The regimes of Iran & Venezuela go way back

It is no coincidence that the regime’s of Iran and Venezuela have tag-teamed in a display of “resistance” against U.S. sanctions to score a few cheap political points through sheer propaganda that will only last a few weeks max. Iran has been sending five tankers to Venezuela and the main purpose is to show defiance in the face of measures taken by the Trump administration against both regimes.

Tehran and Caracas have been boasting about an “anti-imperialist” victory of bypassing sanctions through the transfer of 1.5 million liters of gasoline and petrochemicals from Iran to Venezuela. Of course, it goes without saying that there are high suspicions there is much more involved here than a mere transfer of oil-related goods and far more malign objectives are at stake here.

Lesser discussed in the media, however, is the fact that both regimes in Caracas and Tehran were able to take full advantage of the careless appeasement policy practiced by the Obama administration. This is the main topic of this blog.

Recently, Iran has been bailing out Maduro by sending:

-blending components used for producing gasoline

-workers, equipment for oil refining

-and discussed sending gasoline cargoes into Venezuela

(And remember Iran says it needs money to address COVID-19.)

Mahan Air (designated as a terrorist entity), associated directly to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC-designated by the State Department as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization”) has direct flights between Iran and Venezuela.

  1. Flight W5138 from Tehran to Las Piedras (Source)
  2. another Mahan Air Airbus A340-600 from Iran to Venezuela
  3. April 27—Mahan Air A340s landing in Caracas

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Iran did not establish such strong ties with the Chavez/Maduro regime in Venezuela overnight. Back in 2011, former president Hugo Chavez agreed to permit Iran build missile bases in the South American country. And the Obama administration denied everything.

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“The U.S. State Department said it reviews all information pertaining to Iranian military involvement in the hemisphere, but that it could not vouch for the report,” according to a CNN reported on May 21, 2011. Keep in mind this is just a year prior to the start of Obama’s secret talks with Iran in Oman over the regime’s controversial nuclear dossier that paved the path for the infamous 2015 nuclear deal.

“We have no evidence to support this claim & therefore no reason to believe the assertions made in the article are credible,” Obama’s State Department added.

Maduro, Chavez’ Foreign Minister at the time, described the allegations as an “extravagant lie.” He is seen in this image with his then Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki.

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The cozy relationship between Tehran and Caracas goes all the way back to the early days of Obama’s tenure.

“The missile base is part of a pattern that began in March 2009, when President Obama met Chavez at an Organization of American States meeting in Trinidad,” The Daily Caller wrote on January 3, 2011.

President Obama shook hands with the dictator, as usual, and said he wanted to be friends and reset US-Venezuelan relations. Chavez responded by presenting Obama with a book that claims the United States plunders Latin America,” the piece adds, indicating a clear lesson in “Appeasement 101.”

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Seeing such reactions from Obama, Iran felt the confidence with its plans and was establishing a very dangerous relationship with the Chaves/Maduro regime in Venezuela, involving uranium & Hezbollah sleeper cells, as reports show.

“Iran uses Venezuela and other Latin American countries as havens for its terrorists. For months Hezbollah, Iran’s terror army, has metastasized across our undefended border with Mexico to set up sleeper cells in our cities. And now we learn a senior Hezbollah thug was appointed as Venezuela’s Deputy Chief of Mission to Syria?” The Daily Caller asked.

Iran was also quite busy establishing at least three Iranian missile bases in Venezuela, according to another damning report.

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And years later, “the radicals ruling Iran are emboldened by the confusion of the Obama administration in confronting Iran’s nuclear program,” as put by a Fox News piece. Obama, of course, had broader issues in mind with Tehran & went the distance to prevent any interruptions.

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There’s more when you dig into it with simple googling, one stumbles upon the utterly corrupt nature of the Iran-Venezuela relationship. “The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook” was a bombshell Politico report that explained the distance Obama went to keep Iran’s mullahs pleased, even if it endangered the lives of the American people.

“… the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah,” the report reads in part.

