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  • Masoud Dalvand 5:17 pm on March 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    ANALYSIS: Here’s how to blueprint the most effective Iran policy 

    Here_s how to blueprint the most effective Iran policy

    Iran has been continuing its series of blatant measures in defiance of norms accepted as standard by the international community, all as the Trump administration continues to weigh on blacklisting the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). Iran has gone as far as pledging to launch “roaring missiles” in response to threats. To this day, several ballistic missile launches – capable of delivering nuclear payloads – have been Tehran’s report card.

    Reports also show Iran increasing its support of the Houthis in Yemen by providing “Kamikazi” drones, water and airborne, to threaten shipping lines in Bab el-Mandeb and most certainly Saudi Navy ships, as weapons analysts confirmed forces aligned with former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh are also using these weapons to target missile-defense systems used by Saudi-led coalition units.

    And after harassing US warships in the Strait of Hormuz, Iran has gone as far as not only denying the entire ordeal, but also holding Washington responsible for any future face-offs in a shipping route key for international oil trade.

    Iran’s objective

    Fully aware of its weak and outdated military capabilities, the mullahs are attempting to both keep a straight face at home and obtain as much leverage as possible in regards to the new White House completely overhauling its predecessor’s Iran engagement approach.

    Trump has shown his muscular perspective through an array of thorny statements followed by new sanctions, welcomed by the Iranian opposition. However, if Washington is truly serious about returning peace and security to the Middle East, targeting the destabilizing epicenter is crucial.

    The Trump White House is continuously pledging more severe US action if the mullahs see their interests in continuing to breach international norms by taking on prohibited missile launches.

    A number of Iranian first official dismissed the tough talk by President Trump over the deal that initially aimed to curb Iran’s nuclear program as nothing but empty rhetoric usually resorted to on the campaign trail. However, through appointing Gen. James Mattis as his defense secretary and with a second round of sanctions against Iran, many voices are being silenced.

    A bad deal

    With the nuclear deal being described as “weak and ineffective” by President Trump, his administration has moved forward to addressing another very important matter in the US-Iran relationship. As Tehran was witnessing its money and influence going down the drain, the nuclear deal provided the regime an escape route to evade a military conflict.

    And while the accord was claimed to focus on weakening the mullahs’ regime and boosting the Iranian people’s status, the concessions provided by the Obama administration delivered the exact life support the regime needed both economically and symbolically.

    As sanctions were rolled back, Iran’s practice of resorting to destabilizing measures across the region was provided a waterfall of financial support to sidestep a military conflict. This also greenlighted Iran to relaunch its illicit activity, only to be slapped warnings and sanctions in the past month or so by a new White House.

    Despite senior Iranian officials being very active in voicing dissent, the consequences of America and allies regaining a very serious position on Iran and closing the nuclear deal faucet is crystal clear.

    Targeting the roots

    Trump has also taken the initiative of challenging Iran’s extended offensive with proxy groups throughout the region, threatening America’s interests and allies. After eight years of the Obama administration adopting a policy of nearly abandoning the Middle East at Iran’s will, the Trump administration has shown signs in complete contrast.

    Iran’s support for the Assad regime in Syria, sectarian Shiite militias in Iraq, the Houthis in Yemen and the Lebanese Hezbollah are the leverages Tehran must be deprived of.

    Iran also comprehends quite well its firepower is no match for US arsenal, and resorting to mercenaries to obtain a charade of regional dominance. The White House has acknowledged the fluid and dynamic nature of the Middle East, and pinpointing Iran’s support for the Houthis as a group affronting the Saudi’s southern border.

    This is a significant change of attitude as the Obama administration never acknowledged such a relation. This provided Iran a green light to expand its impact and direct regional proxy groups to spread terrorism and havoc throughout the Middle East. All eyes are now on the Trump administration, seeking a major strategy against Iran’s network of proxies. This can most specifically be achieved by severing all flows of funds and arms from the source: the IRGC.

    Riyadh has also welcomed the new White House’s more serious approach regarding the Middle East, and backing America’s allies who are currently struggling to prevent transnational terrorists, including ISIS, and specifically focusing efforts to end Iran’s meddling in countries such as Yemen.

    Swift and punitive response

    Iran poses a major concern for international security, demonstrated in the Trump administration condemning the country’s support for terrorism on a broad scale. Funding and arming the Lebanese Hezbollah, knee-deep in the Syria crisis with arms and boots transferring, Shiite proxies on a rampage against Sunni minorities in Iraq in the name of fighting ISIS, and as mentioned above, the Houthis in Yemen.

    True, the Trump administration has many cards to play against the regime in Tehran. Iran’s crusades in these four Arab countries can be brought to an end through one single measure. A swift and punitive response from the White House can be found in the US and all international correspondents designating Iran’s IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization, ending the naïve policy of appeasement vis-à-vis Iran.

    Through such measures the Trump administration will have correctly acknowledged the actual source of turmoil in the Middle East. It is high time for the West, and especially the US, to adopt a smart strategy targeting Iran’s key pillars in its network of international terrorism and draining the swamp of Tehran’s overreach across the region.

    Originally published in Al Arabiya English

    Heshmat Alavi is a political and rights activist. His writing focuses on Iran, ranging from human rights violations, social crackdown, the regime’s support for terrorism and meddling in foreign countries, and the controversial nuclear program. He tweets at @HeshmatAlavi & blogs at IranCommentary.

