What to Do about Iran

American Thinker, by Bruce Walker, May 22, 2015:

America will decide in 2016 how it will face deadly perils by enemies who despise our liberty and our goodness. There is a parallel with the Soviet Union.  In 1981, for the prior 36 years, America had tried to construct a way to live with the Soviet Union.  The Evil Empire supported violence against our interests all over the world.  The Kremlin waged an unrelenting campaign against our way of life.  Every approach presidents before Reagan had tried to live with the Soviets failed.

Then our new president of the United States, when asked about his strategy for dealing with the Soviet Union, famously responded: “How about this?  We win.  They lose.”  Succinct, principled, and quintessentially Reagan.  As soon as Reagan took office, he planned to end this great threat to world freedom and peace by seeking victory instead of uneasy peace.  It worked.  It worked, in fact, with stunning speed.

The end of the Cold War, which happened twenty-five years ago, may seem to folks today to have been inevitable and easy.  It was not.  Indeed, victory was possible only when we actually sought victory.  Reagan did just that.  He fought a bloodless global war on many levels.  He put economic pressure on the Soviet Union.  He supported resistance against the Soviets from within their empire.  Reagan made sure that we were militarily stronger and that this edge would grow the longer the Cold War was fought.

Reagan also made use of the allies he had.  The prime ministers of Britain and Canada were close allies.  The German chancellor was one, too.  Bold Christians – Pope John Paul II, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and others – joined in this truly holy war.  What Reagan had in 1981 looks very much like what our next president will have in 2017.

We have friends.  David Cameron and Stephen Harper are conservative leaders whose parties have absolute majorities in their respective Houses of Commons, and both men grasp the danger we face.  German chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU party does not quite have a majority in the Bundestag, but it is by far the largest parliamentary group, and Merkel is as popular and experienced a leader as Germany has had since reunification.

Israeli prime minister Netanyahu is likewise strong and experienced and would aid any effort to end those evils that threaten his nation.  He is smart, brave, and wise.  President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has acted with great courage as well in both attacking radical Islamists and reaching out to Egyptian Christians.  King Abdullah of Jordan has been equally resolute, and both leaders seek our friendship as well as our help.  The Gulf States, whose claim to Islamic purity is unassailable, likewise want our help against a common great evil.

What America and what the civilized world need is someone with the vision and wisdom of Reagan, someone not content to beg for peace from evil regimes that seek our destruction, but rather to clearly call these regimes wicked and call for their end.  Reagan did not mince words.  He called the Soviet Union an “Evil Empire.”  That is precisely the term most descriptive of the mad mullahs in Tehran.

The vile oligarchs who rule this empire suppress the national aspirations of Kurds and others trapped within Iran.  They murder gays and stone women.  They promote anti-Semitism and persecute all religions except for their own slice of Islam.  These creeps organize terrorism throughout the Middle East and describe America as the “Great Satan” and Israel as the “Little Satan.”  The Tehran gang suppresses individual liberty in Iran and makes a mockery of democracy.

While it is clear that letting Tehran acquire nuclear weapons is wrong, a broader question is this: why permit this regime to remain in power at all?  Because of it, the people of Iran are poor.  Because of it, the whole of West Asia lives in fear.  Because of it, other potential threats to our way of life are emboldened.  Why not end the reign of these wicked and crazy men?

This does not mean hot war.  Reagan won with soaring political rhetoric, united stands with true friends around the world, and championing the liberty of those trapped in that Evil Empire.  Here is a thought for some aspiring Republican candidate or president:  lay out a plan for ending the aggressive, undemocratic, gay-murdering, misogynist, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, anti-American regime in Iran and replacing that regime with a moderating, pro-Western, tolerant one.

We are in a cold war with Iran.  The next Republican president in 2017 should say about this cold war what Reagan said about his own in 1981: “How about this?  We win.  They lose.”

The Iranian Kurdish ‘Revolution’ The World Doesn’t Know Is Happening

Two Iranian Kurds show their injuries after protests in Mahabad, Iran against the Iranian regime on May 7, 2015. National Council Of Resistance Of Iran

Two Iranian Kurds show their injuries after protests in Mahabad, Iran against the Iranian regime on May 7, 2015. National Council Of Resistance Of Iran

IBTimes, By Alessandria Masi, May 15, 2015:

Buildings are burning, protesters are bloodied, law enforcement vehicles are destroyed, hundreds of young men and women have been arrested and there is no end in sight. Iranian Kurdistan has been under what Iranian opposition called an “undeclared martial law” for the last week, and the Iranian regime has done all it can to keep it out of the media.

Thousands of Iranian Kurds have been demonstrating in the streets of roughly a dozen Iranian cities almost consistently for the past week. On Friday, protests turned violent as Iranian Kurdish political leaders called for an independent Kurdistan and democracy in Iran. It is one of the biggest Kurdish uprisings against the Iranian regime in years.

Iranian Kurds are “planning to carry out a comprehensive revolution and there are armed Iranian Kurdish political parties positioning themselves for the revolution,” said Sarkawt Kamal Ali, an Iraqi human rights lawyer familiar with the Kurdish situation.

On Friday, a recently formed coalition of Kurdish political parties, Kodar, threatened to deploy protesters and militia fighters to the Iranian capital of Tehran if the regime did not allow them to independently govern Iran’s Kurdish areas, according to Rudaw.

The initial protests against the regime’s oppression of Kurds began after a May 4 incident in which 27-year-old Farinaz Khosravani jumped to her death from a window when an Iranian intelligence officer allegedly tried to rape her at the hotel where she worked in the Kurdish city of Mahabad. Later, regime-affiliated social media accounts and news outlets circulated a video allegedly showing Khosravani “voluntarily” engaging in sexual acts with the officer, sources close to the issue told International Business Times.

“Whatever happened, it ignited a very significant outburst … by the Kurds in the city,” said Dave Pollock, a Kaufman Fellow at the Washington Institute whose research focuses on public opinion and media content in the region. He added that Mahabad “is not a gigantic city but it’s enough to provide the critical mass for a very large demonstration. But it was forcibly suppressed.”

The Iranian regime is known for its intolerance of anti-regime sentiment of any kind, and its anti-riot tactics include shutting off the Internet, wireless services and other means of communication in addition to banning reporters from the area. This means the Iranian Kurdish “revolution” has not yet been televised, but much like the uprisings in Syria and Egypt, it is being broadcasted on social media.

When demonstrations began on May 7 in Mahabad, S.Kurdax, a Syrian Kurd whose name has been changed for security reasons who was also forced to flee his own country when President Bashar Assad’s regime began arresting protesters in 2011, wanted to help. Along with several other Kurdish friends from the region, he created various social media accounts to provide accurate information from the ground in Iran, where many of his friends are demonstrating.

“We as young people, as Kurds, we have to put the news on Twitter, Facebook and Skype,” Kurdax told IBTimes via Skype. “We tell the truth for our people.”

His main news outlet is Facebook, where his page “Kurdish Revolution in Iran” has garnered more than 14,000 followers in less than two weeks. Kurdax  said his group is organizing a “big revolution” in Iran for next Friday, but they are urging demonstrators not to resort to violence.

“We are trying to make it just revolution. Shooting and streaming videos and making a general strike against the regime in Iran,” Kurdax  said. “If we try to fight this regime, they are so dangerous. They have chemical weapons and bombs.”

Since Khosravani’s death, Iran’s Law Enforcement Force has arrested hundreds of Kurdish youth in cities spanning the Iranian Kurdistan region on the border with Iraq. Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security has reportedly dispatched a “group of henchmen to torture and interrogate” the detainees, according to the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a coalition of opposition groups that describes itself as a “parliament-in-exile.”

Protests seemed to calm down in the days following Khosravani’s death, but they picked up speed this week, as Kurds around the world showed their solidarity with the Iranian cause. On Thursday, demonstrations were held in front of the Iranian embassies in several European cities, including  Vienna, Paris and London. Meanwhile, at least 14 cities in Iranian Kurdistan held a general strike to protest the arrests earlier in the week.

image-4Demonstrators hold Kurdish flags outside the Iranian embassy in Vienna in solidarity with the Kurds protesting the regime in Iran, May 14, 2015.  Kurdish Revolution In Iran

Demonstrations turned violent again on Friday when protesters reportedly placed explosive devices in Iranian law enforcement vehicles, in an attempt to block the convoy from entering the protest area. The armored trucks exploded, killing and injuring more than a dozen people, several sources familiar with the situation told IBTimes.

Hundreds of demonstrators and Iranian law enforcement have reportedly been injured since the clashes began. Recent reports from the ground claimed that the officer accused of attempted rape was killed in the clashes, but IBTimes was unable to confirm that.

There are an estimated 7 million Kurds concentrated in what used to be part of Kurdistan and is now Iranian territory on the border with Iraq. They have long been denied basic human rights in Iran and it has only become worse since the Iranian Revolution of 1979. The Kurdish language is, however, not banned in Iran as has been in other countries in the region.

kurdsIranian Kurds hold a general strike across 14 cities in Iran in protest of the Iranian regime’s human rights abuses, May 14, 2015.  Kurdish Revolution in Iran

“The pace of the Iranian government’s oppression of Kurdish expression, including executions of community organizers, political figures and dissidents, has really picked up in the last year or two,” Pollock said.

Earlier this year, Amnesty International released a report that said Kurds make up the most executions per year compared to every other minority. And it seems Iranian Kurds have finally had enough of the regime’s oppression.

“The Kurdish street is angry. It was like a volcano in our Kurdish hearts,” Kurdax  said, referencing “Arab street,” the term used to describe public opinion across Arab countries. “We just want our rights. We are also human.”

Also see:

General Mattis Critical Of Obama Administration’s Treatment Of US Allies

8bd3121c-ddf3-433f-acc9-58cadfb7d8cenews.ap.org_r620x349Daily Caller, by Kerry Picket, May 14, 2015:

WASHINGTON — Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis told attendees at The Heritage Foundation Wednesday he is concerned the United States is not firmly standing by her global allies.

Mattis replaced General David Petraeus as commander of U.S. Central Command in August 2010 and retired from the Marine Corps in 2013 after 41 years of military service.

Gen. Mattis recalled a meeting he had with the King Abdullah II of Jordan, when the French and British were planning to leave Afghanistan and Mattis confirmed their departure to the king.

“I said, ‘Yeah, that’s right your majesty.’ And he said, ‘Well, let me make sure you understand that our Jordanian troops will be there with you until the last American soldier comes home.’”

Mattis paused for a moment and explained, “You cannot buy allies like that. The way you get allies like that is if you want a friend when you’re in trouble, you need to be a friend when they’re in trouble, and we are not sending that message.”

He went further saying, “I was getting asked the same question in Cairo and Riad as I was being asked in Tel Aviv, and that’s darn near impossible to align them. How much have we aligned them? I had a foreign minister of an Arab country make a point to me when I started wearing this, instead of a uniform.”

“He said, ‘We, today, have more in common with Israel’s foreign policy than we have with America’s.’ That is not a good situation for stability and anyone who wants peace and prosperity and [to] turn over a better world to our children, that is not something we can be proud of,” the retired general noted.

Mattis believes the way the United States is handling global affairs is “not the way the greatest generation dealt with the world around them, and it’s one that we’re going to have to learn to adapt to, or we’re going to end up in a situation where we’re ashamed of what we’re turning over.”

“But leaving allies adrift and having to accommodate less pleasing allies, this is not something that is in America’s best interest,” he said.

When asked by The Daily Caller about his thoughts on the Obama administration’s handling of the Islamic State, he responded, “The president came out and said we didn’t have a strategy on this. I would only endorse what he said. Honesty is honesty. I think the president’s recognized the failing there, and I think if we do not do something to humiliate them and cause havoc, their recruiting and their fundraising will continue apace, so you’ve got to hit them with a shockwave.”

Mattis added, “That’s not just military, and it’s not just covert. It’s a whole lot of things. But again, it goes back to — you’ve got to ask the strategic questions. Is political Islam in our best interests? Let me define it. It’s political Islam as practiced by the mullahs in Tehran for the past 30 years. That’s on the Shia side. It’s political Islam as practiced by the Muslim Brothers, the brothers in Cairo for a year. And if it’s not in our best interest, what are we going to do to come up with that coherent strategy?”

***

Gen. Mattis speaks at about 13 min. into the video. Well worth your time to listen:

Israel’s Peace Fantasists in Action

1ef9b765-5e3e-47eb-bb2e-87e35fc8c7a6_16x9_600x338-450x253Frontpage, by Caroline Glick, may 15, 2015:

The Saudis are in play, casting about for partners.

In a clear vote of no-confidence in US President Barack Obama’s leadership, Saudi King Salman led several Arab leaders in blowing off Obama’s Camp David summit this week. The summit was meant to compensate the Sunni Arabs for Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

Salman’s decision is further proof that US-Saudi relations have jumped the tracks. For 70 years the Saudis subcontracted their national security to the US military. Deals were closed with a wink and a nod. That’s all over now.

Obama has destroyed Washington’s credibility. Salman views its gentleman’s agreements as worthless. All he wants now is military hardware. And for that, he can send a stand-in.

The Saudis never put all their eggs in America’s basket. For 70 years the Saudis played a double game, maintaining strategic alliances both with the liberal West and the most reactionary forces in the Islamic world. The Saudis pocketed petrodollars from America and Europe and transferred them to terrorists and jihadist preachers in mosques in the US, Europe and worldwide.

Iran isn’t the Saudis’ only concern. Although for outsiders the worldview of the theocracy governing Saudi Arabia seems all but identical to the worldview of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Saudis consider the Brotherhood a mortal foe. The Saudis claim that their tribal, top-down regime is the genuine expression of Islam. The Brotherhood’s populist, grassroots organization rejects their legitimacy.

And so, since the Arab revolutionary wave began in late 2010, the Saudis opposed the empowerment of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Saudis are the primary bankrollers of Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s regime.

