Tag: rouhani

ISRAEL CONCERNED BY IRAN’S GROWING POWER IN SYRIA, & DRIVE TO BECOME REGIONAL SUPERPOWER

Iran Has Conquered Syria: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, June 30, 2017 — The world has accepted the fact that Russian forces have been in Syria for the past two years and that Russia controls the Syrian coastline, its seaports and its two airbases.

Rouhani and Trump: Together against Iran's Men with Guns?: Amir Taheri, Gatestone Institute, July 9, 2017— These days something strange is happening with regard to Iran.

Confront Iran the Reagan Way: Mark Dubowitz, Wall Street Journal, July 4, 2017— One message of President Trump’s is popular at home with his political base and embraced abroad by key Middle Eastern allies: The Islamic Republic of Iran is imperialist, repressive, and—unless we adopt a new strategy—on its way toward possessing nuclear weapons.

Is Israel Catching Up Too Late to a Major Strategic Threat from Iran?: Judith Miller, Tablet, June 27, 2017—Israel is increasingly obsessed with a new strategic threat—the possibility that eventually it may have to fight a two-front, and even three-front, war against Iran and its proxies.

 

On Topic Links

 

How Trita Parsi and NIAC Used the White House to Advance Iran’s Agenda: Hassan Dai, Tablet, June 28, 2017

Where to Draw the Line Against Iran’s Mideast Takeover: Michael Horowitz, Daily Beast, June 27, 2017

Middle East Peace Hinges on Regime Change in Iran: Shahriar Kia, American Thinker, July 5, 2017

The Next Middle East War: Clifford D. May, Washington Times, July 4, 2017

 

 

 

IRAN HAS CONQUERED SYRIA

                             Dr. Mordechai Kedar

                                                  Arutz Sheva, June 30, 2017

 

The world has accepted the fact that Russian forces have been in Syria for the past two years and that Russia controls the Syrian coastline, its seaports and its two airbases. It has become used to having Hezbollah, the Shiite Lebanese militia, involved in the fighting in Syria and giving Assad much-needed support. Other Shiite militias, commanded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, are reported to have arrived from Iraq and Afghanistan. These forces sometimes endure losses on Syrian land, leaving the impression that Iran simply sent some Shiite gangs to fight Sunni gangs on Syrian soil.

 

The real situation is totally different, because the Iranian forces in Syria are not gangs anymore, nor are they militias. They are an army by every existing definition of one. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards are charged with building up Iranian forces in Syria, and they are a regular Iranian armed force, not a militia and certainly not a gang. An army. They have infantry, commando, tank, artillery, air force, intelligence and logistics units. This Iranian army's presence has slowly evolved on Syrian soil over the last four years and it has done so under the radar of world media.

 

The largest military offensive in Syria in which Iran's army took part was freeing the northern city of Aleppo from Islamic State in 2016. Russia and Iran cooperated in the operation, with Russia bombing from the air and Iranian forces, along with Hezbollah and other Shiite militias, advancing on the ground and handing over control of conquered areas to Assad's army.

 

Iran has been expanding the area controlled by its forces since early 2017, encroaching upon the desert regions of central and southern Syria which were, until several months ago, in the hands of the Sunni Islamic State (Daesh), the organization now fighting for its survival in three places: Mosul in Iraq, its capital city Raqqa in Syria and Dir A-Zur in eastern Syria. Once Mosul falls, into the hands of the Iranian Army, any day now, the other two cities will follow suit. Iran's regular armed forces took advantage of the power vacuum created by Islamic State's retreat to take over Syria's central and eastern sparsely populated desert regions. I estimate that Iran controls over 60% of Syria today, either directly – through its Revolutionary Guards – or indirectly, through Hezbollah and Shiite militias.

 

Iran's armed forces have several important bases in Syria that allow them complete freedom of movement. Most important of those is the Tadmor airfield in the center of the country, allowing Iran to fly in any military equipment it wishes to bring to Syria, mainly rockets and mortars but also other weapons. Israel is extremely concerned about this development and in March of this year attacked targets in the Tadmor region. The foreign press reported that the raid's objective was an Iranian rocket storage facility.

 

The entire story shows a basic change in the way Iran is running its affairs. Until recently, Iran used commercial flights to camouflage its arms transports, landing in the Damascus international airport, whille foreign press reports claimed that Israel repeatedly bombed storage facilities in the airport's environs. Iran concluded that Israeli intelligence had enlisted Syrian citizens who work or live in proximity to the airport in order to obtain information in real time. Damascus is not far from Israel, allowing the IDF to operate effectively against objectives near the Syrian capital. In contrast, the Tadmor airfield is hundreds of kilometers from Israel. The area has few residents, making it harder for Israel to enlist people to pass on information. Israel, however, did bomb Tadmor, possibly having found another source of information. The war of the minds is being waged all the time, even though the public may be blissfully unaware of it.

 

Reports have claimed that Iran is now using another airport, Alsin, in the Altanef region of southern Syria, near the three-country Syria-Iraq-Jordan border. There is a border crossing between Iraq and Syria nearby, control over which allows the Iranians to freely transport anything at all to Syria. Iranian activity along the Iraq-Syria border is meant to create a continuous land passage from Iran to Syria via Iraq, resulting in Iran being able to move its forces undisturbed all the way to Lebanon, already under Hezbollah's control to all intents and purposes. Hezbollah is the Lebanese arm of the Iranian octopus, so that Iran is turning into a regional power whose forces control an enormous area, ranging from central Asia to the Mediterranean Sea.

 

In this context, it is important to note that all this is happening under the watchful eyes of two global powers, Russia and the United States, each concerned with its own interests. The Russian interest is clear: Russia wants to strengthen Assad and destroy all the Sunni organizations fighting him with Saudi funding and guidance, in addition to other Sunni Arab countries including Turkey. Putin taught Erdogan a lesson and he is now more fearful of the Syrian Kurds than he is an enemy of Assad and his Iranian allies, making Erdogan an important link in the Russo-Iranian coalition supporting Assad.

 

The US observed the growing strength of Iran in Syria over the past four years without initiating any serious attempt to stop it, unless one counts the recent downing of two drones, basically a light tap on Iran's spreading wings. Up until January 2017 the US gave silent assent to Iran's moves, because Obama wanted to empower Iran at the expense of the Saudis. He might have considered it preferable to give the Shiite Arabs and Iranians control of the "Masrek", the name for the regions to the east of Israel, while the area from Egypt westward, known as the "Maghreb," would be under Sunni control.

 

Now that Trump is in the White House, the main goal of American activity in Syria is the elimination of Islamic State, aka Daesh. The US is busy creating "moderate rebel" forces and an alliance with the Kurds who, helped by US air power, are charged with getting rid of Caliph Abu Bakr al Bagdadi and the state he established. The reason the US is concentrating on Daesh is the American fear, shared by Europe, that the terror-state model of Islamic State might seem like a successful one in Muslim eyes. That could lead to Islamic State clones in other parts of the world, including Europe, with the local Islamist public providing a support base…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]                      

 

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ROUHANI AND TRUMP: TOGETHER AGAINST IRAN'S MEN WITH GUNS?

Amir Taheri

Gatestone Institute, July 9, 2017

 

 

These days something strange is happening with regard to Iran. You might say: so what? Strange things have been happening with regard to Iran ever since the mullahs seized power in 1979. Alright, but what is happening now may merit closer attention because it represents an unprecedented convergence between the thinking of the Trump administration in Washington, on the one hand, and that of one of the factions involved in the power struggle in Tehran, on the other.

 

Last month, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that the Trump administration is putting final touches to a new policy on Iran with the ultimate aim of regime change. While details of this new policy remain a mystery, one thing maybe clear: one of its aims would be the dismantling of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which US experts identify as the mainstay of the Khomeinist regime. National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster has more than hinted at this, while a number of Republican policymakers, among them Senator Tom Cotton, have evoked the designation of the IRGC as a "terrorist organization."

 

Parallel to those developments, the Islamic Republic's own President Hassan Rouhani has launched a campaign of vilification against the IRGC. Some analysts dismiss Rouhani's attacks as mere posturing. After all, they argue, Rouhani himself is a product of the military-security complex based on the IRGC. Thus, his attacks on the IRGC, labeling it "a state with guns within the state," may be a trick to hoodwink the gullible Americans into continuing Barrack Obama's policy of propping up "the moderate faction" in Tehran. This may well be the case. However, the IRGC sees Rouhani's attacks as the domestic angle of a "plot" being hatched in Washington.

 

In an editorial published in the daily Javan, principal organ of the IRGC, General Yadallah Javani, says so with surprising clarity. "What the President is saying [against the IRGC] is exactly copied from what the Western media have been saying for years," he writes. Another commander, Hamid-Reza Muqaddam-Far goes even further by accusing Rouhani and his clan of "unsheathing their swords" against the IRGC by "lying across the board". The IRGC's Commander-in-Chief, General Aziz Jaafari, has linked Rouhani's statements to efforts by the US to limit or even halt Iran's project of building long-range missiles. "Yes, we own missiles that smash the enemy," Jaafari said in a speech a day before "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenei reappointed him as IRGC commander-in-chief for a further three years.

 

Never missing an opportunity to attract publicity, General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, has also entered the debate by claiming that "without the IRGC there will be no country!" The so-called "moderate faction" led by the late Hashemi Rafsanjani and former President Mohammed Khatami has always told Western powers, notably the US, that the IRGC is the principal hurdle on the way to the Islamic Republic's change of behavior and "normalization."

 

This was the theme that Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif used with some success in numerous appearances in American policy circles and think-tanks. His claim was that Iran's interventions beyond its borders were due to the IRGC's ambition to make the Islamic Republic a regional superpower, while "the moderates" wanted nothing but "win-win relations" with the West. Last week, that theme was taken up by Rouhani in a speech in Tehran. "Our aim should not be to become the strongest power in the region," he said. "What we want is a stronger region." However, becoming the regional "first power" is clearly stated as the principal goal of the Islamic Republic's 20-Year Strategy, approved by the "Supreme Guide" in 2014.

 

In an editorial last Tuesday, the daily Kayhan, reflecting Khamenei's views, insisted that becoming "the regional superpower" was not a matter of choice, but one of necessity for the Islamic Republic. The principal means of attaining that goal is the IRGC and its growing military power. The current campaign to clip the wings of the IRGC is a reminder of the brief attempt by Khatami to disband the force by merging it with the regular armed forces. It also echoes the campaign launched in the 1970s by the Shah's many enemies to break the Iranian armed forces. At the time, the Khomeinists, the pro-Soviet Communists, the People's Muajahedin, Libya under Moammar Gadhafi, the Palestinians led by Yasser Arafat, leftist parties in Western Europe and certain circles in the US worked together, albeit in an informal way, to vilify the Iranian army and mobilize Iranian and world opinion against it. Days after he seized power in 1979, Khomeini declared the destruction of the army as one of the top aims of his regime. The process of dismantling the army stopped only when Saddam Hussein invaded Iran in September 1980…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]                                                                            

 

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CONFRONT IRAN THE REAGAN WAY

Mark Dubowitz

Wall Street Journal, July 4, 2017

 

One message of President Trump’s is popular at home with his political base and embraced abroad by key Middle Eastern allies: The Islamic Republic of Iran is imperialist, repressive, and—unless we adopt a new strategy—on its way toward possessing nuclear weapons. To keep the threat at bay, Mr. Trump should take a page from the playbook Ronald Reagan used against the Soviet Union.

 

In the early 1980s, President Reagan shifted away from his predecessors’ containment strategy toward a new plan of rolling back Soviet expansionism. The cornerstone of his strategy was the recognition that the Soviet Union was an aggressive and revolutionary yet internally fragile regime that had to be defeated. Reagan’s policy was outlined in 1983 in National Security Decision Directive 75, a comprehensive strategy that called for the use of all instruments of American overt and covert power. The plan included a massive defense buildup, economic warfare, support for anti-Soviet proxy forces and dissidents, and an all-out offensive against the regime’s ideological legitimacy.

