Archive for April 1, 2017

Why Iran’s supreme leader fears gender equality

April 1, 2017

Why Iran’s supreme leader fears gender equality, American ThinkerHassan Mahmoudi, April 1, 2017

(Many Western “feminists” complain about their abject misery and don “pussy hats” to make their points. They ignore the far worse situations of their sisters in Islamist regimes such as the Islamist Republic of Iran, while proclaiming the benefits of Islamist fundamentalism. — DM) 

The mullahs of Iran and their fundamentalist disciples are not only the enemy of the people of Iran, but also the enemies of all Middle East nations and the entire world.

In particular, in so far as it concerns women, fundamentalism targets and jeopardizes all the achievements that women have made to date.

Therefore, confronting the Iranian regime should be the immediate goal of women’s struggle all over the world. Women’s international sisterhood and solidarity demands that they support the fight against the fundamentalist regime of Iran.

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For the ayatollahs, women’s rights are a matter of puppetry, with yes-women parroting whatever the mullahs’ line for the day is. For Iran’s real women’s rights champions, the picture is very different. They can demonstrate why the ayatollahs are terrified of equality.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, in his address to the nation on the occasion of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, claimed that gender equality is a “Zionist plot” aiming to corrupt the role of women in society. He told a meeting of religious speakers in Tehran that Iranians should resist feminist ideas last March 20.

Khamenei claimed that men and women are equal in the “ascendance of spiritual positions, the power of leadership, and the capability to lead humankind.”

For Khamenei, the occasion of Nowruz, or any national celebration or religious holiday, is nothing but a cynical means of safeguarding his dictatorship. So of course he can make preposterous claims as he did above. In ayatollah-ruled Iran, women’s rights are not about empowering women but just another way to lie to society about state policies. Nothing explains it better than to use the maxim of Adolf Hitler, who said: Make the lie big. Make it simple. Keep saying it, and eventually people will believe it. The ayatollahs use this maxim. But the people in Iran and especially women have never believed his words.

In other contexts, the ayatollah has sung a different tune.

Khamenei said: “the effort to establish equality between men and women was “one of the biggest intellectual mistakes” of the Western world.”

Grotesquely enough, Khamenei has quislings in state women’s groups who echo his sentiment, expressing approval.

One is Minou Aslani, head of the Women’s Basij organization in Iran, affiliated with the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which cracks down on women for any sign of independence. It has called the promotion of gender equality illegal and demanded that the country’s powerful judiciary take action against people who speak out against such state-sponsored discrimination, according to the semiofficial Mehr news agency. On Dec. 06, 2016, she condemned efforts to increase the number of women in parliament. Pushing for greater female participation threatens to “distort” the identity of Iran’s women, she said.

Her ‘thinking’ couldn’t be less like those of normal women’s rights activists operating under great pressure in Iran. In a roundtable discussion called Women in Leadership, the Experience of the Iranian Resistance, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi the President-elect of National Council of Resistance of Iran expressed the authentic reality. I have permission to reprint her thinking in full and share it now:

The Iranian women’s struggle for freedom and equality has lasted one-and-a-half centuries. Iranian and Western historians who have studied the developments of the past 150 years in Iran have clearly attested to this reality.

Over this span of time, we have seen vanguard women who rose up and proved their competence in various arenas despite the reigning culture and policies of tyranny and misogyny. This phenomenon was most significantly demonstrated in women’s courageous participation in the anti-dictatorial struggles over this period.

Women’s struggle is essentially the best and most comprehensive indicator of progress in a given society. How can we measure the advances of a society towards real progress and development? The answer is to the extent it endeavors to achieve freedom and equality.

In the absence of gender equality, any political, economic or social progress would be ineffective, fleeting, or reversible.

From this vantage point, the uprisings which led to the 1979 overthrow of the Shah in Iran marked a major leap forward through women’s remarkable and extensive participation in street demonstrations. This new phenomenon unveiled the Iranian people’s widespread desire for progress. At the same time, it revealed a shocking contradiction:

One the one hand, the ruling regime quickly adopted regressive and despotic policies and caused appalling backwardness. On the other hand, the Iranian society was broadly seeking freedom and democracy, and sought to make social progress and advancements.

Such contradiction led in the first step to a major clash. The barbarity and savagery of the new regime drenched the Iranian revolution in blood.

