Posted tagged ‘Iranian resistance’

How to Get Out of the Iran Nuclear Deal

August 28, 2017

How to Get Out of the Iran Nuclear Deal, National Review, John R. Bolton, August 28, 2017

(A very dispiriting article appeared at MEMRI today. It notes that

Within three months, the U.S.’s position in the Middle East has changed from one of might and deterrence against Iran to one of weakness, retreat, and being deterred by Iran. This situation, of course, in no way reflects the real balance of power between the U.S. and Iran, neither generally nor regionally. It is an image created jointly by President Trump’s policies and Iran’s offensive approach.

. . . .

It is the approach of the Trump administration – which has agreed to Iran’s regional expansion, under the cover of the war on ISIS – that has prompted this huge shift in the attitude of Iran, which also is relying on Russian backing.

It appears that some in the National Security Council and elsewhere in the Trump administration have intentionally deprived President Trump of information he needs in order to deal resolutely with Iran and Iran scam. –DM)

Although candidate Donald Trump repeatedly criticized Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear agreement, his administration has twice decided to remain in the deal. It so certified to Congress, most recently in July, as required by law. Before the second certification, Trump asked repeatedly for alternatives to acquiescing yet again in a policy he clearly abhorred. But no such options were forthcoming, despite “a sharp series of exchanges” between the president and his advisers, as the New York Times and similar press reports characterized it. 

Many outside the administration wondered how this was possible: Was Trump in control, or were his advisers? Defining a compelling rationale to exit Obama’s failed nuclear deal and elaborating a game plan to do so are quite easy. In fact, Steve Bannon asked me in late July to draw up just such a game plan for the president — the option he didn’t have — which I did.

Here it is. It is only five pages long, but like instant coffee, it can be readily expanded to a comprehensive, hundred-page playbook if the administration were to decide to leave the Iran agreement. There is no need to wait for the next certification deadline in October. Trump can and should free America from this execrable deal at the earliest opportunity.

I offer the Iran nonpaper now as a public service, since staff changes at the White House have made presenting it to President Trump impossible. Although he was once kind enough to tell me “come in and see me any time,” those days are now over.

If the president is never to see this option, so be it. But let it never be said that the option didn’t exist.

I. Background:

The Trump Administration is required to certify to Congress every 90 days that Iran is complying with the July 2015 nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — JCPOA), and that this agreement is in the national-security interest of the United States.1 While a comprehensive Iranian policy review is currently underway, America’s Iran policy should not be frozen. The JCPOA is a threat to U.S. national-security interests, growing more serious by the day. If the President decides to abrogate the JCPOA, a comprehensive plan must be developed and executed to build domestic and international support for the new policy. Under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, the President must certify every 90 days that:

(i) Iran is transparently, verifiably, and fully implementing the agreement, including all related technical or additional agreements;

(ii)  Iran has not committed a material breach with respect to the agreement or, if Iran has committed a material breach, Iran has cured the material breach;

(iii)  Iran has not taken any action, including covert activities, that could significantly advance its nuclear weapons program; and

(iv)  Suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the agreement is – (I)  appropriate and proportionate to the specific and verifiable measures taken by Iran with respect to terminating its illicit nuclear program; and (II) vital to the national-security interests of the United States.

(I)  appropriate and proportionate to the specific and verifiable measures taken by Iran with respect to terminating its illicit nuclear program; and

(II) vital to the national-security interests of the United States.

U.S. leadership here is critical, especially through a diplomatic and public education effort to explain a decision not to certify and to abrogate the JCPOA. Like any global campaign, it must be persuasive, thorough, and accurate. Opponents, particularly those who participated in drafting and implementing the JCPOA, will argue strongly against such a decision, contending that it is reckless, ill-advised, and will have negative economic and security consequences.

Accordingly, we must explain the grave threat to the U.S. and our allies, particularly Israel. The JCPOA’s vague and ambiguous wording; its manifest imbalance in Iran’s direction; Iran’s significant violations; and its continued, indeed, increasingly, unacceptable conduct at the strategic level internationally demonstrate convincingly that the JCPOA is not in the national-security interests of the United States. We can bolster the case for abrogation by providing new, declassified information on Iran’s unacceptable behavior around the world.

But as with prior Presidential decisions, such as withdrawing from the 1972 ABM Treaty, a new “reality” will be created. We will need to assure the international community that the U.S. decision will in fact enhance international peace and security, unlike the JCPOA, the provisions of which shield Iran’s ongoing efforts to develop deliverable nuclear weapons. The Administration should announce that it is abrogating the JCPOA due to significant Iranian violations, Iran’s unacceptable international conduct more broadly, and because the JCPOA threatens American national-security interests.

The Administration’s explanation in a “white paper” should stress the many dangerous concessions made to reach this deal, such as allowing Iran to continue to enrich uranium; allowing Iran to operate a heavy-water reactor; and allowing Iran to operate and develop advanced centrifuges while the JCPOA is in effect. Utterly inadequate verification and enforcement mechanisms and Iran’s refusal to allow inspections of military sites also provide important reasons for the Administration’s decision.

Even the previous Administration knew the JCPOA was so disadvantageous to the United States that it feared to submit the agreement for Senate ratification. Moreover, key American allies in the Middle East directly affected by this agreement, especially Israel and the Gulf states, did not have their legitimate interests adequately taken into account. The explanation must also demonstrate the linkage between Iran and North Korea. We must also highlight Iran’s unacceptable behavior, such as its role as the world’s central banker for international terrorism, including its directions and control over Hezbollah and its actions in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. The reasons Ronald Reagan named Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1984 remain fully applicable today.

We must also highlight Iran’s unacceptable behavior, such as its role as the world’s central banker for international terrorism, including its directions and control over Hezbollah and its actions in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. The reasons Ronald Reagan named Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1984 remain fully applicable today.