 

Mr. Trump should call for a new version of NSDD-75 and go on offense against the Iranian regime. The administration would be wise to address every aspect of the Iranian menace, not merely the nuclear program. President Obama’s myopic focus on disarmament paralyzed American policy. Under Mr. Obama’s deeply flawed nuclear accord, Tehran does not need to cheat to reach threshold nuclear-weapons capabilities. Merely by waiting for key constraints to sunset, the regime can emerge over the next decade with an industrial-size enrichment program, a near-zero breakout time, an easier clandestine path to a nuclear warhead, long-range ballistic missiles, access to advanced conventional weaponry, greater regional dominance, and a more powerful economy, increasingly immunized against Western sanctions. You could call this scenario the lethal Iranian end-state.

 

A new national security directive must systemically dismantle Iranian power country by country in the Middle East. The Europeans, traumatized by foreign fighters returning from Syria and massive refugee flows, may support a tougher Iran policy if it means Washington finally gets serious about Syria. The early signs of the return of American power are promising: 59 Tomahawk missiles launched in response to the Assad regime’s most recent chemical attack, military strikes at Iran-backed militias in southern Syria, the downing of a Syrian fighter plane and Iranian-made drones, and 281 Syria-related sanctions in five months. Washington should demolish the Iranian regime’s terrorist networks and influence operations, including their presence in Europe and the United States. That means working closely with allied Sunni governments against Iranian subversion of their societies. The American offensive has already begun: CIA Director Mike Pompeo is putting the agency on an aggressive footing against these global networks with the development of a more muscular covert action program.

 

All of Washington’s actions to push back against Tehran hinge on severely weakening the Iranian regime’s finances. Robust measures should target the regime’s praetorians, the Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, a dominant force in Iran’s economy. New sanctions legislation designating the IRGC for terrorism—which the Senate recently passed with 98 votes—and the more than 40 Iran-related sanctions imposed this year are a good start. But much more is still needed: The IRGC’s transfer to Hezbollah of industrial-size missile production capability based on Lebanon soil could trigger the next Israel-Hezbollah war. Massive economic sanctions on Iran to stop these transfers may be the only way to head off this war.

 

Last but not least, the American pressure campaign should seek to undermine Iran’s rulers by strengthening the pro-democracy forces that erupted in Iran in 2009, nearly toppling the regime. Target the regime’s soft underbelly: its massive corruption and human-rights abuses. Conventional wisdom assumes that Iran has a stable government with a public united behind President Hassan Rouhani’s vision of incremental reform. In reality, the gap between the ruled and their Islamist rulers is expanding.

 

The odds that a moderate government will emerge in Tehran before the nuclear deal’s restrictions expire are poor. Washington needs to block the Islamic Republic’s pathways to gaining nuclear-tipped missiles. While aggressively enforcing the nuclear agreement, the administration should present revised terms for a follow-on deal. These must address the current accord’s fundamental flaws, including the sunset provisions that give Tehran a clear pathway to nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them, and the inadequate access to Iranian military sites that blocks effective verification.

 

The administration should present Iran the choice between a new agreement and an unrelenting American pressure campaign while signaling that it is unilaterally prepared to cancel the existing deal if Tehran doesn’t play ball. Only six years after Ronald Reagan adopted his pressure strategy, the Soviet bloc collapsed. Washington must intensify the pressure on the mullahs as Reagan did on the communists. Otherwise, a lethal nuclear Iran is less than a decade away.        

 

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IS ISRAEL CATCHING UP TOO LATE TO A MAJOR

STRATEGIC THREAT FROM IRAN?

Judith Miller

Tablet, June 27, 2017

 

Israel is increasingly obsessed with a new strategic threat—the possibility that eventually it may have to fight a two-front, and even three-front, war against Iran and its proxies. According to Chagai Tzuriel, director general of Israel’s intelligence ministry, Iran is now negotiating with Damascus to build a base on the Mediterranean. He called Iran’s effort to build a land corridor and establish a permanent forward operating presence on the sea the “most important strategic development in the region.” All the rest, he said, was “noise.”

 

A corridor through Iraq that allows the Iranian regime to ship weapons and soldiers directly from Iran to proxies in Syria and Lebanon would be a strategic gain that puts Iran directly on two of Israel’s four borders. The most promising route for such a corridor, experts say, is from Iran’s border through southeastern Syria near Jordan’s border at a town called At-Tanf, where Iranian-backed Shiite forces and the Syrian army have been battling American-trained and -supported Syrian rebels. “A corridor is more than a road,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Herzog, an Israeli national-security expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who knows both countries’ politics and vulnerabilities well. “It is shorthand for Iran’s success in changing disputed territories’ demography by pushing out Sunnis and replacing them with Shiite and other friendly minorities. It is Iran’s effort to develop energy, economic, and military ties with the local population, particularly along heavily disputed borders, and other means of establishing a permanent presence and Shiite dominance in the region.”

 

The potential peril of Iran’s ambitious, persistent effort to build a so-called land corridor between Tehran and its satellite Hezbollah in Lebanon is the paradoxical result of the impending victory of an improbable American-led coalition—which includes Shiite Iran and Russia—against the Islamic State, the Sunni extremists who once controlled territory the size of Britain in Iraq and Syria. Although the radical Sunnis face expulsion from the “caliphate” they declared two years ago, Iran has filled the vacuum, gaining political and military ground and invaluable operational experience that Israelis fear may enable the Islamic state to soon surround the Jewish state with hostile proxies. Heavily armed Hezbollah has long dominated Lebanon’s security establishment, and increasingly, its politics, to the point where it now seems fair to talk about state institutions like the Lebanese Armed Forces as operating under Hezbollah’s supervision, if not outright control.

 

Alarm about Iran’s growing influence and ability to project power, directly and indirectly, through its regional proxies was a persistent theme last week at the Herzliya Conference, an annual gathering of Israeli and foreign national-security experts in the eponymous Israeli city by the sea. While most analysts agreed that President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran has deferred the threat of an Iranian bomb by a decade, Iran’s desire to become the region’s superpower and project influence in the region through such a corridor has only grown stronger, they said. At the conference and in interviews, veteran Israeli military and intelligence analysts agreed that Israel had not adequately dealt with the strategic threat posed by Iran’s hegemonic ambitions in the region. In particular, Israel needed to do more to prevent Iran from creating such a corridor, or what King Abdullah of Jordan once called a Shiite “crescent” from Tehran to Beirut through Iraq and Syria. To do so, Israel needs to join forces with another improbable Saudi-promoted Sunni Arab coalition and rely on the United States to counter what several Israeli analysts described as Iran’s patient, coherent strategy to advance its interests in what was once seen as a vital part of the Sunni Arab heartland.

 

Iran’s goals in the region, said Shmuel Bar, a former intelligence analyst who now heads IntuView, an artificial-intelligence company that monitors the region’s media and provides strategic predictions, many of which have proved accurate, says that Tehran’s goals in the region are to solidify political control in Damascus, establish a permanent military presence in Syria, and build a strategic corridor from Iran through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon, where Hezbollah holds sway. If successful, Iran will have its own “Proxystan” on the Israeli and Jordanian borders. An Iranian presence so close to Israel’s borders with Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, he said, could easily trigger a conflict in which Israel would be pounded simultaneously by artillery and rockets across two of its borders. “Israel can handle a two-front war,” said a senior official of Israel’s ministry of intelligence. “But at what cost?”…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents

On Topic Links

 

How Trita Parsi and NIAC Used the White House to Advance Iran’s Agenda: Hassan Dai, Tablet, June 28, 2017—In 2005, Jack Abramoff’s corruption and lobbying scandal became public.

Is Israel Catching Up Too Late to a Major Strategic Threat from Iran?: Judith Miller, Tablet, June 27, 2017—Israel is increasingly obsessed with a new strategic threat—the possibility that eventually it may have to fight a two-front, and even three-front, war against Iran and its proxies.

Where to Draw the Line Against Iran’s Mideast Takeover: Michael Horowitz, Daily Beast, June 27, 2017 —Recent weeks have witnessed a growing competition in eastern Syria between U.S.-backed forces and Iranian-led militias, putting the two rival countries on a collision course.

Middle East Peace Hinges on Regime Change in Iran: Shahriar Kia, American Thinker, July 5, 2017—As the Trump administration continues to overhaul and codify a  comprehensive new Iran strategy, the opposition coalition to the mullahs in Tehran held a massive rally on Saturday in the French capital calling for regime change.

The Next Middle East War: Clifford D. May, Washington Times, July 4, 2017—Eleven years ago this month, Israel went to war with Hezbollah, Iran’s Lebanon-based Shi’a proxy militia. The fighting began when Hezbollah fired rockets at Israeli villages and missiles at Israeli armored vehicles patrolling the border. Three Israeli soldiers were killed. Two were kidnapped and taken into Lebanon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IRAN’S POWER STRUGGLE AND HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES CONTINUE FOLLOWING I.S. ATTACK & ELECTION

What Happens in Iran After the ISIS Attacks?: Reza Shafiee, American Thinker, June 14, 2017 — In many ways, the Iranian regime is different from other classic dictatorships.

Rouhani’s Second Term: On a Collision Course with the Revolutionary Guards: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, JCPA, June 7, 2017— Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was elected to a second term, winning 57 percent of the votes in the May 19, 2017, election.

Is Trump All Talk on Iran?: Jonathan S. Tobin, National Review, May 31, 2017 — During his trip to the Middle East last week, President Donald Trump had one consistent theme and he never wavered from it: The region needs to unite to stop Iran.

The Tehran Two-Step: Jenna Lifhits, Weekly Standard, May 8, 2017— Details of the United States' 2016 prisoner swap with Iran continue to surface more than a year later, forming a picture much different from the one the Obama administration presented at the time.

 

On Topic Links

 

Terrorism in Tehran: ISIS Intensifies Its Subversive Activity in the Middle East: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, JCPA, June 15, 2017

What the Islamic State Wants in Attacking Iran: Will McCants, Foreign Policy, June 7, 2017

Drawing a “Broader Conclusion” on Iran’s Nuclear Program: Olli Heinonen, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, June 14, 2017 

The Ethnic Instability of Iran: Mike Konrad, American Thinker, June 11, 2017

 

 

 

WHAT HAPPENS IN IRAN AFTER THE ISIS ATTACKS?

Reza Shafiee

American Thinker, June 14, 2017

 

In many ways, the Iranian regime is different from other classic dictatorships.  But who would have thought that in mourning Tehran's terrorist attacks last week, a first for ISIS in Iran, which left 13 dead and some forty others injured, the mullahs' supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, would set a new high in absurdity?

 

It is obvious that any leader's first priority in any civilized country in the world would be to mourn with his people.  It is even customary for leaders and elected officials to show at the scene as soon as possible and pay respects to those who lost their lives and comfort the families of the victims.  But not Khamenei.  He did nothing.  Instead, on June 7, he callously minimized the ISIS twin attacks by shrugging them off, saying: "These firecrackers that happened today will not have the slightest effect on the will of the people."

 

Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, claimed that "the incident was not unexpected," and the regime's Parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, referred to the bloody attack as a "gem" and a "valuable jewel." Such comments, although painful and shocking for many Iranians, had a hidden and dreadful truth.  Khamenei and Rouhani alike were trying to capitalize on the ISIS attack in their political favor. Iran's police chief and later minister of intelligence and security (MOIS) gave, in some cases, conflicting reports and different accounts of the events.  One thing was certain: neither was being transparent.  In comparison to how, for example, British police were clearly and consistently releasing information to the public in recent terrorist attacks in London, the regime authorities were trying to cover them up.

 

The MOIS chief was vague and refused to give bombers' last names and their prior activities.  Case in point was one of the bombers, Serias Sadeghi, an Iranian Kurd from Paveh, a city in western Iran, who has been cited as a prominent recruiter for ISIS in Iranian Kurdistan. It has been reported that Sadeghi, over a year ago, was arrested by MOIS and then recruited by ISIS.  He underwent training for three months.  Then he was released.   

