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  • Masoud Dalvand 10:06 am on August 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Iran sanctions, , , , ,   

    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 4:44 pm on June 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Iran sanctions, , , ,   

    ANALYSIS: Iran’s future after new US sanctions 

    The regime in Tehran continues to be in a state of shock after the passage of unprecedented United States Senate sanctions on Thursday targeting Iran’s ballistic missile program, support for terrorism in the Middle East and flagrant human rights violations.

    Many of the new measures imposed on Iran are far more complex than any sanctions even prior to the Iran nuclear deal. There is no need for the Trump administration to tear up the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as these new sanctions provide the US President vast authority for further punitive action. This new initiative also contains a classified amendment believed to describe Iran as an extremely dangerous state.

    The threats

    Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir highlighted the importance of this threat after a recent meeting with his British counterpart in London.

    “If Iran seeks respect it must bring an end to supporting terrorism, bombing embassies and spreading sectarianism… Iran also supports terrorism, meddles in others’ affairs, fuels sectarianism, and dispatches the Revolutionary Guards in Iraq, Syria and Yemen,” he said.

    Further signs of the mullahs’ devious intentions are seen as Iran is reported to provide cruise missiles to Yemen’s Houthis and resulting in a grave threat to the strategic Bab el-Mandeb waterway, according to the US.

    As Iran also continues its destructive support for Shiite groups in Iraq, Vice President Ayad Allawi voiced concerns over Tehran of fomenting sectarian rifts across the country prior to next year’s parliamentary election.

    And Iran will also continue its efforts in Syria, as many parties are seeking land grabs to ensure their interests in the post-ISIS era. Knowing this, Tehran is seeking leverages in the region to have negotiating ammunition, especially considering the sweeping actions exerted through the new US Senate resolution.

    A handout picture provided by the office of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani shows him delivering a speech during a conference entitled “Implementation of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) a new chapter in Iran’s economy”, on January 19, 2016, in Tehran. (AFP)

    ‘JCPOA 2, 3 and 4’

    Section 5 of this bill enforces sanctions on the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). Any individual providing services to an entity identified in this executive order will result in that individual being placed in the US sanctions list. There is no longer any temporary measures and the individual or entity will be permanently sanctioned.

    All government and non-government branches having any cooperation with the IRGC bear the potential of being blacklisted. Prior to the JCPOA around 600 individuals and entities were blacklisted and the JCPOA delisted around 400. However, with the approval and implementation of this new bill we can forecast a few thousand individuals and entities being blacklisted as a result.

    One sign of Iran’s shock is seen in the fact that the regime’s parliament has postponed its response to the Senate bill after a two-week recess. This is no ordinary sanctions bill against Iran and can be considered a mother initiative paving the path for far reaching sanctions against Tehran that bear no need for legal legislation, as they will become operational through executive orders.

    In the regime’s circles these new sanctions have been described as the end of the JCPOA and the beginning of enormous challenges. Demands by the international community will be increasing and there may be even calls for measures dubbed in Iran as “JCPOA 2, 3 and 4,” covering Iran’s ballistic missile program, meddling and support of terrorism in the region, and their human rights violations dossier.

    Iranian state media outlets have gone as far as describing the new sanctions as “black holes” and the “mother of all sanctions.” The future of Iran’s ballistic missiles are currently considered very dark as these sanctions target all IRGC activities.

    New revelations

    The Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance (NCRI) US Office released a statementannouncing their upcoming Tuesday press conference “to reveal information on key centers for production, testing and launching ballistic missiles by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)” and “details (including satellite imagery) on four of the most important missile centers, including one closely linked to Tehran’s nuclear program. In addition, a dozen of hitherto-unknown centers involved in various aspects of production, testing and launching of ballistic missiles will be made public. Information on the role of North Korean experts involved in the construction of these centers will also be discussed.”

    These new sanctions have the IRGC in its crosshairs and seek an end to Iran’s support for the Guards’ regional action and ballistic missiles program. However, the comprehensive nature of this new bill will slowly but surely expand to all organs of the regime in Iran.

    This can be considered the unofficial end of the JCPOA, without the US ever needing to officially tear the accord apart. All previous sanctions are returning, with additions, and yet there is no violation of the Iran nuclear deal whatsoever. The main question here is how will Tehran react?

    The sanctions are returning for one reason and one reason only. The US has come to realize the regime in Iran is in no position to provide any response whatsoever to the new sanctions. To this end, the time has come to in fact levy far more pressure and sanction all branches of the Iranian regime.

