By Shahriar Kia
The current plan for sanctions against Iran leaves the regime between a proverbial rock and hard place since its choices are complied or die.
The adoption of “Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017” by the United States Senate has rendered a variety of reactions from Iran resembling the terrified status of the regime’s senior ranks. Iranian media have widely referred to this new bill and the resulting authorizations as the “mother of all sanctions” and the “sanctions black hole.”
“Section 5 of this bill is related to new sanctions against the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). This new bill is dubbed the ‘sanctions black hole’ considering the fact that based on Executive Order 13224, any individual providing services to an identified organization in this Executive Order, that individual or his/her entity will be placed on the US sanctions list or the SDN… with the adoption and implementation of this bill, we can forecast that a few thousand individuals will be placed in the SDN sanctions list…,” according to IRGC-affiliated semi-official Fars news agency.
Continue reading: via Iran’s Impasse and the “Sanctions Black Hole” — Iran Liberty
By Shahriar Kia
United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson responded to a variety of very serious questions raised by House of Representatives members in a recent hearing focusing on U.S. policy vis-à-vis Iran. Representative Ted Poe (R) from Texas touched on what many believe is the ultimate issue when he said:
“I’d like to know what the policy is of the U.S. toward Iran. Do we support the current regime? Do we support a philosophy of regime change, peaceful regime change? There are Iranians in exile all over the world. Some are here. And then there’s Iranians in Iran who don’t support the totalitarian state. So is the U.S. position to leave things as they are or set up a peaceful, long-term regime change?”
America’s top diplomat, taking into consideration how the Trump administration’s all-out Iran policy remains an issue of evaluation, answered:
“… our Iranian policy is under development.
“We continually review the merits both from the standpoint of diplomatic but also international consequences of designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in its entirety as a terrorist organization.”
Tillerson added. “As you know, we have designated the Quds [Force]. Our policy towards Iran is to push back on this hegemony, contain their ability to develop obviously nuclear weapons, and to work toward support of those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government. Those elements are there, certainly as we know.”
Iran is terrified of such a stance and responded immediately. In a tweet, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif claimed that 75 percent of Iran’s population voted in the recent election farce back in May.
Iran’s wrath was not limited to this very issue. Following the twin ISIS attacks targeting Iran’s parliament and the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of the Islamic revolution in Iran, senior regime officials sought to portray their apparatus as a victim of terrorism.
Failing to do so, Iranian regime officials accused the US, Saudi Arabia and the main opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), of this terrorist plot. A few days ago, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out at the US and accused Washington of bringing ISIS to life.
“Who created ISIS? Was it anyone but the U.S.? … The U.S. claim that they have established a coalition against ISIS is a lie; of course, the U.S. is against an ‘unrestrained ISIS,’ however, if anyone truly seeks to eradicate ISIS, they will have to fight against it,” he said.
Now the question is, what is Iran so concerned about and what is the right policy vis-à-vis Iran?
With Obama leaving the White House, Iran forever lost a major international backer. For eight years, the “golden era” as Iran dubbed the Obama years, any and all activities by the Iranian people and their organized opposition for change in Iran was countered by the domestic crackdowns and international hurdles, specifically by the U.S.
Obama’s neglect of Tehran’s crimes in Syria and Iraq led to the disasters we are witnessing today. Internationally, a major overhaul of U.S. policy in the region and establishing a significant Arab-American alliance in the face of Iran’s meddling has become a major concern for the mullahs.
In addition, increasing popular dissent and widespread activities by the PMOI/MEK in the past few months have also raised major concerns for the regime.
Khamenei personally intervened last week, first acknowledging the 1988 massacre, defending the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), and those involved in the murder of over 30,000 political prisoners. Most of the victims, all executed in mass groups, were PMOI/MEK members and supporters.
Khamenei’s second concern and that of his entire apparatus is focused on the upcoming Iranian opposition’s annual convention in Paris scheduled for July 1 this year. The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the main entity representing the Iranian opposition, hosts more than 100,000 Iranians from across the globe each year alongside hundreds of prominent dignitaries delivering their support and speeches seeking true change in Iran.