 

Iranian Kurdistan since the 1979 revolution has always been a hotspot for the regime.  People in that region are twice as much under pressure by the IRGC and MOIS as the rest of the country.  How is it possible that an ISIS recruiter has such a free hand in Kurdistan?  It just does not add up. It has been a pattern throughout the mullahs' regime to use a diversion when it is struggling to stay afloat in the face of problems at home.  The Iranian regime's founding father, Khomeini, set an example when, for the first time, he shocked Iranians by calling the devastating eight-year-old Iran-Iraq war a "blessing."  Khomeini's fatwa for British writer Salman Rushdie's head is another famous example of how this regime operates and dodges problems.  The fatwa was used as an excuse to cover the heavy losses in the war with neighboring Iraq in 1988. Then again, there were the planned terrorist attacks designed by MOIS to blow up Imam Reza's holy shrine in the northern eastern city of Mashhad in 1994 and blame it on the regime's opposition.

 

Why would Khamenei and his regime welcome such a heinous attack in Tehran by ISIS? The short answer is that a new excuse was needed to prevent the powder keg – the Iranian society – from explosion. Despite arguments that elections were a show of unity and force for the mullahs' regime, they were not.  The election opened old wounds and intensified factional infighting and an unprecedented power struggle.  Since a year before the presidential election of May 29, Iran's supreme leader had been planning for – engineering – it.  He openly banned his previous favorite former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, from running in hope of a quiet and clean "section" for the post.  He failed, and Ahmadinejad defiantly threw his hat in but was blocked from entering the race by the powerful Guardian Council.

 

The next step was to prop up Ebrahim Raisi, an infamous hanging judge with a track record of at least 30,000 political executions in 1988.  All factions within the mullahs' regime tried hard to brush off the massacre.  Raisi and Rouhani struggled to distance themselves from killing of those prisoners who were serving their sentences.  The main Iranian opposition People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (POMI/MEK) shone the light on the regime's black history last year with a major campaign.  Among those executed were teenage girls as young as 13, according to Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, Khomeini's handpicked successor, who was later sacked for protesting the summary executions…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    

 

 

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ROUHANI’S SECOND TERM: ON A COLLISION

COURSE WITH THE REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS                                  

Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall                                                                                        

JCPA, June 7, 2017

 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was elected to a second term, winning 57 percent of the votes in the May 19, 2017, election. During the campaign, Rouhani ended up going head-to-head with the conservative candidate, Ebrahim Raisi, who was supported by the spiritual Leader of Iran, Khamenei, and is on the list of candidates to succeed him.

 

The fact that Rouhani was elected despite Iranians’ growing disappointment with him may reflect, when all is said and done, the choice of the lesser evil. The other option, Raisi, was responsible for mass executions of political prisoners in the late 1980s. Rouhani’s first four years in office – which most notably will be remembered for the nuclear deal with the West – did not bring about the hoped-for economic transformation. The election campaign also put Rouhani on a direct collision course with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). That pertains particularly to sensitive issues such as Iran’s missile program, its nuclear program (Rouhani’s concessions during the negotiations have not been forgiven), and Iran’s regional policy. It pertains to economic issues as well, including the need to subject the IRGC’s shadow economy to transparency and taxation. Most of all, however, the collision course has to do with the issues on which Iranians most fervently long for a change – human rights, women’s rights, individual freedom, and freedom of expression. On all these, Rouhani has no good tidings to offer.

 

In the foreign sphere, it is indeed symbolic that on the very day Rouhani’s election victory was announced, U.S. President Donald Trump opened a new chapter in U.S. regional policy with his visit to Iran’s bitter political-religious adversary, Saudi Arabia. From there, Trump went on to Israel, a country Iran does not recognize and whose destruction it calls for. Perhaps as a sign of what is to come, a short time before Trump landed in Saudi Arabia, the Houthi rebels in Yemen fired a 675-km-range Burkan-2 (Volcano-2) ballistic missile at the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Although not the first of its kind, such a launch at such a sensitive time was carried out with Iran’s approval. It conveyed the message – both to the United States and to the reelected Iranian president – that the IRGC, which has the Leader’s support, has no intention of forgoing its ambitious goals either at home or abroad.

 

The West, of course, lauded the victory of the so-called “moderate,” pragmatic, reformist leader over his conservative, hardline opponent. The desire to return to “business as usual” with Iran is very strong. The galloping of Western companies, accompanied by delegations of politicians, is heard in the streets of Tehran. To the ordinary Iranians’ deep disappointment, human rights and civil society issues go almost unmentioned. As in the past, the West prefers to hide behind the fig leaf of a “reformist” president who – “helped by the will of the Iranian people” – defeated his ultra-conservative rival and proved that Iran is looking westward, wishing only to return to the international community’s good graces.

 

At the start of his second term, Rouhani faces a huge challenge both in the domestic and foreign spheres. At home, despite a change for the better in the macro- economic sense, he has not succeeded to bring about a tangible desired micro-economic improvement in Iranians’ lives. The distress of young Iranians, who constitute many of those who elected him, remains unchanged. The promises of the first term have not been borne out. Unemployment rates are still high, particularly among the educated young. Rouhani is again promising jobs, social justice, reforms, as well as personal and political freedom. Yet, he has not been able to secure the release from house arrest the leaders of the reformist camp, former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi and former Majlis (parliament) Chairman Mehdi Karroubi, to reopen reformist newspapers and websites, or to improve the human rights situation.

 

That failure continues to be felt, and Rouhani could not cite even a symbolic achievement to his supporters who cried, during the campaign rallies, “Ya Hossein, Ya Hossein.” On the other hand, the ongoing, now eight-year house arrest of the reformist “Green” leaders – whom young Iranians continue to regard as representing the hope for a change – reflects the regime’s fear of a resurgence of the protest movement that was violently suppressed in 2009. Hence, there may still be hope for a change in Iran under the right domestic and international circumstances…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    

 

 

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IS TRUMP ALL TALK ON IRAN?

Jonathan S. Tobin

National Review, May 31, 2017

 

During his trip to the Middle East last week, President Donald Trump had one consistent theme and he never wavered from it: The region needs to unite to stop Iran. Mutual antipathy for Tehran has driven Arab regimes such as Saudi Arabia to make common cause with Israel. It was also the motivation for the massive $110 billion arms deal Trump struck with the Saudis, who believe that President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran has endangered their security.

 

But while Trump talks tough about the Iranians, the normally bellicose Islamist regime has been restrained, at least by its standards, in response. Why? The Iranians may be unhappy with Trump’s effort to orchestrate the creation of a Middle East NATO that would oppose their dream of regional hegemony, but they are actually quite pleased with other elements of his administration’s Iran policy. For all of Trump’s bluster, his decision not only to leave the nuclear agreement in place but to erect no obstacles to a major U.S. commercial deal with Iran may have convinced the ayatollahs that the president isn’t quite as hostile as he wants to seem.

 

One of the least noticed aspects of the nuclear deal was a provision that granted Tehran an exception to U.S. sanctions that remained in place after it was signed. That provision allowed U.S. companies to sell “commercial passenger aircraft and related parts and services” to Iran, and Boeing took advantage of it, joining European businesses in a race to secure Iranian business. It was a clever strategy that enabled Obama to undermine the remaining resistance to the deal. If, as Obama hoped, a major U.S. firm such as Boeing were to conclude a massive deal of its own with Iran, the jobs created by the sale would build a strong new constituency opposed to retightening the screws on Tehran no matter the regime’s subsequent actions.

 

Boeing’s deal with Iran was concluded in June 2016, and the Obama administration subsequently issued the requisite licenses for it to move forward. But the Trump administration still has a chance to raise objections and to block the delivery of the planes to Tehran. The grounds for objection were already clear last year, when Boeing was celebrating the deal: Many of the companies with which it would be doing business have strong connections to or are owned by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which coordinates Iran’s international terrorist network. Yet so far, the Trump administration has remained suspiciously silent about the deal, leading Iran to the not unreasonable conclusion that while the president may be willing to talk about its role as the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, he is as reluctant to do something about it as his predecessor was.

 

Trump has no good options when it comes to tearing up the nuclear deal that he spent so much of the 2016 campaign denouncing as a betrayal of U.S. interests. Walking away from the pact at a moment when neither America’s European allies nor Russia and China are willing to re-impose sanctions would simply give the Iranians permission to move quickly toward a bomb without providing a means short of war to stop them. But Trump does have options that can start the process of rebuilding an international quarantine against Iranian terror and punishing the regime for its illegal missile tests.

 

Earlier this month, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a sweeping set of measures designed to impose new restrictions on trade with Iran because of its human-rights violations and support for terror. The point of such efforts is to expand the list of Iranian individuals and companies affected by the sanctions that still remain in place, so as to hamper the ability of the IRGC and other agents of the regime to profit from foreign trade. Moreover, even if other nations won’t re-impose their own sanctions on Iran, U.S. measures that bar foreign banks from the American financial system if they do business with terror-connected Iranian entities can still have a devastating impact on the regime.

 

President Trump mocked John Kerry as the worst negotiator in history for his disastrous role in making the nuclear pact possible. But if he doesn’t move to support the Senate bill and to do something about the Boeing deal, then he will effectively be throwing in his lot with Obama’s secretary of state, who remains a public opponent of increased sanctions on Iran. The reason for Trump’s reluctance to move against Boeing is obvious: Promises to create American jobs were as important to the success of his campaign as were his criticisms of Obama. Putting any further obstacles in the way of the transaction would have a devastating impact on the company and the thousands of workers it employs. Moreover, Boeing is looking to expand its ties with Iran and has applied for another license to sell 30 more planes to entities within the country. But Iran uses commercial planes such as the ones Boeing sells to ferry supplies, munitions, and “volunteers” to Syria, where they have helped preserve the rule of the barbarous Assad regime. No one in the White House can pretend that Boeing’s budding business relationship with the Islamic Republic is unrelated to the security concerns that Trump discussed with the Saudis and Israelis last week.

 

All of which is to say that there’s a glaring contradiction between Trump’s indulgence of Boeing’s desire to profit from its dealings with Iran and his efforts to rein in a dangerous foe of U.S. interests. If he stays silent and/or allows the planes to be delivered, it may preserve jobs for some of the working-class voters who backed him. But it will also validate Tehran’s belief that he is as much a paper tiger as Obama was. And an Iran unfettered by fear of U.S. power, hard and soft, would be an even bigger threat to global security.  

                                                                       

 

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                                       THE TEHRAN TWO-STEP

Jenna Lifhits

Weekly Standard, May 8, 2017

 

Details of the United States' 2016 prisoner swap with Iran continue to surface more than a year later, forming a picture much different from the one the Obama administration presented at the time. The latest revelations are the most shocking yet. Under the deal, the United States granted clemency to 7 Iranians and dismissed charges against another 14 in exchange for the release of 4 Americans held in Iran. President Barack Obama called it "a reciprocal humanitarian gesture"—but it turns out the Justice Department had labeled many of those Iranians "a clear threat to U.S. national security."

 

Obama made the announcement on January 17, one day after the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal with Iran took effect, along with the news that Tehran and Washington had settled a decades-old claim over an arms deal gone awry. Obama administration officials claimed the settlement—$400 million plus $1.3 billion in interest—saved American taxpayers a significant sum by avoiding a Hague Tribunal proceeding.

 

The string of briefings left dozens of questions unanswered, but most of Washington focused on the timing of the agreements. Officials repeatedly stressed that the money and the prisoners were separate from one another, and from the nuclear deal that had been a top priority for the administration. Skeptical lawmakers and members of the media swamped the administration with requests for information about the mechanics of the $1.7 billion outlay amid allegations that it was a ransom payment for the jailed Americans. Those questions were slowly answered over months—though not by the White House.

 

The Wall Street Journal ignited the firestorm in August 2016 with its report that the Obama administration had delivered to Iran $400 million in cash, the first installment of the settlement, via an unmarked cargo plane. Members of Congress toughened their demands for information and raised concerns that Tehran would use the hard currency to boost the Lebanese militia Hezbollah or Bashar al-Assad's murderous Syrian regime. "For the administration to continue to refuse to answer simple questions regarding its suspicious delivery of $400 million in pallets of cash to Iran only raises more questions," then-congressman Mike Pompeo told The Weekly Standard in August. Iran ended up authorizing the money for transfer to its military, according to a September policy brief by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

 

Administration officials claimed they used cash because the United States did not have a banking relationship with Iran. "What we have is the manufacturing of outrage in a story that we disclosed in January," Obama said. "The only bit of news that is relevant on this is the fact that we paid cash. .  .  . We couldn't send them a check and we could not wire the money." But as TWS reported in September, the administration made such wire payments to Iran before and after the president's claim, in July 2015 and April 2016. As controversy over the cash payment raged, administration officials maintained that the financial settlement and prisoner swap were not coordinated; it was a "coincidence" that the money arrived in Iran at almost the same time the regime freed the American prisoners. But in fact, as another Journal report revealed a few weeks later, the cash payment was part of a "tightly scripted exchange" tied to the release of the Americans. Iran could take possession of the cash only once the Americans were in the air (three left that day). Another two cash shipments totaling $1.3 billion were delivered in the weeks that followed.

