Posted tagged ‘Obama’s affinity for Iran’

What Obama Owes Putin—and Why Donald Trump Is Left Holding the Bag

January 17, 2017

What Obama Owes Putin—and Why Donald Trump Is Left Holding the Bag, Tablet MagazineLee Smith, January 17, 2017

(A long but fascinating analysis of Obamas’ Middle East policy, of which a strong Iran was the centerpiece and in which Putin was his tool, ally and master. — DM)

The Obama administration’s dual-track diplomacy was different because the public track was intended to cover for the real show going on behind the scenes. For instance, if it looked like Obama was at odds with Putin over Russia’s destructive escalation in Syria and its role in crushing the rebels and killing civilians, nothing could have been further from the truth. Yet Obama needed Putin to rescue Iran and save its regional position. So while Obama was denouncing Putin in public, his White House errand boys were actually meeting in private with Putin’s errand boys, helping the Russians to accomplish the very things that the administration—especially the State Department—then publicly denounced. On bad days, it could look like there were actually two U.S. governments, pursuing policies that were diametrically opposed to each other. In fact, there was only one government, led by Obama—and the policy of that government was entirely coherent, although not necessarily wise.

For what mattered most to Obama wasn’t Syria, nor even was it the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which is typically referred to as Obama’s signature foreign-policy initiative. Even that was a feint, cover for a larger strategy that entailed a realignment of interests in the Middle East and a new form of foreign-policy “realism” that would get American troops out of the Middle East—and put America in the same column as Iran and its allies, including Vladimir Putin.

How could Obama cover America’s retreat, yet ensure a certain amount of stability in the Middle East? Israel was too small for the role of regional policeman, and besides, its policies toward the Palestinians pointed toward instability. The Sunni Arab states were fractious and incapable of working together, and their own internal problems gave rise to extremism. That left Iran.

Trump’s nominee for defense secretary, Gen. James Mattis, . . . thought crushing Assad would be a huge strategic setback for Iran. And that’s just what worried Obama, who hardly needed the Iranians to warn him that realignment would collapse if America targeted the Syrian regime. After all, realignment was predicated on the idea of a strong Iran with a can-do Quds Force that could act as the region’s new policeman. An Iran knocked back down to size, and where the country’s internal opposition would be emboldened, would be of no use to a White House keen to hand over the keys to the Middle East and get out. Obama needed a big Iran, a “successful regional power,” as he’s put it.

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Is Donald Trump a Russian secret agent? Did he pay FSB hookers to pee on the bed the Obamas slept in at the Ritz in Moscow, overlooking the Kremlin? It’s silly season, so any drunk on a fat oppo-research expense account can write down any crazy foolishness they want and Buzzfeed will let you decide if it’s true because that, as Buzzfeed’s editor, Ben Smith, solemnly explained to The New York Times, is where American journalism is at in 2017. Duly noted, Buzzfeed. Enjoy the golden showers.

What’s being obscured by this grotesquerie is the origin and the actual substance of U.S. foreign policy toward Russia, which in turn affects the lives of hundreds of millions of people living in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, and elsewhere. Or, to put it another way: Is Donald Trump likely to continue the policies of his predecessor, which set the Middle East on fire and led to 500,000 deaths in Syria, and to Putin biting off large chunks of the sovereign nation of Ukraine? Or is he likely to reverse those policies? Or can he, even if he wanted to?

The single-mindedness with which the White House and the remnants of the Clinton campaign have pursued the idea that Donald Trump is a pawn of Vladimir Putin is not based on silly stories about peeing prostitutes or secret computer servers that connect the Trump organization to the Kremlin. Rather, it’s an attempt to manufacture more smoke to obscure the reality of Obama’s own determination to collaborate with a hostile Russian leader in Syria, and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Sure, Obama recently sent 35 Russian diplomats packing and shuttered Russian diplomatic facilities in Maryland and New York, but this was after seven years of looking the other way while Russia seized Crimea, then Donbass; waged cyberattacks on the Baltic countries; brought down a passenger jet over Ukraine; sheltered Edward Snowden; and bombed schools and hospitals in Syria. All of these actions threatened global stability and American interests, yet Obama only puffed his chest after the cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee and Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta’s emails—long after it mattered, and after the moving vans have already started to haul his stuff out of the White House.

The reason top national-security journalists, policy mandarins, and much of the Washington establishment can’t fathom Obama’s relationship with Putin is only partly due to partisanship. The real reason it’s so hard to see how much room the outgoing president gave Putin is because misdirection has been Obama’s guiding principle for seven years.

The president made it look like he was at odds with Putin for much of his two terms—for instance, loudly poo-pooing the Russian campaign in Syria and warning of Vietnam-style “quagmires,” dismissing Russia as a weak country, sending an LGBT delegation to the Sochi Olympics to underscore his differences with Russia’s treatment of the LGBT community. All this helped obscure the fact that when it really counted, Obama took special care to signal the Russian strongman that their interests were aligned. That wasn’t because he has a man-crush on Putin, but because he had a larger purpose in view—securing the Iran nuclear deal.

The point isn’t that Obama lied. Sure, he lied. All politicians lie all the time, right and left, Republican and Democrat. All governments lie, perhaps especially liberal democracies, which don’t have the luxury afforded authoritarian regimes to do whatever they want at no cost to their approval ratings, which hardly matter. Liberal democracies lie especially when they’re crafting policies that would make many of their constituents queasy.

For two terms the Obama White House staged a foreign-policy puppet show, while the real drama took place far from the spotlight—a mutant variation of dual-track diplomacy. Policy is often conducted along two tracks—maybe military and diplomatic, or hard power and soft power, like development assistance or cultural-exchange programs. Diplomacy is almost always conducted on two tracks. Track-two diplomacy is a term of art that refers to the nonofficial meetings held by private individuals or groups that give the official parties the nonofficials represent enough room to disclaim ownership if or when it blows up. The Oslo peace process began as track-two diplomacy, for example, as have plenty of other major diplomatic initiatives. The point is that whether we’re talking about foreign aid or political pressure, military force or moral suasion, the two tracks of dual-track diplomacy are almost always pointed in the same general direction, with the aim of securing the same outcome.

