Iran’s very good week

You have to hand it to the Iranians. They don’t play around. Just hours after President Donald Trump gave his speech outlining the contours of a new US policy toward Iran, senior Iranian officials were on the ground in Iraq and Syria not only humiliating the US, but altering the strategic balance in Iran’s favor.

Last Friday Trump said that from now on, the nuclear deal his predecessor Barack Obama concluded with the Iranian regime would be viewed in the overall context of Iran’s many forms of aggression. Iran’s support and direction of terrorism, its subversion of neighboring regimes, regional aggression, weapons proliferation, development of ballistic missiles and harassment of maritime traffic will no longer be dealt with in isolation from Iran’s nuclear program.

Trump pledged that it will henceforth be US policy to ensure that Iran is made to pay a price for all its aggressive actions, including its breaches of the nuclear deal.

Among other things, Trump singled out Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps for its role in sponsoring and engaging terrorism. He came within a hair’s breadth of defining the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization. But words to one side and actions to the other.

On Saturday morning, Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani, who commands the Qods Force, responsible for the IRGC’s international terrorist operations, landed in Iraq’s Kurdish city of Kirkuk.

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Iranian Aggression Intensifies

Last July, Major General Mohammad Bagheri, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) military commander and chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, warned that “putting the Revolutionary Guard in the terrorist lists with terrorist groups can be very costly to the United States and its military bases and forces in the region.” IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said on October 8th that “if the news is correct about the stupidity of the American government in considering the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group, then the Revolutionary Guards will consider the American army to be like Islamic State all around the world.” The next day the Iranian regime warned of a “crushing” response if the United States were to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization.  President Trump has called the Iranian regime’s bluff with his announcement last week that he would do just that.

Designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization and imposing new sanctions for its aggressive actions in the region is not a restoration of the sanctions lifted by the Obama administration as part of its disastrous nuclear deal with Iran. If Iran insists it can do what it wants militarily in terms of missile launches, support of terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, and arms transfers without violating the nuclear deal, then the United States can certainly act to curb such activities through financial pressure. The U.S. can impose sanctions against the Iranian regime’s principal instrument for projecting aggressive, destabilizing force outside of its borders without violating the nuclear deal. The Iranian regime does not see it that way, however.

With the lifting of the nuclear-related sanctions making available billions of dollars to Iran’s leaders to further finance the IRGC’s exploits in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere, the regime is furious that the Trump administration is tightening the financial screws again, even if for reasons not directly related to Iran’s compliance with the terms of the nuclear deal. Thus, it is threatening U.S. forces and bases in the region. A couple of seemingly unrelated events this past week point to Iran’s positioning itself for more aggressive military actions that could place U.S. forces in harm’s way.

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Radical Iran-led Axis Confronted with U.S. Deterrence for First Time

The conflict in Syria has long ceased being a civil war, becoming instead a clash between coalitions and blocs that divide the entire Middle East.

The Iranian-led axis is the most dangerous and highly armed bloc fighting in Syria. Bashar al-Assad’s regime is not an independent actor, but rather, a component of this wider axis. In many respects, Assad is a junior member of the Iranian coalition set up to fight for him.

Russia joined the Iranian axis in 2015, acting for its own reasons as the pro-Assad coalition’s air force, helping to preserve the Syrian regime.

This coalition enabled the Assad regime to conduct mass murder and ethnic cleansing of Sunnis from Syria, while also using unconventional weapons against civilians in an effort to terrorize rebel organizations into submission.

Feeling confident by its growing control of Syria, Iran also uses its regional coalition to arm, finance, and deploy Shi’ite jihadist agents all over the Middle East, and to attack those who stand in the way of Iranian domination.

The Iranian-led axis has been able to spread violence, terrorism, and Islamic militancy without facing repercussions.

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Iranian Atomic Energy Official: Islamic Republic’s Nuclear Program in Better Shape Since Forging of Deal With World Powers

The second-in-command of Iran’s atomic energy agency (AEOI) declared on Tuesday that the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program was in better shape since the forging of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with world powers in July 2015, the regime-aligned Mehr News Agency reported.

