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.
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).
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 Syria, Iraq, Lebanon 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Developments in the Middle East have placed the spotlight once again on Iran and its hegemonic temptations. This goes parallel to calls from parties such as France and Germany, whom Iran previously counted on in the face of U.S. pressures, demanding Tehran reel in its ballistic missile program and support for proxy groups across the region.
While all such measures are necessary and deserve escalation, Tehran’s human rights violations demand even more attention. This is the one issue that both shivers fear in the ruling regime and provides direct support for the Iranian people in their struggle for freedom, democracy and all the other values embraced by today’s 21st century world.
As the world marks International Human Rights Day on December 10th, we are also well into the first year of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s second term.
Dubbed as a “moderate” figure in Iran’s politics, with many arguing otherwise, the scene witnessed in Iran during his tenure has been far from it. Over 3,500 executions are merely the first stain of an atrocious report card of human rights violations.
A new report by Iran Human Rights Monitoring reviewing the plight of human rights in Iran during the course of 2017 sheds light on a reality the regime strives to cloak from the world.
Mrs. Asma Jahangir, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, in a semi-annual report referred to the absence of an independent judiciary in Iran. Improving the country’s human rights situation hinges on reforming the judiciary, she added.
Amnesty International in its 2016-2017 report indicated how, aside from China, Iran is host to 55 percent of all the world’s executions.
In June Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei used the term “fire at will” in a speech, leading to an increase in repressive measures and flagrant human rights violations.
This includes a 22 percent increase in the number of arrests, 25 percent increase in women executions, the execution of four juveniles, and a surge in inhumane and humiliating punishments, according to the Iran-HRM report.
Iran has witnessed 520 executions from the beginning of 2017 to the end of November, while only 91 such cases have been reported by the regime’s official news agencies. 28 of these were public hangings and five cases involved political prisoners.
The systematic murder of porters by state security forces in Iran’s border regions, counting to 84 such cases so far in 2017, raised a stir in social networks and even international media outlets.
The report also sheds light on the atrocious conditions in Iran’s prisons, as severe crackdown measures have rendered jails packed with inmates. This has led to poor hygiene conditions, low quality food and many other dilemmas for the prisoners.
Iran’s jails are also home to at least 640 political prisoners, an issue Tehran refuses to recognize or provide any information about. These individuals are constantly tortured and placed under inhumane pressures, as more than 56 are victim to mental and psychological tortures.
One such hideous practice has been chaining inmates to a courtyard pole, seen carried out in Ardebil Prison, northwest Iran, according to the report.
Iran is also known to resort to inhumane measures resembling the Middle Ages. Five limb amputations, 32 lashings and more than 105 humiliating public parading of prisoners have been registered from January to November 2017.
Ruled by a regime founded on pillars of crackdown, Iran has long been criticized for its lack of press freedoms; more than 30 journalists and 18 bloggers are currently behind bars across the country. At least five journalists are banned from any such activities and dozens of others are serving heavy sentences.
In its April statement Reporters Without Borders ranked Iran as 165th among 180 countries on its index of press freedoms, adding the country ruled by Tehran’s regime is considered one of the world’s largest prisons for journalists.
After imposing censorship for decades and keeping the Iranian people cut off from the outside world, the regime ruling Iran understands the power of the internet and social media, in particular.
While Iran cannot afford to completely cut off the internet, the mere fact that nearly 40 million Iranians are online daily is literally a time bomb for Tehran. The regime has gone the limits to ban and filter numerous websites and platforms, especially Telegram, considered to be very popular in Iran due to the privacy and security provides to its users.
Iranian officials have publicly announced the filtering of around 16,000 to 20,000 Telegram channels, went as far as blocking any live video streaming on Instagram and filtered Twitter.
Religious and ethnic minorities in Iran, specifically Christians and Baha’is, are experiencing similar restrictions, parallel to not being recognized by Iran’s ruling extremists and systematically placed under pressure from state officials and authorities. The UN Special Rapporteur in her report referred to the harassment of religious and ethnic minorities, specifically holding the IRGC responsible for arresting minority members.
For the first time the UN Special Rapporteur’s report refers to the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners, consisting mostly of members and supporters of the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
Looking forward to hosting a distinguished panel of speakers @PressClubDC to discuss "The Summer of Blood": the 1988 extrajudicial killing of 30,000 dissidents by #Iran's rulers, many of whom remain in positions of power today. https://t.co/qDLL4kyp2k
A panel of prominent American politicians participated in a recent discussion in Washington, DC, unveiling a new book published by the U.S. Representative Office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the main coalition consisting of the PMOI and other Iranian dissident groups.
U.S. President Donald Trump has twice expressed the American people’s solidarity with their Iranian brethren, signaling a stark contrast in policy with his predecessor who failed to stand alongside the Iranian people during their 2009 uprising.
Sanctions and a variety of restricting measures targeting Tehran’s nuclear drive, ballistic missile program, and support for terrorism and proxy groups are very necessary, and should increase. Parallel to such actions, measures targeting Iran’s senior officials and the entities behind human rights violations must be placed on agenda by the international community.
Developments over Syria following recent collaborations between leaders of the United States and Russia have gained significant momentum. This also signals a decreasing Iranian role and a prelude to further setbacks for Tehran.
An hour long phone call last Tuesday between US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin followed the latter’s meeting with Syrian regime leader Bashar al-Assad.
After allocating billions on its Levant campaign, Iran is witnessing its hegemony fading as measures aimed at bringing the Syria war to a close gain momentum.
The leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran agreed last week to facilitate a full-scale political process in Syria and to sponsor a conference in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi to end the war.
While some may consider this a victory for Iran, jumping to early conclusions blinds us from understanding how Tehran sought full hegemony in Syria. Today, circumstances account to major setbacks.
