Pro-Hezbollah Mullahs at San Jose’s Saba Islamic Center Promote Burning and Beheading Gays

‘Moulana’ Nabi Raza Abidi of Saba Islamic Center, San Jose, California. Nabi Raza is a staunch supporter of the grand Khomeinist mullahs Ruhollah Khomeini and Ali Khamenei. Nabi Raza also audaciously promotes Hezbollah in the United States, in the very heart of Silicon Valley! (via http://hezbollahwatch.tumblr.com/)

‘Moulana’ Nabi Raza Abidi of Saba Islamic Center, San Jose, California. Nabi Raza is a staunch supporter of the grand Khomeinist mullahs Ruhollah Khomeini and Ali Khamenei. Nabi Raza also audaciously promotes Hezbollah in the United States, in the very heart of Silicon Valley! (via http://hezbollahwatch.tumblr.com/)

By Lee Kaplan

Last December, the following announcement appeared on one of the Facebook pages of the Shia Association of the Bay Area (Saba Islamic Center), an extremist Khomeinist organization based in San Jose, California:

“Community Event of Support and Friendship Between Catholics and Muslims, Moulana Abidi and the Saba boards will be hosting Bishop McGrath from the Catholic Church, Imams from bay-area Mosques and Civic Leaders who will gather to offer joint prayers and start mutual dialog for solidarity of the two communities in serving humanity and support justice for all. Bishop McGrath leads over forty Catholic churches in Santa Clara County. This event will mark the first of many events expressing mutual understanding, support and friendship between Muslims and Catholics.

‘When: Monday Jan 16th 2016 (Martin Luther King Day)
Where: Saba Center, 4415 Fortran Court, San Jose CA 95134”

Bishop Patrick Joseph McGrath will no doubt unknowingly be used to put a good face on a bad association by urging his Catholic followers to recognize an Islamist organization that is the antithesis of what his Church seeks to promote when it comes to tolerance and peace. The Bishop will be declaring “solidarity” in the name of his 40 churches with the leaders and educators at Saba’s mosque and madrassa (school).

Saba recently inaugurated its new high school, Saba Academy, right in the heart of the Silicon Valley. Many observers of Saba view this development with alarm, as the Association’s activities have been persistently linked to extremism. Indeed, Saba and its imams, including Rafic Labboun (a.k.a. Wilhelm Dyck) and Nabi Raza Mir (a.k.a. Nabi Raza Abidi), have been shown to support Hezbollah. Labboun was jailed for a time for credit card fraud in a scheme the FBI thought was related to funding the terrorist group. He later was caught trying to flee the U.S. by the FBI with a fake Belizean passport using the identity taken from a dead baby. Homeland Security, Eric Holder and Hillary Clinton tried to keep Nabi Raza Mir from reentering the U.S. after he visited Iran due to suspicions of terrorist links but he was finally readmitted after multiple lawsuits filed by the National Lawyers Guild.

Hamza Sodagar and Farrokh Sekaleshfar, two Khomeinist “superstar mullahs” on the Islamist lecture circuit, are frequent speakers at Saba Islamic Center where Saba Academy’s curriculum is taught. Alarmingly, both mullahs justify the execution of gays under Sharia law.

Both men have lived, lectured and studied in Qom back in Iran. Qom is considered a holy city among Shiite Muslims. Sodagar, while in Qom, filmed a biography in which Sodagar calls Ali Khamenei, the present Supreme Leader of Iran and follower of the late Ruhollah Khomeini, the man who started the Iranian revolution against the West, a role model. He also has lectured on a letter from Khamenei where he discusses the obligations of youth in the West and how they should not be corrupted by the “Zionist controlled media [the Jews].”

Sekaleshfar has been seen lecturing repeatedly at a mosque in Cardiff, Wales next to a portrait of Ayatollah Khomeini, something always displayed at Shiite events back in the Middle East, but not inside the U.S. due to the hostage crisis and animus between the U.S. that followed with sanctions and Khomeini’s dubbing the U.S. “the Great Satan.” His Facebook is packed with praises of the late Supreme Leader of Iran, and Sekaleshfar is his best promoter. In a newsletter sent from Qom, Sekaleshfar admonishes Muslim youth outside Iran to follow Khomeini’s edicts and advice if they are to be good Muslims:

“These people have undergone and tolerated a vast array of sanctions during the last 30 years. What have you done for them? How have you contributed in the solidification of the masses in Iran? There are many Muslims struggling worldwide today, but strengthening the people of Iran has an extra significant bonus, i.e. strengthening Islamic Rule and Propagation worldwide.” This is a call to promote jihad and the Absolute Velayat-e-Faqih regime of Ruhollah Khomeini and is posted under a picture of the late Ayatollah in the newsletter (page7).

Sodagar has spoken at schools as far away as Canada’s York University, and even in the UK, but he appeared on a regular basis at Saba where he lectured about Sharia-compliant methods of executing homosexuals:

“For homosexual men, the punishment is one of five things. One, the easiest one maybe, is chop their head off, stop their heart. Two, burn them to death. Three, throw them off a cliff. Four, tear down a wall upon them. Five, a combination of these things.”

Public outcry over killing gays elicited a response from Sodagar. He explained he does not advocate executing gays in places where it is illegal, but rather in places where Islam is the law of the land. While such an explanation might mollify fears in non-Muslim communities, it nevertheless does not alter what Sodagar is preaching; Sodagar, a U.S. citizen, was born in Washington, D.C., but spent 14 years studying Shiite Islam in Iran, a country that routinely executes gays in public. Fluent in English, Sodagar lectures throughout the English speaking world – advocating the execution of gays as being part of God’s will.
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Farrokh Sekaleshfar also tours the world spreading the word of Islam and has spoken at St. Louis University and the University of Michigan about how to deal with homosexuals. Sekaleshfar also denies that he advocates genocide against gays where it is illegal, yet he has lectured at the University of Michigan in 2013 that “death is the sentence” for homosexuals and that executing them is an act of “compassion,” since “earthly punishment will gain them leniency in the afterlife.”

Sekaleshfar offered the same religious rulings at the Husseini Islamic Center near Orlando, Florida. A few weeks later, Orlando suffered a terrorist attack on a gay nightclub, carried out by Omar Mateen, which left 49 people dead and is listed as the greatest mass shooting in U.S. history. It isn’t clear if Mateen, a confused fan of Hezbollah, Al Qaeda and ISIS, who was previously investigated by the FBI, attended Sekaleshfar’s lecture in Orlando. Like Sodagar, Sekaleshfar was not born in Iran or another Islamic country, but in England and he holds a medical degree from Imperial College in London and has studied Islam extensively in the Middle East.

Sekaleshfar was deported from Australia while on a speaking tour there after he said in an interview with ABC that he had made his comments in an academic setting, and he regretted that they had been made public. He said he advocated the death penalty only for homosexuals who have anal sex in public in a country that abides by Islamic law.

Both these mullahs live and link back to the Khomeinist regime in Iran and promote the Iranian revolution against the West here in America. At SABA they are an inspiration. The facts that a mullah advocated genocide against gays in Orlando not long before the massacre at a gay nightclub while another preaches the same ideas illustrate the threat posed by such imams when speaking to the Islamic community, something Bishop McGrath may not know before he goes there with all his parishes to show “solidarity.”

Lee Kaplan is an undercover investigative journalist who has been published and on radio and television internationally. He has appeared as a contributing editor or regular columnist at FrontPage Magazine, Israel National News, Canada Free Press and IsraCampus. He is also a senior intelligence analyst and communications director for the Northeast Intelligence Network. He is a fellow at Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld’s American Center for Democracy and a member of the advisory council at the Intelligence Summit.

Republicans Propose Bills Designating Iranian Guard And Muslim Brotherhood As Terror Groups

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Daily Caller, by Kerry Picket, January 12, 2017:

Two bills reintroduced in the Congress late Wednesday designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Muslim Brotherhood as terrorist organizations.

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz re-proposed the two bills in the upper chamber while Texas Republican Rep. Michael McCaul and Florida Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart dropped companion bills in the House.

The bills, according to a press release, will direct the State Department to hold accountable both the IRGC and the Muslim Brotherhood “two foreign entities that espouse a violent Islamist ideology with a mission of destroying the West. Both bills require a report on whether these organizations meet the criteria to be designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, and if so, will enable the U.S. to take action that could stifle the funding they receive to promote their terrorist activities.”

McCaul introduced the IRGC Terrorist Designation Act in the House, which asks the State Department to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization and Diaz-Balart filed legislation for the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act, which urges State to classify the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.

The passage and adoption of such legislation would be very different from the Obama administration’s relationship to the Muslim Brotherhood, particularly in Egypt, where the administration supported the previous Muslim Brotherhood Islamist government headed up by Mohamed Morsi.

“I am proud to reintroduce these bills that would codify needed reforms in America’s war against radical Islamic terrorism,” Sen. Cruz said of the legislation. “This potent threat to our civilization has intensified under the Obama administration due to the willful blindness of politically-correct policies that hamper our safety and security.

Rep. Diaz-Balart agreed saying a statement, “I am proud to once again work with Senator Cruz to introduce this legislation in the 115th Congress. The Muslim Brotherhood continues to support terrorist organizations that are responsible for acts of violence around the world.” He added, “This bill would impose tough sanctions on a hateful group that has spread violence and spawned extremist movements throughout the Middle East. This designation is long overdue, and I look forward to working with the incoming administration and the appropriate committees to ensure that this bill becomes law. We have an incoming president who appreciates the threat of terrorism and has vowed to defeat it. Designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization is an important step in defeating violent extremists.”

The IRGC terrorist designation bill comes on the heels of reports that the U.S. and five other world powers that negotiated the nuclear deal with Iran announced delivery of 116 metric tons of natural uranium to the Iranian regime on Monday.