According to the report, AEOI deputy chief Behrouz Kamalvandi gave a press conference in which he said, “We are now in possession of some new reactors that are much technically superior to their previous versions.”

Kamalvandi also pointed to Tehran’s joining of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) megaproject, calling Iran’s participation in it “highly significant,” and saying it “will improve our position on the international scene tremendously.” ITER, he said, “will allow the human race to reserve energy for millions of years.”


Trump Must Stop the Boeing Deal with Iran

President-elect Trump threatened to cancel an order for Boeing to build a new Air Force One because the projected costs, he said, are “out of control.” While Mr. Trump’s efforts to protect American taxpayers’ money are laudable, there is a far more urgent matter involving Boeing that demands his attention. Immediately upon taking office, he should stop Boeing in its tracks from following through with the deal it just announced to sell Iran’s national carrier, Iran Air, 80 technologically advanced jets. As a commentator put it in an article appearing in The Hill, Boeing is preparing to accept “blood money.” President-elect Trump should stop the deal on his first day in office by rescinding the license granted by the Obama Treasury Department, which gave the green light for the sale to proceed in the first place.

The Obama Treasury Department also approved a license allowing for the sale of Airbus aircrafts, which include parts made in the United States, to Iran Air.  Mr. Trump should rescind that license as well.  Both licenses were foolishly granted as part of the Obama administration’s efforts to placate the thuggish Iranian regime and preserve the fundamentally flawed nuclear agreement that President Obama considers his major foreign policy legacy. If it too late for Mr. Trump to undo this entire fiasco because he won’t be able to get our allies to go along with renewed sanctions, he can at least mitigate the damage by preventing the Iranian regime from getting its hands on advanced U.S. aircraft, component parts and technologies.

Iran continues to be the world’s foremost state sponsor of global terrorism. Its military forces have continued to harass U.S. naval vessels and threatened to shoot down Navy surveillance aircraft as they flew over international waters.  If President-elect Trump were to allow the Boeing and Airbus deals to proceed, Iran’s national carrier will be receiving advanced aircraft that have dual use for military as well as civilian purposes.

A senior congressional source quoted by the Washington Free Beacon regarding the Boeing deal said, “This is insane–an American company is rebuilding the Ayatollah’s Air Force right before our eyes. They’re not just selling aircraft either–they are cutting the Iranians into the production process, building supply lines within the Islamic Republic so the regime can insulate itself from any future attempts to impose sanctions. This is basically the equivalent of setting up a factory to build Sherman tanks in Munich in 1938.”

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Iran threatens America over ‘violation’ of nuclear deal; orders nuclear-powered ships

“Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has ordered the head of the country’s Atomic Energy Organisation to start planning the development of nuclear-powered ships in reaction to what he called the United States’ violation of their nuclear deal.” Meanwhile, Iran’s vice president and the head of its nuclear program, Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, has finally admitted:

Sometimes we pretended to be weaker than we really were, and sometimes we showed strength that was not really in our hands.

When Barack Obama was scorched with criticism over his bad decision to enter into the nuclear agreement with the rogue state of Iran, he defended himself by referencing the deal as a “powerful display of American leadership and diplomacy,” and somehow believed that prostrating himself before this international bully would be a smart way to avoid a “Middle East war.” He wanted the people of America to believe that a gentleman’s handshake with Iranian crooks would be legitimate.

Then the stench of Obama’s bad deal began to leak out, as more information about it surfaced. According to testimony provided before Congress about the Iran nuclear deal, Iran may have received up to $33.6 billion in secret payments facilitated by the Obama administration. According to Mark Dubowitz, executive director at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, at least $11.9 billion was paid out to Iran, but the regime may have received as much as $33.6 billion in cash or in gold and other precious metals.