II. Campaign Plan Components

There are four basic elements to the development and implementation of the campaign plan to decertify and abrogate the Iran nuclear deal: 1.     Early, quiet consultations with key players such as the U.K., France, Germany, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, to tell them we are going to abrogate the deal based on outright violations and other unacceptable Iranian

1.     Early, quiet consultations with key players such as the U.K., France, Germany, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, to tell them we are going to abrogate the deal based on outright violations and other unacceptable Iranian behavior, and seek their input. 2.     Prepare the documented strategic case for withdrawal through a detailed white paper (including declassified intelligence as appropriate) explaining why the deal is harmful to U.S. national interests, how Iran has violated it, and why Iran’s behavior more broadly has only worsened since the deal was agreed. 3.     A greatly expanded diplomatic campaign should immediately follow the announcement, especially in Europe and the Middle East, and we should ensure

2.     Prepare the documented strategic case for withdrawal through a detailed white paper (including declassified intelligence as appropriate) explaining why the deal is harmful to U.S. national interests, how Iran has violated it, and why Iran’s behavior more broadly has only worsened since the deal was agreed. 3.     A greatly expanded diplomatic campaign should immediately follow the announcement, especially in Europe and the Middle East, and we should ensure

3.     A greatly expanded diplomatic campaign should immediately follow the announcement, especially in Europe and the Middle East, and we should ensure continued emphasis on the Iran threat as a top diplomatic and strategic priority.

4.     Develop and execute Congressional and public diplomacy efforts to build domestic and foreign support.

III. Execution Concepts and Tactics

1.     Early, quiet consultations with key players It is critical that a worldwide effort be initiated to inform our allies, partners, and others about Iran’s unacceptable behavior. While this effort could well leak to the press, it is nonetheless critical that we inform and consult with our allies and partners at the earliest possible moment, and, where appropriate, build into our effort their concerns and suggestions. This quiet effort will articulate the nature and details of the violations and the type of relationship the U.S. foresees in the future, thereby laying the foundation for imposing new sanctions barring the transfer of nuclear and missile technology or dual use technology to Iran. With Israel and selected others, we will discuss military options. With others in the Gulf region, we can also discuss means to address their concerns from Iran’s menacing behavior. The advance consultations could begin with private calls by the President, followed by more extensive discussions in capitals by senior Administration envoys. Promptly elaborating a comprehensive tactical diplomatic plan should be a high priority.

2.     Prepare the documented strategic case The White House, coordinating all other relevant Federal agencies, must forcefully articulate the strong case regarding U.S. national-security interests. The effort should produce a “white paper” that will be the starting point for the diplomatic and domestic discussion of the Administration decision to abrogate the JCPOA, and why Iran must be denied access to nuclear technology indefinitely. The white paper should be an unclassified, written statement of the Administration’s case, prepared faultlessly, with scrupulous attention to accuracy and candor. It should not be limited to the inadequacies of the JCPOA as written, or Iran’s violations, but cover the entire range of Iran’s continuing unacceptable international behavior.

Although the white paper will not be issued until the announcement of the decision to abrogate the JCPOA, initiating work on drafting the document is the highest priority, and its completion will dictate the timing of the abrogation announcement.

A thorough review and declassification strategy, including both U.S. and foreign intelligence in our possession should be initiated to ensure that the public has as much information as possible about Iranian behavior that is currently classified, consistent with protecting intelligence sources and methods. We should be prepared to “name names” and expose the underbelly of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard business activities and how they are central to the efforts that undermine American and allied national interests. In particular, we should consider declassifying information related to activities such as the Iran-North Korea partnership, and how they undermine fundamental interests of our allies and partners.

3.      Greatly expanded diplomatic campaign post-announcement

The Administration, through the NSC process, should develop a tactical plan that uses all available diplomatic tools to build support for our decision, including what actions we recommend other countries to take. But America must provide the leadership. It will take substantial time and effort and will require a “full court press” by U.S. embassies worldwide and officials in Washington to drive the process forward. We should ensure that U.S. officials fully understand the decision, and its finality, to help ensure the most positive impact with their interlocutors.

Our embassies worldwide should demarche their host governments with talking points (tailored as may be necessary) and data to explain and justify abrogating JCPOA. We will need parallel efforts at the United Nations and other appropriate multilateral organizations. Our embassies should not limit themselves to delivering the demarche, however, but should undertake extensive public diplomacy as well.

After explaining and justifying the decision to abrogate the deal, the next objective should be to recreate a new counter-proliferation coalition to replace the one squandered by the previous Administration, including our European allies, Israel, and the Gulf states. In that regard, we should solicit suggestions for imposing new sanctions on Iran and other measures in response to its nuclear and ballistic-missile programs, sponsorship of terrorism, and generally belligerent behavior, including its meddling in Iraq and Syria.

Russia and China obviously warrant careful attention in the post-announcement campaign. They could be informed just prior to the public announcement as a courtesy, but should not be part of the pre-announcement diplomatic effort described above. We should welcome their full engagement to eliminate these threats, but we will move ahead with or without them.

Iran is not likely to seek further negotiations once the JCPOA is abrogated, but the Administration may wish to consider rhetorically leaving that possibility open in order to demonstrate Iran’s actual underlying intention to develop deliverable nuclear weapons, an intention that has never flagged.

In preparation for the diplomatic campaign, the NSC interagency process should review U.S. foreign-assistance programs as they might assist our efforts. The DNI should prepare a comprehensive, worldwide list of companies and activities that aid Iran’s terrorist activities.

4.      Develop and execute Congressional and public diplomacy efforts

The Administration should have a Capitol Hill plan to inform members of Congress already concerned about Iran, and develop momentum for imposing broad sanctions against Iran, far more comprehensive than the pinprick sanctions favored under prior Administrations. Strong congressional support will be critical. We should be prepared to link Iranian behavior around the world, including its relationship with North Korea, and its terrorist activities. And we should demonstrate the linkage between Iranian behavior and missile proliferation as part of the overall effort that justifies a national-security determination that U.S. interests would not be furthered with the JCPOA.

Unilateral U.S. sanctions should be imposed outside the framework of Security Council Resolution 2231 so that Iran’s defenders cannot water them down; multilateral sanctions from others who support us can follow quickly.

