Iran regime change is in the making

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stressed in a recent congressional hearing that the U.S. should “work towards the support of those elements inside Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government,” signaling the overhaul needed in Washington’s Iran policy.

From Tehran’s point of view, this was a completely unpleasant surprise, as the Trump administration unexpectedly placed its weight behind those seeking true and democratic change.

Considering escalating public dissent and growing rifts in Iran’s senior hierarchy, the international community should brace for a major impact in developments centered on Iran.

Before and after the May 19 presidential “election,” Iran’s powder-keg society witnessed a major outbreak of protests, especially by investors placing their savings in institutions linked to the state and/or the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).

The vast network associated with the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) has for a year now focused its widespread effort inside the country on raising awareness, especially among the younger generation, about the true nature of this regime’s 38-year report card.

One troubling dossier was the summer 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners in dozens of prisons throughout Iran.  Perpetrators of that horrendous purging enjoy high rank in today’s regime.  Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi is ironically the minister of justice in President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet.

Conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi, known to be the favored candidate of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in the May race, is being groomed to succeed the ill Khamenei in the regime’s ultimate leadership post.  Both Pour-Mohammadi and Raisi were leading members of the four-man “Death Commission” presiding over the mass executions.

Activities and revelations made by the PMOI/MEK network inside Iran exposed those involved in the 1988 massacre.  This turn of events placed Khamenei before a major decision of enforcing his candidate as president and risking a major uprising even more powerful than that of 2009 – that, or succumb to another term of Rouhani as his regime’s president.

Rest assured that despite promising to realize freedoms, Rouhani in his second term bears neither the intention nor the will to realize anything even remotely similar to reforms.
Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2017/07/iran_regime_change_is_in_the_making.html#ixzz4mq2jWhZT
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Trump is right to focus on Iran’s support of terrorism

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By Ivan Sascha Sheehan

Despite the criticism directed at the Trump White House, the administration is to be commended for important changes in U.S. policy toward Iran since taking office.

The Trump administration has made great strides in shifting from the conciliatory gestures of the Obama years to a much firmer stance that acknowledges American intolerance for violent extremism, human rights violations and the support of terrorism. Leading administration figures have repeatedly taken to the airwaves to broadcast this message and carried it with them on official trips abroad. Today the messaging is resonating with officials from both parties and in elite policy circles.

The time has never been better for the White House to focus on Iran’s support of terrorism.

The Syrian crisis has been complicated by the Iranian regime’s determined efforts to arm and defend murderous Syrian President Bashar Assad. Tehran’s rulers have dispatched members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to fight directly in the conflict and recruited Afghan and Pakistani refugees to form entire brigades that fight as mercenaries in exchange for the promise of permanent residence in Iran and work permits that they otherwise would never be able to obtain.

Then there are the true believers — recruited from among Iranian hardliners and Shiite communities throughout the Middle East — who fight as part of a decentralized network of militant groups, many of which have explicitly sworn allegiance to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Further complicating matters are similar groups in Iraq, as well as the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Taken together the Iranian project to promote terrorism and expand its regional hegemony becomes apparent.

To the further credit of the new U.S. administration, it is not only speaking out about Iran’s destructive influence in the Middle East and the world, it is also taking steps to actually confront and contain the regime’s destabilizing influence. Chief among these efforts is President Trump’s insistence that the State Department review the possible designation of the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization. This move by the executive branch spurred action in the legislative branch with the Senate approving a sanctions package that makes the IRGC subject to all terror-related sanctions. This is an important first step, but without further action the Iran-backed terror network will coalesce into something much like what the ISIS militants aspired to create: a region-wide caliphate.

Maryam Rajavi, the president of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), highlighted the regime’s ambition in a statement dated June 7, which noted that the Iranian supreme leader seems to be recognized as a “Caliph.” The observation was made in response to the news of an ISIS terrorist attack in Tehran, and it sought to emphasize that despite the mullahs’ efforts to exploit the incident to portray their regime as a victim of terrorism, the fact remains that President Trump and his allies are right to emphasize that the Islamic Republic is firmly on the wrong side of history— as a supporter, originator and benefactor of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism.

In fact, the NCRI routinely refers to the Iranian regime as the “godfather of ISIS,” partly because of the foundational role that the founders of the Islamic Republic played in promoting political Islam, and partly because Iran specifically backed ISIS predecessor Al-Qaida-in-Iraq against the U.S. during the American occupation of Iraq.

That Iran is now in ISIS’ crosshairs does not diminish these facts. It simply highlights an important point that is sure to be the focus of the NCRI’s Iran Freedom rally in Paris on July 1, namely that the conflicts in the Middle East should never be seen as a contest in which the world accepts the lesser of two evils. Rather, they should be seen as conflicts between moderates of every stripe on one hand and extremists of every stripe on the other.