The Obama administration’s dual-track diplomacy was different because the public track was intended to cover for the real show going on behind the scenes. For instance, if it looked like Obama was at odds with Putin over Russia’s destructive escalation in Syria and its role in crushing the rebels and killing civilians, nothing could have been further from the truth. Yet Obama needed Putin to rescue Iran and save its regional position. So while Obama was denouncing Putin in public, his White House errand boys were actually meeting in private with Putin’s errand boys, helping the Russians to accomplish the very things that the administration—especially the State Department—then publicly denounced. On bad days, it could look like there were actually two U.S. governments, pursuing policies that were diametrically opposed to each other. In fact, there was only one government, led by Obama—and the policy of that government was entirely coherent, although not necessarily wise.

For what mattered most to Obama wasn’t Syria, nor even was it the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which is typically referred to as Obama’s signature foreign-policy initiative. Even that was a feint, cover for a larger strategy that entailed a realignment of interests in the Middle East and a new form of foreign-policy “realism” that would get American troops out of the Middle East—and put America in the same column as Iran and its allies, including Vladimir Putin.

Yes, as Obama believed, Americans were sick of the problems and psychoses of the Middle East, and angry that George W. Bush failed to win his two Middle East wars. But neither Congress nor the U.S. foreign-policy establishment was keen to see the United States dismantle a regional security architecture it took 70 years to build, and which Obama and his young aides saw as a guarantee of future friction, and future U.S. military engagement. Someone needed to smash that architecture with a hammer.

So the Obama White House made stuff up. No one wanted to side with Iran and downgrade traditional allies like Israel. And so the Obama administration said that wasn’t happening. And the way it obscured the truth was to stage a dog-and-pony show with familiar Beltway names and faces to keep the Buzzfeed kids busy pondering the complexities of U.S. foreign policy while the adults went about their deadly serious business. What looked like the president of the United States pulling a rabbit out of his hat was actually Obama sawing a woman in half—and drawing blood.

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Is that really what happened? Some former Obama officials, like the administration’s onetime Syria point man, Frederic Hof, argue that the reason the administration’s foreign policy is a mess is because the president and his men in the White House lacked experience in the federal bureaucracy. In this view, the Obama team—namely, National Security Adviser Susan Rice—didn’t know how to manage what people in the know call the “interagency process,” or how the various institutions, like the National Security Council staff, State Department, Pentagon, and intelligence community process policy.

The reality is that Obama and his closest aides were contemptuous of the institutions, staffed by those very same Beltway bureaucrats that collectively make up what Obama deputy Ben Rhodes disparagingly called “The Blob.” As both Obama and Rhodes have explained, the mediocrities worthy of contempt included members of Obama’s cabinet. The reason for tapping figures like Leon Panetta, Robert Gates, David Petraeus, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and Samantha Power was to use the establishment as cover, while the real players, like Obama and Rhodes, Rob Malley, and a few select others, maneuvered in the shadows, and spun covering fictions. By 2012, as Gates and Panetta detailed in their memoirs, the Wise Men came to understand they were simply pawns in the president’s larger game, and quit before the real bloodshed started.

Hillary Clinton, with an eye to her presidential campaign, was not about to cross Obama in public, as Gates, Panetta, Chuck Hagel, and others did, but she knew she was window dressing, too. Her State Department was surprised when John Kerry, then head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was tasked to open a channel with the Iranians through Oman. The concessions Kerry offered Iran, especially the right to enrich uranium, angered Clinton’s staff. Kerry was screwing up badly, they leaked to reliable press contacts, they’d never have blundered like that.

Was the Clinton team really shocked and outraged? No, it was just cranking up its own fog machine, lest anyone realize the White House had done the worst thing anyone can do to someone else in Washington—make them irrelevant. Hillary Clinton’s job wasn’t to make policy—it was to rack up frequent-flier miles and stay out of the way while the White House handled the big-ticket items like Israel, Iran, China, and every other issue of any major importance. Nor did she particularly want the responsibility for decisions that she and her coterie may have opposed, and which certainly were likely to anger many of her prominent traditional liberal supporters. “The president,” as one official from a pro-Israel organization in Washington told me, “leapfrogged the State Department.”

Clinton’s successor, John Kerry, was either less ambitious or more vain than Clinton, or maybe both. He was the electronic rabbit while the real work of shaping the world was done by much younger men who represented the will of the president of the United States. What Kerry did in public, all those marathon negotiating sessions, all those windy speeches, was a sideshow. The fact that his tremendous vanity made him think that it was real only added conviction to his performance—all the better to generate buzz among 27-year-old reporters at Buzzfeed and their instant-foreign-policy-expert buddies at the newly-minted Washington “think tanks” led by Democratic political operatives like Neera Tanden, whose actual experience of any particular part of the world or area of human endeavor—warfare, diplomacy, nuclear engineering, you name it—was nil.

So while Buzzfeed—and the New Yorker—wrote articles about how John Kerry was manfully negotiating cease-fires in Syria with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, it was, in fact, Obama’s own Middle East point man, Robert Malley, who conveyed the president’s real policy. Almost as soon as Obama called for Assad to step aside in August 2011, the administration came to regret that bit of grandstanding, and walked it back. As Tony Badran, a research fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies told me, “The administration went from ‘transitioning away from Assad’ to ‘de-escalating’ the conflict, or stopping the bloodshed. The White House used a veneer of humanitarian concern to elide the fact that removing Assad was no longer a part of the equation. It was now about shutting down the war against Assad.”

It wasn’t long before foreign officials came to understand that Obama was working two seemingly opposing channels—the trick was figuring out which channel was real. As a source close to the Turkish government explained to me, Turkey’s former prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, eventually concluded that Obama was using Clinton as a prop. Whatever promises she might make on Syria, for instance, were worthless. They were also often actively misleading, as they were unconnected to what the Americans were actually doing on the ground. The White House had sent its top diplomat out to lie, and without informing her she was lying.

No one saw more of the administration’s shell game than Israel. The White House reassured Jerusalem that it wasn’t going to sell Iran the farm—Israel was their ally, and Iran was the enemy. As one former senior U.S. official told me, “The Bush administration and Israel had developed a pressure track on Iran, primarily through the intelligence community. This was the track that produced Stuxnet. But Obama shut down the pressure track with the opening of the Oman channel since they didn’t believe that pressure and diplomacy work together. But the Obama White House couldn’t tell the Israelis they were shutting down the pressure track. So the president wrapped them up in planning, promising, for instance, a Stuxnet 2.0. So you have emissaries going back and forth, planning and planning and planning, which was actually just stalling.”

