Iran is the First Threat

Security Studies Group (SSG) – July 26, 2017:

Executive Summary

The United States faces many dangers, but Iran should be first on the list for action. We need a comprehensive strategy to stop their ongoing efforts to become a nuclear power, oppose their play for regional hegemony and address their support for terrorism. It is time to accept there is no accommodation with the current authoritarian theocratic government and return to a policy of supporting the Iranian people in seeking a new form of government.

The Iranian regime exerts influence using the following threat vectors:

  • Nuclear Weapons & Missile Programs
  • Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps & Quds Force
  • Terror financing and ideological indoctrination
  • Weapons and Narco-trafficking\

The main geographic areas where their influence is a concern:

  • Iraq
  • Syria
  • Afghanistan
  • Qatar
  • Yemen

Issues where US and Iranian goals are in direct conflict:

  • Iran Nuclear Deal
  • Iraq/Syria End Game
  • Qatar Blockade
  • Yemen proxy war
  • Afghanistan

These issues are all interconnected, and US decisions and actions on each will cause Iranian reactions that could be aimed at affecting any of the others. US policy should be aimed at containing Iranian expansion, rolling back Iranian influence, stopping improper economic partnerships and most importantly ensuring it does not achieve nuclear weapons capabilities. The ideal end state is a new form of government in Iran that ends these policies.

The first step should be a refusal to recertify the Iran Nuclear Deal for non-compliance packaged with the toughest sanctions possible. The other immediate need is to limit Iranian influence on the post-ISIS plans for Iraq and Syria. These will create tremendous challenges, but failure to act could be catastrophically worse.

Iranian Threat Vectors

Nuclear Weapons & Missile Programs

The premier threat posed by Iran is their nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development program. There is a wide array of opinion on how serious Iran is about obtaining a nuclear device and the progress of the program. There is less argument about the ballistic missile program, as the Iranians seem to go out of their way to show it off.

Security Studies Group (SSG) believes the regime is set on acquiring nuclear weapons and cannot be trusted to refrain from using them if they are successful. As evidence, the ballistic missiles they are so intent on developing are characterized by relatively small payloads and limited accuracy. Only with nuclear warheads would such missiles be worth the investment Iran is making in them. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) did much less than promised to slow this down, and in some ways acted as an accelerant by providing economic relief and a renewed capacity for the smuggling of foreign technology.

Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) & Quds Force

These paramilitary forces are tools of the Iranian theocracy, and their primary mission is to protect the Islamic revolution in Iran. Though this mission is characterized as defensive, they have frequently carried it out offensively through expansionist efforts.  These include the development of Shi’a militias loyal to Iran throughout the region, and the defense of dependent proxy states such as Syria and Yemen. The IRGC has extensive business operations to finance and provide cover for their illicit activities and also runs a large criminal network. The IRGC is involved in almost all aggressive activities Iran conducts.

Terror financing and ideological indoctrination

The Iranian regime funds many of the worst terror groups in the world. Some of these, like Hezbollah and Hamas, also have social outreach and assistance programs. The Iranians use these as a way to conduct Islamist indoctrination. The infusions of cash and return of the regime to the international banking system from the Iran Deal have facilitated and increased their funding activities. Also important to recruitment and ideological development is Iran’s commitment to defending Shi’a Islamic holy sites, and Shi’ite Islam in general, against alleged threats. Many of these come from Sunni forces like ISIS, or Sunni states like Saudi Arabia. They also claim the United States is a threat to these as well.

Weapons and Narco-trafficking

The IRGC produces much of the conventional weaponry manufactured in Iran and uses this as a source of cash generation as well as a method to gain allies. The weapons find their way to terror groups and others who help them destabilize adversaries. It is a major player in international opium smuggling and uses this illicit cash to fund its other operations. They also provide transshipment of opium from Afghanistan to Lebanese Hezbollah, which uses it to create heroin for the international drug market. This gives Iranian terror networks direct access to drug cartels operating in the Americas.

Geographic areas of influence

The Core

Iraq

Iran has always had strong ties with the Shi’ite population in Iraq. Their status as members of that sect and their direct proximity to Iraq allowed them to host Shi’ite refugees during Saddam Hussein’s reign. Many of those who sheltered in Iran are now leading figures in Iraq. The precipitous US withdrawal during the Obama administration’s first term both allowed Iraq’s Shi’ite leadership to act on its worst impulses toward minority groups, and also provided Iran unrestricted opportunities to dominate Iraq.