Whereas President Obama operated from a position that containing ISIS made it necessary to reach out to Iran, despite its own history of terrorism, President Trump has so far been unwilling to make such blithe moral compromises. In the wake of the Tehran attack, he should further challenge the Iranian regime by formally embracing the Iranian Resistance and its plan for regime change. Doing so will give voice to the very moderates who have been marginalized in the Middle East and lay the foundation for a lasting Middle East legacy.

HAS IRAN LAID THE GROUNDWORK TO DEVELOP NUCLEAR WEAPONS ON A MOMENT’S NOTICE?

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BY JACK CARAVELLI AND SEBASTIAN MAIER

The Hill, June 24, 2017 – Hailed as a diplomatic breakthrough at its signing in July 2015, Iran’s nuclear agreement with leading members of the international community—formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—has achieved some notable short-term successes, many in Iran’s favor. Most, not all, of Iran’s nuclear activities are either frozen or highly circumscribed.

In exchange, Iran is reaping the benefit of receipt of billions of dollars in previously frozen assets as well as a return to international commerce where Europe and China, among others, are seeking to invigorate trade and investment with the theocratic regime. This will be a boon for Iran’s chronically mismanaged and struggling economy.

The bad news is that it is misleading to conclude that Iran’s nuclear ambitions have been shuttered or that those ambitions will no longer pose a threat to the security and stability of the Middle East or beyond. This is because the agreement has finite limits, ranging from 10 years to 15 years depending on the issue.

For the time being, Iran has incentives to abide by the agreement’s terms, beginning with its financial windfall and reintegration into the international community. None of that has lessened Iran’s fervor for supporting terrorism or the murderous regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Moreover, even now there are signs Iran in the long-term has no plans to abandon its nuclear program—and all that implies for the possible development of nuclear weapons.

A recent report from the highly credible Institute for Science and International Security takes note of a statement from Ali Akbar Salehi, the director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. According to the Institute report and quoting Salehi, Iran “has the capability to initiate mass production of advanced centrifuges on short notice.” Centrifuges are the machinery that enriches uranium and creates the fissile material needed to make a nuclear weapon.

While Iran may make the specious claim it has the right to do so in coming years, on practical grounds there should be no reason for Iran to devote resources to this activity if it does not intend, as it so claims, to pursue a nuclear weapons capability. Mass production of advanced centrifuges, if carried out, would give Iran a decided advantage if it wanted to shorten a rush to a nuclear weapon.

Similarly, Iran continues to develop its ballistic missile program, an element of its defense regime that was left unhindered in the nuclear negotiations except for the fact that existing United Nationssanctions on the missile program are to be lifted in about six years.

The capability to deliver nuclear weapons to targets is all important; Iran recognizes this requirement and makes no secret of its commitment to maintaining and advancing its program. At present, Iran has ballistic missiles capable of attacking targets throughout the Middle East and probably beyond.

In addition, Iran also continues to defy repeated international requests to come clean on suspect activities at the Parchin military facility where suspicions for years have been high that Iran carried out high explosives testing that can only be useful in developing a nuclear weapon.

Much of the international community would be pleased to see these and related questions not resurface but they are inconvenient truths that if left unaddressed may well lead to a future crisis.

The mechanism to take up these issues is the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency. Most nations around the globe are IAEA members and they merit a clear understanding of Iran’s activities, in no small measure to convince them that the international community can deal with Iran successfully and that Iranian actions can be monitored credibly.

That conclusion cannot be reached with credibility until much more is known about the pace and scope of Iran’s nuclear and missile activities. Until those questions are resolved it is fair to conclude that Iran’s actions since the signing of the JCPOA are troubling and raise new suspicions.

Jack Caravelli served on the White House National Security Council staff from 1999-2000. Sebastian Maier is an associate with the London-based corporate intelligence firm GMTL.

STRUAN STEVENSON: REPRISALS ARE NOT THE ANSWER TO TERROR

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by Struan Stevenson

The Finsbury Park mosque attack in London is the latest horrific outrage to stun public opinion.

 So many innocent lives have been taken in recent terrorist attacks that many people in the UK are now clamoring for an appropriate response.
 The tit-for-tat nature of these events plays perfectly into the hands of the terrorists, whose aim is to set one section of society against another.
 We must not allow this to happen. It is too easy to get caught up in debates about the proportional value of solutions that involve an increased security presence and those that call for deeper engagement with, for example,

Muslim communities, to identify and root out extremist voices within. But following the Finsbury Park atrocity, should we also be calling for deeper engagement and surveillance within primarily white, British communities to root out extremists?

Following the Manchester and London Bridge atrocities there was an inevitable reaction from certain factions of the public and even some factions of the political establishment that immediately attempted to lay the blame at the feet of our British Muslim communities.

This is a common knee-jerk reaction, which is not only logically unsound it is also terribly impractical, because the demonization and alienation of moderate Muslims from British society is just the outcome that the terrorists would like.

