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  • Masoud Dalvand 9:56 pm on 30 Apr 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Iran’s Presidential Candidates’ Crimes Against Humanity 

    Iran_s Presidential Candidates_ Crimes Against Humanity

    Iran’s presidential election is scheduled for May 19. Last week the Guardian Council, the body controlled by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei which vets election candidates, eliminated all but six candidates. Only two of the remaining six are considered serious applicants for the Islamic Republic’s next president: incumbent President Hassan Rouhani and Ebrahim Raisi, a cleric currently heading the Astan Quds Razavi, a so-called charity foundation with an estimated value of $15 billion.

    As far as the Iranian people are concerned, there is no difference between these two candidates and no fundamental change will result from the selection of either candidate.

    However, this presidential election has set the stage for the Iranian people and the international community to witness the most unprecedented confessions by various candidates regarding the 1988 massacres and crimes against humanity carried out by the entire Islamic Republic regime.

    Pictures of some of the Iranians massacred in 1988 by Khomeini’s regime at an exhibition in the mayor’s office in Paris. (Photo: National Council of Resistance of Iran)

    Based on a decree issued by the leader of the Iranian Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran’s brutal ruler from 1979 until his death in 1989, the regime massacred over 30,000 political prisoners in a span of four months during the summer of 1988.

    The decisions of who would be executed were decided by a four-man committee appointed by Khomeini himself. Raisi, currently running for president, and Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, ironically Rouhani’s justice minister, were two members of this body known as the “Death Committee.”

    In 1988, Rouhani himself was a high-ranking official in the defense ministry, making it highly unlikely that he was not aware of the massacres taking place.

    In addition, when former Iranian president Ahmadinejad chose Pour-Mohammadi as his interior minister in 2005, there was an international outcry against the appointment due to Pour-Mohammadi’s role in the massacres.

    In August 2016, a sound file, attributed to a 1988 meeting between Khomeini’s slated successor, Ayatollah Montazeri, and Death Committee members, shed more light on the horrific scope of this atrocity.

    Montazeri is heard describing the executions as the “gravest crime in the Islamic Republic’s history.” (Immediately after the meeting, Montazeri became a “non-person” and was held under house arrest until his death in 2009.)

    Despite the constant exposure of these crimes by the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), whose members and supporters were the main victims of the 1988 massacre, until the Montazeri sound file was revealed, the mullahs and their regimes would never mention this massacre in public. Various attempts were made to maintain a lid on these unspeakable crimes.

    Iranian society is against the current regime in its entirety. Despite the passing of 30 years since this horrific event, it has not been forgotten and the public has shown extreme hatred in response to Raisi’s candidacy. He has even been dubbed the “massacre mullah.”

    Going on the defense, Raisi and Khamenei’s faction were forced to first confess to the 1988 events by ridiculously describing the measure as part of the regime’s struggle against terrorism.

    The state-run Afkar News website posted Khomeini’s decree – a first in the Iranian regime’s history – and wrote:

    “With the execution of thousands of monafeqin (term used by the Iranian regime for PMOI/MEK members), the monafeqin’s chaff structure inside the country was destroyed, and the country’s security and stability was sealed for years to come…”

    Rouhani has continuously claimed to be (and is feted internationally as) a “moderate.” His role, however, in the 1988 massacre is known to all and until 1988 he was chair of the Khatam al-Anbia and the regime’s deputy commander of the Iran-Iraq war, in charge of sending juveniles to the horrific minefields. The rival faction, however, revealed his true identity, specifically indicating how Rouhani and members of the so-called “moderate” faction were all directly involved in the 1988 massacre.

    Afkar News continues in this regard:

    “Once again the summer 1988 dossier has gained coverage in the news… There are those inside the country who are heard condemning the 1988 executions as crimes against humanity, all in an effort to tarnish Raisi’s image. All while the ‘reformists’ and supporters of the current Rouhani government have apparently forgotten how the decision-makers in those years are currently the spiritual fathers of today’s ‘reforms.’”

    Whatever the outcome of Iran’s elections may be, Rouhani or Raisi becoming president will not render any fundamental change in Iran.

    The entire regime admitting to the crimes of 1988 has surfaced from within the wars of this regime’s factions. The perpetrators of these crimes have yet to face justice.

    Rouhani and Raisi are both considered murderers of the Iranian people, responsible for sending thousands of people to the gallows and children to war. Now they have been forced to confess to their crimes, yet there has been no action from the international community.

    This must come to an end. Parallel to its pressure measures against Tehran due to its nuclear aspirations, the new U.S. administration must also demand the regime be held accountable for its flagrant human rights violations.

    Shahriar_Kia-3 Shahriar Kia is a political analyst and member of Iranian opposition (PMOI/MEK). He graduated from North Texas University. He tweets at @shahriarkia.

    Source : Iran’s Presidential Candidates’ Crimes Against Humanity

  • Masoud Dalvand 9:17 pm on 30 Apr 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Reporters Without Borders says Iran is one of the world’s biggest prisons for journalists 

    Reporters Without Borders says Iran is one of

    April 28, 2017 – On Wednesday, April 26 ‘Reporters without Borders’ reported, that Iran continues to remain one of the world’s five big prisons for media activists and Khamenei is still on the list of the enemies of press freedoms.

    The report indicates that the Iranian regime has imprisoned dozens of journalists and web bloggers on alleged charges of ‘acting against national security’ and even ‘moral corruption.’
    Due to such horrible prison conditions and depriving prisoners of medical treatment, many prisoners of conscience and journalists have to go on hunger strike to demand their very basic rights. For this reason, at least ten journalists risked their lives over the past year.

    There is no Press Freedom in Iran

    According to Reportes without Borders, media freedom was one of the key demands of the revolution that toppled the Shah and swept Ayatollah Khomeiny to power in 1979, but it is a promise that has never been kept. The media are mostly under the Islamic regime’s close control and there has been no let-up in the persecution of independent journalists, citizen journalists, and media outlets. Media personnel are still constantly exposed to intimidation, arbitrary arrest, and long jail sentences imposed by revolutionary courts at the end of unfair trials. Despite an improvement in its international relations, Iran continues to be one of the world’s five biggest prisons for media personnel.

    Source: Reporters Without Borders says Iran is one of the world’s biggest prisons for journalists

  • Masoud Dalvand 8:53 pm on 30 Apr 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Iran’s election, and forbidden enthusiasm toward the West 

    With 24 remaining before Iran’s presidential elections, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei prohibited Iran’s six presidential candidates from looking outside Iran’s borders for economic development, in a public speech on April 25, 2017.

    But that was exactly what was being discussed in Iran’s debates. None of the candidates are openly willing to turn toward the West. However, they expressed concern for the economic problems of the nation in a way that suggested engagement with the West would be inevitable.

    Vice president Eshagh Jahangiri, one of the banned candidates, recently said: “Unemployment is a challenge cloud in Iran. The unemployment rate in some regions is up to 30 percent.” He added: “this rate for women sometimes is doubled.”

    Despite his constant effort to show economic development records, President Hassan Rouhani made a strange comment this week: “I never promised to solve economic problems in 100 days, because Iran’s economic problems will not be fixed in another 100 years.”

    Rouhani’s rival candidates during the elections are in favor of demolition of the current government.

     Ebrahim Raisi, Khamenei’s informal candidate, repeatedly complained of corruption in the administrative system. “If the government officials put their feet out of their rooms it becomes clear to them that only four percent of the society are satisfied with the status quo.“

    Said the current mayor of Tehran, Hammad Bagher Ghalibaf, another candidate, voiced similar sentiment.

    If elected, any of the candidates would be facing a Gordian knot in Iranian economics:

    • The bankruptcy of the banking system that many consider the most important economic challenge.
    • The bankruptcy of the government itself, which according to the minister of economy Ali Taiebnia, is indebted by more than $230 billion.
    • The long stagnation of the economy, with a 40 percent unemployment rate and ten million unemployed.
    • A close decision of the international body that oversees anti-money laundering (FATF) activities that is likely to include restrictions on financial transactions on banks exchanging with Iran.
    • Iran’s failure to attract foreign direct investment (FDI). According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in last four years, foreign investment in Iran in each of these years was only about three billion dollars.
    • A heavy load of cash donations each month is paid to more than 70 million Iranians in subsidies.
    • The environmental crisis, especially the catastrophic water shortages.
    • To contain these crises, all of the factions are eager to have relations with the West: One faction thinks clear engagement with the West is necessary for the survival of the regime. Another thinks having relations with the West should be along with showing the teeth and nails, and taking strong positions.