 

Following the Journal's disclosure, Obama officials said that the administration had used the cash as "leverage." "We took advantage of leverage that we felt we could have to make sure that they got out safely and efficiently," then-State Department spokesman John Kirby said. "I don't think anybody in the administration is going to make any apology for having taken advantage of those opportunities to get these Americans home." He admitted, "I certainly would agree that this particular fact is not something that we've talked about in the past."

 

Then, in late September, the Journal shed light on another deal: The United States had agreed to support lifting United Nations sanctions on two Iranian banks critical to financing Tehran's missile program. Senior State Department official Brett McGurk signed three documents the morning of January 17, 2016, the report revealed: one for the prisoner swap, one for the $1.7 billion payment, and one committing to support lifting the U.N. sanctions. The decision received minimal press coverage at the time, and Obama did not mention it that day. "We still have sanctions on Iran for its violations of human rights, for its support of terrorism, and for its ballistic missile program," Obama said in announcing the swap and settlement. "And we will continue to enforce these sanctions, vigorously."

 

The three agreements were certainly linked, said Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, all rooted in the Obama administration's desire to secure the JCPOA. "The nuclear deal was, for the Iranian regime, not the end of negotiations. It was nearly the beginning," Dubowitz told TWS. "They saw an opportunity in the waning year of the Obama administration to try and extract as many concessions as they could from an administration that was clearly .  .  . desperate for a deal." He added, "The notion that somehow the $1.7 billion was about an outstanding military account, and that had nothing to do with the hostages, which had nothing to do with Bank Sepah is completely absurd."…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents

On Topic Links

 

Terrorism in Tehran: ISIS Intensifies Its Subversive Activity in the Middle East: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, JCPA, June 15, 2017—The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the coordinated simultaneous terror attacks on Iran’s parliament (Majlis) building and on the tomb of Iran’s first Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini. The group issued a statement in its media arm, as well as a short video from a camera carried by one of the assailants at the parliament.

What the Islamic State Wants in Attacking Iran: Will McCants, Foreign Policy, June 7, 2017 —After years of waiting and wanting to strike Iran, the Islamic State claims to have finally done so. According to recent news reports, four militants went on a shooting spree in Iran’s parliament, while other operatives detonated a bomb inside the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, killing 12 people.

Drawing a “Broader Conclusion” on Iran’s Nuclear Program: Olli Heinonen, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, June 14, 2017 —Under the terms of the nuclear deal with Iran, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), key restrictions would expire if  the IAEA formally reaches a “broader conclusion” that Tehran’s nuclear program is entirely peaceful.

The Ethnic Instability of Iran: Mike Konrad, American Thinker, June 11, 2017—Avoiding all political correctness, there are some ancestral reasons that Iran should have been easy to deal with.  However, the last administration coddled the mullahs in Iran and let opportunity fly away.  It may be too late to do anything about it right now; however, later on, after Iran is in pieces, there could be a basis for change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE IRANIAN THREAT: AS ISRAEL AND THE WEST CONSIDER OPTIONS-IRAN EXPANDS NUCLEAR PROGRAM AND ARMS HIZBULLAH

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

 

 Contents:         

 

The Window of Opportunity: Boaz Ganor, The Jerusalem Post, Nov. 3, 2013 — Here in the Middle East, we have long since become accustomed to the status quo being the good news – even the best news – and to any change in it bearing the seeds of imminent catastrophe.

Washington Must Strike Iran, Not Bargain With It: Prof. Efraim Inbar, Israel Hayom, Nov. 1, 2013— The Iranians have once again been successful in pushing the West into prolonged negotiations over their nuclear program. They have done so almost for two decades, and in the meantime have expanded their uranium enrichment program, worked on weaponization, and built long-range missiles. This indicates without a doubt that they are after a nuclear bomb.

Israel and Iran’s Game of Cat and Mouse in Syria: Michael Wilner, Jerusalem Post,  Nov. 3, 2013— Leaks from government officials in the US and Europe stating that Israel struck a Syrian military facility in Latakia last week indicate Western confidence that Syrian President Bashar Assad will not retaliate.

Will Israel Strike Iran? Iraq is No Precedent: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Oct. 22, 2013— A week after the administration first starting spinning the notion, the idea that the P5+1 talks with Iran made genuine progress toward a nuclear agreement has become conventional wisdom among the chattering classes.

 

On Topic Links

 

Rogue State: Uri Sadot, Foreign Policy, Oct. 21, 2013

Iran’s Terror Entity in Lebanon: Yaakov Lappin, Gatestone Institute, Oct. 28, 2013

Iran and the Jewish Lobby: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 3, 2013

 

THE WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY

Boaz Ganor
Jerusalem Post, Nov. 3, 2013

 

Here in the Middle East, we have long since become accustomed to the status quo being the good news – even the best news – and to any change in it bearing the seeds of imminent catastrophe. The tectonic changes of the Arab Spring revolutions thus portend the danger that fundamentalist Islam might sweep the region, banishing any hint of Arab moderation, conciliation, or peacefulness. Yet if recent events are ominous, they also constitute a conjunction of rare opportunities with positive potential for Israel.

 

1. Regime change in Egypt.

 

The counter-revolution of the Egyptian military, which overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood regime, has strengthened the interests Egypt shares with Israel, leading to unprecedented cooperation between the two countries on stabilizing security in the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip, and on fighting the Islamist fundamentalists who threaten the Egyptian government and the fragile peace on Israel’s southern border. The Egyptian military’s actions in the Sinai Peninsula and its aggressive destruction of the underground tunnels between the Sinai and the Gaza Strip are weakening Hamas, and may even endanger its stability and continued rule in the Gaza Strip.

 

2. The geopolitical situation of Hamas.

 

The destruction of the underground tunnel system has choked Hamas’s “oxygen pipeline”; together with the collapse of its strategic backbone – the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt – this has brought Hamas to its lowest point since inception. Hamas’s geopolitical standing began to deteriorate with the outbreak of civil war in Syria, when Hamas chose to support the Islamist rebels and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood in their struggle against the Assad regime. This was anathema to Assad and his Shi’ite allies, Iran and Hezbollah, and seriously jeopardized their relationship with Hamas. In turn, this led Hamas’s external leadership to depart Syria and decamp to certain Gulf states. Concomitantly, Hamas’s relationship with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states weakened, leading to a severe economic crisis for Hamas and a deterioration in the status of its external leadership, headed by Khaled Mashal.

 

3. The geopolitical situation of Hezbollah.

 

Since the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah has been exposed to increasing criticism within Lebanon, where its opponents present it as an offshoot of Iran rather than as an authentic Lebanese movement. Hezbollah, which was indeed established by Iran to promote its interests in Lebanon, the Middle East and worldwide, and which has for years been Iran’s “terrorism subcontractor,” has been depicted as willing to sacrifice Lebanon’s interests to promote Iran’s. In fact, Hezbollah’s response to Iranian demands that it send military forces to Syria to save the Assad regime has only proven to Hezbollah’s detractors that Hezbollah is indeed willing to risk Lebanese interests – to risk civil war leaching into Lebanon, to sacrifice Lebanese fighters, and even to endanger the safety Lebanon’s citizens – to satisfy the ayatollahs from Teheran. Given its sensitive position, and with many of its forces still stationed in Syria, Hezbollah cannot now risk military involvement with Israel, without invoking the most destructive implications for itself.

 

4. The Syrian civil war and the neutralization of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.

 

The US and the West remained largely indecisive in their response to the Assad regime’s massacre of Syria’s citizens, even after Assad used chemical weapons against civilians. Nevertheless, recent weeks have seen the beginning of international surveillance of Syria’s use of chemical weapons, with the ultimate aim of neutralizing a significant portion of its chemical arsenal. This positive development was until very recently only a pipe dream for Israel. Even if it does not lead to the elimination of Syria’s entire chemical arsenal, it will significantly reduce the unconventional capabilities, and even the conventional military capabilities, of Syria – to date, the most dangerous of Israel’s enemies.

 

5. Political change in Iran and non-nuclear armament talks.

 

Even if Iranian President Hassan Rohani’s “onslaught of smiles” is no more than a fraudulent ruse, a calculated ambush by Iran’s new regime, it nevertheless bodes well for Israel on two counts. First, the regime change in Iran grew out of the real dissatisfaction of the Iranian people with Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s leadership. Rohani knows this; he must consider it in his internal and international behavior. Second, Rohani must consider that the dynamic set in motion by the nascent talks with the West may lead to unwanted international surveillance, which will make it difficult for Iran to arm itself with atomic weapons. Thus, any act by the Iranian regime that would upset the fragile stability of the Middle East is liable to lead to a military imbroglio, damaging Iran’s strategic interests.

 

6. The opening of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ internal situation.

The head of the PA knows that the sand in his political hourglass is running out. Arab Spring revolutions signal a clear trend: traditional-secular regimes are being replaced by varieties of Islamist regime, whose fulcrum is local branches of the Muslim Brotherhood. In Palestine, as well, the writing is on the wall: Fatah, headed by Abbas, is the traditional-secular regime; the local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood is Hamas. Abbas realizes that only an immediate strategic move vis à vis Israel can affect his political and perhaps even personal fate.

 

7. Identity of interests between Israel and Sunni Arab states in the Middle East.

 

Never before has Israel shared so many interests with neighboring Sunni Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, certain Gulf states, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt. All of these countries are concerned lest Iran become armed with atomic weapons; all of them are concerned about Shi’ite-Iranian hegemony in the Middle East. They all hope that the stability of the existing regimes in Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority will persist, and they all hope that Hezbollah’s power in Lebanon will diminish. Many Sunni Arab states have understood, perhaps for the first time, that Israel does not threaten them or their interests. Rather, the immediate, significant, real threat to their regimes emanates from Shi’ite and Sunni Islamist- fundamentalist entities.

[To read the full article, please click on the following link—ed.]                                                                        

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          WASHINGTON MUST STRIKE IRAN, NOT BARGAIN WITH IT

Prof. Efraim Inbar

Israel Hayom, Nov. 1, 2013

The Iranians have once again been successful in pushing the West into prolonged negotiations over their nuclear program. They have done so almost for two decades, and in the meantime have expanded their uranium enrichment program, worked on weaponization, and built long-range missiles. This indicates without a doubt that they are after a nuclear bomb. The belief and hope that Iran has changed are pathetic. It is obviously interested in removing the economic sanctions imposed on it by the international community, but what Iran is really after is not an agreement, as its gullible interlocutors tend to believe, but rather time. Iran needs time, probably months, to present the world with a fait accompli: a nuclear break-out capability, i.e., the infrastructure to assemble a nuclear arsenal within weeks.

 

Unfortunately, much of the world, including the U.S., is going along with the Iranian procrastination, failing to realize that Iran is a strategic problem of no comparable regional or global significance. No other issue in the Middle East or elsewhere around the globe can have as negative an impact on world affairs: nuclear proliferation, the prices of a strategic commodity like oil, international terrorism, and the global stature of the U.S.

 

Allowing Iran to go nuclear or acquire break-out capability will bring about nuclear proliferation at least in the immediate region. States such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey are unlikely to stay behind, which will bring about a nuclear multipolar Middle East — a strategic nightmare in this volatile region. A nuclear Iran is very different from a nuclear North Korea, whose geopolitical environment already includes two nuclear states — China and Russia — to keep it in check. A nuclear Iran will unquestionably bring about the demise of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a stabilizing factor on the international scene.