That has only increased during the counter-ISIS operations. The Iranians have nurtured Shi’a militias who have been a major part of this clearing mission. They have had advisors and even direct command and control from the IRGC’s Quds Force. They have conducted sectarian reprisals against the Sunni populace. The militias have shown little regard for civilian casualties. They also openly declare support for Iran’s theocracy instead of Iraq’s secular government, ensuring that Iran has a capacity to control Iraq even when Iraq’s government would prefer to act independently.

The support Iran has given to Shi’a militias across much of Iraq will greatly complicate de-militarization as the counter-ISIS campaign winds down.

Syria

Russian and Iranian support has kept their proxy, Bashar al-Assad, in power. Iran has backed Hezbollah’s combat operations in support of the Assad regime, providing IRGC troops and advisers and raising auxiliary units of volunteers from Afghanistan and other areas.

Iran has long sought to dominate a road to the Mediterranean Sea. The demise of ISIS will create a vacuum they will try to use to fulfill this goal.

Geographic areas of influence

The Edge

Afghanistan

Iran has been supplying and assisting the Taliban for years and continues to do so in order to keep the United States bogged down there. They also have a substantial commitment to Shi’a populations in Afghanistan. The IRGC’s criminal aspect is a key smuggler of opium from Afghanistan into the Middle East.

Iran’s assistance to America’s enemies in Afghanistan not only advances their own interests, but those of other authoritarian regimes. America’s ground lines of communication, through which our forces in Afghanistan are supplied and kept fed, are under the physical control of Russia and Pakistan. The larger the American deployment in Afghanistan, the more of our forces must be fed and supplied, and thus the greater the pressure Russia and Pakistan can put on America by closing our supply lines. Iran’s efforts in Afghanistan thus make America subject to increased pressure from authoritarian regimes.

Qatar

President Trump gave a jump start to the Saudi and United Arab Emirate (UAE) move against Qatar when he forged a counterterrorism alliance at the summit in Riyadh. Iran’s relationship with Qatar is a key motivator of the Gulf Arab blockade and Iran has been supporting Qatar in attempts to end it.

This conflict puts two US allies —both Qatar and Turkey, which has fallen into authoritarianism under President Erdogan —on the side of Iran, and against the Gulf Arab states that President Trump has pledged to support. US treaty obligations to both Qatar and Turkey will be troublesome if the conflict escalates between the Saudi-led Gulf Arabs and the Turkey, Iran, Qatar coalition. There is a danger of significant stress on American treaty networks, as well as the danger that Iran will succeed in peeling both Qatar and Turkey away from the United States.

Yemen

Iranian support for Houthi rebels against Saudi and UAE backed forces in Yemen has been a potential flashpoint for a while. Currently, it is mostly proxies fighting. However, the Gulf States have put troops on the ground; and, the Houthi have access to Iranian missiles and rockets which they have fired against Gulf States and US Navy ships. The Qatar crisis adds another potential collision with Iranian-backed forces or potentially IRGC forces. This is part of a larger battle for regional dominance between the Iranians and the Gulf Arabs.

Direct conflicts between US and Iranian goal

The danger zones for US interactions with Iran are numerous with great potential for trouble.  Since 1979, Iran’s government has been marked by a preference for escalation so US policy should be built around an expectation they will act forcefully in response to our moves.

Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA)

US policy should be to disengage from this deal in the most expeditious manner possible. The justification must be well publicized. There will be a withering public information counterattack by the Iran lobby, the institutional left in the US and abroad, and Obama loyalists. Exposing the misinformation, lies, and malfeasance that allowed this deal to ever be made will be a strong antidote to this.

There are a number of tactics the President can use to end our participation:

  • Submit JCPOA to the Senate as a treaty
  • Refuse to recertify based on serial non-compliance
  • Move via executive order to withdraw based ion Iranian violations
  • Renegotiate with Iran

The last option is the least likely to succeed as the Iranians have no reason to negotiate in good faith because the existing deal front-loaded the benefits to Iran, leaving them with nothing to lose by being difficult.  Submitting the deal to the Senate as a treaty has a certain elegance, and would actually remedy a major attack by President Obama on Constitutional Separation of Powers. The other two options are versions of the same valid complaint that the Iranians have not meaningfully complied with the deal.