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  • Masoud Dalvand 8:11 pm on March 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    IRGC and Fake News 

    In light of the Trump administration’s recent attacks on various news agencies for printing “fake news”, discussions have sprung up everywhere, from blogs to social media and even a Wikipedia listing.

    The wave of fake news stems from the ability of social media to distribute information as fast as fingers can swipe a touchscreen. As a result, it has been harder for ordinary people to determine what is real and what is not. One example is the Iranian lobby and its opposition to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) being designated a foreign terrorist organization by the Trump administration.

    Part of the issue is that many individuals and organizations already think that the IRGC is designated a terrorist supporter, but that is not entirely correct. Past administrations have designated individuals associated with the IRGC and shell companies operated by the IRGC, which sponsors and supports terrorism. As a result, the IRGC have been involved in evading international sanctions.

    However, there has not been a sanction or designation put on the IRGC as a whole organization. This is one of the most powerful and pervasive organizations in Iran, and an economic powerhouse with its own businesses in addition to its funding from the Iranian government.

    Much of the wealth that it accrues is used to line the pockets of its leaders and their families, as well as supporting a military network used by its Quds Forces to carry out missions throughout the region and terrorist attacks. They also supply arms to hot beds of instability, including Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

    The issue for many U.S. administrations is how to confront the IRGC, as it is the heart and muscle that obeys the commands of the regime ruthlessly. The Iran lobby has used the argument that censuring the IRGC as a whole would amount to a catastrophe and ruin any hopes for a peaceful resolution. In fact, groups have used the specter of war as a response to sanctioning the IRGC.

    The logic is twisted and perverse, because it argues that if a violent felon is in your house and threatens you and your family, bashing him on the head with a baseball bat may lead to a violent confrontation. So instead, meekly submit and allow that criminal to do whatever they wish and everything will be alright.

    It is this logic that led to the nuclear agreement with the regime that did not include provisions to address the human rights abuses nor any political reforms to move Iran towards a freer, open and democratic government. Iranian regime’s lobby in the U.S., The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) issued a statement that indicated legislative efforts by the U.S. could actually be a violation of the 2015 nuclear agreement. He even argues that any new sanctions could kill the nuclear deal. But that ignores the fact that nuclear-related issues are separate from non-nuclear issues.

    Yet that ignore what a driver of chaos and instability that the IRGC is within the region. Only direct action against the group and its financial lifelines can end its destructive control within the region.

    Source: IRGC and Fake News

     
    • Ivana - Orbis Marketing 10:29 pm on March 26, 2017 Permalink

      Hello! I really like your blog and I think what you write and stand for is very important so I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. You can see the rules in my new blog post.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Masoud Dalvand - Freedom Star 6:01 am on March 27, 2017 Permalink

      Hi, dear Ivana, thank you so much for kind words, you have a big heart Ivana, you know It’s my life, my struggle for my homeland so I’ll continue until achieve to goal: a free Iran with human rights and freedom and democracy. I’ll read your new article Ivana, I think your weblog and your articles are very interesting and so useful. Thanks for great job that you have done and you will do. Good luck my friend.

      Like

    • Ivana - Orbis Marketing 8:04 am on March 27, 2017 Permalink

      I think you are doing a great and brave job for your country. If only there are more people like you and the world would be better place. I really hope you will succeed in your fight because every human being deserves freedom, democracy and right to live free life without oppression. I wish you luck!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Krista Negro 10:23 am on March 27, 2017 Permalink

      I think these fake news have a lot to do with psychology of camp.

      Like

    • Masoud Dalvand - Freedom Star 4:21 pm on March 27, 2017 Permalink

      Many thanks Ivana, you are a great friend.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Masoud Dalvand - Freedom Star 4:30 pm on March 27, 2017 Permalink

      Please explain more, what do you mean by psychology of camp? and what is related to this article? thank you Krista.

      Like

    • onlinestressrelief 12:04 pm on May 13, 2017 Permalink

      It has to do a lot with exaggeration, be it for the good or the bad. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you a lot about it because I am also still learning about it, but the internet is not such a good source as there are not many useful resources out there.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Masoud Dalvand 8:05 pm on March 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Women’s Rights Continue to be Oppressed Under ‘Moderate’ President Rouhani 

    Iran’s human rights abuses have been well documented by a variety of sources, including the latest report by the UN Special Rapporteur assigned to Iran. However, various factions have argued that Iran is dominated by hardliners and a more moderate faction. They point to the election of President Rouhani as proof that Iran’s regime can be changed from within.

    Iranian women University 001

    But has Rouhani’s record in office truly demonstrated a more moderate stance by the government? The facts seem to indicate that Rouhani’s ‘moderate’ stance is just more the same hardliner oppression packaged in a different box. One area of particular concern is women’s rights or lack thereof, within Iran.

    As the world marked International Women’s Day in early March, Rouhani has attempted to cloud his own contributions to the oppression of women in Iran. Yet his record actually shows his support for the Iranian regime’s hard line against women. In his own memoirs, Rouhani even explains in detail how in 1980 he began enforcing mandatory hijab regulations as the mullahs began their historical campaign against Iranian women.