Putin’s hosting of talks on Syria inclines that Moscow calls the shots. This leaves Tehran deeply concerned, especially following its six-year long campaign to maintain Assad in power. The mere fact that Iran is sitting at the table with Russia, also in talks with the US over different issues, and Turkey, a Syrian opposition supporter, leaves no doubt Tehran will need to display political flexibility.
Many would argue a pact between Washington and Moscow will define the blueprint of finalizing Syria’s crisis. Did the Sochi talks place Tehran and Ankara in line with Moscow and Washington? Doubts remain in this regard and Iran understands clearly how a post-ISIS Syria will come at a heavy price.
And with Russia significantly scaling down its military presence on the ground in Syria, Iran’s dreams of a Shiite crescent are endangered, to say the least. Moreover, the mere fact that China is considering a role in reconstructing post-war Syria means more players in the future of this country, and a declining part for Iran.
Seeking to safeguard its interests in Syria, Iran’s terrorist-designated Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) is also eyeing a share in Syria’s reconstruction. This should sound alarm bells, especially since such a role would provide a front for Iran’s efforts to maintain a foothold in the Levant.
Higher global interests
Certain is the fact that Russia’s reservations are not limited to Syria. On the international stage Moscow and Washington enjoy a certain stature. This said, it is quite obvious Moscow will not sacrifice its higher global interests for Syria.
The phone call between Trump and Putin is a sign of coordination between their two countries in Syria. With Washington playing an observer role in the Astana talks weighing Syria, one can conclude their role in the Levant is not eliminated.
Far from it, in fact. US Defense Secretary James Mattis said recently how the US is in Syria to stay. “US troops, in Syria to fight Islamic State, won’t be packing their bags now the jihadist group is essentially beaten. They’re staying on,” Bloomberg reported. This comes as the Pentagon is also likely to announce the presence of around 2,000 US troops in Syria, according to Reuters.
Iran understands fully that US presence in Syria is a source of dilemma for any future plans in the region. Considering the drastic consequences of Obama’s premature departure from Iraq, there are doubts Trump will allow such a repeat in Syria.
Considering the relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia, one can conclude that Moscow will also be taking Riyadh’s reservations over Syria into consideration. Knowing the Arab world’s support is crucial, Putin will strive to obtain Riyadh’s consent.
In his latest meeting with United Nations special envoy on Syria, Staffan de Mistura, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov emphasized how his government worked with Saudi Arabia to unify the Syrian opposition, also indicating UN’s blessing for this latest push.
Unlike Iran, Assad remaining in power is not a red line for Russia. And Moscow will seek Riyadh’s cooperation to have the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council and regional states jump on the train to bring a final end to the Syria crisis.
This spells into a more significant role for Saudi Arabia, Iran’s Middle East archrival, whose Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has in a recent New York Times interview described Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei “the new Hitler of the Middle East.”
Fueling more concerns for Iran is the fact that the Sochi talks focused on establishing peace and stability in Syria based on United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254. This platform was even described by Iranian state media as an “American and Zionist conspiracy.”
The shadow of UN-backed solutions for Syria will continue to haunt Tehran. Putin also emphasized changes in the process of Syria’s political agreement will render based on the Geneva agreement framework.
To add insult to injury, the Syrian opposition meeting Thursday in Riyadh agreed to dispatch a single bloc for next weeks’ UN-backed peace talks. Nasr Hariri, a known Syrian opposition figure selected as the new chief negotiator, is heading to Geneva for the talks set to begin tomorrow. The opposition is ready to discuss “everything on the negotiating table,” according to Hariri.
Tehran would have been delighted to continue fragmenting the Syrian opposition, as witnessed throughout the 6½ year war.
An opportunity is available to end Syria’s fighting, with a high possibility that a final political solution will materialize in the Geneva talks.
In his abovementioned interview, the Saudi Crown Prince reiterated how the world has “learned from Europe that appeasement doesn’t work.” As the international community seeks to bring an end to the war in Syria, appeasing Iran through this delicate process must be strictly prohibited.
Recent developments across the region are signaling increasing isolation for Tehran. Despite investing for decades, Lebanon and Yemen are literally slipping out of Iran’s hands.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri sent shockwaves across the region by announcing his resignation. The recent missile attack by the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen targeting Riyadh crossed a costly red line for Tehran.
Turning point in Lebanon
In Hariri’s own words, Iran and Hezbollah had literally taken the entire country of Lebanon hostage, making it impossible to carry out his duties.
Evidence also revealed an assassination plot threatening his life. Western and Arab intelligence services unveiled how his entourage was targeted, in a blueprint similar to his father’s assassination.
“Those who planned to assassinate prime minister Hariri deactivated the observation towers while his motorcade was passing by,” Reuters wired citing Al Arabiya.
Three issues related to this development are worth pondering over:
1) Hariri announced his resignation from Riyadh only one day after his meeting with Ali Akbar Velayati, international affairs advisor of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, in Beirut.
2) The United States launched a new Iran policy targeting this regime’s destabilization and terrorism across the region.
3) Hezbollah has come under severe sanctions, including three bills passed by the US House of Representatives on October 25th.
a. H.R. 359 calling on the European Union to designate Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization
b. H.R. 3342 sanctioning Hezbollah for using innocent civilians as human shields
c. H.R. 3329, known as HIFPA, targets Hezbollah’s international financial support
In short, Hariri’s resignation changed all calculations for Iran in Lebanon.
A look into the past
After a long stalemate Lebanon established a government on 18th December 2016, seeing Hariri as the prime minister and Michel Aoun as president. Lebanon’s power structure and political fabrication comprises of a Christian president, Sunni prime minister and a Shiite head of parliament.
This combination provided a major advantage for Iran, carrying out all its crimes under the cover of a legitimate Sunni government. Hezbollah is attacking its dissidents in Lebanon, under the pretext of Lebanese Army operations. This terrorist designated entity is also using Lebanon’s financial infrastructure for its own benefit.
This farce legitimacy is now coming to an end. Hariri himself said the status quo could not continue.