It is mind boggling how many millions of people were placed at risk as a result of drug trafficked into the U.S. by the Iran/Hezbollah-linked network. ““The eight-year investigation came to a head just as the Obama administration was negotiating a deal for Iran to put aside their nuclear ambitions,” according to The Telegraph. Priorities, priorities, priorities.

Iran-backed Hezbollah’s sophisticated $1 billion-a-year drug network was actively involved in laundering money and smuggling cocaine into the United States. However, Obama’s departments of Justice and Treasury constantly undermined agents’ efforts to arrest and prosecute important members of the criminal ring, as put by The New York Post. Why one would ask? Because the Obama White House feared offending Tehran ahead of the 2015 nuclear deal.

“This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,” said David Asher, an illicit finance expert. “They serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.”

When appeasement entered dangerous sectors of the government, we witnessed how Obama officials literally parroted the Iranian regime’s talking points. “John Brennan, Mr. Obama’s counterterror chief who later led the CIA, had argued in May 2010 that Hezbollah was evolving into a political party,” according to The Wall Street Journal. Here’s a look at what John Brennan calls a “political party”…

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And Obama continued their appeasement of Iran by making sure nothing slipped through the cracks. “Project Cassandra officials told Politico that they were transferred to other assignments after Mr. Obama’s deal with Iran was announced in January 2016,” according to The Washington Times.

Further astonishing is that U.S. authorities literally had specific targets in their grasps. If apprehended these individuals could have provided far more information into Iran’s malign activities and brought more corrupt figures to justice. “… the Obama Justice Department refused to pursue Abdallah Safieddine, the leader in charge of coordinating Hezbollah’s global drug trafficking operations, who also serves as Hezbollah’s liaison officer in Tehran,” according to The Hill.

It has now become quite obvious that Obama’s appeasement vis-a-vis Iran/Chavez/Maduro had no limits. Daniel Byman wrote in Lawfare:

  1. The Justice Department did not file criminal charges against Hezbollah members because of tacit White House pressure;
  2. The U.S. government refused to press hard for the extradition of a key Hezbollah weapons supplier in Czech custody, allowing his eventual release;
  3. The United States allowed “an entire Quds force network” in the United States to function and otherwise did not aggressively target Quds Force members;
  4. The administration did not target a Lebanese bank linked to drug laundering; and
  5. The administration stymied the DEA’s effort to go after Hezbollah. Over time, the agency’s task force was denied permission to expand its efforts, and its personnel and resources were steadily drained.

And Obama’s obstructionism rendered the following:

  1. “Multi-ton loads of cocaine” entered the United States;
  2. Hezbollah procured hundreds of millions of dollars from illegal drug money;
  3. The United States lost track of various networks and associated conspiracies with adversaries such as Russia, Syria and Venezuela; and
  4. Drug networks were allowed to flourish and also served as overall logistics hubs. These networks also “procured parts for Iran’s illicit nuclear and ballistic missile programs” smuggled in night-vision goggles and even Bell helicopters.

As noted previously, Iran and Venezuela also have established a dangerous relationship involving Tehran launching missile bases in America’s backyard. It is worth the while to take a look at how former president Hugo Chavez agreed to permit Iran’s regime build missile bases in the South American country.

Chávez has signed a secret strategic cooperation agreement with former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on October 19, 2010, aiming to build an Iran-Venezuelan missile base on Venezuelan soil. The base was to be built on the Peninsula de Paraguaná, about 120 kilometers from the Colombian border. A small group of leading Iranian engineers from the Revolutionary Guard-owned construction company Khatam al-Anbia had paid visits to the designated site on the northern tip of the South American continent.

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The secret visit in early February 2010 was approved by the IRGC Air Force commander, Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who voted him with the Venezuelan partners. The Iranian delegation had plans to develop an infrastructure to protect against air attacks. Also planned is the construction of a command and control station, residential areas, watchtowers and bunkers where warheads, rocket fuel and other relevant assets can be stored. 20-meter deep rocket silos were also blueprinted.

Iran had in mind methods to launch a strategic threat to the U.S., much as the Soviet Union planned to do so in Cuba back in the early 1960s.