    His time in office has also been marked by systematic oppression against women, workers, college students, writers, journalists, dissident bloggers, imposing poverty and unemployment on a majority of Iranians. Political prisoners, including women, are subject to ill-treatment and torture, as well as isolation from their families and legal representation.

    Iran Women Graphics 001

    The number of executions is also averaging two to three people on a daily basis. While a member of the Iranian Parliament, Rouhani was quoted as saying, “Conspirators must be hanged in public before the people during Friday prayers to have more influence.”

    While Iranian women have a high rate of college education, they are limited in their ability to enter the workforce, even in comparison to their counterparts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Rouhani has pledged to set aside all barriers to women and provide them a larger share in politics and economics, but this pledge, like so many others, has rang hollow.

    “Based on numbers, around 300,000 women were working and enjoying social security insurance. However, these numbers have diminished to 100,000,” said Soheila Jelodarzadeh, advisor to Rouhani’s Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade to the official ILNA news agency. This advisor also acknowledged that in many cases, women were only receiving less than a third of the set minimum wage.

    Iranian women university002

    No Ministry of Women’s Affairs has ever been formed, despite the promises of Rouhani to do so. While there are no specific figures regarding the number of women that have been arrested, tortured, and executed under Rouhani’s watch, many in the international community fear those figures would be troubling.

    Being stoned to death is still a punishment in Iran, and women are still sentenced to this punishment for a variety of reasons. Other within the international community have repeated pointed to the discrimination women in Iran face in terms of marriage, divorce, access to their children, and even inheritance. Women cannot even work or travel without the consent of their husbands or a family relative.

    Women are also banned from attending sporting events, and female musicians are not allowed to perform in public. A large number of gender segregation rules also contribute to the regime’s goal of forcing women to stay at home and refrain from taking to the streets and potentially causing trouble for the state.

    Source: Women’s Rights Continue to be Oppressed Under ‘Moderate’ President Rouhani

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 6:03 pm on March 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Iran Celebrates Its New Year Traditions 

    iran-nowroz-003

    The Iranian New Year is traditionally at the exact astronomical beginning of spring. Nowruz, which means new day, has been celebrated with unique characteristics for over 3,000 years. The celebration is also deeply rooted in the rituals and traditions of the Zoroastrian, which was the religion of ancient Persia before the advent of Islam in the 7th century.

    This is the biggest celebration of the year. As part of the tradition, before the New Year, Iranians start cleaning their houses and buying new clothes.

    But a major part of the rituals surrounding the New Year is the setting of the “Haft Seen” with seven specific items. In ancient times, each of these items were connected to the seven creations and seven immortals protecting them. All seven of them start with an “S”, although this was not the order in ancient times.

    The seven things used are:

    Seeb (apple)
    Sabze (green grass)
    Serke (vinegar)
    Samanoo (a meal made out of wheat)
    Senjed (a special kind of berry)
    Sekke (coin)
    Seer (garlic)
    However, sometimes Serke is replaced by Somagh (sumac, an Iranian spice). Those who still practice Zoroastrian have the ritual of growing seven seeds as a reminder that this is the seventh feast of creation, while their new growth symbolizes resurrection and eternal life to come.

    iran-nowroz-002 iran-nowroz-004
    Other key parts of the tradition include growing wheat or lentil in a flat dish. Decorated with colorful ribbons, it is kept until Sizdah beh dar, the 13th day of the New Year before being disposed of outdoors. A few live goldfish are also kept, although at the end of the celebration, the family can opt to keep them versus returning them to the river. Mirrors are placed on this spread with lit candles as a symbol of fire. They also add a copy of the Qoran or the Divan-e Hafez to their spread to bless the New Year. Reading verses from these books was also popular to do during “Saal Tahvil”. Nowadays, a large number of Iranians have chosen to place the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi on their spread, because they believe that this is a better reflection of the Iranian identity values and spirits.

    After the Saal Tahvil, people wish each other a happy new year with signs of affection, such as hugs and kisses. They also give each other presents, which traditionally include cash, coins or gold coins. This tradition is usually carried out by older ones gifting these items to younger ones. The first few days of the new year are spent visiting older members of the family, along with other friends and relatives.

    Children also enjoy the celebration, as they receive presents and sweets. One special treat is Aajil, which is a combination of different nuts with raisins and other sweet stuff included. The night before New Year’s, Iranians will have Sabzi Polo Mahi, which is a dish of cooked rice with fresh herbs and eggs (baked or fried), along with freshly smoked or fried fish. Other key dishes include Koukou Sabzi, a mixture of fresh herbs and baked or fried eggs. On New Year’s Day, Reshteh Polo is served, which is a dish of rice and noodles. As with all celebrations, there are regional variations and some areas choose to prepare colorful feasts as part of their celebration.

    The 13th day of the New Year is called Sizdah Bedar. As part of this day, people are mostly outdoors, going to parks or local plains for a festive picnic. The Sabze is also disposed of on this day. Part of the reasoning behind this tradition is that 13 is considered unlucky. By being outdoors, Iranians avoid misfortunes. Unwed girls can also wish for a husband by going into the fields and tying a knot between green shoots to symbolize the marital bond.

    In the West, New Year’s Eve is a time of great celebration, as the old year is ushered out. Iranians have a tradition called Chahar-Shanbeh Soori, which takes place before Saal Tahvil, on the last Wednesday of the old year. People set up a bonfire on Tuesday night and the young and old leap over the fires with songs and make merry.

