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  • Masoud Dalvand 5:42 pm on August 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Iran: Protesters Demand Their Deposits from IRGC-affiliated Credit Institution
    Hundreds of people who have not been able to withdraw their deposits from Caspian credit institution staged a protest gathering outside the regime’s judiciary office in the capital, Tehran, chanting angry slogans, on Sunday, August 20.
    The protesters were shouting “Death to Seif”, referring to the Central Bank governor, Valiollah Seif.
    During recent months, there have been many similar protests against Caspian credit institution in other cities, as well.
    On Sunday, protestors also gathered outside a branch of the institution in city of Neyshabur in northeastern Iran.
    Similar protest also held on Saturday, 19 August, in city of Rasht.
    The defunct IRGC backed Caspian Credit Institute, founded in 1990s claiming to be a local low-interest-rate loan fund, attracted thousands of investors by paying higher interest rates but later failed to fulfil its promises.
    There are hundreds of similar funds are active across Iran but the regime has failed to regulate them.
    The foremost demand of the protesters is to take back their money siphoned off by the IRGC-aligned institution.
    Many people across the country had trusted Caspian credit institution enough to decide to invest there, as its name had been listed in Central Bank’s official website as an authorized institution. Therefore, investors say that they can no longer trust the Central Bank.

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 8:43 am on August 15, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    New sanctions on Iran, now it’s time for a new US policy too 

    Alireza Jafarzadeh Foxnews

    On the second anniversary of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the Iran nuclear deal, some argue that the agreement succeeded in slowing Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon. However, the restrictions on the Iranian nuclear program are only limited, as is the international inspectors’ access to the country’s illicit facilities.In addition, in areas unrelated to the nuclear agreement,
    the Iranian regime’s behavior has only gotten worse over the past two years. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has escalated its nefarious activities in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, has deliberately sought out close encounters with American warships, and has boasted of new Iranian military equipment.
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     The White House’s efforts to enforce a harder line on Iran policy is well justified and the president’s signing into law of H.R. 3364, which included a title, “Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017” is a step in the right direction.
    In June, the National Council of Resistance of Iran revealed details of the escalation of the Iranian missile program, proving the nuclear threat to be real. The opposition coalition identified more than 40 sites for missile development, manufacturing, and testing, all of which were under the control of the IRGC. What’s more, at least one of those sites was known to be collaborating with the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, known by its Farsi acronym SPND, the institution tasked with weaponization activities related to the Iranian nuclear weapons program. SPND activities have continued since the JDPOA.
    Such revelations clarified what should already be common knowledge: Iran’s nuclear weapons activities have continued. Even worse, myopic focus on the nuclear issues has distracted attention from the Iranian regime’s terrorism sponsorship, regional intervention, and human rights abuses.
    If the IRGC continues to acquire more wealth through its large-scale control of the de-sanctioned Iranian economy, combined with continued lack of access to the nuclear sites of SPND, Iran will undoubtedly deliver a nuclear weapon.
    To its credit, the US. has taken steps toward addressing the underlying problem of the IRGC’s expanding control over Iranian affairs. Soon after taking office, Mr. Trump urged the administration to review designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization. With the new Iran sanctions bill now signed into law, the administration should expand all anti-terror sanctions to the whole of the IRGC, including its affiliate entities and associated financial and economic arms.
    This is a meaningful start to a new Iran policy that is comprehensive in its aims and in its enforcement. Toward that end, the US should work with the UN and EU to evict the IRCG from the combat zones in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. This will help protect the West and its allies, as well as empower the Iranian people, who are seeking regime change and are more than capable of bringing it about on their own.
    Without serious sacrifice, Western powers must do their part. The Iranian regime must be more isolated and financially handicapped by the United States. It must also be subject to pressure not just over its nuclear program but also over a range of current and past crimes, including illicit missile testing, escalating regional and sectarian conflicts in the Middle East, and the 1988 massacre of political prisoners. The United States should subject all major human rights violators of the Iranian regime, including dozens involved in the horrific 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners. Many of the perpetrators of this crime currently hold key positions in the Iranian regime.
    These pressures will make a profound difference in the future of Iran, if coupled with reaching out to the people of Iran and their organized opposition. They will succeed in diminishing the power and influence of the IRGC; bolster the Iranian people and the prospect of the emergence of a truly democratic Iranian government.
    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 is Jafarzadeh@ncrius.org , and is on twitter @A_Jafarzadeh.
    Originally published in the   foxnews
     
  • Masoud Dalvand 4:16 pm on August 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Is Regime Change Truly The Correct Iran Policy? 

    A picture dated September 21, 2012, shows a Raad air defense system carrying Taer missiles being displayed by Iran's Revolutionary Guard, during an annual military parade which marks Ira

    (FILES) A picture dated September 21, 2012, shows a Raad air defense system carrying Taer missiles being displayed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, during an annual military parade which marks Iran’s eight-year war with Iraq, in the capital Tehran. Iranian forces have carried out what they called cyber warfare tactics for the first time as the Islamic republic’s naval units staged manoeuvres in the key Strait of Hormuz, media reports said on December 31, 2012. AFP PHOTO/ATTA KENARE (Photo credit should read ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

    By Heshmat Alavi

    Following the recertification of Iran’s compliance with a nuclear deal aimed at curbing its controversial nuclear program, there is quite a stir over the Trump administration possibly adopting a regime change policy in the face of Tehran’s belligerence.

    There are those who favor such a trajectory, while Iran lobbyists and apologists have promptly argued otherwise, saying war should not be an option and citing ongoing campaigns in countries across the region to back their opinions.

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s strong position of supporting regime change in a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee sent shockwaves in Tehran and beyond.