Any move to take away this deal, which Iran rightly considers a victory, will certainly be met with a flurry of public protestations but also activation of proxies and other Iranian assets to cause problems for the US. They can present these anywhere the US has interests and create considerable havoc. Contingency plans to protect US assets must be prepared and plans to preempt the Iranian plans or retaliate must be ready for immediate action.

Iraq/Syria End Game

The end of kinetic operations against ISIS is a milestone that comes with significant challenges to meet or a year or two down the road Sunni Insurgency Mark III will be in effect (I. al Qaeda in Iraq, II. ISIS). These include reintegrating the Sunni regions ISIS destroyed into the states of Iraq and Syria.  SSG believes success is unlikely and recommends a protectorate for these areas until rebuilding and some self-determination for the people can occur.

Iran has been in the forefront of the counter-ISIS operations both directly with the Iraqi government and military and as supplier, adviser and often in command of Shi’a militias. They have done much the same in Syria, and the IRGC has lost more than 1000 personnel in these conflicts. Iran will not want to give up what was gained in blood by disbanding local militias trained to be more loyal to Tehran than to Baghdad or Damascus.

The goal of a Shi’ite Crescent from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea is not merely a fantasy to the Mullahs of Iran and their IRGC and Quds Force. They have seeded the path to the Mediterranean with these Shi’a militias, and demilitarizing them will be difficult if even possible at all. Any successful reconstruction and reintegration of Iraq’s Sunni areas will have to deal with the massive sectarian slaughter and looting conducted by these militias. The Sunni populace will hold the Baghdad government and its Iranian allies responsible for this. They may also hold the United States to blame, given the precipitous withdrawal of US forces that exposed them to the Iranians and their militias; and, US participation in the clearing operations.

Changing the balance of influence with the Iraqi government from Iran’s favor to the United States will be a major challenge. The belief in Baghdad that US policy is turning against Iran after 8 years of promoting it will be helpful in this regard. But Iran has been building its alliances for 40 years. They do not have the reputation for abandoning allies for political purposes, which the United States did by removing combat forces at the beginning of the Obama administration.

Iran’s ability to disrupt any effort to create stability or peace is strong in both Syria and Iraq and this may be their area of choice if pressured by US rejection of the Iran Nuclear Deal.

Conclusion

The US needs a new approach to Iran which recognizes them as an active antagonist not a potential partner for peace.

The Iran Deal recertification process offers an opportunity to cite Iranian provocations in the 90-day window before the next certification. Iran’s response to an American declaration that they have not been compliant has the potential to be violent. American military forces must start preparing immediately for the consequences Iran is already threatening.

Iran must be stopped at all costs from establishing the land bridge to the Levant. The counter-ISIS end game, and the end of the civil war in Syria, must be built around a clear strategy of denying Iran either direct control, or control through proxy states, of any straight line from its borders to and across Syria.

Iranian militias within Syria and Iraq will need to be isolated in order to provide Iraq’s government any capacity for independence from Iran. This will require the presence of counterpoised forces, either Coalition or peacekeepers from governments that are not friendly to Iran.

The United States should also begin working to facilitate replacement of the Iranian regime in the longer term. This should not be conceived as a military operation, but as a whole of government approach built first and foremost around diplomacy and intelligence work. The Security Studies Group has a strategy to offer under separate cover for professionals working in classified environments.

SSG focuses on defending the value of American power against the true threats we face. Both the legislative and executive branches need rapid access to concise and factual data to inform strategic re-orientation in counterterrorism and national security policy. That’s what Security Studies Group is all about.  @SecStudiesGrp 

Trump Administration Still Doesn’t Have an Iran Policy

In this Dec. 29, 2016, photo released by the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), a long-range S-200 missile is fired in a military drill in the port city of Bushehr, Iran. (Amir Kholousi, ISNA via AP, File)

PJ Media, by Michael Ledeen, July 21, 2017:

The Trump administration, for once in harmony with Congress, is going to slap more sanctions on Iran. They stress this has nothing to do with the nuclear deal, but is rather in response to Tehran’s ongoing support of terrorism from the Middle East to Latin America. At the same time, the government is not (yet?) ready to sanction the Iranians for violating the terms of the deal.

The White House is still designing its overall Iran strategy, including the question of the nuclear deal. And, according to Adam Kredo, the hints all point in the direction of ultimately accusing the Iranians of violating it.