    Some of the Nowruz Greetings include:

    Nowruz Mobarak – Happy New Year

    Eid-eh Shoma Mobarak – Happy New Year to you

    Nowruz Pirooz – Wishing you a Prosperous New Year

    Sad Saal be in Saal-ha – Wishing you 100 more Happy New Years

    This is a time of celebration in Iran and a time to spend with family and friends, while welcoming in the new year and a fresh beginning.

    Source: Iran Celebrates Its New Year Traditions 

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 10:49 pm on March 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Iran elections: A new crisis facing the regime 

    Liked by 1 person

    Iran Liberty

    By Shahriar Kia

    From the day after his death, members of the faction in Iran following the example set by former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani have expressed major concerns over their future.

    Rafsanjani is gone and others in the same regime faction have lost their main figure in the Iranian regime’s establishment. What demands understanding, especially for those in the West, is that Iran is no democracy with two or more political parties. It is a dictatorship system similar to those dating back to the Middle Ages, with various factions seeking to further their influence and control under one ultimate leading figure.

    View original post 546 more words

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 10:44 pm on March 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Maryam Rajavi: Let us turn the New Year into the year of defeat for religious fascism in Iran and the region 

    Nowruz Maryam Rajvi

    In a grand gathering in Tirana, Albania, on the occasion of the Persian New Year, the Iranian Resistance’s President-elect Maryam Rajavi wished that the New Year would be the year of breaking the chains of the religious fascism ruling Iran. Today marked the beginning of the Iranian New Year or Nowrouz that starts with the arrival of spring.  Mrs. Rajavi wished the looming of the spring of freedom and national sovereignty, the failure of the mullahs’ belligerence in the region, and the year of emancipation of the defenseless people of Syria from the clutches of the clerical regime ruling Iran.

    Thousands of members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) took part in the grand event.

     John Bolton, former US Ambassador to UN; Robert Torricelli, former member of the US Senate; David Muniz, deputy US Ambassador in Albania,  Jean-Pierre Muller, Mayor of Magny en Vexin and member of Val d’Oise Provincial Council; and Bruno Macé, Mayor of Villiers Adam from France, took part in the gathering.  A considerable number of political personalities from Albania including Elona Gjebrea, Deputy Minister of Interior; Pandeli Majko, former Prime Minister; Fatmir Mediu, former Defense Minister and leader of the Republican Party; and Archbishop of Tirana Rev. George Frendo took part in the gathering.

    Elaborating on the crises entangling the Iranian regime particularly in the impasse of its upcoming elections, Maryam Rajavi pointed out, “Today, Khamenei faces three major predicaments in determining the fate of the regime’s election sham: First, fearing the Iranian people’s Resistance and uprising; second, the US policy in the region which has seriously alarmed the regime; and third, the dilemma over Khamenei’s succession which has led to a deep crisis within the regime. The people of Iran do not heed the regime’s sham elections and will boycott it as they always have. Based on the acknowledgements made by the regime’s officials, various strata of the people of Iran staged some 7 to 11 thousand protests last year against the regime’s policies. Beyond any protest, this is a daily drill for uprooting the regime’s injustice and oppression. Therefore, Western governments must not fall for the regime’s hoaxes and farcical elections and victimize the people of Iran. The policy of overlooking the Iranian people’s human rights, freedom and Resistance can no longer be continued.”

    She said, “The people of Iran and other countries in the region expect that the US would consider a fundamental revision of its policy of the past 16 years. Nothing has been more helpful to the regime in Iran than US appeasement. Every policy on Iran and the Middle East which does not respect the Iranian people’s struggle for freedom and does not endorse the urgent demand of the peoples of the region to expel the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) is doomed to fail. The overthrow of the mullahs’ religious tyranny is the responsibility of the Iranian people and Resistance. But we expect an end to the concessions and assistances which have contributed to the continued rule of the regime for years. To this end, all commercial and diplomatic relations must be made contingent on an end to executions and torture, the regime’s criminal and invasive forces must be expelled from the region, the IRGC must be placed on the list of terrorist organizations, and the Iranian people’s struggle for freedom must be recognized.”

    John Bolton while thanking the Albanian government for accepting members of the PMOI said: “The golden era of the mullahs’ relations with the U.S. is over. It is vitally important that the whole world know that the US policy on Iran and its sponsored terrorism has fundamentally changed.” He said the Iranian regime is a rogue regime and its life expectancy is very short indeed and added “the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps should be put on the U.S. terror list as early as possible.” Ambassador Bolton stressed:  “The declared policy of the United States should be regime change in Iran, the sooner the better.”

    Senator Torricelli praised the perseverance of the PMOI members in Iraq over the years in the face of the regime’s deadly attacks and continued pressures and said “one woman, Maryam Rajavi, made the decision to save 3000 lives, a movement and the hope and aspiration for Iran’s future…It has been the honor of my life to be a soldier of your movement in the darkest days of your country.”

    Pandeli Majko, former Prime Minister of Albania, pointed out: “It is a great pleasure to see all of you gather here together after all the years of danger…For you there is only the language of heart without any political divisions. You are welcome here and you are part of our family. You must consider Albania as your second home.”