Concerns and reactions
Iran and Hezbollah are both sensing the dangers ahead after Hariri’s resignation. “Without a doubt this resignation has raised our concerns and we did not welcome it,” said Hezbollah leader Hassan Nassrallah.
Media in Iran are known to voice the general opinion of its ruling regime. “It appears that Hariri’s resignation is the operational beginning of this strategy in the region, with the ground being paved by the US Congress sanctioning [Iran] and Hezbollah,” according to the semi-official Entekhab daily.
A shot period after Hariri’s resignation, the Houthis in Yemen launched a missile targeting the King Salman International Airport near Riyadh.
“Iran has provided the capability for ballistic missile attacks launched from Yemen,” wire services reported citing Jeffrey Harrigian, commander for southwest Asia at the US Air Forces Central Command on Friday.
“What we have seen, clearly from the results of the ballistic missile attacks, that there have been Iranian markings on those missiles, that’s been demonstrated,” Harrigian added.
One can raise three possible reasons for this retaliation by Iran:
– A response to the blow received from Hariri’s resignation.
– The Houthis are suffering a series of setbacks on the ground.
– The United Nations has proposed peace plans for Yemen. The Houthis missile launch signals Iran’s response to peace and any negotiations whatsoever in Yemen.
The Saudi-led coalition accused Iran of launching a “direct military aggression” and declaring war, threatening possible retaliation. Article 51 of the UN Charter entails countries the right to take defensive military action in such scenarios. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said adequate action will be taken at the proper timing.
Two air strikes targeting the defense ministry in Yemen’s militant-held capital Sanaa late Friday were carried out by the Saudi-led coalition, according to witnesses and rebel media. No casualties were reported.
Iranian military officials, however, denied any part in the Riyadh missile attack. “We don’t even have the means to transfer missiles there,” said Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) chief Mohammad Ali Jafari, understanding the consequences in this regard.
This is the very individual who threatened all US bases in the region in the case of IRGC’s designation as a terrorist organization. The US Treasury Department blacklisted the IRGC without any such response from Iran.
Furthermore, the Houthis lack the necessary industrial capacity to manufacture light weapons, let alone ballistic missiles. Iran’s Kayhan daily, known as Khamenei’s mouthpiece, printed contradictory remarks and mentioned Dubai and other sites as possible future target.
“… where shall be the next target for long-range ballistic missile: maybe Riyadh, Jaddah, Taef and ARAMCO…,” it wrote.
The ballistic missile launch is a violation of UN Security Council resolutions 2216 and 2231. UNSC Resolution 2216 bans any provision of weapons for Houthi leaders in Yemen. UNSC Resolution 2231 specifically prohibits Iran from transferring and selling weapons abroad without Security Council consent.
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley called for the world body to take action against Iran in response to this ballistic missile attack. Yemen lacked such hardware prior to Iran’s support and delivery of weaponry to the Houthis.
The White House condemned the Houthis missile attacks on Saudi Arabia, adding they threatened regional security and undermined efforts aimed at halting the conflict. France and the United Kingdom also condemned these measures, followed by President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Riyadh where he stressed on pressuring Iran’s ballistic missile program.
Consequences of appeasement
Iran and Houthis reaching the point of launching such an attack can be traced back to eight years of appeasement by the Obama administration. Despite the UNSC obligating the Houthis to handover heavy weaponry, pull forces out of all cities and transfer all administrational entities to the officially recognized government, no measures were carried out in this regard.
Diplomats of former US Secretary of State John Kerry held talks with the Houthis in the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, yet refused to receive representatives of Yemen’s legal government. The Obama administration would foster numerous ceasefire agreements, allowing time the battered Houthis to regain their momentum.
One example of the Obama-Kerry engagement policy with Iran was witnessed when the Houthis and forces loyal to sacked Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Salah advanced south with lightning speed from Sanaa towards Aden.
On March 25, 2015, in the midst of Obama’s negotiations with Tehran, Washington issued evacuation orders to US forces stationed in a large airbase north of Aden, including transferring all weaponry and hardware to the Houthis.
Times are changing
Iran enjoyed 16 years of highly flawed US policy across the region, providing it ample time to gain ample influence in four different Arab states of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
The policy adopted by the Trump administration vis-à-vis Iran is causing major concerns for Tehran. Loophole-proof implementation is now needed and signs of such measures are beginning to mushroom in Lebanon and Yemen.
Upon Saudi Arabia’s requested, the Arab League has scheduled to hold an extraordinary meeting next Sunday to weigh Iran’s regional “violations,” wire services reported. This momentum must continue abroad and rest assured Iran’s regime is sensing the growing isolation.
As the United States adopts new strategy vis-à-vis Iran, senior officials in Tehran are desperately seeking a new life-rope. With Obama and his appeasement gone, Iran is also sensing how Europe is distancing.
Tehran is also witnessing how developments across the Middle East and the international spectrum are cornering its regime, detecting how all parties will choose to side with its rivals.
British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson made a call to Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman condemning the Iran-backed Houthis’ missile launch against Riyadh.
In her recent trip to Washington, European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini expressed confidence the Iran nuclear deal, decertified by U.S. President Donald Trump, would not be killed.
Sources in Congress, however, are saying senior Republicans emphasized the deal’s deficiencies and stressed how financial and economic relations established with Iran are endangered, reports indicate.
Iran has feared such an outcome.
“The Europeans must stand against the U.S. government, including its violations of the Iran nuclear deal by imposing sanctions…,” Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said on October 18th.
Prior to this Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sought to take advantage of the rift between Washington and Brussels to lure Europe into economic deals.
Iranian media outlets have described recent remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron, the French Foreign Ministry spokesperson, and the French oil giant Total announcing its complete compliance with U.S. sanctions as further signs of Europe taking the high hills on the Iranian regime.
Macron said on Wednesday he sought to remain firm with Iran over its ballistic missile program and Middle East influence. The semi-official Siasat daily on November 4th had lashed at Macron and called on senior Iranian regime officials to end being “naïve.”