The Role of Women in the Iranian Resistance

Women’s active participation in confrontation with the mullahs’ religious fascism formed the corner stone and foundation of resistance against the regime.

Quantitatively, women’s participation in this struggle was extensive since the outset. Qualitatively, they were brave, efficient and selfless.

Tens of thousands of women were tortured or executed in the struggle against the ruling fundamentalist regime. These events were particularly transpiring in the 1980s.

If women did not have powerful motivations, and if they had not set their sights on a bright and magnificent horizon, they would have definitely been intimidated by the merciless tortures and massacres that were unprecedented in our contemporary history. But, instead, the clampdown made them even more determined and resolute.

Women’s role rapidly became more pronounced in the post-revolution developments in Iran. They became the pivotal force of the movement.

Today, women hold key and leadership positions in the resistance movement. They make up more than 50 percent of the members of the Resistance’s parliament-in-exile.

The guiding principles of women’s role in the Iranian Resistance can be summarized as the following:

First, the struggle of the women of this movement for equality has been deeply intertwined and connected to the broader struggle for freedom in Iran. Therefore, it has targeted the ruling dictatorship, which is a religious tyranny, while combating its forced religious edicts, misogyny and inhumane discriminations.

Second, they have waged a foundational struggle against objectification of women while defying the gender-based ideology that forms the central tenet of inequality.

Third, women have recognized their mission and mandate in leading this movement while discovering and subsequently implementing in practice the fact that the hegemonic role of women in this perseverance provides a liberating force and propeller.

Fourth, the pioneering women have linked their struggle to the efforts and struggle of the resistant and equality-seeking men of the movement. They see it as an important part of their responsibilities to support the men of the movement in the struggle against inequality and against patriarchal thinking and culture.

The Emergence of Islamic Fundamentalism

Iranian women have gained many valuable experiences in their struggle against the ruling religious tyranny, which is the source of Islamic fundamentalism.

A cursory review of the history of the origins of fundamentalism and its essence will aid us in explaining this point more clearly.

Since the late 18th century and early 19th century, in the geographical region that hosts most of the Islamic countries – extending from North Africa to the Caucuses, Central Asia and the Indian Ocean – under the shadow of major political, social and technological developments in the world, the people engaged in struggles to change their destiny. They sought to gain freedom, independence, rule of the law, as well as economic and social progress. Why did this wave wash over Islamic countries?

In such a setting, several destructive factors set the groundwork for the emergence of Islamic fundamentalism. Ignorance, lack of education and backwardness are, of course, some of the contributing factors. Additionally, however, one can mention the interventions and mistakes committed by western governments in these countries, whose catastrophic effects, including invasions and the displacement of peoples and destruction of national social institutions of the countries of the region produced deep antipathy and a sense of resentment toward western countries. This fact has been verified today by quite a few western thinkers and even politicians.

Western governments gave support to dictatorial regimes and thus destroyed the middle class, produced an uneven economic and social growth, and eliminated nationalist parties and freedom-loving movements in these countries.

The Defining Impact of the Iranian Regime

The ascendance to power of Khomeini and his allies in exceptional and unique historical circumstances marked the exact moment when Islamic fundamentalism as we know it entered the global stage. This was a horrendous power-thirsty and profoundly misogynous force founded on religious discrimination. It instituted its backward sharia laws as a mechanism to establish a religious tyranny, and became a model of governance for fundamentalist groups.

In reality, dictatorships like the previous regime of Iran were too weak and corrupt to be able to stand against the waves of people who demanded freedom and particularly against the power of women and youths.

So, instead, religious fundamentalists undertook the mission to crack down on and suppress them.

The Essence of Fundamentalism

At its core, what does Islamic fundamentalism want to oppose or stand against? Is it the world of Islam lining up against the West or in particular against Christianity and Judaism?

The answer is NO. The truth is that the real dispute is not between Islam and Christianity, Islam and the West, or Shiites and Sunnis. It is, rather, a confrontation between freedom and subjugation, and between equality and injustice.

Islamic fundamentalism, in essence, represents a backlash against the overwhelming tendency of the peoples of the region, especially women and youth, towards freedom, democracy and equality.

Enmity against Women

It should now be clear why fundamentalism focuses its wrath and violence against women more than anyone else. It is because women’s emancipation was the central theme of the demands of the enormous tide of people who sought a new order, freedom and equality.

Women emerged as a new force in the 1979 revolution in Iran and played a remarkable role.

For this reason, the role of women rapidly evolved and became more prominent in the course of the developments after the revolution, turning into the pivotal force of movement and struggle.
They were in the frontlines of resistance in torture chambers; they were in the front lines of demonstrations during the 2009 uprising; and they were in the front lines of the command structure in the National Liberation Army of Iran.

In contrast to this, enmity to women lies at the heart of Islamic fundamentalism and suppression of women is the central component for the suppression of the entire society.

Why did the mullahs need to revive the laws of past millennia in the final years of the 20th Century?

Why did they commit such inconceivable crimes under the name of Islam?

The answer is because they faced a widespread and general desire that could only be confronted and contained by naked oppression.

The Iranian regime innovated most of the cruelties and evil crimes that were later

The Iranian Resistance and its vanguard women launched their fight against a regime which not only was the enemy of the people of Iran but the main threat to the entire Middle East.

We have been warning since three decades ago that Islamic fundamentalism is a global threat.

Over the past 15 years, this threat has emerged in the form of terrorism and conflicts in the Middle East.

Today, we can see that European capitals have not remained immune from terrorist crimes carried out by fundamentalists. Wherever fundamentalists guided by the mullahs enter the scene, their terrorism and destruction quickly begins.

In conclusion, I would like to underscore the imperative and necessity for the entire world to confront this ominous phenomenon.

The mullahs of Iran and their fundamentalist disciples are not only the enemy of the people of Iran, but also the enemies of all Middle East nations and the entire world.

In particular, in so far as it concerns women, fundamentalism targets and jeopardizes all the achievements that women have made to date.

Therefore, confronting the Iranian regime should be the immediate goal of women’s struggle all over the world. Women’s international sisterhood and solidarity demands that they support the fight against the fundamentalist regime of Iran.

Cartoons and Video of the Day

April 1, 2017

Latma-TV via YouTube

 

H/t Power Line

 

 

 

 

 

 

H/t Vermont Loon Watch

 

H/t Town Hall

 

The way forward on the Iran Nuclear Deal under President Trump | TheHill

April 1, 2017

Source: The way forward on the Iran Nuclear Deal under President Trump | TheHill

The way forward on the Iran Nuclear Deal under President Trump

The way forward for the Iran nuclear deal under President Trump is to tighten enforcement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, aka, the nuclear deal) and impose sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program rather than dismantle the JCPOA.

Breaking News

On Mar. 26, 2016 at an American Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) meeting, coauthor Raymond Tanter heard Vice President Mike Pence declare, “After decades of simply talking about it, the president of the United States is giving serious consideration to moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”

If President Trump were to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, however, it is likely to be opposed by many American allies like Saudi Arabia that are important in pushing back against Iran in the region.  The relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Israel distracts from the greater issue of how to restrain Iran’s malevolent influence in the Middle East in the context of the JCPOA.

In prior years, AIPAC policy conferences focused on hot topics like the Iran nuclear deal; the 2017 conference, however, centered on adjusting to new realities like the JCPOA. Issues considered at one of this year’s breakout sessions dealt with “Holding Iran Accountable,” and the discussion centered on conversations between two types of pundits in Washington: those focused on the Iran nuclear deal and those on non-JCPOA topics like non-nuclear sanctions, ballistic missile testing, state-sponsorship of terrorism, arms shipments to Hezbollah (Party of God), and human rights violations by Iran.

The key matter at hand remains the way forward for the Iran nuclear deal under President Trump. He has already indicated an unwillingness to accept the deal as written under the auspices of the previous administration and the other major powers.

Issues

There are several topics the Trump administration confronts regarding the JCPOA: heavy water, inspections, compliance, and nuclear sanctions. Heavy water reactors permit use of natural uranium as fuel, while light water reactors require enriched uranium, which is much more difficult to produce. As a member of Congress, President Trump’s Director of Central Intelligence Agency, then-Rep. Mike Pompeo cosponsored a bill passed by the House on July 13, 2016, that prevents Iran from purchasing heavy water from the United States.

Inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities are necessary to ensure compliance, so Iran is unable to “breakout,” “sneakout,” or “creepout.” The last one concerns both open and covert, legal and illicit activities designed to negate JCPOA restrictions prior to the agreed-upon time in which Tehran would be able to do so.