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“The cost of the Venezuelan military project is being paid for with Iranian oil revenue. The Iranians paid in cash for the preliminary phase of the project, which amounted to “dozens of millions” of dollars, Die Welt wrote,” according to a May 17, 2011, translation by The Jerusalem Post.

The site was to “include missile defenses, special forces units, and control stations. Iran’s oil revenue is reportedly going to the construction of bunkers, watch towers, barracks, and 65-foot deep rocket silos,” according to the Business Insider.

The German daily claims that according to the agreement, Iranian Shahab 3 (range 1300-1500 km), Scud-B (285-330 km) and Scud-C (300, 500 and 700 km) were to be deployed in the proposed base.

(File photos)

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“The leaders of Iran and Venezuela hailed what they called their strong strategic relationship, saying they are united in efforts to establish a ‘New World Order’ that will eliminate Western dominance over global affairs,” according to a Fox News report posted on May 17, 2011.

“Security sources have stated that the plans for the underground missile depots will be prepared by experts from the chemical engineering department of the Sharif Industrial University and Tehran Polytechnic,” the report adds.

There is far more on the disturbing relationship between the regime’s ruling Iran and Venezuela.

“Venezuela is said to have significant reserves, something that Iran is desperately in need of for the continuation of their nuclear bomb project. Other activities include housing of the Quds forces, along with Hezbollah cells in these facilities, so they can expand their activities throughout Latin America and form collaborations with drug cartels in Mexico and then enter America.

“Many of the Iranian so-called commercial facilities in Venezuela are under strict no-fly zone regulations by the Venezuelan government and are only accessible by the Iranians in charge of those facilities!

“With Iran’s refusal to halt its nuclear program and the progress they’re making with their missile delivery system, this new military alliance with Venezuela is most alarming for our national security here in America.”

The breadcrumbs of these warnings were everywhere, only for Obama to deliberately overlook.

“Iran has already built what it calls a ‘tractor factory’ in Venezuela, the most heavily guarded and secret tractor factory in the world. The fenced compound is so secret that even Venezuelans are not allowed to enter it; only Iranians are allowed inside.”,” according to The Daily Caller.

“The factory is in a remote area, not far from a uranium deposit former Venezuelan official estimate holds 50,000 tons of ore. Is it a stretch to connect the secret ‘tractor factory’ and the uranium?”

The malign ties between Tehran’s mullahs’ and the Chavez/Maduro regime expanded to more dangerous spheres: terrorism.

“Iran uses Venezuela and other Latin American countries as havens for its terrorists. For months Hezbollah, Iran’s terror army, has metastasized across our undefended border with Mexico to set up sleeper cells in our cities. And now we learn a senior Hezbollah thug was appointed as Venezuela’s Deputy Chief of Mission to Syria?” The Daily Caller read adds.

And talking about links & ties, we all remember how Obama had good relations with Chavez. In my opinion, as Obama betrayed the people of Iran in 2009, one could say he also betrayed the people of Venezuela.

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I wouldn’t be surprised that Assad in Syria also benefited from Obama’s appeasement of the regime’s in Iran & Venezuela. Of course, we all remember how Obama backed off from his famous Syria “red line”…

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The Trump administration, however, does understand the risk of Iran-backed Hezbollah being active in Venezuela.

Worth noting that while Iran describes transferring gasoline halfway across the globe to Venezuela, the regime doesn’t answer the question why they can’t or are not willing to provide for Iranians back home?

 

The most effective method to support the people of Iran and Venezuela in their struggle for freedom & democracy is to bring a complete end to the appeasement policy once and for all.

Fake news MSM supporting the regime in Iran

By Heshmat Alavi

March 26, 2020—You know the regime in Iran is desperate when a variety of MSM outlets, such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and USA Today rush to the mullahs’ support with articles by their editorial boards calling on the Trump administration to lift sanctions. USA TODAY falls as low as providing a platform for Majid Takht Ravanchi, Iran’s ambassador to the UN, while describing him as an “Opinion contributor.”

Let’s begin by taking a look at The New York Times piece.

“Demonstrating compassion in times of crisis is good foreign policy,” NYT argues. When correctly translated into plain English, this means let’s return to the Obama-style full-throttle appeasement of this regime and provide it with financial incentives with the knowledge that the money will never be used to support the Iranian people.