    The road ahead

    In the mullahs’ dictionary such setbacks are described as “drinking from the chalice of poison” and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, along with all senior Iranian officials, very well know they must prepare their entire apparatus, ranks and files, for such chalices in the not so distant future.

    These sanctions couldn’t have come at a worse time for Tehran considering the fact that the NCRI is currently preparing for its annual convention scheduled for July 1st in Paris. As Saudi statesman and diplomat Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud stood alongside over 100,000 Iranians from all over the globe in last year’s event, this year’s rally will be joined by hundreds of prominent political dignitaries from the US, Europe and the Middle East.

    This will send a strong message to the international community] that Iran enjoys a major alternative seen in a powerfully organized opposition led by NCRI President Maryam Rajavi and her 10-point-plan envisioning a bright future for a free, liberal and tolerant Iran of tomorrow.

    via  ANALYSIS: Iran’s future after new US sanctions — Iran Commentary

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 7:43 pm on June 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Iran sanctions, , US Senate Resolution   

    Understanding The New Iran Sanctions 

    By Heshmat Alavi

    By Heshmat Alavi   

    Acting as a major wake up call for Iran, the US Senate on Thursday sent a strong message to the mullahs through a bill fit to place new sanctions targeting Tehran’s ballistic missile program, its support for regional and global terrorism and human rights violations.

    Experts have noted the powerful nature of these new measures and analysts close to the Iranian regime have dubbed this measure as the “mother of all sanctions.”

    Foad Izadi, a known Iranian intelligence figure, in a recent interview reflected on the depth of this advantage and described the nuclear sanctions as child’s play in comparison.

    When we place these new sanctions alongside US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s support for regime change in Iran through peaceful steps and Members of Congress calling for blacklisting Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization, we find the mullahs on the receiving end of very commanding signal.

    The 98-2 vote has approved a sleek text that abides by the Iran nuclear deal. These sanctions, technically considered secondary, are in compliance with the nuclear deal due to the very characteristics of Iran’s missile program being excluded from the so-called “landmark” agreement that has failed to provide anything to boast about for the Iranian people. This was yet another concession provided by the Obama administration to Tehran, and the mullahs are seeking to capitalize by operating hand in hand.

    “It truly is astounding what Iran continues to do around the world,” said Sen. Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “For a people that are capable of so much, their foreign policy is shockingly counter to their own interest.

    “We see destabilizing act after destabilizing act — from missile launches, to arms transfers, to terrorist training, to illicit financial activities, to targeting Navy ships and detaining American citizens — the list goes on and on.”

    The Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017 enjoys an overwhelming focus on sanctioning any foreign individual or entity doing business with a counterpart pre-designated by the US administration in association with Iran’s ballistic missile program. For example, these sanctions can be imposed on any financial institution or foreign company involved in providing key parts or components necessary for Tehran’s controversial missile program.

    Two other such actions by the Treasury Department in February and May were preludes, as the administration officially slapped sanctions against a slate of individuals and entities procuring for Iran’s ballistic missile program. The February sanctions were in response to Iran’s medium-range ballistic missile test in late-January, considered by many as a United Nations Security Council Resolution violation.

    There are also voices heard questioning the effectiveness of this new measure able to add any particular new bite considering the already extensive landscape of US measures. And yet it is also recognized how such an initiative will be sending a very dominant political message to Iran.

    The mullahs in Tehran are also one of, if not the, leading state in human rights violations. While many boasted of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gaining a second term launching a new drive for moderation, there are already increasing reports of dozens of executions ever since the May 19th vote and sweeping crackdown across the country. The recent twin attacks in Tehran on June 7th, which was claimed by ISIS, are also being exploited by the mullahs’ to increase domestic crackdown and foreign meddling.

    • At least 30 inmates in a Southeast Iran prison are on the verge of execution, reports.
    • As the Middle East is engulfed in a rift with many states severing diplomatic ties with Qatar, Iran continues to fuel the dilemma through capitalizing on this sensitive subject.
    • Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen recently targeted three Saudi aid trucks delivering relief aid.
    • Iranian boats resorted to new “unsafe and unprofessional” moves in training a laser on a US Marine Corps CH-53E helicopter as three US Naval ships were transiting Strait of Hormuz international waters.

    The world has already experienced how a policy of appeasement and engagement has only emboldened the mullahs to the point of taking advantage of such dismal practices by the international community.

    The Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) have a history of unveiling Iran’s plots and warning the world about Tehran’s nuclear weapons program, ballistic missile drive, meddling across the Middle East and supporting terrorism, and resorting to unspeakable human rights violations.