During Operation Protective Edge last summer, the Saudis sided with Sisi and Israel against Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, and its Turkish and Qatari state sponsors. Although Saudi Arabia had previously been a major funder of Hamas, that backing ended in 2005 when, following Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, Hamas forged strategic ties with Iran.

For the past five years, the Saudis worked against both the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran. But in recent months they began reconsidering their two-war approach.

With the Iranian-backed Houthis’ takeover of Yemen and the US’s conclusion of its framework nuclear deal with Iran, the Saudis apparently determined that weakening Iran takes precedence over fighting the Brotherhood. With its Houthi proxies in Yemen deployed along the Saudi border abutting Shi’ite-majority border provinces, and fighting for control over the Bab el Mandab, Iran now poses an immediate and existential threat to Saudi Arabia.

Moreover, as the Saudis see it, the threat posed by the Brotherhood has severely diminished since Sisi began his campaign to destroy its infrastructure in Egypt. So long as Sisi continues weakening the Brotherhood in Egypt and Libya, the Saudis feel safe working with the Brotherhood and its state sponsors Turkey and Qatar in Syria and Yemen. To this end, much to Washington’s dismay, the Saudis are willing to back a consortium of rebel groups in Syria that include the al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra.

The Muslim Brotherhood and its terrorist offshoots are not the only strange bedfellows the Saudis are willing to work with in their bid to neutralize Iran.

They have also signaled a willingness to work with Israel.

Read more

Also see:

LIVE EVENT: Iran Truth Panel

4100482676President Obama has made numerous exaggerated and misleading statements to promote his nuclear diplomacy with Iran as a good deal. However, in an interview with NPR, the president accidentally told the truth and confirmed what many have been saying about his nuclear diplomacy with Iran:

“What is a more relevant I fear would be that in Year 13, 14, 15, they have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point, the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero.”

Because the nuclear agreement being sought by the Obama administration will allow Iran to continue to enrich uranium and develop much more efficient centrifuge machines, it is very likely that the time to an Iranian bomb could shrink to “almost zero” as the president said. This is one of many reasons to stop this deal.

The Center for Security Policy will hold a panel discussion on how the Iran deal is a path for Iran to get the bomb.

WHO:
  • Kenneth Timmerman: Author, Activist and investigative journalist; Executive director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI)
  • Admiral James A. “Ace” Lyons (U.S. Navy, Ret.), former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and father of the Navy Red Cell counterterrorist unit.
  • Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.: President, Center for Security Policy, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy (Acting) under President Reagan.
  • Clare Lopez, Senior Vice President for Research and Analysis, Center for Security Policy and former Operations Officer in the CIA’s Clandestine Service
WHERE:
1324 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
WHEN:
Friday, May 8th, 2015 | 10:00am

Failed State: Saudi Coalition Increases Ground Presence as Iran Begins targeting the Kingdom, US

yemen+map1May 7, 2015 /

As of this writing most of the Southern Yemeni city of Aden remains contested with heavy fighting all throughout the area. Our sources who remain in the country have informed us that additional UAE SOF personnel have been seen in the city fighting alongside the remnants of the pro-Hadi faction. We’ve also been made aware that the Saudi SOF personnel have also recently conducted a seaborne insertion into the area to bolster the push to seize their main objective: Aden International Airport. UAE SOF personnel on the ground have embedded with what remains of the pro-Hadi faction and appear to be rallying them for an assault on the Houthi forces located at the airport. Central to this strategy is the preservation of the runway, which makes it highly likely that the intent is to use the airport as a hub for bringing in supplies and follow-on forces for a larger ground campaign. We doubt the Houthis will be able to maintain their hold on the Southern part of the country in light of the Saudi-led coalition’s decision to double-down on the ongoing campaign. Already the coalition controls the surrounding airspace, requiring the IRGC-Qods Force to have flights come through Oman (we’re unsure as to why the Saudis haven’t applied more pressure on the Omani government). The Houthis’ hold on the South becomes even less likely if former President Saleh’s forces were to defect. Saleh himself is an opportunist, so if the Saudis were smart they’d be running an effective IO campaign offering economic incentives targeting military units aligned with Saleh. However, this campaign is unlikely to completely reverse the Houthi’s gains. A stalemate is much more likely.

Reports: ‘Limited’ ground force arrives in Yemen’s Aden
http://www.dw.de/reports-limited-ground-force-arrives-in-yemens-aden/a-18426013

Yemen’s foreign minister: Aden troops were Gulf-trained locals
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/04/yemen-security-idUSL5N0XV1VI20150504

GCC SOF Teams Alerted For Deployment, AQAP Gains Strength and Iran Preps For Attacks Against Saudi Arabia
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=6056

Yemen isn’t on Verge of Civil War – It Already is – and the Saudi Arabia Will Get Involved
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5810

Rising Smoke

Aden fighting in the distance
Source: Getty Images/AFP/Saleh al-Obeidi

We’ve been covering the Saudi-led coalition’s SOF operations for some time now – and we’ve also been covering the IRGC-Qods Force’s activity in the country. In our piece titled “AQAP and Qods Force Make Their Moves in Yemen as Saudis Struggle to Maintain Coalition,” We mentioned the presence of a senior member of the IRGC-Qods Force’s External Operations Division setting up shop in Sadah. This individual has been identified as BG Abdolreza Shahlai. Never heard of him? Don’t feel bad, most people haven’t – but you’ve probably heard about the operations that he had intimate involvement. He was the architect of the IRGC-Qods Force’s program that provided lethal aid to Shia proxy groups in Iraq during OIF in addition to being one of the primary planners for the 2007 attack on the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center (PJCC) that killed five US Soldiers (check out “The Hezbollah Presence in Iraq” for more details). Indeed, the OIF-era put this guy on the map and led to the start of a strong friendship with Qods Force commander GEN Suleimani. Shahlai is currently a member of Suleimani’s inner circle and holds considerable sway in advocating the more “outside the box” proposals. In fact he gained the most notoriety from his involvement in planning the failed plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US in New York City. That particular operation called for the Qods Force to facilitate a third party – which was the Mexican drug cartel known as Los Zetas – to carry out the operation. His family member Mansur Arbabsiar was the primary facilitator.He’s also a strong advocate of taking more direct action against the US and serves as “Suleimani’s Fist” in overseeing operations inside American borders, Europe and Africa. He’s also no stranger to Yemen, having deployed to the country several times since 2011 to oversee training on the production of Explosively-Formed Projectiles (EFPs) and their implementation. Shahlai’s African connections have also been put to good use with his efforts to establish alternate facilitation ratlines into Yemen coming from Djibouti and Sudan. Needless to say, he’s become quite close to Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi.