NYT says: “Iran has appealed to the International Monetary Fund for $5 billion in emergency funding and a long list of essential equipment…”

Of course, NYT will not tell its readers that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei sits on a vast economic empire worth at least $95 billion dollars, according to Reuters. Back in April 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad estimated that Khamenei owns assets worth about $200 billion.

If Iran needs “emergency funding” to provide for “a long list of essential equipment,” why does it not simply tap into Khamenei’s own billions? And where is the guarantee that Tehran will not be spending this money to fuel its malign purposes?

FDD
Iran’s regime has been known to prop the murders Assad killing machine in Syria along with numerous other terrorist militia extremist groups checkered across the Middle East (Credit: FDD)

Back in 2016 former U.S. secretary of state John Kerry said they realized after the 2015 nuclear deal that some of the generated money would be used by Iran’s mullahs to fuel their terrorist groups. Of course, if Kerry were to honest, he would have said all of that money would be used to fuel Iran’s malign objectives, such as boosting its domestic crackdown machine, supporting terrorism, further developing ballistic missiles, and continuing its clandestine drive to obtain nuclear weapons.

Furthermore, back in July 2019, the chief of staff of Iran’s president himself wrote a letter saying that one billion euros ($1.12 billion) in hard currency allocated for importing medicines and essential goods “has disappeared.” And NYT expect us to trust this regime with a $5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund?

It is also worth noting that Iranian regime officials stole more than $1 billion in humanitarian funds meant to be used to help the country’s people fight the spread of coronavirus, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Furthermore, despite the coronavirus crisis in Iran, Tehran-backed militia groups in Iraq are continuing their attacks against U.S. forces. Of course, NYT would never mention that and would never call on the mullahs’ regime to allocate the funds used by these terrorist groups to provide for the Iranian people.

NYT goes on to cite an October 2019 report by the Human Rights Watch to further its argument about U.S. sanctions constraining the Iranian regime’s ability “to finance humanitarian imports, including medicines.” What NYT will not tell you is that the HRW report was a parroting of Tehran’s lies and talking points already easily debunked.

Furthermore, the report was compiled by Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division, who has recently joined the Quincy Institute, a think tank co-founded by Trita Parsi, the founder of NIAC, Iran’s DC-based lobby group. Parsi has always been fond of Whitson’s work as she runs Tehran’s talking points and diverts attention away from the mullahs’ atrocious human rights violations. Whitson’s recent controversial remarks also caused quite a stir that forced her into an embarrassing apology.

NYT argues that “the United States should be at the forefront of offering what help it can.” What NYT will not tell its readers that the U.S. did offer help and Tehran has ruled out help from “foreign forces” in dealing with the coronavirus epidemic. Tehran even kicked out a team of Médecins Sans Frontières, but NYT won’t tell you that either.

Why would Tehran kick out a team of foreign doctors seeking to provide help to its COVID-19 crisis?

Simple. The mullahs cannot risk foreign doctors inside Iran seeing the truth of the Iranian people left without adequate support and realizing the astronomical death toll and number of cases. It would reveal to the world that Tehran is lying about its death toll, the number of cases and how it is not providing any decent support for the 80+ millions of Iranians during this crisis.

NYT further argues “American generosity might be the best way of persuading Iran to release American and other foreign detainees.” Such a measure would justify Iran’s illegal apprehension and hostage taking of American and other foreign nationals, encouraging the mullahs to continue with this practice to gain further incentives in the future.

But of course, there is nothing wrong with that the in the eyes of the NYT editorial board. Iran should be held accountable for taking American and other foreign nationals as hostages and using them as foreign policy bargaining chips. The NYT editorial board should be ashamed of such hideous remarks.

In its argument, NYT cites a Foreign Policy magazine piece by Robert Malley and Ali Vaez of the International Crisis Group. Malley is a former Obama administration official pushing for a return to appeasing the mullahs’ regime. Vaez is a known Iranian regime apologist parroting Tehran’s talking points whenever possible.