    This new round of sanctions will be considered a significant blow to these the Iranian regime’s illicit efforts, especially as experts believe the path is being paved to blacklist Iran’s IRGC. The Guards play a major, if not the leading, role in all the above-stated belligerences, and most concerning today is the foreign meddling that continues to wreak havoc in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and a variety of international waterways that can disrupt billions of dollars of economic transactions.

    View image on Twitter

    Bipartisan #Senate sanctions bill on #Iran Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps is most effective when coupled with FTO designation of #IRGC

    The new US Senate sanctions are very necessary indeed, as Iran only understands the language of force. This very correct measure should act as the building block and cornerstone of a new foundation of strong action to rein in Iran’s mullahs and finally bring about true and everlasting change and peace.

    Source: Understanding The New Iran Sanctions

     
  • Masoud Dalvand 7:57 pm on February 15, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Iran sanctions, , , , ,   

    Iran Put on Notice: What Next? 

    Map of Iran nuclear facilities

    The Huffington Post, Feb. 14, 2017 – Last month, the US imposed new sanctions on Iranian entities involved in weapons procurement. The move came two days after the administration of Donald Trump officially put the regime “on notice” for its provocative ballistic missile tests. In response, Iran conducted a second missile test this week in defiance of U.S. warnings.
    The regime’s embattled supreme leader Ali Khamenei also weighed and desperately tried to put on a brave face. He said in a speech, “No enemy can paralyze the Iranian nation. [Trump] says ‘you should be afraid of me.’ No!”
    And, last week, the state-run TV claimed that the regime’s sympathizers marched on the streets on the anniversary of the 1979 revolution to “swear allegiance to the clerical establishment” while chanting “Death to America.”
    Senior administration officials have said that the days of turning a blind eye to Iran’s hostile and belligerent actions are over.
    General James Mattis, the new Secretary of Defense, said that he favors rigorously enforcing the Iran nuclear deal (officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA), though other officials continue to speak of revocation or renegotiation of the deal.
    But Mattis has also struck a harsh tone on Iran policy in general, acknowledging that the extremist theocracy ruling Iran is the worst destabilizing force in the Middle East, and a clear threat to Western interests. Mattis may support measures undercutting the JCPOA if it turned out that the agreement was limiting the administration’s ability to confront Iran over other issues.
    Under the previous administration, the regime was given a free pass on supposedly minor violations, facing no consequences for such things as excessive supplies of heavy water or the brief enrichment of uranium to higher-than-accepted levels.
    Prior to the JCPOA, a UN Security Council resolution had also categorically barred the regime from development or testing of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. But as the nuclear agreement was being implemented, the wording of the resolution changed and only “called upon” Iran to avoid work on weapons “designed to be capable” of carrying a nuclear warhead.
    In spirit, the meaning is exactly the same. But Tehran has been given a gift in the form of vague wording, which has allowed them to argue that the international community cannot punish them for several tests of ballistic missiles that could be capable of striking Israel and various Western assets.
    The malign conduct of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its extraterritorial arm, the Quds Force in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen should have been recognized the world over as proof of the persistently aggressive preoccupations of the Iranian regime. The same goes for the regime’s capture of 10 American sailors in January 2016, multiple missile attacks on Iranian dissidents formerly residing in Camp Ashraf/Liberty in Iraq, and various threats and provocative maneuvers against US Navy vessels and aircraft in the Persian Gulf.
    Just nine days after the president was inaugurated, the IRGC carried out yet another ballistic missile test, sending a nuclear-capable weapon over 600 miles from a known launch site. Then, familiar Iranian statements emerged suggesting that these actions are plainly permitted since they are not mentioned in the JCPOA.
    There is hope that the long-term strategy will consist of an appropriately assertive response from the Trump administration, and not the continuation of the same appeasement and enablement that characterized its predecessors’ Iran policy. The new approach should embrace the idea of reaching out to the Iranian people and the organized opposition.
    The imposition of new sanctions related to the ballistic missile tests and other provocations by the Iranian regime does not need to have any bearing on the JCPOA.
    It is, thus, entirely up to the regime whether expanded enforcement measures by the US lead to the failure of the nuclear deal. But considering the provocative gestures the Iranian regime has made and continues to make since that deal’s implementation, it should be clear to the administration and to the American public that they are better off holding the Iranian regime accountable for their terrorism, their destabilizing role in the region, and rights violations at home.
    One such action would be to designate the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization, further depriving the regime from its lethal leverage in the region and sending the right signal to the people of Iran. The days of ignoring the Iranian regime’s aggression abroad and repression at home should indeed be over.

    Ali Safavi Member of Iran’s Parliament in Exile, National Council of Resistance of Iran

    Source: Iran Put on Notice: What Next?

     
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