Protests in Iran Hit Boiling Point, Amplifying Calls for Regime Change

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New sanctions to further choke an already ailing regime

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, August 6, 2018:

Protests against Iran’s hardline ruling regime hit a boiling point over the weekend, as demonstrators took to the streets for the sixth consecutive day in the face of efforts by the regime to beat and arrest those seeking regime change in the Islamic Republic, according to multiple reports from the region.

Curfews have been imposed in parts of the country amid nightly demonstrations by Iranian dissidents who have been heard chanting, “death to the dictator” and “Mullahs should go away.”

At least one protester was shot and killed by Iranian security forces over the weekend, but that does not appear to have quelled opposition to the Iranian ruling regime, which was smacked Monday with the first portion of harsh new sanctions by the Trump administration following the president’s decision to abandon the landmark nuclear deal that provided Iran’s leaders with millions in cash windfalls.

The ongoing protests have been percolating for weeks as dissidents take to the streets across Iran to protest the hardline ruling regime and its massive military spending, which has crippled an already weak Iranian economy.

Western pressure on the Iranian financial sector heightened on Monday, as the Trump administration imposed the first wave of new sanctions on Iran’s gold, coal, steel, and aluminum trade. The sanctions are being supported by new efforts by the Trump administration to warn European countries that any new business with Iran will subject them and their international banking systems to harsh new sanctions, as the Washington Free Beacon first reported on Thursday after conversations with multiple senior U.S. officials.

Video that emerged on social media on Sunday shows a reported 6,000 bus drivers in Tehran, Iran’s capital city, sitting in long lines for nearly 24 hours to get fuel, which has been cut off due to Iran’s inability to pay its debts, according to translations of the Farsi language videos posted to Twitter.

“Eighteen hours of work and this is the status of our city,” a videographer can be heard narrating, according to an independent translation. “We have to wait in line 24 hours to pump fuel. If [Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei] doesn’t have enough money, how dare he support Palestine and [the Lebanese] Hezbollah? If he doesn’t have money, how dare he provide for those people going to Arbaeen [ Shiite religious ceremony in Iraq marking the death of Prophet Mohammad’s grandson, Imam Hossein]?”

“How much more hardship and disgrace are we to endure?” the narrator continues. “Our revolution wasn’t for these people to take advantage of us and be cruel to us. Who should I say it to? I’m not saying it to myself. We should gather and go say it. Our revolution wasn’t to support Lebanon, Palestine, and that filthy [Hezbollah leader] Hassan Nasrallah.”

Dissident protesters appear to have been encouraged by recent remarks by the Trump administration, including the president and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, supporting the right of those to demonstrate against the regime. However, it remains unclear just how far the White House will go to back these protesters as they seek to topple the hardline ruling regime.

On Sunday, Iranian officials imposed a curfew around Tehran amid the ongoing, nightly demonstrations, according to those familiar with events on the ground. Much of the frustration has centered around the Iranian regime’s continued spending on military interventionism, particularly in Syria on behalf of embattled President Bashar al-Assad.

One protester, identified as Reza Otady, is said to have been shot dead during clashes with Iranian security forces and pro-regime militias.

Other protests have raged in major Iranian cities, including Shiraz, Qom, and Mashhad, sources said.

Social media sites such as Twitter have emerged as a prominent platform during the protests, which demonstrators coordinating their moves via these platforms.

The main frustration continues to be Iran’s economy, including the plunging value of the rial and the inability of citizens to purchase life staples.

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REIMPOSING TOUGH SANCTIONS: President Donald J. Trump’s Administration is taking action to reimpose sanctions lifted under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

  • President Trump made clear when he ended United States participation in the JCPOA that his Administration would be reimposing tough sanctions on the Iranian regime.
    • In connection with the withdrawal from the JCPOA, the Administration laid out two wind-down periods of 90 days and 180 days for business activities in or involving Iran.
  • Consistent with President Trump’s decision, the Administration will be reimposing specified sanctions after August 6, the final day of the 90-day wind-down period.
  • On August 7, sanctions will be reimposed on:
    • The purchase or acquisition of United States bank notes by the Government of Iran.
    • Iran’s trade in gold and other precious metals.
    • Graphite, aluminum, steel, coal, and software used in industrial processes.
    • Transactions related to the Iranian rial.
    • Activities relating to Iran’s issuance of sovereign debt
    • Iran’s automotive sector.
  • The remaining sanctions will be reimposed on November 5, including sanctions on:
    • Iran’s port operators and energy, shipping, and shipbuilding sectors.
    • Iran’s petroleum-related transactions.
    • Transactions by foreign financial institutions with the Central Bank of Iran.
  • The Administration will also relist hundreds of individuals, entities, vessels, and aircraft that were previously included on sanctions lists.

ENSURING FULL ENFORCEMENT: President Trump will continue to stand up to the Iranian regime’s aggression, and the United States will fully enforce the reimposed sanctions.

  • The Iranian regime has exploited the global financial system to fund its malign activities.
    • The regime has used this funding to support terrorism, promote ruthless regimes, destabilize the region, and abuse the human rights of its own people.
  • The Trump Administration intends to fully enforce the sanctions reimposed against Iran, and those who fail to wind down activities with Iran risk severe consequences.
  • Since the President announced his decision on May 8 to withdraw from the JCPOA, the Administration has sanctioned 38 Iran-related targets in six separate actions.

PROTECTING OUR NATIONAL SECURITY: The JCPOA was defective at its core and failed to guarantee the safety of the American people.

  • President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran deal upheld his highest obligation: to protect the safety and security of the American people.
  • The Iranian regime only grew more aggressive under the cover of the JCPOA and was given access to more resources to pursue its malign activities.
    • The regime continues to threaten the United States and our allies, exploit the international financial system, and support terrorism and foreign proxies.
  • The Administration is working with allies to bring pressure on the Iranian regime to achieve an agreement that denies all paths to a nuclear weapon and addresses other malign activities.

Read the full text of the Executive Order.

Read the full statement from President Trump. 

Mike Pompeo: Iranians Tired of ‘Mafia’ Regime’s ‘Fake News’

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Breitbart, by Adelle Nazarian, July 23, 2018:

SIMI VALLEY, California – United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed some of the most powerful members of Iran’s expatriate community on Sunday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, during which he said, “Iranians should not have to flee their homeland to find a better life” and countered the “fake news” narrative of Iran’s regime.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced Pompeo to the crowd of approximately 1,000 Iranian Americans and Americans.

“When Mike Pompeo stands with you, you will never stand alone,” Cotton said, after noting that during his travels with America’s top diplomat, the duo became aware of secret side deals the previous administration had been conducting with the Iranian regime.

“Mike Pompeo will tell plain truths to friend and foe alike,” he said, adding that “the ayatollahs crave legitimacy but the Iranian people will not give it to them, and the United States will not confer it so long as Mike Pompeo is our secretary of state.”

Pompeo thanked the Iranians present in the crowd and said he looks “forward to hearing from you this evening, learning more about the situation in Iran, and understanding what your loved ones and friends are going through” living in Iran. He added, “Not all Iranians see things the same way. But I think everyone can agree that the regime in Iran has been a nightmare for the Iranian people … and it is important that your unity on that point is not diminished by differences elsewhere.”

He said, “I want you to know that the Trump administration dreams the same dreams for the people of Iran as you do, and through our labors and God’s providence, they will one day come true.”

Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of the Iranian regime’s seizure of power from Iran’s last Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Pompeo noted that the so-called “fruits from that Revolution have been bitter.”

Pompeo stated that subsidies provided to the regime’s cronies have provided the average Hezbollah combatant with roughly two to three times the monthly salary of what the average firefighter makes in Iran today.

“Regime mismanagement has led to the rial plummeting in value,” Pompeo said. “A third of Iranian youth are unemployed and a third of Iranians live below the poverty line. The bitter irony of the economic situation in Iran is that the regime lines its own pockets while its people cry out for jobs, reform, and opportunity.”

Thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets of Iran, particularly in cities outside of the nation’s capital city, to protest against inflation. Shouts of “Death to the dictator!” and “Death to Rouhani” were prominent throughout at least eight cities where protests took place against the regime.