Moreover, said the former U.S. official, the Israelis knew that Obama was lying about the Oman channel. He added that the head of the U.S. team negotiating with Iran, Wendy Sherman, “would meet openly with the Iranians as part of the P5+1 talks, then fly to Jerusalem, and tell the Israelis, ‘We got your back.’ But the Israelis knew the Americans were meeting with Iran because they had the tail numbers of planes going to Oman. The Israelis went to Obama’s then national security adviser, Thomas Donilon, and said, ‘We know what’s going on.’ ”

In fact, the Israelis didn’t understand. They thought, like most critics of the Iran deal, that the administration was just flubbing negotiations and needed help. But the White House didn’t care that much about the particulars because the JCPOA was simply a device to allow for a larger, even more historic play—Obama wanted to get America out of the Middle East, and realigning with Iran was America’s exit strategy.

For the big problem with the region, from Obama’s perspective, is the lure of the “Washington playbook,” a set of guiding principles that typically point to the use of force, which was passed down by generations of government grandees—the kind he used as rodeo clowns. The question was: How could Obama cover America’s retreat, yet ensure a certain amount of stability in the Middle East? Israel was too small for the role of regional policeman, and besides, its policies toward the Palestinians pointed toward instability. The Sunni Arab states were fractious and incapable of working together, and their own internal problems gave rise to extremism. That left Iran.

Clearly, there are plenty of Obama administration officials enamored with the Islamic Republic, whether they’re attracted to the vintage patina of late 20th-century Third Worldism or classic Persian culture. What was most appealing to Obama, as he told a meeting of Gulf Arab officials at Camp David in 2015, was simply that the Iranians are capable of getting things done—a sentiment that he expressed in the context of his admiration for the Revolutionary Guards Corps’ expeditionary unit led by Qassem Soleimani. However, he also realized that this conviction and the policy it undergirded would have grossed out a large number, likely a majority, of Americans, and their elected representatives. So he lied, or misled and misdirected—and said the JCPOA was about stopping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and nothing more.

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All the major foreign-policy issues of the Obama presidency (the fraying of the bilateral relationship with Israel, the withdrawal from Iraq, Russia, etc.) were subsets of realignment policy—including the administration’s management of the single largest strategic, political, and humanitarian catastrophe of the 21st century, the Syrian conflict. Obama’s cabinet held the mainstream view of the Syrian war—Panetta, Clinton, Kerry, Petraeus, and Power all supported arming the rebels to defeat Assad, or at least compel him to negotiate under harder circumstances. But that was exactly the opposite of what Obama wanted to do.

A more hawkish position was expressed by the U.S. officials like then-head of CENTCOM and now Trump’s nominee for defense secretary, Gen. James Mattis, who thought crushing Assad would be a huge strategic setback for Iran. And that’s just what worried Obama, who hardly needed the Iranians to warn him that realignment would collapse if America targeted the Syrian regime. After all, realignment was predicated on the idea of a strong Iran with a can-do Quds Force that could act as the region’s new policeman. An Iran knocked back down to size, and where the country’s internal opposition would be emboldened, would be of no use to a White House keen to hand over the keys to the Middle East and get out. Obama needed a big Iran, a “successful regional power,” as he’s put it.

A victory for the Syrian opposition—whom the White House could not help but disparage even as the president and his aides honored the victims of Assad’s depredations, i.e., the opposition—would have been a disaster for the Obama administration. It would have not only cashiered Obama’s hopes for a hegemonic Iran capable of managing American regional interests but would have required Washington to manage the varied and often conflicting interests of its regional allies, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, etc. In other words, an opposition victory would have demanded more American involvement in the Middle East—more time, attention, energy, money, and perhaps blood.

The structural problem with Obama’s grand realignment is that Iran simply can’t handle the load. Obama should have understood this every time he had to tip the scales on behalf of the Iranians. When the administration leaked that Israel struck Iranian arms convoys headed to Hezbollah, Obama should’ve understood that he was tipping the scales, but it still wasn’t working. Qassem Suleimani turned out to be less than impressive, for his Quds Force couldn’t even tackle ISIS without the U.S. providing air support in Tikrit. The much-heralded operation to take back Mosul before Obama left office is such a mess that the White House simply doesn’t talk about it anymore.

When the Russians escalated in Syria in September 2015, Obama should have seen it as a clear sign he’d been wrong about Iran: The IRGC couldn’t even put down the farmers and carpenters the American president repeatedly disparaged. They needed the Russians to do it for them.

The White House said Putin’s action caught them by surprise, but that is unlikely to be true. The Russians were moving men and materiel for months through the Bosphorus—under the control of NATO member Turkey—at least since Suleimani’s July 2015 trip to Moscow to ask for Russian intervention.

The reality is that the Russian campaign in Syria served vital Obama interests. There was no point in realigning with Iran if Tehran’s regional position collapsed. Putin saved not only Assad and Iran, but Obama’s realignment policy. It was the second time the Russian president rescued Obama’s realignment policy—the first being when he offered the deal over Assad’s chemical weapons that allowed the commander-in-chief to walk back his red line.

Obama owes Putin, which is why he let the Russians get away with nearly everything it chose to do the last seven years, including its attacks on the American political system. What’s left for Trump is to manage the Russia policy he inherited from Obama—or overturn the table.

Iran Steps Up Threats to Israel, U.S.

January 11, 2017

Iran Steps Up Threats to Israel, U.S., Gatestone InstituteMajid Rafizadeh, January 11, 2017

(This can’t be accurate. Obama has told us that Islam is the religion of peace and tolerance. Isn’t it odd that he has not told us that the Islamic Republic has “nothing to do with Islam?” — DM)

“En Sha’a Allah [God willing], there will be no such thing as a Zionist regime in 25 years. Until then, struggling, heroic and jihadi morale will leave no moment of serenity for Zionists.” — Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, September, 2015.

“If the Supreme Leader’s orders [are] to be executed, with the abilities and the equipment at our disposal, we will raze the Zionist regime in less than eight minutes.” — Ahmad Karimpour, a senior adviser to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ elite unit, the Quds Force.

Iran is also attempting to intimidate Donald Trump from taking a tough stance against Iran. Trump ought to be wary of falling into Iran’s tactical game of fear-mongering. For Iran, US concessions and silence in the face of Iran’s threats mean weakness and fear. On the other hand, when Iran sees that the US is taking a robust stance and that the military option is always on the table, Tehran retreats.

As long as Iran’s Supreme Leader is alive and as long as the ruling clerics preserve the political establishment, Iran will maintain the core pillars of its foreign policies and revolutionary principles: these are anchored in anti-Israeli, anti-American and anti-Semitic politics. Iranian politicians across the political spectrum totally agree on these fundamentals.