Now, on top of reckless abuse of taxpayer dollars, with the Obama Administration even accused of laundering “U.S. Cash to Iran Via N.Y. Fed, Euro Banks,” America is now also facing a grave threat that Obama has enabled and fueled. Iran is not happy with being challenged by an incoming President who refuses to facilitate its rising power as a global menace and funder of jihad terrorism.

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Iran’s Massacre and Rising Crimes Against Humanity

Iran’s massacre of more than 30,000 people was recently disclosed by Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri’s son, Ahmad, a moderate cleric, who posted a confidential audio of his father on his website but was ordered by Iran’s intelligence service to remove it.

Born in Esfahan, Iran, Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri was one of the founding fathers of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He is a human rights activist, an Islamic theologian, and was the designated successor to the Islamic revolution’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, until the very last moments of Khomeini’s life. His pictures were posted next to Khomeini’s in the streets.

In the recording, Montazeri states:

“You [Iranian officials] will be in the future etched in the annals of history as criminals. The greatest crime committed under the Islamic Republic, from the beginning of the Revolution until now, which will be condemned by history, is this crime [mass executions] committed by you.”

While some international human rights organizations, the Obama Administration and the United Nations appear to have turned a blind eye this massacre and other crimes against humanity, several officials have taken steps. A U.S. House of Representatives Resolution condemning the massacres and other executions was introduced by the House Homeland Security Chair, Mike McCaul, and cosponsored by Chairman Ed Royce, Ranking Member Eliot Engel, and Rules Committee Chair Pete Sessions. The resolution was introduced when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who heads a government that is ranked number one in the world for executions per capita, was addressing the 71st Session of the United Nation General Assembly. During his speech, according to the Associated Press, an unprecedented number of protesters gathered in Dag Hammerskjold Plaza outside the UN — including Senator Joe Lieberman, and Sir Geoffrey Robertson, former Head of the UN war crimes tribunal for Sierra Leone, who wrote a report on Iran’s 1988 massacre that was published on the United Nations Arts Initiative website.

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Cuba and Obama’s ‘Axis of Evil’

When George W. Bush used the term “axis of evil” to describe Iran, Iraq and North Korea in his 2002 State of the Union speech he was derided from all sides. Post-modernists and others among whom ideas of good and evil are quaint but obsolete, sneered that Bush was a simplistic thinker. Others, who agreed that threats to their existence might be evil, seemed less troubled by the ethics than by the accuracy of the term “axis.”

Bush, by linking these three nations, was accused of misunderstanding that members of an axis work together. As Iraq and Iran were mortal enemies, so went the argument, there was no evidence of cooperation.

In 2002 it may have been impossible to prove Iranian-North Korean cooperation, but that has changed. Since at least 2012 when the two countries signed a technological cooperation pact, Iranian and North Korean scientists have been openly cooperating on so many projects that Iran, if it is not already doing so, will likely evade IAEA inspections by testing its weapons in North Korea.

Whether through prescience or luck, Bush was correct about the Iran-North Korea connection. With Saddam out of the picture the “Axis of Evil” has become the “Duo of Evil” — not nearly the same ring. There also is evidence that the Duo is seeking to recruit a new third member to complete the axis.

Putin’s Russia, for instance, could easily be taken for a new member of the axis. Its fingerprints have been showing up in many places: the murder of Russian dissidents, the downing of passenger jets, the invasion of its neighbors. Putin’s decisions to cancel the transfer of S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran and withdrawal of troops from Syria suggest a Russia making a strategic retreat for its own best interests at the moment, whatever they may be.

China might also part of the axis. Constructing military bases on artificial islands indicates a budding expansionism. China’s reportedly growing dismay over North Korea’s antics, however, suggest a nation too concerned with its own interests to join any axis seeking to destroy the chief marketplace for its goods.

The less obvious, but more probable, recruit to the axis is Cuba, which shares with Iran and North Korea an institutional hatred for the USA and a history of autocratic rule. Robin Wright has called Cuba and Iran “melancholy twins.”

Most bitterly of all, all three countries might today be far less threatening had U.S. aid not saved them at crucial moments when their tottering regimes might have been toppled.