In prepared remarks before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, Michael Eisenstadt of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (TWI) testified that although Iran’s missiles are conventionally armed, many could deliver a nuclear weapon if Iran were to ever acquire such a capability. While the nuclear accord will likely defer such an eventuality, it did not impose new constraints on Iran’s missile program.On the contrary, UNSCR 2231 of July 20, 2015, loosened them, with provisions for lifting them in eight years, if not sooner.

In exchange for Tehran’s agreement to the nuclear deal, the Obama administration granted Iran flexibility for ballistic missile testing. UNSCR 2231 certified the deal, replacing the prohibition with accommodating language: “Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”

As reported by The Hill, on May 31, 2016, Sens. Robert Menendez, (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk, (R-IL), introduced legislation in 2015 that would extend the sanctions law for 10 years. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, (R-NH), backed by 18 other GOP senators, introduced a separate bill to extend the law through 2031 and require new sanctions tied to Iran’s ballistic missile program.

On Mar. 23, House and Senate legislators introduced bills that would increase sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile tests and other destructive behavior. Tzvi Kahn, a senior Iran analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, states that, “The two bills are consistent with U.S. obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal, represent a bipartisan effort to advance an objective that both President Trump and President Obama have endorsed: deterring Tehran’s non-nuclear aggression in the region.”

The foregoing issues were raised in the context of candidate Trump’s stated view that the Obama administration negotiated badly: At one time, he called for tearing up the nuclear deal: “My number one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran,” coauthor Tanter heard Trump tell the AIPAC Policy Conference in Mar. 2016. Immediately after the election, on Nov. 14, 2016, however, one of Trump’s advisors said if Trump cannot renegotiate its terms, he may kill it.

Soon, President Trump must decide whether to extend executive order waivers the Obama administration used to suspend some of the non-nuclear sanctions imposed on Iran and how scrupulously to hold the Iranian regime to account for infractions of the JCPOA. On Mar. 1, 2017, Laurence Norman of the Wall Street Journal reported that European officials are growing in confidence President Trump will not shred the nuclear accord. “The test of that will come in May, when the president must decide whether to extend executive waivers that the Obama administration used to suspend some sanctions.”

The Way Forward

In testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Feb. 17, 2017, David Albright, President of the Institute for Science and International Security and a former weapons inspector whom the Trump administration has consulted on the Iran nuclear deal, testified at a congressional hearing entitled “Iran on Notice.”

Albright’s bottom line: “The Trump administration appears committed to maintaining the JCPOA. This decision makes good sense. But the administration also recognizes that if the deal is to survive and serve U.S. national security interests, the JCPOA needs to be more strictly enforced and interpreted, and its most significant weaknesses need to be corrected.” We concur with the views of Albright as a point of departure for President Trump to consider, per some of his short-term steps.

First, insist Iran create and implement a strategic trade control system that meets international standards and will be subject to review by the Joint Commission mentioned in the JCPOA; second, plug the loopholes in the JCPOA, including ambiguities that permit Iran to obtain heavy water that has not been approved by the “Procurement Working Group;” third, draw on the expertise of the U.S. Department of Justice to pursue extradition and prosecution of  those involved in outfitting Iran’s nuclear, missile, or conventional weapons programs in defiance of U.S. laws and sanctions.

In short, the way forward for the Iran nuclear deal under President Trump is to renegotiate the JCPOA, rather than dismantle it.

Dr. Raymond Tanter served as a senior member on the National Security Council staff in the Reagan-Bush administration and is now Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan. Edward Stafford is a retired Foreign Service officer; he served in Political-Military Affairs at the State Department, as a diplomat with the U.S. Embassy in Turkey, and taught at the Inter-American Defense College.

