Archive for the ‘Iran – regime change’ category

Iran’s cyber warfare against its people must not stand

February 23, 2018


Iran’s cyber warfare against its people must not stand
© Getty

By Raymond Tanter and Ivan Sascha Sheehan, opinion contributor — 02/23/18 08:30 AM
The Hill

Source Link: Iran’s cyber warfare against its people must not stand

{Fighting the Mullahs one byte at a time. – LS}

New cyber revelations from the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK), the Iranian opposition movement, about the scope of mass surveillance by the Iranian regime are significant. Why? They show the desperation of the Iranian regime in confronting the uprising that began nationwide last December and has continued to this day.

Anti-government protesters chanted slogans indicative of a revolution: “Death to the dictator,” “Death to (Supreme Leader) Khamenei”, “Death to (Hassan) Rouhani,” “Don’t be afraid, we are all together,” “Forget about Syria, think about us,” “Not Gaza, nor Lebanon, my life for Iran,” and “Reformer, Hardline, the Game Is Now Over.”

The fact that protests expanded to over 140 cities, by some estimates, constitutes an existential threat to the regime and an opportunity to use the people’s resentment as leverage against it. The Obama administration squandered valuable opportunities in the past — most notably during the 2009 anti-government protests in Iran.

Only when the Iranian regime employed cyber technology was it able to slow down the spread of the protests and wage large numbers of arrests.

Protesters’ Use of Cyber Technology

The latest popular uprising in Iran sent shock waves inside the regime and around the world. Many specialists now view the uprisings as a landmark event. Protesters made use of game-changing cyber technology through mobile devices and social messaging platforms. Technology played a significant role in organizing, exchanging information between different locales, and getting their message out to the rest of the world.

Indeed, protesters’ use of cyber proved to be the regime’s Achilles heel: It could not, despite a show of force, stop the expansion of demonstrations. The protests expanded even as the regime desperately cut off access to the Internet and blocked key mobile apps, such as Telegram, at considerable cost and international embarrassment. A new wave of domestic cyber warfare, led by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), in collaboration with the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), accelerated significantly after the eruption of the nationwide protests.

The MEK established that the regime has focused on mass surveillance through malicious codes embedded in IRGC mobile apps. The goal was to monitor and disrupt the communication between protesters and dissidents.

The opposition movement argues that Iran’s domestic cyber warfare shifts focus from access control to “stateful endpoint” surveillance: In other words, with the recent uprising, the Iranian regime is now complementing its network shadowing with “stateful endpoint,” (mobile device) monitoring of content, context, and contacts to counter the expansion of the uprising and avert more protests. Café Bazaar, modeled after Google Play, is supervised by the IRGC and is its platform of choice to promote and distribute spyware enabled mobile apps.

Iran’s universities, according to the opposition group, are “a recruiting ground for IRGC cyber warfare personnel,” with recruits hired through front companies that “often engage in ‘research’ activities with a few of the IRGC’s ‘handpicked professors.’”

Tehran also apparently used foreign assistance to advance its cyber warfare. On Sep. 4, 2012, state-run Fars News Agency reported that the “signing of an agreement between Iran and North Korea to confront cyber-attacks has raised concerns in the west.”

The Way Forward

Access to free, safe and secure Internet is now a new battleground pitting the people against the regime. Data show nearly 48 million Iranians have smartphones and about 50 percent have access to the Internet. As the call for freedom and regime change grows louder in Iran, it is crucial to understand how the international community could stand on the side of the pro-democracy movement by implementing effective measures to curb and confront the regime’s cyberspace repression of the Iranian people. That outcome requires designation of all entities and individuals in Iran engaged in cyber warfare, including enforcing Executive Order 13606.

This order of President Obama’s from April 22, 2012, prohibits any entity to facilitate the Iranian regime in its “computer and network disruption, monitoring, and tracking” and “or otherwise provided, directly or indirectly, goods, services, or technology” that can be used to “enable serious human rights abuses by or on behalf of the Government of Iran.”

Successful cyber warfare against the Iranian regime requires a comprehensive and decisive policy to include the full implementation of the current sanctions against the IRGC and its front companies, as well as measures necessary to evict the IRGC from the regional countries, especially Syria. Finally, the resistance should be offered cyber technology from the West.

The Ladies vs. the Mullahs

January 14, 2018

The Ladies vs. the Mullahs, American ThinkerManda Zand Ervin, January 14, 2018

The theocratic tyranny in Iran is, by all definitions, international laws and United Nations resolutions, a gender apartheid regime, vehemently and actively opposed by the people of Iran.  Isn’t it past time for Western democracies and women to cease support for Tehran?  Instead, shouldn’t support go to the legacy of the Ladies’ Secret Societies and the brave women who are its descendants?

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No one knows her name, but a young Iranian woman waving a white scarf has become a symbol of almost forty years of struggle by Iranian women, protesting the gender apartheid that clerics brought to our country, overnight, in the winter of 1979.  She waved a white scarf in the air as a symbol of peaceful defiance and a campaign, #MyStealthyFreedom, of women fighting for their right to feel the wind in their hair in Iran, the country of my birth.

The reaction of the paramilitary forces of the regime has not been so peaceful, with this young woman allegedly detained and other protesters killed by the dictatorial theocracy of Iran, which demands that women cover their hair.