The Administration should also encourage discussions in Congress and in public debate for further steps that might be taken to go beyond the abrogation decision. These further steps, advanced for discussion purposes and to stimulate debate, should collectively demonstrate our resolve to limit Iran’s malicious activities and global adventurism. Some would relate directly to Iran; others would protect our allies and partners more broadly from the nuclear proliferation and terrorist threats, such as providing F-35s to Israel or THAAD resources to Japan. Other actions could include:

End all landing and docking rights for all Iranian aircraft and ships at key allied ports;

End all visas for Iranians, including so called “scholarly,” student, sports, or other exchanges;

Demand payment with a set deadline on outstanding U.S. federal-court judgments against Iran for terrorism, including 9/11;

Announce U.S. support for the democratic Iranian opposition;

Expedite delivery of bunker-buster bombs;

Announce U.S. support for Kurdish national aspirations, including Kurds in Iran, Iraq, and Syria;

Provide assistance to Balochis, Khuzestan Arabs, Kurds, and others — also to internal resistance among labor unions, students, and women’s groups; Actively organize opposition to Iranian political objectives in the U.N.

IV. Conclusion

This effort should be the Administration’s highest diplomatic priority, commanding all necessary time, attention, and resources. We can no longer wait to eliminate the threat posed by Iran. The Administration’s justification of its decision will demonstrate to the world that we understand the threat to our civilization; we must act and encourage others to meet their responsibilities as well.

___________________________

1 Although this paper will refer to “the JCPOA,” the abrogation decision should also encompass the July 14, 2015, statement by the Security Council’s five permanent members and Germany, attached as Annex B to Security Council Resolution 2231. The JCPOA is attached as Annex A to Resolution 2231.

Time for US to Support Regime Change in Iran – Raymond Tanter

July 27, 2017

Time for US to Support Regime Change in Iran – Raymond Tanter, Iran News Update, July 27, 2017

(Please see also, US seeks to test Iran deal with its new inspections and The Iran dilemma of the Saudi crown prince. Is a “peaceful transition”  possible? Even if it is not, we should support it. — DM)

When asked whether the Trump administration supports “a philosophy of regime change in Iran, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. would work with Iranian opposition groups toward the “peaceful transition of that government.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) echoed Tillerson’s view, saying “it’s time the Iranian people had a free and open society and a functioning democracy,” effectively a call for regime change.

The Obama quote reassuring the Iranian regime that its survival was not on the table stands in marked contrast to those of Tillerson and McCain, for whom the idea of regime change from the people of Iran is on the table, or at least under the table in and around the Trump White House.

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The following is an op-ed by former US National Security Council staff member Professor Raymond Tanter on Iran policy options for the United States. The article was published on The Hill website on Wednesday, July 26:

The time may be right for President Trump to consider and pursue regime change in Iran. Consider three quotes that provide a way of looking back to look forward:

President Obama in 2013 address to the United Nations:

“We are not seeking regime change, and we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy.”

When asked whether the Trump administration supports “a philosophy of regime change in Iran, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. would work with Iranian opposition groups toward the “peaceful transition of that government.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) echoed Tillerson’s view, saying “it’s time the Iranian people had a free and open society and a functioning democracy,” effectively a call for regime change.

The Obama quote reassuring the Iranian regime that its survival was not on the table stands in marked contrast to those of Tillerson and McCain, for whom the idea of regime change from the people of Iran is on the table, or at least under the table in and around the Trump White House.

On July 1, an event was held in Paris; there, I had conversations with Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas), who explicitly called for regime change from within Iran by supporting Iranian oppositionists, in particular, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

Ditto for other Trump allies, including John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration. On July 1, Bolton, said:

“There is a viable opposition to the rule of the ayatollahs, and that opposition is centered in this room today. I had said for over 10 years since coming to these events, that the declared policy of the United States of America should be … to change the regime itself. And that’s why, before 2019, we here will celebrate in Tehran!”

The Way Forward

“Trump time” suggests a period of analysis of options as the President’s National Security Council reviews Iran policy. The review could present three options to Trump.

First, follow the Obama precedent of reassuring Tehran the United States will not challenge the rule of the unelected Ayatollahs. Trump and the Congress, however, are so strongly opposed to the Iranian regime, they are unlikely to countenance the Obama policy toward Iran, which Trump considers “appeasement.” Obama lost his bet that Iran would moderate its ballistic missile testing, state-supported international terrorism, and human rights violations. His nuclear deal was inconsistent with regime change from within, e.g., via a coalition of dissident groups.

Second, order preparations for the kind of coup d’état the CIA and British MI-6 intelligence service carried out in 1953, which overthrew a democratically-elected government in Iran. “All the Shah’s Men” describes how the coup occurred and the unintended negative consequences for Iranian perceptions of America for changing Iran’s government by covert action.

Indicative of this option is an editorial in The New York Times of July 18, which sounds the alarm that, “A drumbeat of provocative words, outright threats and actions — from President Trump and some of his top aides as well as Sunni Arab leaders and American activists — is raising tensions that could lead to armed conflict with Iran.”

But regime change from within is more than just an American issue. It is a “people of Iran” issue and what they want; it is not about the U.S. military going to war with Iran, as the editorial suggests.

Third, support the pro-democracy coalition of dissidents, the NCRI, which is best able to mobilize other oppositionists into an even wider coalition. Also, there’s a new sheriff in town, President Trump, and he expressed a strong presence in his Riyadh address: Trump the deal-maker but one with core principles like “Drive them out.”

“Drive them out of your places of worship,” Trump said of extremists, “drive them out of your holy land. Drive them out of this earth.”

After the July 1 rally in Paris, Fox News reported the next day the president might defy the Iranian regime by signaling his willingness to look kindly on the resistance: “The Trump administration is potentially considering seeking a strategy to try to topple the regime.” The resistance, however, only needs American political and perhaps economic support to effect “regime change from within.”

Even if he does not go so far as to topple the regime, Trump could increase his leverage against the Ayatollahs by supporting the resistance, conditioned on its continued eschewing of terrorist tactics. Doing so is bound to weaken an already faltering regime. In this respect, the tide is turning against Tehran in favor of the opposition.