“The bitter irony of the economic situation in Iran is that the regime lines its own pockets while its people cry out for jobs, reform, and opportunity,” Pompeo said. He pointed out that “the Iranian economy is going great – but only if you’re a politically connected member of the elite.”

On Sunday, shortly after Pompeo’s speech, President Donald Trump tweeted a warning to Rouhani and the Iranian regime:

Trump’s statement came in response to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s saying on Sunday, “War with Iran is the mother of all wars.”

Pompeo noted on Sunday that Seddiq Ardeshir Larijani, the head of Iran’s Judiciary, has a net worth of $300 million dollars “from embezzling public funds into his bank account.” The Trump administration sactioned Larijani in January for human rights abuses and corruption.

America’s top diplomat further noted that “former IRGC officer and Minister of the Interior Sadeq Mahsouli is nicknamed ‘the Billionaire General’ [and went from being a poor IRGC officer at the end of the Iran-Iraq war to being worth billions of dollars” by winning “lucrative construction and oil trading contracts from businesses associated with the IRGC. Being an old college buddy of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad just might have had something to do with it.”

Pompeo also noted that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has his own personal, off-the-books hedge fund called the Setad, which is worth $95 billion dollars.

“Call me crazy, but I’m a little skeptical that a thieving thug under international sanctions is the right man to be Iran’s highest-ranking judicial official,” Pompeo said.

He said America is not afraid to “spread our message on the airwaves and online inside Iran. For forty years the Iranian people have heard from their leaders that America is the Great Satan. We do not believe they are interested in hearing that fake news any longer.”
“The level of corruption and wealth among regime leaders shows that Iran is run by something that resembles the mafia more than a government,” he said.

He noted that Iran’s support for President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Israel, Shia militant groups in Iraq, and the Houthi rebels in Yemen all “feed on billions in regime cash while the Iranian people shout slogans like ‘Leave Syria. Think about us!’”

During his speech, Pompeo also mentioned the oppression against members of Iran’s Arab population, namely the Ahwazis. Pompeo also mentioned the reimposition of sanctions on Iran and the November 4 deadline by which all nations must stop importing Iranian oil.

The November deadline is likely symbolic.

From November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981, 51 American diplomats were held hostage for 444 days in what became known as the Iranian hostage crisis.

He highlighted three Iranian Americans who have made an impact on their society–namely, Goli Ameri, who has served at the State Department and the U.N.; Susan Azizzadeh, who heads the Iranian American Jewish Federation; and Makan Delrahim, who currently serves as the assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice (DOJ).

In closing, Pompeo quoted President Ronald Reagan during his Westminster address.

“Freedom is not the sole prerogative of a lucky few, but the inalienable and universal right of all human beings.” He added, “Now we call on everyone here in the audience and our international partners to help us shine a spotlight on the regime’s abuses and support the Iranian people.”

Adelle Nazarian is a politics and national security reporter for Breitbart News. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Iran is unsteady on the inside — the US should squeeze from the outside

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The Hill, by Peter Huessy, July 5, 2018:

Americans are not eager to find more dragons to slay around the world. Thus, the military counter-terror effort against Iranian activity in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq will ultimately be largely a local affair with diminished U.S. support.

However, whatever deterrent forces we continue to deploy, such as our much-improved missile defenses and naval presence in the Persian Gulf region, the United States and our allies need to use whatever political, economic, diplomatic and commercial capabilities we have to help the people of Iran take the regime down themselves.

Can such a policy succeed? The signs are encouragingPresident Trumphas put together an emerging coalition to counter Iran that includes Egypt, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. The Saudi coalition is now moving fast to take down the Iranian-financed and armed Houthis in Yemen; ISIS has been largely destroyed by U.S. and allied forces; and Israel and the U.S. have taken out key Iranian military targets in Syria.

Correlation of forces against Iran?

What the Soviets in the 1970’s called the “correlation of forces” is moving against Iran. That is due in significant part to the changed policies of the new American administration.

The Iranian currency is collapsingcapital flight is growing; the middle class is rebelling, as are minorities; and government repression has accelerated including beatings, jailing, extrajudicial executions, and arbitrary arrests.

Many thousands of Iranians are protesting in multiple cities and townships against regime-caused hardships, and the mullahs can only promise them “severe punishment.”