The White House must make a decision by Tuesday on whether it will recertify that Iran is in compliance with the deal. The administration is likely to again certify Iran as in compliance of the agreement, despite mounting evidence this not the case. Deliberations in the White House had not concluded as of late Monday morning, but officials signaled they were leaning towards certifying Iran as not in technical violation.

U.S. officials were hesitant to deem Iran in direct violation of the deal, but said Tehran “is in default on the spirit of that agreements,” according to senior administration officials who spoke on background.

In the event, the government finessed the “deal” and instead said Iran was not in violation of its agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency(a generous reading). There was no “certification” even though you’ll have no trouble finding news stories that claim there was.

Bottom line: they’re stalling. We’re told that the official “review” will be finished in a month or two, and we’re also told that the president wants a tough policy. We shall see. So far, despite his image as a tough guy, Mr. Trump hasn’t been all that forceful when it comes to dealing with the Islamic Republic. Yes, there are sanctions aplenty, but economic pressure isn’t going to change the Tehran regime or its aggressive policies, and the “certification” policy will encourage the Iranians to believe that Trump is not going to threaten their rule.

Some in Congress have a really smart idea: instead of separate actions against the global enemy alliance, merge them into a single policy. This has the great benefit of moving us toward a global approach to what is, after all, a global war. So when they say, “let’s make North Korea part of our Russia-and-Iran sanctions,” they have the correct instinct. If only Tillerson, Mattis and McMaster were saying such things.  I’m not swayed by the claim that the new sanctions bill would effectively tie the president’s hands if he wanted to ease sanctions on Russia. Somehow presidents get their way in such matters. I’m more worried about finding a way to raise the strategic question—how to win the big war. I’m also worried that our foreign policy team may be excessively military, and insufficiently political/ideological to defeat the enemy alliance.

Which, inevitably, takes us to personnel. I’m a Marine dad, so Jim Mattis occupies a special place in the Ledeen family heart. But Mattis’ top assistants are politically well to the left, and I rather suspect that they weren’t great fans of Trump’s Warsaw speech, the one that spoke to our will to defend and advance Western civilization. So I worry: Does Mattis appreciate the power of American values? Or does he look at conflict in fairly narrow military terms?

The same goes for McMaster, who is said to have deleted the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” from Trump’s Warsaw speech, only to have the president put it back. McMaster is a friend and follower of David Petraeus, who is not the right guru for the current war. We don’t need new surges so much as new revolutions. The Iranian people are waiting for our embrace, as are the Venezuelans. They’re not getting it. Sooner or later, I think they will. I think it’s inescapable, and I think Trump will work that out.

But it had better be sooner, because I also think our enemies think they’re in the driver’s seat right now, and doubt it will last. To quote a deep strategic thinker, Faster Please!

Fmr. Israeli Security Chief: Iranian Land Corridor, Bases in Syria Biggest Threats to Israel

Photo: Basel Awidat/Flash90

The Tower, July 19, 2017:

Iran’s efforts to build a “direct corridor” from Baghdad to the Mediterranean Sea and further entrench itself militarily in Syria are two of Israel’s most pressing concerns, Israel’s former national security adviser said Monday.

The corridor, referred to as a “Shiite crescent” by Jordan’s King Abdullah, would place Israel’s borders in “direct connection to Iran—a long line but still very easy to move forces, capabilities and everything that the Iranians will want to build around Israel,” Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror said. Iran’s ability to project its power along this route would “change the whole geostrategic situation in this area.”

The establishment of permanent Iranian bases in Syria would pose a more immediate and direct threat to Israel, placing it at risk of simultaneous confrontation with Lebanon and Syria. “Israel might face two battlegrounds,” Amidror explained, “one in Lebanon and one in Syria in which the Iranians and Hezbollah will have their infrastructure [that] can be used against Israel, in parallel, and of course it definitely will be connected to the corridor that I just described that it makes the situation even much [more] complicated for Israel.”

These bases would act as launching pads for Iranian and Hezbollah attacks against Israel from Syria, and should be prevented “whatever will be the price,” Amidror warned.

When asked what Israel might do to prevent Iran from establishing bases in Syria, Amidror said that if the United States and Russia won’t take action, “that might lead the IDF to intervene and to destroy every attempt to build infrastructure in Syria.” While he noted that Israel would first try to handle things diplomatically, he indicated that resorting to using “military capability” could also be an option.