    Mohammad is an analyst in Iranian affairs and fellow at the Paris-based Middle East Research Foundation. He tweets at @economieIran


    Source: Iran’s election, and forbidden enthusiasm toward the West

  • Masoud Dalvand 10:05 am on 30 Apr 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Public Executions Part of Life In Iran 

    Within the borders of Iran, executions are not just carried out behind the doors of the prisons, but something that is part of the public sphere. Public executions are common, meant in part to be a deterrent for crimes and drug use. But the reality is that they have become a level of entertainment and are not the real deterrent that the regime claims.

    Children and families are often present at these executions, such as the one for a 21-year old inmate, who was publicly hanged in Babol, which is in northern Iran. The victim was only identified by his initials and had been found guilty of murder. His sentence was issued by the first criminal court of the province and was carried out on Saturday after being permitted the “Head of the Judiciary”, according to the public prosecutor of Mazandaran.

    Another prisoner was hanged at dawn on Saturday, April 22. He was sentenced for drug related charges and Mehdi Mirzaei, the individual who was hanged, had been held in Parsilon Prison for the past three years. This is just another example of how these executions also are used to address the drug issues within their society.

    Other realities of public executions are that the individuals being executed could be prisoners sentenced when they were juveniles. One man was publicly hanged on April 22, in the city of Babol, according to the state-run Iranian news agencies. The state controlled YJC news agency reported that the 21-year old was identified as HR, and he was sentenced to the Qisas death penalty, which is a retribution penalty.

    Iran executes more individuals per capita than any other country in the world, according to Amnesty International’s annual report. At least 197 individuals have been executed in Iran since the beginning of 2017.

    The first deputy of Iran’s Chief Justice, Mohseni Ejeie, cited criticism regarding a number of executions of criminals in a press conference. He cited several examples of individuals who were executed for moving narcotics. “Or in Kerman, two people identified as Abdulhamid Hossein Zehi and Faramarz Kohkan, who were active in a drug trafficking ring, were hanged…or in Karaj a person was sentenced to death for carrying drugs…what else can we do with these people except execute them? At any rate, we will act according to our laws…and will not show leniency,” said Ejeie.

    Public Executions Part of Life In Iran

    Mullah Ejeie

    The result is that public executions will continue, despite the evidence that they are not a necessary deterrent and can have a significant impact on the mental and emotional well-being of society as a whole.

    via  Public Executions Part of Life In Iran — The Media Express

  • Masoud Dalvand 9:59 am on 30 Apr 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Iran: Sentence of Execution Can Include Amputation 

    For individuals sentenced to death in Iran, the severity of their sentence can be compounded by the additional sentence of an amputation. These amputations take place often just days before the execution, which is often completed by means of hanging.

    One man, who was a convicted thief named Hamid Moeini, was found guilty of alleged theft and murder. He was sentenced to hand amputation and death in mid-December 2016, according to the state-run Khabar Online website.

    On April 7th, he was executed in Shiraz Adelabad Prison, which is in the southern part of the country. Iranian authorities had his hand amputated 10 days before his execution, thus completing that part of his sentence. These brutal punishments are not being made public by judiciary officials. It is also worth noting that two other inmates were also hanged on Tuesday. Prior to the executions, most prisoners are transferred to solitary confinement. At least 14 inmates have been transferred to solitary confinement in Rajayishahr Prison, which is west of Tehran, in preparation for their executions.

    Another prisoner was reportedly executed at Bandar Abbas Central Prison on drug related charges on April 16. Sources close to the situation have identified the prisoner who was executed as Mohammad Sajdin. He was reportedly sentenced to death by the revolutionary court in Bandar Abbas.