With Turks out, Raqqa operation is short of tanks

April 1, 2017

Source: With Turks out, Raqqa operation is short of tanks

DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis April 1, 2017, 11:33 AM (IDT)
Turkish tanks deployed in Syria

Turkish tanks deployed in Syria

US armored Humvees driving this week from Iraqi Kurdistan to Syria
Except for one missing factor, the United States is in advanced preparations for the operation to oust the Islamic State from Raqqa, its Syrian stronghold, as Mission Mosul winds down in Iraq. Tuesday, March 28, a large convoy of trucks, with the KRG numbers plates of the semiautonomous Kurdish government of Iraq, crossed into Syria at the Semalka border post. Some were heavily laden with arms and ammunition; others hauled armored personnel carriers.

debkafile’s military sources report that the convoys were carrying the war materiel a US airlift is dropping at the KRG capital of Irbil. It includes quantities of heavy submachine guns and light artillery for the Syrian Democratic Forces which are about to lead the US-backed assault on Raqqa.
Two-thirds of the 50,000-60,000-strong SDF consists of Syrian YPG Kurdish militiamen (which can muster up to 75,000 fighters with reserves); the other third are Arab tribesmen from northern Syria.

Three days later, on March 30, Ankara suddenly announced the termination of Operation Euphrates Shield, which was launched with the Turkish invasion of Aug. 24, 2016 and its occupation of 6,000sq,km of land in northern Syria, including later the town of Al Bab, north of Aleppo.

While Ankara claimed Thursday that the Euphrates Operation was terminated after accomplishing its mission, our military sources report that the Turkish army missed its three main objectives:

1. It failed to lay down a 650sq.km security zone ranging from the Turkish-Syrian-Iraqi triangle at one end to the Mediterranean,atn the other.

2. The key Syrian town of Manbij remained in the hands of the SDF i.e. Kurdish control.

3. Turkish troops were unable to dislodge the YPG forces strung along the Turkish border.

Turkey was forced to abandon those objectives by a combined ultimatum slapped down by the US and Russia to cut short its Operation Euphrates, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report.

The Kurdish heads of the SDF had warned the two powers that they would undertake to lead the Raqqa offensive only on two conditions: First, they demanded guarantees that the Turkish troops deployed to their rear would not take advantage of their absence to seize defenseless Kurdish towns and lands and; secondly, that the Turkish army would not take part in the Raqqa offensive, in any shape or form.

Over and above the official statement, Ankara was also obliged to pledge that Turkish forces would not advance one inch outside their current lines in northern Syria.
To give their ultimatum teeth, American troops took up positions at Manbij opposite Turkish lines, while the Russians moved a unit into the eastern Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin facing the Turkish border.

American weapons shipments were meanwhile arriving to arm the SDF force preparing to storm Raqqa. It was then discovered that by excluding any Turkish military role in the operation (as they did for the Mosul offensive), the Americans had left the Kurdish fighters without a tank force for leading the assault. This could have been provided by the Turkish army.

The importance of tanks for the operation is assessed by comparing the military challenges posed by the Mosul and Raqqa offensives.

The battle for Mosul is already going into its seventh month – and still not over – although it is being fought against 2,000 ISIS jihadis by 100,000 Iraq troops backed by American elite forces and heavy artillery.
More than 3,000 jihadists are present to defend Raqqa, according to intelligence estimates put before the US command planners of the operation. They include local Arab tribesmen some of whom they hope may desert, although this is far from certain.
Military experts watching American preparations for the Raqqa operation find that the US planners’ estimate that no more than 15,000 troops are needed capture Raqqa is over-optimistic; and without a tank force, even massive US air support may not be enough to win the day. The APCs the Americans are flying in for the Kurdish units are too few.

At the same time, a decision in Washington to supply tanks would certainly be met with Russian and Turkey objections. It would moreover set the operation back by several months while Kurdish crews are taught how to use them in operational combat.

Iran: A “Paper Tiger”

April 1, 2017

Iran: A “Paper Tiger,” Iran Focus, March 31, 2017

(What would Russia do? Please see also, Iran’s Elections: A Breaking Crisis? — DM)

London, 31 Mar – While Iran calls for the destruction of Israel, according to some experts, an American or Israeli attack against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear and military sites would be fairly easy to execute. This is because, although Iran points to technological advancement in their military, it is actually has overextended itself in Syria.

A report published in March by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), noted Iran has backed off their provocations against U.S. Navy vessels, and has even ceased their threats to sink these ships in the Persian Gulf. The report continued, “The slogan ‘death to America’ has disappeared almost entirely from the official discourse of regime spokesmen, including Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei himself, as have public burnings of the American flag.”

Fars News Agency reported on March 26, that deputy chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri, warned the U.S. to be more careful about its warship movements in the Persian Gulf, which is a softer warning than we’ve heard in the past from Iranian leaders.