    “Our policy towards Iran is to push back on (its regional) hegemony, contain their ability to develop, obviously, nuclear weapons and to work towards support of those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government,” he said.

     Secretary of Defense James Mattis, known for his “Iran, Iran, Iran” description of the source of Middle East dilemmas, followed suit.

    “Until the Iranian people can get rid of this theocracy, these guys who think they can tell the people even which candidates they get a choice of. It’s going to be very, very difficult,” Mattis said in a special interview.

    It is broadly assumed that the diplomatic pressure and sanctions initiative embarked upon by the White House and Congress are aimed at serving a regime change objective in Iran. The next necessary step would be to make this policy crystal clear to Tehran and all relevant parties

    Such strong statements made by Tillerson and Mattis dig deep into the Iran dossier and realize one stark, and very positive, difference between Iran and its neighbors. In contrast to others, the Iran regime change enterprise enjoys a long-term plan presented by a grass-rooted opposition movement, symbolized in the Iranian opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

    Unfortunately, the campaigns launched in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and even Syria, after former US president Barack Obama said the dictator Bashar Assad must go, all lacked this very necessary element, and the world remains witness in horror of the drastic consequences. Millions left killed and injured, scores more displaced, trillions of dollars literally wasted and entire cities and countries leveled. And the only benefactor has been the mullahs’ regime…, being an entirely different topic of discussion.

    Tehran lobbyists stationed in Washington are heard saying Iran also lacks any such organized opposition capable of delivering anything different from what we have witnessed in other countries. For years they have been inaccurately mischaracterizing the NCRI as lacking adequate organization, support and resources.

    To spare time, one needs only refer to this coalition’s recent July 1stconvention in Paris, held annually, for a glimpse of its social base and international backing. Over 100,000 members of the Iranian Diaspora, joined by hundreds of international dignitaries from all walks of life representing a conglomerate of political trends, shows how the NCRI, and its President Maryam Rajavi, have garnered growing support both inside Iran and abroad to bring about regime change and establish freedom and democracy in their homeland.

    Advocates of the appeasement approach vis-à-vis Iran will further continue quarreling over how the West must continue its effort of seeking internal Iranian elements of moderation.

    Ever since the 1980s a slate of senior Iranian regime officials, including former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, former presidents Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami, and now Hassan Rouhanihave been naively dubbed as “moderates” or “reformists.”

    What deserves comprehension after 35 years of deception is the fact that Iran’s “moderate/reformist” pretext has long surpassed its expiration date. While the Iranian people are yearning for change, there is no such appetite, capacity or potential in Tehran’s ruling mullahs’ apparatus.

    • Mousavi supported the regime’s unnecessary continuation of the war against Iraq, devastating the lives of millions,
    • Rafsanjani supervised a domestic cleansing of dissident voices, and a string of assassinations and terrorist plots abroad,
    • Khatami presided over the 1999 student uprising crackdown and advanced Tehran’s clandestine nuclear weapons drive,
    • and Rouhani’s first term as president rendered the execution of over 3,000 individuals, and the trend continues as we speak with over 100 executions in July alone. Rouhani has also blessed a dangerous spike in ballistic missile advancements by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).

    As a result, any form of moderation or reform is nothing but a hoax misused by Tehran to continue misleading and deceiving the international community, while threatening the rise of hardliners if the likes of Rouhani are deserted.

    Returning to the decidedly significant statements made by Tillerson and Mattis, it is high time such game-changing rhetoric receives deserved backing from President Donald Trump himself.

    Iran must feel the heat from Washington’s policies, especially as Tehran prolongs its Middle East belligerence plaguing Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, and endures its harassing of the US Navy in Persian Gulf waters.

    America must take the lead in facing Iran over its fundamentalist nature both inside the country and abroad. The Trump administration should begin architecting an international coalition to back the NCRI’s drive for regime change and peaceful democratization of Iran.

    After four decades of utter atrocities, it is the Iranian people’s right to live in peace and prosperity.

    Heshmat AlaviI am a political/rights activist focusing on Iran & the Middle East. I also write in Al Arabiya English, and contributed to The Hill, Algemeiner and Raddington Report. I tweet @HeshmatAlavi

    Source: Is Regime Change Truly The Correct Iran Policy?

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 10:06 am on August 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Trump sanctions set stage for necessary regime change in Iran 

    BY IVAN SASCHA SHEEHAN

    With the president’s signature on H.R. 3364, formally known as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017, the Trump administration — eager for legislative accomplishments in the wake of the GOP failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act — can take credit for turning the page on failed Obama-era policy toward the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    The bipartisan passage of the long-anticipated sanctions bill by both houses of Congress allows the administration to take aim at rogue regimes in Iran, Russia and North Korea. Disagreements over U.S. policy toward Russia notwithstanding, the White House can be confident that legislators overwhelmingly support confronting threats emanating from Iran and North Korea and are prepared for even stronger measures to curtail the influence of these dangerous regimes.

    The White House should now build on the successful passage of sanctions legislation to push for regime change in Tehran as an appropriate next step.

    Trump administration surrogates can remind the American people that the White House first put Tehran on notice for engaging in regional destabilization shortly after Trump took office, pursued comprehensive sanctions targeting Iranian ballistic missile programs and directed the State Department to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization, thereby blacklisting it from the global economy.

    The latest sanctions legislation effectively accomplishes this latter goal by extending all terror-related sanctions to the entirety of the IRGC as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist group. The question now is how far the Trump administration is willing to go to address the Iranian threat.

    This question arose in June when the sanctions bill encountered delays, and it arose again in July when the White House, for a second time, certified Iranian compliance with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The move surprised many seasoned Iran experts familiar with Tehran’s belligerence, particularly given the president’s campaign pledges to scrap the porous agreement altogether.