Current U.S. sanctions have intimidated numerous multinationals from investing in Iran. As a result, the oil and gas sector, the keystone of the entire Iranian economy, is suffering. We could, as we have previouslydone, impose serious penalties against European banks for facilitating illicit Iran-related financial activities.

A new policy and plan

What then should be our plan?

First, of critical importance, Iran should be removed from access to SWIFT, (The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications), so it cannot sell and purchase oil. SWIFT’s corporate rules prohibit its users from engaging in “conduct which is not in line with generally accepted business conduct principles” and in 2012 the European Union took exactly such action (but it was later rescinded in 2015).

Second, Iran’s oil exports should then be effectively embargoed, with concomitant steps taken by the U.S. and its allies to step up alternative oil production including ANWR and the Keystone pipeline.

Third, Iran should be removed from international forums and its embassies shuttered, even as we mount a campaign of public diplomacy to fully support the Iranian people in their struggle to be free.

Fourth, a fully-funded program of stopping desertification and enhancing water supplies for the people of a new Iran should be planned by America and its allies. Drastic water shortages are a serious threat to millions of Iranians.

Fifth, a cyber-campaign should be implemented against Iran’s nuclear weapons program and rocket manufacturing facilities.

Sixth, the U.S. should announce that if Iranian “fast attack” boats and drones resume harassing American naval vessels, the watchwords should be “sink ‘em”.

Seventh, our border security should be stepped up to ensure threats do not enter America.

Eighth, and most important, besides a public diplomacy campaign supporting Iranian dissidents, the U.S. should help the protesters in the street. Strike funds and encrypted phones should be supplied in a fashion similar to America’s support of Poland’s Solidarity movement during the Reagan administration.

Hard Choices

Iran is no true democracy; there are no moderates in power; Iran seeks no accommodation with the West, nor has the regime given up its quest for nuclear weapons.

In light of these truths, the inherited Iran policy must be junked. Unfortunately, changing U.S. Iran policy will not be easy. Critics of such a new administration policy say that proposing regime behavior change is a pipe dream and simply a demand that Iran “give up.” Others warn the “regime change evangelists” are back in the White House.

Non-intervention may sound attractive and it is a tempting path to follow. But what if Iran succeeded in its goal of becoming the hegemon of the Middle East, filling the vacuum that would be created by our complete withdrawal?

Such a power position would make Iran a key player of the production and sale of what some estimate to be 70 percent of the world’s hydrocarbons — a chief component of petroleum and natural gas — and would consequently give the mullahs huge leverage over the economies of all industrialized nations.

The choice before America and her allies is simple. Either help the people of Iran end the reign of the mullahs, or see a hegemon arise in the Middle East that is opposed to all our collective interests and security.

Peter Huessy is the director of Strategic Deterrent Studies at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies of the Air Force Association. He has been a guest professor on Nuclear Policy and Congressional Relations at the U.S. Naval Academy since 2011. Previously, Huessy was a senior defense fellow at American Foreign Policy Council.

EXCLUSIVE: Michigan Mosques Linked to Iranian Regime

An Iranian student shows her support for the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of the Iranian regime (Illustrative photo: ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro and Alex Vanness, July 3, 2018:

The radical Shiite ideology of the Iranian regime is dying within Iran, as evidenced by the ongoing protests, but it is still being actively promoted by three mosques in Michigan. 

Dearborn: Karbala Islamic Education Center

In Dearborn, the Karbala Islamic Education Center is led by an imam who is openly supportive of the Iranian regime and the Hezbollah terrorist group it puppeteers to wage jihad on its enemies.

In April, Imam Husaham al-Hussainy was in Baghdad, Iraq, where he was a guest speaker for a crowd affiliated with the Iranian-backed militia Saraya Ashura. Iranian regime operatives have directly trained and armed many of its fighters. It has been described as the “military wing” of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a pro-Iran political party.

The militia threatened to attack U.S. personnel in Iraq in November 2017. One of the militia’s commanders declared that the U.S. “has become our direct enemy” and that its military must leave Iraq because “they have now become a target for our forces.”

In February, he posted a picture exalting the Supreme Leader of Iran, suggesting that the regime is somehow democratic and has popular support. In the post, Imam al-Hussainy praised the 1979 Islamic Revolution that brought the theocratic Iranian regime to power.