This pro-Khamenei faction daily quoted the French Foreign Ministry spokesperson’s remarks against Iran’s ballistic missile activities as:
“Iran’s ballistic missile policy is not in-line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231… The French President has discussed this matter with his counterpart, Mr. Rouhani. We are in close relations with our European partners and members of the [Gulf] Cooperation Council. We are concerned about the recent remarks made by Iranian officials.”
Furthermore, France’s Foreign Ministry more recently indicated it is taking seriously accusations raised by Washington over Tehran violating two U.N. Security Council resolutions, urging Iran to observe with all its international commitments.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley accused Tehran on Tuesday of supplying Yemen’s Houthi rebels with a missile fired into Saudi Arabia back in July, called for the U.N. to hold Tehran accountable.
Europe has to this day taken its share of advantages rendered from the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Yet this will never result in the Green Continent threatening its long-term and strategic relations with the U.S. in favor of Iran trade deals.
Iran’s official Kayhan daily, described as Khamenei’s mouthpiece, published a piece on November 5th referring to a “Joint U.S.-Europe project aimed at ending Iran’s authority,” describing the regime as “enchained” by the West.
Senior Iranian clerics are also voicing major doubts and concerns.
“We consider European countries with the U.S. as our enemies… their suggestions may seem decent at first, but we must focus on the inside. Their prepositions of peace may even aim to catch us off guard,” Movahedi Kermani, one of Tehran’s acting Friday prayer leaders, said on November 3rd during a sermon.
The future of Iran’s $4.8 billion deal with France’s Total has also become a topic of immense anxiety.
“The senior financial director in Total has said until the beginning of 2018 as Washington’s new Iran policy is materializing, this company will sign no contracts with Iranian companies regarding the South Pars phase 11 gas development project,” according to the semi-official Fars news agency. “As emphasized in their 2015 Iran strategy, they will completely synchronize with the U.S. considering their cooperation with Iran,” the piece adds.
This daily in another piece dated November 5th titled “Total opens office in U.S. against Iran” writes: “During the deal’s signing a few months ago in Tehran, Total’s chairman emphasized we need not U.S. permission to be present in Iran. However, this company has just recently established an office in Washington for further cooperation with U.S. sanctions policies against Iran.”
Iran’s efforts to invest in establishing a rift between Europe and the U.S. is nothing but a mirage. Important are companies’ economic interests, and not necessarily the political positions adopted by this or that individual.
It is quite obvious that European firms are not willing to risk violating U.S. sanctions violations and the consequential fines for the sake of maintaining relations with Iran.
BNP Paribas was slapped a whopping $8.9 billion fine due to its transactions with Iran. Tehran understands this even better. Europe will never endanger its stake in U.S.’ $19 trillion economy for Iran’s $400 billion economy.
Iran must be brought to this comprehension that both sides of the Atlantic consider it the main element behind Middle East crisis. The West should unify in clipping Iran’s wings of terror, in particular targeting the Revolutionary Guards with terrorist designations.
The 1983 double bombing in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, left 241 American service members, 58 French military personnel and six civilians killed, alongside hundreds of others injured.
21 years later in 2004 Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) unveiled a “monument” in “honor” of that terrorist attack.
This “memorial” column, installed in a section dubbed “Martyrs of the Islamic World” in Tehran’s Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery, carried a very vivid message: Iran’s IRGC was behind the 1983 blast targeting the peacekeeping force in Beirut.
34 years have passed since that attack and today the IRGC has been designated a terrorist organization by the US Treasury Department. Such a measure deserves praise, yet is long overdue.
On October 23 of that year a suicide bomber drove a water tanker into the U.S. Marines barracks and detonated around 1,000 kilograms of explosives (equal to 15,000 to 21,000 pounds of TNT), transferred with large trucks into buildings where the Multi-National Forces in Lebanon were stationed.
The United Nations was involved in a broader peacekeeping mission to bring an end to the Lebanese civil wars. The Islamic Jihad, an Iranian offspring terrorist group, claimed responsibility for the attacks.
In line with its pillar policy of exporting terrorism and warmongering across the Middle East, one of Iran’s first objectives was to launch a central command base for the IRGC and its local mercenaries in Lebanon. These elements were initially dispersed in towns and villages of the Baalbek area in eastern Lebanon near the border Jordan.
In 1980, coinciding with Tehran paving the grounds to ignite the Iran-Iraq War, then Iranian regime leader Ayatollah Khomeini dispatched former IRGC commander Mohsen Rezaee to Lebanon to blueprint possible terrorist attacks and hostage taking measures in this country, considered Iran’s “strategic depth.”
On September 10, 2003, Iran’s state-run Mashreq daily published a photo imaging Rezaee, former IRGC logistics officer Mohsen Rafighdoust, former IRGC foreign relations officer Mohammad Saleh al-Hosseini and Lebanese terrorist Anis al-Naqqash, said to be behind the first assassination attempt targeting former Iranian Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar in 1980.
With support provided by the IRGC and under the command of former defense minister Hossein Dehghan, the Lebanese Hezbollah took over the Sheikh Abdullah Base in early September 1983. This site was the main center of the Lebanese Army in Bekaa Valley, and was later renamed Imam and transformed to become the IRGC’s main command center in Lebanon.
From this very site the IRGC controlled Hezbollah militia units and directed the Beirut bombings alongside senior Hezbollah commanders, most specifically the known terrorist Imad Mughniyah.
The orders for the Beirut bombings were first issued by the IRGC to Ali Akbar Mohtashemipour, Iran’s then ambassador to Syria. He then relayed the orders to IRGC units stationed in Beirut under Dehghan’s command.
The Islamic Jihad organization was in fact a special ops branch. Until its final days in 1992 this entity was jointly commanded by the Lebanese Hezbollah and IRGC.