On the implications of the underground weapons factories Iran is believed to be building in Lebanon for Hezbollah, Amidror answered that the facilities—one of which reportedly produces Fateh 110 rockets that can carry half-ton warheads and reach most of Israel—would have to be destroyed. “Lebanon as a state does not exist. But the price will be paid by the end of the day by the Lebanese,” Amidror observed.

He elaborated:

The fact is that the Iranians and Hezbollah are spreading more than a hundred thousand rockets and missiles in Lebanon. The day will come [that] we will have to destroy them and the price will be paid by the Lebanese. So, the world is allowing Hezbollah and Iran to build huge military capabilities in Lebanon and the day will come [that] we will have to deal with it and to destroy it and the price will be paid by the Lebanese. Whoever will be complaining then about the results—the devastating situation of the Lebanese who will have to pay the price—I don’t know what percentage of Lebanon will be destroyed in this struggle, but the world will have to reply to itself. The world is not stopping that and the price will be paid by the Lebanese.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday denounced Hezbollah’s ongoing military buildup, telling reporters after a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “I share Israeli concerns on the arming of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.”

Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, wrote an op-ed in May calling on the world community to take action against Hezbollah, which he said has grown stronger than most NATO nations. He urged the UN Security Council to strengthen and enforce resolution 1701, in line with Chapter 7 of the UN’s charter, which mandates peace enforcement.

According to a July 2016 report by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Israeli officials believe that any future war with Hezbollah has the potential to cause “thousands of civilian deaths” in Israel. Hezbollah has, among other things, threatened to attack ammonium tanks in Haifa, which could kill tens of thousands of people.

Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, explained that month that Hezbollah’s widely-reported tactic of hiding military assets in civilian areas would lead to mass casualties. Reports emerged in 2013 that Hezbollah was offering reduced-price housing to Shiite families who allowed the terrorist group to store rocket launchers in their homes. An Israeli defense official told The New York Times in May 2015 that the buildup of Hezbollah’s terror infrastructure in southern Lebanese villages meant that “civilians are living in a military compound” and that their lives were at risk. A few days later, a newspaper linked to Hezbollah bolstered the Israeli assessment.

Brig. Gen. (res.) Nitzan Nuriel, a former director of Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau, said in March that another war between Israel and Hezbollah was “only a question of time” due to the Iranian proxy’s efforts to acquire “game-changing weapons.” A week later, Eisenkot assessed that Hezbollah is building up its arsenal in Lebanon, which will bear the brunt of any future conflict between the Iranian proxy and Israel. Israeli security officials warned earlier in March that the Lebanese army, which receives American military aid, will likely fight alongside Hezbollah in a war against Israel.

A complete recording of Amidror’s call is embedded following the article here.

‘Iran Remains Foremost State Sponsor Of Terrorism,’ US Declares

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei waves as he arrives to address workers in Tehran, Iraq, April 27, 2016. Leader.ir/Handout via REUTERS

Daily Caller, by Saagar Enjetti, July 19, 2017:

The Islamic Republic of Iran remains the foremost state sponsor of terrorism, the U.S. Department of State’s 2016 report on worldwide terrorism alleges.

“Iran continues to provide support to Hezbollah, Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, and various groups in Syria, Iraq, and throughout the Middle East. Iran employed the Quds Force of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to implement foreign policy goals, provide cover for intelligence operations, and create instability in the Middle East,” acting U.S. Coordinator for Counterterrorism Justin Siberell told reporters Wednesday.

Siberell also alleged that “Iran has allowed al-Qaida facilitators to operate a core facilitation pipeline through the country, enabling al-Qaida to move funds and fighters to South Asia and Syria.”

The State Department’s report and emphasis on Iran’s activity comes two days after the U.S. certified the Islamic republic’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal and imposed new sanctions on it. These sanctions targeted Iran’s ballistic missile program as well commanders involved in terrorism.

Tensions between Iran and the U.S. have skyrocketed in recent days. The U.S. insisted in its announcement re-certifying the Iran deal that it was “unquestionably” violating the spirit of the agreement with its ongoing nefarious activity. After the sanctions followed a day later, Iran began signaling that it saw them as violations of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iranian President Mohammad Javad Zarif appeared to explicitly suggest that Iran may withdraw from the nuclear deal if the U.S. continues to sanction the regime and discourage Western investment, saying in a Monday interview, “Iran has other options available, including withdrawing from the deal.”

President Donald Trump is reportedly angry with Iran, and nearly demurred on re-certifying the country’s compliance with the deal. Trump did so on the condition that the U.S. develop a new regional strategy to counter Iran’s nefarious behavior.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Naurt announced the comprehensive review Tuesday and said “during the course of this review, the United States will continue to aggressively counter Iran’s malign activities in the region.” She conceded in the announcement that, during the review, the U.S. “will continue to comply with its commitments” under the nuclear agreement.

Jordan’s intel tags Hizballah for Temple Mt. terror

 

DEBKAfile Special Report July 20, 2017:

The Israeli police Thursday, July 20, released a video tape recording the movements of the terrorists heading for the murderous attack they committed on Temple Mount six days ago, when they shot dead two Israeli border guard police officers.

The film shows not three but four men who carefully stepped away from each other before entering the Al Aqsa Mosque. There, the three gunmen were handed their weapons by the fourth confederate, who made his escape among the crowds of worshippers exiting the mosque.
The police published the video Thursday ahead of Muslim Friday prayers – which brings tens of thousands of worshippers to Al Aqsa – as a reminder that the crime committed was a terrorist attack staged by Muslims at Islam’s third most sacred site – not the metal detectors Israel which installed for its safety. To drown this truth out, the Palestinians and Waqf officials have been raising a worldwide uproar over those detectors, as though nothing else happened to make them necessary.
The investigation going forward has established that the terrorists were far from amateurs. They acted coolly, with professional precision and were clearly highly trained and familiar with the terrain. It was a skilled terrorist cell that assaulted a shrine holy to three world faiths.
Even the absence of any claim of responsibility for the attack is a clue, especially since none of Israel’s investigators, be they police, security authorities or intelligence agencies, have so far thrown any light on the identity of the hand behind that cell.

However, DEBKAfile’s intelligence and counterterrorism sources report that Jordanian and Saudi intelligence services have come to the conclusion that the attack was the work of a Hizballah-run cell on orders from Iran. One of Hizballah’s signatures is the absence of any claim of responsibility.

On July 18, 2012, a suicide bomber blew himself up on a bus carrying Israeli tourists at the Bulgarian resort of Burgas, killing five Israelis and the Bulgarian driver and injuring 32. No organization has ever claimed this attack. Israeli intelligence uncovered evidence that it was orchestrated by Hizballah, but was never able to lay hands on the perpetrators.
The difference this time was that the three gunmen on Temple Mount had no intention of committing suicide. They did not expect the Israel police detail to react quickly enough to gun them down, but had meant to elude pursuit by fleeing to safety into Al Aqsa mosque. There they planned either to escape through ancient subterranean tunnels leading outside the Old City walls, or barricade themselves inside the cavernous mosque for a long shootout with Israel police.
Jordanian intelligence circles suspect that the Temple Mount attack was linked to the US-Russian deal for ceasefire zones in southwest Syria right up to the borders of Jordan and Israel. Both governments have demanded the exclusion of Iranian and Hizballah forces from those zones.

Tehran found an answer to this demand by demonstrating that its Lebanese proxy is capable of reaching deep inside Israel without recourse to external territory, because Hizballah not only maintains a presence in Daraa and the Syrian Golan, but has planted terrorist networks inside Israel and Jordan. The pro-Iranian terror group has long been suspected of recruiting networks in some Israeli Arab communities. By striking Temple Mount, Iran and Hizballah targeted both Israel and Jordan, which claims religious custodianship of its mosques.

Also see:

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How an Iranian front group infiltrated 41 US universities

Lazarev | Getty Images

ALAVI FOUNDATION POURED MILLIONS INTO PRO-REGIME PROFS AND PROGRAMS.

Conservative Review, by Jordan Schachtel, July 19, 2017:

An Islamic “charity” recently convicted of acting as a front group for the regime in Iran has financed and installed Iran-friendly professors and curriculums at 44 universities across North America – and 41 of those schools are located in the United States.

In late June, a New York jury ruled that the Alavi Foundation is directly linked to the Iranian regime, allowing the feds to seize the Manhattan building that provided revenue for the organization’s nationwide influence operations. Prosecutors called the conviction the “largest terrorism-related civil forfeiture in United States history.”