    In fairness to the White House, the day after certifying Iranian compliance with the Obama nuclear deal, the administration announced that it planned a thorough review of U.S. Iran policy. Some critics of the nuclear agreement believed that simply tearing it up on day one was not the best way to proceed.

    But virtually all analysts agree that steps must now be taken to address the significant shortcomings of the JCPOA. The agreement’s weaknesses and omissions — the result of Obama-era eagerness to secure a deal at any cost — are well known on both sides of the aisle.

    Trump’s embrace of the sanctions legislation may be an indication that he intends to adopt a more strategic policy toward Iran that would force concessions from the Islamic Republic or even encourage the transition to a new, democratic system of government.

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson previewed this possibility in June and some Iran analysts have suggested that the Trump administration’s assertive posture toward Tehran points in this direction. But Trump, Tillerson and others must now pay attention to how they plan to facilitate regime change via “elements inside Iran” to ensure a permanent solution to the nuclear issue and other matters.

    The July 1 gathering in Paris of tens of thousands of Iranian expatriates committed to democratic change, supported by senior members of the president’s own party, was sufficient to remove any doubts about the likelihood of regime change being successful. It was clear to all in attendance that there is a democratic alternative to the ayatollahs and regime change is within reach.

    At the Free Iran rally, Maryam Rajavi, president of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), characterized the then-pending blacklisting of the IRGC as necessary to facilitate a domestic uprising against a weakened Iranian regime. Recent protests suggest that ordinary Iranians have tired of the regime’s civil and political repression, human rights abuses and adversarial relationship with global powers, leaving them vulnerable to a “Persian Spring.”

    But Rajavi emphasized that it will take more than a single package of sanctions to ensure success for the resistance movement. Now that obstacles to the IRGC’s terrorist designation have been overcome, it is time to discuss how the U.S. and its allies can further undermine Iran’s hardline paramilitary and curtail its foreign influence.

    With provocative ballistic missile tests and harassment of American naval vessels in the Persian Gulf becoming a near routine occurrence, the Trump administration hardly needs a reminder of the importance of confronting the IRGC. Now the White House must decide whether it is prepared to bring an end to the regime that created the hardline paramilitary organization.

    By taking assertive actions and supporting the Iranian opposition, Trump can signal not only his displeasure with JCPOA but also write the next chapter in U.S. policy toward Iran by building on the successful passage of congressional sanctions legislation.

    Tehran’s rogue status and lack of legitimacy presents the White House with a unique opportunity to further isolate the Iranian regime and deny it the resources to suppress its own people the next time they rise up and demand change. The question is whether the administration is willing to seize the opportunity and push for regime change in Tehran.

    Source: The Hill http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/foreign-policy/345329-trump-sanctions-set-stage-for-necessary-regime-change-in

    Ivan Sascha Sheehan, Ph.D., is director of the graduate programs in Global Affairs & Human Security and Negotiations & Conflict Management in the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Baltimore. Follow him on Twitter @ProfSheehan.

    via #BlacklistIRGC: Trump sanctions set stage for necessary regime change in Iran  iranarabspring

     

     

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 9:30 pm on August 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Trump Signs Iran Sanctions Bill 

    Donald-Trump

    August 2, 2017. President Trump on Wednesday signed a bill imposing sanctions on Iran, after the legislation overwhelmingly passed the House and Senate. The firm financial sanctions were supported by lawmakers in both parties, The bill itself targets Iran and North Korea as well as Russia.
    The Senate passed the bill, 98-2, two days after the House pushed the measure through by an overwhelming margin, 419-3. Both were veto proof numbers, upping stress on Trump to sign the legislation.
    The measure targets Iran’s ballistic missile program, its support for terrorism and human rights violations, and yet it would still comply with the Iranian nuclear deal. Specifically, it imposes sanctions on any foreign person or foreign entity that does business with an entity already designated by the administration that has a connection to Iran’s ballistic missile program. These sanctions, for example, could apply to any financial institution or any foreign company that provides key parts or components to Iran’s missile program.
    In recent days, The United States and three Western allies Called Iran’s latest launch of a satellite-carrying rocket “a threatening and provocative step” that is “inconsistent” with a U.N. resolution endorsing the 2015 agreement to rein in its nuclear program.
    In a letter to the U.N. Security Council, obtained Wednesday by the media, they complained that Iran’s Simorgh space launch vehicle, if configured as a ballistic missile, would have the range and “payload capacity to carry a nuclear warhead.”
    The U.S., France, Germany and the United Kingdom said this is “inconsistent” with a provision in the 2015 resolution adopted by the Security Council calling on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”
     
  • Masoud Dalvand 6:09 pm on July 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Why Iran Apologists Demonize the MEK? 

    Free Iran Rally in Paris 1 July 2017

    By Jubin Katiraie

    The U.S. Senate voted almost unanimously on Thursday to pass new sanctions on Russia, North Korea and Iran.

    The officials of Iranian regime are already afraid of the consequences of the new sanctions. In addition to economic implications of the sanctions, what worries them the most is the actions against the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization. Designating and imposing sanctions on the IRGC was long overdue because the IRGC serves as the guarantee to preserve the entirety of the regime ruling Iran and is the main entity responsible for domestic suppression, the export of terrorism and extremism, and obtaining weapons of mass destruction such as nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

    The new bill has added to already shaky regime’s fears. Janati, the head of the Guardian Council announced on Thursday that the main issue which has preoccupied the Supreme leader is his concern over regime change.

    Regime change was the main topic of the July 1, 2017 annual gathering of Iranian resistance (The Mujahedin-e-Khalq or MEK) in Paris. Many speakers talked about the regime change and their support for the MEK.