Iran’s threats against Israel and the US are becoming bolder and louder. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is now repeatedly threatening Israel’s annihilation relatively soon.

According to Iran’s Press TV, Khamenei recently stated:

“The Zionist regime — as we have already said — will cease to exist in the next 25 years if there is a collective and united struggle by the Palestinians and the Muslims against the Zionists.”

In addition, Iranian officials are warning President-elect Donald Trump that if he makes any wrong move, it would lead to a World War, wiping Israel from the face of earth and destroying the smaller Gulf states.

Iranian leaders are adopting their classic tactics and strategy of threatening in advance — and frequently — probably to obtain concessions, push the next US administration to pursue policies of appeasement, and, more importantly, to drive the US to abandon Israel.

In addition, through anti-Israeli and incendiary statements, Khamenei and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) are inciting Palestinians and the Muslim world to use violence against the Israeli nation. As a result, Khamenei heightens even further his anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic sentiments. Many who follow his beliefs consider it their Islamic duty to fulfill his policies, religious doctrines and prophesies.

Ahmad Karimpour, a senior adviser to the Revolutionary Guards’ elite unit, the Quds Force, previously said that Iran is ready to follow Khamenei’s orders once the leader gives the green light. According to the semi-official Fars News Agency, Karimpour said, “If the Supreme Leader’s orders [are] to be executed, with the abilities and the equipment at our disposal, we will raze the Zionist regime in less than eight minutes.”

In order to project himself as the leader of the Muslim world (both Shia and Sunni) and to mobilize opposition to Israel and the US, Khamenei reaffirmed the Islamic Republic’s support for groups that stand against Israel and America:

“Despite being engaged in certain regional issues, the Islamic Republic has always announced explicitly that Palestine is the number one issue in the Muslim world and has fulfilled its obligations in this regard.”

Iran’s leader then went on to lash out at the United States as “the most arrogant [power] and the Great Satan.”

Khamenei is correct that his generals and he have previously threatened Israel’s destruction.

In July 2016, the deputy commander of the (IRGC) warned that Iran possesses tens of thousands of missiles outside Iran to hit Israel. According to Iran’s state-owned news agency Tasnim, General Hossein Salami pointed out:

“Hezbollah has 100,000 missiles ready to hit Israel to liberate the occupied Palestinian territories if the Zionist regime repeats its past mistakes… today, the grounds for the annihilation and collapse of the Zionist regime are (present) more than ever.”

In addition, Khamenei has already published a 9-point plan on how to destroy Israel. In September 2015, he called on violence and jihad against Israel, until it is completely destroyed:

“En Sha’a Allah [God willing], there will be no such thing as a Zionist regime in 25 years. Until then, struggling, heroic and jihadi morale will leave no moment of serenity for Zionists.”

Beside exploiting people’s grievances and inciting violence against Israel, Khamenei primarily relies on Hezbollah, Hamas and the IRGC to pursue his anti-Israel agenda.

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, previously disclosed that Iran is lifeline of Hezbollah. In a speech broadcast by the Shiite party’s Al-Manar TV station, he said:

“We do not have any business projects or investments via banks… We are open about the fact that Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, come from the Islamic Republic of Iran. We have no money in Lebanese banks, neither in the past nor now. We do not transfer our money through the Lebanese banking system…. We totally reject this [U.S.] law until the Day of Judgment. … Even if the law is applied, we as a party and an organizational and jihadi movement, will not be hurt or affected”.

Nasrallah also insisted that, “as long as Iran has money, we have money… Just as we receive the rockets that we use to threaten Israel, we are receiving our money. No law will prevent us from receiving it.”

Notably, there are no differences across Iran’s political spectrum when it comes to opposing and threatening Israel. Moderates, reformist, principalists [in Farsi, Osolgarayan: ultra revolutionary and conservatives] and hardliners all pursue the core anti-Israel pillar of the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy.

The so-called moderate Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, said previously:

“The Zionist regime (Israel) is a regional base for America and the global arrogance … Disunity and discord among Muslim and terrorist groups in the region … have diverted us from the important issue of Palestine… We stand with the dispossessed Palestinian nation.”

Iranian leaders believe that arming groups and people who oppose Israel is critical. Khamenei tweeted that “I announced and it will absolutely happen that, just like #Gaza, the #WestBank must also be armed…”

Iran is also attempting to intimidate Trump from taking a tough stance against Iran. Trump ought to be wary of falling into Iran’s tactical game of fear-mongering. For Iran, US concessions and silence in the face of Iran’s threats mean weakness and fear. The fact is that whenever the US surrenders to Iran’s threats, Iranian leaders become louder and bolder in their threats. On the other hand, when Iran sees that the US is taking a robust stance and that military option is always on the table, Tehran retreats.

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Finally, at least as long as Iran’s Supreme Leader is alive, and as long as the ruling clerics preserve the political establishment, the Islamic Republic of Iran will maintain the core pillars of its foreign policies and revolutionary principles: these are anchored in anti-Israel, anti-American and anti-Semitic politics. Iranian politicians across the political spectrum totally agree on these fundamentals.

Obama’s baffling swan song

September 23, 2016

Obama’s baffling swan song, Israel Hayom, David M. Weinberg, September 23, 2016

In his preachy, philosophical and snooty address to the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, Obama expressed deep disappointment with the world. Alas, it seems peoples and nations are just not sophisticated enough to comprehend his sage sermonizing, smart enough to follow his enlightened example, or deep enough to understand his perfect policies.

It falls to Congress and the next president to redirect U.S. policy and hopefully base it less on whimsical, wayward beliefs and more on a hard-nosed, forceful reassertion of Western interests.

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U.S. President Barack Obama sang his swan song this week at the United Nations, and seemed baffled by the stubborn refusal of the world to reform itself in his image and on his say-so.

How can there still be “deep fault lines in the international order,” Obama wondered aloud, with “societies filled with uncertainty and unease and strife?”

Shouldn’t his identity as a man “made up of flesh and blood and traditions and cultures and faiths from a lot of different parts of the world” have served as a shining and irresistible example of blended global peace? How can it be that, after eight years of his visionary leadership, peoples everywhere aren’t marching to his tune of self-declared superior “moral imagination”?

It is indeed a “paradox,” Obama declared.