    But these are just a few of the examples of a regime’s brutal treatment of prisoners, many who were sentenced without legal representation. Executions are routinely part of the sentence for many individuals who have committed non-violent crimes. However, even when the crimes are violent in nature, the treatment prior to their sentence being carried out is akin to torture.

    At least 197 individuals have been executed in Iran since the beginning of 2017. Not all executions are made public. One inmate was reportedly hanged on drug-related charges in Borujerd Prison, west of Tehran. His execution was the second recorded one in that facility and was carried out in the first week of the Persian calendar year and Iranian national celebration. He was imprisoned for six years on drug-related charges.

    Sixty percent of all executions in Iran are not reported by the judiciary and are thus regarded as secret executions. The rate of executions is one every seven hours, at a per-capita rate higher than any other country in the world. Iran has been labeled among the top executioners, according to Amnesty International annual report.

    via  Iran: Sentence of Execution Can Include Amputation — The Media Express

  • Masoud Dalvand 9:36 am on 29 Apr 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Iran’s Presidential Candidates Debate Centers on Economy 

    In an election where there is no good guy with a real plan for improving the lives of Iranian citizens, the debates appear to be squabbling among children. Hardline conservative challengers faced off with Rouhani, accusing him of not reviving the economy as he claimed he would after the 2015 nuclear agreement.

    Rouhani secured Iran’s nuclear accord with world powers, which was seen as a positive development by many Iranians, since it included the lifting of various secondary economic sanctions. They were told it would help to bring foreign investment into Iran and would have an overall positive impact on employment and the economy. However, stories continue to filter out of Iran about business shutting down, workers that aren’t being paid, and billions of dollars of money released as part of the agreement being filtered toward Iran’s military objectives, instead of its people.

    But these supposed opposition candidates have no solutions to tackle the real issues of Iran’s troubled economy, where poverty and unemployment remain rampant. Yet, among all the posturing, there were a few key facts that one should note about the current economic conditions the Iranian people are living with.

    “The gap between rich and poor has widened in Iran…Monthly cash handouts to poor people should be tripled,” said Ebrahim Raisi, who rose to prominence in the Iranian judiciary and was part of the 1988 “Death Commission” which ordered the deaths of thousands of political prisoners. “One of the main priorities of the Islamic Republic is to preserve social justice…Steps should be taken to protect poor people. We need to overhaul the economic system.”

    Debate iran

    What is interesting about that position is that the Iranian government is riddled with corruption, making it virtually impossible for real economic reform to take place. According to the Mayor of Tehran, Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf, “The government of Iran in 2016 loaned 530,000 billion of Tomans (about 140 billion dollars) and nobody knows who they are.”

    Iran’s real gross domestic product grew by 7.4% over the past year, but that was mainly driven by oil exports rather than job-creating investment, according to the International Monetary Fund. Official unemployment runs at just over 12%, but independent analysts put it at around 20%.

    Foreign investors are key to economic growth, according to Rouhani, yet foreign investors have been turned off by a variety of obstacles. The first is the United States. Although some sanctions have been lifted by the U.S., many more remain in place, creating a legal quagmire that most companies are unwilling to step into. The U.S. marketplace is seen as worth more to companies than the Iranian market, despite the fact that it is the second largest population in the Middle East.

    Secondly, there are multiple obstacles to doing business with Iranian banks and the heavy role that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and other hardline institutions play in the economy.

    Several candidates have promised to create millions of jobs, if elected, but economists argue that this is unrealistic at best. The Iranian population is also dealing with increasing illiteracy among a large swath of its population, with more than 10 million Iranians considered illiterate, according to former Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Mostafa Mirsalim.

    Iranians fear a hardline president being elected would usher in more repression and isolation in the international community. Yet, President Rouhani was billed as a moderate, but executions remained steady during his presidency and human rights violations continued to mount. But poor Iranians are the ones suffering the most.

    “The wealth and power of the Iranian society is in the hands of 4% of the population,” said Ghalibaf.

    Raisi talked about the need to use social justice to reduce the gap between the social classes and the corruption. “16 million people are living on the outskirts of the cities, and many people are living on a base of only 45,000 Tomans (about $15),” said Raisi. Yet, this same man agreed to the execution of thousands of political opposition members. His talk of social justice falls a bit flat when one examines his record of oppression and persecution of the Iranian people.