NYT will not tell you that Vaez has very close ties to senior Iranian regime leadership. This is him with former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani who was very close to the mullahs’ regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini.

Ali Vaez with Rafsanjani
Ali Vaez of the International Crisis Group with former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (now dead)

There is good reason why NYT will continue pushing the Iranian regime’s talking points. This thread sheds light on NYT’s direct ties to Tehran and a state-run outlet of the mullahs.

WaPo

The Washington Post also published an editorial piece calling on the U.S. to lift its sanctions on Iran. The post claims the United States is being blamed by ordinary Iranians for making it more difficult for authorities to combat the epidemic. Yet the Post provides no source for such a claim.

The Post goes on to cite an NYT piece written by Narges Bajoghli of Johns Hopkins University and Mahsa Rouhi of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, two known Iran apologists/lobbyists that have been criticized for pushing Tehran’s talking points. Of course, WaPo will not mention anything about Bajoghli and Rouhi’s ties to Tehran’s lobby.

WaPo argues for the U.S. to greenlight the IMF providing a $5 billion loan to Iran, citing the fact that the “regime has already paroled one of the U.S. citizens it had been holding in its prisons.” Following NYT’s footsteps, WaPo is also justifying Tehran’s practice of taking American and foreign nationals hostage. This is truly shameful for any media outlet.

In another low even for WaPo, the article claims U.S. President Trump launched a confrontation with the Iranian regime, and never mentions the fact that Tehran declared war on the U.S. over 40 years ago, ever since its paramilitary forces climbed up the U.S. Embassy walls in Tehran and took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days back in 1979.

USA TODAY

As mentioned before, the USA TODAY actually provided a platform for Majid Takht Ravanchi, Iran’s ambassador to the UN, while describing him as an “Opinion contributor.” Ravanchi used this opportunity to push Tehran’s lies, claiming “Iran’s ability to deal with [coronavirus] in an effective manner is limited due to the unjust U.S. sanctions imposed on the Iranian people.”

Ravanchi also claims: “The U.S. maintains that humanitarian goods are exempt from its extra-territorial sanctions. However, that is not the reality. The financial channel required for facilitating transactions, even for humanitarian commodities, is not available…”

This is a lie. The U.S. Treasury Department specifically indicates: “The United States maintains broad exceptions and authorizations for the sale of agricultural commodities, food, medicine, and medical devices to Iran by U.S. and non-U.S. persons, provided such transactions do not involve persons designated in connection with Iran’s proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), or Iran’s support for international terrorism.”

Ravanchi claims Iran “is actually less equipped to contain Covid-19 than others.”

This is also a lie. Iran’s own state-run English media outlets are claiming “Iran exports medical equipment to Europe” and “Iran exports medical equipment to 55 countries worldwide.”

Some 105 medical equipment produced by 23 Iranian companies are exported to 55 countries across the world, Reza Masaeli, an advisor to the health minister said.

“Currently, a total of 280,000 medical equipment is produced in the country,” Fars quoted Masaeli as saying.

While the pro-appeasement MSM outlets seek a soft approach vis-à-vis Tehran and a return to the Obama years of full-throttle appeasement of the mullahs, this is exactly the time to further pressures on the regime and break its back for good. As an Iranian, I know for certain that such a policy would weaken the mullahs’ regime and be in favor of the Iranian people.

Iran’s mullahs are obviously desperate. The very fact that such a choir of MSM articles are calling for sanctions to be lifted under the bogus pretexts of providing medical supplies is a clear sign that Mr. Trump’s maximum pressure campaign is working. Even a small fracture in this initiative, that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said three years of hard work have gone into, would be a desperately needed propaganda victory for Tehran. And as always, MSM is ready to pounce on anything anti-Trump and willing to publish anything of any nature, without providing their readers the truth.

Iran deeply concerned over upcoming Arab conferences

Three fundamental domestic and global elements are placing the regime ruling Iran on the edge of a cliff. However, a conference of Arab countries scheduled for May 30 in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, has resulted in Tehran scrambling senior figures across the Middle East calling for talks and accelerating their tactic of deceptive measures. Resorting to these well-known maneuvers, Tehran is desperately attempting to prevent Arab countries from launching a firm policy vis-à-vis its apparatus.