In his preachy, philosophical and snooty address to the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, Obama expressed deep disappointment with the world. Alas, it seems peoples and nations are just not sophisticated enough to comprehend his sage sermonizing, smart enough to follow his enlightened example, or deep enough to understand his perfect policies.

Why does the world not snap to order as he imperiously wishes and drool in his presence?

The answer to these questions lies in the main thing missing from Obama’s U.N. address and indeed from his entire presidency: a willingness to project power.

From day one, Obama has made it clear he rejects the traditional and time-tested hard power tools of statecraft. He abjures the use of military force and other forms of raw American power. He is willing to “speak out forcefully” — how courageous and decisive of him! — but that’s it.

Obama is ashamed of America’s “overbearing” record of decisive global leadership in past. Even in this final U.N. speech, he was apologizing for American mega-wealth, “soulless capitalism,” “unaccountable mercantilist policies,” insufficient foreign assistance, and “strongman” pushing of its liberal democratic preferences.

This leaves America shorn of its ability to actually shape the world in the fine directions Obama desires. All that is left is Obama’s exhortations for brotherhood in his image, declarations that flow so naturally from his deeply narcissistic soul.

The words “enemy, “threat” or “adversary” do not appear even once in Obama’s 5,600-word address. They are not part of his lexicon, nor are concepts like “victory” for the West or “beating” the bad guys. He won’t even names foes, such as “radical Islam” or “Islamist terror.”

All this high-minded intellectualizing, self-doubt and equivocation leave the U.S. with little ability to actually drive towards a more ordered world and provide a modicum of global security.

Instead, we have only Obama’s “belief” that Russia’s imperialist moves in Ukraine and Syria, China’s power grabs in Asia, and Iran’s hegemonic trouble-making in the Middle East (and by inference, Israel’s settlement policies in Judea and Samaria) will “ultimately backfire.”

Obama has many such unsubstantiated and illusory “beliefs.” It is very important for him to tell us what he “believes,” and he does so repeatedly. Clearly, he believes in the overwhelming potency of his own beliefs, despite the global security collapse. In fact, the U.N. speech reads like chapter one of the expected Obama memoirs, which surely will be filled with more inane “beliefs” and other ostentation.

Obama has only a short time left to act on his beliefs. At the moment, it seems his beliefs are being expressed mainly through repeated cash transfers of billions of dollars to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

According to testimony given this week to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on National Security and International Trade and Finance by former Undersecretary of Defense Professor Eric Edelman, Iran may have received $33.6 billion in cash from the U.S. over the past two years, as well as the $1.3 billion that was flown to Tehran in January and February this year.

Basing his comments on research by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, by Claudia Rosett of the Independent Women’s Forum, and by JINSA’s Gemunder Center Iran Task Force, Edelman noted that Iran has no incentive to discontinue the dangerous behavior that led to it being paid.

“It was only half-jokingly that a reporter asked the State Department spokesman last month whether the United States still owed Iran 13 cents in interest and was it holding onto the small change for leverage. Due to the administration’s actions, that may be the only leverage the Obama administration has left,” Edelman said.

It falls to Congress and the next president to redirect U.S. policy and hopefully base it less on whimsical, wayward beliefs and more on a hard-nosed, forceful reassertion of Western interests.

A Strategy to Defeat Islamic Theo-fascism

January 7, 2016

A Strategy to Defeat Islamic Theo-fascism, American ThinkerG. Murphy Donovan, January 7, 2016

Surely, whatever passed for American foreign or military policy in the past three decades is not working. Just as clearly, in case anyone keeps score these days, the dark side of Islam is ascendant at home and abroad. What follows here is a catalogue of policy initiatives that might halt the spread of Islamic fascism and encourage religious reform in the Ummah.

Some observers believe that the Muslim problem is a matter of life and death. Be assured that the need for Islamic reform is much more important than either. The choices for Islam are the same as they are for Palestine Arabs; behave or be humbled. Europe may still have a Quisling North and a Vichy South; but Russia, China, and even America, at heart, are still grounded by national survival instincts – and Samuel Colt.

Call a spade a spade

The threat is Islam, both kinetic and passive aggressive factions. If “moderate” Islam is real, then that community needs to step up and assume responsibility for barbaric terror lunatics and immigrants/refugees alike. Neither America nor Europe has solutions to the Islamic dystopia; civic incompetence, strategic illiteracy, migrants, poverty, religious schisms, or galloping irredentism. The UN and NATO have no remedies either. Islamism is an Ummah, Arab League, OIC problem to solve. Absent moral or civic conscience, unreformed Islam deserves no better consideration than any other criminal cult.

Western Intelligence agencies must stop cooking the books too. The West is at war and the enemy is clearly the adherents of a pernicious ideology. A global war against imperial Islam might be declared, just as angry Islam has declared war on civilization.  A modus vivendi might be negotiated only after the Ummah erects a universal barrier between church and state globally. Islam, as we know it, is incompatible with democracy, civility, peace, stability, and adult beverages.

Oxymoronic “Islamic” states need to be relegated to the dustbin of history. If the Muslim world cannot or will not mend itself, Islamism, like the secular fascism of the 20th Century, must be defeated, humbled in detail. Sooner is better.

Answer the Ayatollahs

Recent allied concessions to Tehran may prove to be a bridge too far. If the Persian priests do not abide by their nuclear commitments, two red lines might be drawn around Israel. Firstly, the ayatollahs should be put on notice, publicly, that any attack against Israel would be considered an attack against America — and met with massive Yankee retaliation. Secondly, any future cooperation with NATO or America should be predicated on an immediate cessation of clerical hate speech and so-called fatwas, those arbitrary death sentences.

Clerical threats to “wipe Israel off the face of the earth” and “death to America” injunctions are designed to stimulate jihad and terror globally. The only difference between a Shia ayatollah and a Sunni imam in this regard these days seems to be the torque in their head threads.

Ostracize the Puppeteers

Strategic peril does not emanate from Sunni tacticians like Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar, or Abu Bakr al-Baghadadi. Nor does the real threat begin with or end with al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezb’allah, Hamas, or the Islamic State. Lethal threat comes, instead, on four winds: toxic culture, religious politics, fanatic fighters, and furtive finance, all of which originate with Muslim state sponsors. The most prominent of these are Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan.

Put aside for a moment the Saudi team that brought down the Twin Towers in New York. Consider instead, the House of Saud as the most egregious exporter of Salifism (aka Wahabbism) doctrine, clerics, imams, and mosques from which ultra-irredentist ideologies are spread. The Saudis are at once the custodians of Islam’s sacredshrines and at the same time the world’s most decadent, corrupt, and duplicitous hypocrites. Imam Baghdadi is correct about two things: the venality of elites in Washington and Riyadh. The House of Saud, an absolutist tribal monarchy, does not have the moral standing to administer “holy” sites of any description — Mecca, Medina, or Disneyland.