    In the end, none of these candidates offer a significant change from what has come before. It is the infighting of the only group that controls the Iranian government and the power grabs that occurs during the election from the factions within this group. Crackdowns continue on human rights activists and those who are protesting the conditions of the economy and environment, despite claims of the Iranian government that they care for their people.

    While each of the candidates talked about reform, social justice, and job creation, none of them will actually bring any of that to fruition without the approval of the supreme leader, who prefers things remain just as they are.

    via  Iran’s Presidential Candidates Debate Centers on Economy — The Media Express

  • Masoud Dalvand 7:32 pm on 27 Apr 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Raisi’s Candidacy Shows Contempt for Human Rights 


    With the approval of Ebrahim Raisi’s candidacy by the Guardian Council, human rights activists have been vocal about the impact of his potential presidency on Iran and its people.

    His candidacy “shows great contempt for human rights, the rights of the Iranian people, and the families of those killed in the 1980’s,” said Shadi Sadr, an international law expert.

    Shadi Sadr

    Shadi Sadr

    In 1988, Raisi was part of the “Death Commission”, a four-man panel ordered the execution of 30,000 political prisoners. “With Raisi’s candidacy, the regime is sending a clear message that it does not care about crimes against humanity nor does it have any intention to investigate the crimes in 1988, and in fact will install those responsible for the massacre in the highest governmental posts in the country,” said Sadr. “Under international law, what happened to the victims of the 1988 massacre falls under ‘Enforced Disappearance’, because the locations of the crimes and places where the victims were buried were never disclosed.”

    To date, there is no one who has been held accountable for this massacre, despite the knowledge of the event that the international community has. Investigations by various NGOs and committees have uncovered locations of mass graves and other evidence, but no formal charges have been issued by any international legal body.

    In a statement announcing his candidacy, Raisi said he wanted to rectify the “wrong culture in the management of the country” as president. Raisi began his career in the Iranian judiciary in the early 1980’s and was a deputy prosecutor of Tehran when he served on the four-man panel in 1988.

    “If someone commits such crimes and is provided immunity for political reasons in his own country, he will not be immune from justice according to today’s international laws,” said Sadr. “However, it is difficult to prosecute the 1988 crimes in international courts. It’s not impossible, but the first problem is that Iran has not signed significant human rights conventions that include mechanisms to prosecute human rights abusers, namely the UN Convention against Torture, and Iran is not a member of the International Court of Justice.”

    She also noted that when the crimes took place, the international law was not progressed and there were no mechanisms to hold human rights abusers accountable like today. Unfortunately, laws are not retroactive, so crimes in the past have little chance of being prosecuted. And if Raisi becomes president, he will be immune from prosecution, due to diplomatic immunity.

    “There will undoubtedly be a lot of political opposition and pressure against governments who invite him over to their countries,” said Sadr. “For someone with that kind of background, becoming president will certainly not be without costs.”

    Source: Raisi’s Candidacy Shows Contempt for Human Rights

  • Masoud Dalvand 9:23 am on 27 Apr 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Alireza Jafarzadeh says Iran is secretly extending weaponize nukes. 

    Let’s see this message:  Alireza Jafarzadeh says Iran is secretly extending weaponize  nukes.

  • Masoud Dalvand 9:09 am on 27 Apr 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Iran Election: What Is The Message Of Ahmadinejad’s Disqualification? 

    Iran Election

    By Shahriar Kia 

    The latest major development in Iran’s presidential election came recently as the Guardian Council, the body in charge of vetting all candidates based on their loyalty to the ruling establishment, disqualified all but six, including former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Understanding the importance of this issue is vital to comprehend Iran’s future.



    While Ahmadinejad’s disqualification was foretasted by many, such a development stands out as unprecedented in Iranian regime history. Especially considering how he enjoyed the all-out support of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei during his two tenures from 2005 to 2013.

    In 2005 Khamenei set aside former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and engineered the polls with the Revolutionary Guards to have Ahmadinejad selected from the ballot boxes, much to the surprise of many.