The young woman’s struggle is part of a longer battle that Iranian women and men have fought against the Shia clergy’s thirst for power and wealth since the 1840s, when a band of organizations, the Ladies’ Secret Societies, emerged to take Iran back from occupying clergy.  They prevailed with the 1906 Constitutional Revolution that established a secular system of governance and separation of religion and state.  They hearkened back to a secular philosophy that has defined the Persian Empire since the year 539 B.C., when the emperor of Persia, Cyrus the Great, wrote the first proclamation of human rights and separation of religion from the state.

However, a few clerics, like the ayatollah Khomeini, would not give up.  He knew that the Iranian people did not want clerical rule and that he would never be able to take over Iran through a democratic process.  Khomeini needed America’s power and shopped for the support of U.S. presidents, beginning by writing to John F. Kennedy but succeeding only in fooling former president Jimmy Carter’s administration, which took the bait and helped Khomeini take Iran in 1979.

Today, the people of Iran call the ideology that controls every aspect of their lives “political Islam.”  You cannot convince a single Iranian that his dictatorial rulers care about Iran and Iranians.  Khomeini told us, “Iran is only a base and financial source for us to establish the rule of Islam throughout the world.”

The uprisings of the people of Iran, trending now with the hashtag #IranProtests, are nothing new.  The women of Iran have been fighting since the day Khomeini announced the imposition of his regressive sharia law on the people, making the free and equal women of Iran and their children property of men, perhaps better defined as “slaves.”  We marched day after day, in the rain and snow, with little support from the West.  I lost friends to prison, assassination, and exile.  My father begged me to go into exile, and I did, fleeing with my young daughter, tears in our eyes.

Iranians endured eight years of a bloody and inhumane war between Khomeini and Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, with an estimated one million young boys and men of Iran dying.

The women of Iran have constantly protested in defiance of sharia laws, to be arrested, tortured, and abused in prisons.

In 1998, Tehran University students rose up in protest, in support of a professor who was fired and replaced by an illiterate, elderly cleric.  The protests lasted for weeks and ended with over 8,000 dead young students of Iran, with unknown numbers in prisons.

During the decades of 1990s and the 2000s, as the West entertained handpicked presidents of Iran, the women of Iran continuously demonstrated for their human rights and were beaten, arrested, and imprisoned.

On Sept. 18, 2001, defying the regime’s warnings and pressure, brave Iranians were the only people in the Middle East to hold a candlelight vigil in solidarity with America.  The thousands who marched peacefully down one of the main boulevards of Tehran were brutally attacked by Revolutionary Guards and paramilitary forces.  Many paid a high price for their bravery.  They were arrested and hauled off to prison.

In 2006, women organized a march and handed out 5,000 brochures that explained that sharia laws imprison the people.  They were attacked and arrested.

In 2007 and 2008, women began the One Million Signature Movement, a petition against sharia laws.  In one week, more men and women volunteered to collect signatures in every city of Iran.  The One Million Signature Movement brought to life the brave women of Iran, who quickly established organizations and websites.  But the inevitable happened.  In the early morning, paramilitary forces kicked in the doors to the women’s homes and beat them up in front of their husbands and children before taking them away to prison with their collected signatures.

In 2008, many Iranians, backed by world human rights organizations, proposed that the Nobel Peace Prize be given to the women of Iran for the One Million Signature Movement for courageous acts of defending human rights.  The academy gave it, instead, to the new president of the United States.

The next year, fearless women led the Green Movement of the people of Iran.  All they wanted was for Western democracies to stop empowering the dictatorial regime.  For days, they chanted, “Obama!  Obama!  Are you with them or with us?”  The world watched, mostly in silence, as they were killed.  I gasped in horror as I watched a young woman activist, Neda Agha-Soltan, take her last breaths after being shot by a sniper in a video captured by her friends.  Obama decided to stay aligned with the gender apartheid tyrants of Iran.

The theocratic tyranny in Iran is, by all definitions, international laws and United Nations resolutions, a gender apartheid regime, vehemently and actively opposed by the people of Iran.  Isn’t it past time for Western democracies and women to cease support for Tehran?  Instead, shouldn’t support go to the legacy of the Ladies’ Secret Societies and the brave women who are its descendants?

Manda Zand Ervin is a human rights activist, born in Iran and living in exile in the United States.  She is the author of the forthcoming book The Ladies’ Secret Societies.

We Need Regime Change in Iran

January 12, 2018

We Need Regime Change in Iran, PJ MediaMichael Ledeen, January 11, 2017

(Please see also, What we Have Learned From the Iran Protests. — DM)

(AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

The White House and Congress are trying to legislate policy on Iran. It’s a good idea, since, unless you think press releases and speeches constitute policy, we don’t have one at this potentially world-changing moment. Nor will legislation regarding the JCPOA (aka the Iran Nuclear Deal) give us the sort of policy we need. We need action now, not a law about what we can or cannot do some years from now.

The debate over renewal of sanctions is paradoxically important, but irrelevant to this revolutionary moment. Sanctions are excellent but they are slow — their impact takes time to take effect. Iran’s regime is both challenged in the streets and torn apart by internal strife (see my many essays on “the war of the Persian succession”).