Alavi used a multi-pronged approach to embed itself into American society. From financing pro-Tehran Shiite cultural centers and mosques to donating heavily to the infamous Clinton Foundation, the regime-connected outfit sought to win over hearts and minds in its clandestine efforts.

A primary focus of the foundation continues to be installing Iran-friendly professors and curriculums into American universities. Over the past few years, the Alavi Foundation has increased its college and university financing efforts by about 50 percent.

Alavi claims that its goal is simply to “offer courses on Persian language, Iranian studies and the Islamic culture with a focus on Shiite studies.” However, analysts continue to note that several programs connected to Alavi involve controversial pro-Tehran professors and a morally obtuse curriculum.

From 2013 to 2016, the Alavi foundation’s academic funding efforts exploded from 30 to 44 colleges and universities in North America. Over 90 percent of recipients are United States schools.

The following institutions receive grants from the Alavi Foundation, according to one of its 2016 fundraising appeals:

Bard College; Boston University; Brandeis University; Columbia University; Drew University; Eastern Mennonite University; George Mason University; Hartford Seminary; Harvard University; Harvard University Law School; Lake Forest University; Sacred Heart University; University of Chicago; Binghamton University; Cal State, Fullerton; Cal State, Los Angeles; Cal State, Northridge; Carleton University (Canada); City College of New York; Concordia University; Georgia State University; CUNY Hunter College; Kutztown University; McGill University (Canada); Ohio State University; Portland State University; Rutgers University; San Diego State University; Temple University; University of Alberta (Canada); University of Arizona; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Los Angeles; University of Florida; University of Maryland; University of Michigan; University of Southern California; University of Texas, Austin; University of Utah; University of Virginia; University of Wisconsin, Madison; University of Pennsylvania; Utah State University.

Alavi has entered into a cost-sharing agreement with many of these universities, facilitating deals that support the hiring of tenure-track professors. One such report found that these professors are “sympathetic to the Iranian dictatorship.”

It may not come as a shock — given what we now know about the extent of the pro-Tehran group — that many of the professors supported by Alavi-backed programming have pursued a radically pro-Tehran agenda.

Rutgers professor Hooshang Amirahmadi is the leader of the American Iranian Council, a group that has offered support for the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist organizations, according to the New York Post.

University of Maryland research scholar Ebrahim Mohseni produced a much-disputed poll that showed wide support for Iran’s extremely anti-Semitic former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Over at Harvard University, visiting scholar Ali Akbar Alikhani penned a white paper calling for a world governed by the Quran. He also wrote a book review on “the Jewish threat” to other world religions.

Moreover, the foundation poured $100,000 into Columbia University’s coffers after the NYC school agreed to host former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

During the heated debate over whether the U.S. should sign on to a nuclear agreement with Iran, the National Iranian American Council (which has its own extensive links to the regime) published a pro-Iran-deal letter endorsed by 73 “Middle East and International Relations Scholars.” Coincidentally or not, dozens of professors on the list came from institutions that received Alavi Foundation money.

These are but a handful of the “success” stories on college campuses funded by the Alavi Foundation’s academic grants. Given the group’s alleged connections to Iran’s sophisticated intelligence apparatus, it’s quite possible that its campaigns have had alarming, extensive success in winning over the hearts and minds of college students.

Now that Alavi has been ruled a front for the Iranian regime, it’s unclear what will become of its programming inside dozens of American universities. The seized Manhattan skyscraper acted as the major revenue stream for the foundation’s efforts throughout the nation, and it’s unclear whether the group can sustain its funding while going through serious legal proceedings.

For years, the Alavi Foundation funneled cash through a regime that hosts Friday prayers ending in “Death to America.” Now that Alavi has been exposed, only time will tell whether the 41 U.S. institutions will continue to act in a morally bankrupt manner and continue to accept dirty money from a front group forwarding the agenda of an enemy nation.

Iran’s Lebanese Missile Factories in “New and Very Dangerous Phase”

by Yaakov Lappin
Special to IPT News
July 18, 2017

Recently-built Iranian missile factories in Lebanon can produce powerful weapons for Hizballah and are part of a wider trend that could set the region on fire, a senior former Israeli defense source has told the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT).

“There is no doubt that this is a new and very dangerous stage,” the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said about the fact that Iran has for the first time placed military production industries directly in Hizballah’s possession.

“It points to the fact that Lebanon is not a state, but a branch of Iran that is controlled by Hizballah, and that Iran, after the nuclear agreement, feels that it can do everything because no one dares harm it,” he added.

Tehran’s alliance with Moscow gives the Islamic Republic “extraordinary power, and hence, Iran allows itself to do what it has not dared do without the alliance with Russia,” the source said.

Russia depends on Iran to safeguard the Assad regime in Syria, the source noted. Iran is testing Israeli red lines by arming the radical Shi’ite Iranian proxy, Hizballah, with potentially dire consequences.

“When Israel is forced to act after Iran and Hizballah cross all of the red lines, Lebanon will be destroyed, because Iran and Hizballah have turned it into one big weapons storage facility, and the world is silent,” the source said.

“Anyone who dreams about Israel accepting, in a future arrangement [with the Palestinians], any kind of international force that will have any kind of role, should examine the utter uselessness of UNIFIL [the United Nations force stationed in southern Lebanon], which has yet to report on a single rocket or missile out of the 120,000 that exist in Lebanon. For Israel, UNIFIL is more of a nuisance than a benefit,” the source said.

Earlier this month, France’s Intelligence Online magazine reported that one factory was under construction in northern Lebanon, with the second being built on Lebanon’s southern coast.

The production center in northern Lebanon was designed to make Fateh 110 medium-range missiles, which puts most of Israel in range and carries a warhead of 500 kilograms, according to the report.

The IPT interviewed defense experts about the factories in March, and noted the sites represent a disturbing boost in the Shi’ite terrorist army’s ability to self-produce weapons.

Israeli officials have gone on record in recent weeks to confirm the factories’ existence, including Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, and the chief of Israel’s Military Intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Herzl Halevi. Hizballah is “establishing a military industry in Lebanon with Iranian support,” Halevi said.

Eizenkot told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee earlier this month that the Israeli military had placed the Iranian “precision project” – the drive to produce new guided projectiles, and to improve the accuracy of existing projectiles – at “the top of our priority list.”

The program is “mainly ongoing in factories in Iran and Syria, and they are trying to promote it in Lebanon,” Eizenkot said.

He also seemed to suggest there was a difference between the current threat posed by Iran’s guided missile program and the future potential threat, if left unchecked.

The IDF was not resting on its laurels in the face of Iran’s efforts to manufacture and spread these weapons, Eizenkot said. Currently, “these abilities are very limited, and therefore, we must remain proportionate and not be alarmed. The IDF is working in regards to the [Iranian precision] project all of the time, through a wide range of tools that are best not talked about. We are working with the intention of avoiding a deterioration [of the security situation].”

Emily Landau, head of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, told the IPT that the factories “signal a new escalation in Iran’s weapons proliferation in the region.”

Not only do they serve Iran’s objective of continuously arming Hizballah, they are also designed to “overcome the vulnerability of transport vehicles transferring weapons from Iran via Syria, to Lebanon,” Landau said, in reference to international media reports about repeated Israeli strikes on Iranian-Hizballah weapons convoys in Syria.

Iran seems to hope that setting up missile factories in Lebanon would eliminate opportunities to attack future international weapons trafficking runs.

“All of these activities are in blatant violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 [which called on making southern Lebanon a weapons free zone, with the exception of Lebanon’s official army],” Landau said. “The world seems to ignore this violation. The international community should be called out on turning a blind eye to what Iran is doing. This should not be Israel’s problem alone.”

The factories feed “into Iran’s very problematic regional profile,” Landau said, “which is connected to the nuclear deal as well, and should all be on the table in the Trump administration’s Iran policy review.”

For now, Israel appears to trying to deter Iran from starting up the factories, and has reportedly issued explicit warnings to Tehran to that effect.

Meanwhile, Israeli media reports say that Iran wants to create an airbase in neighboring Syria. Iran’s plans include the leasing of a ground military base for thousands of Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias and a naval base.

“These steps represent a move by Iran to establish a long-term presence in Syria and pose a threat to Israel,” Israel’s daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a dramatic statement, rejecting the ceasefire in southern Syria brokered by the United States and Russia, saying it fails to suppress Iranian attempts to consolidate its military power in the war-torn country.

“Israel is aware of Iran’s expansionist goals in Syria, Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

Yaakov Lappin is a military and strategic affairs correspondent. He also conducts research and analysis for defense think tanks, and is the Israel correspondent for IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly. His book, The Virtual Caliphate, explores the online jihadist presence.

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