The cozy relationship between Europe, the European Union, and Arabia can be summarized with a few words; oil, money, arms sales, and base rights. This near-sighted blend of Mideast obscenities has reached its sell-by date. The “white man’s burden” should have expired when Edward Said vacated New York for paradise.

Jettison Turkey and Pakistan

What Saudi Arabia is to toxic ideology in North Africa, Turkey and Pakistan are to perfidy in the Levant and South Asia. Turkey and Pakistan are Islam’s most obvious and persistent grifters. Turkey supports the Islamic State and other Sunni terror groups with a black market oil racket. Pakistan supports the Taliban, al Qaeda, and ISIS with sanctuary and tolerance of the world’s largest opium garden. Oil and drug monies from Arabia, Turkey, and South Asia are financing the global jihad. Turkey also facilitates the migration of Muslims west to Europe while sending Islamist fighters and weapons south to Syria and Iraq.

With the advent of Erdogan and his Islamist AKP, Turkey has morphed into NATO’s Achilles Heel, potentially a fatal flaw.  Turkey needs to be drummed out of NATO until secular comity returns to Ankara. Pakistan needs to be restrained, too, with sanctions until it ceases to provide refuge for terrorists. Pakistani troops harassing India could be more prudently redeployed to exterminate jihadists.

Sanctions against Russia and Israel are a study in moral and political fatuity whilst Arabs and Muslims are appeased midst a cultural sewer of geo-political crime and human rights abuses. If NATO’s eastern flank needs to be anchored in trust and dependability, Russia, Kurdistan, or both, would make better allies than Turkey. Ignoring Turkish perfidy to protect ephemeral base rights confuses tactical necessity with strategic sufficiency.

Recognize Kurdistan

Aside from Israel, Kurdistan might be the most enlightened culture in the Mideast. The Kurds are also the largest ethnic group in the world not recognized as a state. While largely Muslim, the Kurds, unlike most of the Ummah, appreciate the virtues of religious diversity and women’s rights. Indeed, Kurdish women fight alongside their men against Turkish chauvinism and Sunni misogyny with equal aplomb. For too long, the Kurds have been patronized by Brussels and Washington.

While Kurdish fighters engage ISIS and attempt to control the Turkish oil black market, Ankara uses American manufactured NATO F-16s to bomb Kurds in Turkey and Syria. Turkish ground forces now occupy parts of Iraq too. In eastern Turkey, Ergdogan’s NATO legions use ISIS as an excuse for bookend genocide, a cleansing of Kurds that might rival the Armenian Christian genocide (1915-1917).

195876_5_Kurdish angel of death

All the while, American strategic amateurs argue for a “no-fly” zone in contested areas south of Turkey. Creating a no-fly zone is the kind of operational vacuity we have come to expect from American politicians and generals. Such a stratagem would foil Kurdish efforts to flank ISIS and allow the Erdogan jihad, arms, and oil rackets to flourish. A no-fly zone is a dangerous ploy designed to provoke Russia, not protect Muslim “moderates.”

Putin, Lavrov, and the Russians have it right this time; Turkish and Erdogan family subterfuges are lethal liabilities, not assets.

Washington and European allies have been redrawing the map in Eastern Europe, North Africa, South Asia, and the Mideast since the end of WWII. The time has come to put Kurdistan on the map too. Kurdistan is a unique and exemplary case of reformed or enlightened Islam; indeed, a nation that could serve as a model for the Muslim world.  If base rights are a consideration, Kurdistan would be an infinitely more dependable ally than Turkey or any corrupt tribal autocracy in Arabia. America has a little in common with desert dictators — and fewer genuine friends there either. Indeed, at the moment America is allied with the worst of Islam.

Create New Alliances

NATO, like the European Union, has become a parody of itself. Absent a threat like the Soviet Union or the Warsaw Pact, Brussels has taken to justifying itself by meddling in East Europe and resuscitating a Cold War with the Kremlin. Indeed, having divided Yugoslavia, NATO now expands to the new Russian border with reckless abandon; in fact, fanning anti-Russian flames now with neo-Nazi cohorts in former Yugoslavia, Georgia, and Ukraine.

NATO support for the Muslims of one-time Yugoslavia is of a piece with support for Islamic troublemakers in Chechnya and China too. Throughout, we are led to believe that jihad Uighurs and caliphate Chechens are freedom fighters. Beslan, Boston, Paris, and now San Bernardino put the lie to any notion that Islamists are “victims” (or heroes). Indeed, the Boston Marathon bombing might have been prevented had Washington a better relationship with Moscow.

Truth is, America has more in common with Russia and China these days than we do with any number of traditional European Quislings. Indeed, it seems that Europe and America can’t take yes for an answer.

The Cold War ideological or philosophical argument has been won. Moscow and Beijing have succumbed to market capitalism. Islamism, in stark contrast, is now a menace to Russian, Chinese, and American secular polities alike. The logic of a cooperative or unified approach to a common enemy seems self-evident. America, China, and Russia, at least on issues like toxic Islam, is a match made in Mecca.

The late great contest with Marxist Russia and China was indeed a revolution without guns. Now the parties to that epic Cold War struggle may have to join forces to suppress a theo-fascist movement that, like its Nazi predecessor, will not be defeated without guns. The West is at war again, albeit in slow motion. Withal, questions of war are not rhetorical. Saying that you are not at war does not make it so. Once declared, by one party or the other, the only relevant question about war is who wins and who loses. Losers do not make the future.

If America and Europe were as committed to Judeo/Christian secular values as Islamists are committed to a sick religious culture, then the war against pernicious Islam would have been won decades ago. Or as Jack Kennedy once put it: “Domestic policy can only defeat us; foreign policy can kill us.

Trump Footnote

Donald Trump made several policy suggestions on the Islamism issue, one on immigration, the other on Mideast oil. On the former, he suggests a hiatus on Muslim immigration until America develops a plan or reliable programs to vet migrants. On Arab oil, he suggests, given the lives and treasure spent liberating Kuwait and Iraqi oil fields, America should have held those resources in trust and use oil revenues to finance the war against jihad, however long that takes. The problem with both Trump ideas is that they come perilously close to common sense, an American instinct in short supply these days.