AQAP and Qods Force Make Their Moves in Yemen as Saudis Struggle to Maintain Coalition
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=6078

The Hezbollah Presence in Iraq
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=358

Who is IRGC Commander Abdolreza Shahlai, mastermind of attack on Camp Liberty
http://www.ncr-iran.org/en/news/terrorism-a-fundamentalism/12861-who-is-irgc-commander-abdolreza-shahlai-mastermind-of-attack-on-camp-liberty

Treasury Sanctions Five Individuals Tied to Iranian Plot to Assassinate the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States
http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/pages/tg1320.aspx

Man Sentenced in Plot to Kill Saudi Ambassador
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/31/nyregion/mansour-arbabsiar-sentenced-for-plot-to-kill-saudi-ambassador.html?_r=0

mansur Abrbsiar

Mansur Arbabsiar
Source: Associated Press

Like his colleagues, Shahlai entered Yemen via Oman (YES, he flew Mahan Air). Since setting up shop in Sadah, he’s been accelerating the program to establish a Houthi intel proxy to serve as an action arm for operations inside Saudi Arabia. In fact, he’s already got the ball rolling on targeting the Kingdom. Currently, Saudi Arabia is under heavy threat from cyber attacks targeting critical infrastructure like the infamous “Shamoon” virus that was unleashed by the IRGC-Qods Force Cyber Warfare Division against ARAMCO (check out “Iran Steps Up Cyber Attacks Against the US and its Allies” for more details). We assess that the Saudi oil, gas, telecommunications and aviation sectors are at the most risk for a repeat of the Shamoon incident. Our contacts in the oil industry report that as recently as MAR 15 ARAMCO was made aware of malicious activity against their infrastructure and were reassessing security practices in addition to working on identifying where they may have been compromised. We believe this malicious activity were probing operations being conducted to identify exploitable opportunities.

Iranian Regime Consolidates Yemeni Gains, Begins Work on Forming Houthi Intel Proxy
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5580

Iran Steps Up Cyber Attacks Against the US and its Allies
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=3560

The recent attack launched by the Houthis against the Saudi border town of Najran that killed at least two civilians led to the capture of five Saudi military personnel was merely the opening act of this new phase of the campaign that we’ve been warning about. The next step of this new phase in the Yemen portion of Iran’s campaign may involve the targeting of US citizens stuck in Yemen. Some were lucky and able to leave the country, but many others remain trapped. It would be quite the coup for the Houthis to kidnap a few of them to demonstrate how the Obama administration abandoned them – then pressure the US into ending its support of the Saudi campaign. The five Saudi military personnel were possibly abducted with this in mind as well, although we doubt the Saudis will meet any demands. This country has been a failed state for quite some time, only US Secretary of State John Kerry is in denial. He recently made the claim that Yemen can “avoid ending up a failed state.” The problem with this statement is that Yemen is engaged in a civil war with military personnel from multiple regional powers operating on the ground alongside select factions. He hopes that there will be a “political” solution to this war. Unfortunately, The Iranians and Saudis are already in the process of escalating the violence. Only in the world of “Hope and Change” can a nation at war with itself and experiencing shortages in food, fuel, medical supplies be considered a “success story.” We can assure you that the Obama administration is every bit as wrong about Iran as they are about Yemen. The $1 million dollar question is whether they’ll figure it out before it’s too late? We doubt it.

Washington to Americans Stuck in Yemen: You’re on Your Own
http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/04/21/washington-to-americans-stuck-in-yemen-youre-on-your-own-evacuation/

Deaths as Yemeni rebels fire rockets into Saudi Arabia
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/05/cloneofcoalition-considers-yemen-humanitarian-tr-150505130815877.html

John Kerry: Yemen not yet a failed state, may ‘hold itself together’ with peace talk
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/may/2/kerry-yemen-not-yet-failed-state-may-hold-itself-t/

qods force_houthi

Iraqi Shia during a pro-Houthi rally in Baghdad carrying portraits of Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi and IRGC-Qods Force commander GEN Suleimani
Source: Rudaw

Other Related Articles:

The Yemen Octagon: GCC vs Iran vs Houthis vs AQAP vs Islamic State
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5931

Today’s Middle East: The Burning Fuse of the 21st Century’s “Great Game”
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=6193

President Obama’s Yemen “Success” Story
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4751

Poised to Fill Yemen’s Power Vacuum: Iran Tightens Grip on The Peninsula
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4517

IRGC-Qods Force: The Arabian Peninsula Campaign and Failure of Obama’s Foreign Policy
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4478

Shia Proxy Threat to US ISIS Strategy in Saudi Arabia
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1837

Yemen’s Houthi Rebels: the Hand of Iran?
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1992

Kerry Tries to Dismiss Criticism of Iran talks as “Hysteria”

87446063CSP, by Fred Fleitz, May 4, 2015:

In a statement to Israel’s Channel 10 News over the weekend, Secretary of State John Kerry aggressively defended the Obama administration’s controversial nuclear diplomacy with Iran and dismissed critics of the nuclear talks as engaging in “hysteria.”

This kind of talk is typical of the way Kerry and other Obama administration have defended their nuclear diplomacy with Iran.  They refuse to discuss criticisms of the talks and instead attack their critics as uninformed and partisan.

Kerry defended the nuclear talks in unusually strong terms, claiming under the deal, inspections would remain in place “forever” and that “We will not sign a deal that does not close off Iran’s pathways to a bomb and that doesn’t give us the confidence — to all of our experts, in fact to global experts — that we will be able to know what Iran is doing and prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon.”

No serious person believes international inspectors will be in Iran forever.

This kind of rhetoric shows how worried Kerry is about the nuclear talks.  His briefings to Congress about the negotiations have gone very badly.  There are bipartisan concerns that the Obama administration has made enormous and dangerous concessions to Tehran and got nothing in return.

The Obama administration’s Iran policy also is in deep trouble because Iranian officials claim it lied about what will be in a final nuclear agreement.

Today, the Center for Security Policy released a compelling ad on the Iran nuclear talks titled “Why are the Mullahs laughing?”   This ad helps explain the dangers of the Obama administration’s nuclear diplomacy with Iran.  You can watch this ad below or click HERE.

Please also check out our new website IranTruth.org for more information about the Obama administration’s nuclear diplomacy with Iran.

Iran Steps Up Covert Action in Latin America

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran / AP

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, May 1, 2015:

MIAMI—The Iranian government is significantly boosting its presence and resources in Latin America, posing a national security threat to the region, according to a group of U.S. and Latin American officials who met earlier this week in Florida to discuss Iran’s covert actions.

While Iran has long had a foothold in the Western hemisphere, these officials warned that the Islamic Republic has invested significant resources into its Latin American operations in a bid to increase its sway in the region.

Iran’s growing influence in the region—and its effort to exert influence over governments there—has fostered pressing security concerns as the Iranians inch closer to the United States’ southern border, according to these U.S. officials and Latin American leaders, who met for several days this week at a summit organized by the Israel Allies Foundation (IAF).

“It is troubling in some of the briefings we get, particularly on the classified side, to see Iranian influence in Latin America,” Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the House Committee of Foreign Affairs, told the Washington Free Beacon in an interview. “A lot of these [Latin American officials] share the concern.”

“It’s a security risk for all of us,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis was one of several members of Congress and 20 Latin American lawmakers from 14 different countries who met during the IAF summit, which began on Sunday and ran until Tuesday morning.

Iran is becoming increasingly open about its presence in Latin America and providing its officials with passports from Venezuela and other countries, giving them free rein to travel throughout South America.

Iran has forged close ties with countries such as Argentina, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Bolivia, among others.

Luis Heber, a member of the Uruguayan senate, said that Iranian agents—who some suspect are members of the country’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)—have been spotted in his country holding Venezuelan passports.

Officials have determined that there is “a clear penetration of Iran in our country,” Heber said during remarks Sunday before U.S. lawmakers and other Latin American officials.

“We’ve also seen Venezuelan passports in the hands of Iranians,” he revealed. “The penetration of Venezuela by Iran is clear. There is overwhelming information on this.”

Heber said Uruguayan officials have spotted at least 10 Iranians carrying Venezuelan passports.

They “can enter anywhere in Latin America because the passports are legal,” he explained.

Iran’s goal, in part, is to establish deep ties in these countries in order to influence their policies toward America, Israel, and other Western allies, officials said.

“The threat level has increased, it’s more open,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.), vice-chair of the House’s Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.

“The Iranian threat comes not from espionage as much, but from influencing the ideology of their host country,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “That’s what they’re aiming for and penetrating [these countries] so they have a presence in Latin America right at the foothold of the U.S.”

Iran establishes consulates in these countries and then uses them as a base to conduct espionage and other covert activities, Ros-Lehtinen said.

“How is it they have Iranian consulates in Latin America?” she asked. “It’s ridiculous to think all of sudden Latin Americans want to travel to Iran. They’re not using it to issue their visas. Something is happening that Iran is penetrating the Western Hemisphere and it’s not for cultural exchanges or approval of travel docs.”

“This makes no sense … other than espionage, subterfuge, and illicit activities,” Ros-Lehtinen said.

This activity has intensified of late, several officials said.

“There’s no question we’re seeing an uptick in Iranian influence in the Western Hemisphere,” Rep. Matt Salmon (R., Ariz.), a House Foreign Affairs Committee member, said during a meeting with the Latin American leaders in attendance.

“Unfortunately, the U.S. administration, our administration, seems to be willing to turn a blind eye towards what’s happening,” he said.

“There have been instances where Iranian agents have crossed the U.S. border,” Salmon claimed, referring to past reports by members of Hezbollah being arrested attempting to cross the Mexican border.

Iran currently hosts at least 80 so-called cultural centers in the region and has doubled the number of embassies in the region since 2005.

Ros-Lehtinen warned that this activity has become “more pronounced and open” in the past few years.

“Now they’re in the open, above board, advertising and letting the world know, ‘We’re right in your front and back yard,’” Ros-Lehtinen said.

Secure Freedom launches IranTruth.org site

snip

CSP, April 30, 2015:

We are at a critical juncture in stopping a disastrous nuclear deal with Iran. President Barack Obama tells us the agreement will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, but the truth is that he’s desperate to get a deal – any deal. According to the Wall Street Journal “President Obama said Tehran could receive significant economic relief IMMEDIATELY after concluding a deal…”  The Iranian regime will use it to pay for more terrorism, more regional subversion, more ballistic missiles AND to get the bomb.

Tell the Senate to do its duty as a check and balance on this national security malfeasance by President Obama.

Secure Freedom has launched a powerful one minute video on this topic at our new IranTruth.org website. You can also link directly to the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIYH0zivykQ

It is optimized to go viral and launches today with the hashtag #NoIranBombBonus.

Twitter targets should include the  Republicans who voted AGAINST the Johnson amendment which would have secured congressional review before any agreement is concluded:

– Alexander (R-TN) @SenAlexander
– Ayotte (R-NH) @KellyAyotte
– Capito (R-WV) @SenCapito
– Coats (R-IN) @SenDanCoats
– Cochran (R-MS) @SenThadCochran
– Corker (R-TN) @SenBobCorker
– Ernst (R-IA) @joniernst
– Flake (R-AZ) @JeffFlake
– Hatch (R-UT) @OrrinHatch
– Isakson (R-GA) @SenatorIsakson
– McCain (R-AZ) @SenJohnMcCain
– Perdue (R-GA) @Perduesenate

Suggested tweet: “Tell the Senate, don’t let Obama give Iran the bomb and $50B bonus #NoIranBombBonus”

Please share with your networks and ask them to do the same.

***

Shia Militia Leader Explodes Over Possibility of U.S. Support for Kurdish Forces

Peshmerga fighters walk in the Tal al-Ward district, 20 miles southwest of Kirkuk, Iraq, in March.

Peshmerga fighters walk in the Tal al-Ward district, 20 miles southwest of Kirkuk, Iraq, in March.

CSP, by Kyle Shideler, April 30, 2015:

Shia leader Moqtada Al-Sadr, head of the Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM), issued a stark denunciation of the U.S. Defense Bill currently in front of the U.S. House of Representatives this week, threatening to fight U.S. interests both in Iraq and overseas, in the event that the bill passed.

Al Sadr opposes the bill, because it would authorize the direct transfer of military aid to Kurdish Peshmerga and Sunni tribal forces in order to fight the Islamic State, outside of the direct control of the central government in Baghdad.

“The U.S. House of Representatives intends to pass a draft law on Iraq making each sect independent from the other, and this will be the beginning of Iraq’s division,” Sadr said in a statement. If the U.S. passes such law, “then we will be obliged to lift the freeze on the military wing which is tasked with (fighting) the American side, to start hit the U.S. interests in Iraq and even abroad possibly,” Sadr warned.

Al Sadr’s JAM was one of the primary Shia militia forces used by Iran during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and responsible the deaths of numerous American fighting men and women. Iraq has primarily leaned on the use of Shia militias, operating under the rubric of the Popular Moblization Forces, but many of the 30,000+ militia fighters operate under direct command and control from the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

The Baghdad government, which is heavily supported by Iran, has also vocally opposed the measure:

We will reject the arming of the Peshmerga directly by the US,” Iraq’s Defense Minister Khalid Al-Obeidi, told Rudaw on Thursday.

Kurdish forces have repeatedly complained that aid designated for use by their forces has repeatedly been redirected by the Baghdad government to Shia militias, some of whom are responsible for sectarian war crimes. Kurdish forces have also expressed concernover the entry of Shia forces into areas viewed by the Kurds as traditionally Kurdish, such as Kirkuk.

Supporters of the Peshmerga took to twitter to complain about the double standard:

Garmiyani tweet

In the United States, the Obama Administration finds itself on the same side of the argument as Moqtada Al-Sadr, opposing the bill to permit arms for Kurdish forces. As State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf confirmed yesterday:

QUESTION: Yes. Do you have any comment about this draft resolution at the Armed Services Committee that calls for the recognition of the Sunni fighters and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces as a country, and so they can be – directly receive aid and weapons from the U.S., not through the central government?

MS HARF: I saw that. I saw that. And to be very clear: The policy of this Administration is clear and consistent in support of a unified Iraq, and that we’ve always said a unified Iraq is stronger, and it’s important to the stability of the region as well. Our military assistance and equipment deliveries, our policy remains the same there as well, that all arms transfers must be coordinated via the sovereign central government of Iraq. We believe this policy is the most effective way to support the coalition’s efforts.

So we look forward to working with congress on language that we could support on this important issue, but the draft bill, as you noted, in the House – this is very early in the process here for the NDAA – as currently written on this issue, of course, does not reflect Administration policy.

By opposing the direct arming of Sunni and Kurdish forces (and the Kurdish forces in particular), the administration is continuing a policy arc in the region that continues to serve the interests of the Iranians because it creates a dynamic where the only viable players are either Sunni jihadists (whether Islamic State, or in the case of Syria, Al Qaeda-linked groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra), or Iranian-backed forces, such as Assad and the Shia militias operating in Iraq, who are no less committed enemies of the United States.  Bringing supplies directly to Kurdish forces will give the United States a third option to positively affect the outcome of events in Iraq without requiring the modus vivendi with the Iranians.

The Mullahs and the Real Iran

2013-635099275337871955-787American Thinker, By Manda Zand Ervin, April 30, 2015:

In an article in New York Times April 26th issue titled; “Iran Won’t Give up on its Revolution“, three of the Washington Institute senior fellow experts on Iran have wrongly connected the history of Iran to an anti-Iranian Moslem Shia establishment without any facts or documentation. Here are the historical facts that these gentlemen have ignored:

The article says: “Although the 1979 Islamic revolution led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini is often cited as the beginning of this imperial worldview, Iran’s hegemonic aspirations actually date back to the Safavid Dynasty of the 16th century.”

It looks as if these gentlemen are trying to give a historical legitimacy to the power-grabbing Islamic regime in Iran while trying to more isolate and discredit the Iranian people.

Here are the historical facts; the Safavid dynasty was not Iranian, it was a Turkish tribe from Lebanon who conquered Iran in 1499. Until then, Iran had no national religion dating back to the human rights proclamation of the Cyrus the Great and freedom of the Jews from Babylonian slavery, in 539 BCE. The Safavids were Shia, and upon their occupation they imported a group of Shia clerics, olima, from Lebanon — hence the connection of Iranian Shia establishment with the Hizb’allah — including the infamous Mohammad Baghir Madjlesi, the author of the rule of Jurisprudents, meaning the god-given rule of clerics, that Khomeini adopted 300 years later and implemented in Iran again in 1979.

The imported Shiite establishment overrode the Iranian culture and civilization of human rights, equal rights of women, freedom of worship and respect for all, dismissing it as pagan and enforcing a new culture of Islamic Sharia laws written by Madjlesi.

In response to this next statement: “In the ensuing centuries, Iran extended its control over Afghanistan, the “Persian” Gulf, Iraq and the southern Caucasus.”

It is also true that the Persian Gulf has been Persian since the first Millennium BCE, and also during the same time span, Iran lost territories to the Ottomans and Afghan Khans. From 1501 to 1925 Iran was conquered by the Safavid Turks and then Qajar Tartars and dominated by Russian and British imperialists for almost a hundred years.

The Shia establishment never considered themselves Iranian, as they are rooted in Lebanon and have kept the ties by intermarriage. In 1979, when the American reporter on the plane to Iran asked Ayatollah Khomeini about his feelings going back to Iran after all these years, Khomeini responded with one word, hichi, nothing.  He repeatedly said that Iran is not important, it is only a source and a base to establish his Islamic foundation to spread in the region and the world.

The Iranian people have never considered the Shia clergy as one of their own either, for the reason that mullahs have enforced their ideology by denigrating Iranian history and culture. There is no love lost between the two parts of Iran; the regime on one side and the people of Iran on the opposite side.

Marguerite Del Giudice traveled to Iran in 2008 and spent some time listening to the people “privately”. In her long article for National Geographic’s August 2008 issue she reveals the hidden feelings of the Iranian people in a few sentence such as: “An irony is that the Islamic revolution — at times referred to as the “second Arab invasion” — appears to have strengthened the very ties to antiquity that it tries so hard to sever. On page 62 she writes; “The first thing people said when I asked what they wanted the world to know about them was, “We are not Arabs” (followed closely by, “We are not Terrorists”).”

There is no connection between the Islamic Republic of the Shia clergy and Iranian history or culture. These two are in opposition. The only fact is that Khamanei and his gang want to guarantee their rule by having the Bomb. He wants to continue the Khomeinist doctrine that has nothing to do with Iran and Iranian history, civilization or culture.

The Shia establishment has always denied Iranians’ history and have even declared that Cyrus the Great was made up by the Jews and that he never existed.

Connecting the Islamist movement that has taken over Iran to Iran’s ancient history and culture is an insult to an already devastated and silenced people who cannot exonerate themselves. It is discrimination against the people of Iran to farther isolate them from the international community by making them partners in the crimes that Khamenei and his gang are committing (inlcuing this week’s seizure of the M/V Maersk Tigris in the Gulf of Hormuz). And please don’t call the Shia establishment Iran, they are not Iran, they are the Shia clergies in Iran.

After Iran Seizes Ship, Senate Republicans Must Act on Nuclear deal

4027956444CSP, by Fred Fleitz, April 29, 2015:

Yesterday, Iranian forces seized a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship, the Maersk Tigris, while it was traversing the Strait of Hormuz. Iranian forces boarded the ship after firing warning shots across its bridge and diverted it to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. Iranian officials have not explained why the ship was seized.

The Pentagon revealed yesterday that Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy vessels surrounded a U.S.-flagged cargo ship, the Maersk Kensington, last Friday as it was transiting the Strait of Hormuz. No shots were fired, the Iranian vessels broke off contact, and the cargo ship proceeded without further incident.

Both actions by Iranian forces violated international agreements allowing for innocent passage of ships through the Strait of Hormuz.

Despite these serious Iranian provocations, the Obama administration is pushing ahead with a nuclear agreement with Iran that will lift crippling trade sanctions.

These are the latest belligerent incidents by the Iranian government since the nuclear talks began in January 2014. Other incidents include:

  • Iran has precipitated a civil war in Yemen by arming the Shiite Houthi rebels.
  • Iran continues to hold four American citizens prisoner, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian who was charged last week with espionage and other serious crimes.
  • Iranian leaders remain dedicated to the destruction of the United States and Israel. Last November, Supreme leader Khamenei released a nine-point plan to destroy the state of Israel. On March 21, the day after President Obama’s Persian New Year message to the Iranian people, Khamenei said “death to America.”
  • In February, Iranian naval units destroyed a mock U.S. aircraft carrier as part of a military exercise.
  • The Times of Israel reported this week that Iran is spending $35 billion a year to prop up Syrian President Assad.
  • Iran continues to support the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups. The Jerusalem Post reported this week that Hezbollah has constructed an airstrip in Lebanon for Iranian-made drones.

And now Iran is seizing and harassing ships on the high seas, including an U.S.-flagged ship.

If the Iranian government is behaving this way before it gets a nuclear deal and sanctions relief, how will it behave after it gets a deal that the Center for Security Policy and many other experts believe will be extremely weak and will do nothing to stop Tehran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons?

It has been clear since Barack Obama became president that he is so desperate for a legacy nuclear agreement with Iran that his administration will give Iran anything it wants and overlook any Iranian bad behavior to get a nuclear deal.

The American people have had enough. They are counting on Congress to impose adult supervision on the Obama administration’s foolhardy nuclear diplomacy with Iran. This means Senate Republicans must pass amendments to toughen the Corker-Cardin bill, a piece of legislation recently approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that supposedly would give Congress a chance to reject a nuclear deal with Iran. This bill has been strongly criticized as turning the Constitution on its head since instead of requiring a nuclear agreement be submitted to the Senate for ratification as a treaty (which would require a 2/3 vote), this bill would require a vote of disapproval get veto-proof and filibuster-proof majorities. (To learn more, see this article by Andrew McCarthy.)

The best option to amend the Corker-Cardin bill would be to require the president submit it as a treaty. Unfortunately, 11 Republican senators voted with their Democratic counterparts yesterday to reject such an amendment submitted by Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI).

But the fight to toughen the Corker-Cardin bill is far from over. Almost two dozen amendments to the bill have been submitted by Republican senators, most of which require a nuclear agreement with Iran be linked to an improvement in its behavior. Given Iran’s recent actions against ships in the Strait of Hormuz, passage of such amendments is vital.

Democratic senators and some Republicans oppose any amendments to the Corker-Cardin bill because they want a “clean” bill and are worried that amendments will draw a presidential veto.

What these legislators and the president are really worried about is having to take a public stand against amendments mandating that a nuclear deal be linked to the release of U.S. citizens being held by Iran, Tehran’s support for terrorism, its meddling in Yemen, Iranian threats to destroy Israel, harassing and seizing ships, etc.

It is crucial to force votes on these amendments which will put members of Congress and the president on the record on how they are prepared to support a nuclear agreement with Iran that ignores its increasingly threatening behavior.

It probably is not possible to stop President Obama from concluding a foolhardy nuclear agreement with Iran. However, the amendments to the Corker-Cardin bill clarify how dangerous this deal is and will identify members of Congress who helped facilitate it.

***

Marco Rubio Makes the Case Iran Deal Must Include Iranian Recognition of Israel’s Right to Exist

Congressional hearing rightly reverses marginalization of Iranian opposition

Twitter_pictureThe Hill, By former Rep. Tom Tancredo, April 29, 2015

On Wednesday, April 29, 2015, the House Foreign Affairs Committee has scheduled for Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the Paris-based Iranian opposition leader to address a subcommittee hearing, “ISIS: Defining the Enemy” via satellite, as the first witness.

I commend my former colleagues, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.), and chair of subcommittee on Terrorism, non-proliferation and Trade, Judge Ted Poe (R-Texas) for doing the right thing and affording the U.S. Congress the opportunity to examine facts and hear from those in the field, rather than relying only on experts within the beltway.

Rajavi’s testimony before Congress is long overdue. For 15 years, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the principal Iranian opposition movement, was marginalized with a terror label that was created by the propaganda and political machinations of the regime and those in Washington who wanted to curry favor with Tehran.

The designation drew ire in Congress as a bipartisan majority in the House, including myself, and a sizable number of senators considered it a goodwill gesture towards Iran and called for its immediate lifting. The MEK shook off the terror label subsequent to 20 court rulings in the UK, EU, and the U.S. It is time and to the U.S. interests that the dire political consequences of this labeling are put to rest once and for all.

Rajavi’s movement alerted the world about Iran’s clandestine nuclear project, exposed Iran’s pervasive presence in Iraq and its operation of terror networks that exported improvised explosive devices to Iraq to kill American servicemen. The opposition has also waged a cultural and political war against Islamic fundamentalism emanating from Iran.  Its ubiquitous representatives have galvanized a global campaign against human rights offenses, in particular against women within Iran.

In that sense, if the issue is ISIS and defining the enemy, Rajavi is certainly qualified to speak as her movement has been fighting a regime that pursued sectarian violence in Iraq and supported Assad, which led to the rise of ISIS. If it is Islamic fundamentalism and Tehran’s role, Rajavi is more than qualified to speak. If it is Iran’s nuclear program, her movement has had its finger on the pulse of that issue throughout the past decade. On human rights abuses by those with ISIS mentality, her movement has endured the brunt of suppression and executions in Iran. As many as 120,000 activists of her movement have been executed in Iran over the past three decades in the hands of those who were the de facto mentors of ISIS.

The group’s support among the Diaspora is as impressive. The annual conventions of the movement draw some 100,000 expats from the world over, accompanied by supporters including a stellar roster of US dignitaries, a rare bipartisan support for this movement for freedom and democracy in Iran.

The Obama administration is in the middle of significant negotiations with the Iranian regime over its controversial nuclear program. Whatever the result may be, it will be a defining moment for Iran and the region. But the U.S.’s problems with Iran are not limited to nuclear threat.

Tehran’s egregious regional policy of meddling and fomenting unrest in countries from Syria to Yemen, its fostering of Islamic fundamentalists, its state sponsorship of terrorism, its virulent anti-Israeli rhetoric, its detention of four American citizens, and its flagrant abuses of the most rudimentary rights of Iranian citizens are among a litany of issues that should be addressed by any comprehensive Iran policy. Iran has been the number one preoccupation of Secretary of State John Kerry and his entourage.

To avoid the voices about Iran to be monolithic in Washington, Iranian people should be brought into the equation and Rajavi provides a serious, viable voice. That is not a matter of dispute.

Tehran’s already harsh reaction to Rajavi’s presence as a witness at the upcoming hearing is a testimony to her value and the correct decision made by the committee leadership to invite her. Iran’s rulers deem Maryam Rajavi, her democratic 10-point plan for the future of Iran that calls for separation of church and state, equal rights for women, free market economy, peace in the Middle East, and a non-nuclear republic, as well as her devoted followers who aspire a free and democratic Iran to be a serious torn in their side, if not an existential threat to their survival.

The nuclear talks are as serious as ever. But should we allow our policy on Iran and serious regional discussions be taken hostage for political considerations? This congressional hearing says that the response is a resounding no.

Tancredo served in the House from 1999 to 2009. He ran for president in 2008.

***

Watch Live at 2pm

Subcommittee Hearing: ISIS: Defining the Enemy

Witnesses

Panel I

The Honorable Robert Ford
Senior Fellow
The Middle East Institute
(Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria)
[full text of statement]
[truth in testimony form]

Walid Phares, Ph.D.
Co-Secretary General
Transatlantic Parliamentary Group on Counterterrorism
[full text of statement]
[truth in testimony form]

Panel II

Ms. Maryam Rajavi
President-Elect
National Council of Resistance of Iran
(Appearing via teleconference)
[full text of statement]
[truth in testimony form]

 

‘Party’ to showcase 1000 Hangings in Iran Held at NYU by Human Rights Group

(Photo: Advancing Human Rights)

(Photo: Advancing Human Rights)

The Observer, By Paul Miller |

The scene outside New York University this morning is of a celebratory and sarcastic nature. A “massive party” is taking place to bring awareness to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s recent milestone of 1,000 hangings in the just the past 18 months.

