Archive for the ‘Iran and Middle East’ category

Why Iran Supports Palestinian Terror Groups

July 19, 2018


Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards General Gholamhossein Gheybparvar. (Image source: Tasnim via Wikimedia Commons)

by Khaled Abu Toameh
July 19, 2018 Gatestone Institute

Source Link: Why Iran Supports Palestinian Terror Groups

{Iran’s obsession with the destruction of Israel will be their undoing. – LS}

  • The Iranian general did not offer to build the Palestinians a hospital or a school. Nor did he offer to provide financial aid to create projects that would give jobs to unemployed Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. His message to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip: Iran will give you as much money and weapons as you need as long as you are committed to the jihad (holy war) against Israel and the “big Satan,” the US.
  • The same Hamas that is telling UN representatives that it wants to improve the living conditions of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is the one that is reaching out its hand to Iran to receive funds and weapons.
  • Now, someone needs to step in and stop Iran from setting foot in the Gaza Strip and using the Palestinians as cannon fodder in Tehran’s campaign against the US and Israel. How might someone do that? It is not so complicated. Any international aid to the Gaza Strip must be conditioned on ending Iran’s destructive effort to recruit Palestinians groups as its soldiers. It is that simple.

While the United Nations, Israel and the US are proposing plans to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Iran is pledging to continue its financial and military aid to Palestinian terror groups.

Iran’s meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians is not new. The Iranians have long been providing Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups with money and weapons. Were it not for Iran’s support, the two groups, which do not recognize Israel’s right to exist, would not have been able to remain in power in the coastal enclave.

Iran’s support for the Palestinian terror groups has a twofold goal: first, to undermine the Palestinian Authority, which is headed by Mahmoud Abbas, and which Tehran sees as a pawn in the hands of the US and Israel; and second, to advance Iran’s goal of destroying Israel.

Just this week, we received yet another reminder of Iran’s true goal. The leader of Iran’s “Islamic Revolution,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said that the Palestinians will win over their enemies and will “see the day when the fake Zionist regime” vanishes. He said that US President Donald Trump’s “evil policy” is doomed to failure.

So, Iran does not care about the harsh conditions of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Instead, its leaders are hoping that the Palestinians will live to see the day Israel is eliminated. This is also why Iran continues to support any Palestinian group that seeks to destroy Israel.

On the same day that Khamenei made his statement in Tehran, one of his senior generals, Gholamhossein Gheybparvar addressed a conference held in the Gaza Strip and Tehran simultaneously. Gheybparavar is a senior officer in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and commander of its Basij forces — the “Mobilization Resistance Force.” This force’s main mission is to suppress protests against the regime in Tehran.

In his speech via video conference, the Iranian general told representatives of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terror groups that he was “proud” of their “resistance” against Israel. He said that the conference, which was being held under the title, “Wet Gunpowder/Resistance Is Not Terrorism,” was an expression of Arab and Islamic unity against the enemies of the Arabs and Muslims. The Iranian general said that Iran and the “axis of resistance” were not afraid of Trump’s “threats.”

The Palestinian terror groups said after the conference that they were encouraged by the Iranian general’s pledge to support them in their fight against Israel and the US.

Khader Habib, a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad official in the Gaza Strip, said that the Iranian-Palestinian conference was both “symbolic and significant.” The conference, he said, served as a reminder that Iran continues to support the Palestinian “resistance” and would deter Israel from attacking the Gaza Strip in response to terror attacks on its citizens. The speech by the Iranian general, he added, was aimed at sending a message to the many countries to support the Palestinian “resistance” groups in the Gaza Strip. “Israel is a potential threat to the Arabs and Muslims,” Habib said.

Buoyed by the Iranian backing, several speakers at the conference called for the formation of a “unified Arab-Islamic front” against Israel and the US. They also stressed that the terror attacks against Israel would continue and praised Iran for its full support for the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip.

By promising to continue helping the Palestinian terror groups, Iran is offering the two million residents of the Gaza Strip more bloodshed and violence. The Iranian general did not offer to build the Palestinians a hospital or a school. Nor did he offer to provide financial aid to create projects that would give jobs to unemployed Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. His message to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip: Iran will give you as much money and weapons as you need, as long as you are committed to the jihad (holy war) against Israel and the “big Satan,” the US.

The Iranian message to the Palestinian terror groups came at a time when several international parties are trying to resolve the “humanitarian and economic” crisis in the Gaza Strip. These efforts are spearheaded by the UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, who in recent weeks has been on a mission to prevent another war in the Gaza Strip.

These efforts are unlikely to succeed, however, as long as Iran continues its support of the Palestinian terror groups. Iran apparently wants to retain control over its Palestinian proxies to prevent any peace and stability between Arabs and Israel. Iran is not helping the terror groups out of love for the Palestinians, but in order to advance its goal of eliminating the “fake Zionist regime.”

If anyone is worried about the Iranian meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians, it is Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his ruling Fatah faction. “We don’t want to become a pawn in the hands of Iran,” said Ra’fat Elayan, a senior Fatah official. “Iran is using Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad as a maneuvering card against Israel and the US, and this will have a negative impact on the just Palestinian cause. We have repeatedly warned the two groups of the Iranian intervention in Palestinian affairs.”

Meanwhile, it appears that Hamas wants to have it both ways. On the one hand, Hamas wants the international community to step in and help the people of the Gaza Strip. On the other hand, Hamas wants Iran to continue funding its terrorism. The same Hamas that is telling UN representatives that it wants to improve the living conditions of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is the one that is reaching out its hand to Iran to receive funds and weapons.

We can take a tip from Abbas’s and Fatah’s anxiety: If they are worried about Iran’s ongoing efforts to infiltrate the Palestinian arena, the US and the rest of the world need to find ways to stop Iran from using the Palestinians as a weapon in its battle to extend its control over more and more countries in the Middle East and carry out its deadly schemes.

Iran has brought nothing but disaster to Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Syria. Now, someone needs to step in and stop Iran from setting foot in the Gaza Strip and using the Palestinians as cannon fodder in Tehran’s campaign against the US and Israel. How might someone do that? It is not so complicated. Any international aid to the Gaza Strip must be conditioned on ending Iran’s destructive effort to recruit Palestinians groups as its soldiers. It is that simple.

 

More Middle East changes

November 23, 2017

More Middle East changes | Anne’s Opinions, 23rd November 2017
In some good news related to my previous post, the Trump administration has threatened to close down the PLO offices in Washington in retaliation for the PA attempting to bring Israelis to the International Criminal Court:

The Palestinian Authority (PA) on Saturday night expressed its surprise over threats by the United States to shut down the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington.

On Friday, the Associated Press reported that the Trump administration had put the PLO on notice that it will shutter their office in Washington unless they entered serious peace talks with Israel.

According to AP, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has determined that the Palestinians ran afoul of a provision in a U.S. law that says the PLO mission must close if the Palestinians try to get the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israelis for crimes against Palestinians.

A State Department official said that in September, PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas crossed that line by calling on the ICC to investigate and prosecute Israelis.

The law now gives President Donald Trump 90 days to consider whether the Palestinians are in “direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.” If Trump determines they are, the Palestinians can keep the office. An official told AP it was unclear whether the U.S. might close the office before the 90-day period expires, but said the mission remains open at least for now.

The Palestinians then threatened to cut their ties to Washington (a bonus as far as Israel is concerned):

“The State Department notified us in an official letter that they cannot certify the continued opening of the PLO office in Washington, DC, due to the fact that we are pursuing the ICC,” Erekat told Israeli public broadcaster Kan.

“We responded to them in an official letter that in case they officially close the office of the PLO in Washington, DC, we will put on hold all communications with this American administration,” he added.

Watch Saeb Erekat’s statement here:

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Abbas, said on Saturday night the surprise stems from the fact that the meetings between Abbas and Trump were characterized by a full understanding of the steps necessary to create an atmosphere that would allow the resumption of the peace process.

He said that the American threat represented an unprecedented step in the history of U.S.-Palestinian relations and could have dangerous implications for the peace process and the relations between the United States and Arab countries.

Reports of the threat to shut down the PLO mission in Washington came several days after the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously approved the Taylor Force Act.

The bill, named for U.S. army veteran Taylor Force, who was murdered in a terrorist stabbing attack in Tel Aviv in March, 2016, would cut funding to the PA unless it stopped its payments to terrorists and their families.

All I can say is it’s about time that someone finally held the PLO and the PA to account for their support of terrorism and for scuppering the peace talks with Israel every step of the way.