 

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards’ troubling transformation

December 8, 2015

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards’ troubling transformation, Front Page MagazineDr. Majid Rafizadeh, December 8, 2015

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Despite the guidelines of the nuclear deal and contrary to President Obama’s claim that Iran will temper its foreign policy, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is actively transforming the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ operation. This will have significant impact on regional geopolitics and US national security.

The Islamic Republic used to deploy the Quds Force, which has been designated as a supporter of terrorism by the State Department and is a paramilitary arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards. Its purpose is to engage in irregular warfare operations, extraterritorial interventions, foreign policy missions, and interference in the affairs of other countries. The Quds Force has an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 personnel.

Recent developments clearly indicate that Iranian leaders are transforming the whole Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) into an organization that operates like the Quds Force in order to achieve Iran’s Islamist, ideological, geopolitical and strategic goals, as well as its expansionist objectives.

Unlike the Quds Force, the IRGC has an estimated 100,000-200,000 military personnel. IRGC also funds, arms, trains, and controls other domestic and foreign militia groups such as Iran’s paramilitary Basij militia, which has approximately 90,000 personnel, Hezbollah, with an estimated 20,000-30,000 fighters, as well as several other Shiite militia groups in Iraq, Yemen, and throughout the region.

Iranian news media outlets used to downplay the  IRGC’s role in other nations. But recently, Iran’s official news agency, Fars news, reported that several members of the Revolutionary Guard — including Mostafa Sadrzadeh, Milad Mostafavi, and Brigadier General Reza Khavari, the senior commander of IRGC’s Fatemiyoun Division — were among other fighters who were killed in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. So far more than 100 IRGC fighters have been killed in Syria.

Iranian media and officials once characterized IRGC involvement in Syria as limited to advisory roles, providing tactical assistance, engaging in strategic planning, and providing intelligence.

But in the last few weeks, reports of public funerals have risen, putting the Quds Force in the public eye.  Even the Supreme Leader has become more public. He tweeted about one of the Iranian fighters who died in Syria, posted a picture of him with the “martyred” family, and pointed out that “Gen. Hamedani devoted the final years of his fruitful life to fighting against anti-Islam Takfiris and fulfilled his martyrdom wish in the same front.”

Iran is increasing the amount of its IRGC fighters in Syria, with a concentration of forces in the critical cities of Allepo, Latakia, and Damascus, to prevent the fall of these strategic locations to the opposition.

While Iranian leaders project the image that they are fighting the Islamic State, Iranian forces are not positioned close to any IS stranglehold. Instead, they appear to be battling Syrian rebel groups, including the Free Syrian Army, in an attempt to force them to retreat, preventing them from capturing more territories in Allepo, Latakia and Damascus.

There are several reasons behind this tactical and IRGC organizational shift. First of all, the policy of the Obama administration is to appease Iran. This is made clear by its weak stance toward Iran. This allows Iran’s interventionist operations to be strengthened, and has empowered and transformed Tehran’s military organizations.

Secondly, The Islamic Republic pushed for Russia’s military assistance and involvement in Syria. The setbacks that Assad’s army and the Quds Force encountered in early 2015, mainly due to rise of the Islamic State and rebel groups advancements, propelled the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Commander Qassem Soleimani to visit Putin and ask for military help.

Nevertheless, Russia’s military superiority and interventions in Latakia did overshadow and bring into question Iran’s influence in Syria. By resorting to the IRGC and public acknowledgments of Iranian fighters operating on the ground in Syria, the Islamic Republic strives to reassert its presence in Syria.

In addition, the increasing Russian airstrikes are coordinated with the rising deployment of IRGC fighters on the ground. This inevitably will lead to a rise in Iranian casualties. Throughout these shifts, Assad has become increasingly dependent on Iran’s IRGC and Russia.

Furthermore, before the rise of the Islamic State, Iran played down its military role in the region because Tehran did not have a legitimate excuse to justify its presence in Syria. Iranian leaders were also worried about a direct confrontation with the West and other regional powers. They attempted to prevent the scuttling of nuclear negotiations. But after the nuclear deal was reached, and after the Islamic State grabbed global headlines, the Islamic Republic’s policy shifted in order to transform the IRGC’s function.

In the pursuit of hegemonic ambitions, Iran seizes any opportunity to reassert its regional supremacy, power and preeminence. By transforming the IRGC into a foreign offensive and interventionist force in other countries, by essentially making IRGC a regional military empire, and by announcing publicly that IRGC troops are present in Syria, Iran is demonstrating its hegemonic, Islamist, and powerful role in the region.

Although some policy analysts and scholars argue that the increasing death toll of Iranian fighters might change the IRGC’s decision to support the Syrian dictator, it is not likely that there will be any change in Iran’s policy of backing Assad. Tehran’s stakes in keeping Assad’s regime in power are high. Iran can afford several more years of assistance for the Syrian army and will continue to provide military, financial, advisory and intelligence support.

In closing, it is clear that the Islamic Republic is transforming the whole ideological and militaristic empire of the IRGC into an interventionist force which will operate in foreign countries for the purpose of fulfilling expansionist and Islamists objectives.

The French connection

November 17, 2015

The French connection, Israel Hayom, Ruthie Blum, November 17, 2015

When Islamist leaders condemned Friday night’s Paris attacks, which left more than 132 people dead and hundreds of others critically wounded, you just had to laugh through your tears.

Terror masters in Iran, Turkey, Syria and the Palestinian Authority actually had the gall to talk as if they themselves are not responsible for the ongoing murder of innocent people.

But hypocrisy, mendacity and lying as a matter of course are not the only reasons for their public expressions of solidarity with France during this frightful hour. In fact, what really bothers them is the fear that a rival group may be beating them at their own game. And hell hath no fury like a scorned, power-hungry radical Muslim with hegemonic aims and weapons with which to achieve them.

Such monsters, some in suits and ties to throw you off, are able to get away with playing the West for fools — particularly when the so-called leader of the free world keeps kowtowing to them, while espousing denial as a policy. Indeed, in the immediate aftermath of the bloodbath in Paris, U.S. President Barack Obama made a statement that put a smug smile on the faces of jihadists everywhere.

In the first place, he called the carnage “an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share.” This is an amazing assertion, since I don’t even share Obama’s values, let alone those of a great portion of “humanity” inside and out of Washington, D.C. You know, like the multimillions of anti-Semites, Christian-killers, women-subjugators and child-abusers who are trying to win the war over the world’s character and soul.