Firstly, sanctions are beginning to bite. The U.S. bringing an end to oil sanctions waivers issued for China, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey and imposing new sanctions on Tehran are beginning to suffocate the mullahs.

“The fact that an Iranian ship could not dock in foreign ports for 10 days to unload is unprecedented in Iranian history. The U.S. State Department is constantly in contact with that small country to not allow our ship to dock. This is unprecedented in the past 40 years. The fact that an oil tanker shipping Iran’s oil is followed by satellites during its entire voyage, registering its number, constantly knowing where it is, who is buying, who is selling… All this is unprecedented in the past 40 years,” said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on May 25.

Secondly, the presence of U.S. military forces in the region that has literally terrified the mullahs regime. Especially after enjoying eight years of unbridled appeasement from the Obama administration, senior officials in Tehran are understanding that their meddling and warmongering in the Middle East will no longer go unanswered.

During the past three decades, Tehran has never paid any price for its interference in regional countries, literally being the main benefactor of three wars in 1991, 2001 and 2003.

The 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq opened the gates of this country for Iran and the mullahs’ regime occupied Iraq at almost no cost, using this important country as a springboard for their continued meddling in Syria and other countries. Currently, Tehran is deeply concerned that this period of taking utter advantage of regional developments is coming to an end.

Thirdly, the active presence of the Iranian opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its cornerstone member, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), inside the country and abroad. The mullahs’ regime has been involved in launching massive apprehension campaigns, issuing execution verdicts for political prisoners, resorting to threats and installing fear among the society. However, these measures have not rendered any results and protests are increasing across Iran.

Looking forward, Arab delegates participating in the Mecca conference should adopt a firm position against the regime of Iran to deliver a strong response to Tehran’s recent measures. “No thank you, Mr. Javad Zarif, Iran’s proposal is unacceptable,” was the title of a piece published in the UAE’s Gulf News responding to Zarif’s ridiculous suggestion of signing a “non-aggression pact” with Iran’s neighbors. It is quite obvious that Tehran has been involved in aggressive measures against its neighbors for the past 40 years. Therefore, the mullahs are in no such position to seek the signing of a “non-aggression pact.”

Iran’s regime should not have the opportunity to resort to such tactics, thus gaining breathing room and further extending its lifespan. Tehran has a history of using such opportunities to once again relaunch its warmongering efforts and exporting terrorism across the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia will be hosting three important conferences of Arab and Islamic countries. Escalating tensions in the region and Iran’s threats are announced to be among the main subjects of discussion. The Saudi King has officially invited the Emir of Qatar to take part in the Gulf Cooperation Council Summit.

Following the May 30 conference, members of the Arab League will be holding a session and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will be convening. These three conferences being held in the final days of the month of Ramadan in the city of Mecca are aimed at establishing a large alliance against Iran, according to Agence France Presse. Increasing tension among the U.S. and Iran has led to concerns among regional countries over a possible military confrontation.

There are no reports about the possibility of Iran being invited or not to the OIC session.

While U.S. President Donald Trump has reiterated his willingness to talk with the regime ruling Iran, the mullahs view any talks with “The Great Satan” as a major step back from their 40-year long positions. Such a development will result in the regime weakening and losing its grip on the country with each passing day.

As a result, continuing its warmongering in the region and going back on the 2015 nuclear deal will result in further strong measures by the U.S. and most likely other countries across the globe. On the other hand, bending the knee to negotiations with the U.S. also comes with major calamities.

This predicament has left the mullahs’ regime in a lose-lose situation, with time running out fast as sanctions continue to bite. As a recent Wall Street Journal piece put it, “Amid Tensions, Iran’s Crude Buyers Jump Ship.”