The policy we need, fiercely and fast, is to support the Iranian revolutionaries. There are several ways to do it and we should do them all. They are said to be starving, so airlift food to them. It would be delightfully appropriate to seize some of Supreme Leader Khamenei’s stolen loot, buy food with it, and then deliver it to the revolutionaries via drone or parachute.

Whenever the insurrectionaries are asked what they need, they invariably tell you “communications,” which means they need a way to sabotage the regime’s stranglehold on digital networks. Developing such capacity will not only further regime change in Iran today, it will help us deal with China and Russia as well. It also helps our words of support reach a wider audience inside the country at the same time that it demonstrates our ability to support free speech within the repressive Islamic Republic.

The best way to reach the Iranian people is via our broadcasting networks, including Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. This was an extraordinarily effective instrument in bringing down the failed Soviet system in the Cold War. But over the years, these invaluable tools to expose the failures and evils of dictatorships, and get the dissidents the facts about the situation on the ground throughout the country, have fallen into the wrong hands, and we now need a thorough restaffing. Voice of America’s Farsi service is as often as not anti-American and apologizes for the cruel Khamenei regime. We need more of the sort that so irritated Gorbachev. But there is no sign that such an important move is in the works.

In addition, we must establish a conversation with the revolutionaries. That means that Americans have to meet face to face with Iranian dissidents, just as Americans met with Soviet, Polish and other satellite dissidents in the eighties. A note of caution: we should not send CIA personnel. Many key opposition leaders do not trust the agency, which has a poor track record on Iran. It has rarely foreseen explosive political developments (eg. 2009) and invariably declares that uprisings there are leaderless. They were wrong in 2009, and if I read the American press correctly, they are saying the same wrong thing today. Military intelligence is better, even if Secretary Mattis, like National Security Advisor McMaster and Secretary of State Tillerson, has proven disappointingly risk-averse, timorous even, when it comes to directly challenging the regime and vigorously supporting the freedom fighters.

Back in the Bush days—the W days—I once recommended sending a military officer with lots of medals to talk to the Green leaders. But so far as I know, there has been no communication with the dissidents since the phony 2009 elections.

We need regime change and we need it now. That’s what the president should focus on. And then fight for

The West’s shameful response to the Iran protests

January 9, 2018

The West’s shameful response to the Iran protests | Anne’s Opinions, January 8th 2018

Iran protests continue

In my earlier post about the Iran protests I mentioned the limp response from both Western governments and Western media. Melanie Phillips picks up on the weak institutional response from the West, saying:

… utterly risible the gloss initially put on these protests by the western media – those outlets, that is, that even bothered to report the demonstrations when they first erupted – that the issue which has brought Iranians onto the streets is merely economic privation.

They said this because the media reflects the European/Obama view that the Iranian regime is not an enemy but an ally. How then can they acknowledge that the Iranian people are rising up against oppression?

The Obama/EU axis and its media supporters have consistently dismissed or denied Iran’s role as the world’s principal sponsor of terrorism. They have ignored or downplayed its march to regional hegemony. They procured or applauded the shocking nuclear deal which enables this fanatical Islamist regime –– which has been at war with the west since 1979 and which openly declares its genocidal intent to wipe out out Israel – to become a nuclear armed power in ten or fifteen years’ time: a deal which, though sanctions relief, has also funnelled money to the regime to enable it to step up its terrorism and embed itself further in the region.

The result has not been merely that the free world has been placed in hugely increased danger. The European/Obama axis also abandoned and betrayed the Iranian people who have been suffering under the cruel tyranny of a regime which oppresses women, jails dissidents and hangs gay men from cranes.

If people are to rouse their courage to pit themselves against the might of a regime that can kill and crush them, the support of the rest of the world is absolutely crucial. So far, though, Trump is alone in offering such support. Apart from Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson feebly and pointlessly tweeting his “concern”, Britain and the EU have been silent. They are not supporting the people of Iran against the regime. They are not trying to weaken it. How can they? They have helped empower it. As have their cheerleaders and Obama sycophants in the media.

Melanie Phillips continues on this theme in a further post on Europe’s shameful silence on the Iran protests, in which she also excoriates Barack Obama and his administration for empowering the Ayatollahs through the nuclear deal:

The people have been calling for “Death to Khamenei,” Iran’s supreme leader, “Death to Rouhani,” Iran’s supposedly moderate president, and to “End the clerical regime!” Revolutions against tyrannical oppressors require extraordinary levels of courage and determination. We know from Soviet Union dissidents how desperately such people need to know the world is with them and to hear their oppressors put on notice that their behavior is being watched.

Support for the protestors from London

 

The very worst thing for those pitting their lives against tyranny is silence from the rest of the world. That’s what tyrants depend upon to stamp out the sparks of freedom.

President Trump stepped up to the plate by repeatedly tweeting support and encouragement to the protesters and issuing warnings designed to undermine and weaken the regime.

But from all those progressive folk in the West who never stop parading their anti-fascist credentials and signaling their support for the persecuted and for human rights there has been… silence.

The media tried to dismiss the uprising as merely an economic protest. Instead of condemning the regime for killing and jailing protesters, the media condemned Trump for supporting them.

The British and EU governments, with their vast and sordid financial ties to the regime, have given zero support to the revolt, offering merely bromides about the need to avoid loss of life. In the US, former Obama administration staffers have been desperately playing down the uprising.

Obama’s Middle East coordinator Philip Gordon called on Trump “to keep quiet and do nothing” in response to the protests.