Rep. McCaul said of the IRGC legislation that “If a foreign organization looks like a terror group, operates like a terror group, and supports terrorism, then it should be called for what it is – a foreign terrorist organization.” He added, “As obvious as that seems, for years the IRGC has been allowed to operate clandestinely using front companies and illicit networks to evade formal designation. The Obama Administration has chosen to turn a blind eye to these activities for the sake of a flawed nuclear agreement which Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei stated publicly would not alter Iran’s behavior.”

Dr. Sebastian Gorka: Iran Nuclear Deal Is the Worst of Obama’s ‘Many Catastrophic Legacies’

Associated Press

Associated Press

Breitbart, by John Hayward, January 10, 2017:

Breitbart News National Security Editor Dr. Sebastian Gorka, author of the best-selling book Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War, was tasked by SiriusXM host Raheem Kassam on Tuesday’s Breitbart News Daily with choosing the “worst thing Obama is leaving this country, in terms of foreign policy.”

“Oh, that’s easy,” Gorka replied. “It’s the empowering to nuclear threshold status of a nation that his own State Department says is a state sponsor of terrorism. The Iran nuclear deal is – of all the many, many catastrophic legacies, it’s the Iran deal.”

He judged that the empowerment of Iran was a worse Obama legacy than the rise of the Islamic State because “we can wipe ISIS off the face of the earth, if we’re serious, and if we really go to war.”

“I mean, think about it: they’ve got maybe, at best, at this point, 40,000 fighters. We have twice that number of special operators alone in the United States,” he noted. “If we’re serious, we can destroy them, and then follow that up with a counter-ideological campaign. But dealing with an eschatologically informed theocratic republic that now has a crescent of influence from Yemen to Persia, which is on the cusp of nuclear capability, that’s even more dangerous.”

Gorka suggested a dissertation could be written on how the realignment of power in the Middle East became a “secret war,” largely unreported by U.S. media, because President Obama wanted to change American posture towards Iran and other regional powers.

“Obama has a legacy for using more drones to kill people in the first six months of his administration than Bush ever did,” he said. “If you look at the fact that on one day, he has bombed six different nations – but nobody’s reporting about it. During the Bush administration, we had embedded journalists. You remember embed phenomena? That doesn’t exist any more. This is the complicity of the mainstream media, that they preach peace, they preach Nobel Prizes, but this is a truly hyper-engaged administration when it comes to doing what they think is right around the world for ideological reasons. But nobody writes about it, except Breitbart.”

Gorka agreed with author Dinesh D’Souza’s contention that Obama was “the first post-American President.”

“His guiding philosophy was very simple: America is bad. If there are problems in the world, from global warming to you-name-it, we are the cause. America is the new imperial force. As a result, we have to be taken down a peg or two – and my, did he take us down a peg or two,” he said.

Gorka had no patience for Obama’s claim of a “scandal-free” presidency.

“Where to begin? Benghazi, the IRS, the Iran deal, the involvement of drone strikes against U.S. citizens without due process – on and on and on,” he said. “That is perhaps the most bare-faced lie of any of the press reporting in the last eight years, that this was a scandal-free administration.”

Kassam asked for Gorka’s take on how the Trump transition team is handling the Russian hacking story, in particular the assertion in the intelligence community’s public report that Russian President Vladimir Putin directly ordered an effort to influence the 2016 election via media manipulation.

“I can’t talk to the transition, but if you listen to the statements that are being made, I think you’ll understand that the transition team understands better than most: this isn’t about ‘hacking.’ It’s hard to hack somebody whose password is ‘password,’” Gorka replied, making a jab at the notoriously lax security procedures of Hillary Clinton campaign chief John Podesta.

“This is about influence operations and information warfare,” he continued. “The issue is that Russia, for very little investment, managed to question the probity of our elections, without there really being anything that’s occurred to the elections themselves. That’s the big story. This is old, Cold War-style information operations at their worst.”

He said links to Russia could be seen in the penetration of the Democratic National Committee and Podesta’s email.

“If you look at the code that was used, if you look at the various modus operandi, the report from DHS, FBI, the unclassified one is clear. But the important point is, it’s not a ‘hack.’ The election wasn’t undermined. It is the perception of the probity of the election, and that’s called active measures. That’s called dezinformatsiya,” Gorka said.

Kassam noted the IC report has been criticized for offering far-reaching conclusions about Russian involvement without providing any supporting information, much of which would still be classified – the very same criticism that was leveled retroactively, for years, with white-hot passion, against the intelligence reports on pre-war Iraq. “Why are we just sort of accepting this now?” he asked.

“Look, the thing that has to be remembered – and this is the point I always try to make on any interviews – is that we have patriots and good people working inside the national security establishment,” Gorka responded. “For the majority of cases, that is absolutely true. But who runs them? Who is John Brennan? Who is General Clapper? These individuals are politically chosen. John Brennan has carried the water for Obama for eight years. That is important, and as a result, we have to reassess when one agency says something that the other agencies do not agree with. That’s the bottom line, Raheem.”

Kassam recalled that the last time unanimity was supposedly reached between the intelligence agencies, “it was Colin Powell sitting there claiming that everybody believed we had to go to war in Iraq. How’d that work out for us?”

“Yes indeed – another political actor who I’m sure regrets waving a test tube at the United Nations Security Council. Indeed, the ‘sexed-up’ dossier, Colin Powell’s behavior – these are all things we must remember,” Gorka urged.

Also see:

Obama “Gifts” Iran With Massive Uranium Shipment From Russia Sufficient “For More Than 10 Nuclear Bombs”

Zero Hedge, by Tyler Durden, January 9, 2017:

In what amounts to an 11th hour “gift” by the outgoing Obama administration to Tehran’s leadership to keep the country, which on Sunday was involved in yet another shooting incident with a US destroyer, content and compliant with Obama’s landmark “Nuclear deal”, the AP reported that Iran is to receive a huge shipment of natural uranium from Russia to compensate it for exporting tons of reactor coolant. The move was approved by the outgoing U.S. administration and other governments “seeking to keep Tehran committed to a landmark nuclear pact.

AP cites two senior diplomats who said that the transfer which was recently agreed by the U.S. and five other world powers that negotiated the nuclear deal with Iran, foresees delivery of 116 metric tons (nearly 130 tons) of natural uranium. U.N. Security Council approval is needed but a formality, considering five of those powers are permanent Security Council members, they said.

The swap is in compensation for the approximately 40 metric tons (44 tons) of heavy water exported by Iran to Russia since the nuclear agreement went into effect. Another 30 metric tons have gone to the U.S. and Oman.

While Uranium can be enriched to levels ranging from reactor fuel or medical and research purposes to the core of an atomic bomb, Iran has claimed it has no interest in such weapons and its activities are being closely monitored under the nuclear pact to make sure they remain peaceful. As we reported at the time, Tehran previously received a similar amount of natural uranium in 2015 as part of negotiations leading up to the nuclear deal, in a swap for enriched uranium it sent to Russia. But the new shipment will be the first such consignment since the deal came into force a year ago.

The news comes ahead of a meeting in Vienna, where of representatives of Iran, the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany will review Iranian complaints that the U.S. was reneging on sanctions relief pledges included in the nuclear deal.

As AP adds, “the uranium agreement comes at a sensitive time. With the incoming U.S. administration and many U.S. lawmakers already skeptical of how effective the nuclear deal is in keeping Iran’s nuclear program peaceful over the long term, they might view it as further evidence that Tehran is being given too many concessions.”

The diplomats said any natural uranium transferred to Iran after the deal came into effect would be under strict surveillance by the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency for 25 years after implementation of the deal.

 

They said Tehran has not said what it would do with the uranium but could choose to store it or turn it into low-enriched uranium and then export it for use as reactor fuel.

Despite present restrictions on its enrichment program, the amount of natural uranium is significant should Iran decide to keep it in storage, considering its potential uses once some limits on

 

Tehran’s nuclear activities start to expire in less than a decade.

The troubling part, if only for those who see Iran as hell bent on creating nucleaar weapons was noted by David Albright, whose Institute of Science and International Security often briefs U.S. lawmakers on Iran’s nuclear program, says the shipment could be enriched to enough weapons-grade uranium for more than 10 simple nuclear bombs, “depending on the efficiency of the enrichment process and the design of the nuclear weapon.”

While it remains to be seen if Trump will comment on the unexpected delivery, we are certain that Israel, and especially its embattled prime minister Netanyahu, will raise a substantial fuss over the renewed possibility of a nuclear-armed neighbor. Heavy water is used to cool a type of reactor that produces more plutonium than reactors cooled by light water. Like enriched uranium, plutonium can be turned into the fissile core of a nuclear weapon

* * *

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Iranian lawmakers, far from demilitarizing, approved plans on Monday to expand military spending to five percent of the budget, including developing the country’s long-range missile program which U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to halt.  The vote is a boost to Iran’s military establishment – the regular army, the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and defense ministry – which was allocated almost 2 percent of the 2015-16 budget.

But it could put the Islamic Republic on a collision course with the incoming Trump administration, and fuel criticism from other Western states which say Tehran’s recent ballistic missile tests are inconsistent with a U.N. resolution on Iran. The resolution, adopted last year as part of the deal to curb Iran’s nuclear activities, calls on Iran to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons. Tehran says it has not carried out any work on missiles specifically designed to carry such payloads.

Tasnim news agency said 173 lawmakers voted in favor of an article in Iran’s five-year development plan that “requires government to increase Iran’s defense capabilities as a regional power and preserve the country’s national security and interests by allocating at least five percent of annual budget” to military affairs. Only 10 lawmakers voted against the plan, which includes developing long range missiles, armed drones and cyber-war capabilities.

Members of Iran's revolutionary guard look at a missile launched during a war  game near the city of Qom.

Members of Iran’s revolutionary guard look at a missile launched during a war
game near the city of Qom.

The Obama administration says Iran’s ballistic missile tests have not violated the nuclear agreement with Tehran, but Trump, who criticized the accord as “the worst deal ever negotiated”, has said he would stop Iran’s missile program.

“Those ballistic missiles, with a range of 1,250 miles, were designed to intimidate not only Israel … but also intended to frighten Europe and someday maybe hit even the United States,” he told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee AIPAC in March. “We’re not going to let that happen.”

* * *

So one hand, we have Obama desperate to salvage his diplomatic legacy (having already seen TPP implode and Obamacare starting the repeal proess), appeasing Iran in every possible way, even if it means further antagonizing Israel; on the other we have Iran taking advantage of Obama’s weakness, and accelerating the ballistic weapons program which has been banned per the same treasury that Obama wants to see continue. Finally, throw in Trump and Netanyahu in the mix, and the future for US-Iranian relations after January 20 suddenly looks rather volatile.

Also see:

  • Iran Shows Obama, Not Trump, Putin’s Biggest Lackey – Amidst the mainstream media slavering over putative Russian hacks into the U.S. election, far more serious evil is emerging from the former Soviet Union in cahoots with Iran. And Barack Obama, not Donald Trump, is the enabler-in-chief. In his most dangerous act on his way out the door, the outgoing president is paving the way for Vladimir Putin to help the mullahs go nuclear.

Iran: U.S. Surrendered More Than $10 Billion in Gold, Cash, Assets

Hassan Rouhani / AP

Hassan Rouhani / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, January 9, 2017:

The Obama administration has paid Iran more than $10 billion in gold, cash, and other assets since 2013, according to Iranian officials, who disclosed that the White House has been intentionally deflating the total amount paid to the Islamic Republic.

Senior Iranian officials late last week confirmed reports that the total amount of money paid to Iran over the past four years is in excess of $10 billion, a figure that runs counter to official estimates provided by the White House.

The latest disclosure by Iran, which comports with previous claims about the Obama administration obfuscating details about its cash transfers to Iran—including a $1.7 billion cash payment included in a ransom to free Americans—sheds further light on the White House’s back room dealings to bolster Iran’s economy and preserve the Iran nuclear agreement.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi confirmed last week a recent report in the Wall Street Journal detailing some $10 billion in cash and assets provided to Iran since 2013, when the administration was engaging in sensitive diplomacy with Tehran aimed at securing the nuclear deal.

Ghasemi disclosed that the $10 billion figure just scratches the surface of the total amount given to Iran by the United States over the past several years.

“I will not speak about the precise amount,” Ghasemi was quoted as saying in Persian language reports independently translated for the Washington Free Beacon.

The $10 billion figure is actually a “stingy” estimate, Ghasemi claimed, adding that a combination of cash, gold, and other assets was sent by Washington to Iran’s Central Bank and subsequently “spent.”

“This report is true but the value was higher,” Ghassemi was quoted as saying.

“After the Geneva conference and the resulting agreement, it was decided that $700 million dollars were to be dispensed per month” by the U.S., according to Ghassemi. “In addition to the cash funds which we received, we [also] received our deliveries in gold, bullion, and other things.”

Regional experts who spoke to the Free Beacon about these disclosures said that the $10 billion figure offered by the Obama administration should be viewed “as a conservative estimate for what Iran was paid to stay at the table and negotiate.”

“Iran does have incentives to overstate this figure,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, a research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Free Beacon. “But given the recent state-sponsored narrative in Iran about a Western and particularly American failing to offer sanctions relief, this reads much more as fact rather than another instance of disinformation from Tehran.”

It is likely Iran spent a portion of this money to fund its regional terror operations and military enterprise to bolster embattled Syrian President Bashar al Assad, Ben Taleblu said.

“Given the nature of some of this sanctions relief (through the provision of gold and unfrozen assets), this money likely underwrote some of the Islamic Republic’s more destabilizing regional activities,” he explained. “At the macro level, all of this continues to prove one larger point: The way the Iran deal was handled and the provision of sanctions relief during and after the talks that led to the nuclear accord continues to create problems for those interested in defending the integrity of the international financial system.”

One veteran foreign policy insider familiar with the administration’s outreach to Iran told the Free Beacon that the White House has a history of deflating these figures in order to obfuscate details about its contested diplomacy with the Islamic Republic.

“This is how it always happens when the Obama administration secretly sends money to Iran,” said the source, who would only speak on background when discussing the outgoing administration’s strategy. “They deny it until they’re caught, then they lowball it until they’re caught again, then they say it’s old news. In every single case where Iranian officials confirms these transfers while Obama officials denied them, it later turned out the Iranian officials were the ones telling the truth.”

Why Are We Ignoring Jihadists in Latin America?

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Town Hall, by David Grantham, January 4, 2017:

Famed Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz said Obama will go down in history as the worst foreign policy president of all time, after the U.S. chose to abstain in the U.N. Security Council vote on the resolution condemning the construction of Israeli settlements. Cataloguing the president’s foreign policy blunders and their consequences will keep scholars busy for some time. But his inability to craft a meaningful strategy for combating Islamic terrorism in Latin America with U.S. partners may be the most significant for U.S. national security. The American public will face the deadly consequences of Obama’s failure there unless Trump changes course.

The presence of Islamic terrorists in Latin America can be traced back decades to the Iranian-sponsored bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992 and the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) headquarters in 1994 – together the attacks killed and injured over 650 people. The international community was reminded of those heinous events when, on January 18, 2015, Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found murdered the day before he was to present evidence to the Argentine Congress that showed then-president Cristina Kirchner and other Argentine officials had conspired with the Iranian government to cover-up Iran’s involvement in the AMIA attack. Joseph Humire, an expert on Iran’s influence in Latin America, called it the “most important political assassination in Latin America of the 21st century.”

Eight hundred miles to the north, Hezbollah and Hamas maintain a robust presence in the virtually lawless tri-border region of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. This largely ungoverned locale is considered a breeding ground for terrorism and is known as a busy transit point for the sale and smuggling of contraband, which generates billions of dollars annually for groups like Hezbollah, Al Qaeda and Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Author and senior Pentagon consultant Edward Luttwak describes the area as the most important base for Hezbollah outside of Lebanon. North Carolina-based Hezbollah cells involved in cigarette smuggling during the 1990s relied on assets in the tri-border area.

Infiltration by international terrorists of a region known for transnational organized crime has resulted in marriages of convenience. A report from Spain’s Defense Ministry in December 2016 outlined how Islamic terrorists have teamed up with drug trafficking organizations like El clan Barakat in Paraguay and Joumaa in Colombia to launder cash used to support terrorist activities. In fact, law enforcement officials in the southwest United States reported a significant increase in Hezbollah tattoos and imagery among imprisoned gang members.

Immigration stories naturally dovetail. A source for the U.S. State Department revealed in 2010 that Mexican drug cartels were likely smuggling known Arab extremists across the border into Texas. A lesser known story involves Hezbollah operative Muhammad Ghaleb Hamdar, who was arrested in Peru in October 2014 for planning a terrorist attack. He used an actual “marriage of convenience” to one Carmen Carrión Vela as part of his cover. She was arrested in November 2015 for material support to terrorism. The truly frightening detail of this episode: The convicted wife was a dual-citizen of Peru and the United States, and had twice traveled to the U.S. before Hamdar was arrested in Lima.

The Islamic State is now in the mix. The aforementioned Spanish report found that rapidly expanding Muslim communities have given rise to recruitment where as many as 100 Latin Americans have joined ISIS — 70 alone allegedly came from Trinidad and Tobago. That island nation says today’s radical Islamic elements operate like the local Jamaat al Muslimeen group that tried to overthrow the government in 1990.

These stories only gloss over a much bigger problem that also involves nation-state collaboration between the likes of Venezuela and Iran, nuclear technology in Argentina and the spread of Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi Islam in Latin America.

Despite all of this, the president shies away from confronting radical Islam. Despite all of this, the president helped enrich Iran to the tune of $10 billion. “Often considered a foreign policy backwater for the United States,” Joseph Humire writes, “Latin America has become a top foreign policy priority for the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Others like ISIS and Al Qaeda are not far behind.

Trump must reverse course and team up with Latin American partners to fight this war. Failure here will pale in comparison to failures elsewhere.

Iran Threatens to Walk Away From Nuke Deal, Retaliate Against U.S. for New Sanctions

Ali Khamenei / AP

Ali Khamenei / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, December 2, 2016:

Iran is threatening to walk away from the nuclear deal with the United States and pursue forms of retaliation, including a national boycott of American goods, as a result of Congress’s overwhelming vote on Thursday to level new sanctions against Iran for another 10 years, according to multiple comments by senior Iranian officials.

Following the Senate’s 99-0 vote to renew economic sanctions on Tehran, senior Iranian officials said the United States is in violation of last summer’s nuclear deal and that Iran is prepared to retaliate, which could include abandoning the agreement.

The comments come as the Obama administration scrambles to preserve the deal in its final months in office, ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, who has been assembling a cabinet filled with fierce opponents of the accord.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran doesn’t see any necessity to reveal this issue [its reactions] but we have made necessary predictions before, meaning that we are well prepared to show reaction,” Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, was quoted as saying on Friday in the country’s state-controlled press.

The new sanctions, Salahi said, “explicitly violate the nuclear deal.”

Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani hotly criticized the United States during Iran’s weekly national Friday prayer service, urging the country’s leaders to retaliate against America.

“Nothing but hostility is expected from the U.S., but as said before, now it’s time for retaliation,” the cleric was quoted as saying.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei offered similar remarks last month, as the Obama administration was working behind-the-scenes to prevent Congress from pursuing the new sanctions.

“If this extension is implemented and comes into force, it will certainly be a violation of the nuclear deal and they should know that the Islamic Republic of Iran will certainly show reaction,” Khamenei said at the time.

Iran’s Parliament is now taking steps to counter the sanctions by enacting its own national boycott of U.S. goods.

The “double-urgency plan” would ban all U.S. consumer goods from Iran.

“Given the U.S. hostile measure, meaning extension of the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) for another 10 years, a double-urgency plan to ban purchase of the U.S.-made consumer goods has been prepared in the parliament,” Mohammad Reza Tabesh, a senior Iranian parliament member, was quoted as telling Iran’s state-controlled press on Friday.

The plan is expected to overwhelmingly pass Iran’s Parliament.

Iran’s military is also taking increasingly hostile steps on the heels of the sanctions vote.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp’s naval faction is increasing patrols outside of Iranian waters in a bid to stop any vessels from coming near the Islamic Republic.

“The Iranian Navy, along with the IRGC Navy, are monitoring all moves by the regional and trans-regional states in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, the Sea of Oman, and the Northern parts of the Indian Ocean, and do not allow any vessel to approach the Islamic Republic of Iran’s borders or inflict damage on our interests and resources,” Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, the commander of Iran’s Navy, said during a Friday speech.

The comments come as Iran makes provocative maneuvers against U.S. forces in the region. Late last month, Iranian vessels pointed an anti-aircraft weapon at U.S. helicopters that were flying nearby in a move the Pentagon described as highly provocative and dangerous.

Also see:

Yes, Trump’s Going to Dump the Iran Deal

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Center for Security Policy, by Fred Fleitz, November 14, 2016:

In the days following Donald Trump’s victory, a variety of experts — mostly Trump critics — pronounced that, despite Trump’s frequent statements during the presidential campaign that the July 2015 nuclear deal with Iran is one of “the worst deals ever made by any country in history,” he has no choice but to stick with the agreement after he assumes office.

Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif was one of the first to insist as much, claiming a Trump administration cannot back out of the nuclear deal because it is not a bilateral agreement between the United States and Iran but “an international understanding annexed to a Security Council resolution.”

Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council (which The Weekly Standard’s Lee Smith once described as “the tip of the spear of the Iran lobby” in the United States) echoed Zarif’s statement. In a November 11 Foreign Policy article, he argued Trump can undermine the Iran deal but cannot directly dismantle it because the JCPOA is a multilateral agreement “codified by the UN Security Council.” Any attempt by a Trump administration to renegotiate the deal would violate international law and isolate the United States, Parsi said.

Even some conservative experts have suggested Trump probably won’t try to significantly modify or discard the nuclear agreement, but will instead try to goad Iran into withdrawing by strictly enforcing the deal.

But Trump senior national-security adviser Walid Phares poured cold water on speculation that Trump plans to walk back his statements about the Iran deal, when he commented on Facebook over the weekend that the “Iran Deal will be dismantled.”

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This firm statement by Phares confirmed previous statements he and Mr. Trump have made that the deal is a dangerous agreement that needs to be either significantly renegotiated or abandoned. As an expert who has followed the Iran nuclear program for many years inside and outside of government, I would like to expand on their statements by offering three key points about the nature of the deal and ten guidelines for renegotiating it.

1. The Iran deal is a dangerous fraud.

Donald Trump was exactly right when he called the Iran deal a “horrible” and “disastrous” agreement. The U.S. agreed to huge concessions to get this agreement, from no restrictions on Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism to no inspections of military facilities. There were secret side deals withheld from Congress that permitted Iran to inspect itself for past nuclear-weapons work and receive secret planeloads of cash in exchange for freeing U.S. hostages. To get the $150 billion in sanctions relief Iran wanted, there was another secret side deal — also withheld from the U.S. Congress — which granted Tehran exemptions for failing to meet some of the agreement’s key requirements.

So what did the United States get for these concessions?

Not much. The Obama administration claims the deal keeps Iran a year away from a nuclear deal for ten to 15 years. But in fact, the time to an Iranian nuclear bomb will drop dramatically under the deal, since Iran will be able to enrich uranium, develop advanced centrifuges, and, with Chinese assistance, finish construction of a heavy-water nuclear reactor that will produce one-quarter of a weapon’s worth of plutonium per year.

It will be very hard to verify the agreement since military sites — where Iran is likely to conduct covert nuclear-weapons work — are off limits to inspectors. The deal dumbed down the IAEA’s quarterly Iran reports, making it difficult for the world to know the true extent of Iran’s compliance. Certainly, there already have been reports of significant Iranian cheating.

Further, the deal was supposed to improve Iran’s international behavior.

Instead, from ballistic-missile tests to increased support to Hezbollah, Bashar al-Assad, and the Houthi rebels in Yemen, Tehran’s behavior in the Middle East has significantly worsened. Just in the last year, Iran has captured and held at gunpoint ten U.S. sailors and fired anti-ship missiles at American and UAE ships. Is this what a new era of cooperation with Iran was supposed to look like?

2. The deal is not legally binding on us.

Knowing that a bipartisan majority of Congress opposed the nuclear deal and that the U.S. Senate would never ratify it as a treaty, the Obama administration arranged to go around the Senate by negotiating the deal as an executive agreement endorsed by the U.N. Security Council. Because Security Council resolutions are binding on all U.N. members, it could therefore be argued that the nuclear deal was binding on the United States even though it had not been ratified by the Senate.

But that is not how our constitutional order works. American presidents historically have decided which international agreements are to be treated as treaties, but the Iran deal specified that it be ratified by the Iranian parliament.

If President Obama wanted to make a long-term international agreement binding on the United States, he needs consent from Congress. Anything else is a serious affront to the Constitution, and no U.N. endorsement changes that.

(This is not the only example of President Obama’s lawless approach to international agreements: The Paris climate-change agreement was deliberately negotiated to make it binding on the United States without Senate ratification and difficult for a future U.S. president to cancel. The same principles apply, however, and I expect President Trump pull out of the climate agreement as soon as possible.)

3. It’s not a true multilateral agreement.

The Obama administration also attempted to entrench the Iran deal making it a multilateral agreement, but this was just window-dressing.

The deal is technically a multilateral pact agreed to by Iran, the United States, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany, but it is actually a bilateral agreement negotiated almost entirely between the United States and Iran. Iran has only looked to the United States for additional concessions since the deal was announced, and if we want to end the deal, we can.

So it is clear the deal must be either discarded or substantially renegotiated, and that we have every right to do so.

The first steps to renegotiation should be (1) assembling a new anti-Iran coalition of our European allies, Israel, and the Gulf states, and (2) imposing new sanctions on Iran in response to its nuclear program, ballistic-missile program, sponsorship of terrorism, and belligerent behavior. Russia and China could be allowed into the new coalition, but they should not be given a veto over any new agreement. This coalition also must be kept out of the United Nations.

Building the new coalition and renegotiating the agreement won’t be the easiest task, but given Iran’s belligerent behavior and the power new U.S. sanctions can have, a strong president and secretary of state can do it.

An agreement that truly addresses the threat from Iran’s nuclear program and the wider threats Iran poses will require reversing all of the irresponsible concessions made to Iran by the Obama administration.

Such negotiations must start from the following ten guidelines:

  1. Iran must cease all uranium enrichment and uranium-enrichment research.
  2. Iran cannot have a heavy-water reactor or a plant to produce heavy water.
  3. Iran agrees to robust verification, including “anytime, anywhere” inspections by IAEA inspectors of all declared and suspect nuclear sites.
  4. Iran must fully and truthfully answer all questions about its past nuclear-weapons-related work.
  5. Iran must agree to limitations on its ballistic-missile program.
  6. Sanctions will only be lifted in stages, in response to Iranian compliance with the agreement.
  7. Iran must agree to end its meddling in regional conflicts and its sponsorship of terror.
  8. Threats by Iran to ships in the Persian Gulf, U.S. naval vessels, and American troops must stop.
  9. Iran must cease its hostility toward Israel.
  10. Iran must release all U.S. prisoners.

Renegotiating or terminating the Iran deal will not just end the threat from a dangerous international agreement.

It will signify that this agreement was an aberration by an incompetent U.S. president who tried to subvert the U.S. Constitution, and it would send a powerful message to the world that the Obama administration’s policies of American weakness and appeasement are over.

Trump critics have argued that renegotiating or terminating the nuclear deal would isolate the United States and hurt America’s global stature. But in reality, President Obama’s foreign policy has already undermined America’s reputation around the world.

Fixing or killing the Iran nuclear deal will be President Trump’s first step toward restoring America’s global leadership.

When the Trump Team Comes Looking for the Secrets of Obama’s Iran File

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PJ Media, by Claudia Rosett, November 11, 2016:

Thursday’s cordial meeting between President-elect Donald Trump and President Barack Obama was a reassuring ritual of democracy. But Obama was far from convincing when he told Trump “we are now going to do everything we can to help you succeed.” There are some highly disparate ideas here about what constitutes success, both foreign and domestic. There are also big areas in which one might reasonably wonder if Obama and his team are in a quandary over the prospect of a Trump administration inheriting the internal records of the most transparent administration ever.

Take, for instance, the Iran nuclear deal, Obama’s signature foreign policy legacy, the chief accomplishment of his second term. The Obama administration’s Iran file has been a realm of murk, crammed with dangerous concessions and secret side deals for terror-sponsoring Tehran — to a degree that has left some critics wondering if Obama’s real aim was to empower Iran as the hegemon of the Middle East (equipped with ballistic missiles to complement its “exclusively peaceful” nuclear program).

The cherry on top — officially separate from the nuclear deal, but highly coincident — was the Obama administration’s secret conveyance to Iran early this year of cash totaling $1.7 billion for the settlement of an old claim against the United States.

Like Obama’s other legacy achievement, the unaffordable Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, these Iran dealings were so intricate, extensive and opaque that we are still discovering just how duplicitous the official narratives were. Obama never submitted the Iran nuclear deal as a treaty for ratification by the Senate. Instead, he rushed the deal to the United Nations Security Council for approval less than a week after the final text was announced, and left Congress wrestling through the ensuing weeks, during the summer of 2015, to try to extract vital details from the elusive Obama and his team, subject to a legislative bargain so convoluted that the process, and the deal, never came to a vote.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s focus on the $1.7 billion “settlement” paid to Iran, which Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, apparently with no prior notice to Congress, announced this past January.  Obama and Kerry did not mention at the time that the administration was shelling out the funds in cash, to be airlifted into Iran — a form of payment especially handy for Iran’s illicit ventures, such as terrorism and procurement for its ballistic missile program (the usual role of ballistic missiles — which Iran has continued testing — being to carry nuclear weapons, which Obama has assured us Iran under his deal is not developing).

Obama and his team also neglected to mention that $1.3 billion of his administration’s cash bonanza for Tehran had come from the pockets of American taxpayers, via an obscure channel at Treasury called the Judgment Fund. It took months before such specifics came to light, which they did thanks not to the administration, but to the efforts of the press, and a number of persistent questioners in Congress — to whom the administration sent tardy and evasive replies.

Questions continue to swirl around this cash-for-Iran arrangement. Was it a ransom for American prisoners released by Iran on the same day the Obama administration announced the $1.7 billion settlement? (The Obama administration has repeatedly asked the public to swallow the logical fallacy that because it is not U.S. policy to pay ransom, this was not a ransom).

Why did the administration — until outed in August and September in a series of stories by the press — make a secret of the cash, the conduits and the dates of delivery? What were — what are — the full terms of this confidential arrangement? Which, according to a Sept. 29 report in The Wall Street Journal, included, as part of a package of three secret documents signed in Geneva, U.S. backing for the lifting of UN sanctions on two Iranian state banks blacklisted for financing Iran’s ballistic missile program.

Why have the relevant texts of all this wheeling and dealing been kept secret? Why has the administration repeatedly stonewalled questions from Congress? What were the machinations behind Obama’s claim, after The Wall Street Journal on August 3 broke the story of the first tranche of $400 million in cash for Iran, that the U.S. government had no choice but to pay Iran with a mountain of hard-currency banknotes? Based on what internal calculus did the administration refuse to provide public confirmation for another few weeks — until after the news broke in the press — that the additional $1.3 billion in taxpayers funds had also been paid in cash? On the basis of what information, precisely, did Attorney General Loretta Lynch certify that Treasury paying out those tax dollars to Iran was in the interest of the United States?

The government of terror-sponsoring Iran knows the answers to many of these questions. The American public does not. But we can reasonably speculate that as this cash-for-Iran saga unfolded, it left a trail of records within the Obama administration. Classified, quite likely — but surely there are some illuminating documents that someone with the proper clearances might wish to read.

Once upon a time, we would have called this a paper trail; these days it would more likely be digital. But at the very least, there ought to be the secret texts, the related justifications, requisitions and all the to-and-fro that would presumably be involved in the State Department, the Pentagon and Treasury (at the behest of the Justice Department, on behalf of State, with the blessing of President Obama), secretly organizing cash shipments totaling $1.7 billion for Iran — and then, for months, despite persistent questions from Congress and the press, covering it up. Add to that the overlap — or was it, as appears more likely, the coordination? — of all that clandestinely conveyed cash with the return of American hostages. Then amplify this scene dramatically, to include the manufacturing of the mothership Iran nuclear deal itself, and the related handling of sanctions (which, as the 2014-2015 Iran talks stretched out from the initially planned six months to 17, appeared, despite administration protests to the contrary, to be ever more casually enforced).

Which brings us back to America’s presidential election a mere three days ago, in which it sure looks like Obama and his team were blind-sided by Trump’s defeat of Hillary Clinton. Misled by their own narratives, by their echo chamber in the press, by erroneous polls, by the same arrogance that begat the presidential rule of pen-and-phone and Ben-Rhodes-narratives, Obama and his team were expecting a handover to Hillary. She might not agree with them on everything, but as a former insider herself, as a candidate who was running to continue Obama’s trajectory and cement his legacies, she wasn’t someone whose access to the Iran file was likely to cause anyone currently in the White House to lose sleep (provided she’d really ditched her non-secure home-server proclivities).

And then Hillary lost.

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Former New York Times Reporter Declares Thou Shalt Not Criticize Obama’s Iran Deal

3337073081Center for Security Policy, by Fred  Fleitz, October 26, 2016:

In an October 23 Washington Post book review, former New York Times reporter Elaine Sciolino is sharply critical of a new book on Iran by Wall Street Journal writer Jay Solomon, The Iran Wars, because he criticizes the July 2015 nuclear deal with Iran (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) instead of devoting his book to praising the deal as a magnificent achievement as all good reporters are expected to do. Sciolino accuses Solomon of having a “dark perspective” on the nuclear deal and claims “those who hope to sabotage the nuclear agreement under a new administration will find this book useful.”

Sciolino’s attack on Solomon’s book is strange because The Iran Wars is about much more than the nuclear deal and contains strong (and mostly unfair) criticism of the George W. Bush administration’s approach to Iran and the Iraq War. On the Iran deal, while Solomon is tough and factual, he often pulls his punches and leaves out some of the strongest criticisms.

For some reason Sciolino ignored Solomon’s dubious claims that the Bush administration invaded Iraq to weaken Iran and that Bush officials missed an historic opportunity for U.S.–Iran cooperation after the 9/11 attacks. She also omits Solomon’s credible account of how Iran and Syria exploited the aftermath of the Iraq War. As a card-carrying member of the foreign-policy establishment, one would think that Sciolino would jump to praise Solomon for making these points.

Instead, Sciolino devotes her entire article to attacking Solomon and his book. Her strongest criticism is that Solomon didn’t interview enough people, especially Iranians.

Sciolino sniffs that Solomon apparently only made one visit to Iran and that his book has a “paucity of official Iranian voices.” This is a ridiculous argument given how dangerous it is for American citizens to travel to Iran and the 2015 arrest of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian who was held in an Iranian prison for 18 months before he was freed in January 2016.

Sciolino argues “other foreign voices might have enriched [Solomon’s] narrative” because the nuclear talks were such a long and complex international endeavor. In this vein she faults Solomon for reporting that Secretary Kerry’s negotiating team belittled the French for “insubordination during the nuclear talks” instead of explaining what she claims was France’s role in building the foundation for the nuclear deal through the 2003 France-Germany-U.K. EU-3 initiative.

It’s amusing that Sciolino mentioned France and the EU-3 talks since Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s current president and chief Iranian nuclear negotiator in 2003, has admitted that Iran used these failed talks to buy time to expand its nuclear program and to conceal information about this program from the IAEA.

I have no doubt Sciolino complained about Solomon’s supposed lack of interviews to maintain the fiction that the JCPOA is legitimately a multilateral agreement when it is in fact, as Solomon details, a U.S.-Iran deal negotiated almost exclusively by American and Iranian negotiators. Other nations signed on as window dressing.

Sciolino also seems to prefer a book composed of quotes by apologists for the JCPOA rather than one that gives the facts about how the agreement was negotiated, what’s actually in the deal and its troubling and dangerous aftermath.  Sciolino probably believes that if Solomon had been spun more by U.S. and international diplomats, he would have written a book that hewed to the White House’s misleading narrative about the JCPOA instead of reporting on how the Obama administration repeatedly gave in to Iranian demands to get this very weak agreement.

As someone who also has written a recent book on the Iran nuclear deal, Obamabomb: A Dangerous and Growing National Security Fraud (now in its second edition), I had different problems with Solomon’s book.

First, I thought Solomon gave administration accounts too much credibility in light of widespread criticism (which he does not mention) of Obama officials repeatedly misleading and lying to Congress and the American people about the nuclear negotiations and the final deal.

Sciolino should have been pleased that Solomon does not mention New York Times reporter David Samuels’ May 5, 2016 profile of National Security Council advisor Ben Rhodes in which he reported that Rhodes oversaw a White House “echo chamber” to manipulate the news media by generating false narratives to promote the Iran deal which it distributed to know-nothing reporters.  Instead, Solomon innocuously refers to the echo chamber as the White House “anti-war room” which Solomon says Obama officials used mobilize a campaign to defend the JCPOA.

Solomon also does not cite any of the strong congressional critics of the JCPOA. He depicts congressional opposition as Republican when it was in fact bipartisan and included the top Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. It was Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, for example, who made what may be the damning criticism of the nuclear deal when he said “If Iran is to acquire a nuclear bomb, it will not have my name on it.”  Unfortunately, this quote does not appear in Iran Wars.

However, I give Solomon credit for reporting that the White House tried to typecast all opponents of the JCPOA as warmongers and that Jewish leaders worried that the White House’s campaign defending the JCPOA “was taking on a not-so-subtle anti-Semitic tone with its references to moneyed lobbyists and their ties to Prime Minister Netanyahu.”

Sciolino should have been heartened that the words “secret side deals” appear nowhere in Solomon’s book. He makes no mention of how Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and Congressman Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.) accidently learned from IAEA officials about secret side deals to the JCPOA allowing Iran to inspect itself for evidence of past nuclear weapons-related work.  He also omits how the secret side deal issue intensified opposition to the JCPOA because the Obama administration refused to turn over secret side deal documents to Congress for a congressional review as required by law.

Solomon does make a brief reference to Associated Press reporter George Jahn writing about a leaked IAEA document on Iranian “self-inspections” and how Obama administration supporters tried to discredit this story by accusing Jahn of being an Israeli agent and the document being a forgery.

Solomon also disclosed how the Obama administration punished other journalists who wrote articles critical of the nuclear talks. Solomon says he was kicked off Secretary Kerry’s airplane for violating a “zone of silence” rule which barred journalists on Kerry’s plane from asking uncomfortable questions about U.S.–France differences in the nuclear talks. He said that New York Times reporter David Sangar was subjected to a coordinated White House–State Department Twitter assault after Sangar reported Iran might not have the technical capabilities to dispose of its nuclear stockpile as required by the JCPOA.

Solomon emailed me that his book had a July 2016 data cutoff which is why other secret JCPOA side deals that were withheld from Congress (several of which Solomon was the first to report on for the Wall Street Journal) are not mentioned in Iran Wars. These include the planeloads of $1.7 billion in cash flown to Iran in January 2016 as an apparent ransom payment to win the release of U.S. prisoners; exemptions granted to Iran on failing to meet several requirements of the nuclear deal so it would receive $150 billion in sanctions relief last January; and the lifting of UN sanctions on two Iranian banks that have financed Iran’s ballistic missile program.

While Solomon does not go as far as I would prefer in discussing the JCPOA’s enormous flaws and how it has worsened international security, he makes many important points. He notes that it will be difficult to verify this agreement since the Obama administration agreed to drop a longtime demand by the IAEA and the West that Iran answer questions about its past nuclear weapons-related work.  Solomon says the so-called snap-back provision which is supposed to re-impose sanctions in the event of Iranian cheating is unlikely to ever be used.  Solomon correctly portrays the decision to separate Iran’s missile program from the nuclear deal as a huge and dangerous U.S. concession.  Solomon also describes the significance of other huge concessions made by the Obama administration and how Arab states were “stunned” by the terms of the agreement.

Concerning the aftermath of the JCPOA, Solomon gets it half right. Sciolino should be pleased that Solomon agrees with her when he said Iran appears to be complying with the agreement and that the administration’s claim that it will take Iran a year to construct a nuclear bomb appears to be accurate.

There is strong evidence to the contrary, although not all of it was available before Solomon’s July 2016 data cutoff date. I explained much of this evidence in a July 14, 2016 NRO article, including how Iran has placed military facilities off-limits to IAEA inspectors, and is permitted to continue to enrich uranium and develop advanced centrifuges under the deal. I also discussed reports by German intelligence and the Institute for Science and International Security of Iranian cheating on the JCPOA. I therefore believe a strong case can be made that the JCPOA has failed to meet its goal of resolving international concerns about Iran’s nuclear weapons program since the agreement leaves too many avenues for Iran to cheat, has very weak verification and there are already multiple, credible reports of Iranian cheating.

On the other hand, I agree with Solomon that Iran’s behavior has become much more belligerent and destabilizing since the JCPOA was announced, including arresting American citizens, stepped up missile tests and increased support to Syria’s Assad regime and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.  This behavior has worsened since Solomon’s book went to print due to an increase in naval incidents in the Persian Gulf between American and Iranian vessels and Houthi rebels firing anti-ship missiles at American and UAE ships.  Solomon was exactly right when he wrote, “There are also real risks that a much bigger and broader war is brewing in the region, and that the United States will inevitably be drawn in.”

In response to these criticisms of the nuclear deal’s aftermath, Sciolino accuses Solomon of “stressing the negative. Instead, she ignores reality by praising the deal for improving U.S.-Iran relations and making the Middle East and the world more secure by keeping Iran from producing a nuclear bomb over the term of the agreement.

It’s interesting that Sciolino won’t settle for Solomon concluding the JCPOA is working and his depiction of Obama administration Iran policy as generally positive but bumbling.  In Sciolino’s mind, this is a great agreement that no one should question.  This means she wants Solomon to be like other mainstream reporters and limit his writing to promoting this line and not confuse the American people with the facts about how this agreement came about, what was really agreed to and the agreement’s actual prospects.

Solomon’s book isn’t perfect but it is still an important contribution to mostly one-sided accounts of the JCPOA which roundly praising it as a legacy achievement for President Obama that avoided a war with Iran.  Since problems with the nuclear agreement are likely to continue to grow due to increased Iranian cheating and belligerent behavior – especially in the Persian Gulf — expect to see more articles by foreign policy Brahmin like Sciolino to enforce the Obama administration’s false narrative about the JCPOA against books like Jay Solomon’s that discuss inconvenient facts about the Iran nuclear agreement that the administration and its supporters do not want the American people to know.

The Battle of Mosul

7fb89ca7-549c-4fff-a20f-b1551b8a4554Townhall, by Cliff May, Oct 26, 2016:

Ayman al-Zawahiri was correct. Believed to be ensconced in the tribal lands of Pakistan, the leader of what’s sometimes called al Qaeda Central has dedicated his life to a jihad that he hopes and prays will lead to the founding of a new and mighty Islamic empire. But he understands the value of strategic patience.

In particular, he recognized that establishing a caliphate before conditions were favorable for its survival and expansion could only be unhelpful, causing Muslims to doubt whether spreading Islamic domination in the 21st century is a divinely blessed mission.

By contrast, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, 45, has been a young man in a hurry. As leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, he chafed at taking orders from the 65-year-old successor to Osama bin Laden. In 2014, he broke with al Qaeda, declared a caliphate, the Islamic State, with himself as caliph. And now he and his fledgling empire are in peril.

A coalition of forces is closing in on Mosul, the only major Sunni-majority city in Iraq still under Islamic State control. It is probably only a matter of time — and blood — before Mosul is liberated, a term that should be used advisedly in the Middle East.

The Islamic State is believed to have fewer than 7,000 fighters in Mosul. How many will seek martyrdom (after using human shields for as long as possible) and how many will run from the more than 30,000 coalition troops — troops much better equipped and supported by American air power? Hard to say.

Those who flee may head for towns along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that remain Islamic State strongholds. Others will try to reach Syria, especially Raqqa, the caliphate’s de facto capital, northeast of Damascus.

An offensive against Raqqa is being contemplated. But who will lead that effort? And who will govern Raqqa after the Islamic State is gone? These are difficult questions that ought to be answered within a broader strategic framework.

Imagine that the Battle of Mosul is followed by a Battle of Raqqa and that the Islamic State ends up with little or no territory still under its control. What do its surviving fighters do then? Perhaps some will slink back to wherever they came from, defeated and disillusioned. Others may become guerrillas, perpetrating acts of terrorism within the region and plotting a comeback. Still others could decide to put their skills and experience to use in a more distant land, perhaps one that mistakes them for refugees.

We don’t know how much destruction will be visited on Mosul over the days ahead, but it’s likely that hundreds of thousands of people will be displaced. The agencies charged with caring for them are already burdened to the breaking point.

Mosul and the nearby Nineveh Plain are the historic homeland of the Assyrian Christians. The U.S. Congress, the Obama administration and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom have all recognized that these and other Christian communities of the Middle East, as well as Yazidis and other religious minorities, are facing genocide. Such recognition should guarantee that saving Christians and their communities is a high priority. That does not appear to be the case at present. It’s easy to champion diversity for Washington, Toronto and Berlin. To do so for Muslim-majority lands is more challenging.

Though the forces assembled for the Battle of Mosul view the Islamic State as their common enemy, their alliance remains tenuous. The Peshmerga, the army of Iraqi Kurdistan, is constituted of tough fighters whose most important mission is consolidating and defending historically Kurdish lands. Elements of the Iraqi military are reportedly flying Shia flags, a sight not reassuring to Mosul’s Sunnis. Also joining the coalition are Popular Mobilization Forces, Shia militias, the most powerful of which are controlled by Iran. Just a few years ago, they were killing American troops, using such weapons as EFPs, explosively formed penetrators — highly lethal bombs supplied by Iran’s ruling mullahs.

If the Battle of Mosul goes as expected, the Islamic State’s loss, while significant, also will be al Qaeda’s gain. Dr. Zawahiri (he was a physician before he was a revolutionary) should have an easier time attracting recruits and funds once it becomes indisputable that the rival founded by Dr. Baghdadi (he was a theologian before he was a revolutionary) has not lived up to its promise.

Also benefiting from the decline of the Islamic State will be the Islamic Republic of Iran, which aims to establish a new Persian empire, albeit one based on religious allegiance. Most immediately, the clerical regime is attempting to construct what has been called a “Shia crescent” including Iraq, where its influence has only grown since the 2011 withdrawal of American troops, and Syria, where it is defending the dictatorship of its client, Bashar Assad (with significant Russian assistance). Beyond Syria is Lebanon, where Hezbollah, Iran’s foreign legion, is more powerful than the national armed forces and is preparing for a future showdown with Israel. In addition, Iran provides support to Houthis fighting a civil war in Yemen, and to Hamas in Gaza.

So while the Battle of Mosul is likely to be a military victory for the alliance President Obama supports, it would be unwise for him to claim — once again — that “the tide of war is receding.” The free peoples of the world, as well as those who might like to be, are in for an extended conflict, one that will have to be fought on multiple battlefields against a list of jihadi groups and regimes. Perhaps the next American administration will develop a serious strategy to defeat our enemies. I’m not suggesting that’s probable, only that it’s not impossible.
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MOSUL: Iraqi Military Displays Shi’ite Flags In Advance on Sunni Region

jihad-flagThe flags belie the Baghdad government’s promise that it will repair sectarian relations if it regains control of the Sunni regions of Iraq. Iran’s Shi’a militias are set to join the fray, which can only deepen the rift.

CounterJihad, October 24, 2016:

Here are CounterJihad we have been warning for some time about the growing influence of Shi’a militias within Iraq, as they proclaim that their first loyalty is to Iran and its clerical leadership.  The power that these sectarian militas are exercising within Iraq makes it difficult to believe that the government in Baghdad will be able to remain independent from Iran, as the militias are a dagger pressed at Baghdad’s throat.

This story is worse than that.  This story is about the flying of sectarian flags by Baghdad’s own official state military.

Iraqi soldiers fighting to retake the largely Sunni city of Mosul from Islamic State are mounting Shiite flags on their vehicles and raising them atop buildings, stoking the sectarian divisions that Iraq’s government has vowed to repair….  Flying on tanks or over government checkpoints and homes in recently reclaimed Sunni villages, they often dwarf Iraqi flags next to them.