ANALYSIS: How Iranian regime sinks deeper into isolation

Al Arabiya

Following Iran’s announcement of missiles tests under the pretext of “launching satellites” into space, the regime in Tehran is facing a new wave of political isolation.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement in response: “The Iranian Regime’s Ministry of Defense has publicly announced plans to launch three Space Launch Vehicles (SLV) in the coming months. Such actions would once again demonstrate Iran’s defiance of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2231, which calls upon the Iranian regime not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons… The United States will not stand by and watch the Iranian regime’s destructive policies place international stability and security at risk. We advise the regime to reconsider these provocative launches and cease all activities related to ballistic missiles in order to avoid deeper economic and diplomatic isolation.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded in a tweet claiming, “Iran’s launch of space vehicles— & missile tests—are NOT in violation of Res 2231…”

Two months after the US launched new sanctions against the Iranian regime, Washington apparently intends to increase its political and economic pressures to compel Tehran into at least ending its adventurous policies.

Important details

Zarif’s remarks are nothing new, as the regime claims their missiles are for defensive purposes and do not bear the capability of delivering a nuclear payload. However, both the US and Europe are showing grave sensitivity in this regard and making contrast comments.

The missile ranges are key and upgrading these vehicles into delivering a nuclear warhead are an easy step. This subject becomes especially important when placed alongside threats made by senior Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) officials saying Iranian missiles now reach Europe.

Why the tests?

It is common knowledge that the Iranian regime is facing a conglomerate of crises as we speak. One particular issue, being Iran’s restive society and continuing protests, is of the utmost importance for the ruling regime, having severe impacts on their entire apparatus, especially more members of their ranks and files throwing in the towel.

Tehran’s clerics are now in dire need of what they describe as “hope therapy.” One such measure is through ballistic missiles and satellite launching vehicles to elevate diminishing spirits.

A protestor chants slogans against the Iranian regime and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki following a deadly attack on a camp near Baghdad housing Iranian exiles. (AFP)

 

In regards to Iran’s nuclear program, the regime continues to claim this initiative is for peaceful purposes and/or medical isotopes, knowing a complete shutdown of their “civilian” nuclear program would be humiliating in the face of the “Great Satan.”

Inside Iran and abroad, it would be considered as the regime beginning to succumb to the 12-demands raised by Pompeo.

Not so easy

These adventurous measures, however, create certain issues in already tense relations between the Iranian regime and Europe.

While Tehran desperately continues effort to create a rift between the US and Europe, the Green Continent cannot overlook Tehran’s meddling in the Middle Eastsupport for terrorismballistic missile tests and human rights violations, to some extent. Making things even more complicated is the position long adopted by Tehran, saying a step back on any of these issues will be the beginning of the end on all far more important subjects.

One such sign is the impasse Iran’s regime faces in regards to Europe’s “special purpose vehicle”initiative aimed at providing a mechanism to bypass US sanctions.

This subject has become so provocative for the European Union – especially considering Washington’s start opposition – that members of Iran’s Majlis (parliament) are heard claiming Tehran is not counting on the SPV!.

Seeing the matter becoming utterly embarrassing, Zarif has made similar remarks saying there was no economic objective in signing into the 2015 nuclear deal. It appears Zarif has forgotten how the Iranian regime went on a trade-signing rampage following the nuclear signing, including with companies such as AirBus, Boeing, Total and so forth.

Mehdi Mohammadi, described as an “expert in nuclear and international policy issues,” provided an interesting response after Zarif’s remarks raised quite a few eyebrows across the board.

“If we assume that Mr. Zarif was honest in his remarks, and these words were not the result of pressures from public opinion after the nuclear deal failed to provide economic fruit… this question comes to mind that if there were no economic/sanctions-lifting objectives involved in the nuclear deal, then what objective was the nuclear deal seeking?… Why did we even negotiate in the first place?”

Final thoughts

It is an undeniable fact that Iran’s regime is facing growing isolation, as the international community is coming to understand the clerics’ mortal weakness in the face of mushrooming protests.

Having no solutions, the Iranian regime is kicking the can down the road. 2019, with protests showing no signs of cooling and Washington determined to increase economic and diplomatic pressures, is promising to be a devastating period for Tehran.

Pompeo provided a preview in a recent interview with Newsmax: “The sanctions on Iran have the ultimate goal which we are trying to achieve. Creating an outcome where the Iranian people could have better lives than they have today under this tyrannical regime.”

ANALYSIS: What Iran fears even more than sanctions

Al Arabiya

Tensions in Iran’s society are running high due to increasing poverty, skyrocketing prices and unemployment, alongside escalating oppression. Public anger is on the rise due to drastic economic/social pressures and we are reaching the tipping point. This is far more alarming for those sitting on the throne in Tehran.

Schoolteachers, truck drivers, storeowners, farmers, sugar mill and steel workers are among the various branches of Iran’s restive society continuing to protest, launch long-term strikes and raise their demands in significant fashion.

Considering the fact that more than 80 percent of Iranians are living in poverty, there is no doubt these movements will evolve into a new uprising of unprecedented proportions.

Senior Iranian regime officials are fully aware of this developing reality on the ground. Not being in sync with the 21st century or the Iranian society, the only “solution” they deem possible is to increase their crackdown.

This will only fuel the fire already simmering deep within the Iranian populace.

Growing tension

The latest round of nationwide strikes, including launched by Iran’s hardworking truck drivers, have expanded to over 75 cities in at least 24 of Iran’s 31 provinces. Further concerning for officials and authorities is the support truckers enjoy among people from all walks of life.

Adding to the regime’s troubles are protests heard from the international community in response to its oppressive measures. Amnesty International has raised concern over the mass arrest campaign and secret executions launched by authorities in Khuzestan Province of southwest Iran.

Since 24 September, up to 600 Ahwazi Arabs have been detained incommunicado in a wave of arrests following a deadly armed attack that took place in Ahvaz, Khuzestan province, two days earlier.

“If confirmed, the secret executions of these men would be not only a crime under international law but also an abhorrent violation of their right to life and a complete mockery of justice, even by the shocking standards of Iran’s judicial system,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

The situation across the country is reaching a certain dangerous climax, a conglomerate of:

– Human rights violations and continuing crackdown,

– Poor economic management and institutionalized plundering of people’s wealth by state-linked institutions,

– A significant decrease in production due to skyrocketing imports,

– Officials neglecting vast poverty and the people’s needs, parallel to increasing unemployment,

– Adopting temporary remedies for the currency market while those linked to the regime are taking advantage of the mayhem and making huge profits.

Sounds of alarm

In Iran, members of parliament should not be considered the people’s representatives. Considering the fact that the Guardian Council (with strong links to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei) vets electoral candidates, these so-called MPs are merely seeking their own interests.

“Mr. President, what is your agenda for the teachers’ living conditions? And what have you done?” asked Shadmehr Kazemzadeh, a parliament member in a recent session.

Another member shouted in response, “Nothing! Nothing!”

The main concerns lies in the fact that the regime lacks any answers in response to escalating popular protests.

“Mr. Speaker, we were with the people for a few days and we had no answers for them in regards to economic issues, regarding skyrocketing prices… the truth is people are having problems in their lives,” said Haji Doleigani, another parliament member.

Push comes to shove

It is common knowledge in Iran that Khamenei enjoys a certain influence over the parliament, aka the Majlis. If there is even an iota of support in the Majlis for Rouhani’s government, this is not equivalent to a white check.

The factional disputes are the result of each current pointing fingers at others for the country’s dilemmas, all in fear of an escalation in public upheaval. Yet when push comes to shove, all government, provincial, city, town and village officials are in one front in the face of any security development threatening the regime.

Currently the media is mainly focusing on how US sanctions will influence the future of Iran. While doing so, it is necessary to remind ourselves the main reason for the Iranian people’s ongoing sufferings – being the regime – and the subject senior regime officials fear most, being protests by the people.

Mojtaba Zolnour, Majlis member from the city of Qom in central Iran, made interesting remarks in a recent TV interview.

“Today, in a period of sanctions, if we ask ourselves have we made progress or failed to do so, it would be a lie to claim we are making advancements. Why are we cloaking our incompetence behind the wall of sanctions?”

Protests in Iran have reached a point of no return. While the ruling may seek to wait out US sanctions in the hope of US President Donald Trump failing reelection in November 2020, it has no answers for Iran’s powder keg society.