President and founder of MEMRI, Yigal Carmon, has stated that Iran’s claims of domestic development of military technologies are “complete nonsense,” but said that the country’s acquisition of North Korean missiles is concerning. Carmon said further, that Iran imports North Korean missiles and renames them to give the impression that they were domestically developed.

He explained that Iranian media publishes stories every few weeks about success of their military programs. One such story in January 2013, announced that Iran’s Space Agency had sent a monkey into space, yet pictures of the monkey before and after the “mission” failed to match up. “Iran does not create any quality military equipment, they only are able to buy from abroad. What do they invent to counter U.S. ships? All they are able to come up with is suicide speed boats,” he said.

Iran has also “displayed what they claimed to be domestically built submarines, but when we saw the picture that they put out, we saw that the size would be good for the Baltimore aquarium,” said Carmon.

The ballistics test Iran conducted in January failed. Carmon believes that Iran poses no real challenge to the U.S. “If the U.S. or Israel attack Iran’s nuclear sites and military targets, it will be a done deal,” he said.

A comparison of American and Iranian financial resources may bolster this argument. Fox News columnist Jonathan Adelman, an international studies professor at the University of Denver, wrote in February, “Look at the figures. The American GDP of over $18 trillion is more than 40 times the GDP of Iran ($450 billion)…. Given all this, the fear of Iran getting nuclear weapons still remains real. But, even more real is the notion that the biggest power in the world, plus three significant regional powers (Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia), could handle Iran if they would put their minds to it.”

Iran sank $6 billion annually of its resources into the Syrian Civil War, according to Bloomberg News.

Dr. Harold Rhode, a distinguished senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute, and a former U.S. Defense Department official, has stated that while America is strong both militarily and internally, Iran and North Korea “appear strong, but are weak and rotten inside.” Rhode said that while Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, it is destroying its country by inaction on domestic problems such as its water crisis. London-based NGO Small Media published a study in March 2016, saying that Iran “faces an unprecedented crisis of water resources that threatens to render vast swathes of the country near-uninhabitable within the coming decades.”

A dangerous opium drug problem is also facing Iran. Rhode speculated that Iranian authorities could crack down on drugs, but ignore it instead, in order “to keep the people preoccupied so they don’t concern themselves with overthrowing the government.”

Rhode believes the American or Israeli approach should be one of strength, but said, “Do we need to have a massive invasion [of Iran]? No. We must show that this regime cannot do what is necessary to keep themselves in power.”

There are alternatives to “actual physical attacks,” such as electronic warfare, when it comes to confronting Iran, according to MEMRI’s Carmon.

Rhode said other options should be considered before putting troops on the ground, including bringing about regime change. “We live in very stable societies, we expect changes to come slowly, but that is not how it works in totalitarian societies like Iran. The moment the people see the regime has lost its ability and willingness to keep itself in power, the regime will topple very quickly, as happened to the shah in 1979. The shah was not willing to do what was necessary to put down the rioting,” he said, and called Iran a “potentially a paper tiger” adding that it is “our job to encourage regime change—and we can.”

Iran’s Elections: A Breaking Crisis?

April 1, 2017

Iran’s Elections: A Breaking Crisis? American ThinkerShahriar Kia, April 1, 2017

(If and to the extent that this analysis is correct, we should provide clandestine assistance to the Iranian resistance, both in and outside Iran. In view of the hostility between the current Iranian regime and the Arab League, it might well be willing to do its part. — DM)

The 12th presidential election in Iran will be held on May 19th. These polls are taking place at a time when the regime in Tehran, and especially Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, are facing three distinct crises.

a)  Khamenei, suffering from prostate cancer, sees his days as numbered and must designate a successor. From March 2015 he has held various sessions with senior regime and Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) officials for this very purpose. Khamenei insists that his successor be clarified prior to his death.

b)  A major policy overhaul in Washington following the end of Obama’s tenure. This has terrified Iran and placed this regime in intense isolation on the international stage and across the region in the face of Arab and Islamic countries.

c)  The presidential election crisis in May.

Khamenei, witnessing his establishment coming to its knees during the 2009 uprisings, is extremely concerned about a repeat scenario. In such circumstances, the possibility of his entire regime crumbling at the hands of a revolting population is very serious and even likely. Khamenei is weighing how to properly engineer the elections while not providing any pretext for popular upheaval.

In contrast to the viewpoints of various parties in the West, the rifts inside Khamenei’s faction and those supporting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani does not arise from a difference between two so-called “moderate” and/or “hardline” mentalities. The fact is that the sham election is a dispute over two solutions aimed at safeguarding and maintaining a religious dictatorship in power, furthering their expansionism and ambitions.

Both factions, including Khamenei and the current formerly represented by the influential Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, believe in resorting to a domestic crackdown, obtaining nuclear weapons, meddling in the internal affairs of other countries such as Iraq and Syria, and using instability and terrorism leverage as a tool to pursue their foreign policy. The only difference is how to advance in their goal to realize these objectives. Therefore, when we are talking about two factions, we must not mistakenly compare the Iranian regime with today’s advanced democracies.

Khamenei is considered very weak due to the current crises his regime is facing. In contrast to last year, when he constantly lashed out at Rouhani for the deal sealed to curb Iran’s nuclear program and similar initiatives sought for other purposes, Khamenei refused to mention Iran’s current political crises. Furthermore, following the major U.S,-Iran policy change, Khamenei has set aside his stereotype threats against the U.S. and maintained a state of hesitancy in his remarks.

Khamenei and Election Engineering

Candidates for Iran’s presidential elections will register from April 11th to the 16th. The ultraconservative Guardian Council, a 12-man body directly and indirectly appointed by Khamenei himself, will weigh the candidates’ qualifications from April 17th to the 27th. The elections are scheduled for May 19th.

Iran’s presidential elections always feature a large number of candidates. However, the main candidates from the two main factions must receive Khamenei’s explicit or implicit approval.

“Rouhani’s candidacy was confirmed after gaining the approval of the establishment’s senior officials,” according to the Ebtekar daily.

By establishing the “Popular Party of Revolutionary Forces” and the membership of the same individuals who elevated firebrand Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president from the ballot boxes back in 2005, Khamenei has revealed signs of how he has engineered the upcoming elections.

In his “Nowruz” message marking the Iranian calendar New Year, Khamenei came to admit his role in the results of the 2009 presidential election.

“I entered the 2009 [presidential election] and stood firm,” he said. In his remarks, Khamenei warned about the May election by stipulating, “I will stand firm and intervene.”

It is worth noting the IRGC command, and especially Quds Force chief Qassem Suleimani, are seeking the candidacy of Ibrahim Reisi, who is also considered one of Khamenei’s options as his successor. Khamenei has yet to reach a final decision over Reisi’s candidacy in the May elections. If he registers as a candidate and fails to become president, his chances of succeeding Khamenei will be severely undermined. And if Khamenei seeks to select Reisi as the next president at all costs, he faces the severe possibility of instigating nationwide uprisings.

What is the Forecast?

Naturally, due to the numerous different elements facing Khamenei and his regime’s factions, forecasting even the near future is quite a challenging task. However, there are three different scenarios facing Khamenei:

1) Eliminating Rouhani and selecting a candidate meeting his standards, and that of the IRGC.

2) Rouhani is severely weakened after losing Rafsanjani, considered a major pillar in the regime’s apparatus. He will be reappointed as president on the condition of succumbing to the hegemony of Khamenei and the IRGC.

3) Rouhani views Khamenei weak in the balance of power and stands as a major opponent against his faction.

Of course, Khamenei prefers to realize the first scenario. If concerns of nationwide uprisings cancel this possibility, he will give in to the second scenario.

Although Rouhani is in favor of the third scenario, considering the society’s powder keg conditions and losing the support of Rafsanjani, such a turn of events would be considered dangerous for both the regime’s factions. This outcome can bring an end to the public’s fear of the regime’s domestic crackdown machine and ignite a new nationwide uprising. This is a red line for both of Iran’s factions.

Those supporting Khamenei, and especially the IRGC, seek to eliminate Rouhani from these elections. However, Khamenei cannot take very bold measures and officially oppose Rouhani’s candidacy. When confirming Rouhani’s candidacy, Khamenei asked him to hold coordinating meetings with Sulemani and IRGC chief Mohammad Ali Jafari. This request brings us closer to the second scenario.

However, the Iranian people and their organized opposition, symbolized in the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), consider such elections under the mullahs’ regime as baseless and demand free and fair elections held under the United Nations auspices. Such polls are only possible through regime change in Iran and establishing a democratic system.