Posted tagged ‘Trump and Iranian protests’

Congress Concerned Another Obama ‘Secret Deal’ With Iran Derailed New Sanctions on Tehran

January 17, 2018

Congress Concerned Another Obama ‘Secret Deal’ With Iran Derailed New Sanctions on Tehran, Washington Free Beacon , January 17, 2018

Iranian students protest at the University of Tehran during a demonstration driven by anger over economic problems / Getty Images

Sources familiar with internal discussions over the IRIB issue told the Free Beacon that State Department officials have supported waiving sanctions on the Iranian broadcasting agency in order to uphold the 2013 agreement.

Officials claim there is no evidence Iran is jamming broadcasts and censoring content, despite repeated claims of such activity by Iranian protesters in the country, sources said.

However, there is mounting evidence that Iran continues to jam certain broadcasts and commit human rights abuses, according to experts.

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The Trump administration State Department is working to suppress new sanctions on Iran’s propaganda network that were promised to be implemented by the White House in response to a wave of protests that have gripped the Islamic Republic for weeks, according to multiple sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon about the matter.

The White House vowed in the opening days of Iran’s countrywide protests against the ruling government that it would take steps to level sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, or IRIB, a satellite service that disseminates propaganda across Iran and routinely censors content.

While Iranian protesters and opponents of the country’s hardline government welcomed the White House’s decision, the State Department is believed to be working against the effort in order to uphold a little-known deal with Iran that was struck during the Obama administration.

The apparent reversal has raised questions in Congress about the nature of the agreement between the Obama administration and Iran that prevents new sanctions on the IRIB. It also has sparked criticism from regional experts who view the move as part of a bid by the State Department to continue appeasing the Iranian ruling regime at a time when dissidents are pleading for help from the United States.

The Obama administration struck a deal in 2013 with Iran that waived existing sanctions on the IRIB as part of an agreement reached under the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization, or ITSO.

Since that agreement, the United States has waived sanctions every 180 days on the IRIB, despite evidence it continues to censor content and jam broadcasts the hardline ruling regime finds unacceptable, sources said.

The little-known ITSO agreement with Iran is receiving new scrutiny as lawmakers try to determine how the Obama administration reached this deal and why many in Congress were never briefed on the matter.

“At such an important inflection point in Iranian history as brave Iranians are protesting an illegitimate tyranny, it defies logic that the State Department could be waiving sanctions to assist the Iranian regime,” Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees told the Free Beacon.

DeSantis is exploring avenues to obtain further information about the 2013 agreement and the context in which it was struck.

“Congress needs to get more information about this specific waiver and why waiving such sanctions is necessary at this moment given that the protesters are calling for more sanctions against the regime,” DeSantis said.

The White House signaled earlier this month, as the protests in Iran erupted, that it would no longer waive sanctions on the IRIB to boost the demonstrators and cut off the Islamic Republic’s chief propaganda organ.

However, the State Department favors continuing the waivers in order to uphold the Obama-era deal with Iran, according to multiple sources.

A State Department official acknowledged the existence of the deal, but would not provide the Free Beacon with details of the agreement, information on how it was struck, and whether Congress had a say in the matter.

This has raised even more questions with lawmakers and experts tracking the situation.

“The administration periodically renews the relevant sanctions waivers to allow international satellite companies to provide satellite broadcast service to IRIB in accordance with an understanding reached with the Iranian government under the auspices of the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO) in 2013, where Iran committed to ensure that harmful interference does not emanate from its territory,” a State Department official, speaking on background, told the Free Beacon.

This waiver must be renewed every 180 days, the official said.

It also remains unclear if the deal with Iran was struck under the auspices of the landmark nuclear agreement or the negotiations that led to it.

A Treasury Department official directed questions about the IRIB sanctions to the State Department, but told the Free Beacon the entity is still subject to some sanctions by the United States

“Treasury can confirm that IRIB is still designated pursuant to Executive Order 13628 and remains on our SDN [Specially Designated Nationals] List,” the official said, pointing to a 2013 announcement of actions against the broadcaster. “IRIB is subject to secondary sanctions for activity outside the scope of the State Department-issued waiver.”

Saeed Ghasseminejad, an Iran expert who tracks sanctions with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, expressed concern the Trump State Department is operating as if the Obama administration was still in power.

“The Iranian protesters specifically asked the Trump administration to ban the IRIB,” Ghasseminejad said. “Issuing a waiver for an entity whose job is to broadcast lies and promote violence against the protesters and pro-democracy movement in Iran and to prepare the ground for their arrest, torture, and execution is a slap in the protesters’ face.”

Former Secretary of State “John Kerry is gone and the United States has a new Iran policy but Foggy Bottom still follows the Obama era policy of appeasement,” he said.

Sources familiar with internal discussions over the IRIB issue told the Free Beacon that State Department officials have supported waiving sanctions on the Iranian broadcasting agency in order to uphold the 2013 agreement.

Officials claim there is no evidence Iran is jamming broadcasts and censoring content, despite repeated claims of such activity by Iranian protesters in the country, sources said.

However, there is mounting evidence that Iran continues to jam certain broadcasts and commit human rights abuses, according to experts.

Mahmood Enayat, director of the Small Media Foundation, an organization that advocates for the free flow of information in Iran, said satellite broadcasts are routinely jammed by the Iranian regime.

“Iran has certainly stopped orbital jamming but it has been continuing with terrestrial jamming, making it impossible for millions of Iranians to watch satellite TV channels broadcast from outside Iran, including VOA and BBC” said Enayat, who recently published a report on the matter.

Some insiders familiar with the agreement, which has not been mentioned in federal records since 2015, view it as another secret deal with Iran that was hidden from the American public, much like a series of secret side deals reached between the Obama administration and Iran as part of the nuclear deal.

One senior congressional official tracking the situation told the Free Beacon that lawmakers would try to scrap any previously unearthed secret agreements with Iran.

“As Iranians are protesting in the streets, our State Department is really considering waiving sanctions against the regime’s mouth piece?” the source asked. “We should be exerting maximum pressure on the regime and its backers, not letting them off the hook.”

“If this decision to take it easy on the regime’s broadcasting arm is pursuant to some secret side deal reached under the Obama administration, it’s time to expose this arrangement and terminate it, not abide by it,” added the source, who was not authorized to speak on record. “The State Department needs to get on the same page as the White House and start rolling out coherent Iran policy to push back against the regime.”

What we Have Learned From the Iran Protests

January 12, 2018

What we Have Learned From the Iran Protests, Iran News Update, January 11, 2018

INU – The Iran protests loom ever more important with U.S. President Trump’s upcoming on Friday regarding the Iran nuclear deal.

Although Iran’s state media claims the protests have come to an end, still, cities and towns continue to express their discontent. The struggle remains, between the Iranian people and this regime — already weakened by domestic unrest, internal rifts, and international pressures.

An important issue that sets this apart from the previous nationwide protests in 2009 and 1999 is the reference made by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to the party behind these rallies. While Tehran pointing fingers at Washington, London, Israel and the Saudis is not new, Khamenei made a statement in which he pointed to the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). The significance of this is that it may be an indication of the regime’s real concerns.

According to Reuters, “As well as Washington and London, Khamenei blamed the violence on Israel, exiled dissident group People’s Mujahedin of Iran and ‘a wealthy government’ in the Gulf, a probable reference to Iran’s regional rival, Saudi Arabia.”

In his article for Forbes, Heshmat Alavi writes, “This recent wave of protests is setting the grounds with new sets of rules and understandings.” Displayed below, are what Alavi indicates as these new rules and understandings:

1) The Iranian people no longer fear in expressing their true feelings, seen in the nationwide slogan of “Death to Khamenei.” Such a brave measure in the past would bear the potential of earning you a heavy prison term, if not a death sentence.

Once the Islamic Republic’s greatest taboo, chanting “Death to Khamenei” is now the norm in #Iran.Southern schoolkids chant against regime’s Supreme Leader. Doesn’t take a genius to work out Khamenei’s approval rating among parents in the city – via #MEK activists. #IranProtests — M. Hanif Jazayeri (@HanifJazayeri) 2:58 PM – Jan 8, 2018

2) Unlike previous uprisings, these demonstrations are mushrooming across the country, reaching over 130 cities and towns, according to activists. Places less heard of before, such as Izeh, Dorud, Shahin Shahr and etc. are now seen leading the growing wave of protests. Brave demonstrators are threatening the regime’s very pillars to an extent that security forces have opened fire and killed dozens of protesters, arresting thousands, according to reports.

3) From the second day of this uprising protesters have shown their overcoming of prior fears through responding to the security forces’ attacks and quelling. State vehicles, motorcycles, makeshift police stations and other facilities are being set ablaze by protesters in response to the regime’s unbridled crackdown.

House Passes Resolution Supporting Iranian Protestors 415-2

January 10, 2018

House Passes Resolution Supporting Iranian Protestors 415-2, BreitbartPenny Starr, January 9, 2018

AP Photo/Frank Augstein

The crowd in Los Angeles also expressed thanks to President Donald Trump for his outspoken support of the protesters, according to tweets posted during the weekend.

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The House of Representatives approved House Resolution 676 on Tuesday, putting into the Congressional Record its support for the protesters that have taken to the streets in cities across Iran in opposition to its oppressive radical Islamic government.

HR 676 reads: “Supporting the rights of the people of Iran to free expression, condemning the Iranian regime for its crackdown on legitimate protests, and for other purposes.”

House approves resolution in support of Iran protests, 415-2

Two Republicans voted against the resolution: Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Thomas Massie (R-KY).

The House Radio and TV Gallery confirmed to Breitbart News the vote count and the two members who voted “no” on the resolution.

 The regime in Iran has insisted the protests have been put down, but supporters — including those who have held rallies across the United States in recent days — say the protesters need support for their cause to bring about a Democratic Republic in the country.

Hundreds gathered in Washington, DC, and an estimated 2,000 in Los Angeles, California, over the weekend in support of the protesters.

“Let us declare our solidarity with the people of Iran,” Amir Emadi — whose father was one of 52 Iranian refugees killed in 2013 by Iraqi security forces in Camp Ashraf, Iraq — said at the rally in the nation’s capital.

“We are gathered here to say to the international community; you must recognize the legitimate right of the people of Iran and overthrow the ruling religious dictatorship and establish a secular, democratic, Republic of Iran,” Emadi said. “You must strongly condemn and hold accountable the Iranian regime for murder and mass arrest of defenseless protesters.”

“You must impose sanctions on the regime for killings and arrests during current uprisings,” said Emadi, who supports the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

At least 21 protesters have been killed since protests began on December 27, but some say the number is much higher. Authorities in Iran have said that at least 450 people weredetained, but the U.S. Department of State said the number could be as many as 1,000, CNN reported.

The crowd in Los Angeles also expressed thanks to President Donald Trump for his outspoken support of the protesters, according to tweets posted during the weekend.