Last year alone, a very prominent delegation of American dignitaries from both sides of the political aisle included former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former U.S. ambassador to the UN John Bolton from the Republicans, former Democratic National Committee chairman Gov. Howard Dean, former U.S. ambassador to the UN Gov. Bill Richardson took part.
This year’s Iranian opposition rally is already brewing major concerns for Tehran as the regime understands the end of the era of appeasement has led to sweeping changes in Western policy regarding the Middle East, and most importantly Iran.
This is exactly why Tehran is going the limits to prevent the shifting of policy towards the Iranian people. Tehran’s lobbies in the U.S. and Europe are placing a comprehensive effort to demonize the images of the PMOI/MEK and the NCRI to prevent any such changes, especially in Washington.
If Iran resorts to ridiculous remarks of accusing the U.S. and Iranian opposition of staging the recent double attacks in Tehran, the correct policy is none other than supporting the Iranian people and their resistance to realize regime change in Tehran.
This short video shows how the Supreme Leader Ali Khamene’i empowered the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) to build a financial empire and dominate much of the Iranian economy and financial system and where the money ends up in funding international terrorism in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere and how the money is used to fuel the Syria war. The video explains that it is time to designate the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). This 3 minute video clip is made based on the newly published book, “The Rise of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Financial Empire: How the Supreme Leader and the IRGC Rob the People to Fund International Terror.”
NCRI – American policy toward Iran turned around last January, with the inauguration of Donald Trump. Trump made his views on Iran clear during his campaign, and they are much different from those of his predecessor. The Obama administration took great pride in the Iran nuclear deal it helped to negotiate, but while still a candidate, Trump repeatedly referred to the agreement as one of the worst deals ever negotiated, and promised to overturn it upon assuming office.
While he hasn’t done that, and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) continues to exist, the US has imposed new sanctions on the Iran which are unrelated to the Iranian nuclear program.
Dr. Ivan Sheehan, director of the graduate programs at the University of Baltimore writes in an article for Town Hall, “Iran policies now under development suggest that an explicit endorsement of regime change may well be on the horizon.”
The lack of reform following implementation of the JCPOA, should prompt the Trump administration to outline a plan to further weaken the regime in Tehran, according to Dr. Sheehan, and toward that objective, to use partnerships abroad. Trump’s strategy of visiting Saudi Arabia and Israel first, on his initial official oversees trip, appeared to be a sign to many in the Middle East that he hoped to encourage cooperation to face the mutual threat of Iran, and they are eager to re-embrace the US at a critical moment in Middle East affairs.
Trump’s visit to Vatican seemed to be a sign of the potential for cooperation among the world’s three Abrahamic faiths. The Islamic Republic is known for religious persecution, as it denies minorities’ access to education or jobs, and sometimes sends people to prison or sentences them to death on the basis of religious crimes.
Among the most progressive and well-educated people in the Middle East are the Iranian people. Sheehan writes that they are “overwhelmingly opposed” to the regime. “This opposition is a crucial reason why it is realistic for the U.S. to embrace and expect regime change, and more specifically, regime change from within driven by local populations as opposed to being imposed by Western authorities.”
Millions of people from both the community of Iranian expatriates and those still living in Iran, are advocating for the establishment of a truly democratic system. This will be apparent on July 1st, in Paris, when the leading coalition of the Iranian opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), holds its annual Iran Freedom rally. In previous years, this event drew more than 100,000 people, including hundreds of political dignitaries and foreign policy experts from the US, Europe, and across the world. The rally will be broadcast to the millions of residents of the Islamic Republic who have satellite dishes, a device that defies the regime’s censorship laws.
With a more comprehensive change of policy toward Iran that includes an expansion in potential American partnerships, President Trump may become the first American leader since the Iranian Revolution to give the people of Iran a voice on the world stage.
It is the hope of the Iranian people that the US will support their message, which can be seen on the banner celebrating the NCRI’s Paris rally: “Regime change is in reach.”
On June 20, 2017, Alireza Jafarzadeh, the deputy director of the Washington office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran held a press conference in NCRIUS office and revealed the acceleration of the missile program of Iran, presented a list of 42 locations of missile sites of Iran involved in the design, production, testing, launching and command of the missile program of the Iranian regime. He also elaborated on the collaboration between the organization in charge of the weaponization of the nuclear program of Iran (SPND) and the missile program. He then elaborated on the role of North Korea in building the underground tunnels under the mountains, as well as research and production of the missile for the Iranian regime. Alireza Jafarzadeh provided the latest organizational charts of the Aerospace Force tasked with the manufacturing of the missile as well as the Aerospace Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps tasked with the launching and deployment of the missiles. There were a dozen sites exposed for the first time by the NCRI. Jafarzadeh provided the first full picture of the missile program of Iran. He also made some policy suggestions for the United States Government.
Iran has been pursuing an extensive ballistic missile program through dozens of very important sites, including twelve unknown to this day and one specifically linked to its highly sensitive and controversial nuclear program, the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) revealed at a press conference Tuesday in Washington.
The NCRI, citing sources of coalition member People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) network inside Iran, in this case in Iran’s Defense Ministry & the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), has a history of blowing the whistle on Tehran’s ballistic missile program, nuclear weapons drive, terrorism and meddling across the Middle East and beyond, and human rights violations.
Various aspects of the dozen hitherto-unknown sites involved in ballistic missile production, testing and launches, all controlled by the IRGC, were also unveiled.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei demanded the acceleration of missiles production and tests following the nuclear deal signed with the P5+1 and specifically tasking the IRGC Aerospace Force to realize this objective.
The scope of Iran’s IRGC-pursued missile program is far more extensive than previously perceived. In this press conference the NCRI identified the locations of 42 IRGC sites, of which 15 are involved in missile manufacturing and containing several factories linked to a missile industry group.
Four of Iran’s most important missile sites are located in the cities of Semnan (east of Tehran), Lar (southcentral Iran), Khorramabad (western Iran) and near Karaj (west of Tehran), according to the PMOI/MEK sources. Iran has only acknowledged the existence of two of these sites to this day.
The Semnan site has been actively associated to SPND, Iran’s organization in charge of building a nuclear weapon, PMOI/MEK sources revealed. SPND has carried out many of its tests at this site.
SPND is the Persian acronym for the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, including Iran’s nuclear weapons program engineering unit. The NCRI first unveiled the existence of SPND in July 2011, leading to its sanctioning three years later.
IRGC missile sites have all been constructed based on North Korean blueprints, according to PMOI/MEK sources, adding Pyongyang’s experts have also been present at sites assisting their Iranian counterparts.
The NCRI revelation comes at a sensitive timing as the US Senate levied extensive new sanctions on Iran covering particularly its ballistic missile program, and support for terrorism and human rights violations.
All factions of the regime in Iran are fully supportive of their drive to upgrade their ballistic missile program, considered a critical aspect of the mullahs’ national security framework and foreign policy.
“We will have a new ballistic missile test in the near future that will be a thorn in the eyes of our enemies,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani boasted recently.
The region is currently engulfed in escalating tension as Iran launched six medium-range ballistic missiles targeting ISIS in eastern Syria on Sunday. Adding to the list of turmoil, the US military shot down a Syrian regime Su-22 fighter jet near the city of Raqqa for dropping bombs on US-allied ground forces. This is a first for Washington in the six-year long multi-faceted Syrian conflict.
This increase in foreign crises, parallel to Iran’s powder keg society causing major dilemmas for the mullahs as protests elevate across the country, will be a major issue of discussion in the upcoming NCRI annual convention scheduled for July 1st in Paris.
The NCRI, representing the most powerful Iranian opposition coalition, is calling for the following measures against Tehran:
- Enacting and implementing effective and comprehensive sanctions targeting Iran’s ballistic missile program and all associated individuals and entities,
- Designating the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization as the institution behind Iran’s missile program, terrorism and meddling,
- Evicting the IRGC and all affiliated proxy militias from Middle East countries, specifically Syria and Iraq.
For watching the conference click on the below link:
View the livestream of the press conference revealing information on four of the most important Iranian Regime’s Missile Centers, Including One Linked to the Nuclear Program hosted by the NCRIUS
For watching the conference click on the below link: