John Bolton: Iran Deal ‘Worst Appeasement in American History’

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Breitbart, by Adelle Nazarian, Aug. 25, 2016:

LOS ANGELES, California — Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton declared Sunday that the Iranian nuclear deal is the “worst act of appeasement in American history.” Bolton was speaking at the Luxe Hotel on Sunday for the American Freedom Alliance‘s conference, titled “Islam and Western Civilization: Can They Coexist?”

Bolton, who is also a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, elaborated on the threat that radical Islam and political Islam pose to the United States of America, Europe and the whole of Western civilization. In doing so, he explained the propaganda inherent in the term “Islamphobia,” and dismissed the “lone-wolf” concept of radical Islamic terrorism.

Bolton said there is plenty of evidence from western intelligence, among other sources, that the Iranian regime is violating the terms of the deal, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. “I don’t think they ever intended to comply with its central provisions. They made minimal concessions to begin with and in exchange they got over $100 billion.”

Pressing further, Bolton criticized the recent ransom paid for American captives.He joked: “The good news is: each and every one of you is worth $100 million to the Obama Administration. The bad news is: Iran understands this.”

On a serious note, Bolton said: “All of our adversaries, and even our friends, are appalled by what they’ve seen. And the abandonment of our decades-long, bipartisan policy of not negotiating with terrorists. But it was all part of the nuclear deal.” He predicted there are many more surprises that will come up.

Bolton also explained that the “nature of the threat here is extraordinarily broad” and that “it has  been growing” because in the last eight years it has faced “no effective American opposition whatsoever.” That unfettered dynamic has resulted in a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. “Turkey and the Saudis and Egyptians, and likely other governments throughout the region, have also embarked on their own nuclear programs missions,” he said.

Regarding the threat of radical Islam, Bolton told the audience,  “I think it’s important to say, at the outset every time the subject comes up, that we are talking about politics and ideology here. This is not a question about religion. And those who say that ‘when you talk about radical Islam you are insulting Muslims all over the world,’ are simply engaged in propaganda.” Bolton added that these are “exactly Muslims, themselves, who have felt the worst effects of Islamic terrorism and who suffer under its rule in places as diverse as Iran and the caliphate that ISIS now holds.”

Bolton explained that individuals who do not wish to have a clear understanding of the true nature of radical Islam are “quick to obscure” it. “It’s a struggle for how the religion is perceived around the world,” Bolton noted.

He pointed out that Muslim leaders like King Abdullah of Jordan and Egypt’s President and former military general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi have called for a transformation within Islam, going so far as pointing out that this is a civil war that must be embraced and led by the people themselves.

He also lauded al-Sisi for being “courageous enough a couple of years ago to join the Coptic Christians in their celebration of Christmas and say ‘we are all Egyptians together,’ and thus putting a target on his own back with the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Bolton said that to suggest phrases like “lone-wolf terrorists and self-radicalized terrorists” when explaining these attacks is like comparing them with “spontaneous combustion: they were normal people one day and then the next day they became terrorists.” The West, he said, had failed “to understand the ideological nature of this war.”

Turning the spotlight onto President Barack Obama, Bolton said “the president says his objective is to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIS. The problem with his strategy is his first three words: ‘degrade and ultimately’. The answer to ISIS is to destroy it as rapidly as possible. The reason you want to do that is because every day that we delay allows ISIS to implement strategies in Europe.”

Bolton added: “Innocent civilians are at risk because of our unwillingness to take appropriate military action.”

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz

From Vlad Tepes:

U.S. Navy ship fires warning shots at Iranian vessel

Footage taken aboard the USS Nitze shows of Islamic Revolutionary Guard vessels.    via REUTERS TV

Footage taken aboard the USS Nitze shows of Islamic Revolutionary Guard vessels. via REUTERS TV

This is what concessions to jihadis gets you: more aggression. They have to – Qur’an verse 47:35 commands Muslims not to retreat when it is they who have the upper hand – Clare Lopez

Reuters, by Idrees Ali , Aug. 26, 2016:

A U.S. Navy ship fired warning shots toward an Iranian fast-attack craft that approached two U.S. ships, a Pentagon spokesman said on Thursday, in the most serious of a number of incidents in the Gulf area this week.

“They did feel compelled ultimately to fire three warning shots and the reason for that is… they had taken steps already to try and de-escalate this situation,” spokesman Peter Cook told reporters.

Tensions have increased in the Gulf in recent days despite an improvement in relations between Iran and the United States.

Years of mutual animosity eased when Washington lifted sanctions on Tehran in January after a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions but serious differences still remain over Iran’s ballistic missile program, Syria and Iraq.

A U.S. defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the USS Squall patrol craft fired three warning shots from a .50 caliber gun in the northern Gulf on Wednesday after warning flares did not work.

The incident started with three Iranian vessels, but there was only one around by the time the warning shots were fired, the official said. He described the Iranian behavior as “unsafe, unprofessional, and not routine.”

At one point, the Iranian vessel came within 200 yards (193 meters) of a U.S. ship, the official said.

Another interaction took place between an Iranian and U.S. ship on Wednesday, the defense official said but gave few more details.

The Pentagon earlier this week accused Iranian vessels of harassing a U.S. warship near the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday.

On Thursday, Iran’s defense minister said those Iranian vessels were just doing their job.

“If an American ship enters Iran’s maritime region, it will definitely get a warning. We will monitor them and, if they violate our waters, we will confront them,” Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said in a statement reported by the Iranian Students’ News Agency.

A State Department spokeswoman said it was not clear what the intentions of the Iranian ships were, but the behavior was unacceptable.

“We believe that these type of actions are of concern, they unnecessarily escalate tensions,” State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told a briefing.

***

First on CNN: US fires warning shots at Iranian vessel after close encounter

Fired up Levin SMOKES ‘despotic’ Obama for playing besties with terrorist Iran

obama jeeringConservative Review, by Phil Shiver, Aug. 25, 2016:

“Yes, I come to the microphone today FED UP over what’s happening to our country, and who’s doing it,” said Mark Levin during his radio program Wednesday night.

“This administration is so corrupt, so despotic, it operates in secret,” Levin exclaimed in reference to congressional investigators trying to uncover the trail of $1.3 billion in payments to Iran without aid from the Obama admin.

Obama allowing Iran to walk all over us shouldn’t surprise anybody, however. Playing besties with Iran has, in fact, been his most recognizable foreign policy achievement. “Obama from the beginning of his presidency tried to turn the country’s ruling clerics from foes to friends … it was an obsession,” read Levin citing Eli Lake of Bloomberg Politics.

Listen to the full clip of Levin tearing into Obama below:

But the Republican Party must take some of the blame, argues Levin, for “their failure to remove a lawless, dangerous man from the oval office out of nothing but sheer cowardice.”

Americans will be paying the consequences of that for a long time to come.

Phil Shiver is a writer for the CR Wire. His interests are Christian Ministry, Common Sense Politics, and anything active. Follow him on Twitter @kpshiver3.

***

The administration claims the payment saved taxpayers; James Rosen has the details for ‘Special Report’

Also see:

Keep Iran at arm’s length

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, left, reviews Revolutionary Guard cadets during a graduation ceremony in Tehran in 2015.  Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via The Associated Pres

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, left, reviews Revolutionary Guard cadets during a graduation ceremony in Tehran in 2015.
Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via The Associated Pres

National Post, by Shabnam Assadollahi and David B. Harris, August 22, 2016:

Even before the West made the last in the continuing series of concessions that became the disturbing P5+1 Iranian nuclear deal, a campaigning Justin Trudeau asserted more than a year ago that he would “re-engage” with Iran and reopen Canada’s diplomatic mission in Tehran. The mission was closed by a Harper government fearful of state-supported assaults on Canada’s representatives there, and concerned about Iran’s subversive activity in this country.

The ensuing pre-election storm sent the candidate’s Liberal party minders scrambling.  A Trudeau government would move cautiously, they assured us. There would be no precipitous re-establishing of relations with the regime commonly dubbed the leading state-sponsor of terror.

But by mid-February, Stéphane Dion, Trudeau’s foreign affairs minister, was all about “engagement” and — relying on the Iran nuke deal — ended significant Canadian Iran sanctions. And later, even as Canadian professor Dr. Homa Hoodfar was held in Iran and Ontario’s superior court authorized victims of Iranian-backed terror to extract compensation from non-diplomatic Iranian assets, Dion admitted that the Trudeau government was in official talks with the regime. These talks are apparently aimed at re-establishing relations between the countries.

Despite various countries’ diplomatic presence in Iran during the sanctions years, the regime’s human rights-abuse continues. Weeks after Trudeau’s June 2015 declaration, 40 of Iran’s state-run media organizations jointly solicited British-Indian novelist Salman Rushdie’s killing by putting a $600,000 bounty on his head. Executions in Iran increased to almost 1,000, including children. Gays, Baha’is and others are hunted. Officials animated by Islamist religious doctrine prevent young, soon-to-be-executed female political prisoners from going to paradise by having them raped before being murdered: no virginity, no paradise.

Internationally, Tehran’s dictatorship is implicated in extensive violence: assassinations in Germany and France, major bombings in Lebanon and Argentina and operations in the United States. With Hezbollah, its terrorist progeny, Iran increasingly operates in South America. No surprise: in the 1990s, wrote Sohrab Ahmari, current Iranian president Hassan Rouhani was a key player in a “campaign of terror against Iranian dissidents in Europe.” Today, Iran and Hezbollah prop up Syria’s Assad by facilitating sectarian bloodletting. Tehran threatens the Persian Gulf region and reinforces Yemen’s butchery.

Meanwhile, Iran masquerades as a nuclear-nonproliferation “partner.” But Iran’s Fordow, Natanz, and Arak atomic facilities were built in secret, in violation of international law. Reports say Iran plans to develop deployable electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) weapons, which could cripple power grid infrastructure and electronic equipment across thousands of kilometres. In April, American EMP experts reminded the Canadian Senate’s national security committee about U.S. Congressional EMP Commission warnings: EMP weapons could utterly destroy the U.S. — and presumably, Canadian — electrical grid on which our technological civilization depends for its literal survival. In the meantime, and contrary to UN Security Council resolutions, Iran tests ballistic missiles, at least one with a promise to destroy Israel inscribed on its side.

To cap things off, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei advertises Iran’s terror support. “Hezbollah and its pious youth,” he told the Union of Islamic Pupils’ Associations, “are shining like the Sun and they are a source of honour for the Muslim world.”

All this, when Tehran should be on its best behaviour, if only to advance its sanctions-busting, militarist objectives.

Nor has Canada been spared the ayatollahs’ untoward attentions.

Iranian regime-backed Canadian residents intimidate dissident expatriates in Canada. Hamid Mohammadi, a former senior Iranian diplomat in Ottawa, was exposed calling on Iranian Canadians not to integrate. He apparently wants them to infiltrate the Canadian government and work subversively for the motherland. Before it was shuttered, Iran’s Ottawa embassy was pushing its education agenda — including glorifying child-martyrdom — in a cultural program at Ottawa’s Lady Evelyn public school. Iran’s Hezbollah terror organization continues to operate and fund raise in Canada, as well.

Rapprochement with Iran – through exchanges of ambassadors or otherwise – will bring no advantage other than to the fortunes of the mullahs’ malevolent, emboldened rule. Tehran’s fanatical, aggressively destabilizing regime, and its friends and influencers in Canada, already have enough of a presence in this country and beyond.  Rather than weaken, we must limit the ayatollahs’ avenues into our nation, contain this global threat, and embrace sound international efforts to encourage constructive democratic change in Iran.

Former Iranian political prisoner Shabnam Assadollahi is an award-winning human rights defender in Canada, where she writes and broadcasts. Lawyer David B. Harris directs the Intelligence Program, INSIGNIS Strategic Research Inc., and recently testified before the U.S. Senate homeland security committee.

Iran Expanding Terror Network in Latin America

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, is welcomed by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, in Havana, Cuba / AP

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, is welcomed by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, in Havana, Cuba / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Aug. 23, 2016:

Iran is solidifying its foothold in Latin America, sparking concerns among U.S. officials that the Islamic Republic will enlist these regional allies in its push to launch terror attacks on U.S. soil, according to conversations with congressional sources.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has been on a diplomatic tour through key Latin American countries known for hostility towards the United States, including Cuba, Venezuela, and a host of other countries believed to be providing shelter to Iranian terrorist proxies such as Hezbollah.

As Iranian-ally Russia boosts its spy operation in the region, sources have raised concerns about the rogue nations working together to foster anti-U.S. unrest.

Zarif’s trip through the region has raised red flags among some senior congressional sources familiar with the region. For example, Zarif took aim at the United States and touted the regime’s desire to align with anti-American countries during his stay in Cuba.

One senior congressional source who works on the issue said to the Washington Free Beacon that Iran is seeking to recruit “potential terrorists who want to cause the U.S. harm.”

Increased ties between Iran and these Latin American nations are setting the stage for terrorists to penetrate close to U.S. soil with little detection.

These individuals “can travel easily to Venezuela, and once there, they can get to Nicaragua or Cuba without passports or visas, which poses a national security risk for our nation,” the source explained.

Iran has also reopened its embassy in Chile, a move that has only added fuel to speculation among U.S. officials that the Islamic Republic is making moves to position its global terror network on America’s doorstep.

“The threat to U.S. national security interests and our allies should be setting off alarm bells,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.), chair of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement about Zarif’s Latin American tour.

“The Obama administration has failed to prevent Russia and China from expanding in our Hemisphere, and now Iran is once again stepping up its efforts to gain a greater presence to carry out its nefarious activities,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “I urge the White House to stop downplaying the Iranian threat and take immediate action to prevent the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism from establishing a regional safe haven in the Americas.”

Asked to comment on Zarif’s trip and the potential repercussions on Monday, a State Department official said to the Free Beacon that the administration had no comment.

Ros-Lehtinen said the high-profile trip by Zarif should serve as a warning.

“The timing of Zarif’s trip is significant as Iran could use many of these rogue regimes to circumvent remaining sanctions, undermine U.S. interests, and expand the drug trafficking network that helps finance its illicit activities,” she said. “Tehran’s classic playbook is to use cultural centers, new embassies or consulates, or cooperative agreements on various areas to act as façades aimed at expanding Iran’s radical extremist network.”

The renewed concerns about Iran’s footprint in Latin America comes nearly two years after the State Department said Tehran’s influence in the region was “waning.”

“The timing of Zarif’s trip speaks volumes,” said the senior congressional aide who would discuss the issue only on background. It “is worrisome that as we just celebrated the 22nd year of the horrific terrorist attack against the AMIA Jewish community center in Argentina, Iran can now have personnel nearby in a new embassy in Chile.”

“Just recently, a Hezbollah member was picked up in Brazil, an explosive device was found near the Israeli embassy in Uruguay, and Hezbollah members are reportedly traveling on Venezuelan passports,” the source added. “It was not too long ago that Venezuela offered flights to Iran and Syria, and as of last week, Hezbollah cells were found in the West Bank where Venezuela lifted its visa requirements for Palestinians.”

Zarif slammed the United States on Monday during a speech in Havana.

“Iran and Cuba could prove to the U.S. that it cannot proceed with its policies through exerting pressure on other countries,” Zarif said, according to Iran’s state-controlled media.

“Now the time is ripe for realizing our common goals together and implement the resistance economy in Iran and materialize [Cuban dictator Fidel] Castro’s goals of reconstruction of the Cuban economy,” Zarif added.

Zarif went on to note that Iran “has age-old and strong relations with the American continent and the Latin American countries.”

Zarif is reported to have brought along at least 60 Iranian officials and executives working in the country’s state-controlled economic sector.

Behnam Ben Taleblu, senior Iran analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Free Beacon that Iran has boosted efforts to engage Latin America in the wake of last summer’s nuclear agreement.

“Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif is aggressively continuing Iran’s diplomatic outreach, a policy which began early in the Rouhani administration and was kicked into high gear in the aftermath of the JCPOA—last summer’s nuclear deal,” he said. “Zarif’s sojourn into the Western hemisphere follows on the heels of his May visit to the region. Zarif’s trip symbolically commences in Havana, Cuba, where the Iranian foreign minister harped on themes of steadfastness and resistance to American legal and economic pressure.”

The Iranian leader’s goal is to “build on this experience to help promote an anti-American and anti-capitalist world order,” he added. “What’s most clear however, is that in addition to seeking to solidify the anti-American political orientation of these states, Iran aims to capitalize on the increasingly detached stigma of doing business with it in the aftermath of the nuclear accord. Therefore, we can expect to see trade deals or memorandums of understanding inked. In short, Iran will be looking to deepen to its footprint in Latin America.”

State Dept Warns: Iran Seeking to Capture U.S. Citizens

Hassan Rouhani / AP

Hassan Rouhani / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Aug. 22, 206:

The State Department issued a warning on Monday urging U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to Iran, which has made the detention of Americans a priority.

The latest travel advisory, which emphasizes Iran’s desire to capture U.S. citizens, comes on the heels of a growing scandal over the Obama administration’s decision to pay Iran $400 million in cash on the same day that it freed several U.S. hostages.

The payment has been cast by lawmakers and others as a ransom payment and prompted concern among U.S. officials that Iran is making arresting Americans a priority.

The travel warning is meant to “highlight the risk of arrest and detention of U.S. citizens, particularly dual national Iranian-Americans,” according to a State Department announcement on Monday. “Foreigners, in particular dual nationals of Iran and Western countries including the United States, continue to be detained or prevented from leaving Iran.”

“U.S. citizens traveling to Iran should very carefully weigh the risks of travel and consider postponing their travel,” the warning adds. “U.S. citizens residing in Iran should closely follow media reports, monitor local conditions, and evaluate the risks of remaining in the country.”

Iran continues to imprison Americans, particularly those holding dual Iranian citizenship, according to the State Department.

“Iranian authorities have detained and harassed U.S. citizens, particularly those of Iranian origin,” the travel warning states. “Former Muslims who have converted to other religions, religious activists, and persons who encourage Muslims to convert are subject to arrest and prosecution.”

The Obama administration expressed particular concern about commercial airlines doing business with Iran. This warning comes as American companies such as Boeing continue to pursue million-dollar business deals with the Islamic Republic.

“The U.S. government is concerned about the risks to civil aircraft operating into, out of, within, or over Iran due to hazards from military activity associated with the conflicts in Iraq and Syria,” the warning states. “The FAA has advised U.S. civil aviation to exercise caution when flying into, out of, within, or over the airspace over Iran.”

The warning emphasizes that “the U.S. government’s ability to assist U.S. citizens in Iran in the event of an emergency is extremely limited.”

The Turkey-Russia-Iran Axis

fr

Dramatic developments alter the strategic balance in the Middle East.

Front Page Magazine, by Kenneth R. Timmerman, Aug. 22, 2016:

A techtonic shift has occurred in the balance of power in the Middle East since the failed Turkish coup of mid-July, and virtually no one in Washington is paying attention to it.

Turkey and Iran are simultaneously moving toward Russia, while Russia is expanding its global military and strategic reach, all to the detriment of the United States and our allies. This will have a major impact across the region, potentially leaving U.S. ally Israel isolated to face a massive hostile alliance armed with nuclear weapons.

Believers in Bible prophecy see this new alignment as a step closer to the alliance mentioned in Ezekiel 37-38, which Israel ultimately defeated on the plains of Megiddo.

Today’s Israel, however, is doing its best to soften the blow by patching up relations with Turkey and through cooperation with Russia.

Here are some of the moves and countermoves that have been taking place in recent weeks on a giant three-dimensional chessboard with multiple players and opponents.

Russia-Turkey: It now appears that Russian intelligence tipped off Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan just hours before the planned coup against his regime. When the coup plotters got wind of the Russian communications with Erdogan loyalists at the National Intelligence Organization (MIT), they moved up the coup from the dead of night to 9 PM, when the streets were packed.

For Erdogan, the Russian warning came just in the nick of time, allowing him to flee his hotel in Marmaris minutes before twenty-five special forces troops loyal to the coup-plotters roped down from the roof of his hotel to seize him.

With streets in Istanbul full of people, Erdogan’s text and video messages calling on supporters to oppose the coup had maximum impact.

After purging the military and government of suspected enemies, Erdogan’s first foreign trip was to Russia, where on August 8 he thanked Putin for his help. “The Moscow-Ankara friendship axis will be restored,” he proclaimed.

Two days later, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu blasted NATO for its “evasive fashion” of responding to Turkish requests for military technology transfers, and opened the door to joint military production with Russia.

Cavosoglu accused NATO of considering Turkey and Russia “to be second class countries,” and pointed out that Turkey was the only NATO country that was refusing to impose sanctions on Russia for its annexation of the Crimea and invasion of Ukraine.

Russia has also been in talks with Turkey to base Russian warplanes at the NATO air base in Incirlik, Turkey, where some 2400 U.S. personnel have been quarantined since the failed July 15 coup attempt as Turkey continues to demand that the U.S. extradite alleged coup-plotter Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania.

These talks have alarmed the Pentagon, which on Thursday reportedly ordered the emergency evacuation to Romania of the estimated 50-70 nuclear B-61 “dial-a-yield” gravity bombs stockpiled at the base.

If confirmed, the nuclear withdrawal from Turkey constitutes a major strategic setback for the United States, with Russia poised to replace the United States as Turkey’s main military partner after 60 years of NATO cooperation.

Russia-Iran: The warming of the Russia-Turkey relationship comes as Russia simultaneously is making advances in Iran.

The two countries have a long and often troubled history. The 1921 Soviet-Iranian treaty, which ended long-standing tsarist concessions in Iran, also included a mutual defense pact. Triggered briefly during World War II, the Soviets seized the opportunity to foment a Communist coup in Iranian Azerbaijan in 1948 and only withdrew after President Truman threatened to use nuclear weapons.

Successive Iranian regimes remained suspicious of Soviet intentions for the rest of the Cold War.

In recent years, Iran and Russia have joined together to evade international sanctions, with Russian banks clearing payments for Iranian oil purchases and serving as a conduit for Iranian government purchases abroad.

Last week, the specter of the 1921 defense treaty suddenly came alive when the Russia and Iran announced they had signed a new military agreement to allow Russian jets to use the Nojeh airbase in western Iran for attacks on Syrian rebels.

This is the first time that the Islamic regime in Iran has allowed a foreign power to use Iranian territory as a base for offensive military operations against another country in the region, and the move lead to tensions in the Iranian parliament.

For Russia, the move dramatically reduced flight times for the Tu-22M3 Backfire bombers it had been flying against ISIS targets in Syria from Mozdok airbase in Ossetia, 2000 km away. Iran’s Nojeh air base, outside Hamadan, is less than 900 km from the war zone.

The shorter flight times also meant shorter warning for the Syrian rebels. Russian media reports have alleged that the United States has been providing “satellite surveillance data” to the Syrian rebels of the Russian bombing runs, allowing them to disperse “suspiciously too often” before the heavy bombers arrived on target from Mozdok.

The shorter distance cuts the flight time – and thus the warning time – by 60%, according to former Pentagon official Stephen D. Bryen. “The flight from Iran is between 30 to 45 minutes tops. If, therefore, the US is warning the rebels of impending Russian air strikes, the time to get the message to them and to actually be able to move their forces out of harms way, is far less and maybe too short for finding effective cover,” Bryen wrote in a recent blogpost.

Conclusion: Russia is on the verge of realizing a multi-generational dream of reaching the “warm waters” of the Persian Gulf through Iran.

Iran-Iraq: Adding to these dramatic developments was the announcement last week by a U.S. military spokesman, Colonel Chris Garver, that Iran now controls a military force of 100,000 armed fighters in neighboring Iraq. While the United States has allowed this Iranian expansion under the pretext Iran was helping in the fight against ISIS, clearly Iran can use this massive organized force to exercise its control over Iraq as well.

While none of these events was directly caused by the United States, clearly the lack of U.S. leadership emboldened our enemies, whose leaders have a much clearer strategic vision than ours of where they want the region to go.

Meanwhile, the Russian government continues to pursue the massive ten-year, $650 billion military modernization program that Putin announced in December 2010, despite reduced oil revenues. Those plans include eight new nuclear submarines, 600 new fighter jets, 1000 helicopters, as well as new tanks and other ground equipment.

Most of the new equipment is based on new designs incorporating advanced technologies, not existing weapons systems.

Just this week, U.S. intelligence officials reported ongoing construction of “dozens’ of underground nuclear command bunkers in Moscow and around the country apparently for use in the event of a nuclear wear. General Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. European Command, called Russia’s evolving doctrine on the first use of nuclear weapons “alarming.”

All of this does not mean that the United States and Russia are headed toward a direct confrontation. The more likely consequence, given the sweeping Russian powerplay with Turkey and Iran, is that the United States will simply abandon the region to Putin’s Russia and his Turkish and Iranian allies.

The consequence of that abandon will undoubtedly motivate Saudi Arabia to develop nuclear weapons as a counterweight to Iran.

Nero fiddled as Rome burned. Obama plays golf. Both leaders will leave ashes in their wake.

Also see:

Confirmed: That $400 Million in Pallets of Foreign Cash Was a Ransom Payment

Piles-of-Money

The President lied while wagging his finger at us.

CounterJihad, Aug. 19, 2016:

“In basic English, you’re saying you wouldn’t give them $400 million in cash until the prisoners were released, correct?”

That’s correct.”

With those words, State Department spokesman John Kirby confirmed two things about the $400 Million cash payment to Iran.  First, it was a ransom for hostages.  Second, the President directly lied to the American people about it.

Families “know we have a policy that we don’t pay ransom. And the notion that we would somehow start now, in this high-profile way, and announce it to the world, even as we’re looking in the faces of other hostage families whose loved ones are being held hostage, and saying to them ‘We don’t pay ransom,’ defies logic,” Obama added at the time.

As the New York Post reports, the President not only lied to the American people, he even lectured the press for raising the question.

Here at CounterJihad, we pointed out that the President broke US law and knowingly endangered American lives by this action.  Three days later, former Federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy spelled out the specific laws that President Obama violated in great detail.  Now it is clear that the President lied about it, too.

American officials would not permit the Iran Air officials to take possession of the money and depart for Iran until they received word that a Swiss Air flight on which the U.S. hostages were boarded in Iran was “wheels up.” Only after the American officials were notified that the hostages’ plane had taken off were the Iranians allowed to take custody of the money. As Senators Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and Mike Lee (R., Utah) have pointed out in pressing the administration for answers about this transaction:

Although the administration has denied there was any quid pro quo, the close temporal proximity of the payment to the release of the hostages suggests otherwise.  As the Justice Department is never remiss to point out in court, an illicit quid pro quo can be inferred from the timing of the quid and the quo

So, to recap, the President himself said that the US government has a policy of not paying ransom for hostages.  He explained the reasoning for this policy in that paying ransom for hostages endangers American lives by making it more likely that people will take Americans hostage.  He then undertook to pay a ransom for hostages, lying about it to the American people and even chiding the free press for having the gall to bring it up.

This is clearly an impeachable offense.  The President knew what he was doing.  He knew it was wrong.  He did it anyway, and he kept it secret from both Congress and the American People.  In doing so, he violated both the law and the basic rules of statecraft.  That violation of the law raises this to the level of ‘high crimes or misdemeanors’ necessary to justify an impeachment.  The endangerment of American lives makes it more than a harmless oversight.  More Americans since have been taken hostage by the regime in Iran, an effect so obvious and predictable that even Mr. Obama knew it was going to happen if he paid the ransom.

He did it anyway.

Also see:

***

***

ISRAEL’S NEXT HEZBOLLAH WAR

hez
Philos Project, by Andrew Harrod, Aug. 12, 2016:

Between Israel and Hezbollah, “another conflict is all but inevitable,” wrote retired Israeli Brigadier General Yakov Shaharabani. “It will be far more destructive and harmful than any other war Israel has fought in recent memory.” The former Israeli Air Force Intelligence chief thus introduced a sobering Foundation for the Defense of the Democracies report a decade after Israel’s last clash with the Lebanese terrorist organization.

Shaharabani said that the July 2006 Lebanon War “was the longest Israel had experienced since its War of Independence in 1948,” but any future clash with Hezbollah will make those destructive 34 days pale by comparison. According to his FDD coauthors, the Israeli government estimates that Hezbollah has approximately 150,000 rockets today as opposed to the mere 14,000 it possessed prior to the 2006 conflict. Writing for the Weekly Standard, Vanderbilt University law professor Willy Stern said that this gives Hezbollah a “bigger arsenal than all NATO countries – except the United States – combined.”

Stern elaborated that Hezbollah’s state sponsor Iran has “supplied its favorite terrorist organization with other top-of-the-line weaponry,” including advanced Russian-made anti-tank and anti-ship missiles and air defense systems. The FDD report noted that sanctions relief for Iran under the recent nuclear agreement will only darken this picture, for “Iran’s massive windfall is expected to trickle down to its most important and valuable proxy: Hezbollah.” Additionally, “Hezbollah has gained significant experience during five years of fighting in Syria” for the embattled Bashar Assad dictatorship.

Israeli Defense Forces leaders have presented Stern with grim scenarios in which “elite Hezbollah commandos will almost certainly be able to slip into Israel and may wreak havoc among Israeli villages in the north.” Given Hezbollah’s “capacity to shoot 1,500 missiles per day, Israel’s high-tech missile-defense system will be ‘lucky’ to shoot down 90 percent of incoming rockets, missiles and mortars.” Accordingly, “IDF planners quietly acknowledge that ‘as many as hundreds’ of Israeli noncombatants might be killed per day in the first week or two of the conflict.”

The FDD report documented Shaharabani’s prediction that the “next Lebanon war could actually devolve into a regional war.” With Hezbollah’s expanding into Syria, “Hezbollah and Iran plan to connect the Golan Heights to the terror group’s south Lebanese stronghold – to make it one contiguous front against Israel. Iran can also unleash violence on Israel through its Palestinian proxies,” meaning, for example, that Hamas rockets “could force the Israelis to divert Iron Dome and other anti-missile batteries to the southern front with Gaza.” As Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps “was already embedded with Hezbollah during the last conflict, there is the very real possibility that Iranian forces could join Hezbollah in battle during the next confrontation.”

The FDD report noted that recurrent Israeli airstrikes against Hezbollah and Iranian targets in Syria raise the dangers of killing Russian advisers or coming into combat with Russian warplanes now supporting Assad against the Syrian rebels. Israeli consultations with Russia seek to avoid these clashes, but scholar Michael Doran warned at his Hudson Institute’s July 26 panel discussing the report that the “potential for friction there is enormous.” Recent American coordination plans with Russia in striking jihadist groups like the Islamic State would enable the Assad coalition to approach Israel’s borders, implicating an Israeli “red line” concerning the IRGC there.

Experts agree that a future Hezbollah-Israel conflict’s havoc will engulf as well Lebanon, termed at the Hudson Institute as “Hezbollahstan” by the Israeli embassy’s Deputy Head of Mission Reuven Azar. “The IDF no longer distinguishes between the sovereign nation of Lebanon and Hezbollah,” Stern has written, now that the Shiite-based organization has expanded its influence beyond its south Lebanon stronghold to countrywide domination. Simultaneously, “Hezbollah cleverly places its arsenal where any Israeli military response – even legal, carefully planned, narrowly targeted, proportionate measures – will lead to huge civilian casualties among Lebanese.” As report author Jonathan Schanzer noted at a July 25 FDD event, Hezbollah has “turned Shia villages into essentially missile silos.”

“We are not in the business of trying to provoke a new round,” Azar said, echoing certain arguments in the FDD report, yet several factors indicate that Israel will accept a decisive challenge with Hezbollah if it comes. While report author Tony Badran noted at the Hudson Institute that Hezbollah “is not even comparable to what it was in 2006,” the coming years “risk seeing a Hezbollah that is infinitely more capable in terms of its weapon systems. This time period of the Iran nuclear agreement also portends an Iran that is unleashed, that is probably by that point a threshold nuclear state with a legalized industrial scale program and recognized regional primacy in Iraq and Syria.” As the FDD report stated, the nuclear deal “has placed Iran on a patient pathway to a nuclear weapon. The clock is ticking. Israel’s window of opportunity to defeat Hezbollah in the shadow of the nuclear deal cannot be ignored.”

Not surprisingly, the FDD report cited Israeli assessments of Hezbollah as Israel’s greatest threat, a view confirmed by Schanzer’s past three years of meetings with Israeli officials. While Shaharabani at FDD discussed how Hezbollah would view not losing a future conflict with Israel as a victory, Israel would desire a short, yet decisive campaign against a growing threat, however contradictory these two goals. As he wrote, “Israel may find out very quickly that deterring Hezbollah is not a sufficient strategic goal. Therefore, defeating Hezbollah (or forcing it to leave Lebanon) might become its strategic objective.”

Although Shaharabani’s remarks noted that the more extensive Israel’s actions against Hezbollah, the likelier the intervention by Iran and others, the FDD report remained resolute. “Should war break out, the United State should actively delay the imposition of a premature ceasefire in order to buy the Israelis as much time as needed to complete their military campaign,” it read. This no substitute for victory approach makes eminent sense if, as Carnegie Endowment for International Peace scholar Joseph Bahout judged at FDD, Israel’s war with Hezbollah is unavoidable, only the “question is when and under which circumstances.”

Another Example of the Obama Admin’s Dishonest Campaign to Sell Iran Nuke Deal

1618058333

Center for Security Policy, by Fred Fleitz, Aug. 18, 2016:

Over the last few months, a lot of new information has come out on how the Obama White House misled the American public, Congress and the news media about the nuclear deal with Iran before Congress voted on the agreement last September.

According to a May 5, 2016 New York Times profile of National Security Council Adviser Ben Rhodes, the Obama administration used false narratives to promote the nuclear deal and conducted a campaign to manipulate and mislead journalists as part of a media “echo chamber.”

Several liberal organizations helped facilitate this echo chamber.  One of the most notorious was the far-left Ploughshares Fund which sought and received funding from liberal philanthropist George Soros. This included an April 2015 request for $750,000 to use mainstream media to counter opponents of the nuclear deal and parrot White House talking points.

Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS) has called for an investigation on whether large payments by Ploughshares to National Public Radio slanted NPR’s coverage of the nuclear deal and kept congressmen who opposed the agreement off the air.

The latest disclosure on how Ploughshares funding may still be distorting the debate over the nuclear deal concerns a Washington Post contributor.

According to an August 16, 2016 Washington Free Beacon by Adam Kredo, Allen Weiner, a Standord law professor and Ploughshares-funded expert, recently penned a Washington Postop-ed defending the nuclear deal but the Post failed to mention that he is on the payroll of the Ploughshares Fund.  According to Kredo, Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (where Weiner acts as a senior lecturer), received $100,000 from Ploughshares in 2015.  Weiner received a $15,000 payment from Ploughshares for a 2007 paper.

In an email to Kredo, Weiner denied speaking to anyone at Ploughshares about the nuclear deal or knowing the group’s position on the agreement.  Washington Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt disputed Kredo’s claim that Weiner is on the Ploughshares “payroll” and said he saw no conflicts of interest.

However, on August 11, 2016, the Washington Post ran an op-ed co-authored by Weiner that defended a $400 million payment to free four U.S. prisoners held by Iran as “American diplomacy at its finest.”  Many experts believe this payment amounted to ransom and have harshly criticized the Obama administration for concealing it from Congress.

The $400 million was secretly flown to Tehran from Geneva in an unmarked plane.  The payment was made in small denominations of euros and Swiss francs.  The plane transporting the American prisoners was not allowed to take off until after the planeload of cash landed.  Iran says this was a ransom payment.  The Justice Department opposed the timing of this payment because it looked like ransom.  Weiner ignored these facts and repeated the absurd Obama administration position that this was not a ransom payment but represented America repaying an old debt to Iran.

With the Obama administration under fire for the controversial $400 million it paid to Iran, I have no doubt someone recruited Weiner as part of its Iran deal echo chamber to draft his Washington Post op-ed defending its dubious rationale for this payment.  This op-ed did not appear out of thin air.

Was Weiner on the Ploughshares “payroll” to promote the Iran deal?  There’s no evidence of this (at least yet) and he denies it.  However, given the unusual timing of his piece mimicking administration talking points that the $400 million was not a ransom payment, it seems likely Weiner is part of the White House media echo chamber to mislead the American people and Congress about the Iran deal.

Weiner’s article also suggests this echo chamber is still being used to generate false narratives for the White House to defend the nuclear deal.  Further investigation by journalists may prove that the Ploughshares Fund is still funding these distortions.

Also see:

Russia Deploys Jets, Heavy Bombers to Iran

russia-airstrikesCounterJihad, by Bruce Cornibe, Aug. 16, 2016:

Russia has deployed long-range Tupolev 22M3 heavy bombers to a military airfield in Iran.  These bombers, already in use against opposition and Islamic State (ISIS) targets in Syria, will have a shorter deployment to target and thus a quicker turnaround time from the Iranian airfield.  The base, Hamedan Airfield, is located in Western Iran near the Iraqi border.

Though openly intended for combat against ISIS and the Syrian opposition, the Russian deployment represents a further cementing of both the growing alliance between Russia and Iran, and of Iran’s strategic defense-in-depth for its nuclear program.  Russia has been securing Iran against a military option should it walk away from its promises on the so-called ‘nuclear deal.’  The reason this is significant is that the deal front-loads Western payments and other benefits for Iran, but becomes less and less sweet as the deal progresses in time.  Iran will obtain large cash payments and assistance in building new fission plants in the first years of the deal, for example.  However, its incentive to continue to abide by the deal is reduced as these benefits are paid off.

Russia’s major contribution to Iran’s strategic defense so far has come in missile sales and protection of Iran’s internal development of ballistic missiles.  The air defense missiles sold by Russia to Iran, the S-300, are thought capable of defeating all fourth generation fighters.  That means Iran should be able to protect itself against all American fighter-bombers except the F-22 and F-35, and the B-2.  It should also be able to protect itself against air strikes by the entire Israeli Air Force fleet.

Their ballistic missiles are wildly inaccurate and carry a small payload, making them ideal only for nuclear weapons use.  Iran however denies any intent to develop nuclear weapons, even though the missiles it is developing are really not sensible for use with any other weapons.  Thus, the frequently-stated claim that these ballistic missiles will provide an offsetting counter-strike capability to Iran is not true.  They are not accurate enough for that.  What would provide a convincing counter-strike capability are Russian heavy bombers operating from Iran in alliance with Iran.

Iran and Russia are using the war against ISIS to reshape control of the northern Middle East in their joint interest.  The failure of the United States strategy has been clear for some time, and this new move only tightens their control.

The news comes a week after it was announced that Iran’s Qassem Suliemani, commander of the elite Quds Force, would be guiding the assault on ISIS positions in Mosul.  Suleimani is under an international travel ban due to his leadership of an Iranian plot to assassinate diplomats worldwide.  His presence in Iraq shows that the Iraqi government is willing to allow Iran to violate international law in order to receive its support.  Syria and Russia have also allowed Suleimani to travel to their countries.

***

From Russian outlet, RT:

Also see:

America’s Most Dangerous Enemy to Lead Mosul Assault

unnamed (1)

CounterJihad, Aug. 13, 2016:

According to The Long War Journal‘s Threat Matrix blog, Qassem Suleimani is going to be heavily involved in the leadership of the upcoming offensive against Islamic State (ISIS) positions in Mosul.

The spokesman of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Front (PMF) announced on August 6 that Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, will play a major role in the upcoming operations to take the city of Mosul from the Islamic State. The spokesman defended the presence of Iranian military advisors in Iraq.

According to translations of his remarks published by IRGC-affiliated Fars News Agency, the spokesman called Soleimani “one of the most important military advisors” from the Islamic Republic of Iran. He added that Soleimani and other Iranian advisors are in Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government and that they provide important consultation.

Soleimani is rumored to have arrived in Iraq last week to prepare for the battle of Mosul with the Iraqi government forces and PMF. An unnamed Iraqi parliamentarian claimed in an Asharq al Awsat article on August 3 that Soleimani arrived without a passport…

Soleimani directs IRGC operations in the Iraqi and Syrian theaters. The IRGC has deployed elite Iraqi and Lebanese proxies to Aleppo this past week to bolster the forces of Bashar al Assad, after rebels succeeded in breaking the siege of eastern Aleppo on August 6.

Now Suleimani is under international travel bans arising from  his attempt to lead a set of assassinations against diplomats worldwide.  Nevertheless, he has been allowed to travel freely to Iraq, Syria, and Russia.  In the course of those travels he has served as Iran’s point man in its unconventional warfare.  He has nearly succeeded in making Iran the dominant power in the northern Middle East, quite a feat given that it is managing to convince a more powerful Russia to follow its lead.

Suleimani led the Iranian efforts during the Iraq War, leading many proxy forces that killed some 3,000 Americans.  He was badly injured in Syria last fall, but seems to have recovered well enough to take a leadership position on the ground.  It is ironic to see him in the forefront of an effort that is backed by the United States, but under the Obama administration, such ironies abound.

Fact Check: Were Obama and Hillary Founders of ISIS? You Bet

AFP

AFP

Breitbart, by Kenneth R. Timmerman, Aug. 12, 2016:

Even the left-stream media is now acknowledging that Donald Trump “has a point” when he blasts Hilary and Obama for creating ISIS.

“Hillary Clinton is vulnerable. ISIS did gain strength during her time as Secretary of State,” said ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz.

Conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt tried to give Mr. Trump an out. “I know what you meant,” he suggested. “You meant that he [Obama] created the vacuum, he lost the peace.”

“No,” Trump replied. “I meant, he’s the founder of ISIS. I do. He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton.”

Trump is correct – and quite literally, so.

First, a document. Then some history.

Thanks to Judicial Watch, we now have an August 2012 defense intelligence report on the civil war in Syria and the situation in Iraq that openly states that the policy of the United States and its allies was to support the Salafist opposition to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

That opposition, at the time spearheaded by Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), soon morphed into the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, ISIS.

The report appears to have originated from U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) in Iraq, well before their intelligence product was tarnished by political interference from top commanders in 2014 aimed at diminishing the threat from ISIS.

Here’s what the report, originally stamped SECRET, actually says:

 AQI, through the spokesman of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), Abu Muhammad al- Adnani… is calling on the Sunnis in Iraq, especially the tribes in the border regions (between Iraq and Syria), to wage war against the Syrian regime…

Opposition forces are trying to control the eastern areas (Hasaka and Der Zor) adjacent to the Western Iraqi provinces (Mosul and Anbar), in addition to neighboring Turkish borders. Western countries, the Gulf States and Turkey are supporting these efforts… [emphasis mine]

There is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria (Hasak and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want…

It is no secret that the United States was supporting the Syrian opposition in 2012 and even until very recently. In December 2012, thanks in large measure to the active lobbying of Mrs. Clinton and U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, Obama declared that the United States considered the opposition as “the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.”

What was secret until the release of this August 2012 defense intelligence report is that the United States knew that the Syrian opposition was dominated by al Qaeda in Iraq and the Islamic State of Iraq, groups that merged and morphed into what today we call ISIS.

So Donald Trump is literally correct. Obama and Hillary created ISIS. They figure among the founding fathers of the world’s most brutal terrorist organization. They deserve ISIS Most Valuable Player awards for their efforts.

Some of America’s enemies, such as Ayatollah Khamenei of Iran, have also accused the United States of creating ISIS – but as a tool for encroaching on Iran’s efforts to dominate the Muslim world. In fact, Obama and Hillary’s policies have simultaneously favored Iran and its rise to regional dominance, standing aside as Iran filled the vacuum in Iraq with its own militias and allowing Iranian troops and weapons to flow onto battlefields in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Libya and beyond.

Other documents obtained by Judicial Watch show that the United States was also complicit with arms shipments from Benghazi to the jihadi rebel groups in Syria.

These particular shipments were distinct from the more publicized case of al Entisar, a Libyan fishing vessel that arrived in Iskanderiyah, Turkey, crammed with weapons in late August 2012.

The shipments described in this recently declassified document were sent directly to small Syrian ports under rebel control and included RPG grenade-launchers, sniper rifles, and ammunition for 125mm and 155mm howitzers.

As I revealed two years ago, the U.S. backed arms shipments to ISIS and its allies in Syria appear to have been run out of the White House by then-counterterrorism advisor (and current CIA director) John Brennan. Running the clandestine arms shipments outside official channels allowed Obama and his allies – including Mrs. Clinton, who supported the arms shipments – to withhold that information from Congress.

Deflecting attention from these arms shipments is precisely why Obama and Hillary hatched their “blame-it-on-a-YouTube-video” narrative as the cause of the Benghazi attacks. It was a deliberate deception to trick the American people and cover-up their misdeeds.

Obama’s disastrous withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq in December 2011 clearly enhanced the ability of AQI and ISI to seize control of large portions of Iraqi territory and certainly contributed to the birth of ISIS. It also opened the door for Iran to fill the vacuum.

But as the August 2012 defense intelligence report states, that was the plan all along. Obama and Hillary wanted to create an ISIS-controlled enclave in Syria, “in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”

Donald Trump was right. Again.

Kenneth R. Timmerman is the author of Deception: the Making of the YouTube Video Hillary and Obama Blamed for Benghazi, released on July 19 and is now in its 4thprinting.

Also see:

Freed-Up Frozen Funds, Sanctions Relief and Ransoms Only Aid Iran’s Global Crime Syndicate

hCNS News, by Clare Lopez, Aug. 10, 2016:

“As long as Iran has money, Hizballah will have money,” Hizballah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah boasted in a late June 2016 interview. “We are open about the fact that Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, are from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he added to Hizballah’s official Al Ahed newspaper.

Well, not quite everything.

In the past, Hizballah’s annual income from Iran was estimated at $100-200 million annually, with more received after the devastating 2006 war with Israel. More recently, however, as sanctions bit down on the Iranian economy even as the mullahs ramped up Iran’s nuclear weapons development and poured resources into the battle to save its Damascus proxy regime, the amounts Tehran could provide to Hizballah declined. Hizballah itself was called upon by Tehran to provide fighters, funding, and weapons to the Syrian effort. At least partly as a result, the time since 2011 has been marked by an expansion of Hizballah’s already-extensive global crime network. While Hizballah long has relied on a worldwide network of Shi’ite Lebanese businesses, criminal syndicates, and other supporters for financial and operational support, the urgent need to bolster its own funding efforts has pushed Hizballah increasingly into scaling up its narcotrafficking and related criminal activities—naturally with the full knowledge and approval of its Iranian masters.