Following the Beirut bombings France began aerial attacks in the Bekaa Valley targeting IRGC-linked bases. The US responded to these terrorist attacks by planning raids on the Sheikh Abdullah Base where the IRGC was training Hezbollah militias.
On July 20th, 1987, Iran’s Resalat daily wrote the Beirut bombings citing Rafiqdoust, “… both the TNT and ideology behind the attacks that sent 400 American officers and soldiers to hell in the U.S. Marines command base in Beirut came from Iran.”
On August 14th, 2005, World Net Daily wrote in this regard: “…Two years ago, a US federal court order identified the suicide bomber as Ismail Ascari, an Iranian national.”
Tehran expressing joy
There should be no feeling of positivity in response to terrorist attacks, no matter where in the world. Terrorism is terrorism.
Yet the Iranian regime follows no such standards.
The state-run Rasekhoon website posted a piece literally praising the Beirut double attack.
“…Two massive explosions, six minutes apart, levelled the U.S. Marines command center and the interventionist French forces command base … The heroic reaction… against US and French bases in Beirut delivered a heavy blow to Western powers and forced them to leave Lebanon in a humiliating manner.”
The legal war
“A US federal judge has ordered Iran to pay more than $813 million in damages and interest to the families of 241 US soldiers killed in the 1983 bombing of a Marine barracks in Lebanon,” according to Agence France-Presse.
“After this opinion, this court will have issued over $8.8 billion in judgments against Iran as a result of the 1983 Beirut bombing,” Judge Royce Lamberth, presiding over this case, wrote in the ruling.
In late April of last year Iran’s state-run Javan daily, said to be affiliated to the IRGC, wrote:
“In 2003 relatives of the U.S. Marines killed in Lebanon’s terrorist bombings 30 years ago, successfully gained the opinion of a U.S. appeals court to receive compensation from Iran. Four years later, in 2007, a U.S. federal court issued an order demanding this payment be extracted from Iran’s frozen assets.”
In September 2013 a US federal court in New York presided by Judge Katherine Forrest ruled in favor of the families of the Beirut bombings victims.
In July 2014 an appeals court in New York turned down a request filed by Iran’s Central Bank and ordered $1.75 billion in compensation from Tehran’s frozen assets be distributed amongst the victims’ families. This ruling was issued by a three-judge panel of the 2nd branch of New York’s federal appeals court.
That same year Iran’s Central Bank filed for an appeal, arguing this ruling is in violation of US’ obligation according to accords signed back in 1955. With their notion turned down, Iran’s Central Bank referred the case to the US Supreme Court.
On April 20th, 2016, America’s highest court ordered $2 billion dollars from Iran’s blocked assets to be extracted and used to pay the families of the Beirut bombings victims. Enjoying 6 votes in favor in the face of two against, this order was adopted despite Iran’s Central Bank request for an appeal.
The status quo
For more than thirty years the curtains have gradually fallen and the true face of Iran’s IRGC, as a source of support for terrorism, has become crystal clear. Rest assured the footprints of this notorious entity will be found in more crimes inside Iran, around the Middle East and across the globe.
This is further proof of the necessity of strong measures against the IRGC as the epicenter of Iran’s war machine.
Utter belligerence has been Tehran’s offspring for four long decades. The time has come to say enough is enough.
The victims of the 1983 Beirut double bombings, and literally the millions of others who have perished due to Iran’s policies, should know their blood was not shed in vein.
“Once the deal is decertified, and Congress appears to be on the brink of reapplying sanctions, that could change not only Iran’s calculus but also the European allies’ calculus,” said James Phillips, a Middle Eastern affairs expert at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation tank in an interview with CNBC.
The Trump Administration is raising the tempo on decertifying Iran over the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), envisaging a temporary relief of various sanctions imposed on Iran in return for a curb of this regime’s nuclear program.
According to Politico, Trump’s national security team has urged him unanimously to decertify the JCPOA prior to the October 15th deadline, while National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster is brewing an inclusive Iran strategy, due October 31st, on escalating pressure against the regime.
Reports also indicate the White House has scheduled a major Iran speech by Trump on October 12th. This goes parallel to a Thursday night meeting with his military brass focusing on Iran and North Korea, where Trump spoke of “calm before the storm.”
Tough actions are also on schedule Friday against the Iran-offspring Lebanese Hezbollah, as part of a broader effort to make Tehran further feel the heat.
In response to Trump’s United Nations General Assembly speech, Tehran first attempted to lash back with strong remarks through its so-called “reformist” President Hassan Rouhani.
Iran “will not be the first country to violate the agreement, but it will respond decisively and resolutely to its violation by any party,” Rouhani said at his UNGA speech on September 20th.
Yet witnessing no backing down from Washington’s part, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has been seeking to calm tensions, resorting to all but begging the European Union for support.
“If Europe and Japan and Russia and China decided to go along with the U.S., then I think that will be the end of the deal. Europe should lead,” he said in an interview with Financial Times.
Following his New York tour and a series of media interviews, Zarif reportedly rushed to Oman asking the Sultanate to relay to Washington a new series of proposals blueprinted to avoid a faceoff over the JCPOA’s future.
Trump’s running concerns regarding the deal include:
“sunset clauses” that portray all Iran sanctions coming to an end in 10 to 30 years,
Tehran’s refusal to ratify and implement the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty’s Additional Protocol, allowing the regime to possibly maintain all options available to quickly boost the military aspect of its nuclear ambitions,
Iran has been carefully following the signs received from the Trump Administration in regards to its wide variety of bellicosities, and how the White House is not budging in the face of North Korea’s threats.
Realizing the going is getting tough, Tehran is reportedly loosening the rope and providing incentives previously thought to be red lines for the regime.
Seeking to continue various aspects of its nuclear program while offering guarantees not to design its ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear warhead payloads.