In 2007, Al-Hussainy was asked about his appearances at rallies that supported Hezbollah.

When asked in a television interview if he believed Hezbollah was a terrorist organization, he responded with “No.” He then expounded: “There is a biblical meaning of Hezbollah. It is in Judaism and Christianity and Islam meaning people of God.” At the end of the interview he stated, “You know what Hezbollah means. I support the people of God.”

Al-Hussainy has also promoted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

In 2015, the Karbalaa Center posted a video to their Facebook page featuring Imam al-Hussainy condemning Saudi attacks on Yemen, describing [in Arabic] Saudi actions as terrorism and claiming they are “Agents of the Jews.”

Nonetheless, Al-Hussainy has participated in interfaith events both nationally and throughout the city of Detroit.

Considered by many to be a respected voice within the Islamic community of Detroit, Imam al-Hussainy was even invited to provide the invocation to the Democratic National Committee’s Annual Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. Last year, he was invited to speak at a memorial service to remember the victims of 9/11 with Detroit community leaders, despite having as history of problematic stances on terrorism.

When he spoke at the DNC Convention, he stirred up controversy for describing the United States as an occupying force.

The Karbala Islamic Center may also be influencing other mosques and congregations. It conducts activities with nearby organizations, including the Islamic Center of America and the Islamic Institute of Knowledge.

The population of Dearborn is about 40 percent Muslim, the majority of which are Shiite.

The Iranian regime, Hezbollah and their Shiite Islamist allies are building alliances in Dearborn that can threaten the U.S., expand their jihadist network and play upon sectarian identity to overpower moderate Shiite voices.

Walled Lake: Zainabia Center of Michigan

The Zainabia Center of Michigan, also known as the Ahlebait Association of Michigan, is a Shiite mosque located in Walled Lake.

The mosque posts messages from the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, treating him as a respected religious authority who Muslims should listen to.

In 2014, the Zainabia Center had an extremist imam, Shaykh Usama Abdulghani, as a guest speaker. He was brought in to teach about the Quran.

In 2017, Abdulghani provided a voiceover for a video describing ISIS as a plot of Israel and the West. It referred to Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei as “the Leader.”

While showing Hezbollah terrorists marching, the video threatened the West, saying it had “united the believers” and “led to people being trained” who are “ready to rock and roll.”

The mosque also held a candlelight vigil and protest in solidarity with a Shiite leader in Pakistan named Allama Raja Nasir Abbas Jaffri.

The leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, met with Jaffri in 2012. Nasrallah praised Jaffri and called on Shiites and Sunnis in Pakistan to unite against U.S. influence in their country, similar to how Hezbollah fought the Israelis in Lebanon. Nasrallah claimed that Jaffri’s organization informed him that they have the same goals.

Another radical speaker that the Zainabia Center has given a platform to is Shaykh Ahmed Haneef, who preached there in 2009.

Haneef spoke at the “Imam Khomeini Conference” in England in 2013. He often appears on the Iranian regime’s propaganda television network. In one episode, he and his guest claimed anti-Semitism is not real. His guest railed against “Jewish hegemony.”

The mosque hosted Dawud Walid, the leader of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which the Justice Department has identified as an “entity” of the Muslim Brotherhood’s pro-Hamas network in America.

Walid provided updates in 2010 about the death of the radical Imam Luqmaan Abdullah from Detroit, who was killed during an FBI raid where he and his extremist colleagues opened fire on the agents and killed one of the agents’ dogs.

Abdullah was part of an anti-American extremist group named Ummah that prepared for violent jihad against the U.S. government. CAIR and other Islamists have consistently portrayed the imam as an innocent Muslim who was murdered by bigoted FBI agents.

Dearborn Heights: Islamic House of Wisdom

In 2013, the Clarion Project published our analysis of grants distributed by the Alavi Foundation, a known front for the Iranian regime that was used to finance its nuclear program and promote its radical ideology.

The Washington Post, in 2009, reported U.S. officials’ claims that the Alavi Foundation “promotes Tehran’s views on world affairs.” Hamid Azimi, communications director for the Iranian-American Community of Northern California, says the foundation is part of the regime’s “propaganda machine.”

