 2nd largest natural gas reserves, second only to Russia, is forced to import up to 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas each year from Turkmenistan, its northern neighbor, sheds interesting light on the regime’s true economic status. This comes at a time when many European countries have weighed increasing economic relations with Iran.

Recent reports indicate Turkmenistan brought its gas exports to Iran to a halt amidst rising tension and row over debt payments Ashgabat has been demanding from Tehran. Iran has violated previous payment terms, forcing Turkmenistan to make such a decision. Talks on the matter showed no positive forecast and Iran continues to owe at least $1.8 billion for purchasing Turkmen gas supplied back in 2007 and 2008. Tehran claims the amount ranges between $600 million to $1.5 billion.

Iranian state media reported Tehran reaching a five year deal and coming to terms to discuss the debt through the course of coming months. Their counterparts in Ashgabat have yet to confirm, however.

The main issue at hand is why is Iran, with such enormous natural gas reserves, even importing such gas from another country? If Iran is producing 700 million cubic meters of gas each day, is it not actually embarrassing to import natural gas for domestic consumption? What happened to the economic boom promised following the highly fanned, yet flawed, nuclear deal sealed between the P5+1 and Iran?

Freezing winter cold conditions years before led to reports of “severe shortages across 20 Iranian province, forcing the country to raise gas imports from it northeastern neighbor…” But why? Why wasn’t, and still isn’t, Iran’s natural gas infrastructure able to provide necessary service for all households?

With such an abundant God-given supply in reserves Iran should be providing state-sponsored gas service, parallel to exporting natural gas abroad. However, lack of funds have maintained Iran’s domestic gas distribution network unable to link its southern gas-rich regions to the country’s north.

If Tehran actually sought to resolve this dilemma, the billions in assets unfrozen following the boasted Iran nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, could have easily provided for this and other much needed domestic needs to actually benefit the Iranian people.

Unfortunately, Iran is known to waste billions in pursuing its warmongering policies across the Middle East, from its involvement in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon.

Syrian dictator Bashar Assad relies on billions of dollars and tens of thousands of Revolutionary Guards and Shiite proxy foot-soldiers to remain in power, while massacring more and more innocent Syrians.

Shiite militias in Iraq enjoy vast support from Iran in their so-called fight against Daesh (ISIS/ISIL), while launching horrific cleansing campaigns against the Sunni minority population. Shiite Houthisand the Lebanese Hezbollah also continue to receive large supplies of arms and financial support from Tehran, further destabilizing the entire Middle East.

This spike in sectarian warfare has in fact increased Daesh’s recruitment efficiency, as it continues to wreak havoc with attacks in various European cities and beyond.

Such measures, alongside political reservations over future U.S.-Iran relations under a new administration after January 20th, are reasons why many firms remain highly suspicious of investing in Iran.

UK-oil giant British Petroleum “has opted out of the first wave of agreements to develop oil and gas reserves in Iran after the lifting of international sanctions,” the Financial Times reported. This is despite the fact that BP enjoys “corporate roots in the Anglo-Persian Oil Company responsible for the first Iranian oil discovery in 1908,” and yet “is taking a more cautious approach ahead of a Donald Trump presidency which threatens renewed diplomatic tensions with Tehran.”

Unfortunately, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry predicted himself, the money released following sanctions reliefs is being allocated to Iran-backed terrorist groups and other malevolent objectives. To this end, it is quite obvious why the Iranian people will continue to suffer and never actually enjoy any benefit from the nuclear pact windfall of released billions.

The higher interest of the Iranian people lies in preventing the regime from continuing its meddling across the Middle East.

“The regime in Tehran is the source of crisis in the region and killings in Syria; it has played the greatest role in the expansion and continuation of ISIS. Peace and tranquility in the region can only be achieved by evicting this regime from the region,” said Maryam Rajavi, President of the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran.

The international community, and very specifically the European Union, should also end its appeasement policy that has provided billions in cash and gold to Iran. Such money cannot be traced and Iran easily allocates these funds for evil purposes. Any and all assets unfrozen for Iran must be guaranteed to directly benefit the Iranian people.

Originally published in Vocal Europe