    Following the 2009 uprising, sparked after Ahmadinejad’s reaching the second term, and his regime near the cliff, Khamenei placed all his weight behind Ahmadinejad, describing the 2009 presidential poll unparalleled across the globe and in Iran’s history.

    To this end, the recent disqualification of Ahmadinejad is considered a major defeat for Khamenei, and thus the entire Iranian regime.

    Currently, the regime in Iran is engulfed in a conglomerate of crises. This is exactly why Khamenei most probably first resorted to privately suggesting to Ahmadinejad not to participate in the polls. As word leaked out, Khamenei was forced to indirectly raise the issue without specifically mentioning Ahmadinejad by name. When Ahmadinejad shocked the world by showing up at the Interior Ministry and registering his candidacy, Khamenei took his gloves off and had the Guardian Council specifically disqualify him and his protégé, Hamid Baqai.

    Despite their disagreements, Ahmadinejad and all other elements in the Iranian regime have one common red line: preventing the repeat of any scenario similar to that of the 2009 uprisings. Even Rafsanjani, with all his enmity against Khamenei, emphasized efforts must focus on safeguarding the mullahs’ framework.

    When a farce election is seen going down the drain in such manner, and disqualifications causing immense hardship for the ruling elite, even a supposed victory for the incumbent President Hassan Rouhani would score defeat for the entire regime apparatus. The selection of Ebrahim Raisi, Khamenei’s protégé and most likely candidate for to success his position, also fails to make matters easier.

    This is an establishment that cannot tolerate polarization of any nature. All issues must be pursued based on the will of the supreme leader. This is exactly why the entire regime suffers when the supreme leader’s image is tarnished.

    To make matters far worse for Khamenei and his regime, the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an umbrella group of various individuals and organizations seeking democratic regime change in Iran, has described these so-called elections as a selection between a criminal, being Raisi, and a devious figure, being Rouhani. The word “election” has no true definition in the Iranian regime’s encyclopedia.

    The farce represented by the mullahs’ to the outside world is merely an intense power-grab competition amongst the regime’s ruling elite. Senior regime officials have also been heard saying their 38-year long beliefs have all vanished. This plays into the interest of the Iranian opposition.

    Khamenei, who placed all his support and prestige behind Ahmadinejad, now orders his disqualification. This can only mean his weakening posture and the Iranian democratic movement elevating its influence in determining Iran’s future.

    When Senator John McCain, a very influential and senior American politician, visits members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the largest group member of the NCRI, and Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi in Albania recently, this is yet another reference to the possible solution for the Iran dilemma.

    And yet, unfortunately, there remain those who go the distance in describing such farce “elections” in Iran as a scene between populists and hardliners, the liberals against the conservatives. Such voices represent the pro-appeasement camp that continues to seek short-term economic interests through the engagement policy.

    Their definition of a liberal is Rouhani who during his tenure has presided over 3,000 executions, advanced Iran’s ballistic missile program publicly supported the carnage and massacres launched by Syrian dictator Bashar Assad against innocent civilians, and facilitated the regime’s clandestine effort to obtain nuclear weapons.

    He is facing Raisi, a hardliner known as the member of the four-man “Death Commission” supervising the summer 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners, including mostly PMOI/MEK members and supporters.

    As a result, those who have, and continue to, campaign for a policy of rapprochement with Tehran, are truly legitimizing the Iranian regime’s belligerent domestic and international policies.

    The NCRI, on the other hand, has for decades warned the globe over Iran’s nuclear program, ballistic missile drive, its flagrant human rights violations, and Tehran’s relentless meddling in Syria, Iraq and beyond.

    Rest assured this movement will play a very key role in the fundamental developments shaping a democratic, secular and non-nuclear Iran.

    “I can say with respect about the MEK, I first heard about them about 15-16 years ago when they were releasing information about Iran’s nuclear weapons program. In that entire period of time I have never seen them make a material mistake about what they’ve said,” said John Bolton, former US ambassador to the United Nations, in a recent interview with Fox News.


    Photo of Shahriar Kia Shahriar Kia is an Iranian dissident and a political analyst writing about Iran and the Middle East. He is the member of the Iranian opposition and he graduated from North Texas University. He tweets at @shahriarkia.

    Source : Iran Election: What Is The Message Of Ahmadinejad’s Disqualification?

  • Masoud Dalvand 8:14 pm on 26 Apr 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    President Trump should blacklist Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to reduce the risk of war 

    President Trump should blacklist Iran's Revolutionary Guard to

    by Alireza Jafarzadeh

    In late March, multiple reports indicated that the Iranian regime was escalating its intrusion into Yemen, where Iran-backed Shiite rebels control the capital and much of the north and west of the country. Tehran has consistently denied its role, but there is a history of Iranian enhancement of the capabilities of the Houthi, whose exploits include missile attacks deep into Saudi Arabia and attempted strikes on U.S. Navy vessels.

    It is crucial that President Trump break this cycle of violence. The simplest and most immediate way of doing so is by undermining the wealth and power of the IRGC — something that truly should have been done long ago.

    The National Council of Resistance of Iran issued a report in February detailing the growth of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ training program for foreign-based terrorists and paramilitary fighters. Many new arrivals in Yemen are Afghanis who served under IRGC command in Syria.

    The sharing of personnel between Syria and Yemen confirms that the sectarian tensions on display in those conflicts are symptoms of a region-wide crisis that is being exacerbated by Iran. They serve as glaring examples of how meddling spearheaded by the Iranian regime is turning national conflicts into proxy wars which directly challenge Western interests in the region.

    A recent report by the Critical Threats Project sheds new light on the Iranian role in the intrusion into Yemen, identifying drone technology and other Iranian weapons allowing the Yemeni rebels to extend their reach. That report also highlighted a surge in foreign fighters, suggesting that Iran might be applying tactics like those used in the Syrian Civil War.

    The IRGC continues to flaunt its presence in regional conflicts to overstate its supremacy. This goes hand-in-hand with IRGC fast-attack vessels ignoring all attempts at radio contact and all warnings to harass U.S. Navy ships. Several close encounters have been reported since the new administration took office.

    It is clear that the escalation in Yemen is just the beginning. The IRGC will continue its overreach until directly confronted, or until it achieves the regional dominance it clearly seeks.

    The dangerous IRGC antics have reportedly more than doubled since the conclusion of nuclear negotiations in July 2015. Incidents in the final months of the Obama administration necessitated warning shots from the American ships, to which IRGC and other Iranian officials responded with boasts that the Islamic Republic is prepared to take on the U.S. military before it backs down from its interventions in the broader Middle East.

    The administration is already reviewing the possible designation of the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, which would effectively blacklist the group from international markets and greatly reduce the risk of Western capital making its way into the hands of terrorists. The strategy has received considerable support from Congress, with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee working on a sanctions bill that would similarly apply terrorism-related sanctions to the entirety of the IRGC.

    There has also been some push-back, mostly from lobbyists affiliated with the Iranian regime, arguing that designating the IRGC would increase the risk of war between Iran and the U.S.

    Actually, the opposite is true. The IRGC is pushing vigorously to draw the U.S. into proxy wars throughout the Middle East, none of which shows signs of reaching a peaceful conclusion as long as the IRGC remains involved. In contrast, since Trump put Tehran “on notice” following its January 29 ballistic missile test, the regime has shown willingness to cancel additional tests for fear of serious consequences.

    The IRGC has no interest in prudent cost-benefit analysis. As long as it is operating freely, unconstrained by economic sanctions, it will continue to antagonize all of its adversaries. To avoid war, the United States needs to show strength and decisiveness. Backing down will only embolden the IRGC and increase the risk of war.

    The only hope for a peaceful resolution to any of the regional crises is to confront the IRGC by political and economic means. The measures are already on the table. It remains to be seen whether the Trump Administration will step up and subject the IRGC to the blacklist it so richly deserves.

    A_Jafarzadeh Alireza Jafarzadeh, the deputy director of the Washington office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, is credited with exposing Iranian nuclear sites in Natanz and Arak in 2002, triggering International Atomic Energy Agency inspections. He is the author of “The Iran Threat” (Palgrave MacMillan: 2008). His email isJafarzadeh@ncrius.org“>Jafarzadeh@ncrius.org.

    Source: President Trump should blacklist Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to reduce the risk of war

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