The flags are rankling Sunnis as well as Kurdish Peshmerga fighters taking part in the assault. Sunnis said the display undermines the message of national unity against Islamic State and reinforces their long-held impression that they don’t belong in Iraq’s state and security structure.

Further testing the alliance, Iraqi Shiite militias said Friday they were set to join the battle to dislodge Islamic State from Mosul.

This development underlines just how we got to a caliphate in western Iraq to begin with.  The Sunni forces fighting against the Baghdad government were brought to the peace table out of an outrage with al Qaeda in Iraq’s brutality against them.  They agreed to support the Baghdad government in return for fair treatment, instead of being suppressed as an ethnic minority.

The US military, which in those days had multiple divisions within Iraq, conducted patient negotiation with militants formerly aligned with al Qaeda in Iraq.  The agreements the US military negotiated for the Sunnis were designed to effect a reconciliation between the government and the tribes.  Agreements included promises of jobs, assistance for communities recovering from the war, and many other things that the government agreed to provide in return for the support of these former enemies.  The United States helped to negotiate all these agreements, and promised to see that they would be kept faithfully.

Instead, our Secretary of State — one Hillary Clinton — failed to produce either a new Status of Forces agreement that would permit US troops to remain in Iraq, or an agreement that would allow State Department personnel to move about the country safely to observe whether agreements were being kept.  In the wake of the precipitous withdrawal of US forces, Prime Minister Maliki moved to arrest Sunni leaders in government, and broke all his promises to the tribes.

The result was that the western part of Iraq once again became fertile ground for an Islamist insurgency.

The Baghdad government is responsible for the actions that undermined Sunni faith in the system it represented.  It compounded the problem by allowing these Iranian-backed Shi’a militias to conduct punitive war crimes against Sunni villages that had supported Saddam’s regime.  At least the militias were plausibly acting on their own, however, rather than as agents of the state.

Shi’a flags above Iraq’s army as it proceeds into Mosul means that no peace is possible regardless of the outcome of the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).  This is the endorsement of a sectarian war by the official arm of the Baghdad government.  Even if ISIS loses, the Sunnis will have to fight on in order to avoid being subjugated by a central government that has become their actual enemy.

Also see:

Iran Seeking ‘Many Billions of Dollars’ in Ransom to Free U.S. Hostages

 (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

(AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Source close to IRGC puts bounty on remaining U.S. hostages

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, October 19, 2016:

Iran is seeking “many billions of dollars” in payments from the United States in exchange for the release of several U.S. hostages still being detained in Iran, according to reports by Iran’s state-controlled press that are reigniting debate over the Obama administration’s decision earlier this year to pay Iran $1.7 billion in cash.

Senior Iranian officials, including the country’s president, have been floating the possibility of further payments from the United States for months. Since the White House agreed to pay Tehran $1.7 billion in cash earlier this year as part of a deal bound up in the release of American hostages, Iran has captured several more U.S. citizens.

Future payments to Iran could reach as much as $2 billion, according to sources familiar with the matter, who said that Iran is detaining U.S. citizens in Iran’s notorious Evin prison where inmates are routinely tortured and abused.

Iranian news sources close to the country’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, which has been handling prisoner swaps with the United States, reported on Tuesday that Iran expects “many billions of dollars to release” those U.S. citizens still being detained.”

“We should wait and see, the U.S. will offer … many billions of dollars to release” American businessman Siamak Namazi and his father Baquer, who was abducted by Iran after the United States paid Iran the $1.7 billion, according to the country’s Mashregh News outlet, which has close ties to the IRGC’s intelligence apparatus.

The Persian language news report was independently translated for the Washington Free Beacon.

Six hostages have been sentenced to 10 years in prison by Iran in the past months, including the Namazis.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told NBC News in late September that his government is in talks with the United States to secure future payouts, a disclosure that may have played a role in the White House’s recent decision to veto legislation to block future ransom payments to Iran.

“We’re currently conducting conversations and various dialogues in order to return this money to Iran,” Rouhani was quoted as saying. “Perhaps these dialogues can be still conducted simultaneously on parallel tracks while we’re conducting those same conversations in order to free the sums of money that are still owed to us.”

One senior congressional adviser familiar with the issue told the Free Beacon that Iranian officials have been pressing for another $2 billion from the United States for months.

“Iranian officials including Foreign Minister [Mohammad Javad] Zarif have been bragging for months that they’re going to force the U.S. to pay them several billion dollars more,” the source said. “Now officials across the spectrum in Iran—from IRGC hardliners to the ostensibly moderate President Rouhani—are talking about those billions, and maybe several more, alongside chatter about the U.S. hostages.”

“Even some family members of the hostages talk that way, which is completely understandable given what they’re going through, but it doesn’t change the fact that the administration is gearing up to give Iran another ransom in the hundreds of millions and maybe again billions,” the source added.

Rumors of future ransom payments to Iran come as Congress continues to investigate the circumstances surrounding the $1.7 billion cash payment, a portion of which was delivered by plane to Iran just hours before it released several U.S. prisoners.

The Free Beacon recently disclosed that details of this payment and other details bound up in the hostage release are being stored in a highly secure location on Capitol Hill, preventing many from accessing the documents, which are not classified but are being treated as such.

The three documents show that the cash payment was directly tied to the prisoner release, adding fuel to claims of a ransom payment, according to sources who have viewed them.

Iran experts who spoke to the Free Beacon said that Iran senses weakness in the United States and is angling to squeeze more money from the administration before it leaves office.

“Paying $1.7 billion to Iran to release the U.S. prisoners has encouraged Iran to arrest more Americans,” said Saeed Ghasseminejad, an associate fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “Iran senses weakness in the U.S. leadership as it constantly tests the administration through a chain of provocative actions. To put an end to Iran’s abduction program, the administration should make it clear, by action and not words, that it does not reward Iran for its bad behavior.”

Conceding to Iran’s demands will only bolster the hardline regime, Ghasseminejad said.

“The administration must show strength in response to Iran’s other provocative actions in the region,” he said. “The administration also should warn American citizens and green card holders that Iran is a very dangerous place for them to travel or do business. However, such warning contradicts the administration’s continuous efforts to encourage investors and big banks to do business with Iran. The administration also should impose sanction on the entities and individuals involved in this abduction program.”

Sen. Rubio: Iran Deal an “Unfolding Disaster”

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The Senator blasts ‘outrageous, illegal’ actions by the Obama administration.

CounterJihad, October 19, 2016:

It is not every day that you see a sitting Senator accuse the President of the United States of having broken the law.  Senator Marco Rubio of Florida did so in a recent piece published by CNN.  Oddly enough, the accusations of lawlessness take a back seat to the charge that the President’s lawless policy on Iran is failing to achieve its aims.

Here are the claims of lawbreaking, with which he opens:

Outrageous, potentially illegal, actions by this administration have become so commonplace that many Americans have become numb to the recent news regarding this President’s policy toward Iran.  We now know the President authorized a$1.7 billion cash ransom payment to Iran, then his administrationlied about it to Congress….  This endangers every American overseas by incentivizing kidnappers and encouraging hostage-takers, and since Iran’s release of five US hostages in January, multiple American citizens have been thrown into Iranian jail cells. Providing cash to Iran has also allowed the mullahs to circumvent the international financial system as they shuttle much-needed resources to their terrorist proxies in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.

We recently learned President Obama dismantled a key part of the ballistic missile sanctions against Iran eight years early…. Once again, the White House lied to the American people about its concessions to the Iranian regime.

Senator Rubio in fact understates the case.  This is in keeping with his efforts to position himself as a responsible Republican, one acceptable to the press.  Rubio has recently rebuked Presidential candidate Donald Trump for claiming that the US election is rigged, and has likewise claimed that it is irresponsible to talk about the leaks provided by Wikileaks because they might be a Russian information warfare effort.  Both of these are very popular positions among the media, and are in fact the positions of the Clinton campaign as well as the Democratic leadership.  Asserting them allows Rubio to appear to be a bipartisan, centrist figure.

This makes all the more surprising his charge that the President is breaking the law, though it does help to explain why he has presented the case far more gently than he might have done.  Take the so-called “side deals” with Iran.  The administration classified those deals, which prevented public discussion of them.  Yet they were not classified from Iran, which of course knew what the deals contained because they were a party to them.  US law does not permit classification of information to avoid political embarrassment.  It appears that the administration violated the law even in negotiating the deal, then, in order to prevent a public debate on the wisdom of its side deals.

The administration also violated the law in not providing those deals to Congress.  The law governing the negotiations required a mandatory handover of all information, including side agreements, so that Congress could consider the deal and vote on whether to approve it.  (In the event, Congress never did vote to approve the deal:  the vote was filibustered by the President’s partisans in Congress).

As for lying to Congress, the administration certainly did that, as the French confirmed.

Rubio is also right about the “giant pallets of cash,” which certainly did land in the hands of America’s worst enemies in Iran:  the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Iran’s terror-supporting shadow army.  It certainly was a hostage payment, just as the Senator suggests.  And it has indeed provoked a wave of new arrests of Americans and those with American ties, a kind of hostage taking under color of law.  All of these charges are perfectly true.

Yet Rubio’s real criticism is that all of this lawbreaking and all of these lies by the administration have failed to achieve any of the goods that the deal was supposed to achieve.

Iran has continued to develop ballistic missiles….  Earlier this year, Iran launched two missiles, one inscribed with “Israel must be wiped out” in Hebrew…. Iran has also maintained its support of Hezbollah, a terrorist organization that has destabilized the government in Lebanon and is working with Russia and Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.
A senior Iranian official has also stated that Tehran has been providing intelligence to Russia for military targeting, helping Moscow support Assad and his slaughter of innocent Syrians….
In Yemen, Iranian-backed Houthi rebels continue to prolong a conflict that has no end in sight…. In recent days, the Houthis fired missiles at US Navy ships on multiple occasions. However, even as American sailors are attacked by an Iranian proxy, potentially using Iranian-provided weapons, the administration pretends none of this is happening, and is reluctant to condemn Iran publicly.

There, too, he is correct.  It should be shocking that Iran was allowed to buy advanced S-300 missiles from Russia as a consequence of this deal.  These missiles can defeat almost all American, and all Israeli, aircraft that might be used against Iran’s nuclear sites.  How much more shocking, then, that Iran installed those S-300s around one of the very sites the deal was supposed to render harmless.  Could there be a clearer sign of their intent to continue to use that site for weapons development?

Iran’s Supreme Leader has told his people that only a traitor or a fool thinks Iran’s future lies in diplomacy instead of in missiles.  How much of that vast cash ransom went to supply those who are even now firing Iranian-made cruise missiles at US warships at sea?

The administration has indeed been lawless, and it has been foolish.  It is good to see a Senator pointing it out.  But what will the Senate do to hold the administration accountable?  What will it do to reverse this foolish course?

Glick: From Yemen to Turtle Bay

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Iran’s game is clear enough. It wishes to replace the US as the regional hegemon, at the US’s expense.

Truth Revolt, by Caroline Glick, October 14, 2016:

Off the coast of Yemen and at the UN Security Council we are seeing the strategic endgame of Barack Obama’s administration. And it isn’t pretty.

Since Sunday, Iran’s Houthi proxies in Yemen have attacked US naval craft three times in the Bab al-Mandab, the narrow straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. The Bab al-Mandab controls maritime traffic in the Red Sea, and ultimately controls the Suez Canal.

Whether the Iranians directed these assaults or simply green-lighted them is really beside the point. The point is that these are Iranian strikes on the US. The Houthis would never have exposed themselves to US military retaliation if they hadn’t been ordered to do so by their Iranian overlords.

The question is why has Iran chosen to open up an assault on the US? The simple answer is that Iran has challenged US power at the mouth of the Red Sea because it believes that doing so advances its strategic aims in the region.

Iran’s game is clear enough. It wishes to replace the US as the regional hegemon, at the US’s expense.

Since Obama entered office nearly eight years ago, Iran’s record in advancing its aims has been one of uninterrupted success.

Iran used the US withdrawal from Iraq as a means to exert its full control over the Iraqi government. It has used Obama’s strategic vertigo in Syria as a means to exert full control over the Assad regime and undertake the demographic transformation of Syria from a Sunni majority state to a Shi’ite plurality state.

In both cases, rather than oppose Iran’s power grabs, the Obama administration has welcomed them. As far as Obama is concerned, Iran is a partner, not an adversary.

Since like the US, Iran opposes al-Qaida and ISIS, Obama argues that the US has nothing to fear from the fact that Iranian-controlled Shiite militias are running the US-trained Iraqi military.

So, too, he has made clear that the US is content to stand by as the mullahs become the face of Syria.

In Yemen, the US position has been more ambivalent. In late 2014, Houthi rebel forces took over the capital city of Sanaa. In March 2015, the Saudis led a Sunni campaign to overthrow the Houthi government. In a bid to secure Saudi support for the nuclear agreement it was negotiating with the Iranians, the Obama administration agreed to support the Saudi campaign. To this end, the US military has provided intelligence, command and control guidance, and armaments to the Saudis.

Iran’s decision to openly assault US targets then amounts to a gamble on Tehran’s part that in the twilight of the Obama administration, the time is ripe to move in for the kill in Yemen. The Iranians are betting that at this point, with just three months to go in the White House, Obama will abandon the Saudis, and so transfer control over Arab oil to Iran.

For with the Strait of Hormuz on the one hand, and the Bab al-Mandab on the other, Iran will exercise effective control over all maritime oil flows from the Arab world.

It’s not a bad bet for the Iranians, given Obama’s consistent strategy in the Middle East.

Obama has never discussed that strategy.

Indeed, he has deliberately concealed it. But to understand the game he has been playing all along, the only thing you need to do listen to his foreign policy soul mate.

According to a New York Times profile published in May, Obama’s deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes is the president’s alter ego. The two men’s minds have “melded.”

Rhodes’s first foreign policy position came in the course of his work for former congressman Lee Hamilton.

In 2006, then-president George W. Bush appointed former secretary of state James Baker and Hamilton to lead the Iraq Study Group. Bush tasked the group with offering a new strategy for winning the war in Iraq. The group released its report in late 2006.

The Iraq Study Group’s report contained two basic recommendations. First, it called for the administration to abandon Iraq to the Iranians.

The group argued that due to Iran’s opposition to al-Qaida, the Iranians would fight al-Qaida for the US.

The report’s second recommendation related to Israel. Baker, Hamilton and their colleagues argued that after turning Iraq over to Iran, the US would have to appease its Sunni allies.

The US, the Iraq Study Group report argued, should simultaneously placate the Sunnis and convince the Iranians of its sincerity by sticking it to Israel. To this end, the US should pressure Israel to give the Golan Heights to Syria and give Judea and Samaria to the PLO.

Bush rejected the Iraq Study Group report. Instead he opted to win the war in Iraq by adopting the surge counterinsurgency strategy.

But once Bush was gone, and Rhodes’s intellectual twin replaced him, the Iraq Study Group recommendations became the unstated US strategy in the Middle East.

After taking office, Obama insisted that the US’s only enemy was al-Qaida. In 2014, Obama grudgingly expanded the list to include ISIS.

Obama has consistently justified empowering Iran in Iraq and Syria on the basis of this narrow definition of US enemies. Since Iran is also opposed to ISIS and al-Qaida, the US can leave the job of defeating them both to the Iranians, he has argued.

Obviously, Iran won’t do the US’s dirty work for free. So Obama has paid the mullahs off by giving them an open road to nuclear weapons through his nuclear deal, by abandoning sanctions against them, and by turning his back on their ballistic missile development.

Obama has also said nothing about the atrocities that Iranian-controlled militia have carried out against Sunnis in Iraq and has stopped operations against Hezbollah.

As for Israel, since his first days in office, Obama has been advancing the Iraq Study Group’s recommendations. His consistent, and ever escalating condemnations of Israel, his repeated moves to pick fights with Jerusalem are all of a piece with the group’s recommended course of action. And there is every reason to believe that Obama intends to make good on his threats to cause an open rupture in the US alliance with Israel in his final days in office.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s phone call with Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday night made this clear enough. In the course of their conversation, Netanyahu reportedly asked Kerry if Obama intended to enable an anti-Israel resolution to pass in the UN Security Council after the presidential election next month. By refusing to rule out the possibility, Kerry all but admitted that this is in fact Obama’s intention.

And this brings us back to Iran’s assaults on US ships along the coast of Yemen.

Early on Sunday morning, the US responded to the Houthi/Iranian missile assaults by attacking three radar stations in Houthi-controlled territory. The nature of the US moves gives credence to the fear that the US will surrender Yemen to Iran.

This is so for three reasons. First, the administration did not allow the USS Mason destroyer to respond to the sources of the missile attack against it immediately. Instead, the response was delayed until Obama himself could determine how best to “send a message.”

That is, he denied US forces the right to defend themselves.

Second, it is far from clear that destroying the radar stations will inhibit the Houthis/Iranians.

It is not apparent that radar stations are necessary for them to continue to assault US naval craft operating in the area.

Finally, the State Department responded to the attack by reaching out to the Houthis. In other words, the administration is continuing to view the Iranian proxy is a legitimate actor rather than an enemy despite its unprovoked missile assaults on the US Navy.

Then there is the New York Times’ position on Yemen.

The Times has repeatedly allowed the administration to use it as an advocate of policies the administration itself wishes to adopt. Last week for instance, the Times called for the US to turn on Israel at the Security Council.

On Tuesday, the Times published an editorial calling for the administration to end its military support for the Saudi campaign against the Houthis/Iran in Yemen.

Whereas the Iranian strategy makes sense, Obama’s strategy is nothing less than disastrous.

Although the Iraq Study Group, like Obama, is right that Iran also opposes ISIS, and to a degree, al-Qaida, they both ignored the hard reality that Iran also views the US as its enemy. Indeed, the regime’s entire identity is tied up in its hatred for the US and its strategic aim of destroying America.

Obama is not the only US president who has sought to convince the Iranians to abandon their hatred for America. Every president since 1979 has tried to convince the mullahs to abandon their hostility. And just like all of his predecessors, Obama has failed to convince them.

What distinguishes Obama from his predecessors is that he has based US policy on a deliberate denial of the basic reality of Iranian hostility. Not surprisingly, the Iranians have returned his favor by escalating their aggression against America.

The worst part about Obama’s strategy is that it is far from clear that his successor will be able to improve the situation.

If Hillary Clinton succeeds him, his successor is unlikely to even try. Not only has Clinton embraced Obama’s policies toward Iran.

Her senior advisers are almost all Obama administration alumni. Wendy Sherman, the leading candidate to serve as her secretary of state, was Obama’s chief negotiator with the Iranians.

If Donald Trump triumphs next month, assuming he wishes to reassert US power in the region, he won’t have an easy time undoing the damage that Obama has caused.

Time has not stood still as the US has engaged in strategic dementia. Not only has Iran been massively empowered, Russia has entered the Middle East as a strategic spoiler.

Moreover, since 2001, the US has spent more than a trillion dollars on its failed wars in the Middle East. That investment came in lieu of spending on weapons development. Today Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft missiles in Syria reportedly neutralize the US’s air force.

US naval craft in the Bab al-Mandab have little means to defend themselves against missile strikes.

The US’s trillion-dollar investment in the F-35 fighter jet has tethered its air wings to a plane that has yet to prove its capabilities, and may never live up to expectations.

Israel is justifiably worried about the implications of Obama’s intention to harm it at the UN.

But the harm Israel will absorb at the UN is nothing in comparison to the long-term damage that Obama’s embrace of the Iraq Study Group’s disastrous strategic framework has and will continue to cause Israel, the US and the entire Middle East.