Tehran has continuously kicked the can down the road on ratifying the Additional Protocol. This provides the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, “further inspection authority,” and enables the organization’s “inspectorate to provide assurance about both declared and possible undeclared activities…”
Tehran also seeks to suggest cooperating in the war against the so-called Islamic State and is seeking to separate Iran’s regional policies from its nuclear dossier. The West should be very aware in this regard and consider the issue as a leverage Iran is pursuing for its future Middle East endeavors.
All the while, key members of the Trump Administration are unifying their position on the JCPOA’s future. As mentioned above about the unanimous vote to decertify the deal before the October 15th deadline, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is reportedly seeking a new outlined approach enabling the US to remain in the deal while avoiding a recertification process every 90 days. This can allow the administration to begin allocating necessary focus and resources on Iran’s assets used to pursue its devastating policies.
“The Trump administration is already … imposing sanctions on companies linked to Iran’s ballistic missile program, its cyberattacks, and its terrorist-sponsoring Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). There is much more to be done on the targeted sanctions front, including designating the IRGC a terrorist organization. But there are also important steps that Trump can take on the ground in Syria and Iraq,” as explained in a recent Foreign Policy article.
This is specifically vital for Iran as the Guards have through the past four decades also usurped control over 40% of the country’s economy.
In regards to Iran’s economy, Europe is a major party and considered crucial for Tehran’s ruling elite. The new approach sought by the Trump Administration, however, has the potential of maintaining the Europeans, anxious to safeguard the JCPOA, in line with Washington’s efforts to confront Tehran’s destabilizing actions.
Following the JCPOA implementation Iran has signed numerous economic contracts with France’s Airbus, Renault and Total.
And yet, French President Emmanuel Macron has specifically mentioned his readiness to discuss future sanctions in response to Iran’s ballistic missile tests, the regime’s expanding reach across the Middle East and amending the JCPOA to improve conditions after its expiration in 2025.
“Just because we want to keep the JCPOA doesn’t mean we want to ignore the other concerns,” one European diplomat said to CNN.
Iran’s Raja News website wrote recently, “The European Union will never sacrifice economic ties with the US for relations with Iran.”
It is completely understandable how the JCPOA’s future has political impacts for Iran. There are times, however, that numbers transmit powerful messages.
No party in their right mind, including European states, Russia, China, India and all others involved in economic transactions with Tehran are willing to sacrifice their ties with the US’ $19 trillion economy for Iran’s $400 billion.
Iran’s aggressions across the Middle East and its support for terrorist and fundamentalist organizations have raised strong remarks from senior regional officials and their American counterparts. And the impact is whiplashing back into Iran’s population.
Iran is ramping up its illicit activities across the Middle East, especially in Syria and Iraq, and threatens free navigation in international waters, according to the US military’s top officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, as he explained his concerns to the Senate Armed Forces Committee at a recent hearing.
Last month’s United Nations General Assembly in New York was the scene of many foreign ministers and other senior officials making strong remarks criticizing Iran’s meddling in regional countries and its unbridled backing of proxy groups checkered throughout the Middle East.
“The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy,” said US President Donald Trump during his first UNGA speech. Tehran’s regime is a “rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos,” he added.
A regional voice
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir condemned Tehran’s belligerence and accused this regime of providing financial support for sectarian proxy groups in Syria and Iraq.
UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan said Iran is disrespecting others’ rights with its expansionist policies and plays a very important role in destabilizing the region through its meddling.
Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa accused Iran of supporting terrorist organizations, including the Lebanese Hezbollah, and emphasized any normalization in relations with Tehran hinges on this regime ending its support of terrorism. Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi said the Iran-backed Houthi militias are executing Iran’s interventionist agendas in the region.
Kuwait’s envoy in the UNGA called on Tehran to bring an end to its measures threatening regional security. he Cairo-based Arab League closed their September 12th session issuing a statement condemning Iran’s “meddling in Arabic countries.”
“We call on Iran to end its hostile remarks, provocative measures and media attacks against Arabic countries as such actions are considered flagrant meddling in the internal affairs of these Arab states. We condemn Iran’s meddling in the internal affairs of Bahrain and the Syria crisis. These interventions can render dangerous results for Syria’s future, security, sovereignty, stability and national unity.”
As concerns also circle over Iran’s recruiting of fighters from as far as Pakistan and Afghanistan for the Syria war, a new Human Rights Watch report indicates how this campaign has involved Tehran’s conscripting of even Afghan children.
This is parallel to US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis accusing Iran and Russia of continuing to provide armed support to the Afghan Taliban, media reports said on Saturday
Slate of challenges
The stances adopted by these countries provide no other conclusion that one of Iran’s red lines and main pillars, being its regional ambitions and initiatives, is clearly threatened.
Many countries, especially the Gulf states, are realizing more than ever before that the Middle East will not experience a single day of stability or security as long as Iran continues to support terrorist groups and prolongs its fundamentalist measures.
Iran’s state-affiliated Arman daily ran a piece on September 14th titled, “Iran’s regional and international challenges,” describing this regime’s foreign ministry facing two super-challenges across the region and abroad.
Holding states hostage
Despite all these setbacks in the region and across the globe, and considering all this hatred targeting Tehran, this regime has no choice other than continuing its destructive meddling and support for terrorism throughout the Middle East.
It is obvious that Iran’s objective is to literally hold these states hostage and to protect its “strategic depth,” mainly referring to their foothold and influence in Syria.
As senior Iranian officials, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei have said time and again, if their “strategic depth” is threatened this regime will have to face its domestic dilemmas. This means a powder keg populace and the Iranian opposition movement in the very streets of Iranian cities.
“Had the ill-wishers and plotters not been prevented from their evil deeds in Syria we would have to prevent them in the Iranian provinces of Tehran, Fars, Khorasan and Isfahan, so it is better we do it there,” Khamenei said back in June. This would be a recipe for disaster and brews a crisis far more dangerous than regional and international isolation.
Iran is known to use its war machine of terrorism and meddling in other countries as means to cloak its domestic crackdown and predicaments. Interesting is the fact that the Iranian people are realizing how Tehran’s regime is becoming weaker by the day. This is seen in their growing number of rallies and the political nature of their demands.
Matters become far worse as Iran enjoys an organized opposition movement seen in the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) able to motivate and guide protest movements to an extent causing major concerns for Tehran.
The semi-official Fars news agency, affiliated to the Revolutionary Guards, even wired a piece warning the entire regime: “… fear the millions, young and old… all waiting for just a spark to set fire to everything… Have fear, and know that when the storm arrives, there will be nowhere to hide. All paths will be closed… you won’t even reach the airplane’s steps as the Shah was able to…” referring to when the Shah of Iran fled only weeks prior to the 1979 revolution.
Discussions are continuing as we speak over the fate of the highly controversial Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Advocates and opponents are going the limits to present their case prior to the October 15thdeadline when US President Donald Trump is due to determine the status of Iran’s compliance with the accord.
While this is a very important discussion, what unfortunately goes neglected is the status of the Iranian people who should be the first beneficiaries of such an accord that led to many sanctions being lifted from the Iranian regime.
The ruling elite in Tehran have usurped the billions provided by the Obama administration in cash, waivers and sanctions reliefs to boost their ballistic missile program in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, prop up the Assad regime in Syria and its continuous killings of innocent people, and escalate their lethal meddling across the Middle East, including Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Kuwait and Bahrain.
The Iranian people, however, have yet to witness any improvements in their lives. Recently many cities across the country have been the scene of widespread rallies staged by hundreds, and at times thousands of people protesting how their investments in state institutions have been plundered.
For four years financial firms such as the Caspian Credit Institution, reported to be affiliated to the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), and various branches of the government have received enormous amounts of money from ordinary people looking to invest in such entities what is literally considered their life savings, according to the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
Viewed as a safe investment in other countries, with people placing their money in government institutes and not private companies, investing in such entities has become a nightmare in Iran.
Even the country’s Central Bank has refused to clarify if such financial institutes are actually legal or illegal in nature. Credit firms such as Afzal Tous, Thamen, the Mehr Bank and Arman firm have all opened branches and invited investors to place in their savings, and yet no signs of such names are registered in the Central Bank’s accounts. Millions are said to be investing in these financial firms.
450,000 people who have invested their savings in the Fereshtegan Credit Firm, linked to Caspian, are now complaining how a total of $1.4 billion of their savings have vanished, reports indicate.
Investors had already placed around $2.26 billion in eight trade institutions prior to their dissolve that preluded the formation of the Caspian firm in 2015, the report adds.
Officials of these institutions in Iran are allegedly affiliated to the IRGC and other regime entities, including allegations of the state police issuing registration forms for up to 5,000 such credit institutions.
Many people have felt their trust has been misused and literally stabbed in the back, as their life savings have vanished in thin air.
This has resulted in numerous protest rallies in major cities such as Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan, Rasht, Kerman, Karaj, Kermanshah, Yazd and Khorramabad, among others.
Protesters in the Iranian capital have rallied outside the regime’s judiciary building, with reports indicating such gatherings continuing. Statements issued by these protesters show they intend to extend their gatherings until further notice.
As reports escalate regarding Iran allocating billions to prop the Assad regime in Syria, protesters are seen chanting: “Forget Syria, start thinking about us!” and “Rouhani, Rouhani, this is the last warning, we are fire at will!” referring to a term used a few months ago by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei against presumed enemies of the state.
In the city of Kerman, southcentral Iran, these protesters in a symbolic gesture laid an empty table cloth to portray their current living status after their savings have been plundered.
Many investors who have lost their savings believe the issue is not just about money, as this has become very deep and involves their very dignity.
Conditions have reached a point where the chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s Economy Commission said there are around 15,000 charity institutions registered in Iran while around half are involved in non-transparent activities considering they do not publish their financial statistics.
Iran’s bankrupt economy is symbolized in as many as 11 million people living under the poverty line, according to the head of Iran’s Khomeini Relief Foundation.
A country with 15,000 charity institutions and a financial turnover estimate of around $10.5 billion, there should not be such an astonishing number of people living in utter poverty.
Considering Iran’s non-transparent regime and economy, this is merely a tip of the iceberg of the enormous economic crisis brewing in this country with a powder keg populace.
This major socio-economic crisis in Iran is evolving as the regime continues to expand budgets allocated for its military and regional forays, and entities involved in imposing a fierce atmosphere of domestic crackdown.
Billions are used to seal deals to purchase planes from Airbus and Boeing, while numerous reports show Iran being notorious for using passenger planes to transfer foot-soldiers, arms and equipment for war machines across the region, especially Syria.
Vital is the fact to impose sanctions on the regime ruling Iran and go the distance in refraining to impose any pressure on the Iranian people. If Iran’s nuclear-related sanctions are relieved under the JCPOA, more measures are needed to ensure the money pouring into Iran are used for the better interest of the Iranian people, and not the regime’s war machine abroad.
Javad Mansouri, the first IRGC commander and a former Iranian ambassador to Pakistan said four years ago, “Even if it rains gold… there will be no change in the status quo. Don’t go thinking all problems will be solved if Mr. Zarif signs the [JCPOA] tomorrow…”
As the North Korea nuclear standoff and the future of Iran’s nuclear deal has absorbed an all-too enormous amount of international attention, a more important prism on Iran’s regional hostility must not go neglected.
During the United Nations General Assembly the controversial nuclear pact, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), took center stage once again. All the while Tehran has throughout the years overtly and covertly pursued a massive campaign hinging on meddling and extending its lethal ideology of Islamic fundamentalism across the Middle East.
The rendered atrocities can be witnessed across the region, especially in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon. This threatens the very fabric of the Middle East populace and bears the potential of plunging this flashpoint region into an abyss of proxy wars resulting in nothing but infernos of carnage.