    “I’m happiest to be here because I can say, can probably say this with a good deal of authority, that the government of the United States supports you” Rudy Giuliani former mayor of New York City said referring to MEK supporters in the gathering.

    “we’re behind you, we agree with your values. The government of the United States understands the danger of Iran. The government of the United States will not allow Iran to become an empire in the Middle East.” Added Giuliani addressing the MEK supporters in the meeting.

    “I have come to bring you a simple message. Iran must be free. The only practical goal is to support a movement that could free Iran, and that’s you.” Former speaker of the house Newt Gingrich addressing MEK supporters in the gathering.

    “The presence of 3000 MEK in Albania is a decisive defeat for dictatorship in Tehran. the name of your president will stand the same as George Washington and Lafayette in the United States” Added Gingrich addressing the MEK supporters.

    “The outcome of the president’s policy review should be to determine that the Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1979 revolution will not last until its 40th birthday.” Former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton said addressing the MEK supporters in the meeting.

    It is over thirty years since Iranian people and their just resistance (MEK) have been seeking for a regime change, but the brutal internal suppression, and international and especially US policy of appeasement towards Iran have been the main obstacles to reach this goal.

    Now the time has come for a regime change, and Iranian regime understands this more than anyone else, and that is why their lobbies and apologists are spreading this fake news that regime change in Iran means another war in the Middle East and the war in Iraq will be repeated in Iran and US will get stuck in another war.

    Iran lobbies also have started a widespread campaign against the MEK to demonize the MEK. Their goal from demonizing the MEK is to say that this regime does not have any alternative so for any possible change, the solution is within the regime and the West must try to find “moderates” inside the regime, and they should not support the MEK.

    Contrary to many countries including Iraq, in Iran a democratic and organized opposition exists. The Mujahedin-e-Khalq or the MEK has been fighting with this regime for over thirty-eight years.

    Since June 20, 1981 Iranian regime has executed over 120,000, mostly members and supporters of the MEK. Only in summer of 1988 over 30,000 political prisoners, majority of them from the MEK, were massacred.

    In addition to the massacre of MEK members and supports, Iranian regime created an atmosphere of fear and terror in the society. The terror atmosphere was such that whoever had any connection of any kind with the MEK they would be arrested and tortured. Even using the name of MEK was prohibited. Any call or communication with MEK members in camps Ashraf and Liberty in Iraq by their family members was considered a crime and many MEK family members were arrested and tortured just because they called to talk to their loved ones.

    Despite all the carnage, pressures, suppression, and demonizing campaigns the MEK continued its fight against the regime. After transfer of MEK members to Albania, they focused on activities inside Iran. In the past nine months, the MEK supports have staged a campaign regarding the 1988 massacre in Iran, revealing many atrocities of the regime. The campaign has been so wide spread and extensive that the supreme leader of the regime, Ali Khamenei, was forced to react against the MEK, by defending the massacre of MEK members and supporters in the prisons.

    The adoption of the bill by the US House of Representatives, imposing new sanctions on the regime for violating human rights and pursuing ballistic missiles, and designating the IRGC as a terrorist entity is an essential step in rectifying the damaging policy of appeasement that needs to be completed by other measures including the eviction of the IRGC and its affiliated militia particularly from Syria and Iraq as well as the recognition of the Iranian people’s right to overthrow the clerical regime.

    *******

    More about MEK

    A Long Conflict between the Clerical Regime and the MEK

    The origins of the MEK date back to before the 1979 Iranian Revolution., the MEK helped to overthrow the dictatorship of Shah Reza Pahlavi, but it quickly became a bitter enemy of the emerging the religious fascism under the pretext of Islamic Republic. To this day, the MEK and NCRI describe Ruhollah Khomenei and his associates as having co-opted a popular revolution in order to empower themselves while imposing a fundamentalist view of Islam onto the people of Iran.

    Under the Islamic Republic, the MEK was quickly marginalized and affiliation with it was criminalized. Much of the organization’s leadership went to neighboring Iraq and built an exile community called Camp Ashraf, from which the MEK organized activities aimed at ousting the clerical regime and bringing the Iranian Revolution back in line with its pro-democratic origins. But the persistence of these efforts also prompted the struggling regime to crack down with extreme violence on the MEK and other opponents of theocratic rule.

    The crackdowns culminated in the massacre of political prisoners in the summer of 1988, as the Iran-Iraq War was coming to a close. Thousands of political prisoners were held in Iranian jails at that time, many of them having already served out their assigned prison sentences. And with the MEK already serving as the main voice of opposition to the regime at that time, its members and supporters naturally made up the vast majority of the population of such prisoners.

    As the result of a fatwa handed down by Khomeini, the regime convened what came to be known as the Death Commission, assigning three judges the task of briefly interviewing prisoners to determine whether they retained any sympathy for the MEK or harbored any resentment toward the existing government. Those who were deemed to have shown any sign of continued opposition were sentenced to be hanged. After a period of about three months, an estimated 30,000 people had been put to death. Many other killings of MEK members preceded and followed that incident, so that today the Free Iran rally includes an annual memorial for approximately 120,000 martyrs from the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran.

    The obvious motive behind the 1988 massacre and other such killings was the destruction of the MEK. And yet it has not only survived but thrived, gaining allies to form the NCRI and acquiring the widespread support that is put on display at each year’s Free Iran rally. In the previous events, the keynote speech was delivered by Maryam Rajavi, who has been known to receive several minutes of applause from the massive crowd as she takes the stage. Her speeches provide concrete examples of the vulnerability of the clerical regime and emphasize the ever-improving prospects for the MEK to lead the way in bringing about regime change.

    The recipients of that message are diverse and they include more than just the assembled crowd of MEK members and supporters. The expectation is that the international dignitaries at each year’s event will carry the message of the MEK back to their own governments and help to encourage more policymakers to recognize the role of the Iranian Resistance in the potential creation of a free and democratic Iranian nation. It is also expected that the event will inspire millions of Iranians to plan for the eventual removal of the clerical regime. And indeed, the MEK broadcasts the event via its own satellite television network, to millions of Iranian households with illegal hookups.

    MEK’s Domestic Activism and Intelligence Network

    What’s more, the MEK retains a solid base of activists inside its Iranian homeland. In the run-up to this year’s Free Iran rally the role of those activists was particularly evident, since the event comes just a month and a half after the latest Iranian presidential elections, in which heavily stage-managed elections resulted in the supposedly moderate incumbent Hassan Rouhani securing reelection. His initial election in 2013 was embraced by some Western policymakers as a possible sign of progress inside the Islamic Republic, but aside from the 2015 nuclear agreement with six world powers, none of his progressive-sounding campaign promises have seen the light of day.

    Rouhani’s poor record has provided additional fertile ground for the message of the MEK and Maryam Rajavi. The Iranian Resistance has long argued that change from within the regime is impossible, and this was strongly reiterated against the backdrop of the presidential elections, when MEK activists used graffiti, banners, and other communications to describe the sitting president as an “imposter.” Many of those same communications decried Rouhani’s leading challenger, Ebrahim Raisi, as a “murderer,” owing to his leading role in the massacre of MEK supporters in 1988.

    That fact helped to underscore the domestic support for the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, insofar as many people who participated in the election said they recognized Raisi as the worst the regime had to offer, and that they were eager to prevent him from taking office. But this is not to say that voters saw Rouhani in a positive light, especially where the MEK is concerned. Under the Rouhani administration, the Justice Minister is headed by Mostafa Pourmohammadi, who also served on the Death Commission and declared as recently as last year that he was proud of himself for having carried out what he described as God’s command of death for MEK supporters.

    With this and other aspects of the Islamic Republic’s record, the MEK’s pre-election activism was mainly focused on encouraging Iranians to boycott the polls. The publicly displayed banners and posters urged a “vote for regime change,” and many of them included the likeness of Maryam Rajavi, suggesting that her return to Iran from France would signify a meaningful alternative to the hardline servants of the clerical regime who are currently the only option in any Iranian national election.

    Naturally, this direct impact on Iranian politics is the ultimate goal of MEK activism. But it performs other recognizable roles from its position in exile, not just limited to the motivational and organization role of the Free Iran rally and other, smaller gatherings. In fact, the MEK rose to particular international prominence in 2005 when it released information that had been kept secret by the Iranian regime about its nuclear program. These revelations included the locations of two secret nuclear sites: a uranium enrichment facility at Natanz and a heavy water plant at Arak, capable of producing enriched plutonium.

    As well as having a substantial impact on the status of international policy regarding the Iranian nuclear program, the revelations also highlighted the MEK’s popular support and strong network inside Iran. Although Maryam Rajavi and the rest of the leadership of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran reside outside of the country, MEK affiliates are scattered throughout Iranian society with some even holding positions within hardline government and military institutions, including the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

    Drawing upon the resources of that intelligence network, the MEK has continued to share crucial information with Western governments in recent years, some of it related to the nuclear program and some of it related to other matters including terrorist training, military development, and the misappropriation of financial resources. The MEK has variously pointed out that the Revolutionary Guard controls well over half of Iran’s gross domestic product, both directly and through a series of front companies and close affiliates in all manner of Iranian industries.

    In February of this year, the Washington, D.C. office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran held press conferences to detail MEK intelligence regarding the expansion of terrorist training programs being carried out across Iran by the Revolutionary Guards. The growth of these programs reportedly followed upon direct orders from Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and coincided with increased recruitment of foreign nationals to fight on Tehran’s behalf in regional conflicts including the Syrian and Yemeni civil wars.

    In the weeks following that press conference, the MEK’s parent organization also prepared documents and held other talks explaining the source of some of the Revolutionary Guards’ power and wealth. Notably, this series of revelations reflected upon trends in American policy toward the Islamic Republic of Iran. And other revelations continue to do so, even now.

    MEK Intelligence Bolstering US Policy Shifts

    Soon after taking office, and around the time the MEK identified a series of Revolutionary Guard training camps, US President Donald Trump directed the State Department to review the possibility of designating Iran’s hardline paramilitary as a foreign terrorist organization. Doing so would open the Revolutionary Guards up to dramatically increased sanctions — a strategy that the MEK prominently supports as a means of weakening the barriers to regime change within Iran.

    The recent revelations of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran have gone a long way toward illustrating both the reasons for giving this designation to the Revolutionary Guards and the potential impact of doing so. Since then, the MEK has also used its intelligence gathering to highlight the ways in which further sanctioning the Guards could result in improved regional security, regardless of the specific impact on terrorist financing.

    For example, in June the NCRI’s Washington, D.C. office held yet another press conference wherein it explained that MEK operatives had become aware of another order for escalation that had been given by Supreme Leader Khamenei, this one related to the Iranian ballistic missile program. This had also been a longstanding point of contention for the Trump administration and the rest of the US government, in light of several ballistic missile launches that have been carried out since the conclusion of nuclear negotiations, including an actual strike on eastern Syria.

    That strike was widely viewed as a threatening gesture toward the US. And the MEK has helped to clarify the extent of the threat by identifying 42 separate missile sites scattered throughout Iran, including one that was working closely with the Iranian institution that had previously been tasked with weaponizing aspects of the Iranian nuclear program.

    The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) led by Maryam Rajavi is thus going to great lengths to encourage the current trend in US policy, which is pointing to more assertiveness and possibly even to the ultimate goal of regime change. The MEK is also striving to move Europe in a similar direction, and the July 1 gathering is likely to show further progress toward that goal. This is because hundreds of American and European politicians and scholars have already declared support for the NCRI and MEK and the platform of Maryam Rajavi. The number grows every year, while the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran continues to collect intelligence that promises to clarify the need for regime change and the practicality of their strategy for achieving it.

    Originally published at http://www.iranfocus.com.

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 8:02 am on July 29, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Iranian Opposition Welcomes New US Sanctions Against IRGC 

    New sanctions on Iran are a step towards taking power away from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, but there is much more the US and its allies can do.

    By Shahriar Kia

    The US House of Representatives on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to rally major new sanctions on Iran, parallel to measures on North Korea and Russia. To impose additional sanctions on Iran’s defense sector, The House voted 419–3, moving the bill forward to be signed by President Trump. Coming after three weeks of negotiations, this bill “tightens the screws on our most dangerous adversaries,” explained House Speaker Paul Ryan.

    The bill sanctions anyone associated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) or anyone whom the US determines is complicit in Iranian human rights violations. Anyone sanctioned under the act may later have sanctions removed after a five-year review.

    Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi welcome the US House of Reps’ new sanctions and terrorist designation of IRGC as essential to rectifying the policy of appeasement and described the act as a “step in line with the Iranian people’s desires and peace in the region,” especially as it turns up the heat on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

    https://twitter.com/Maryam_Rajavi/status/890533258362048513

    The new administration coming to Washington has promised many things, not least of which includes a reexamination of US policies towards Iran. Though the Obama administration did all it could to sell the nuclear deal as a victory, at best it has deferred the ultimate questions about how to deal with the regime in Iran, and at worst it has emboldened their belligerence in the region.

    A successful policy vis-a-vis the regime in Tehran has seemingly eluded Republicans and Democrats for the last 16 years. It may be time to try something new.

    Middle Eastern states when confronted with intense instability can result in the spread of insecurity across the globe. This includes the threat of terrorism in Europe and the US, and the increase of sectarian conflicts abroad.

    Yet there are no easy solutions to these issues. The prospects of being dragged into another war are not appealing to anyone, yet neither can we afford to sit back and watch radical terror spread throughout the Middle East.

    Unfortunately, the appeasement policy by the West for the past two decades has exacerbated this problem, directly or indirectly supporting or engaging Islamic fundamentalists at the expense of their main secular and progressive opposition. The cold war policies of arming jihadists and undermining democratic groups is a direct example of this. It is time to employ a reversal of this policy.

    A common denominator underlying the rise of ISIS, and the spread of instability and fundamentalism, is none other than the regime in Tehran. No one can deny this. Yet at every turn, we are told that the only solution is one which engages the mullahs and strengthens their grip on power. The time for such thinking is at an end.

    The regime has been reluctant to make good on promises of change and thus far has continued its brutal repression of dissidents while maintaining an aggressive policy in the region.

    The question of how to guarantee a long term shift in the behavior of the Iranian regime remains unanswered by Iranian regime apologists.

    The only long term policy which can guarantee a fundamental change of behavior in Iran, and sets an example for hope and change abroad, is one which recognizes the legitimate rights of the Iranian people to bring about democratic change and topple the theocratic fascist state in Iran.

    It is the time that the United States firmly aligned itself with the Iranian opposition which embraces democratic change, freedom and liberty, and secular governance. The Iranian people and their organized resistance should be the primary negotiation partners and allies, not the ruling mullahs.

    The principal opposition to the Iranian theocracy, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its main pillar, People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) is one such organization.

    “In history, the name of your president elect, Maryam Rajavi, will go down in the same tradition of fighters for freedom as Washington, Lafayette, and Garibaldi,” said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in a speech at the annual NCRI convention held this year on July 1st in Paris.

    Rajavi advocates a new future of Iran. This includes a ten-point plan for a democratic secular republic in Iran, free of nuclear weapons, capital punishment, and tolerant to all religions, ethnicities, and ideas.

    ……………………………………………………………………………………..

    Shahriar Kia

    About Shahriar Kia 8 Articles

    Shahriar Kia is a human rights activist and a political analyst writing on Iran and the MIdlle East. As a member of the Iranian opposition, he dedicated his life for the freedom of his people in Iran. He graduated from University of North Texas (USA).

    Originally published at practicalpoliticking.com on July 28, 2017.

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 6:32 am on July 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    First New Iran Regime Sanctions Since Nuclear Deal Passed 

    The bill also sanctions anyone associated with(IRGC) or anyone whom the US determines is complicit in Iranian human rights violations

    IRAN, 25 July 2017The bill also sanctions anyone associated with Iran regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)

    To impose additional sanctions on Iran’s defense sector, The House voted 419-3 (25 July 2017) moving the bill forward to be approved by President Trump.

    While there are some slight modifications to the bill’s sanctions on Russia, the language on Iran is undistinguishable to the version the Senate passed 98-2 in June. Like its Senate counterpart, the House bill would block the assets of any individual who works with Iran on its ballistic missile program or sells it arms.

    The bill also sanctions anyone associated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) or anyone whom the US determines is complicit in Iranian human rights violations. Anyone sanctioned under the act may be removed after a five-year review.

    Although the Senate had already voted in favor of the sanctions package on June 15 by 98-2, the House has tacked an additional set of provisions sanctioning North Korea onto the bill, forcing the upper chamber to vote once more. The House has already passed the North Korea sanctions separately by a vote of 419-1, but the Senate has not yet taken it up.

    Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., negotiated with the House over the weekend alongside the committee’s ranking member, Senator Ben Cardin, D-Md., to reach consensus.

    Corker stated: while the Senate is close to approving the House package, the addition of the North Korea sanctions could cause further delays before the long-awaited sanctions finally make their way to the White House.

    “We’re about there,” Corker told reporters. “It depends on a couple of things we’re looking at on the North Korea piece, so it’s not fully worked out. … We’re talking through some procedural issues right now, but we had a very good weekend and are very, very close to having it fully resolved.”

    Nonetheless, Senate Democrats are eager to vote on the sanctions and deliver it to the president before the August recess.

    “It is critical that the Senate act promptly on that legislation,” said Schumer. “I will work with the majority leader to ensure its swift passage so that we can get it to the president’s desk before we leave for the recess.”

    The White House is supportive of taking a harder line against Iran but had initially opposed the bill as it would require Congress to approve any removal of sanctions on Russia. However, the White House changed its tune over the weekend with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying, “The administration is supportive of being tough on Russia, particularly in putting these sanctions in place.”

    And while president Trump has twice certified that Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA, most recently last week, he only did so after a lengthy internal debate inside the administration.

    Foreign Policy reported last week that Trump has asked his aides to make a credible case for declining to recertify that Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA. The administration must certify Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA every 90 days

    Source: First New Iran Regime Sanctions Since Nuclear Deal Passed

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 8:01 pm on July 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    The Right Solution For Iran Is Not War 

    Iranian military trucks carry surface-to-air missiles during a parade on the occasion of the country’s Army Day, on April 18, 2017, in Tehran. / AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE (Photo credit should read ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

    By Heshmat Alavi

    We are at a critical juncture in our time in history. The Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has entered now its third year.

    As the Trump White House is pending its Iran policy there is increasing support for regime change. All the while the Iran appeasement camp are boosting their efforts of claiming any firm policy on Tehran will lead to war. The question is do the measures professed by this party truly prevent war?

    When Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) recently held its annual convention in Paris, with Trump “emissaries” such as former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaking powerfully of regime change in Iran. Former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton went as far as declaring the Iranian regime will not witness its 40th anniversary in February 2019.

    In response, Iran and its lobbies in the West, terrified of such a surge behind the NCRI as the sole alternative able to bring about true change in Iran, have not remained silent. Iran apologists are yet again seen resorting to the old tactic of warning about a new war in the Middle East.

    For decades now pro-Iranian regime writers have cautioned against adopting a firm policy on Tehran, allowing the mullahs’ regime to plunge the entire Middle East into havoc.

    As we speak Iraq, Syria and Yemen are in ruins thanks to Iran’s support of proxy elements fueling sectarian conflicts and deadly civil wars.

    The war in Afghanistan has yet to finalize after 16 years, and reports continue of Iran supporting the Taliban and al-Qaeda in this country.

    Lebanon has yet to witness political stability in decades as Iran continues to funnel millions of dollars and arms to its offspring, the Hezbollah, brought to life by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) back in 1982.

    Many other Arab countries can follow suit after Kuwait expelled Iran’s ambassador and more than a dozen other “diplomats” from its soil based on espionage charges.

    But of course, the Iran apologists conveniently consider such matters as irrelevant or at best second hand. These very Iran lobbyists are the actual warmongers as their efforts have provided Tehran the opportunity to bring upon utter devastation to all Middle East nations.

    Pat Buchanan in a Townhall piece argues, “After Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, would America and the world be well-served by a war with Iran that could explode into a Sunni-Shiite religious war across the Middle East?”

    Neglected here is the passivity encouraged by such Iran-apologists has actually empowered Tehran. The end result has been Iran engulfing Iraq and Syria into a horrific abyss of Shiite militias massacring innocent Sunni civilians.

    Former MEP Struan Stevenson sheds light on such an unfortunate phenomenon.

    “800,000 people have been rendered homeless from Mosul alone, millions when you count the refugees who fled from Ramadi and Fallujah. Thousands of innocent Sunni civilians have been killed, and tens of thousands among them were injured,” he wrote in a recent Al Arabiya article.

    There is no question that the 2003 Iraq war was a strategic mistake. Yet why do Iran-apologists, again conveniently, neglect another drastic error of Obama prematurely pulling all US troops out of Iraq in 2011? This left the fledgling state of Iraq at the hands of wolves, being Iran, its puppet, former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, and Shiite proxies and death squads.

    We simply cannot deny the fact that al-Maliki in Iraq, Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, all supported financially and logistically by Iran, paved the path for the rise of ISIS. They massacred Syria’s Sunnis, parallel to Maliki’s crackdown of the Iraq’s Sunni minority. This allowed ISIS to spread, and first in Iraq and Syria, and thus throughout the Middle East, Europe and beyond.

    The regime in Iran actually benefited extremely from the rise of ISIS to claim legitimate its involvement in Iraq and Syria through Shiite proxy groups.

    Again, as Iran-apologists across the board in the US and Europe encouraged engagement and rapprochement with Tehran, climaxing unprecedentedly during Obama’s tenure, Iran’s mullahs continued their killing spree across the region.

    Looking back at the past several years, one can dare to accuse these Iran-apologists of paving the path for Tehran to legitimize its horrific killing sprees, and causing a horrible number of deaths. Can we not accuse them of warmongering?

    These Iranian lobbyists, including Trita Parsi, head of the so-called “National Iranian American Council”, raise the flag of war being bad for business, and thus cheering diplomacy to encourage business. Yet he neglects Iran’s own warmongering in the Middle East.

    All said and done, with the Trump administration seriously weighing regime change as policy vis-à-vis Iran, the international community sees before it the opportunity to finally adopt the right policy on Iran.

    Engagement has failed. Wars in the Middle East have been disastrous. We do not want to go down that road in regards to Iran. And there is no need.

    The Iranian people and their organized opposition, the NCRI, are more than capable of toppling the mullahs’ regime in Tehran. This organization has everything in place and seek only the international community to recognize their struggle and end the disastrous Iran appeasement approach. A course correction vis-a-vis Iran policy regarding is needed, too, in order for the people of Iran and their opposition to take on the rest.

    Originally published at http://www.forbes.com on July 24, 2017.

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 9:40 pm on July 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Has The Iran Nuclear Deal Changed Anything After Two Years? 

    July 14th marks two years of a controversial nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), brokered between the international community, represented by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States – and Germany, with Iran.

    Where are we now? Has Iran changed for the better? Or has Tehran taken advantage of the Obama administration’s concessions to further advance their domestic crackdown, foreign meddling and nuclear/ballistic missile programs?

    We are now at a crucial juncture. The Trump administration is currently weighing all options, including regime change, in their evaluation of a comprehensive Iran policy. As wars in various countries and appeasement with Iran have all proved disastrous, regime change by supporting the Iranian people and their organized opposition is the best viable option.

    The pro-deal camp described Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as a “reformist” and decided to neglect the massive wave of executions launched during his first tenure. The Iran nuclear deal gave a green light to Tehran, leading to over 3,000 executions during Rouhani’s first term as president.

    Despite all the naive expectations in Rouhani’s second term, there are reports of increasing executions. This month alone 57 prisoners have been sent to the gallows.

    View image on Twitter

    The regime in Iran is fearing a repeat of widespread protests mirroring those seen rocking its very pillars back in 2009. In response, Iranian regime security forces are seen raiding homes of a long slate of political and human rights activists in Iran, most specifically those supporting the main opposition group, People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

    This YouTube video shows a brave Iranian activists declaring “My Vote is Regime Change” on May 19th when the regime held its elections.

    Rest assured Iran will ramp up its domestic crackdown as rifts in its senior hierarchy continue to deepen. To add insult to Iran’s injury, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson mentioned his support for regime change through backing domestic opposition at a June 14th congressional hearing.

    Looking abroad, Iran took advantage of the nuclear deal to first convince Russia to launch its Syria campaign in September 2015 and provide the air support needed to help prop up the Bashar Assad dictatorship. Prolonged death and destruction resulted as Syria is bearing nearly half a million dead and over 12 million internally and externally displaced.

    Iraq has also seen the wrath of Iran’s foreign intervention. Under the pretext of the fight against ISIS and the US-led coalition providing air coverage, Tehran’s proxies are literally changing the social fabric of Iraq’s Sunni provinces.

    ISIS may have been defeated in Iraq, but the battle to establish stability and true Iraqi sovereignty has only just begun. Iran’s influence runs deep in this country despite the US spending $3 trillion of its resources, and thanks to Obama’s premature troop departure handing over Baghdad to Tehran in a silver plate.

    Yemen and Iran’s support for the Houthi proxies is no better story. As Obama focused solely on preserving his legacy-defining nuclear deal with Iran, the mullahs continued to support the Houthis financially, logistically and with crucial arms supplies. The country will not see peace unless a strong will is adopted to end Tehran’s deadly involvement.

    Iran’s mullahs have also been fast advancing their ballistic missile program, all in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions. Knowing the Obama administration would fail in taking any punishing actions, Tehran carried out numerous test launches after the Iran nuclear deal signing and continued to do so after Obama left office.

    The Trump administration has slapped three rounds of sanctions against Iran. In one instance Tehran cancelled plans for one missile test launch. The mullahs need these test launches to maintain face and curb many internal issues amongst its already dwindling social base.

    Moreover, Tehran’s ballistic missiles have become a leverage to threaten the Middle East. As North Korea continues its ballistic missile advances, a possible trade between Pyongyang and Tehran could be devastating for future regional stability and possibly even world peace.

    “And it’s clear that the regime’s behavior is only getting worse. Their continued violations of the agreement; their work with North Korea on nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles only continues to grow… North Korea is already perilously close to the point where they can miniaturize a nuclear weapon, put it on an intercontinental ballistic missile and hit targets in the United States. And the day after North Korea has that capability, the regime in Tehran will have it as well simply by signing a check,” said John Bolton, former US ambassador to the UN at a recent Iranian opposition rally in Paris.

    Reports also indicate Iran is continuing to focus activities with the objective of obtaining nuclear weapons.

    In a recent publication the state of Hamburg in Germany reports “there is no evidence of a complete about-face in Iran’s atomic polices in 2016” [after the Islamic Republic signed the JCPOA deal with Western powers in 2015, aimed at restricting Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief]. Iran sought missile carrier technology necessary for its rocket program.”

    For the road ahead, the Trump administration should adopt a firm policy of first inflicting the true nature of strict measures implemented in the JCPOA, especially the tough inspections of all facilities and holding Tehran in violation without any reservation.

    GOP Senators have made a call on President Trump to find Iran in non-compliance with the nuclear accord. Tehran has enjoyed far too much time to cheat its way around the deal and Washington should bring an end to this.

    Targeting the core entity responsible for these measures is key. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is involved in domestic crackdown, foreign meddling and the mullahs’ nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. To this end, designating this entity as a foreign terrorist organization is long overdue.

    Finally, the Trump administration should lead the international community to first bring an end to the highly flawed appeasement policy with Iran. This will lead to the world standing alongside the Iranian people and their organized opposition movement, symbolized in the National Council of Resistance of Iran, in bringing about true change in order to establish freedom, democracy and a non-nuclear Iran peacefully coexisting with all its neighboring countries.

     

    via Has The Iran Nuclear Deal Changed Anything After Two Years? — Iran Commentary

     
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