The Alavi Foundation’s publicly-available declarations showed that it sent $43,700 to the Islamic House of Wisdom between 2004 and 2009.

You can see why the Iranian regime front felt that the Islamic House of Wisdom is worthy of its investment. The mosque’s website teaches about jihad by referencing Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the theocratic regime, giving him the respected title of “imam.”

The spiritual leader of the Islamic House of Wisdom is Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi. According to his bio, he began studying at an Islamic seminary in Iran at age 12. He was arrested by the shah of Iran’s security services in 1978. After the Islamic Revolution brought the theocratic regime to power, it appointed him as “an Islamic ethics teacher at the Iranian Naval Academy, a position he held for five years.”

In 1988, he founded the Cultural Research Center in Tehran, “which focused on the Iranian sacrificial motivation to defend Iran for eight years against Saddam Hussein’s aggression.”

In other words, the regime allowed him—and probably helped him—to idolize “martyrs” who die fighting for the country. One former CIA case officer described this culture as a “fraternity of death” where “many of these folks lived to die.”

The “sacrificial motivation” during the Iran-Iraq War included human waves with many child soldiers. The children were even given keys before battle to symbolize how their deaths in jihad would earn them entry into paradise. Young boys were roped together to prevent any from retreating as they threw their bodies into minefields to clear the way for the military.

He moved to Dearborn in 1992, leading the Islamic Center of America, another mosque in Michigan that has been supportive of Hezbollah figures and Louis Farrakhan in recent years. Imam Elahi then established the Islamic House of Wisdom in 1995.

Elahi appears on Iranian state-controlled propaganda TV to parrot the Supreme Leader’s lines, such as claiming that Iran is being falsely accused of seeking nuclear weapons.

He equates Israel and ISIS and instigates terrorism against Israel with inflammatory condemnations and accusations that any trusting listener would interpret as warranting jihad. His statements do not condemn Hamas and its terrorism but instead paint the group essentially as freedom-fighters engaged in legitimate jihad.

Elahi’s preaching sides with the Syrian regime and its Iranian, Hezbollah and Russian backers, as seen in his outrage over the killing of the Russian ambassador in Turkey. His statement accused Assad’s opponents of being “puppet terrorists” of Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Conclusion

Videos are being published on the Internet every few hours showing Iranians protesting the regime. These demonstrators have seen the results of the Iranian regime’s theocratic Islamic Revolution and are rejecting it.

Yet, while these Iranians strive for international recognition and support, Shiite Muslims in America are failing to rally to their side. Why?

Our findings regarding the above three mosques provide part of the answer.

The Iranian regime and Shiite Islamists are controlling the platforms necessary to rally support for a cause. As a result, these Iranian protestors—most of them Shiite—are abandoned by the Shiite Islamist leaders in America.

Terror Plot Against Iranian Dissidents Foiled In Europe

The foiled terrorist plot takes place amidst a backdrop of growing discontent within Iran. For more than six months, Iranians have been protesting and in some cases, striking.

The Federalist, by Matthew Brodsky, July 3, 2018:

The regime in Tehran must be growing nervous. European officials disrupted a terrorist plot aimed at a large conference in France for exiled Iranians opposed to the ruling regime.

An Iranian diplomat was arrested in Germany, along with two others suspected of plotting the bomb attack at the gathering. Three others of Iranian origin were arrested in France. Apparently, as both internal and external pressure mounts against the regime, they are recklessly lashing out against the West.

The two Belgian nationals, identified only as Amir S. and his wife, Nasimeh N., of Iranian origin, were charged with “attempted terrorist murder and the preparation of a terrorist offence,” according to a statementfrom the Belgium prosecutor. They were found with approximately 500 grams of a homemade explosive and an ignition mechanism inside their Mercedes.

Their contact, Assadollah A., an Iranian diplomat at the Austrian Embassy in Vienna, was also arrested. The failed plot is all the more brazen considering that Iran’s President Rouhani landed in Zurich on Monday and is scheduled to visit Vienna for talks regarding the nuclear agreement on Wednesday.