As the Obama administration sought to sell the JCPOA to the American people, US allies and the international community, they claimed a different Iran would emerge as a responsible member of the global neighborhood and the Middle East would be the first region to enjoy the boasted outcome. Some even claimed Iran would become this region’s Japan.
“Regrettably, since the agreement was confirmed, we have seen anything but a more peaceful, stable region,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on the sidelines of his UNGA meetings. While Iran has enjoyed a rift between Europe and the US, Berlin made remarks sinking deep into the minds of those sitting on the throne in Tehran.
“The Americans are right: Iran is still not playing a constructive role in the Middle East, be it in Yemen or Lebanon,” said German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel in a statement. The Green Continent has also welcomed the idea of cooperating with Washington with the aim of containing Iran’s Middle East thirst, especially considering growing concerns over Iran’s dangerous role in Damascus, Baghdad, Sanaa and Beirut.
This train of thought also bears backing amongst Middle East states. “Two years have passed since Iran’s nuclear agreement with no sign of change in its hostile behavior; it continues to develop its nuclear program and violates the letter and spirit of that agreement,” UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahayan said during his UN General Assembly speech.
Yemen: The strategic state
Despite being a very poor country, the geostrategic importance of Yemen is undeniable. This is the very reason why al-Qaeda sought to establish a major foothold in Saudi Arabia’s back yard and now Iran vehemently continues its support of the Houthis in destabilizing this country and the vital international waters adjacent to its shores.
Tehran is continuing its efforts of smuggling illicit weapons and technology to prolong the Houthis’ campaign, according to Vice Admiral Kevin M. Donegan, the top US Navy commander in the Middle East. These measures stoke civil strife in Yemen and enable the Houthis to launch more precise and longer ranged missiles into its northern neighbor.
The Houthis are also receiving an “increasingly potent arsenal of anti-ship and ballistic missiles, deadly sea mines and even explosive boats that have attacked allied ships in the Red Sea or Saudi territory across Yemen’s northern border,” reported The New York Times citing Donegan’s remarks.
While there has been significant success in the initiative against Iran’s meddling in Yemen, the continuing crisis resembles the lethal potential of Tehran’s influence across the Middle East and its current focus on strategic junctures, such as this country’s influence over imperative shipping lines.
Iran’s growing reach
Further grounds of Iran not changing habits following the JCPOA signing are found in its violation of a related accord, the UN Security Council Resolution 2231, by continuing to test launch a range of ballistic missiles.
As recently as Friday Iran unveiled a new ballistic missile as Rouhani increased his rhetoric against Washington through repeating the claim of this regime only seeking its defensive interests. In an even more provocative measure, the medium-range Khorramshahr missile was successfully test launched on Saturday. As claimed by the semiofficial Tasnim news agency, this new weapon has a range of 2,000 kilometers (nearly 1,250 miles) and enjoys the capability of carrying multiple warheads.
This raised strong responses across the board, including US President Donald Trump questioning the JCPOA altogether and accusing Tehran of colluding with Pyongyang. In line with such concerns, Francealso called on the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to deliver a full report on the recent missile test.
Rouhani’s emphasis on seeking to boost Iran’s ballistic missile capability is a completely calculated move. All the while it needs understanding that such rhetoric from senior Iranian officials are aimed at maintaining a straight face back home, and not appearing to give in to pressures raised by the international community.
Iran is also busy exporting weapons to the Lebanese Hezbollah and a slate of other terrorist and proxy groups. This conglomerate of violations reached the point of Team Obama alumni Samantha Power, former US envoy to the UN, felt obligated to highlight the cases. This is probably Rouhani’s definition of being a “moderate.”
Electing vetted candidates
Of course, this is the same individual who back in May, after reaching a second term through a process dubbed as an “election” carried out amongst vetted candidates said, “We are proud of our armed forces, the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), the Basij and the security forces.”
The IRGC is the godfather of Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile drive, in charge of quelling all forms of domestic dissent, and exporting the regime’s so-called “Islamic Revolution” abroad. For this very purpose, Iran has for decades fostered the rise of proxy offspring armies including the likes of the Lebanese Hezbollah.
Obama’s JCPOA and windfall of billions also provided Iran the opportunity to continue fueling terrorist groups across the region and even marshalling foot-soldiers from as far as Afghanistan and Pakistan to Syria to help maintain Syrian dictator Bashar Assad remain on his throne.
As a train of thought has remained intact from Obama’s flawed policies, there are voices who have gone as far as describing Iran being a “major diplomatic, military, and economic player throughout the Middle East and even into Central and Southwest Asia.” Unfortunately, this plays into Tehran’s hands and upgrades the dogma practiced vis-à-vis Tehran for the past four decades, rendering nothing but escalating death and destruction.
If Iran enjoys “considerable influence” in countries across the region it is not due to its righteous cause. Tehran, in fact, owes a great deal of gratitude to West for its tireless policy of rapprochement. Iran must be isolated, and this is not tantamount to a call for a new Middle East war. Imagining this regime can be a party to be constructively reckoned with is in fact naïve.
It has become crystal clear that the JCPOA has not lived up to its promises. The Middle East has evolved into a mess due to Iran’s meddling, leading to Europe leaning toward US’ position of pressuring Tehran to bring an end to its regional carnage.
For far too long Iran has taken advantage of its nuclear program and ambitions to advance its Middle East influence. This must come to an end, parallel to increasing international pressures on its nuclear/ballistic missile drive, support for terrorism and human rights violations at home.
For nearly four decades Tehran has utilized the engagement approach by the West based on the mistaken perspective on playing “nice” with Iran to encourage change. This has resulted in a Middle East engulfed in war, death and destruction, cloaked by the international brouhaha Iran has launched through its nuclear program.
All of the Iranian regime’s animosities deserve due attention in parallel fashion. Its regional meddling and support for terrorism should be top priority. One such solution was recently provided by Walid Phares, former Trump foreign policy advisor, for Washington to use the Arab coalition and Iranian opposition as means against Tehran.