Your party host, David Keyes, Executive Director of NYC-based Advancing Human Rights (AHR), a nonprofit human rights advocacy group, has set up the carnival atmosphere this morning to coincide with Iranian Foreign Minister M. Javad Zarif’s speech this morning at NYU.

Iran 4 Money shot

“We’ll be symbolically renaming the cross-streets where the foreign minister will speak, ‘Majid Tavakoli Plaza’ in honor of the jailed Iranian student leader and ‘Jason Rezaian Plaza’ in honor of the jailed Washington Post writer,” Keyes explained in an email.

Adding to the mocking nature of the protest, AHR has festooned the area with balloons and Iranian flags. An ice cream truck, live music, and signs that read “Free political prisoners!  Free ice cream!” and “Hang in there!” are part of the dark humor.

“If anyone deserves to be humiliated and punked, it is a regime that hangs gays, murders poets and tortures bloggers,” said Keyes. “Satire is a profoundly powerful tool against dictators as we saw with North Korea’s hysterical response to The Interview. Tyrants silence and jail satirists because they fear them.”

A satirical invitation was sent to U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, inviting him to join the party.

H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon,

Secretary-General

United Nations

New York

Excellency,

Iran has a rich cultural, national and religious heritage.  Iranians also enjoy celebrating major milestones in our unique history.  It is my privilege, therefore, to invite you to an exciting event marking a historic achievement.  This [Wednesday], April 29, 2015, join us in celebrating 1,000 hangings in Iran (in the past year and a half alone)!

All Iranians have the right to be hanged, whether you are a poet that blasphemed or merely gay. There is no place for discrimination in our policy to hang the enemies of god. Men, women and children have all been jailed, tortured and asphyxiated at the end of a noose for their opinions and sexual identities.

We hope you will join our staff to mark this exciting milestone in Iranian history. The celebrations will be held from 9:15 to 10 a.m. at 60 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012.  Plenty of ice cream and fun for the whole family.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.

M. Javad Zarif

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran

This morning’s event is not the first time Mr. Keyes has confronted the Iranian foreign minister.

An October, 2013 encounter revealed that Mr. Zarif uses Facebook even though his government bans it. The Islamic Republic’s minister also claimed not to know who Iranian activist Majid Tavakoli was, when asked about his 2009 arrest for protesting Iran’s disputed presidential election.

This led to a social media firestorm that resulted in Tavakoli being released.

Paul Miller serves as executive director of the Haym Salomon Center for American Jewish Thought. Follow him on Twitter: @pauliespoint.

iran-3-money-shot

Cargo Ship Seized in the Gulf of Hormuz

Guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut takes on fuel and supplies during an underway replenishment on April 24, 2015. U.S. Navy Central Command dispatched the destroyer to the Strait of Hormuz after the Iranian navy seized a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship on April 28, 2015. JACKIE HART/U.S. NAVY http://www.stripes.com/news/middle-east/iran-s-navy-fires-on-seizes-foreign-cargo-ship-us-dispatches-warship-1.342872

Guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut takes on fuel and supplies during an underway replenishment on April 24, 2015. U.S. Navy Central Command dispatched the destroyer to the Strait of Hormuz after the Iranian navy seized a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship on April 28, 2015.
JACKIE HART/U.S. NAVY
http://www.stripes.com/news/middle-east/iran-s-navy-fires-on-seizes-foreign-cargo-ship-us-dispatches-warship-1.342872

CSP, by Sean MacCormac, April 28, 2015:

Iranian naval forces boarded the cargo ship MV Maersk Tigris after firing warning shots and ordering it to go deeper into Iranian waters. US aircraft and warships monitored the situation after receiving a distress call from the Maersk Tigris as it was accosted on its way through the Strait of Hormuz.

According to statements from the Pentagon, the ship has no American citizens aboard and was flying a Marshall Islands flag, in contradiction to early reports from the Al-Arabiya news source that the Maersk Tigris had 34 Americans aboard. Farsnews has claimed that the cargo ship is US owned. Some sources challenge the Pentagon line by indicating that the Maersk Tigris was passing through international waters, making the Iranian seizure unlawful. The Maersk Tigris has changed its course and is now heading towards Bandar Abbas. It is unknown at this time what goods the Maersk Tigris is carrying.

This seizure of a ship in supposed international waters flies in the face of the US deployment of a Carrier Strike Group a week ago with an explicit mission to protect shipping in the region. As White House spokesman Josh Earnest stated back on April 21st:

“The principal goal of this operation is to maintain freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.  This is obviously a region of the world where significant commerce takes place.  This includes energy shipments, but other goods that move through this area of the world both as they transit the Red Sea into the Mediterranean, through the Suez Canal.  Obviously there are significant European markets.  There are also obviously important markets on the other side of the Gulf of Aden as well.

So this military presence — well, let me say it this way.  The movement of this particular aircraft carrier would augment the American military presence in the Gulf of Aden and would send a clear signal about our continued insistence about the free flow of commerce and the freedom of movement in the region.”

Additionally, the United States is obligated to protect the Marshall Islands. But most puzzling of all is why Iran is rising tensions around the Gulf of Hormuz at this time, when Iran’s nuclear program is under renewed scrutiny and on the very day the Corker-Menendez bill is being debated in the Senate. A possible explanation is a show of force by Iran in return for their shipment of weapons to the Houthis being chased off by the US Navy.

Iran has mad a calculated move to take aggressive action betting on the U.S. administration to give a less than robust response in order to protect the nuclear arms deal coveted by Washington.  That could well explain the discrepancy in reporting on where the ship was and who was on board when it was interdicted by the Iranian navy.

***

State Dept Declines to Condemn Iran’s Cargo Ship Seizure in the Strait of Hormuz (freebeacon.com)

The State Department refused to condemn the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ interception of a western commercial cargo vessel.

When asked to describe the attack or to forwardly condemn Iran’s aggression, spokesperson Jeff Rathke indicated he was unwilling to because the State Department was still collecting information.

“This is underway,” Rathke said. “I’m not going to apply an adjective to it right now.”

On Tuesday, Iranian ships forced a Marshall Islands cargo ship named the Maersk Tigris further into Iranian waters. The cargo vessel was traveling through the Strait of Hormuz when it was confronted at 5:05 a.m. Eastern time.

The Marshall Islands vessel’s captain initially refused Iranian patrol crafts call to divert course but acquiesced after a patrol craft fired a warning shot across the bow of the Maersk Tigris.

The United States is obligated by international treaty to treat any attack on the Marshall Islands as an attack on the U.S. itself and is sworn to defend the islands and their interests abroad.

“The United States has the full security responsibility over the islands and for the defense of the islands, this is what our treaty says,” Junior Aini of the Marshall Islands Embassy in Washington said.

The USS Farragut has been ordered to proceed to the location of the Maersk Tigris in response to the ship’s distress call.

The Pentagon confirmed that no Americans were onboard the ship.

Last week, President Obama sent U.S. warships to the Arabian Sea to intercept Iranian vessels suspected of sending weapons and ammunition to the Houthi rebels in Yemen.