Bassam Tawil, a Middle East-based Muslim, explains in the Gatestone Institute why the Palestinians will not accede to any demands made upon them by Trump or any other American administration:

  • The Palestinians have made up their mind: The Trump peace plan is bad for us and we will not accept it. The plan is bad because it does not force Israel to give the Palestinians everything.
  • If and when the Trump administration makes public its peace plan, the Palestinians will be the first to reject it, simply because it does not meet all their demands.
  • Trump will soon learn that for Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinians, 99% is just not enough.

Caroline Glick talks about holding the State Department to account as an extension of the threat to close the PLO mission:

Aside from the fact that the US has refused to hold the PLO accountable for its actions for a quarter century, the PLO has another good reason to be shocked by Tillerson’s letter: the US consulate in Jerusalem operates as almost a mirror to the PLO mission in Washington.

And yet, as Yisrael Medad has exhaustively documented, the Jerusalem consulate maintains an effective boycott of both these dual nationals and Israeli nationals who live in its area of operation. All of the consulate’s activities for US citizens are directed specifically and openly toward “Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

The consulate also openly rejects the notion that Israel and Jews have ties to its area of operations. For instance, Blome went on a hike around Judea and Samaria in July where he effectively erased the Jewish heritage sites in the areas. The consulate echoed UNESCO’s Jew-free version of the history of the land of Israel in a press release that celebrated his walk along the “Masar Ibrahim Al-Khalil” trail in celebration of “the connection of the people with the land.” Jews were not mentioned in the press release. And the historical name of the route he took is “Abraham’s path.”

Scholarships to study in the US and jobs listed on the website are open to “Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

In other words, while the PLO missions are pushing the BDS agenda in the US, the US consulate in Jerusalem is implementing it on the ground in Israel.

In a congressional hearing on the issue of moving the embassy to Jerusalem on November 8, Rep. Ron DeSantis said that transfer of the embassy may be delayed due to the Trump administration’s “efforts to pursue a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.”

DeSantis argued that until the embassy is moved the Trump administration should take “incremental steps” that move it toward the goal.

Among the steps he advocated, DeSantis said “the American consulates in Jerusalem should report to the American embassy in Israel, not directly to the State Department.”

Tillerson’s letter to Zomlot was shocking because it represented the first time since 1993 that the PLO has been held accountable for its actions. The time has come for the State Department, too, to be held accountable for its behavior. And the best way to start this process is to follow DeSantis’s advice, subordinate the US consulates in Jerusalem to the US ambassador and end their boycott of Jews – US citizens and non-citizens – who live in the Jerusalem area, in Judea and Samaria.

With this in mind it is nothing short of astonishing that the following video appeared, in which Kuwaiti writer strongly defended Israel, calling it a legitimate state, not an occupier:

I think we should ask Mr. Al-Hadlaq to provide some urgently-needed background information to the State Department! Kol hakavod to him. I hope he stays safe.

Along with the daring fatwa of Saudi Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh condemning Hamas as another terror organization and forbidding fighting against Israel , is this another harbinger of better times ahead for Israel in the Middle East? I hope I’m not being too optimistic in hoping so. There have been too many of these talks, statements, interviews and fatwas to think there is not a sea-change starting to occur in the Arab world. Let us just pray it continues.

Haley: Trump’s Goal Is to Stop Iran From Becoming ‘the Next North Korea’

October 15, 2017

Haley: Trump’s Goal Is to Stop Iran From Becoming ‘the Next North Korea’, Washington Free Beacon, October 15,2017

 

 

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley defended President Donald Trump’s stance on the Iran nuclear deal by saying he is trying to keep Iran from becoming “the next North Korea.”

Trump announced Friday he would decertify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement, but he is not fully withdrawing from it. Haley argued that his toughness on Iran is a result of seeing how negotiations with North Korea failed to stop the Kim Jong Un regime from developing a nuclear program.

“Had this been done with North Korea over the past 25 years, we wouldn’t be in this situation,” Haley said on Sunday, referring to Kim’s recent missile tests. “What you see is the president is trying to make sure that Iran doesn’t become the next North Korea.”

ABC host George Stephanopoulos asked Haley if Trump’s decision sent the wrong message to North Korea because it might prevent them from negotiating with the U.S. in the future. Haley, however, said it sends the message that the U.S. will remain vigilant.

“It sends the perfect message to North Korea, which is we’re not going to engage in a bad deal,” she said. “And should we ever get into a deal, we’re going to hold you accountable.”

Haley said Iran’s technical compliance with the International Atomic Energy Agency does not mean it meets the expectations the U.S. has for national security. She cited Iran’s other violations and support for terrorism and advised against complacency in service of keeping the deal.

“What you’re seeing is, everybody is turning a blind eye to Iran and all of those violations out of trying to protect this agreement,” Haley said. “What we need to say is, we have to hold them accountable.”

In another interview Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Haley reiterated her point that the joint partners in the Iran deal should not treat it as “too big to fail.”

“When the international community gives Iran a pass for all these things—the ballistic missile testing, the arms sales, their support of terrorism—and they look the other way all in the name of keeping the deal, then you are looking at something that’s too big to fail,” Haley said. “That’s the problem.”

Put Iran back on the defensive

October 13, 2017

Put Iran back on the defensive, Israel Hayom, Amnon Lord, October 13, 2017

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei | Photo: Reuters

A recent interview with Brig. Gen. (ret.) Uzi Eilam, former director of the Atomic Energy Commission at the Prime Minister’s Office, has all but slipped under everyone’s radar.

During the interview, Eilam let it slip that in early 2015, when the fight against the nuclear deal with Iran was in full gear, he traveled to Washington to lobby support for the deal among Democratic senators and congressmen. Recently, we also learned that former National Security Adviser Uzi Arad and former Israeli Consul General in New York Alon Pinkas are part of a campaign by the left-wing Jewish lobby group J Street, which purports to be pro-Israel, to preserve the deal.

If the 2015 deal is so good, why is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu so eager to amend it? And why did he so vehemently oppose it to begin with? If the deal is solid, why do the moderate Sunni states such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia oppose it? Why is U.S. President Donald Trump against it? Does the Israeli public really have to trust the judgment of former defense and diplomatic officials?

The truth is that it is quite bewildering that experts continue to insist on sticking to the deal when, two years in, the results are clear: Iran has massively infiltrated Syria and a new threat to Israel has emerged from the north. Those who supported the agreement apparently failed to fully understand its implications, or they knowingly covered up then-President Barack Obama’s rapprochement attempts with Iran at Israel’s expense.

Meanwhile, the Iranians have successfully taken over not only Damascus and Beirut, but also Iraq, Yemen and the Bab el Mandab Strait, a strategic waterway between Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula and Djibouti and Eritrea in the Horn of Africa. A senior intelligence official told me a month ago that there was a clear link between the approval of the nuclear agreement in July 2015 and the Russian invasion of Syria two months later. If anything, there is no doubt that Obama’s policy and the nuclear agreement paved the way for an Iranian-Russian takeover of the war-torn country.

The Israeli media all but ignored Obama’s moves over Iran. The Israeli and American intelligence agencies conducted effective warfare to sabotage the secret networks through which Iran built its nuclear program, but Obama vetoed these efforts, effectively terminating cyber warfare against Iran and lending international legitimacy to the Islamic republic’s nuclearization effort – efforts by a nation that has openly and repeatedly announced its clear intention to annihilate the State of Israel.

Above all, the nuclear agreement lifted the economic sanctions the international community had imposed on Iran. These sanctions, imposed due to American and Israeli pressure, had pushed into a corner, isolated it and placed it under constant international pressure. Obama freed Iran from this yoke and all but launched a campaign that delegitimized Israel, its government and its leader. Yet all of it was covered up by senior Israeli security officials and the Israeli media.

If Trump makes good on his threat and decertifies the nuclear deal, it will be the first step toward rectifying the situation and putting Iran back on the defensive. This would benefit Israel by pushing back the threat of an armed conflict on the northern border.

At this time, the effort to change the 2015 agreement in a way that prevents Iran from pursuing nuclear armament within eight years should be clear to the intelligence and security sages who are so supportive of the deal. North Korea barreled through two nuclear agreements negotiated by Wendy Sherman, the chief American negotiator with Iran, and emerged as a menacing nuclear threat.

Between the cabinet and the battlefield

The meeting between Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin in August, the massive military exercise in the northern sector in early September, the strike on a chemical weapons facility near Damascus last month, and defense officials’ publicly-voiced concerns about Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria, all made various pundits catch a whiff of napalm in the morning. But contrary to the perceived rise in security tensions in recent weeks, the IDF believes that chances of a flare-up on the Lebanese-Syrian front are waning.

One can argue about the scope of the strategic impact the Russian-Iranian alliance has on Israel. American analysts, who understood early on where Obama was heading with respect to Iran, believe the Russian-Iranian axis is very bad news for the United States as well as for Israel.