The Iranians, he claimed, wouldn’t want Trump’s support. His threat to end the nuclear deal, his unconditional support for “Iran’s biggest adversaries, Saudi Arabia and Israel” and his recent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would give the Iranians reasons to unite against him.

Gordon thus stupidly conflated the Iranian people with the Iranian regime.

It’s the regime that is against America on all these issues. The Iranian people, by contrast, have no intrinsic prejudice against Israel, have no reason to reject the recognition of Jerusalem and are unlikely to lose sleep over the ending of the nuclear deal, nor America’s alliance with the regime’s foes in Saudi Arabia.

For the protesters were also shouting: “No to Gaza, no to Lebanon! Our life only for Iran!” They don’t support the regime’s aim of regional and global domination. They want Iran to be run for the benefit of Iranians.

For this, they desperately need Trump’s support. They want to know that the US won’t support the regime. Obama did that, and it hurt the Iranian people.

Obama thus bent over backward to give Iran a free pass. According to Politico, his administration stymied an FBI-led operation to shut down Hezbollah’s drug-running, terrorism- financing racket.

In the 2016 prisoner swap deal with Iran, he released several men who his own law enforcement agencies believed posed a danger to national security.

And in the 2009 Green Revolution, Obama abandoned the Iranian people by refusing to give the protesters support.

All of this was to secure the nuclear deal – which has merely empowered Iran to use the money released by sanctions relief to strengthen its terrorist infrastructure and step up its malign and aggressive meddling in the rest of the region.

If the Iranian uprising is stamped out, it will be because of the absence of support from Britain and Europe. Their silence makes them complicit with a genocidal regime at war with the West and has caused them shamefully to betray a brave people fighting for its freedom.

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, himself a former Prisoner of Zion at the hands of the brutal Soviet regime, agrees with the Melanie Phillips’ position, writing in the Washington Post that the West should stop dithering and support the Iranian protestors:

As an opinion piece in the New York Times recently put it, the best way for the U.S. government to help the Iranian protesters is to “Keep quiet and do nothing.”

Fortunately, President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have already shown themselves unwilling to follow this advice. Even so, it is vital to understand why failing to support the protesters at this critical juncture would constitute a moral and strategic mistake — one of potentially historic proportions.

Consider what happened in 2009, when Iranians came out in large numbers to denounce their country’s rigged presidential election. The response they received from the American government was decidedly tepid. The priority of then-President Barack Obama was to reach an agreement with Tehran over its nuclear program, and he and his advisers feared that they would alienate the regime by vocally supporting its detractors.

Yet subsequent events have proved these views completely wrong. This policy of non-interference discouraged protesters and reinforced the regime at the very moment when the opposite could have led to genuine change.

My experiences as a political prisoner and my decades of involvement with democratic dissidents around the world have shown me that all democratic revolutions have some elements in common. It is the drive of ordinary citizens to free themselves from government control over their thought, speech and livelihoods — to shed the burden of having to conform in public despite their private misgivings and grievances against the regime — that has propelled dissidents and revolutionary movements around the world, from Communist Russia to the Arab Spring to today’s Islamic Republic of Iran.

Any regime that refuses to respect its citizens’ most basic rights, and especially the right to think and speak freely, can maintain its power only by intimidation and force.

Dissidents know the penalties of speaking out but are compelled more by the desire for freedom than by fear. They are willing to brave the consequences, including the loss of their livelihoods, physical freedom and even their lives, to gain the liberty to speak their minds. Revolutions take place when enough people simultaneously cross that fateful line between silent questioning and open dissent, between cowering in fear and standing up for freedom. Once they do so, the regime can no longer contain the upsurge of opposition and must either begin to liberalize or collapse.

This is why a policy of silence on the part of world leaders is so misguided. What matters to Iranians debating whether to cross this decisive threshold is how much they dislike their own government, as well as their knowledge that the free world — those who share the basic principles for which they are fighting — stands behind them in their moment of truth.

… Our leaders must not be misled by the argument that publicly siding with Iran’s dissidents will give the regime an excuse to blame the protests on foreign meddling or crack down even harder on dissidents. The government in Tehran will do these things no matter what, since a regime as threatened as Iran’s is right now will take any steps in its power to deflect and suppress opposition.

Yet, world powers should go even further than this. They should warn Tehran — and thereby reassure protesters — that it must respect its citizens’ rights if it wishes to continue receiving benefits from their countries. Articulating a clear policy of linkage would put pressure on the regime to make genuine changes and give hope to protesters that their sacrifices will not be in vain.

These sterling words from Natan Sharansky stand in stark contrast to the utterly pathetic reaction from Britain’s establishment, particularly the Labour Party whose leader has never met a terrorist he couldn’t like.

Here’s a tweet from a spoof Jeremy Corbyn account, but the link is no spoof:

And more:

Even the leftist Independent calls on Britain to support the protestors and condemns the equivocation of the Labour Party:

Anyone with a conscience, meanwhile, knows that the Iranian government hangs gay people, tramples on women’s rights, has a poor human rights record and sponsors terrorism. It is not difficult, in a contest between such a regime and the right to free expression, to know which side is wearing the whiter hat.

Ms Thornberry’s warning that Westerners should not “simply impose our views” on other countries is the most appalling moral cowardice. There is nothing “Western” about universal human rights, and all representatives of the British people should stand up for them.

But let’s not just concentrate on the Labour Party who, after all, are not in power. What about the British government itself?

Allister Heath in the Telegraph laments Britain’s non-response:

What’s wrong with us? Why isn’t there loud, universal support from all shades of political opinion, in Britain and across the West, for the anti-regime protesters in Iran? Why such reluctance to encourage these brave young men and women who are risking their lives by taking on the theocrats?

Have we forgotten the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, or is it that our elites are now so embarrassed by Western values that they can no longer relate to those in other countries who also yearn for freedom and democracy?

Scandalously, but unsurprisingly, Mr Corbyn has yet to speak out about the protests: he was quick to condemn Donald Trump’s commonsensical recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but has nothing to say about the murder of dozens of Iranians.

So much for the hard-Left. Why are the Tories and the (clearly hopeless) Foreign Office almost as silent, in effect aligning themselves with the worst of European foreign policy, despite the liberating potential of Brexit?

Why has Boris Johnson been so uncharacteristically mealy-mouthed? Why is the British government still clinging to the absurd notion that the Iranian nuclear deal was a good idea, rather than a shameful exercise in appeasement which ended up propping up an illegitimate regime while lining the pockets of a few European companies?

I understand that Boris feels he must tread carefully after the disastrous Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe affair, but it is deeply disappointing that Mr Trump’s foreign policy towards Iran is far more ethical than Britain’s. We need a Kennedy-esque oration, a “we are all Tehranis” moment from our Foreign Secretary to give the rebels the kind of moral support they desperately need.

The Americans get this: Mr Trump – yes, Trump, the president despised by so-called liberals the world over – has adopted exactly the right tone in recent days, and Nikki Haley, his ambassador to the UN, has been superb and now looks like a future Republican presidential contender.

The reality is that there is no moral ambiguity when it comes to the Iranian protests, no shades of grey, no trade-off to be had for reasons of realpolitik. There are the good guys – the young, brave counter-revolutionaries seeking to overthrow the brutes who have ruled their country for so long – and then there is the regime, a barbaric and corrupt mob that has brought a once great society to its knees.

The protests were precipitated by economic chaos, as is often the case, but quickly mutated into open attacks on the regime. … In social terms, there has been an explosion in drug abuse, mental illness, depression and atomisation.

Most encouragingly, the protesters are furious that the regime is spending so much on financing terrorism and on its wars in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen, rather than on its own people. They have been saying so, clearly, in demonstrations around the country.

This remarkable message – a powerful counter-blast to the pernicious idea that the Middle East is somehow different, that none of its people want democracy, individual liberty or toleration – is far more radical than the demands made during the 2009 uprising. If any country is ready for a real dose of modernisation, it’s Iran.

True, the protesters are disorganised and they disagree about much, but they deserve our support, and that of all of the global bodies supposedly concerned with human rights which have been pretending not to notice what has been going on (they are only interested in the “right” kinds of rights violation, that is those by Western countries).

We cannot be sure that a new, successful counter-revolution would not lead to chaos, but Iran doesn’t need an authoritarian regime to prevent tribal warfare and the Islamists are totally discredited, so the omens are better than they were in Afghanistan or Libya.

What is certain is that we’ve failed the Middle East appallingly in recent decades. We mustn’t also betray Iran again. Its dissidents need a clear signal that the world would be delighted to work, when the time is right, with a new government in Tehran. Foreign Secretary, are you listening?

The only foreign representative who does seem to be listening and is not afraid to express an opinion is the US Ambassador to the UN who overtly threatened the Iranian regime:

Let’s just hope that the world does not restrict itself to just “watching”.

Iranian Resistance Sends a Message to the UN Security Council

January 5, 2018

Iranian Resistance Sends a Message to the UN Security Council, Iran News Update, January 5, 2018

(Please see also, Russia: US demand for UN meeting on Iran is ‘destructive’.  The Iranian Resistance movement does not have a chance at the UN. — DM)
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INU – On January 5, 2018, the Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran issued an important statement regarding the today’s UN Security Council session on the current uprising against the Iranian regime, the following is the full text of the statement:

Security Council upbraids Iran regime for mass murder and arrest of protesters

  • Legitimate right of people to overthrow religious fascism and establishment of democracy must be recognized

The Iranian Resistance asks today’s UN Security Council to defend the legitimate and natural right of the Iranian people to overthrow the religious fascism ruling Iran and to achieve the freedom they have been uprising for, and to strongly condemn and hold accountable the mullahs’ regime for killing defenseless and unarmed demonstrators; measures that are a clear indication of a crime against humanity, and confronting them is  the responsibility of the United Nations Security Council.

According to reliable reports obtained by the Iranian Resistance, at least 50 demonstrators have been martyred by the direct fire of the Revolutionary Guards since the beginning of the uprising (during eight days) and more than 3,000 have been arrested. Children and teenagers as young as 12 or 13 years old are among the martyrs. The actual number of martyrs and arrestees is much more; a reality that the Iranian regime is trying hard to hide.

The clerical regime has blocked social networks in Iran since the first days of the uprising and cut off the Internet or has boosted severe restrictions on it. The IRGC commander, major general Jaafary, and the Minister of Communications, Azari Jahromi, and many other officials in the clerical regime officially acknowledged cutting off internet communications and announced that they would continue it until the unrest ends.

Welcoming the convening of today’s UN Security Council on Iran’s uprising, the Iranian Resistance emphasizes the need for the following actions to be taken by the UN Security Council:

  1. Recognizing the legitimate right of the people of Iran to overthrow the ruling religious fascism and establish freedom and sovereignty of the people.
  2. Strongly condemning and holding accountable the Iranian regime for massacre and mass arrests of defenseless and unarmed protesters.
  3. Sanctioning the regime for the systematic violations of human rights, including the 1988 massacre and the killings during current uprising.
  4. Condemning cutting off the Internet and social networks, and ensuring the free access of the public to the Internet.
  5. Enforcing binding decisions for the release of thousands of arrested demonstrators and for establishing a monitoring system; and warning the Iranian regime that more serious actions will be taken should such trend continues.

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran

January 5, 2018

International Responses to Iran’s Mass Protests are Beginning to Emerge

January 3, 2018

International Responses to Iran’s Mass Protests are Beginning to Emerge, Iran News Update, January 3, 2018

Perhaps equally important is the escalation in the overall tone of protesters’ messages, respective to the 2009 demonstrations. While the earlier movement was primarily focused on the disputed reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, current slogans include calls for “death to the dictator,” in reference to Supreme Leader Khamenei and, by extension, the entire system of clerical rule.

It is reasonable to conclude that the suppression of previous demonstrations combined with the regime’s inability or unwillingness to address the underlying grievances is leading a growing number of Iranians to the conclusion that regime change is a necessary prerequisite for the improvement of their own future prospects.

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INU – International coverage of Iran’s nationwide protests continued on Tuesday and began to display common narratives as the demonstrations entered their sixth day. The initial protests in the city of Mashhad, allegedly organized around economic issues by conservative opponents of President Hassan Rouhani, led to unexpected expansion in both the geographic and ideological scope of subsequent gatherings. This in turn led to highly predictable government crackdowns, resulting in numerous arrests and several deaths.

CNBC was among the outlets to report that nine people had been killed in the midst of the demonstrations on Monday night. One hundred people were reportedly arrested that night in the capital city of Tehran alone, after 250 others had been arrested in the same locality over the previous two nights. Figures for the total numbers of deceased and arrested protesters appeared more inconsistent as of Tuesday. It was generally agreed that the nine deaths from the previous night had raised the total to more than 20.

Al Jazeera placed the figure at 22 and also reported that at least 530 people had been arrested. But the National Council of Resistance of Iran, drawing upon its intelligence network inside the Islamic Republic, specified higher figures in both instances, saying that at least 30 people had been killed and 663 arrested. The NCRI also provided a breakdown on the location of a number of these arrests, in addition to the 450 that took place in Tehran.

That breakdown demonstrates one key fact that has been widely observed about the current wave of protests: they are different from the 2009 Green Movement and generally unusual among Iranian protest movements insofar as they are not geographically diffuse, involving a number of rural areas that are considered to be conservative strongholds rather than being focused primarily on socially progressive urban areas like Tehran.

In fact, Iranian officials appear to have responded to the growing protests in part by insisting that their original economic focus remained the only significant driving force and that the demonstrations held limited appeal in the capital and in other major cities apart from Mashhad.

Following the first day of protests, it was reported that Tehran officials had declared that only 50 people attended a local gathering and that most of them dispersed immediately following police warnings. Similar messaging seemed evident in quotations cited in the Los Angeles Times, with officials asserting that despite 450 arrests in three days, the demonstrations in the capital were naturally dying down. Those remarks went on to speculate that the rest of the country would soon follow suit.

The nearly simultaneous claims about mass arrests and waning popularity are not the only instances of self-contradiction in the regime’s response to the protests, Al Jazeera raised this issue in the context of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s personal response to the situation, which emerged for the first time on Tuesday. Khamenei sought to portray the protests as primarily the work of outside agitators. Business Insider quoted him as specifically blaming “wicked enemies backed by westerners, easterners, as well as reactionaries of the region”.

In the first place, his decision to weigh in is at odds with other officials’ attempts to downplay the significance of what is happening. At the same time, Al Jazeera notes that by giving credit to foreign infiltrators for such widespread demonstrations, Khamenei is contradicting the regime’s official position that such infiltrators have little real influence in the Islamic Republic. In fact, Al Jazeera asserts that the latter position is correct and that Khamenei’s claims regarding a foreign hand in the protests are not at all credible.

This, of course, is not to say that there hasn’t been an outpouring of foreign interest as the demonstrations have stretched on. Neither does this observation lead to the conclusion that foreign support for a domestically-driven movement hasn’t been welcomed by Iranian activists. Indeed, aBBC report consisting of direct commentary from Iranian citizens includes one quotation embracing the supportive remarks delivered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu via Instagram.

The Iranian activist, identified only as Zahi, addressed Netanyahu directly and then turned his attention to other countries: “Thanks a lot for supporting the oppressed. I expect the same from all other countries. This cruel regime is harsh on its own people. We shouldn’t be under batons and bullets. This isn’t our destiny. We have the right to protest and we ask other countries to support us.”
Netanyahu’s use of social media to express support for the protest movement was predictably emulated on Twitter by US President Donald Trump, who has posted on the topic several times since the demonstrations started. His messages repeated familiar condemnations of the Iranian regime and praised the Iranian people for speaking out about the misappropriation of their wealth for terrorism and projects of regional intervention. These issues had previously been raised by many of the protestors themselves with slogans such as “forget about Syria; think about us!”

Apart from offering personal support for the protesters’ cause, Trump has also overseen responses from the White House that are passing through more official channels. ABC News reported on Tuesday that the administration was keeping up pressure to prevent Iran from blocking the social media platforms that have been used as effective organizing tools for the ongoing demonstrations. The Associated Press added that the White House was actively encouraging Iranian citizens to use virtual private networks in order to evade some of the new blockages that the Iranian government is imposing on specific websites.

Both outlets quoted Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein as saying that the US has “an obligation not to stand by.” He added, “We want to encourage the protesters to continue to fight for what’s right and to open up Iran.”

Much of the international press has criticized President Trump over his direct commentary on the protests, suggesting that any American effort to influence their trajectory would feed into the Iranian supreme leader’s efforts to discredit the demonstrations as the work of foreign agents. Nevertheless, many of the same outlets have expressed earnest support for what the Trump administration is doing at the policy level, as opposed to at the level of pure public relations.

The Atlantic, for instance, insisted that any active American interference would help hardliners, but then advocated for Western powers the help facilitate the free flow of communication within Iranian society. Also, in an interview with PBS NewsHour, Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace recommended that the US could help to inhibit Iran’s ability to control communication, adding that one way of doing this would be by censuring any information technology companies that provide Iranian leaders with the tools to limit access within their country.

Sadjadpour also highlighted the considerable impact that the continued flow of information could have on the future of the still-emerging movement, which has reportedly been spreading in absence of centralized leadership or specific, across-the-board demands. He pointed out that whereas Twitter had been a highly successful organizing force in the 2009 Green Movement protests, those protests took place at a time when only one million Iranians could access the platform via smartphones. Today, 48 million Iranians have such devices.

The continued use of those devices as organizational tools would no doubt contribute to a situation that the BBC described as an “unpredictable challenge” for the ruling regime. The BBC also observed on Tuesday that momentum was still building for the grassroots movement. According to theIndependent, that momentum is such that protesters in some areas have actually overpowered security forces and members of the basij civilian militia, disarming and dispersing some of the forces that might otherwise have violently repressed the gatherings.

Of course, it is still widely expected that state authorities will implement a campaign of such repression on the orders of the supreme leader. Sadjadpour noted that the weeks-long protests in 2009 were a case study in the regime’s highly developed capacity for violent repression, which has likely grown since then. And the Washington Post described the office of the supreme leader as having “many loyal and ruthless troops at his disposal.”

This fact, combined with the lack of any notable defections near the top of the regime, leads the Washington Post to conclude that the current demonstrations are unlikely to lead directly to a political tipping point. But the same report suggests that the suppression of those demonstrations will lead to the later recurrence of the same. Other outlets agree with this assessment, and Reuters cited the likelihood of repression leading to further protests as one of the main points of interest for Western leaders who are watching the situation unfold.

Perhaps equally important is the escalation in the overall tone of protesters’ messages, respective to the 2009 demonstrations. While the earlier movement was primarily focused on the disputed reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, current slogans include calls for “death to the dictator,” in reference to Supreme Leader Khamenei and, by extension, the entire system of clerical rule.

It is reasonable to conclude that the suppression of previous demonstrations combined with the regime’s inability or unwillingness to address the underlying grievances is leading a growing number of Iranians to the conclusion that regime change is a necessary prerequisite for the improvement of their own future prospects.

Would Iranians really bring back the Shah?

January 3, 2018

Would Iranians really bring back the Shah? American ThinkerMonica Showalter, January 3, 2017

[T]here once was another Iran, one where women had freedoms; living standards were rising; human rights were improving (he learned that the Shah’s much vilified SAVAK secret police, for instance, committed far fewer crimes than Soviet-linked propagandists had claimed); and the country was integrated with, not isolated from the world community.  The Shah, Cooper argued, really did want to see his country advance in the world, and he enacted many democratic reforms.

Is it really that far-fetched that the [deceased] Shah[‘s son, Reza Pahlavi] might be seen as a legitimate alternative for Iran?  Not with these current things going on.  Right now, U.S. policymakers should be ignoring the Stanford establishmentarian elites on Iran and reading Cooper’s book as fast as they can.

He appears to have no ulterior motive other than doing what he can to help his countrymen in Iran and his willingness to become the necessary catalyst to dislodge the current brutal regime.  Reza Pahlavi wants the Iranian people to rise up against the regime and establish a parliamentary democracy based on democratic values, freedom, and human rights.

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Pundits have marveled at what a big surprise it is that ordinary Iranians have revolted against the mullahs.  It’s a surprise to them, but no surprise to American Thinker’s readers, whose Iranian contributors have kept us posted for years about what is really going on in Iran.

Just look at these pieces by Hamid BahramiReza ShafieeHassan MahmoudiAmil Imani, and Shahriar Kia.  Over and over again, these writers warned there is a problem, and now Iranians’ protests against corruption, soaring prices, environmental ruin, Revolutionary Guards thuggery, poverty, and bank collapses have become the “surprise” story of the day.

One writer at Politico correctly noted that the “surprise” stems from reporters covering only Tehran’s elites, not the doings in the hinterlands.  The hinterlands, of course, are where the trouble started, beginning in Mashhad, and these are the parts of the country American Thinker’s writers have been bringing us information on.  These writers showed long ago that what we are seeing now isn’t your garden-variety protests of city elites seeking “reform” or “fair elections.”  These protests are smaller, but they’re the real kind, revolutionary ones, actual calls for the overthrow of the regime and the initiation of a new government.  Protests now aren’t coming from the comfortable elites who just want a little bit of tweaking.

Now with eyes on Iran, one essay, published six months ago at American Thinker, stands out: Amil Imani’s piece titled “Is Reza Pahlavi the Only Hope to Overthrow the Mullahs?

On the surface, it sounds ridiculous that anyone would want to bring back a king, even as a constitutional monarch in a democracy.  But it’s real.  Here is an account by Voice of America about the rise of the late Shah’s son, Reza Pahlavi, a smart, photogenic, democracy-oriented leader, waiting in the wings as an alternative to the corrupt, sneering mullahs.

 As Imani noted:

Reza Pahlavi is the son of the late Shah of Iran.  I have never had the honor of meeting or speaking with him, although I judge any man based on what he says and what he does.

As I watched this man grow and become a seasoned politician, my admiration for him grew stronger.  In my opinion, Mr. Pahlavi has become the very asset that the opposition has needed for many years.

He appears to have no ulterior motive other than doing what he can to help his countrymen in Iran and his willingness to become the necessary catalyst to dislodge the current brutal regime.  Reza Pahlavi wants the Iranian people to rise up against the regime and establish a parliamentary democracy based on democratic values, freedom, and human rights.

American Thinker’s writers, most recently Hassan Mahmoudi, have noted that in the shouted slogans in the crowds, many were calling for the return of the Shah.  Russian propaganda organ Sputnik has noted the phenomenon in the streets, too.

It’s worth noting that kings are easily understood by average people and for that reason have appeal, especially in light of the failure of the current regime.

I have one story of my own that suggests that a return to the Shah may not be as far-fetched as it seems.

An old friend, Andrew Scott Cooper, spent years of research to write a fascinating scholarly book about the last days of the shah of Iran, titled The Fall of Heaven, published by Henry Holt & Co. last year.  He actually managed to reach and interview the former shabanu, or, queen, of Iran, Farah Diba, who was living in exile in Europe.  From that, he wrote a fascinating, unique account of the Shah’s last days, largely told through her eyes.

It was a sympathetic analytic history, intended, as he told an audience at the Nixon Library last year, to show that there once was another Iran, one where women had freedoms; living standards were rising; human rights were improving (he learned that the Shah’s much vilified SAVAK secret police, for instance, committed far fewer crimes than Soviet-linked propagandists had claimed); and the country was integrated with, not isolated from the world community.  The Shah, Cooper argued, really did want to see his country advance in the world, and he enacted many democratic reforms.

Naturally, saying something out of the ordinary, or contradicting the conventional wisdom, is a good way to get panned, and so publication of the book was followed by several critical book reviews – in the top papers, often by Iranian-Americans affiliated with the elite establishment centers of Iran research, such as Stanford.  These were scholars who had an interest in maintaining the conventional wisdom and who may have had interests getting contracts from the mullahs.  These are the same people whom policymakers and newspaper editors tend to consult as experts and were the people who said all was well; just stay out of Iranian affairs and let them handle it.  In addition, there was a creepy campaign on Amazon to drive down the ratings of the book by similar people who had never even read it – and Amazon put a stop to it.  What this all showed is that there existed a large entrenched establishment with an interest in maintaining the status quo, and its operators were aghast at the idea – now being shouted in the streets of Iran – that maybe bringing back the Shah could be good.  Of course, they hated this louche idea.

But this came against another subplot of the publishing of this book, which was that a hell of a lot of those books, thousands of them (showing Iranians their own history and teaching them that Iran was once a very different place), somehow got smuggled into Iran, and the locals lapped them up.

As a result of this, within a few days, a full Farsi translation of the book will be coming out, which should stoke conversation about this in Iran even further, given the interest shown.  Publishers don’t publish books in non-Western languages if they don’t think they will sell.  Obviously, the publishers knew that something big is going on and published the costly translation.  Iranians, starved of information about their own history, are likely to lap this up just as they lapped up the English-language version.

Given what is going on in Iran now, call it fat on the fire.

Don’t think there hasn’t been wild interest on this side of the hemisphere, too.  Iranian-Americans on the West Coast flooded an author’s event held at the Nixon Library last year in September, shortly after the publication of Cooper’s book.  It was standing room only, and it’s important to note that the Nixon Library is not all that close to where most Iranian-Americans live in the Los Angeles area, which is Beverly Hills and its outskirts.  The Nixon Library is about an hour’s drive away from that in Yorba Linda, Calif., and it’s an arduous drive, through a truck-convoy-route highway.  Here is a photo I took of how the audience that night looked:

Here is Andrew Cooper signing copies of his book – which sold out with a line waiting.

Is it really that far-fetched that the Shah might be seen as a legitimate alternative for Iran?  Not with these current things going on.  Right now, U.S. policymakers should be ignoring the Stanford establishmentarian elites on Iran and reading Cooper’s book as fast as they can.