Since its creation by Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the early 1980s, Hizballah has been involved in the local drug trade, built on traditional smuggling operations across the Middle East. Then the Lebanese civil war sent a Lebanese diaspora to the Western Hemisphere in which Hizballah operatives easily blended. Its first foothold was in the lawless Tri-Border area of South America, where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet. Partnership with Colombian cocaine traffickers and willing collaboration from Venezuela gave Hizballah a new revenue stream as well as a base of operations with hemispheric proximity to Tehran’s number one ‘Great Satan’ enemy.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the drug trade is now Hizballah’s number one source of income. Collaboration between Iran, the IRGC, Qods Force, Hizballah, narcotrafficking cartels, and organized crime has grown exponentially in recent years, according to Michael Braun, retired senior official for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). In June 2016 testimony to the House Financial Services Committee, Braun reported that Hizballah today is smuggling “hundreds of tons of cocaine from the Andean Region of South America into Venezuela” and from there onto ships destined for European markets via West and North Africa.

Operation Smokescreen was the name given to a Hizballah cigarette-smuggling operation run out of Charlotte, North Carolina, with links across the U.S. and in both Canada and Lebanon. Describing the complex network of banks, criminal operations and front companies that garnered tens of millions of dollars in profit for Iran’s terror proxy, law enforcement spokesmen identified a restaurant, painting business, tobacco shops, and credit card, mail and visa fraud, all as part of this Hizballah operation that was shut down in 2002.

In December 2011, DEA unraveled a large Florida-based criminal used car operation whose known profits netted Hizballah close to $500 million through the sale of counterfeit currency and bulk cash smuggling, some of which was also used to procure “a long list of sophisticated weapons.”

And finally, in January 2016, Customs and Border Protection (CPB), DEA, and international law enforcement partners busted yet another narcotics trafficking and money laundering operation dubbed Project Cassandra. Once again, the direct involvement of Hizballah operatives—always under the authority and supervision of the Iranian IRGC, Quds Force and Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS)—was uncovered. A South American network of drug cartels called the Business Affairs Component (BAC), set up by Hizballah terror chieftain Imad Mughniyeh (assassinated in 2008) as a criminal division of Hizballah’s External Security Organization, managed this drug trafficking operation and laundered the proceeds through the Black Market Peso Exchange (a drug money laundering system). Managed by senior Hizballah operatives, some of whom are Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) figures, the BAC was moving cocaine and money to Europe, Iraq, Lebanon and the U.S. The arrest of SDGT Mohamad Noureddine in connection with Project Cassandra may have put a temporary crimp in some of Hizballah’s drug trafficking, but officials point to an actual expansion of such operations since a nuclear deal was made with Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that took effect in July 2015.

U.S. willingness to deal directly with the number one state sponsor of terrorism in the world has emboldened both Tehran and Hizballah. The JCPOA was only supposed to be about Iran’s nuclear industry, but its criminal, narcotics and terror industries got the message, too: individual U.S. agencies do their best, but the mullahs still have top cover.

Billions in freed-up frozen funds, sanctions relief, and ransoms paid for American hostages don’t hurt either.

Clare M. Lopez is the Vice President for Research & Analysis at the Center for Security Policy.

More Obama Doublespeak on Iran

obama-big-brotherGingrich Productions, by Newt Gingrich, August 5, 2016:

The Obama administration has instructed us that Obamacare’s tax is not a tax, that its policy of not enforcing immigration law is “prosecutorial discretion,” and that hundreds of American military personnel on the ground in Iraq and Syria are not “boots on the ground.” So it’s not surprising to hear from the President this week that money paid in exchange for hostages is not a “ransom”.

The administration insists that’s not what we should call the planeload of $400 million in cash that arrived in Iran at the same time as four American hostages were released in January.

Thankfully, the facts are in less dispute than the definition of the word.

In negotiations that led to the release of the hostages, the Wall Street Journal reports, “The Iranians were demanding the return of $400 million” sent to the U.S. in 1979, and “they also wanted billions of dollars as interest accrued since then.”

Since it would be a violation of U.S. law to pay the regime in U.S. dollars however, the Journal reports that the Treasury Department asked European central banks to change its payment into Euros and Swiss Francs before loading the notes on a plane and flying them to Iran.

There, one of the hostages involved told Fox News, the Iranian captors told the Americans they were “waiting for another plane” before they would be released.

So to review: the Iranians made a demand for $400 million in exchange for releasing the hostages. The U.S. government went to extraordinary lengths to deliver $400 million to Iran. And as a result, the hostages were released. But this wasn’t a ransom situation?

“No, it was not,” says White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. “It is against the policy of the United States to pay ransom for hostages.”

“We do not pay ransom,” President Obama echoed. “We didn’t here, and we won’t in the future.”

In his famous essay, “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell describes words for which “the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different.” Perhaps President Obama’s own private definition of “ransom” requires the use of a paper bag–or U.S. dollars.

Whatever the President’s beliefs about what he’s done, however, clearly he has sent a signal to Iran that the regime can take hostages and extract concessions. The $400 million in cash will likely endanger more Americans and result in more false imprisonments.

It is worth remembering that prisoners whose stories are known to the public had done absolutely nothing wrong, and should never have been imprisoned to begin with. No payment should have been required to secure their release. And yet the same administration that recently arrested a police officer who tried to send $245 to ISIS has now sent hundreds of millions to the world’s leading state sponsor of terror.

That Iran would take innocent Americans hostage for ransom is a reminder of how untrustworthy and dangerous a regime the Obama administration is dealing with on nuclear weapons. Such actions are one of the reasons there are sanctions on the country in the first place.

Indeed, those restrictions made the $400 million in cash an even sweeter deal than it might seem. It solved a serious problem for the regime.

As a senior U.S. official explained to the Wall Street Journal, “Sometimes the Iranians want cash because it’s so hard for them to access things in the international financial system. They know it can take months just to figure out how to wire money from one place to another.”

In other words, Iran got more than its money’s worth out of the plane full of cash. And what did the regime do with it? As Bloomberg reported, the funds are going straight into their war chest: “Iran’s Guardian Council approved the government’s 2017 budget that instructed Iran’s Central Bank to transfer the $1.7 billion [the ransom plus interest] to the military.”

So the Obama administration hasn’t just struck a deal with Iran that will allow it to obtain nuclear weapons. In paying the ransom money, the U.S. has also funded the military that could seek to use those weapons against us.

***

***

***

***

English version of Iranian documentary on hostage swap dated 2/16

***

OBAMA LIED! US Iranian Hostage Says Iran Would Not Let Plane Leave Until Ransom Plane Arrived

Also see: