Archive for the ‘Iranian ideology’ category

Iran: How Will Rafsanjani’s Death Affect Regime?

January 11, 2017

Iran: How Will Rafsanjani’s Death Affect Regime? Iran News Update, January 10, 2017

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In his January 10 article for Al-Arabiya,, Heshmat Alavi, political and rights activist who focuses on Iran, writes about the effect of senior cleric Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s death by heart attack on Sunday, January 8, at the age of 82.

As Rafsanjani was known for his influential role in shaping the regime’s politics following the 1979 revolution, the Iranian regime was dealt a significant blow, and a power vacuum is created, less than four months prior to crucial presidential elections.

Rafsanjani’s role for the past 38 years helped maintain the regime’s measures of domestic crackdown, export of terrorism and extremism abroad, and their effort to obtain nuclear weapons, according to Alavi. 

“The death of Rafsanjani, one of the pillars of the religious fascism ruling Iran and its balance factor collapsed, and the regime in its entirety is closer now to its overthrow,” said Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi, President of the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

After Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, Rafsanjani served as president from 1989 to 1997. He ran again for office again in 2005, but lost the election to firebrand Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In recent years, Rafsanjani has been mentoring the so-called “moderate” Iranian President Hassan Rowhani, and was known for his fierce rivalry with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Although known for his close ties to the regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini, who died in 1989, the West believed him to be a “pragmatic conservative” willing to mend fences with the outside world, especially the US.

Rafsanjani’s last post was head of the Expediency Council, a body assigned to resolve conflicts between the regime’s parliament (Majlis) and the Guardian Council, which has close links to Khamenei, and vets all candidates based on their loyalty to the establishment before any so-called elections. Rafsanjani himself was disqualified by the Guardian Council when he sought to participate in the 2013 elections as a “reformist” candidate.

Instead, Rafsanjani placed his power behind Rowhani after the latter assumed power as president in 2013.  Rafsanjani used this position to “carve himself and his family an economic empire from the country’s institutions and natural resources in the past decades,” writes Alavi.

“One brother headed the country’s largest copper mine; another took control of the state-owned TV network; a brother-in-law became governor of Kerman province, while a cousin runs an outfit that dominates Iran’s $400 million pistachio export business; a nephew and one of Rafsanjani’s sons took key positions in the Ministry of Oil; another son heads the Tehran Metro construction project (an estimated $700 million spent so far),” states a 2003 Forbes analysis, which also alludes to the billions cached in Swiss and Luxembourg bank accounts by the Rafsanjanis.

While the West was convinced that Rafsanjani was more moderate than his “hardline” counterparts, he went along with them in suppressing dissidents, namely members and supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the main opposition group that first blew the whistle on Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program.

“Four rulings are a must for the [PMOI]: 1- Be killed. 2- Be hanged. 3- Arms and legs be amputated. 4- Be separated from society,” Rafsanjani said back in 1981. He also played a presiding role in the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners.

During his presidency, Rafsanjani allegedly directed numerous assassinations of dissidents abroad, including renowned human rights advocated Dr. Kazem Rajavi, former Iranian ambassador to Italy Mohammad Hossein Naghdi and Iranian Kurdish leader Abdulrahman Ghassemlou.  He was also indicted for his role in the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires that left 85 killed and hundreds wounded.

Alavi writes, “Rafsanjani has through four decades of mullahs’ rule in Iran played the role of the regime’s No. 2 figure and a balancing element, always securing the regime’s higher interests. His death will significantly weaken the mullahs’ regime in its entirety and will trigger major upheavals across the regime’s hierarchy.”  He concludes by saying, “If past is any indication, the mullahs will most likely resort to further violence and the export of terrorism and extremism to prevent this newest crisis from spiraling out of control.”

The NCRI referred to Rafsanjani as “one of the two pillars and ‘key to the equilibrium’ of the Iranian regime,” adding that, “during his long career he was associated with some of the regime’s most egregious actions, including mass-casualty terror attacks and the assassinations of exiled dissidents.”

Rafsanjani is considered as one of its founding fathers of the Iranian regime, who played an outsized political role in the life of the Islamic republic, not only by serving as President after serving as Speaker of Parliament and Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces, but also heading two of the regime’s most important institutions, the Assembly of Experts, an 88-member body of top clerics which nominates the Supreme Leader; and the Expediency Council, a body that advises the Supreme Leader.

“Rafsanjani, who had always been the regime’s number two, acted as its balancing factor and played a decisive role in its preservation. Now, the regime will lose its internal and external equilibrium,” opposition leader Maryam Rajavi said in a statement that also referred to the “approaching overthrow” of the clerical regime.

On January 9 the NCRI published a list, outlining some of his outrageous conduct:

• Rafsanjani called for the extermination of members of Iran’s main opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK). On October 3, 1981, the state-run Ettela’at daily wrote, “Referring to the grouplets’ operations, Hashemi Rafsanjani, Speaker of the Islamic Parliament and Tehran’s acting Friday prayer leader, said in his sermon, ‘Divine law defines four sentences for them which must be carried out: 1 – kill them, 2 – hang them, 3 – cut off their arms and legs, 4 – banish them…‘Had we caught and executed 200 of them right after the Revolution, they would not have multiplied so much. If we don’t deal decisively with [Mojahedin] armed grouplet and agents of America and the Soviet Union today, in three years we will have to execute thousands of them instead of one thousand now…”

• According to Hossein-Ali Montazeri, Khomeini’s former heir, Khomeini sought counsel on his decisions from just two individuals: Rafsanjani and current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, including his decision to issue a fatwa ordering the massacre of at least 30,000 political prisoners at the end of the Iran-Iraq war in the summer of 1988.

During Rafsanjani’s tenure as President and as head of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), a body that oversees and authorizes the regime’s terrorist operations, the assassination of Iranian dissidents abroad and the regime’s terror attacks skyrocketed. The terror targets were not only Iranians.

• Rafsanjani’s remarks on May 5, 1989 as carried by Iran’s official state news agency IRNA , and were reported by The Associated Press:: “If in retaliation for every Palestinian martyred in Palestine, they will kill and execute, not inside Palestine, five Americans or Britons or Frenchmen, the Israelis could not continue to do these wrongs… It is not hard to kill Americans or Frenchmen. It is a bit difficult to Kill [Israelis]. But there are so many [Americans and Frenchmen] everywhere in the world.”

• Argentinian investigators implicated Rafsanjani in 2006, in one of the deadliest instances of Iranian terrorism abroad – a suicide truck bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, in which 85 people were killed in 1994.  The investigators accused Iran of instructing Hezbollah to carry out the bombing. They issued arrest warrants for Rafsanjani, seven other senior Iranians, and a Lebanese national, Imad Mughniyah, Hezbollah terrorist chief.

Interpol, at Argentina’s request, issued red notices – the organization’s equivalent of arrest warrants – for five of the Iranians and Mughniyah.

• The FBI established undeniable evidence that Tehran had masterminded the deaths of 19 American servicemen, in the bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia on June 25, 1996.

According to the NCRI, these are some of the most significant killings of prominent dissidents abroad during Rafsanjani’s tenure:

• In 1992, four Iranian Kurdish dissidents in a Berlin restaurant called Mykonos were assassinated. A German court ruled in 1996 that the Iranian regime under Rafsanjani was directly responsible for the killings, which the U.S. State Department said provided further proof that Iran was a terrorist state.

• Maryam Rajavi’s brother-in-law, Kazem Rajavi of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) – Iran’s most renowned human rights advocate and a former Iranian ambassador to the U.N. was shot dead near Geneva in 1990. Swiss investigators accused the Iranian regime of responsibility and authorities issued an arrest warrant for Rafsanjani’s intelligence minister, Ali Fallahian.

• Mohammad Hossein Naghdi, the NCRI representative in Rome, was shot dead on a street in the Italian capital in March 1993.

• Zahra Rajabi, the NCRI’s representative on refugee issues, was shot dead with an NCRI colleague in an Istanbul apartment in February 1996.

Rafsanjani was the one who pushed the Iranian clandestine nuclear weapons program forward as a guarantor of the regime’s survival. He cooperated with countries like North Korea to achieve these objectives.

Rafsanjani acknowledged that during his time as parliamentary speaker and President, both he and Khamenei sought ways to obtain a nuclear bomb in an interview published by the regime’s official state news agency IRNA on October 27, 2015. “Our basic doctrine was always a peaceful nuclear application, but it never left our mind that if one day we should be threatened and it was imperative, we should be able to go down the other path,” Rafsanjani said.  He added he had travelled to Pakistan to try to meet Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, who later helped North Korea to develop a bomb. Fortunately, the meeting never occurred.

Iran opens The City of Games for Revolutionary Children, where children pretend to attack U.S. and Israel

December 8, 2016

Iran opens The City of Games for Revolutionary Children, where children pretend to attack U.S. and Israel, Jihad Watch,

“The children follow various paths simulating fighting the enemy, and at some places, the children learn about simple [combat] methods such as firing plastic artillery shells at a simulated enemy as well as aiming and firing a rifle with plastic bullets at [an effigy] of Netanyahu and at U.S. and Israeli flags.”

How do you think these children will fare against those who are being trained to be sensitive to microaggressions and flee to safe spaces at the slightest sign of challenge?

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“Iran’s Mashhad Municipality Opens Military-Religious Amusement Park – To Reinforce Revolutionary Values For Children,” MEMRI, December 1, 2016 (thanks to Pamela Geller):

On September 24, 2016, the Iranian news agency Raja News, which is close to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), published an interview with Child and the Future Cultural Center director Hamid Sadeghi about an event held during the second half of September that is a military-religious amusement park, called The City of Games for Revolutionary Children. Sadeghi, who operates under the aegis of the Mashhad municipality and also runs the Sharbehesht.ir website, said that his center had set up and inaugurated the City of Games park, and that it is open free of charge to children aged eight through 13. It should be noted that this is the second City of Games event held by the Mashhad municipality; the first was last summer (see MEMRI Special Dispatches – No. 6098, Revolutionary, Anti-West Indoctrination Of Children By Municipality Of Mashhad, Iran, July 08, 2015)….

“Cultural Center director Hamid Sadeghi: “The City of Games for Revolutionary Children [park was opened] at Mashhad’s Kooh Sangi Park by the Child and the Future Cultural Center organization. It will be open September 18 to September 28, and children aged eight to 13 will be admitted free. At the City of Games, we are trying to convey to the children messages about fighting, the Holy Defense [i.e. Iran-Iraq War] and current global issues, through games, amusements, and group activities.

“After registering, the children enter the City of Games compound and split up into groups of eight to 10. They don uniforms and go through 12 [activity] stations.

“One of [our] cultural experts guides the children at the City of Games. First they are brought into the stations of the Ghadir [Shi’ite holiday honoring Imam ‘Ali’s succession to the Prophet Muhammad] and of the Lovers of Ahl Al-Bayt [the family of the Prophet Muhammad descended from ‘Ali], and [the guide] explains to them about the Mahdi [the Shi’ite messiah]. Then they reach the station of the Rule of the Jurisprudent [Velayat-e Faqih], and then the station of the Revolution, where the guide explains about the Islamic Revolution and how the Iranian nation vanquished the [Shah’s] dictatorship. An explanation is also provided about the directives of the Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini and [Supreme] Leader Khamenei. Each group of children is assigned a commander who must be obeyed.

“Next, the children enter the first station of the Holy Defense, which houses the dome of the Tomb of Imam Reza [the eighth imam]. Like the fighters during the eight years of the Holy Defense, the children take leave of the Imam Reza and set out for the [battle]fronts.

“The children follow various paths simulating fighting the enemy, and at some places, the children learn about simple [combat] methods such as firing plastic artillery shells at a simulated enemy as well as aiming and firing a rifle with plastic bullets at [an effigy] of Netanyahu and at U.S. and Israeli flags. Here the guide tells the children a story about some of the operations that were carried out during the eight years of the Holy Defense.

“[After] the children are victorious in the war, they enter the station of the defense of the Shrine of Zaynab [the granddaughter of Muhammad and the daughter of ‘Ali, who according to Shi’ite tradition is buried in Damascus] and learn about defending the holy places, about the fighting in Syria against ISIS, and about anti-ISIS thought. At this stage, the children are tasked with finding bullets, each of which have a single letter written on it, and then play a game to complete sentences according to the guide’s instructions. That is, the guide asks a question and the children have to find letters and make words and sentences out of them to answer his question.

“After that, the children have a contest throwing balls at effigies of ISIS and the Saudi royal family, and finish the station [activity] in triumph. Next they enter an area simulating the Shrine of Zaynab, and watch a video on the defense of the shrine. Finally, they receive a cultural souvenir gift, and then they enter the final stage.

“At the final station, the children learn that the most important element[s] for attaining victory are wisdom and intelligence for fighting the enemy.

“At this station, the children are blindfolded and asked to throw a ball at an Israeli flag in the form of a puzzle and knock it down, and then to assemble a puzzle of an Iranian flag….

Watch What Iran Does, But Also Listen to What They Say

December 8, 2016

Watch What Iran Does, But Also Listen to What They Say, Front Page MagazineKenneth R. Timmerman, December 8, 2016

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We ignore the ideology of the Tehran regime and its long-term goals at our peril. President-Elect Trump needs strategists who think outside the box, one reason I am thrilled by the appointments of Lt. General Mike Flynn as National Security advisor and General James T. Mattis as Secretary of Defense.

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President-Elect Trump will be tested by the Islamic state of Iran soon after taking office on January 20. It could come the very day of his inauguration with an enormous (if superficial) head-fake, as they gave President Reagan by releasing our U.S. diplomat-hostages the very minute he swore the oath of office. Or it could come later, in a less benign form.

But this much is certain: that test will come, and the foreign policy establishment in Washington will fail to see it coming and mistakenly interpret it once it occurs. Again.

Establishment analysts focus on Iran’s actions. In itself, that is not a bad thing, but it’s kind of like buying a peach at an American supermarket because of its wonderful good looks, only to cut it open at home to find it wooden and tasteless.

In addition to examining Iran’s actions, we need to pay close attention to what the Islamic regime’s leaders say. We need to understand their ideology, and their goals. Above all, we must not assume – as most analysts do – that they think using the same cost-benefit calculus we do.

This is a regime driven by ideology, fueled on a vision of the end times just as our sun is fueled by its magma. Only rarely does the fuel erupt and become a measurable “event,” although when that happens, it can be deadly. Scientists have warned for years that our electric power grid is vulnerable not only to man-made Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP), but to a massive coronal ejection from the sun.

In the same way, the United States remains vulnerable to a massive event, potentially devastating, caused by the confluence of the Iranian regime’s ideology and its military capabilities. Like EMP or a massive coronal ejection, such an occurrence will be a low probability-high impact event. Will we detect that confluence before it happens? If the past record of our intelligence community and our political leaders is any guage, the answer is a resounding no.

Here’s why.

Even the best analysts of the foreign policy establishment limit their analysis to the actions and capabilities of the regime. They note, for example, that when the United States Navy retaliated by sinking Iranian warships after the regime’s unpredicted and confusing decision to lay mines in the Strait of Hormuz, the regime leadership backed off.  Operation Praying Mantis is still viewed as a resounding success.

They mistakenly took this to mean that the ruling clerics and the fanatical Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) who serve them respected American power; specifically, that they can be deterred.

They discount the chants of “Death to America” the regime leaders have instilled in the generations of the revolution as so much hot air. It’s just bombast. Nothing to see here. Move along, the analysts say.

As proof there is nothing to this relentless inculcation of the regime’s ultimate goal they point to similar claims involving the military. For decades, military leaders have claimed they were building indigenous fighter jets, helicopters and tanks; none have ever moved beyond a few prototypes.

Iranians are prone to exaggeration, they say. How can you tell an Iranian is lying? Because his lips are moving. I have heard respected U.S. intelligence analysts make such a silly – and dangerous – claim.

And of course, Iranians are prone to exaggeration. That much is true. But even in those exaggerations, they reveal their goals and aspirations, and we simply dismiss them as hot air.

For nearly thirty-five years, IRGC leaders and their clerical puppet-masters have boasted they would drive the United States from the Middle East.

“I can remember my father telling me after the Beirut attack on the U.S. Marines that Iran had won,” the son of former IRGC commander Maj. Gen. Mohsen Rezai told me after he defected to the United States. “He said, with a single bomb, we have forced the Americans to pull out of Lebanon. With a few more bombs, we will force them out of the region entirely.”

Such was their goal at that time, and it remains their goal today—except that they are a lot closer to fulfilling it. What once was a long-term aspiration, which nobody in the Washington policy establishment believed, has become a tactical goal whose accomplishment Iran’s leadership can see on the near horizon.

Ever since October 1983 when the regime ordered its proxies to murder 242 U.S. Marines, they have been probing our weaknesses. That is the only way you can explain the outrageous violation of international law in January 2016 when IRGC gunboats captured U.S. sailors gone adrift at sea and humiliated them in front of cameras.

That’s the only way you can understand the installation of Chinese made C-802 ship-killing missiles on the Red Sea coast of Yemen, where IRGC crews actually fired on a U.S. warship in October.

They are testing us, probing our defenses and our willingness to accept pain. They are constantly evaluating our political resolve to resist their goal of driving us from the region.

Under Obama, of course, they found us sorely lacking. From his first days in office, President Obama told the Iranians openly he would end the long-standing U.S. “hostility” toward the Islamic regime. He wanted to “open a channel” for talks, and did.

Iran’s ruling mullahs quickly decided to test Mr. Obama. When three million Iranians took to the streets of Tehran and other cities to protest the stolen “re-selection” of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad as President, they held up signs in English for the CNN cameras. “Obama are you with us?” they said.

When Obama failed to respond or provide even lip-service to the yearning for freedom of the Iranian people, the regime responded on cue. Regime officials went on state television, pointing to photos of the U.S. president.“Obam’ast,” they said, turning his name into a play on words. “He’s with us.”

And Obama showed by his actions that he was with them. As Congress imposed an ever-rigorous set of sanctions aimed to reducing Iran’s oil exports and access to international financing, Obama initially waived their application. Only a relentless bi-partisan push-back caused him to allow the sanctions go into force – with devastating impact on Iran’s economy.

By 2014, the regime was scrambling, fearful that income from reduced oil exports would not be enough to cover subsidies on basic foodstuffs to the poor, leading their most faithful supporters to revolt.

That is when Obama carried out the most astonishing, unnecessary, unilateral capitulation since Chamberlin went to Munich in 1938, offering to remove the sanctions for a temporary reduction in Iran’s nuclear programs.

The traditional foreign policy establishment and its ally, the pro-Tehran lobby, is holding seminars and writing opeds and whispering into whatever ears they can find that President-Elect Trump must hold on to the nuclear deal.

Why? It’s all about actions, and can be measured. They do not want the President-Elect or his advisors focusing on the intentions and goals of Iran’s clerical leaders and their IRGC enforcers. Because to do so would reveal not just the folly, but the tremendous danger inherent in the nuclear deal, which legitimizes the Islamic state of Iran as a nuclear power ten years down the road.

What’s ten years, when you are staring at all eternity? That’s how Ayatollah Khamenei and the IRGC generals think. That’s how their successors will think, if the current regime remains in power.

Their goal was and remains to erase Israel from the map (or “from the pages of history,” if you want to get literal), and to bring about Death to America. And yet, if there’s any effort underway to measure their progress toward those goals in our intelligence and policy establishment, none of our political leaders have taken it seriously.

We ignore the ideology of the Tehran regime and its long-term goals at our peril. President-Elect Trump needs strategists who think outside the box, one reason I am thrilled by the appointments of Lt. General Mike Flynn as National Security advisor and General James T. Mattis as Secretary of Defense.

The Iranians know there’s not a moment to lose. Do we?