The Bottom Line

The Iranian resistance benefits from aligning with the United States because the resistance is firmly in the camp of civilized states and does not commit acts of barbarism. Hence, President Trump is more likely to reach out to the Iranian opposition during his review of Iran policy than did President Obama, who valued the nuclear deal with Tehran too much to jeopardize it by opening up to the resistance.

Dr. Raymond Tanter (@AmericanCHR) served as a senior member on the National Security Council staff in the Reagan-Bush administration and is now Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan.

World’s Rallying Cry: “Free Iran”

July 4, 2017

World’s Rallying Cry: “Free Iran”, Gatestone InstituteMajid Rafizadeh, July 4, 2017

(When will Iran have her own Independence Day? — DM)

“The ruling regime is in disarray and paralyzed as never before. Iranian society is simmering with discontent and the international community is finally getting closer to the reality that appeasing the ruling theocracy is misguided…. Our people want a constitution based on freedom, democracy, and equality…. The sun of change is shining on Iran.”

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“[W]e have a president of the United States who is completely and totally opposed to the regime in Tehran… he completely opposes the Iran nuclear deal signed by his predecessor.” — Ambassador John R. Bolton.

“The fact is that the Tehran regime is the central problem in the Middle East. There’s no fundamental difference between the Ayatollah Khamenei and President Rouhani — they’re two sides of the same coin. I remember when Rouhani was the regime’s chief nuclear negotiator — you couldn’t trust him then; you can’t trust him today. And it’s clear that the regime’s behavior is only getting worse… the declared policy of the United States of America should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran.” — Ambassador John R. Bolton.

Any fundamental change in Iran’s theocratic establishment will reverberate across the region. Many terrorist groups will lose their major financial and weapons support. Syrian dictator Bashar Assad will lose his hold on power, which he has wielded for far too long. Iran’s major player, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which constantly damages the US and its allies’ national interests and incites anti-Semitism, will disappear; Hezbollah will lose its funding; “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” will fade away.

Tens of thousands of people came together in Paris on July 1 from all different corners of the world, to unite against the unspeakable atrocities committed by the Islamist state of Iran. It was the largest gathering of Iranians abroad of its kind.

The conference, organized by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), was spurred by the desire to speak up for human rights, peace, women’s rights, freedom, democracy, and to demand victory over terrorism. Its focus was to generate awareness of the plight of Iran’s innocent and vulnerable citizens, against whom the Iranian government has been wreaking havoc — with no consequences — for decades.

Leaders, journalists, prominent figures from around the world, and scholars joined the rallying cry of “Free Iran”. The array of speakers included several prominent Americans, including former US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; former Attorney General Michael Mukasey; former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge; former FBI Director Louis Freeh, and Congressmen Ted Poe, Robert Pittenger and Tom Garret.

(Image source: Maryam Rajavi video screenshot)

During the eight years of Obama’s appeasement policies towards the Islamist regime of Iran, the mullahs became significantly empowered and emboldened. Iran’s opposition hopes that the appeasement of the theocratic regime in Tehran has come to an end. Ambassador Bolton pointed out:

“[W]e come at a time of really extraordinary events in the United States that the distinguish today from the circumstances one year ago. Contrary to what virtually every political commentator said, contrary to what almost every public opinion poll said, contrary to what many people said around the world, Barack Obama’s first Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is not the president of the United States.

“So for the first time in at least eight years that I’ve been coming to this event, I can say that we have a president of the United States who is completely and totally opposed to the regime in Tehran… he completely opposes the Iran nuclear deal signed by his predecessor.”

The Iranian regime is still the world leading funder of international terrorism, including the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996, the bombings of a U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon in 1983, attacks on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.

It does not matter who the regime’s president is; the core imperialist foreign policy of the Iranian regime is the same as it has been for almost four decades. With the passage of time, particularly since the nuclear agreement gave them an even stronger sense of power, Iran’s regime has become more daring and destructive, leaving multitudes of human rights violations in its wake. As Bolton stated:

“The fact is that the Tehran regime is the central problem in the Middle East. There’s no fundamental difference between the Ayatollah Khamenei and President Rouhani — they’re two sides of the same coin. I remember when Rouhani was the regime’s chief nuclear negotiator — you couldn’t trust him then; you can’t trust him today. And it’s clear that the regime’s behavior is only getting worse: Their continued violations of the agreement, their work with North Korea on nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, only continues to grow.

“And let’s be clear: Even if somebody were to say to you that the regime is in full compliance with the nuclear deal, it doesn’t make any difference. North Korea is already perilously close to the point where they can miniaturize a nuclear weapon, put it on an intercontinental ballistic missile, and hit targets in the United States. And the day after North Korea has that capability, the regime in Tehran will have it as well, simply by signing a check…. that’s why Donald Trump’s views on North Korea are so similar to his views on the regime in Tehran.”

Since 1979, the mullahs and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have significantly expanded their terrorist network to Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon. Iran’s main objective is to impose its Islamist laws and radical ideology on other nations, dominate them, and create an Islamic Caliphate. If the Iranian regime is allowed to continue, especially when it completes its nuclear weapons capability and delivery systems with North Korea’s help, its activities do not look as they will benefit global “health.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich praised the Iranian opposition as a just and pure movement for standing against the Iranian regime: “I am very impressed by the dedication of your movement”. He added, “I come today to bring a very simple message: Iran must be free”. He also praised the leadership of Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI): “She is persistent in difficult times. She is a great leader. I thank each of you on her behalf to help her make her a truly historic figure.”

It is time for the powers of the world and the Iranian opposition to join hands to counter the Iranian regime. As Ambassador Bolton made clear:

“…we must avoid allowing the regime in Tehran to achieve its long-sought objective of an arc of control from Iran, through the Baghdad government in Iraq, the Assad regime in Syria, and the Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon — an arc of control, which if it’s allowed to form, will simply be the foundation for the next grave conflict in the Middle East.

“The regime in Tehran is not merely a nuclear-weapons threat; it’s not merely a terrorist threat; it is a conventional threat to everybody in the region who simply seeks to live in peace and security.

“The regime has failed internationally. It has failed domestically, in economics and politics — indeed its time of weakening is only accelerating, and that’s why the changed circumstances in the United States, I think, throughout Europe and here today, are so important.

“There is a viable opposition to the rule of the ayatollahs, and that opposition is centered in this room today.”

Maryam Rajavi struck a hopeful note for democratic change by saying, as the crowd cheered:

“The ruling regime is in disarray and paralyzed as never before. Iranian society is simmering with discontent and the international community is finally getting closer to the reality that appeasing the ruling theocracy is misguided…. Our people want a constitution based on freedom, democracy, and equality…. The sun of change is shining on Iran.”

Rajavi added that the international community must

“recognize the resistance of the Iranian people to overthrow the mullahs’ religious dictatorship and designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization and evict it from the entire region.”

Any fundamental change in Iran’s theocratic establishment will reverberate across the region. Many terrorist groups will lose their major financial and weapons support. Syrian dictator Bashar Assad will lose his hold on power, which he has wielded for far too long. The major player, Iran’s IRGC, which constantly damages the US and its allies’ national interests and incites anti-Semitism, will disappear; Hezbollah will lose its funding. “Death to America” and Death to Israel” will fade away. The list goes on, and leads to the eventual improvement of all human life, as these atrocities have bled their way into every country.

A united coalition can be a robust force against the ruling mullahs. But it can only be as strong as its members, and their dedication finally to achieve peace in a region that has seen far too much torture and bloodshed. It is the time for the international community and world leaders to join the Iranian opposition, more effectively to counter the Iranian regime.

As Bolton stated:

“The outcome of the president’s policy review should be to determine that the Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1979 revolution will not last until its 40th birthday…. the declared policy of the United States of America should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran. The behavior and the objectives of the regime are not going to change, and therefore the only solution is to change the regime itself.”

With combined, global pressure, this long overdue change can finally become a reality.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He is a Harvard-educated and world-renowned Iranian-American political scientist, business advisor, and author of “Peaceful Reformation in Iran’s Islam“. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu.

Nikki Haley’s Comments on Iran Highlight Russian-Related Complications

June 29, 2017

Nikki Haley’s Comments on Iran Highlight Russian-Related Complications, Iran News Update, Edward Carney, June 29, 2017

On Tuesday, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations delivered testimony to the House panel on foreign operations, a subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee in the US House of Representatives. In that testimony, Haley addressed multiple issues relating to the Islamic Republic of Iran, thereby reasserting the Trump administration’s assertive policies toward the Iranian regime. By most accounts those policies are still emerging, but they have already come to include purposive outreach to other adversaries of the Islamic Republic and a program of expanded sanctions on matters such as Iran’s ballistic missile program.

However, those efforts to confront and contain the Islamic Republic are arguably complicated by other aspects of the Trump administration’s policy commitments, including a focus on domestic issues and an effort to improve relations between the US and Russia, which boasts close relations with Iran in the areas of trade and military cooperation, especially as it relates to the Syrian Civil War.

While the US supports moderate rebel groups fighting against the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad, the Iranians and Russians have been credited with turning the war in favor of Assad. Various Shiite militias are currently operating as proxies for Iran in that war, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is increasingly playing a direct role in the conflict. Meanwhile, Russia has been providing air support for pro-Assad ground operations since 2015.

Western commentators, including officials in the Trump administration, have variously accused Russia and Iran of ignoring or actively facilitating human rights abuses by the Assad regime, including an April chemical weapons attack that killed at least 80 people in a rebel-controlled civilian area.

As the Associated Press points out, Ambassador Haley’s comments to the House panel came shortly after the White House had issued a warning to Syria regarding alleged preparations for another such chemical attack. The article specified that Pentagon officials had confirmed the intelligence underlying that warning, involving particular movements at the same Syrian air base that had been used as the staging area for the previous chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said of Assad that “he and his military will pay a heavy price” if they follow through with apparent plans for another “mass murder attack using chemical weapons.” But the AP quoted Haley as saying that the administration’s remarks were not intended only for Assad, but also for Russia and Iran. Both of the Syrian allies joined in denying Assad’s responsibility for the attacks, with some officials insisting that the chemical weapons had originated in a rebel warehouse at the site of a conventional military airstrike.

The dispute over this issue and the subsequent US cruise missile strike on Shayrat air base can be seen as early examples of the escalation between Iranian allies and adversaries which is still going on to this day. In fact, Haley’s effort to fold Russia and Iran into a warning directed more explicitly against Syria is reminiscent of an incident earlier in June wherein a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said that a ballistic missile strike on eastern Syria had been intended largely as a warning to the US and Saudi Arabia.

Those two traditional adversaries of the Islamic Republic have been expanding relations under the Trump administration, sometimes with explicit reference to shared anxieties over expanding Iranian influence and meddling in the broader Middle East. President Trump’s visit to Riyadh in May for an Arab-US summit coincided with the signing of trade agreements that included 110 billion dollars in arms sales to the Arab Kingdom.

But at the same time that the White House is openly siding with Saudi Arabia and its regional allies against the Iranian regime, it does not appear to be giving up on the prospect of improved relations with Russia. In fact, the Western strategy for a political solution to the Syrian Civil War seems to presently involve the expectation that Russia can be encouraged to rein in the Islamic Republic and prevent it from further sabotaging ceasefire agreements.

Recent developments have cast doubt upon the practicality of this strategy however. As the US has taken a more direct role in defending rebel groups, even resorting to the shoot-down of at least two military controlled drones and a Syrian warplane, Russia has responded by threatening to target US aircraft and to halt the use of a hotline intended to prevent mid-air collisions between the multiple powers operating in the skies over Syria.

Haley’s comments on Tuesday were indicative of a roughly matching increase in American criticism of Russia. And this criticism was not limited to the issue of chemical weapons. Haley also explained that Russia’s position on the UN Security Council allowed it to stymie US efforts to sanctions Iran and hold it to account for ongoing misbehavior in matters including the development of the Iranian nuclear program.

“[The Iranians are] going to continue their nuclear capabilities and we just gave them a lot of money to do it with,” Haley said, referring to the 2015 nuclear agreement that President Trump has described as “the worst deal ever negotiated.” She went on to highlight concerns about Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism, suggesting that nuclear weapons could find their way into the hands of terrorist groups at some point in the future, and that Russia would effectively prevent the US and its allies from doing anything to stop this.

“Yes, we would love to sanction Iran; and, yes we will continue to be loud about it; and, yes, Russia will veto it,” Haley said, according to the Washington Examiner.

But this is not to say that the Trump administration has positively brought an end to its strategy of attempting to improve relations with Russia. In fact, various reports suggest that this endeavor is even standing in the way of congressional legislation aimed at increasing national-level sanctions on both Iran and Russia. The Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act passed the Senate two weeks ago by a margin of 98 to 2, but it was subsequently stalled in the House on procedural grounds, leading Democrats to argue that the House Republican leadership was trying to protect the president’s Russian agenda.

The prospects for resolution appeared to grow dimmer on Tuesday when the Washington Post reported that energy lobbyists were urging lawmakers to reevaluate the bill on the grounds that its restrictions on doing business with Russian companies could have a punishing effect on American firms and foreign firms doing business in the US. These objections could bolster the prospects of the House leadership sending the bill to various committees for review and markup – a process that could delay a final vote by months.

As it concerns Iran, the bill would include sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile activities and also extend all terrorism-related sanctions to the Revolutionary Guard Corps, for which Trump has urged designation as a foreign terrorist organization. This position has not changed, and it seems that neither has the Trump administration’s hardline approach to Iran policy. Some have suggested that the emerging policy is pointing in the direction of regime change, though this has not become a declared position as yet.

The Washington Examiner pointed out that one member of the House panel on foreign operations, Republican Representative Hal Rogers, had directly raised the prospect of regime change on Tuesday, asking Nikki Haley whether it is an option. The ambassador’s only response was “I don’t know.”

This coming Saturday, the National Council of Resistance of Iran will hold its annual Free Iran rally, which will include explicit calls for regime change driven by a domestic opposition movement within the Islamic Republic. The event is expected to be attended by tens of thousands of Iranian expatriates, plus hundreds of policymakers and experts from the US, Europe, and throughout the world. Notably, these dignitaries will include figures with close ties to the Trump administration, such as John Bolton, who served the second Bush administration in the position now occupied by Haley.

What Is the Right U.S. Policy on Iran?

June 21, 2017

What Is the Right U.S. Policy on Iran? Clarion ProjectShahriar Kia, June 21, 2017

Iranian women protest election irregularities in 2009 (Photo: Getty Images)

Tillerson added. “As you know, we have designated the Quds [Force]. Our policy towards Iran is to push back on this hegemony, contain their ability to develop obviously nuclear weapons, and to work toward support of those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government. Those elements are there, certainly as we know.”

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United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson responded to a variety of very serious questions raised by House of Representatives members in a recent hearing focusing on U.S. policy vis-à-vis Iran. Representative Ted Poe (R) from Texas touched on what many believe is the ultimate issue when he said:

“I’d like to know what the policy is of the U.S. toward Iran. Do we support the current regime? Do we support a philosophy of regime change, peaceful regime change? There are Iranians in exile all over the world. Some are here. And then there’s Iranians in Iran who don’t support the totalitarian state. So is the U.S. position to leave things as they are or set up a peaceful, long-term regime change?”

America’s top diplomat, taking into consideration how the Trump administration’s all-out Iran policy remains an issue of evaluation, answered:

“… our Iranian policy is under development.

“We continually review the merits both from the standpoint of diplomatic but also international consequences of designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in its entirety as a terrorist organization.” 

Tillerson added. “As you know, we have designated the Quds [Force]. Our policy towards Iran is to push back on this hegemony, contain their ability to develop obviously nuclear weapons, and to work toward support of those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government. Those elements are there, certainly as we know.”

Iran is terrified of such a stance and responded immediately. In a tweet, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif claimed that 75 percent of Iran’s population voted in the recent election farce back in May.

Iran’s wrath was not limited to this very issue. Following the twin ISIS attacks targeting Iran’s parliament and the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of the Islamic revolution in Iran, senior regime officials sought to portray their apparatus as a victim of terrorism.

Failing to do so, Iranian regime officials accused the US, Saudi Arabia and the main opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), of this terrorist plot. A few days ago, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out at the US and accused Washington of bringing ISIS to life.

“Who created ISIS? Was it anyone but the U.S.? … The U.S. claim that they have established a coalition against ISIS is a lie; of course, the U.S. is against an ‘unrestrained ISIS,’ however, if anyone truly seeks to eradicate ISIS, they will have to fight against it,” he said.

Now the question is, what is Iran so concerned about and what is the right policy vis-à-vis Iran?

With Obama leaving the White House, Iran forever lost a major international backer. For eight years, the “golden era” as Iran dubbed the Obama years, any and all activities by the Iranian people and their organized opposition for change in Iran was countered by the domestic crackdowns and international hurdles, specifically by the U.S.

Obama’s neglect of Tehran’s crimes in Syria and Iraq led to the disasters we are witnessing today. Internationally, a major overhaul of U.S. policy in the region and establishing a significant Arab-American alliance in the face of Iran’s meddling has become a major concern for the mullahs.

In addition, increasing popular dissent and widespread activities by the PMOI/MEK in the past few months have also raised major concerns for the regime.

Khamenei personally intervened last week, first acknowledging the 1988 massacre, defending the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), and those involved in the murder of over 30,000 political prisoners. Most of the victims, all executed in mass groups, were PMOI/MEK members and supporters.

Khamenei’s second concern and that of his entire apparatus is focused on the upcoming Iranian opposition’s annual convention in Paris scheduled for July 1 this year. The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the main entity representing the Iranian opposition, hosts more than 100,000 Iranians from across the globe each year alongside hundreds of prominent dignitaries delivering their support and speeches seeking true change in Iran.

Last year alone, a very prominent delegation of American dignitaries from both sides of the political aisle included former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former U.S. ambassador to the UN John Bolton from the Republicans, former Democratic National Committee chairman Gov. Howard Dean, former U.S. ambassador to the UN Gov. Bill Richardson took part.

This year’s Iranian opposition rally is already brewing major concerns for Tehran as the regime understands the end of the era of appeasement has led to sweeping changes in Western policy regarding the Middle East, and most importantly Iran.

This is exactly why Tehran is going the limits to prevent the shifting of policy towards the Iranian people. Tehran’s lobbies in the U.S. and Europe are placing a comprehensive effort to demonize the images of the PMOI/MEK and the NCRI to prevent any such changes, especially in Washington.

If Iran resorts to ridiculous remarks of accusing the U.S. and Iranian opposition of staging the recent double attacks in Tehran, the correct policy is none other than supporting the Iranian people and their resistance to realize regime change in Tehran.

Iran gets North Korean expertise in building up, testing and hiding its ballistic missiles

June 21, 2017

Iran gets North Korean expertise in building up, testing and hiding its ballistic missiles, Washington Times

(The North Korea – Iran nuclear/missile axis has been active for years. Why not? Iran has lots of money courtesy of Obama’s Iran Scam and North Korea has technology that Iran wants. Iran is also likely pleased that the threat of North Korean nuke-laden missiles may be diverting attention from the dangers posed by Iran. — DM)

Iranian dissidents have documented work at 42 missile centers operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the regime’s dominant security force. A dozen of those sites had never been disclosed before. (Associated Press/File)

Iran has increased production and testing of ballistic missiles since the 2015 nuclear deal with the U.S. while playing permanent host to scientists from North Korea, which has the know-how to build and launch atomic weapons, a leading Iranian opposition group said Tuesday.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran issued a white paper that the dissidents say identifies and documents work at 42 missile centers operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the regime’s dominant security force.

A dozen sites had never been disclosed before, said the council, which operates a spy network that has exposed Iran’s hidden nuclear program.

Tehran views expertise from North Korea as being so critical that it has established residences in Tehran for Pyongyang’s scientists and technicians, according to the white paper. North Koreans have shown Iran how to dig tunnels and build “missile cities” deep inside mountains to prevent destruction by airstrikes, among other projects.

“On the basis of specific intelligence, the IRGC’s missile sites have been created based on North Korean models and blueprints,” the white paper said. “North Korean experts have helped the Iranian regime to build them. Underground facilities and tunnels to produce, store, and maintain missiles have also been modeled after North Korean sites and were created with the collaboration of the North Korean experts.”

Iranians also are traveling to North Korea, which uses occasional missile test-firings to rattle its neighbors South Korea and Japan, two strong U.S. allies.

“In the context of these trainings and relations, delegations of the IRGC’s aerospace constantly travel to North Korea and exchange knowledge, information and achievements with North Korean specialists,” the report said. “North Korea’s experts constantly travel to Iran while the IRGC’s missile experts visit North Korea.”

President Trump has been harshly critical of the 2015 deal struck by the Obama administration and five international allies to lift economic sanctions and other financial penalties in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear weapons programs, but has said he will stick with the accord for now while closely monitoring Tehran’s adherence to the deal.

Iran’s leaders say they have yet to see all the benefits promised with the lifting of sanctions.

But even supporters of the Obama deal say there has been little sign that Iran’s Islamic Republic has moderated its behavior on other fronts, including the series of ballistic missile tests in recent months that some argue violate U.N. sanctions. U.S. officials also say Iran continues to back terror groups and foment instability in regional hot spots such as Syria and Yemen.

At a press conference Tuesday, Alireza Jafarzadeh, the council’s deputy director in Washington, displayed satellite photos that he said clearly show trademark North Korean mountain entrances to “cities” that hold hundreds of missiles.

He said the regime reorganized the IRGC Aerospace Force to focus almost exclusively on missile production and testing rather than aircraft.

“It’s not by accident,” Mr. Jafarzadeh said. “It’s part of their overall strategy.”

He said a huge missile arsenal allows the ruling Shiite mullahs to intimidate Sunni Muslim neighbors such as rival Saudi Arabia. In addition, missiles provide a delivery system for the nuclear weapons that the regime plans to build once the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, expires in less than 10 years.

“We’re racing against the clock,” he said.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran held a press conference in Washington in April to present evidence that Tehran’s harsh Islamic regime is cheating on the nuclear deal by continuing secret work on atomic bomb components. The Trump administration recently certified that the Islamic republic is living up to its obligations in the deal, which restricts Tehran’s production of only nuclear material, not missiles.

The council’s report pays close attention to the Semnan missile center, a complex of storage facilities and launching pads for medium-range ballistic missiles in north-central Iran. It is here, the white paper says, that Iran melds missile work with nuclear research conducted by the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, known by the Persian acronym SPND.

The council first disclosed SPND’s existence in 2011. In 2014, the Obama administration imposed sanctions on SPND for conducting illicit work not allowed at by the pending nuclear deal.

“The Semnan center for missile projects has been much more active after the JCPOA,” a council official said. “The speed and scope of activities and research in Semnan has increased significantly in this period and the exchanges and traffic between SPND.”

Iran has flouted U.N. resolutions repeatedly by test-firing ballistic missiles. In February, the nonprofit Foundation for Defense of Democracies put the number at 14 since the nuclear deal was signed in July 2015. Since then, Iran has conducted at least two more tests.

On Sunday, Iran for the first time since 2001 fired an operational missile outside its boundaries, targeting an Islamic State-controlled town in eastern Syria. Tehran said the ground-to-ground missile strike was retaliation for the Islamic State’s June 7 terrorist attack on the Iranian parliament. In 2001, the regime fired missiles on resistance targets in Iraq.

Iran owns one of the world’s largest inventories of ballistic missiles. GlobalSecurity.org lists more than a dozen different short- and medium-range Iranian missiles, some of which closely resemble North Korea’s Nodong arsenal.

Tehran this year announced the launch of the Emad, which has a range of 1,000 miles. It said the test marked a first for an Iranian precision-guided ballistic missile.

More than ever, the resistance council said, Iran’s religious leaders see missiles as instrumental to their survival strategy.

“The Iranian regime has remained in power in Iran by relying on two pillars: internal repression and external export of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism,” the council said. “Its illicit nuclear weapons program and its continued expansion of ballistic missiles serve its policy of export of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism.”

Iran and Middle East Instability

June 3, 2017

Iran and Middle East Instability, American ThinkerShahriar Kia, June 3, 2017

During President Donald Trump’s trip to the region and beyond Iran was strongly condemned by the American leader and senior Saudi officials for its support for terrorism, destructive role across the Middle East, and meddling in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Tehran is most specifically concerned with world leaders denouncing Iran’s human rights violations and acknowledging how the Iranian people are the main victims of the mullahs’ atrocities.

The Arabs, as the flagbearers of implementing U.S. sanctions, have launched the domino of freezing Iran’s money abroad. Iranian bank accounts in countries such as Turkey, Oman, and the UAE, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, are being blocked one after another. This can be considered the prelude to comprehensive sanctions on Iran’s banking network.

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The end result of Iran’s presidential election has created further rifts and launched a more intense power struggle amongst the regime’s senior ranks. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, fearing a repeat of the 2009 scenario of nationwide uprisings, failed to “engineer” the election results with the aim of unifying his regime apparatus. Khamenei sought to prepare conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi as his heir by first placing him in the presidency, similar to the process he himself went through.

The elections, however, failed to provide such a finale and in fact prompted all candidates to unveil corruption in the most senior ranks. This has prompted the general public to increase their demands. Protests and demonstrations are witnessed these days in more than 30 cities and towns across Iran, with sporadic reports of clashes, following the bankruptcy of two state-run financial firms, Caspian and Arman.

Iran is also facing major foreign dilemmas, with a new international coalition shaping and targeting Tehran’s interests. The Arab-Islamic-American alliance, with the presence of 55 States, and Iran’s absence, delivered a major blow to the mullahs’ objectives in the Middle East.

On the other hand, Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), transferring all its members from Iraq to a number of European countries, has become ever more powerful. Through a vast network of supporters inside Iran, the PMOI/MEK was able to significantly influence the recent elections and place the regime in a quagmire like never before.

A major rally is scheduled for July 1st by supporters of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the political umbrella group of Iranian dissidents, including the PMOI/MEK. Policymakers and influential figures from across the globe will be gathering to provide a concrete plan to evict the mullahs’ presence from the region, how to establish freedom and democracy in Iran, and thus result in peace and stability in the Middle East. Last year more than 100,000 people took part in this convention.

During President Donald Trump’s trip to the region and beyond Iran was strongly condemned by the American leader and senior Saudi officials for its support for terrorism, destructive role across the Middle East, and meddling in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Tehran is most specifically concerned with world leaders denouncing Iran’s human rights violations and acknowledging how the Iranian people are the main victims of the mullahs’ atrocities.

Despite the heavy blows and new sanctions against Tehran, Khamenei has chosen to remain completely silent. This is in complete contrast to the Obama era, where the mullahs’ leader resorted to harsh outbursts in response to even the slightest hint of threats by U.S. officials.

To this end, adopting a strong approach against Tehran has proven to be correct, parallel to the weakness seen in Tehran following the presidential election.

To add insult to injury for Iran, the Trump administration has imposed sanctions on dozens of Iran’s companies, sending a highly important message.

Sanctions have now expanded from ballistic missiles and reached the human rights perspective, and specifically targeting the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) with the objective of designating this entity as a foreign terrorist organization

The IRGC-affiliated Fars news agency described a new U.S. Senate bill as an “effort to bring Europe aboard in nuclear sanctions.”

“Foreign investment in Iran during the past four years has halved during the past four years, lowering from $4.6 billion to $2.05 billion,” according to Naseem Online citing a UN report.

The Arabs, as the flagbearers of implementing U.S. sanctions, have launched the domino of freezing Iran’s money abroad. Iranian bank accounts in countries such as Turkey, Oman, and the UAE, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, are being blocked one after another. This can be considered the prelude to comprehensive sanctions on Iran’s banking network.

Is Rouhani able, or even willing?

Rouhani is neither willing nor able to carry out any measures outside of Khamenei’s framework. The entire apparatus and power structure is controlled by the Supreme Leader. As long as Iran remains under the mullahs’ regime structure, one should set aside all expectations of change emanating from within Iran. A look at Mohammad Khatami’s tenure is president from 1997 to 2005, andRouhani’s first term, are undeniable proof to this reality.

“They want to change our behavior, but changing it means changing our regime,”Khamenei said recently, signaling his red line.

Rouhani defending Iran’s missiles

The regime’s president recently said that Tehran would continue its ballistic missile program.

“… US officials should know whenever we need to technically test a missile, we will do so and will not wait for their permission,” he said in a news conference.
The Iranian regime reported recently the construction of a third underground ballistic missile production factory and will keep developing its missile program.

This came in the same week when Trump in his foreign visit described Iran as a supporter of militia groups and a threat to all Middle East countries.

Rouhani is an “utterly ruthless operator,” who had presided since 2013 over a collapsing economy and what Amnesty International called “a staggering execution spree,” murdering and imprisoning so many dissidents that Iran has per capita the highest execution rate in the world, according to Christopher Booker in a recent Telegraph article.

Obama’s departure ended the period of appeasement and golden opportunities for Tehran’s mullahs. The road ahead promises to be very difficult, to say the least.

The past four decades have proven that only regime change will bring about what the Iranian people desire and deserve. This is something that is supported by the NCRI and Rajavi’s ten-point plan, calling for a free and democratic Iran where equal opportunities are provided to all citizens regardless of gender, ethnicity, and religion. During the short campaigning season, Iranians manifested their support for Rajavi’s plan by putting up posters reading “Maryam Rajavi is our president.”