Secondly, the president said he didn’t “want to speculate at this point in terms of who was responsible for this.”

Right, responded radical Muslims in the privacy of their bunkers and bomb factories, for all Obama knew, the shootings and explosions in a theater, restaurants and at a soccer stadium could have been carried out by disgruntled Buddhists.

By the time he arrived in Antalya to attend the G-20 economic summit less than 48 hours later, even the U.S. president could no longer plead ignorance. So he had to address the issue of Islamic State tentacles spreading every which way, in spite of his having announced a few days earlier that its threat had been “contained.”

Even members of the left-leaning media were challenging his claim that the way he’s been fighting the al-Qaida spin-off is still the right one. And this, while sidling up to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose recent landslide re-election was a dark day for people with those ostensibly “universal” values Obama had mentioned.

The good news here is also the bad.

Effectively combating Islamic State is actually irrelevant in the wider context, as counterterrorism expert Sebastian Gorka has been trying to explain for years.

That Friday night’s multiple attacks in Paris were carried out by terrorists affiliated with ISIS is “wholly irrelevant,” Gorka — national security editor at Breitbart and military affairs fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies — told me this weekend. “All members of the global jihadist movement, be they Sunni or Shia, Arab, Persian or converts, are driven by the same desire: the need to kill the kuffar [infidels] for the glory of Allah. All attacks, be they 9/11, 7/7, Mumbai, Amman, Paris or the recent stabbings in Israel, are tied together by the connective tissue of jihadist ideology.”

He stressed, “It is time for us to realize — and demand of our leaders that they act accordingly — that we face an existential threat, which, over the long term, could be as dangerous as Hitler’s Third Reich. This is a war between good and evil. And only one side will prevail in the end.”

I still harbor hope that the former will emerge victorious. But this cannot happen unless certain conditions are met. These include: getting the nuclear-deal-obsessive Democrats out of the White House; making Europe understand that it should be labeling undesirable Islamists, not Israeli products; and raising children in the West to grasp that the blessed ability to live in a free society means being prepared to die defending it against its detractors and destroyers.

Escalation of child execution in Iran

October 26, 2015

Escalation of child execution in Iran, Front Page MagazineDr. Majid Rafizadeh, October 26, 2015

(Please see also, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Letter Of Guidelines To President Rohani On JCPOA Sets Nine Conditions Nullifying Original Agreement Announced July 14, 2015. According to Supreme Leader Khamenei,

Any sanctions against Iran “at every level and on every pretext,” including terrorism and human rights violations, by any one of the countries participating in the negotiations will “constitute a violation of the JCPOA,” and a reason for Iran to stop executing the agreement. 

He probably need not be concerned.– DM)

photo-by-seysd-shahaboddin-vajedi-wikimedia-commons-iranian-supreme-leader-ayatollah-ali-khamenei-releases-video-propaganda

While Iranian ruling clerics enjoy reaping the economic benefits from the nuclear deal, they also feel triumphant when it comes to the Obama administration’s total disregard of the increasing human rights violations in Iran.

To sustain his nuclear deal, President Obama appears to have made a Faustian bargain with the Iranian leaders: He turns a blind eye to Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism, repressive methods to crack down on social and political freedoms, egregious human rights abuses, while Iran verbally and on the surface, binds itself to the nuclear deal.

This week, Iran’s parliament passed a bill supporting the nuclear deal which was primarily reached between President Obama and the Islamic Republic. Some policy makers were surprised that Iran passed the bill. But why would Iranian leaders not sign a deal that would bring them financial rewards and allow them to be as repressive as they please both domestically and regionally? As I mentioned several weeks ago, it was easy to predict that the Iranian parliament (Majlis) would pass the deal to receive further rewards.

Simultaneously, Iran’s judiciary system has become more emboldened and empowered. This can be seen when they are issuing death sentences at unprecedented levels, particularly for children.  Last week, Iran’s Islamic court executed a juvenile offender on October 13, 2015 in Adelabad Prison, Shiraz. Fatemeh Salbehi, was arrested at the age of 16 because her husband was found dead at home.

She was 16 years old when she was forced into marriage to a man who was thirty. She had never met the man before their marriage.  According to a recent release by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, “These executions are disturbing examples of surging execution rates and questionable fair trial standards in the Islamic Republic of Iran….The Iranian authorities must comply with its international law obligations and put an end to the execution of juvenile offenders once and for all.”

What is intriguing is that Iranian leaders used to take notice when there was an international outcry regarding a human rights or political prisoner case. They used to postpone the case, the execution, or do something to let the global pressure fade away.   But not anymore. In this case, Amnesty International, Amnesty USA, International human rights organizations, and the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights pressured the Islamic Republic to refrain from executing Ms. Salbehi and another young man.  But Iran’s answer was implicitly clear: We will execute anyone we like and no one can stop us now.

One must wonder how much the nuclear deal, President Obama’s unwillingness to criticize the Islamic Republic, and President Obama’s actions in legitimizing the Islamic Republic on the global stage have played a role in emboldening and empowering the ruling mullahs and the hardliners rather than influencing them to be more rational and civilized figures.

A week before the execution of Ms. Salbehi, another juvenile was executed. No notice was given to his family or even his attorney. The UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions, Christof Heyns, pointed out, “Let us be clear – these are unlawful killings committed by the State, the equivalent of murders performed by individuals…. These are profound tragedies that demean the value of human life and sully the reputation of the country,” He added “Iran must immediately stop killing children,”

More than 1,000 people will be executed in the year 2015. There has been a surprising rise in the number of executions since Iran scored a victory by signing the nuclear deal. Ms. Salbehi was one of the hundreds of women being executed on a regular basis based on Iran’s Shiite Islamist laws and on gender discrimination. These women are not allowed due process or adequate access to a lawyer. As the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) warned when Ms. Salbehi was hanged on Tuesday, the execution was “in breach of international law banning juvenile executions, and despite reported flaws in her trial and appeal process.”

Finally, It is crucial to point put that we are only hearing about a few cases of human rights violations; only a few of these shocking human rights abuses make their way to the international spotlight. As an Iranian human rights activist and lawyer, Shadi, told me on a phone call from Tehran, “Just step in the Islamic courts and you will see that there are tens of thousands of these cases, particularly regarding innocent women, which the media never hear about.”

Achieving his dream of signing a nuclear deal with Iran should not make President Obama silent about human rights violations, the ever increasing rate of child executions, and ongoing crimes against humanity.