    According to Fatmir Mediu, former Minister of Defense and leader of the Republic Party of Albania, “This is a day of reflection and responsibility to continue our struggle for liberty and freedom. The only thing necessary for the triumph of good is for people to be united. What God has given cannot be taken by evil…Mrs. Rajavi is an aspiration not only for you, but for many others around the world.”

    Maryam Rajavi pointed out, “The Iranian people’s Nowruz comes the day when all sectors of Iranian society including the Fars, Baluchis, Kurds, Arabs, Azeris, Shiites, Sunnis, Christians, Jews, and followers of other religions and creeds could live together in peace in a society based on separation of religion and state. This would be a society where everyone can freely think and express their opinions, elect and promote their political traditions, endeavor to change any government they deem is against the people’s interests, and a society where people can choose their clothing, and no compulsions are sanctioned.

    via  Maryam Rajavi: Let us turn the New Year into the year of defeat for religious fascism in Iran and the region — Iran Liberty

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 10:33 pm on March 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    The Story Of Rahele Zakaie: Another Woman Perished In Iran 

    By Heshmat Alavi

    Following International Women’s Day on March 8, the plight of Iranian women to finally obtain the freedom and rights they deserve continues. This struggle is resembled in the case of each and every Iranian women.

    News of Rahele Zakaie’s death means nothing to many people. Another human being amongst the 7.5 billion now roaming the earth. She died of cancer.

    However, her loss brought much sorrow to those women who in recent years were and have been detained in the political prisoners’ ward of Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, those who shared moments of joy and tears with Rahele.

    She had a strange story, with many years behind bars. Thirteen years of her short life she spent in prison for theft and drug-related crimes. She was a drug addict who got clean several times, and despite spending many years behind bars, others’ fondness of her never waned.

    960x0
    Iranian women inmates sit at their cell in Evin jail, north of Tehran, June 2006. (ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

    Rahele, a girl from Mashhad in northwest Iran, was acquainted with crime at an early age due to poverty and her family’s background in such a lifestyle. When she was only 11 years old, her uncles used her as cover for an armed robbery. At 13 she was sent off to live with a man who was killed some time later during an armed robbery, leaving behind a 1-year-old boy. At 16, Rahele was put behind bars for theft and drug-related charges.

    This was the beginning of her painful in-and-out experience from this to that prison, from interrogation to solitary confinement. She once even claimed responsibility for the narcotics found in the belongings of her friend to save her from being executed. Iran is known to execute several hundred people each year for drug-related charges, a practice condemned by Amnesty International. What Rahele considered the “price of friendship” cost her 10 ruthless years behind bars.

    She always dreamed of protecting her son and worried of the fate of her sister’s five-year-old daughter, wanting a better life for her. The little girl’s father had been executed and her mother committed suicide. Rahele wanted to take care of these kids and also support her younger twin brother and sister. She was deprived of any visits and worked long hours in Sari Prison’s doll shop to pay for her son’s mobile phone charges.

    However, like many others, the events of 2009 changed Rahele’s life. When prisons were filled with female political prisoners with no means to phone their families, Rahele would make these calls for them. The authorities had accused her of having contact with prisoners related to the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

    During this period she yearned to learn and craved to become a human rights advocate. She quit drugs once again and devoted her time to reading books.

    She longed to write her life story and especially the tales of women in various prisons across the country. She once wrote a two-part report about Gharchak Prison, located southeast of Tehran, published in the Focus on Iranian Women website.

    She continued her writing about the prisons she had experienced, in Mashhd, Sabzevar, Ghezel Hesar and Evin, describing the horrible spread of skin diseases and inmates using contaminated needles for drug injections. Reading Rahele’s writing demands strong tolerance, like when she talks about the “Mothers’ Ward” in Mashhad’s Vakil Abad Prison, where in each room you see a grieving mother with two little children…

    Yet as Rahele explains, no prison was as atrocious as Qarchak. She always wanted to write a book about the place, where each corner contained another nightmare.

    Diarrhea and blood vomiting is common. I used to cry all night until morning because of the cold. The cold would literally kill you.”

    Prison authorities would kick me hard in the chest during the period that I was breastfeeding my child. I was beaten many times. In the first six months I wasn’t allowed to shower. During these six months I had six periods. When you are repeatedly beaten and tortured, the bleeding is unstoppable. All of my clothes were filled with sh*t and dried blood. After six months I literally cried and begged for a 15-minute shower. I was so happy that I was even smelling that water.”

     She also endured much torture.

    I was blindfolded and chained to a chair. They beat me so long that I could barely walk. Mr. Monfared grabbed my chest so hard that I fainted of pain. One cannot imagine the horror until they actually experienced it.”

    A journalist who spent some time behind bars with Rahele wrote about her:

    Despite all the pain she had experienced in her childhood and being behind bars, she was always full of life and loved to learn. She wanted to go to school, learn English and computers. The joy of life was the first thing you saw in Rahele’s eyes. During the little time she had, she would go to the library and had read nearly all the books. This was what made Rahele different for me. Nine years have passed, but she is still in my heart.”

     They say Rahele started using drugs time and again to relieve her of the pains, and time and again she quit to start life all over again.

    During the short periods of furlough, she would try to contact me to provide news about events inside the prison. She would go to see the families of political prisoners and reassure them that their loved ones were okay. She had come to learn about human rights activities and sought to follow up on these matters. In prison she attempted to gather signatures for a million-signature petition. Rahele didn’t just think about herself. She liked to change the world around her.”