 
 There is a naïve assumption that if moderate Muslims were just more vigilant, the authorities in Britain and throughout the Western world would never be caught off guard by new attacks. But Muslim communities are just as caught off guard as we are and they are no more to blame for the Manchester or London attacks than the majority of white Britons were to blame for the Finsbury Park mosque outrage.

The extremists who murdered indiscriminately in Manchester and on London Bridge are no more representatives of the Muslim community than the white driver of the van who allegedly ploughed into innocent bystanders outside Finsbury Park Mosque can be said to represent the majority white British community. These people are extremists. They are fanatics. We cannot and must not attempt to label the communities they come from in the same fashion.

People affected by the recent attacks need our support. It was heart-warming to see the response from all sectors of society for the survivors of each of these tragedies, in particular the horrific Grenfell Flats fire. Muslims, Christians, people of all religions and none, came together to provide money, clothing, food and shelter, confounding the hate preachers and lifting the dark shadow which has been cast over peace-loving people everywhere.

Britons of every ethnic and religious background must work together to make sure that police forces are given the assistance they need, that moderate and peaceful dialogue is maintained no matter what the underlying ideology and that the extreme fringe of Islam, right-wing fascists, left-wing thugs, or indeed any other religious or political movement are denied a platform anywhere in our society.

The extremists on both sides want us to believe that Islam and Western democracy are incompatible. Their objective is to force more and more impressionable people to take a side. But of course this is simply wrong-headed. Anti-democratic systems of government in places like Iran are not a consequence of the dominant religion, they are simply a blight on the region that prevents mainstream Muslims bringing their religion fully into the light of the modern world. Still, the world is full of Muslim citizens who are striving to achieve that goal, either by participating in and actively supporting the societies and political institutions of the UK and other Western democracies, or by struggling to bring a secular, democratic system of government to the Middle Eastern nations that gave rise to ISIS and other forms of violent, political Islam in the first place.

For example, in Paris on July 1, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) will be holding its annual Iran Freedom rally, which in recent years has been attended by upwards of 100,000 Iranian expatriates and their European supporters, including hundreds of dignitaries from political and academic circles in various nations of the world. Each such event reiterates the 10-point plan for democracy and justice promoted by NCRI President Maryam Rajavi, a Muslim like the overwhelming majority of the organization’s members. The plan calls for a truly secular democratic government in Iran, where religion is separated from the state, the death penalty is abolished and men and women have equal rights.

A plan that repudiates the existing regime’s long history of sponsoring terrorism and bolstering sectarian conflicts in the region and throughout the world.

This and other gatherings of moderate Muslims should serve as a reminder to the people of the UK and Europe in the aftermath of recent terrorist attacks that there are Muslims all around us who dedicate their very lives to demonstrating the abiding compatibility between Islam and our cherished rights to live, believe and worship in freedom and peace.

Those of us who are not of the same faith and those of us of no faith must do everything in our power to promote that message and to recognize that the conflict at hand is not between Islam and the West, but rather between extremists and those who believe in coexistence and would defend the rights of all people from Britain to Middle East and throughout the world.

Iran’s missile launches: A sign of strength or weakness?

 

How should we evaluate Iran’s medium-range missile strikes, boasted by the mullahs as an official response to the June 7th twin attacks allegedly staged by ISIS in Tehran? As a sign of strength showing Iran’s ability to take on ISIS while also sending a message to all adversaries, most importantly Washington? Or a desperate attempt by the mullahs to maintain a straight face against increasing domestic and foreign crises?

Iran last resorted to such drastic measures of launching ballistic missiles from its soil back in the final days of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988 after suffering major defeats, and once again in 2001 against former bases of the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) in Iraq in response to a vast opposition camp inside the country. This proves Tehran will fall to such lows when pinned against the wall as a last resort.

The question is, why would Iran launch expensive medium-range missiles, knowing it has yet to perfect a precision guiding system (as three of the seven missiles landed in Iraq and three others were far off their targets in Deir Ezzur)? Furthermore, Iran boasts of having tens of thousands proxy shock troops in Syria propping the Assad regime and there are also reports of Tehran launching missile factories in Syria. So why the need to use such poorly guided medium-range missiles from their own turf?

This was nothing but a publicity stunt following the June 7th attacks, and Iran seeking to take advantage of the entire scenario to press the gas pedal on domestic crackdown and justify their foreign meddling in the Middle East and beyond. I have explained my thoughts extensively in a Forbes and Al Arabiya English article.

Despite targeting Syria in this missile attack, Iran mainly intended to deliver a message to Saudi Arabia. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) accused Riyadh and also Washington over the June 7th attacks.

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2017/06/irans_missile_launches_a_sign_of_strength_or_weakness.html#ixzz4l79QMiAU
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