A nuclear Iran will affect the global political energy economy. Iran's location along the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea — the "energy ellipse" where about 75 percent of the oil reserves are situated — gives it a handle on the price of oil, a strategic commodity. The oil-producing states in the region will inevitably have to consider the desires of an intimidating, nuclear Iran. Iraq is already an Iranian satellite, and Azerbaijan and other Central Asian countries may follow suit. A nuclear Iran might also become more aggressive and take over the eastern province of Saudi Arabia that is mostly populated by Shiites and holds most of the kingdom's oil. While it is true that Iran and other oil-producing states cannot desist from selling oil, Tehran will be able to decide to whom to sell and at what price.

 

A nuclear Iran will be emboldened to be more active as a sponsor of international terror. Its terrorist infrastructure is global, with active and dormant cells in Latin American, North America, Europe, Asia, and of course the Middle East. Iranian tentacles have been observed activating terrorist activities all over the world.

 

An Iran in possession of long-range missiles armed with nuclear bombs could pose a real threat to many countries within a range of over 2,500 kilometers (1,600 miles). This radius includes Eastern Europe, the whole Middle East, Central Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. Iran is working assiduously to extend the range of its missiles to hit North America, as well. Hoping for deterrence to be fully effective in the Iranian case is an irresponsible response.

Finally, Iran is the supreme test of American credibility in world affairs. After saying so many times that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable, allowing the radical regime of the mullahs to acquire a nuclear bomb or develop a nuclear break-out capability will be a devastating blow to American prestige. Today the U.S. is probably at its lowest ebb in the region. Friends and foes alike are bewildered by the policies of the Obama administration, seeing an extremely weak president who seems to be clueless about Middle East international politics.

 

The American willingness to allow Iran enrichment capabilities and readiness to strike a bargain with Tehran is mind-boggling in this part of the world.

At this stage, after several years of confused and misguided American behavior, the only thing that can salvage U.S. influence in the region is an American military strike on Iran's nuclear infrastructure. Without exception, Middle Eastern leaders have a power politics prism to international affairs, and have little patience towards the liberal-inspired speeches of U.S. President Barack Obama, who has become a laughingstock among Middle Easterners. Therefore, the only thing that can win their respect is a muscular response on Washington's part. This is what America's allies in the region need and want. They understand, much better than Washington, the current regional realities and dangers of a nuclear Iran.

 

A military strike is also needed to prevent a nuclear Iran from destabilizing international order. If Washington wants to prevent nuclear proliferation, preserve stability in the energy sector, minimize the risks of international terror, and reduce the nuclear threat from a fanatic regime, it must live up to its obligations as a superpower and the leader of the free world. Going along with the delaying tactics of Iran is dangerous and irresponsible.

Contents

 

ISRAEL AND IRAN’S GAME OF CAT AND MOUSE IN SYRIA

Michael Wilner

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 3, 2013

 

Leaks from government officials in the US and Europe stating that Israel struck a Syrian military facility in Latakia last week indicate Western confidence that Syrian President Bashar Assad will not retaliate. Israeli officials have repeatedly stated that the country’s red line when it comes to Syria is the transfer of heavy weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon, which is operating extensively on behalf of Assad against rebels fighting for his ouster. The US has consistently stated support for this policy, under the principle that Israel has a right to defend itself by taking independent action. Classifying Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, the US and now the EU condemn its acquisition of such weaponry.

 

But the revelation that Israel’s targets were Russian-made missiles is a reminder that, despite the deal brokered in September by Moscow to rid Assad of his chemical weapons, the Syrian civil war continues to pose significant strategic tensions for many parties with a vested interest in its outcome.

Last week’s military strike will likely further strain efforts to salvage negotiations in Geneva between Assad and the opposition. Iran still refuses to endorse the 2012 Geneva Communique, a UN document calling for a peaceful transition of power in Syria. It also continues efforts to smuggle anti-aircraft weapons through Syria to Hezbollah-controlled territory in Lebanon.

 

With Assad coming out of the August chemical weapons crisis intact – and with Washington, Moscow and Tehran generally satisfied with the resulting deal – no one will want to rock the boat with Israel by making an issue out of the fact that it follows through on its promises to defend itself.

These Israeli strikes will continue sporadically, and the results will be the same: a media blackout, tacit international acceptance, and quiet efforts by Iran to try, try again.

                                                                                                               

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WILL ISRAEL STRIKE IRAN? IRAQ IS NO PRECEDENT

Jonathan S. Tobin

Commentary, Oct. 22, 2013

 

A week after the administration first starting spinning the notion, the idea that the P5+1 talks with Iran made genuine progress toward a nuclear agreement has become conventional wisdom among the chattering classes. Based on little more than atmospherics generated by the Iranian charm offensive, Tehran offered the West nothing new and there is little reason to believe they think they need to give up enriching uranium or shut down their nuclear plants that are bringing them closer to a weapon. If the Obama administration is determined to press ahead toward what will be, at best, an unsatisfactory deal that will, despite the president’s protestations that any accord would be verifiable, lead inevitably to Iranian deceptions and an eventual bomb, then that will leave Israel’s leaders with a terrible dilemma. Their choice would then be between accepting a policy that places their country under an existential threat or breaking with its sole superpower ally and attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities on their own.

 

To those who claim that Israel can’t or won’t defy the United States, the Council of Foreign Relations’ Uri Sadot answers, think again. In an article published today in Foreign Policy provocatively titled “Rogue State,” Sadot argues that not only is such an outcome thinkable, the precedents already exist for an Israeli decision to fly solo in the face of not only international consensus but American desires. Given the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has been rattling his rhetorical sabers in the direction of Iran for years, it’s hard to argue with Sadot’s conclusion. As late as just a week ago during an address to the Knesset, Netanyahu once again warned the world that Israel isn’t afraid to act alone if its security is endangered. Should Jerusalem ever be convinced that the U.S. was about to sell it down the river, Netanyahu might well decide to strike Iran. But Sadot is wrong when he claims, as he did in his article, that Israel’s 1981 attack on Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak or the 2007 strike on the nuclear facility that Syria was building tells us much about Israel would or could do against Iran. There are simply no comparisons in terms of size or scale to the challenge awaiting the Israel Defense Forces in Iran or the diplomatic obstacles to such a decision by Netanyahu.

 

In terms of the Israeli mindset about enemy governments possessing such weapons of mass destruction, Sadot is right to assert that there is little difference between the thinking of Menachem Begin in 1981 and that of Netanyahu today. All the psychobabble thrown around about Begin’s experience of the Holocaust and the influence of Netanyahu’s ideologue father Benzion is mere gloss to the fact that these two men, just like Ehud Olmert in 2007, understand that their primary responsibility is to guard the existence of the State of Israel. Given the stated positions of the Iranian leadership as to their desire to eliminate Israel as well as their sponsorship of terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, no leader of any sovereign state could afford to take such threats lightly. At the very least, Iranian nuclear capability would destabilize the Middle East (a fact that makes Israel’s Arab neighbors, with the exception of Iranian ally Syria, just as anxious to prevent the ayatollahs from realizing their nuclear ambition).

 

But the idea that Iraq is a precedent for Iran as far as Israel is concerned is absurd. Iraq had one lone nuclear reactor. It was relatively defenseless and the Iraqis weren’t expecting an attack. The same applies to what happened in Syria in 2007. By contrast, the Iranians have multiple facilities spread throughout their country. Some are in hardened, mountainside bunkers that may be invulnerable to conventional bombs. All are heavily guarded and the Iranians have been on alert for an Israeli strike for years.

 

It is a matter of some debate as to whether Israel’s vaunted armed forces are even capable of doing significant damage to Iran’s nuclear plants or destroying its stockpile of enriched uranium. Some analysts have always believed that only the United States, with its air bases in the region and aircraft carrier strike groups in the Persian Gulf, could do the job adequately. But even if we assume for the sake of argument that Israel can do it alone and that it could accomplish this task with air strikes alone rather than combining them with commando attacks, what would be required is a sustained campaign of strikes at multiple targets. At best this would strain Israel’s resources. That is especially true when you consider that Israel would also have to be prepared to engage Hezbollah’s terrorist enclave in southern Lebanon since most assume that Iran’s Shiite auxiliaries (who are also fighting for the ayatollahs in Syria) would attack Israel in support of Iran.

[To read the full article, please click on the following link—ed.]     

 

Rogue State: Uri Sadot, Foreign Policy, Oct. 21, 2013— As American and Iranian diplomats attempt to reach a rapprochement that would end the historical enmity between their two governments, Israel is weary of being sidelined by its most important ally.

Iran’s Terror Entity in Lebanon: Yaakov Lappin, Gatestone Institute, Oct. 28, 2013— In the chaotic Middle East, every day brings new strategic changes and brutal instances of violence, the one thing that has remained constant is Iran's continuing construction of a military-terrorist missile base in Lebanon.

Iran and the Jewish Lobby: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 3, 2013— Last Tuesday, the White House briefed officials from AIPAC, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on its efforts to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons.

 

 

On Topic Links

 

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ISRAEL, IRAN, & THE ‘PEACE PROCESS’: AS US ALIENATES EGYPT, ITS IRAN GAMBIT, THE N.Y.T. NOTWITHSTANDING, RISKS ALIENATING ISRAEL

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail:  ber@isranet.org

 

 

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What a Nuclear Deal With Iran Could Look Like: Michael Singh, Washington Post, Oct. 18, 2013 With the first round of nuclear talks with Iran’s new, and newly pragmatic, negotiating team in the books, the Washington policy debate about Iran has shifted from whether a deal is possible to what sort of deal is acceptable.

 

How the New York Times Distorted Netanyahu's UN Speech: Alan Dershowitz, Haaretz, Oct. 2, 2013— Why is the American media trying so hard to present Iranian President Rohani's remarks in a positive light while bitterly criticizing Israeli PM Netanyahu's rational and compelling speech?

 

Israeli Officials Say Egypt Peace Treaty is Paramount Amid US Decision to Cut Cairo Aid: Herb Keinon, Michael Wilner, Ariel Ben Solomon, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 11, 2013— Jerusalem official expresses hope for restoration of normal relations between Egypt and America "as quickly as possible.”

 

A Second Chance to Strike First: Robert Fulford, National Post, Oct. 19, 2013 — As Israel faces down Iran, it remembers its nearly fatal error in 1973 – fearing American anger more than the enemy.

 

 

On Topic Links

 

As Iran Shifts, Hard-Liners See Threat to Battle Cry: Thomas ErdBrink, New York Times, Oct.18, 2013

France Covers Obama’s Middle East Retreat: John Vinocur, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 14, 2013

Yitzhak Rabin Was ‘Close to Stopping the Oslo Process’: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 17th, 2013

Why Jordan Relies on Israel to Secure the Jordan Valley: Dan Diker, Real Clear World, Oct. 20, 2013

 

WHAT A NUCLEAR DEAL WITH IRAN COULD LOOK LIKE
Michael Singh

Washington Post, Oct. 18, 2013

 

With the first round of nuclear talks with Iran’s new, and newly pragmatic, negotiating team in the books, the Washington policy debate about Iran has shifted from whether a deal is possible to what sort of deal is acceptable. While such discussions can often seem a miasma of centrifuge counts and enrichment levels, there are, in fact, two distinct paths to a nuclear deal with Iran.

 

The first path is one in which Tehran would receive relief from sanctions in exchange for putting strict limits on its nuclear activities, such as restricting uranium enrichment to low levels. The success of such an agreement would depend on ensuring that Iran could not use declared nuclear activities as a cover for covert activities aimed at developing a nuclear weapon. It would also depend on ensuring that the deal was not easily reversible, so Tehran could not renege once pressure had been alleviated. There are ways that sanctions relief could be made more easily reversible — for example, channeling oil payments to Tehran through a single mechanism that could be blocked in the event of noncompliance — but none of these is fail-safe. The efficacy and durability of a deal over limited enrichment would rest on Iranian transparency. To be meaningful, transparency measures would have to include allowing inspectors unfettered access to sites of their choosing, not just those declared by Iranian officials, and a comprehensive accounting of Iran’s past and present nuclear work, including the military elements of its nuclear program, such as weaponization research.

 

Coming clean in this manner is a prerequisite for the success of any deal that leaves in place dual-use nuclear capabilities. Countries that have divulged their nuclear secrets, such as South Africa, have proceeded to cooperate peacefully with the international community on atomic energy. Those that continued to obfuscate despite agreements, such as North Korea, experienced deeper isolation and external tensions.

 

Iran appears to prefer the latter model. While its officials profess a desire for cooperation, they continue to dismiss as “unfounded allegations” evidence deemed “credible” by the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran has engaged in nuclear work related to weapons. Iran continues to deny inspectors access to suspected nuclear sites and key personnel, and it seeks to constrict their activities within the bounds of its declared nuclear program…

 

The unlikelihood of a change of heart by Iranian leaders suggests a second, more straightforward path to an agreement: requiring Iran to dismantle its nuclear program in exchange for any relief from sanctions, which would be increased should Tehran refuse to yield. In this model, Iran would have to suspend enrichment- and reprocessing-related activities as demanded by the U.N. Security Council, dismantle its underground enrichment facility at Fordow and export its stockpiles of enriched uranium, among other steps.

 

The obvious objection to such a deal is that it may be too difficult to achieve; even U.S. negotiators have characterized this stance as “maximalist.” But any deal must be evaluated in comparison to plausible alternatives, not in isolation, and Iran’s alternatives are bleak. Iran’s economy is under severe strain because of the sanctions. If Iran tried to “break out” for a nuclear weapon, the United States and Israel have made clear that they would strike a devastating military blow.

 

And contrary to conventional wisdom, time is not on Iran’s side. With each passing day, Iran’s economic predicament deepens and its nuclear program expands. But while the former threatens Iran’s well-being, the latter does not improve it. Adding to its centrifuge inventory and uranium stockpile merely edges Iran closer to Western “red lines” while making it no less vulnerable to attack. The United States possesses powerful leverage in the nuclear talks: Its negotiating position is eminently reasonable. The West is offering Iran something it desperately needs — sanctions relief — in exchange for something it has little ostensible use for — enrichment and reprocessing — given its disavowal of nuclear weapons. That’s hardly a maximalist position.

 

It is commendable that the United States and its allies hope earnestly that Iran would take the path of true transparency and cooperation; indeed, President Hassan Rouhani’s “ charm offensive ” is so beguiling because it appeals to those hopes. But we, and perhaps even Rouhani, cannot compel Iran to make such a fundamental change in course. We can, however, with firmness at the negotiating table and confidence in our leverage make plain the alternatives and force Tehran to confront, rather than evade, the consequences of its choices.

 

Contents

HOW THE NEW YORK TIMES DISTORTED NETANYAHU’S SPEECH

Alan M. Dershowitz

Haaretz, Oct. 2, 2013

 

    I was in the General Assembly when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered his speech about Iranian President Hassan Rohani and Iran’s nuclear program. I heard a very different speech from the one described by The New York Times and other media. Not surprisingly, the Iranians described it as “inflammatory”. More surprisingly, The New York Times described Netanyahu’s speech as aggressive, combative, sarcastic and sabotaging diplomacy, while the only expert it quoted called the speech ineffective and pushing the limits of credibility.

 

What I heard in the Assembly bore little relationship either to the Iranian or the New York Times characterizations. What the people at the talk heard was a compellingly persuasive speech using Rohani’s own words to prove convincingly that his friendly smile is a cover for far more malignant intentions. Herein are a few excerpts not quoted in the Times report. First, with regard to Iran’s nuclear weapons program:

 

There are those who would readily agree to leave Iran with a residual capability to enrich uranium. I advise them to pay close attention to what Rouhani said in his speech to Iran's…Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council. This was published in 2005. I quote: “A country that could enrich uranium to about 3.5 percent will also have the capability to enrich it to about 90 percent. Having fuel cycle capability virtually means that a country that possesses this capability is able to produce nuclear weapons." Precisely. This is why Iran's nuclear weapons program must be fully and verifiably dismantled. And this is why the pressure on Iran must continue.

 

Next, several statements Rohani made with regard to human rights, terrorism and constructive engagement:

Rohani spoke of, quote, "the human tragedy in Syria." Yet, Iran directly participates in Assad's murder and massacre of tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children in Syria. And that regime is propping up a Syrian regime that just used chemical weapons against its own people.

 

Finally, Netanyahu’s answer to Rohani’s assurance that his country does not engage in deceit and secrecy:

Last Friday Rohani assured us that in pursuit of its nuclear program, Iran – this is a quote – Iran has never chosen deceit and secrecy, never chosen deceit and secrecy. Well, in 2002 Iran was caught red-handed secretly building an underground centrifuge facility in Natanz. And then in 2009 Iran was again caught red-handed secretly building a huge underground nuclear facility for uranium enrichment in a mountain near Qom. Nor did Netanyahu reject diplomacy. Indeed he welcomed it, so long as the diplomatic solution “fully dismantles Iran’s nuclear weapons program and prevents it from having one in the future.”

 

The New York Times was particularly critical of Netanyahu's oft-repeated statement that if Iran were to be on the verge of developing nuclear weapons designed to wipe Israel off the map, “against such a threat Israel will have no choice but to defend itself.” But this statement reflects not only Israel’s longstanding policy but American policy as well. President Obama has told me, as he has told others, that Israel must reserve the right to take military action in defense of its own civilian population. It cannot be expected, any more than we can be expected, to outsource the ultimate obligation of every democracy to protect its citizens from nuclear attack. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, President John F. Kennedy made it clear that the United States would not accept nuclear weapons pointed at our cities from bases in Cuba. Does anybody really expect Israel to accept nuclear missiles directed at its cities and towns from an even more belligerent enemy sworn to its destruction?

 

Those of us who were in the General Assembly chamber to hear Netanyahu’s speech heard a rational call for diplomacy backed by sanctions and the ultimate threat of military force as a last resort. It heard the leader of America’s ally, Israel, carefully analyze the words and deeds of the leader of a nation that still describes the United States in the most bellicose of terms. It was one of the most compelling and effective speeches ever delivered at the United Nations. It should be read—or watched on YouTube—by every American, who should then compare what they have seen and heard with what the media told them was said.

 

Several media outlets misinterpreted President Rohani’s speech to make it sound far more acceptable than it would have been had it been correctly translated. The media claimed that Farsi is a difficult language to translate. There was no such excuse with regard with PM Netanyahu’s speech, which was delivered in crystal clear English. The distortion of the Israeli’s Prime Minister’s speech was a deliberate attempt to portray him in a less favorable manner than his actual words warranted. The question remains: Why would the American media bend over forwards to place Rohani in a positive light while bending over backwards to present Netanyahu in a negative light? Is it because we place our understandable hope for peace over the reality that difficult barriers that still exist? Is it because a “friendly” Iranian head of state is a more interesting story than a realistic Israeli head of state?

 

Whatever the reason, distorting reality is neither in the interest of good reporting nor in the interest of peace. If diplomacy is to succeed, it must be based on realpolitik and a hardnosed assessment of both our friends and our enemies. Judged against those standards, the media reporting on the Rohani and Netanyahu speeches did not meet the high standards rightly expected of American journalism.

 

Contents

 

                ISRAELI OFFICIALS SAY EGYPT PEACE                  TREATY PARAMOUNT AMID US DECISION TO CUT CAIRO AID

Herb Keinon, Michael Wilner, Ariel Ben Solomon

Jerusalem Post, Oct. 11, 2013

 

Jerusalem official expresses hope for restoration of normal relations between Egypt and America "as quickly as possible.” As tensions between the US and Egypt simmered over this week’s American decision to withhold aid to Cairo, Israeli officials said on Thursday that for Jerusalem, preserving Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt is paramount. Concerned by the outlook for human rights and democracy in Egypt, the US announced on Wednesday it would withhold deliveries of tanks, fighter aircraft, helicopters and missiles as well as hundreds of millions in cash aid.

 

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Office had no comment Thursday on the US decision, but an Israeli official said that the most important thing from an Israeli perspective was maintaining the peace treaty with Egypt that the US brokered and to which president Jimmy Carter was a witness. “The American support for Egypt was given in that context,” he said. Obviously, the official added, Israel understood that the US had its laws governing aid, “but we would hope there would be a way to restore normal relations between Egypt and America as quickly as possible.”

 

Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan voiced concern over the effects the decision might have on bilateral ties. “Certainly it can be confirmed that we had been troubled by how decisions of this kind were liable to be interpreted in Egypt, and of course the risk of consequences for relations with Israel,” Erdan said.

 

Former defense minister Labor MK Binyamin Ben- Eliezer, however, was uncharacteristically blunt in his criticism of the US, saying that the US was “essentially and unwittingly” working against its own interests.

“It must be understood that this region is so weak and in order to keep it stable, a superpower of some kind is required to safeguard it,” said Ben-Eliezer, who was considered close to deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Ben-Eliezer said that the US policy was of great concern to Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries, and that he could envision a situation where they would begin quiet talks with the Russians to secure their interests. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and one of his senior strategists, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, were in the United States when the decision to freeze some Egyptian aid was announced. Like other officials, Gilad hinted at Israel’s disappointment. “I try not to criticize our friends publicly,” he told an audience at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank…

 

The US will maintain military aid to Egypt tied by contracts with American defense firms, but will “continue to hold the delivery of certain large-scale military systems and cash assistance to the government pending credible progress toward an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government through free and fair elections,” Jen Psaki, State Department spokeswoman, said in a statement. The State Department clarified, however, that it would continue to give Egypt support for counterterrorism efforts in the Sinai Peninsula. At a State Department briefing, deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said, “We would never undertake any policy with Egypt that would put Israel’s security at risk.” She added, “We will continue the conversation with our Israeli friends about how to implement this going forward.”

 

The decision to curtail aid does not mean Washington is severing ties with the country, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday… “Large-scale systems” being withheld include F-16 fighter jets, M-181 tanks, Harpoon missiles and Apache helicopters, according to American administration officials. “We’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars in military assistance,” one senior administration official said, in addition to the complete halt of $260 million in cash assistance to the interim government. “Most of the economic assistance” earmarked for civilian purposes and toward the private sector will continue, another aide said. “This decision just underscores that the United States will not support actions that undermine our principles,” the official said. “This is a way of expressing that.”…

 

Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty criticized the decision, saying that “Egypt will not surrender to American pressure” and assuring that it is “continuing its path towards democracy as set by the road map.” An Egyptian military source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the US decision came as no surprise and was expected, according to a report in Ahram Online… The US is viewed negatively by most Egyptians, so a cutoff in aid may serve to further unite Egyptians behind the army. According to a Tweet by the popular Egyptian blogger The Big Pharaoh, Sisi will be able to position himself as a victim of US pressure. He questioned why similar measures were not taken during Morsi’s rule, as he had used autocratic methods to increase his power…

 

The detainment of Morsi by the military has been condemned by the US as a “politicized arrest.” The State Department says the US has “determined not to make a determination” whether the event was a coup. US law would require aid be cut if such a determination were made. US Sen. Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, expressed support for the cut to Egypt’s military aid.

“Assistance to Egypt that supports these common goals should continue,” said Menendez. “But ongoing violence in Egypt is troubling, shows no signs of abating, and given these worrisome developments, a pause in assistance is appropriate until the Egyptian government demonstrates a willingness and capability to follow the road map toward a sustainable, inclusive and nonviolent transition to democracy.”

                                                                        Contents
 

 

A SECOND CHANCE TO STRIKE FIRST

Robert Fulford

National Post, Oct. 19, 2013

 

As Israel faces down Iran, it remembers its nearly fatal error in 1973 – fearing American anger more than the enemy. Every autumn Israel notes with sorrow the anniversary of the Yom Kippur War of 1973, a calamity that most of the world recalls as a marginal event, if we remember it all. For Israelis, it's lodged permanently in the national memory as the victory that felt more like a defeat. For many Israelis it's a piece of history that carries important lessons for the present. On Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, Egypt and Syria staged a surprise attack on Israeli positions. Backed by the Soviet Union, they were intent on avenging their defeat in the Six-Day War of 1967.

 

The Israelis turned them back and in about two weeks had troops fighting their way toward Cairo and Damascus. The fighting ended after 19 days with a UN-brokered peace – a relief to everyone who feared that the war might broaden into a U.S.-Soviet conflict. By then 2,656 Israelis had died in action. That's a figure no one wants to forget. This being the 40th anniversary of that war, it's stimulated even more discussion than usual. On Tuesday, during a commemoration of the Yom Kippur War at the Knesset, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it plain that he was thinking not only of the war in 1973 but also of Israel's current position and the possibility that bombing Iran's nuclear facilities might be necessary. Israel would remain vigilant with regard to its security and would not fall asleep on its watch, he said. The Yom Kippur War had taught Israel that a preventive strike is a possibility that should not be abandoned easily – "It should be weighed carefully as a viable option."

 

These events were the main subject at breakfast yesterday when Yossi Klein Halevi was explaining to a group of Canadians how an Israeli sees this difficult, often frustrating period. Halevi is  on a tour connected to his current book, Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation. He's a Brooklyn native whose journalism marks him as one of the most sensitive analysts of Israel. In 1973 many in the government, including Prime Minister Golda Meir, knew that Egyptian and Syrian armies were massing near the borders. Everyone knows something went wrong in the Yom Kippur war, Halevi said. The left has always believed it happened because Israelis grew arrogant after the Six-Day War and relied on their military strength when they should have worked toward an agreement with the Palestinians. This argument led to the Oslo peace process, a failure of hope on a grand scale. Those on the right have a different explanation: Israelis lowered their guard and forgot that they lived among nations that want Israel destroyed.

 

But there was something else, as Halevi pointed out. It was suspected at first, then later confirmed, that in 1973 many in the government, including Prime Minister Golda Meir, knew that Egyptian and Syrian armies were massing near the borders. There were other telltale signs: The families of Russian advisers and embassy staff had been flown out of Egypt and Syria. Meir decided against a pre-emptive strike, fearing a negative response from Washington. Public anger about the war effectively ended her government. A few months later she resigned.

 

Now, with the looming possibility of an Iranian nuclear bomb, Israelis face another danger of falling asleep. A pre-emptive strike is constantly debated. An attack on Iran's nuclear system might empower the Iranian opposition, re-igniting the Green Revolution. Israel's government believes that the Iranians have made so much progress that they must be stopped soon, perhaps in a matter of months. Israeli planners have been developing the idea of a strike for years. They believe they could hobble the Iranian project, delaying it for two or three years. What good would that do? It could result in grievous harm to Israel, by inviting rockets from Hezbollah and Hamas, which the Israeli missile defence systems might not be able to fully neutralize. But it could, Halevi suggested, lead to a change for the better. In the Middle East, two years are a long time, as everyone knows who has watched the Arab Spring turn into a springboard for despots. An attack on Iran's nuclear system might empower the Iranian opposition, re-igniting the Green Revolution.

 

Of course Barack Obama opposes an Israeli strike, but his diplomacy has made Israel particularly fearful. Israelis don't trust Obama. They don't like the way he moved into the current talks with Iran and can't see anything good coming from them. Halevi summarized a popular attitude: "Israelis believe the present talks are the result of Iranian deception and American exhaustion." Halevi had one other comment, "This is a devastating moment for Israel."

 

 

Contents

 

 

On Topic

 

 

As Iran Shifts, Hard-Liners See Threat to Battle Cry: Thomas ErdBrink, New York Times, Oct.18, 2013: With the believers pouring out of the Friday Prayer site in Tehran, Ali Akbar and his friends sprang into action, hastily spreading posters of the American flag on the asphalt and switching on their megaphone.

France Covers Obama’s Middle East Retreat: John Vinocur, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 14, 2013: In an interview with the Associated Press on Oct. 4, Barack Obama depicted Iran as a country living with sanctions "put in place because Iran had not been following international guidelines, and had behaved in ways that made a lot of people feel they were pursuing a nuclear weapon."

Yitzhak Rabin Was ‘Close to Stopping the Oslo Process’: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 17th, 2013: The 18th anniversary of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s tragic assassination was marked this week with the usual palms and paeans to the Oslo diplomatic process that Rabin undertook.

Why Jordan Relies on Israel to Secure the Jordan Valley: Dan Diker, Real Clear World, Oct. 20, 2013: A report last week in Ma'ariv that fundamental disagreement between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators over the future of the Jordan Valley may soon collapse peace talks comes as no surprise to Middle East observers.

 

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AS NEW IRANIAN PRESIDENT PUSHES NUCLEAR FLIM-FLAM, HE APPOINTS 1983 BEIRUT KILLER AS DEFENSE MINISTER – MEANWHILE ONLY CANADA JUDGES ROUHANI BY DEEDS, NOT WORDS

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Judge Iran’s Regime by Its Actions, not by Empty Words: John Baird, The Globe and Mail, Aug. 10 2013—This past weekend, the Islamic Republic of Iran inaugurated Hassan Rowhani as its seventh president. In the weeks and months ahead, the world will be watching to see if the hopes and aspirations of Iranians will be fulfilled.

 

Iran’s Plan B for the Bomb: Amos Yadlin And Avner Golov, New York Times, Aug. 8, 2013—Is Iran finally ready to talk? Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, has said he’s ready for nuclear negotiations. And in recent weeks, the Iranian government has repeatedly expressed its desire to reach a deal on its uranium enrichment program.

 

Iran’s New Defense Minister: Behind  Attack on U.S. Marine Corps Barracks (Beirut 1983): Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira, JCPA, Aug. 11, 2013—The newly-elected president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, has appointed Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan as the new defense minister in place of Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi. The appointment will take effect as soon as it is approved by the Majlis.

 

Even if Assad Loses, Iran Gains from its Support of Shia Militias: Phillip Smyth, The National, Aug 12, 2013—As Syria continues to burn, Iran has successfully pushed the narrative that it is the unbridled defender of Shia Islam. Even if Bashar Al Assad loses more ground to the rebel forces, Iran can still benefit from the conflict to bolster that narrative.

 

 

On Topic Links

 

Report: Iran's Arak Reactor to Have Nuclear Weapons Grade Plutonium by Next Summer: Jeruslam Post, Aug. 5, 2013

PM: Iran Has Set 7,000 New Centrifuges Spinning since Presidential Election: Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 8, 2013

Iran's Mounting Malaise: Jamsheed Choksy, Real Clear World, Aug. 8, 2013

Iran Enters the Peace Process: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, July 29, 2013

Former MI Chief Yadlin Cautions Over Iran's Plutonium Program: Jerusalem Post, Aug. 9, 2013

 

 

JUDGE IRAN’S REGIME BY ITS ACTIONS, NOT BY EMPTY WORDS

John Baird

The Globe and Mail, Aug. 10 2013

 

This past weekend, the Islamic Republic of Iran inaugurated Hassan Rowhani as its seventh president. In the weeks and months ahead, the world will be watching to see if the hopes and aspirations of Iranians will be fulfilled.

 

Canada’s skepticism of the regime’s commitment to genuine reform stands. Despite the expression of the Iranian people on June 14, Iran’s nuclear non-compliance, its deliberate decision to ignore its human-rights obligations, its ongoing sponsorship of terrorist groups, its support for Syria’s Assad regime, and its own regular and inexcusable anti-Semitic rhetoric continues unabated and undeterred. Mr. Rowhani’s own tome of literature chronicling Iranian subterfuge and clever protraction of nuclear negotiations does little to enhance his own credibility.

 

Irrespective of these dubious confluences, after Mr. Rowhani’s inauguration, this regressive clerical military dictatorship appears to have yet another opportunity. The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has to decide whether he will continue to march Iran down its current path or whether he wants to allow Mr. Rowhani to roll back the apparatus of tyranny and fear, and place Iran within the community of nations committed to prosperity and freedom.

 

Maintaining the status quo will continue Iran’s isolation as international sanctions will remain in place. The status quo will also mean that Iran will continue its malevolent partnership with Hezbollah and Bashar al-Assad, and deploy the insidious Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. It will retain the same international standing and prestige as North Korea.

 

Alternatively, if the Supreme Leader allows Mr. Rowhani to immediately implement significant and deep changes in the regime’s irresponsible nuclear policies, its disregard for human rights and its destructive meddling in the Middle East, Iranians may yet see a brighter future. Let us be clear about one irreducible fact: The choice is firmly the Supreme Leader’s to make. The Iranian President has historically been constrained and shaped by the Supreme Leader, which highlights the challenges facing Mr. Rowhani.

 

Some of these obstacles have already been underscored since the election in June. On July 31, Iran announced it was extending a $3.6-billion oil credit to the murderous Assad regime so it can continue butchering its own people. Iranians should be asking Mr. Rowhani why Iran is spending $3.6-billion to kill fellow Muslims in Syria, rather than investing in the economic prosperity of the Iranian people.

 

Human Rights Watch recently reported that executions in Iran have increased at an alarming rate since the election and that as many as 71 people have been executed since June 14. The real number is certain to be higher. Was this the change Iranians voted for? The world cannot afford to take hints of moderation on key issues at face value while the regime continues to suffocate the aspirations of its people. Nor can we accept gestures that do not result in the systemic change Iranians demand and deserve. Serious change requires the regime to hold genuine nuclear talks with the P5+1 group, to fully co-operate with the International Atomic Energy Agency, to respect human rights, to stop supporting agents of death, destruction and chaos in the region, and to put the real interests of its citizens first.

 

Iranians deserve a future free of fear in which they can enjoy the benefits of hard work and build more prosperous lives for their children. Iranians deserve to have the institutions that allow them to debate and to determine their future in freedom. Iranians deserve to see the day that Iran takes its rightful place in international affairs as a respected regional power. These are the hopes that Iranians have told us they have invested in Mr. Rowhani.

 

Canada and the rest of the world will be looking to the regime to undertake deep reforms and to genuinely help Iranians realize their aspirations. The world will judge the regime by the actions it takes, not its empty platitudes or symbolic gestures.

 

John Baird is Foreign Affairs Minister of Canada.

 

Contents

 

 

IRAN’S PLAN B FOR THE BOMB

Amos Yadlin And Avner Golov

New York Times, Aug. 8, 2013

 

Is Iran finally ready to talk? Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, has said he’s ready for nuclear negotiations. And in recent weeks, the Iranian government has repeatedly expressed its desire to reach a deal on its uranium enrichment program.

 

A few days after Mr. Rouhani’s election victory, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, stated that Iran was prepared to limit its enrichment to a level below 20 percent, which is the main goal of a future agreement between the West and Iran. And last month, Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, reportedly told the White House that Iran wanted to begin direct nuclear negotiations with the United States.

 

But it would be dangerous to think that Iran’s proposal for negotiations alone would pave the way for a deal.

What matters is not the talks but the outcome. Whoever negotiates with Iran must acknowledge that the enrichment of uranium from a low level (3.5 percent to 19.75 percent) to weapons-grade level (90 percent) is only one of three dimensions of Iran’s nuclear strategy. A second dimension is Iran’s progress toward a quick “breakout capability” through the stockpiling of large quantities of low-enriched uranium that could be further enriched rapidly to provide weapons-grade fuel. Third, Iran also appears to be pursuing a parallel track to a nuclear capability through the production of plutonium. If there is going to be a nuclear deal with Iran, all three parts of its strategy must be addressed.

 

In the past year, Iran has installed thousands of centrifuges, including more than 1,000 advanced ones. A report by the International Atomic Energy Agency states that Iran already has enough low-enriched uranium to produce several nuclear bombs if it chooses to further enrich the fuel. Iran has deliberately refrained from crossing what is perceived as Israel’s red line: 240 kilograms (about 530 pounds) of uranium enriched to a level of 19.75 percent.

 

Nonetheless, Western experts like Graham T. Allison Jr. and Olli Heinonen estimate that if Iran decided to develop a bomb today, it could do so within three to five months. That is assumed to be sufficient lead time for the West to detect and respond to an Iranian decision. But a recent report from the Institute for Science and International Security estimates that at the current pace of installation, Iran could reduce its breakout time to just one month by the end of this year. The report also estimates that at that pace, by mid-2014 Iran could reduce the breakout time to less than two weeks.

 

Any agreement must ensure that an Iranian breakout is detected quickly enough to allow for a Western response — meaning that the international community must be able to uncover any concealed facilities and activities for the production of fissile material. A solution will also have to address the potential for a plutonium bomb. In May, Iran announced that the heavy-water reactor in Arak would become operational early next year. Some American and European officials claim that Iran could produce weapons-grade plutonium next summer. These two announcements indicate that Iran is making progress on this alternative track. So far, the West has not paid much attention to the potential for a plutonium-fueled weapon. Now it must do so.

 

A functioning nuclear reactor in Arak could eventually allow Iran to produce sufficient quantities of plutonium for nuclear bombs. Although Iran would need to build a reprocessing facility to separate the plutonium from the uranium in order to produce a bomb, that should not be the West’s primary concern. Western negotiators should instead demand that Iran shut down the Arak reactor. This is crucial because the West would likely seek to avoid an attack on a “hot” reactor, lest it cause widespread environmental damage. Once Arak is operational, it would effectively be immune from attack and the West would be deprived of its primary “stick” in its efforts to persuade Iran to forgo a military nuclear capability.

 

Of the three countries that have publicly crossed the nuclear threshold since the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty entered into force in 1970, two — India and North Korea — did so via the plutonium track. In order to deny Iran this route, any agreement between the West and Iran must guarantee that Iran will not retain a breakout or “sneak out” plutonium-production capacity.

 

At the United Nations last September, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, focused only on uranium enrichment, reinforcing a one-dimensional perception of the Iranian nuclear program. This narrow perception is already widespread in the West and could enable Iran to attain a swift breakout capability using uranium or to build a plutonium bomb without detection.

 

Negotiations with Iran should resume, and the sooner the better. But Western leaders must maintain their current leverage — sanctions and a credible military threat — and ensure that any future agreement with Iran addresses all three dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program. Moderate messages from Tehran should not be allowed to camouflage Iran’s continuing progress toward a bomb.

 

Amos Yadlin, a former chief of Israeli military intelligence, is the director of Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, where Avner Golov is a researcher.

 

Contents

 

 

IRAN’S NEW DEFENSE MINISTER: BEHIND THE 1983
ATTACK ON THE U.S. MARINE CORPS BARRACKS IN BEIRUT

Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira

JCPA, Aug. 11, 2013

 

The newly-elected president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, has appointed Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan as the new defense minister in place of Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi. The appointment will take effect as soon as it is approved by the Majlis. Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan spent his entire military career in the Revolutionary Guard, which he joined immediately after it was established in the last months of 1979. He came to the capital, Tehran, from his hometown of Shaharda in Isfahan Province, and until 1982 was commander of the Revolutionary Guard in the capital.

 

After the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the summer of 1982, Dehghan was sent to Lebanon. He served as commander of the training corps of the Revolutionary Guard, first in Syria and soon after in Lebanon. This role made him responsible for building up the military force of Hizbullah, which also was established at that time. After most of the Revolutionary Guard force returned from Lebanon to Iran, and the force’s commander, Ahmad Motevasselian, was kidnapped along with three other Iranians in the summer of 1982 by the Christian militia – the Lebanese Forces, Ahmad Kanani was appointed commander of the Revolutionary Guard force in Lebanon.

 

About a year later Hossein Dehghan replaced Kanani in that position. One of his first goals was to set up a central command for the Iranian force, which at that time was scattered among small towns and villages in the Baalbek region. At the beginning of September 1983, Hizbullah, with the help of the Revolutionary Guard headed by Dehghan, took over the Sheikh Abdullah barracks, which was seized in the course of a procession led by three Hizbullah sheikhs: Abbas Mussawi, Subhi Tufayli, and Muhammad Yazbek. It had been the main base of the Lebanese army in the Beqaa Valley and now became the Imam Ali barracks, the main headquarters of the Revolutionary Guard.

 

It was from this headquarters that Iran controlled Hizbullah’s military force and planned, along with Hizbullah, the terror attacks on the Beirut-based Multinational Force and against IDF forces in Lebanon. The attacks were carried out by the Islamic Jihad organization, headed by Imad Mughniyeh, which was actually a special operational arm that acted under the joint direction of Tehran and Hizbullah until it was dismantled in 1992.

 

Instructions for the attack on the Multinational Forces were issued from Tehran to the Iranian ambassador to Damascus, who passed them on to the Revolutionary Guards forces in Lebanon and their Lebanese Shiite allies. According to the U.S. Marine commander, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) intercepted the Iranian orders to strike on September 26, 1983. It is difficult to imagine that such a high-level directive to the Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon would be transmitted without the knowledge of their commander, Hossein Dehghan.

 

On October 25, 1983, a Shiite suicide bomber detonated a water tanker at the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 Marines; simultaneously, another Shiite suicide bomber blew up the French paratroopers’ barracks in Beirut, killing 58 soldiers. It was Mughniyeh who dispatched both bombers. The order to carry out the attacks was transmitted, and the funding and operational training provided, with the help of the Revolutionary Guard in Lebanon under the command of Hossein Dehghan.

 

Contents

 

 

EVEN IF ASSAD LOSES, IRAN GAINS
FROM ITS SUPPORT OF SHIA MILITIAS

Phillip Smyth

The National, Aug 12, 2013

 

As Syria continues to burn, Iran has successfully pushed the narrative that it is the unbridled defender of Shia Islam. Even if Bashar Al Assad loses more ground to the rebel forces, Iran can still benefit from the conflict to bolster that narrative.

 

Iran's guiding ideology of valeyat Al Faqih, or the absolute rule of a religious cleric, is far from the accepted norm among the world's Shia. And Iran's support for sending Shia militants to fight alongside the Syrian regime has put Iran at odds with both traditional Shia clerics, who are followed by the majority of Shia Muslims, and radical clerics such as Iraq's Muqtada Al Sadr. These clerics, particularly Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in Najaf, Iraq, have rejected the Iranian role and have thus been a persistent thorn in Iran's side. Mr Sistani went so far as to call Shia who go to fight in Syria "disobedient". Mr Al Sadr has said that he would "punish" any members participating in Syria's battles, according to the news agency AFP.

 

Despite such resistance, the Iranian regime has managed to advance its narrative among many Shia in the region. The Iranian regime justifies the involvement of Shia foreign fighters in Syria as fighting to "protect Shia holy sites" – particularly the Sayyida Zaynab shrine in Damascus – from "takfiris", a euphemism Tehran uses to describe all Syrian rebels. The term is generally used to describe radical Sunni Islamists who view Shia and some other Muslims as infidels.

 

The pretext of defending the shrine in Damascus plays well with Shia who have suffered under waves of bombings targeting their mosques, shrines and gatherings from Baghdad to Pakistan. Iran and its proxies have described their operations in Syria as a "sacred defence" and fallen fighters as "holy warriors of jihad".

 

The Iranian "defensive jihad" narrative is meant to be juxtaposed with the statements by Mr Al Sadr or Mr Sistani, who call on their followers not to fight in Syria, to make Shia feel their traditional and radical leaders are out of step in the face of a historic threat.

 

Iran works with numerous regional proxies, such as Lebanon's Hizbollah and Iraq's Asa'ib Ahl Al Haq – which split from Mr Al Sadr's militia – and Kata'ib Hizbollah, to propagate that narrative. These groups have provided members for Shia militias that operate in Syria, such as Liwa Abu Fadl Al Abbas. Working with these groups also helps Iran to expand its influence and create the impression that a broad front, united under Iran's leadership, is committed to keeping Mr Al Assad in power, thus attracting more Shia fighters for the conflict.

 

Even if a militia operates away from the holy sites in Syria, Iran claims that its policy of backing Mr Al Assad is part of its ultimate goal of defending the Shia relics. In May, for example, Liwaa Ammar Ibn Yasir, an Iranian-backed Shia militia, announced that it operates in Aleppo but also "defends" Sayyida Zaynab shrine in Damascus. The clear message is that no matter where one of the Tehran-backed Shia militias operates, it is indirectly defending Sayyida Zaynab.

 

Through this strategy, Iran can achieve three significant results: it can save a strategically important ally, lessen the influence of its Shia clerical rivals and foster a greater acceptance of its own radical doctrine within the Shia Islamic community.

 

Iranian government-controlled media has been proactive in pushing that narrative by highlighting the Sistani statements that jibe with Tehran's agenda while downplaying or simply ignoring his opposition to sending Shia fighters to Syria. For example, remarks made by Sayyid Javad Shahrestani, Mr Sistani's representative in Iran, that the war in Syria was actually a plot to damage Iran's regional standing were widely carried by Iranian state media. But Mr Sistani's clear opposition to Iranian moves in Syria is rarely mentioned.

 

The slogans used by Iranian-backed Shia militias fighting in Syria have also been used to give the impression that certain Shia clerics support the intervention. Liwa Imam Husayn has been branded as "Sadrist" by its creators. (It is worth mentioning that Shia militias in Syria have common leaders, for unstated reasons). According to a photograph used in the promotion of the latter militia on Facebook, one of the militiamen wields a heavy machine gun with a shot of Mr Al Sadr paternally looking down on him. The same photograph was published a few days earlier with Asa'ib Ahl Al Haq's logo on it, which suggests the group cannot be affiliated to Mr Al Sadr, as the latter's forces had sometimes clashed with Asa'ib Ahl Al Haq in Iraq.

 

Mr Al Sadr probably knew that he would need to cooperate with Iranian-backed groups in any joint operations in Syria, including with Asa'ib Ahl Al Haq, which is one of the main providers of combatants in Syria. In May, Mr Al Sadr came to loggerheads with Iraqi prime minister Nouri Al Maliki over the militia's activities in Iraq; according to the Saudi newspaper Asharq Al Awsat, Mr Al Sadr even called on his supporters to clamp down on the militia in Baghdad.

 

Both Syrian rebels and Shia militias have claimed Mr Al Sadr's forces operate in Syria. But he has categorically denied these reports, saying, in June, that "all these claims are lies". Judging from the reports and videos emerging from Syria, Mr Al Sadr appears to be telling the truth.

 

Moreover, Liwa Imam Husayn, in an attempt to suggest that Mr Sistani supports its involvement in Syria, announced recently that it held iftar for residents in the neighbourhood around the Sayyida Zaynab shrine in a Damascus building owned by Mr Sistani. Iran and its proxies will continue to push more Shia into Syria's conflict. The war in Syria has provided a situation in which Iran can assume a leadership role among the region's Shia community.

 

Phillip Smyth is a researcher at the University of Maryland. He focuses on Lebanon and Syria and specialises in Shia militias in Syria

Contents

 

Report: Iran's Arak Reactor to Have Nuclear Weapons Grade Plutonium by Next Summer: Jeruslam Post, Aug. 5, 2013—The Arak heavy water nuclear reactor in Iran will be capable of producing two nuclear bombs' worth of weapons grade plutonium a year and will be capable of producing the material by next summer, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Monday that cited US, UN and EU officials.

 

PM: Iran Has Set 7,000 New Centrifuges Spinning since Presidential Election: Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 8, 2013—1

Since Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was elected two months ago, Iran has installed 7,000 centrifuges, indicating that he is nothing more than a new face to an old regime, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Wednesday.

 

Iran's Mounting Malaise: Jamsheed Choksy, Real Clear World, Aug. 8, 2013—Hassan Rouhani took charge of Iran with its socioeconomic safety nets unraveling, thanks to deleterious policies exacerbated by tightened sanctions from the West. Addressing the parliament on July 14, while president-elect, he acknowledged that the nuclear impasse is far from the only factor transforming the Islamic Republic of Iran negatively with impact on other countries. Iran's challenges pose severe consequences at home and abroad.

 

Iran Enters the Peace Process: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, July 29, 2013—Hamas's apparent rapprochement with Iran paves the way for Iran to play a major role in the Palestinian arena. Iranian military experts could soon be arriving in the Gaza Strip to train members of Hamas and other terrorist groups. This does not bode well for the Palestinian Authority and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas.

 

Former MI Chief Yadlin Cautions Over Iran's Plutonium Program: Jerusalem Post, Aug. 9, 2013—Former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin warned Friday that the West's one dimensional perception of Iran's nuclear program, focusing solely on the uranium enrichment path to a nuclear weapon, could enable the Islamic Republic to build a plutonium bomb without detection.

 

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