    Was Rahele diagnosed with cancer early on?

    No. There is no decent medical care or diagnosis in prison. Her cancer was most probably diagnosed at a very late stage, as she passed away soon afterwards. I know she also suffered from dialysis in her last days.”

    Rahele is described as different from those in the prison ward.

    All the inmates in that ward had common background. They were either human rights advocates or journalists. However, Rahele was from another world. She was a different person from a different atmosphere, with a different language. Maybe that’s why she has remained in the memory of so many.”

    Rahele had spent 13 years behind bars and was released on bail in the summer of 2014. She was ordered to live under internal exile for two years in the city of Isfahan, in south-central Iran.

    “I will become a new person,” she would say.

    She always yearned for freedom. Many nights when she fell asleep dreaming about freedom. However, the cancer had spread and stole her last breath on February 17.

    Unfortunately, Iran under the mullahs’ regime is riddled with such painful stories of women across this ancient land. Of those unjustly jailed, tortured and executed, those suffering with faces and bodies scarred with lifelong wounds of acid attacks, and the millions enduring enormous hardships through the course of 38 years of the mullahs’ atrocious and misogynist rule.

    Humanity must pledge to bring an end to all the wrongs being imposed against women, especially in countries such as Iran. The 21st century is no place for such continuing atrocities.

    Mr. Alavi is an Iranian activist focusing on human rights, social crackdown, the regime’s support for terrorism, and its nuclear program.

    Originally published in Forbes

    via  The Story Of Rahele Zakaie: Another Woman Perished In Iran — Iran Commentary

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 9:12 pm on March 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Boumedra Calls UN Institutional Memory “Nil” 

    On March 14, 2017, a side meeting entitled “Massacre of Political Prisoners in Iran from 1988 to 2017” was held at the UN regarding the Iranian massacre of political prisoners in 1988. The first speaker during this event was Tahar Boumedra, former adviser to the Special Representative of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq and a specialist in the death penalty.

    Mr. Boumedra noted that last September to announce the establishment of the Justice for Victims of the 1988 Massacre in Iran and a plan was put in place to bring that issue back to the agenda of the United Nations and the international community as a whole.

    “The institutional memory of the United Nations is next to nil,” said Boumedra. He noted that they don’t revive their reports or build on those reports. After all the work in the years immediately after 1988, the UN went silent on the massacre. It is that silence he feels they must fight against.

    He has also worked with his team to document and establish that the massacres from 1981 to 1988 took place. Boumedra also noted that current members of the Iranian government were active participants in these massacres, acting “as part of God’s will”. This group includes the current Minister of Justice in Iran.

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    “The victims were buried in mass graves and we have now determined their location,” said Boumedra during the meeting, as he discussed the progress made by his team on the plan previously determined at the September meeting. He counted that this is significant progress, because they are now placed on a map and can’t be denied.

    Other developments include following up with former prisoners and the families of prisoners who died. Many were not charged and dealt with humiliating and degrading manner. Those who did go to trial were condemned to years of imprisonment without representation. Some have served their prison term, and they left prison, only to be recalled back to prison with no reason given. Once there, Boumedra noted, they were put in front of an Amnesty Commission, which is in fact a death commission and they were asked one question: “Do you support the PMOI or not?”

    “If you say in any way that you still support or sympathized with them, you were put aside for execution. We have recorded this from witnesses who survived this miraculously and families have informed us about how they heard about the execution of their loved ones,” said Boumedra. He noted that for some families, all the proof they had that the execution took place was the prison releasing some property to them. They didn’t know when their loved ones died or where they were buried.

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    He congratulated his team because in a relatively short time, they have made significant progress and gotten this issue onto the agenda of the Special Rapporteur. “Our aim is a commission of inquiry…because once the commission is in place, the whole mechanism will be put in motion and there will be a day when impunity will be called to order and people who are identified as perpetrators will be held accountable,” said Boumedra.

    He also signaled a note of caution. “Let me be realistic. Lots of you might think that there will be some arrests, there will be some trials, and there will be some witnesses. We are far from that. At the moment, it is a question of naming and shaming,” said Boumedra. “We can’t dictate to sovereign states what to do.” He indicated that the efforts to identify perpetrators and the burial places of victims will force the issue onto the international stage and hopefully, make the international community reevaluate its relationship with Iran.

    “A crime against humanity has been committed,” said Boumedra. He also noted that those in the international community will be looking over their shoulders when they go to Tehran, because they will know about what happened there.

    Boumedra also indicated that members of the Iranian government may begin negotiating for their immunity, because members of the Iranian government have cancelled visits to countries that acknowledge universal jurisdictions, putting them at risk of being arrested or detained as this matter moves forward. He acknowledged that crimes against humanity are not looked upon lightly and he is encouraged by the progress made to date.

    via  Boumedra Calls UN Institutional Memory “Nil” — The Media Express

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 9:03 pm on March 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Victims of 1988 Iranian Massacre 

    The Media Express

    On March 14, 2017, a side meeting entitled “Massacre of Political Prisoners in Iran from 1988 to 2017” was held at the UN. Mrs. Zinat Mirhashemi, an activist, spoke during the meeting and noted that it was not only members of the PMOI that were victims of this massacre.

    She noted that there were communists and cultural figures that were among the victims. They were sentenced to death without a lawyer or defence counsel. Their families are seeking justice for their children and loved ones.

    unnamed (5) Zinat Mirhashemi

    “These bereaved mothers have been fighting all their lives to denounce the crimes committed by the fundamentalist Islamic regime and to maintain the memory of those who fell victim to the repression in 1988,” said Mirhashemi. “What happened in Iranian prisons in 1988 left deep scars on the body and soul of the Iranian people. We cannot remain silent in the face of…

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  • Masoud Dalvand 8:46 pm on March 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Getting to Know Iran’s IRGC 

     

    By INU staff

    By INU Staff 

    INU – Ever since the 1979 revolution, the Iranian regime and supreme leader needed a leverage to erect major defense lines in the face of domestic threats (protests and uprisings) and simultaneously pursue its foreign objectives. Based on this mentality, the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) was established in the early days as the entity under the supreme leader’s supervision. Ever since, it has played the main role in Iran’s such campaigns.

    Through the years the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), has become the main backbone of Iran’s political, military, economic and social crackdown apparatus.

    Establishing the IRGC

    The original motive behind the formation of the IRGC on May 5th, 1979, meaning less than three months after Iran’s revolution, can be described as the regime intending to establish an ideologically-motivated military entity parallel to the classic army.

    The IRGC’s main and sole duty is to protect the ruling establishment. Looking back to the early days, the IRGC’s raison d’être can be summarized in the two pillars mentioned in the introduction.

    “The guard is placed just under the upper hand of the supreme leader which positions it at a place of unconstrained jurisdiction and power and just above Iran’s national army,” a read explains.

    IRGC role in domestic crackdown

    From day one of its foundation the IRGC has carried out a terror campaign of purging dissident, intellectual, journalists, literary figures and opposing politicians. The main target was and has been the main Iranian opposition, People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), especially the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners, mostly PMOI/MEK members and supporters.

    “The orders for the systematic execution of dissidents came from Khomeini himself, in the form of a fatwa (religious edict). His intention was to purge the country of any opposition, notably the main dissident organization, the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK),” said Hamid Yazdan Panah, an Iranian human rights activist and lawyer in piece in The Hill.

    Throughout the 1980s the IRGC also carried out numerous campaigns targeting any and all dissent, including ethnic minorities, specifically the Baluch and Kurdish communities. In the 1990s the Iranian society witnessed how the notorious Ministry of Intelligence carried out the infamous “chain murders” and other cases of human rights violations.

    Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei ordered the IRGC and its paramilitary Basij militia to crush the 1999 student uprisings, enjoying the blessing of President Hassan Rouhani, then the regime’s secretary of the Supreme National Security Council.

    The IRGC was once again unleashed during the 2009 uprisings to quell any pro-democracy demands. They Guards went on a spree of arresting thousands, torturing hundreds and secretly executing dozens.

    The IRGC has through the years relentlessly targeted the main Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), both following the 1979 revolution, and afterwards when the group went into exile abroad, mainly in Iraq. MEK members were also kidnapped and/or assassinated in Europe.

    Meddling and terrorism, an IRGC motto

    The regime in Iran considers meddling in other countries’ internal affairs, and most specifically its use of terrorism and encouraging fundamentalist viewpoints are not policies of mere marginal importance. Alongside the repression of all domestic protests, Tehran’s very survival fully depends on remaining loyal to this practice.

    At least 8 other countries, including Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Yemen have become targets of Iran’s meddling in their internal affairs. The IRGC has also reached the point of establishing terrorist affiliates, cells or networks in as many as 12 countries.

    Tehran’s terrorist activities have expanded to 13 countries and the IRGC is also known to have established spying cells or networks in 12 different countries, while most have seen authorities apprehend members of such groups.

    IRGC aggravating sectarian tension

    One very lethal method explored by Iran has been enflaming sectarian divide across the Middle East, especially in its western neighbor of Iraq. A cruel irony, however, lies in the fact that while the IRGC is known to recruit Shiite to establish militia groups, it has also fueled support for Sunni terrorist groups.

    “Indeed, the bipartisan 9/11 commission report, which investigated the Sept. 11, 2001 al Qaeda terror attacks — the largest mass casualty terrorist attack in U.S. history — pointed out that there was ‘strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of al Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11, and that some of these were future 9/11 hijackers,’” The Washington Times reported.

    This is aimed at realizing Tehran’s ultimate objective: engulfing the entire region into chaos, and utilizing such a situation to advance their field of influence. Iran is “securing an arc of influence across Iraq and Syria that would end at the Mediterranean Sea,” according to The Guardian.

    The IRGC can be described as Iran’s asset to establish the first “Islamic Caliphate” by taking first measures in this blueprint in 1979, long before Daesh (ISIS/ISIL).

    In fact, the violence promoted by Iran across the Middle East under the banner of Shiite Islam, parallel to the horrific crackdown imposed on Sunni communities in various countries, have inspired the rise of Daesh.

    Hidden occupation by the IRGC

    The broad extent of the IRGC’s meddling makes undeniable its involvement in covertly occupying four specific countries in the region: Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.

    In Syria the past six years have made the IRGC’s deadly role crystal clear. Reports indicate up to 70,000 IRGC foot soldiers were roaming the Levant launching killing sprees.

    “The Iranian regime’s military incursion in Syria came at a great cost to Tehran. According to reports obtained by the NCRI from within the regime’s own ranks, Iran’s death toll in the Syrian war are estimated to be over 12,000,” according to a research report.

    The IRGC has also established a vast network of training camps inside Iran and abroad for new recruits to provide fresh members for its proxy militia groups. Each month hundreds of future soldiers arrive from Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen to undergo such training courses.

    The IRGC pursues also a parallel effort of establishing cultural branches across the Middle East to expand the Iranian regime’s influence.

    14 different countries have experienced the IRGC sending large, varied supplies of weapons and explosives to their soil. Such a practice has become known as the IRGC trademark and revelations have also clarified how the Guards has established a network of 90 secret docks, mainly on Iran’s southern shores, involved in both shipping arms to countries across the region, and smuggling goods into the country and abroad. The revenue accumulated from such activities are all channeled to fund the IRGC’s foreign campaign.

    The IRGC Quds Force has also gone far beyond the Middle East in this regard.

    “The world should rest assured the IRGC will soon establish branches in the U.S. and Europe,” said IRGC Brigadier General Salar Abnoush.

    IRGC influence in Iranian foreign policy

    The IRGC is also infiltrating into Iran’s political affairs, establishing a major role in defining the regime’s foreign policies. While Khamenei has the final word on all major national security and foreign affairs, the IRGC enjoys vast authority in implementing Khamenei’s will abroad.

    The IRGC has taken full control over Iran’s embassies in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.

    The IRGC also enjoys a specific type of foreign policy dominance in affairs related to Armenia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

    Regarding the countries of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, due to their significant importance, the IRGC, not the Foreign Ministry, has appointed their ambassadors. The motive is to maintain all activities and agendas under IRGC control and exploit all diplomatic immunity opportunities.

    Iran’s current ambassador in Iraq is IRGC Brigadier General Iraj Masjedi who previously chaired the IRGC Iraq desk. He is also a senior advisor of IRGC Quds Force chief Qassem Suleimani, who commands all of Iran’s operations in Iraq and Syria. Masjedi supervised attacks against the U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq, leaving scores killed and wounded.

    Economy & a growing IRGC grip

    Following the Iran-Iraq War the IRGC began its economic activities, and around 30% of all the IRGC’s engineering resources were tasked for this purpose. The IRGC especially gained significant control over Iran’s economy during the tenure of former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from 2005 to 2013.

    As all IRGC activities are in need of enormous funds, and considering the international community’s long-running sanctions against Iran, the force set its sight on establishing on becoming a major economic powerhouse.

    The IRGC has gained an increasing amount of influence on Iran’s economy, even the highly important oil and gas industry. The exact number of IRGC-affiliated front companies remains very fluid.

    The IRGC has also ironically benefited enormously from the nuclear deal Iran sealed with world powers.

    “Of nearly 110 agreements worth at least $80 billion that have been struck since the deal was reached in July 2015, 90 have been with companies owned or controlled by Iranian state entities,” a Reuters analysis shows in reference to the IRGC.

    IRGC controlling Iran’s nuclear program & ballistic missiles

    The IRGC is now considered a huge conglomerate of different companies and assets controlling Iran’s missile drive, parallel to the controversial nuclear program with sites spread across the huge country. Dozens of companies are involved in procuring the technology needed to master ballistic missiles and sensitive nuclear products.

    The IRGC is also entrusted to pursue the ballistic missile program and senior Iranian officials have boasted acquiring the world’s sixth missile production line, including the Shahab-3/3B enjoying a range of over 2,100 kilometers.

    Iran’s IRGC is unquestionably a serious threat not only for the Middle East, but also Eastern Europe.

    Final word

    The mullahs’ regime is a dictatorship with the IRGC used as the main leverage to maintain this entity in power through domestic crackdown. However, the IRGC’s driving force is to export this regime’s extremist mentality and warmongering.

    “The IRGC is dedicated to protecting the Islamic Revolution, not the state of Iran. As guardians of the Islamic Revolution, it supports terrorist activities by the Quds Force and its other military divisions. The IRGC finances these terrorist activities through its business activities, making the overall organization simply the paymaster for terrorist activities by its constituent elements,” wrote Raymond Tanter and Ed Stafford in The Hill.

    The IRGC has spread its influence throughout the region like cancer, using Iraq as a springboard to reach the entire Middle East and rendering a scourge of deadly wars and terrorist attacks. A fundamentalist ideology energizes this armed force, with no other purpose other than protecting the mullahs’ establishment through fueling terrorism and extremism abroad.

    As the decades have passed since 1979, the IRGC has resorted to more advanced methods of domestic crackdown and foreign provocations, threatening the Iranian people, and nations across the Middle East and beyond.

    Source: GETTING TO KNOW IRAN’S REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS

    Additional Materials: 

    https://freedomstarblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/05/the-revolutionary-guards-pursue-irans-warmongering-and-export-of-terrorism/

    https://freedomstarblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/08/iran-ncri-reveals-irgc-engaged-in-exporting-weapons-through-proxies/

    https://freedomstarblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/09/irans-irgc-fund-terrorism-at-the-expense-of-the-iranian-people/

     

     
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