But the IDF has a different assessment, at least for the foreseeable future, according to which the Russian presence in Syria is deferring a potential conflict. Moreover, the Iranian presence in Syria appears less menacing when Revolutionary Guard soldiers are replaced by random Shiite militias.

The military says its multi-year work plan continues to evolve according to the dynamic map of threats from the north and it rejects claims that it is leading the IDF down the wrong path. According to a report by the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s Subcommittee on the Defense Doctrine, which is an important intellectual venture led by Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah, the preparatory work done by the IDF to compose the multi-year work plan and its implementation so far are indeed impressive.

Nevertheless, even the apparently flattering report alludes to the fact that 11 years after the Second Lebanon War, the ground forces have yet to fully stabilize, while the Israeli Air Force has undergone a tremendous process of reinforcement. This is the military arm decision-makers continue to rely on, in conjunction with the IDF’s special forces, at the moment of truth.

Still, a critical review of the report reveals a serious problem that has not been resolved in Israel’s political reality: the interface between the political leadership and the IDF. The report criticizes the political echelon, saying it fails to provide the military with clear, written instructions and objectives. This makes it difficult for the military to adapt, outline its operational plans and build its strength.

Committees and cabinet meetings will not bring salvation. The IDF’s senior echelon must consider the fact that cabinet ministers cannot serve as a collective commander of the IDF’s operations in wartime. The cabinet was designed to supervise military moves, and while it can be called upon to decide on various operational alternatives before and during a conflict, it is up to military commanders to assume operational responsibility. The desire by lawmakers who see themselves as military experts to be involved to the point of making the military’s decisions for it is very unhealthy.

But there is one thing that can be expected from the political echelon: a decision on the strategic concept with respect to Hezbollah. Is Lebanese infrastructure a legitimate target in a potential future war, or is the IDF required to surgically deal only with Hezbollah elements? The answer to this question is not as simple as the hawks in the government would have the public believe.

ANALYSIS: Certified or decertified, Iran faces tough road ahead

October 10, 2017

ANALYSIS: Certified or decertified, Iran faces tough road ahead, Al Arabiya, Heshmat Alavi, October 9, 2017

Members of Iranian armed forces march during a parade in Tehran, Iran, September 22, 2017. President.ir/Handout via REUTERS.

The new mentality sought by Washington is to address all of Iran’s belligerence and not allow its nuclear program and the JCPOA devour all of the international community’s attention.

The new US response, including blacklisting Iran’s notorious Revolutionary Guards, to be announced by Trump is said to cover missile tests, support for terrorism and proxy groups checkered across the Middle East, hopefully human rights violations at home, and cyberattacks.

Iran has a history of resorting to such measures, including targeting Saudi oil interests. Raising the stakes for Iran, Trump described a meeting with his top military brass on Thursday evening as “the calm before the storm.” Neither the US President nor the White House provided further details, yet rest assured Tehran received the message.

**************************

All eyes are on US President Donald Trump and his upcoming Iran speech later this week to clarify his decision to certify or decertify Tehran’s compliance with a nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), designed to curb the regime’s controversial atomic drive.

This has Iran’s regime on its toes, as senior elite in Tehran understand fully how the US can lead the international community in adopting strong measures against its broad scope of malign activities. Expected to be addressed is also a wide range of concerns over Iran’s dangerous policies in relation to its ballistic missile advances, meddling in Middle East states and supporting terrorist proxy groups as explained in a new video.

‘Iran’s unacceptable behavior’

Iran’s rogue behavior, currently imposing its influence on four major regional capitals of Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus and Sanaa, are the result of the Obama administration’s “overly lenient foreign policy, which sought to promote America’s priorities through consensus, rather than through the frank display of power,” as put by a recent The New Yorker piece.

“Lifting the sanctions as required under the terms of the JCPOA has enabled Iran’s unacceptable behavior,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a late September meeting with his P5+1 counterparts and Iran’s top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The Trump administration is also deeply concerned over Iran’s proxies mining the strategic Bab el-Mandeb Strait waterway, aiming its indigenous missiles from Yemen towards cities in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, and from southern Lebanon towards Israel. This is Tehran in action with the objective of taking advantage of the destruction left behind by ISIS across the region, especially in Syria and Iraq.

“The Iranian regime supports terrorism and exports violence, bloodshed and chaos across the Middle East,” Trump told reporters before a Thursday evening meeting with senior military leaders at the White House. “That is why we must put an end to Iran’s continued aggression and nuclear ambitions,” he said. “They have not lived up to the spirit of their agreement.”

Trump has put Iran “on notice” over charges that Tehran violated a nuclear deal with the West by test-firing a ballistic missile. (Reuters)

Joint effort

Parallel to the White House there are voices on Capitol Hill advocating the new approach weighed by the administration.

“The president should decline to certify, not primarily on grounds related to Iran’s technical compliance, but rather based on the long catalog of the regime’s crimes and perfidy against the United States, as well as the deal’s inherent weakness,” Senator Tom Cotton said last week at a speech in the Council on Foreign Relations.

As the Trump administration seeks to place necessary focus on Iran’s illicit Middle East ambitions and actions, talks are also ongoing as we speak over how to amend the JCPOA’s restrictions.

“Sunset clauses,” Iran’s ballistic missile development and testing, and an inspections regime lacking the bite to gain necessary access into the regime’s controversial military sites. Under the current framework Iran can easily conduct nuclear weapons research and development in military sites and claim such locations do not fall under the JCPOA jurisdiction.

While it is expected of Trump to decertify Iran, he most likely will not go the distance to completely pull America out of the nuclear agreement. Obama refused to send the JCPOA to Congress for discussion and approval. Trump, however, seems set to place the decision to impose further sanctions on Iran upon the shoulders of US lawmakers.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks about the Iran nuclear deal at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, on September 5, 2017. (Reuters)

More than ‘one piece’

The new mentality sought by Washington is to address all of Iran’s belligerence and not allow its nuclear program and the JCPOA devour all of the international community’s attention.

The new US response, including blacklisting Iran’s notorious Revolutionary Guards, to be announced by Trump is said to cover missile tests, support for terrorism and proxy groups checkered across the Middle East, hopefully human rights violations at home, and cyberattacks.

Iran has a history of resorting to such measures, including targeting Saudi oil interests. Raising the stakes for Iran, Trump described a meeting with his top military brass on Thursday evening as “the calm before the storm.” Neither the US President nor the White House provided further details, yet rest assured Tehran received the message.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivering a statement on Iran in the Treaty Room of the State Department in Washington, DC, on April 19, 2017. (AFP)

Fear renders contradiction

Sensing an increasingly escalating tone from Washington, Tehran signaled its first sign of fear by expressing readiness to discuss its ballistic missile program, according to Reuters. And yet less than 24 hours later, Iranian officials said no offers were made to negotiate such restrictions.

“Iran regards defensive missile programs as its absolute right and will definitely continue them within the framework of its defensive, conventional and specified plans and strategies,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said, according state media.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also felt the need to make remarks to save face before the regime’s already depleting social base. “In the nuclear negotiations and agreement we reached issues and benefits that are not reversible. No one can turn that back, not Mr. Trump or anyone else,” Rouhani said at a recent Tehran University ceremony, according to state media.

Of course, we all remember how prior to the JCPOA signing in 2015 senior Iranian officials went the limits in describing any “retreat” regarding their nuclear program as a “red line.” To make a long story short, Tehran is comprehending how the times are changing at a high velocity, endangering its domestic, regional and international interests. And unlike the Obama years, its actions will not go unanswered.

Senator Cotton made this crystal clear at his speech: “Congress and the President, working together, should lay out how the deal must change and, if it doesn’t, the consequences Iran will face.”

The new Persian Empire

September 29, 2017

The new Persian Empire, Israel Hayom, Clifford D. May, September 29, 2017

Decades ago, Khomeini envisioned what now seems to be coming to pass. In his 1970 book, “Velayat-e faqih” (also known as “Islamic Government”) he wrote: “We have set as our goal the worldwide spread of the influence of Islam.” Over time, he expected Iran to become so powerful that “none of the governments existing in the world would be able to resist it; they would all capitulate.”

It’s essential that Trump and his advisers grasp what too many others still have not: Iran’s rulers represent a cause, the fulfillment of “a dream of imperial rule,” as Kissinger phrased it. If the United States does not stop them – if, on the contrary, they continue to manipulate Americans into assisting and enabling them in Syria and elsewhere – no one else will stand in their way.

********************************

Eleven years ago, Henry Kissinger famously said that Iran’s rulers must “decide whether they are representing a cause or a nation.” If the latter, Iranian and American interests would be “compatible.” As for the former: “If Tehran insists on combining the Persian imperial tradition with contemporary Islamic fervor, then a collision with America is unavoidable.”

Since then, Iran’s rulers have left no room for doubt. They’ve been aggressively spreading their Islamic Revolution and constructing what can only be called a new Persian Empire. That will surprise no one who has seriously studied the ideology of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic republic. What might: Their project has received significant support from the United States.

I’m not suggesting that was the intention of American policymakers. But it’s certainly been the result. The toppling of Saddam Hussein by President George W. Bush in 2003 eliminated Iran’s archenemy and rival. That might not have been a serious dilemma had Iraq subsequently been transformed into a reliable American ally.

But you know what came next: an insurgency, waged by al-Qaida in Iraq reinforced by Saddam loyalists. Iranian-backed Shia militias also went to war against American troops in Iraq. Eventually, Bush ordered the “surge.” American troops under the leadership of Gen. David Petraeus fought alongside Sunni tribes brutalized by al-Qaida and fearful of Iran. In the end, this alliance decimated jihadi forces in Iraq – Sunni and Shia alike.

By 2011, Iraq was, as then-President Barack Obama declared, “sovereign” and “stable.” He also called it “self-reliant,” which was incorrect. The U.S. military, in coordination with U.S. diplomats, had been balancing powers and brokering interests among Iraq’s Shia, Sunni and Kurdish communities. Once Obama withdrew American troops, the erosion of Iraq’s stability and sovereignty was inevitable.

Iran’s rulers began twisting arms in Baghdad, in particular encouraging Shia sectarianism. Iraq’s Sunnis now had no defender other than al-Qaida which, with the Americans gone, was revived and reincarnated as the Islamic State.

Which brings us to the present. The U.S. is playing a key role in the defeat of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Journalists are reporting that as a victory. Historians of the future may disagree. If the territories taken from the Islamic State are bequeathed to the Islamic republic, American troops will have served, objectively, as Iran’s expeditionary forces.

This would not be the only critical support the U.S. has given to the clerical regime. In the early years of the Obama administration, serious sanctions hobbled Iran’s economy and restricted its offensive capabilities. But the pressure was significantly relieved in exchange for an interim agreement on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Next came the final agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and the lifting of most sanctions, coupled with the tens of billions of dollars in frozen oil revenues Iran received directly from the U.S. and the hundreds of billions more it will receive from European and Asian trade and investment.

This windfall has allowed Iran’s rulers to defend their Syrian satrap, Bashar al-Assad, both with their own elite forces and those of Hezbollah, their Lebanon-based proxy militia. They also have organized and funded Shia militias in Syria and Iraq.

Thousands of Afghan and Pakistani Shia are being recruited for those militias. They reportedly receive salaries of $600 a month and promises of future employment in Iran, assuming, of course, that they survive. Others may stay permanently in Syria. In other words, Iran’s imperial project is becoming a colonial project as well.

I’m among those who believe President Donald Trump was correct not to give up on Afghanistan. The consequences of defeat at the hands of the Taliban and al-Qaida would have been dire – if not immediately, then over the long term. That said, the strategic value of Afghanistan pales in comparison with that of Syria and Iraq, the heart of the Arab/Muslim Middle East. If we can’t win everywhere – though I hope that, as a superpower, we can – there’s no question where our priorities should lie.

Imagine what it will mean if Iran succeeds in becoming the hegemon in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon; also Yemen, which sits on one of the world’s most strategic waterways. Imagine, too, if this incipient empire goes on to acquire nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them to American targets – an eventuality delayed but not halted under the flawed JCPOA.

Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Israel and other countries would be seriously threatened. Using Syrian ports on the Mediterranean, Iran would extend its influence westward as well.

For Machiavellian reasons, Russia’s Vladimir Putin supports these ambitions. North Korea, a client of China, cooperates with Iran’s rulers – on missile development, illicit financial networks and perhaps nuclear weapons – even as it hones its own ability to threaten Americans.

Decades ago, Khomeini envisioned what now seems to be coming to pass. In his 1970 book, “Velayat-e faqih” (also known as “Islamic Government”) he wrote: “We have set as our goal the worldwide spread of the influence of Islam.” Over time, he expected Iran to become so powerful that “none of the governments existing in the world would be able to resist it; they would all capitulate.”

It’s essential that Trump and his advisers grasp what too many others still have not: Iran’s rulers represent a cause, the fulfillment of “a dream of imperial rule,” as Kissinger phrased it. If the United States does not stop them – if, on the contrary, they continue to manipulate Americans into assisting and enabling them in Syria and elsewhere – no one else will stand in their way.

Gorka: Trump Administration Must Kill the Iran Deal

September 11, 2017

Gorka: Trump Administration Must Kill the Iran Deal, Washington Free Beacon, , September 11, 2017

(And Frau Merkel wants a deal with North Korea comparable to the Iran scam. — DM)

Sebastian Gorka / Getty Images

“The American government’s strategy to defeat Sunni jihadism must not play into the hands of Shia jihadism,” according to Gorka. “All the more so after the billions of dollars released by the last White House back into the coffers of Tehran.”

“A nuclear Caliphate informed by an apocalyptic vision of Islamic salvation will not succumb to the logic of nuclear deterrence and the prior stability of Mutually Assured Destruction,” Gorka states. “Action must be taken now to obviate the establishment a nuclear-capable Shia Caliphate. Recertification of the Potemkin Accord that is the JCPOA (Iran) Deal will not stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.”

********************************

The Trump administration must end the landmark nuclear deal with Iran, which has only empowered the Islamic Republic and aided its efforts to develop nuclear weapons, according to former senior Trump strategist Sebastian Gorka, who is set to call for an end to the deal during wide-ranging remarks Monday in Israel on the anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks.

The Washington Free Beacon obtained an advance partial copy of Gorka’s remarks, in which he notes the failure of U.S. administrations to combat the spread of global terror organizations since al Qaeda terrorists struck the Twin Towers 16 years ago.

Gorka, a veteran national security expert who served as a key adviser to President Donald Trump until his resignation late last month, noted that America has “seen more jihadist attacks and plots on U.S. soil in the last two years than any previous comparable period,” a sign that past strategies to combat this threat have failed.

“In arrests as far apart as California and New York, we see an enemy that has moved from attempting to send foreign terrorists here to America, move to recruiting and indoctrinating U.S. nationals or residents who are already in the country, such as the Boston bombers and the San Bernardino killers,” Gorka will say during a keynote address before the International Institute for Counterterrorism during its annual national security summit in Israel.

The high-profile international get together brings together senior Israeli government officials with their global counterparts. Gorka’s call to end the Iran deal at this forum is likely to generate much discussion among international officials present at the forum.

The near daily arrests by U.S. authorities of would-be jihadists “is not an improvement” in the war on terror, according to Gorka, because “‘homegrown’ terrorists are much harder for our domestic agencies to detect.”

Gorka said he has faith that the Trump administration will plot a new course that will help the United States finally end the war in Afghanistan, the longest conflict in U.S. history.

The United States is still failing to win the war against what Gorka describes as the “Global Jihadi Movement”—and international agreements such as the Iran nuclear deal have not improved the West’s chances of curbing the terror threat.

“If we use a less parochial filter, and look at what the Global Jihadi Movement has wrought globally since September 11, 2001, we cannot claim any kind of victory,” Gorka says.

A key part of the strategy to put the United States on the path to victory must focus on cancelling the Iran nuclear agreement, which has awarded the foremost global sponsor of terrorism with billions in cash.

“Iran remains the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world today,” Gorka says. “With the rise of ISIS, the collapse and Syria, and the continued conflict in Yemen, the mullahs and the forces under their command have expanded their destabilizing actions in support of their Shia version of radical Islam.”

The Trump administration must be cautious to avoid empowering Iran, a Shia Muslim majority nation, in its efforts to defeat Sunni Muslim terror organizations.

The nuclear deal served as a particular boon to Iran’s vision for a Shia-dominated Middle East, in which the Islamic Republic can rule the region.

“The American government’s strategy to defeat Sunni jihadism must not play into the hands of Shia jihadism,” according to Gorka. “All the more so after the billions of dollars released by the last White House back into the coffers of Tehran.”

“A nuclear Caliphate informed by an apocalyptic vision of Islamic salvation will not succumb to the logic of nuclear deterrence and the prior stability of Mutually Assured Destruction,” Gorka states. “Action must be taken now to obviate the establishment a nuclear-capable Shia Caliphate. Recertification of the Potemkin Accord that is the JCPOA (Iran) Deal will not stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.”