The choice of target was undoubtedly intended to send a message as well. The National Council of Resistance of Iran, an umbrella bloc of Iranian opposition groups that demands regime change, hosted the event, in which tens of thousands attended in Villepinte, just outside Paris. Aside from the range of European and Arab officials who attended and spoke, President Trump’s lawyer and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani also addressed the gathering, along with former House speaker Newt Gingrich.

They were joined on stage by many former U.S. diplomats and politicians from both sides of the aisle, who included former UN ambassador and Democratic governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson. In response to the foiled attacked, Giuliani expressed his appreciation of the “fine work of law enforcement particularly in Belgium and France.”

An Untrustworthy Iran Denies Involvement

Naturally, Iran’s silver-tongued foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, dismissed his government’s complicity in the planned operation via Twitter: “How convenient: Just as we embark on a presidential visit to Europe, an alleged Iranian operation and its ‘plotters’ arrested. Iran unequivocally condemns all violence & terror anywhere, and is ready to work with all concerned to uncover what is a sinister false flag ploy.”

The problem, however, is that lying is somewhat of a regime specialty. For example, in April Zarif also told reporters, “We don’t intend to get a bomb,” and “Iran never raced towards a bomb, nor will it race towards a bomb. End of story.”

A few days later, Israel revealed a half ton of documents and digital files, blueprints it says it lifted from a secret warehouse in Tehran that detailed Iran’s plans to build nuclear weapons. Zarif’s condemnation of terrorism also rings hollow given that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and forces loyal to it have killed thousands in Syria in the regime’s effort to keep Bashar al-Assad in power.

Nor is it the first time such an audacious Iranian terrorist plot was thwarted in the West. For example, a scheme to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States with a bomb at a popular Washington restaurant was uncovered in 2011.

Iranians Are Fed Up With Their Authoritarian Leaders

The foiled terrorist plot takes place amidst a backdrop of growing discontent within Iran. For more than six months, Iranians have been protesting and in some cases striking, and their numbers are increasing. Unlike the crowds that took to the streets to protest the sham elections in 2009, the current outpouring of anger towards the regime has leapt from small cities in the Iranian hinterland to the capital in Tehran and more than 140 cities and towns. The demonstrations involve a cross-section of Iranian society that has included farmers, truck drivers, students, and bazar merchants, among many others. Unfortunately for the regime, the movement is proving durable.

The people have denounced the regime for spending money and other resources on foreign military adventures rather than using the $100 billion financial injection from the nuclear deal to improve the situation for ordinary Iranians at home. They’ve chanted, “Leave Syria alone, deal with us” along with “Neither Gaza, nor Lebanon, I give my life for Iran.”

In recent weeks, Iranians were even seen chanting “Death to Palestine,” an indication that standard regime-sponsored rallying cries, such as “Death to Israel” or the United States, are fast fading from fashion. In fact, whatever the regime promotes is increasingly being seen as antithetical to what everyday Iranians are striving for.

Iran’s rulers are bound to be further squeezed financially. When President Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran, it triggered a wind-down period to the return of biting economic sanctions set to go into effect on August 6 and November 4, respectively.

Those will target Iran’s energy sector (oil, petroleum, and petrochemicals), and all of the ancillary sanctions associated with it, such as the banking sector, shipping, shipbuilding, and ports. That is in addition to the U.S. Treasury Department terminating licensing for civil aviation, no longer dealing financially with Iranian rial, and not providing precious metals to the Iranian regime. European businesses are already fleeing the Iranian market in advance of the deadlines. If the Iranian rial is currently in a tailspin, it’s bound to nosedive in August.

It remains to be seen how the Trump administration or America’s European allies will respond to the latest Iranian terrorist challenge in France. Long before taking up the post of defense secretary, Jim Mattis told those gathered at the 2013 Aspen Security Forum that he thought the United States made a serious mistake by not responding more assertively to the 2011 foiled Iranian plot in Washington.

“We caught them in the act,” Mattis said, “and yet we let them walk free.” There’s a new sheriff in Washington today, who is bound to be less forgiving than his predecessor. The first indication of Europe’s response will be seen by Wednesday, when Iran’s president sits down with European diplomats.

Matthew RJ Brodsky is a senior fellow at the Security Studies Group in Washington, D.C. He can be followed on Twitter at @RJBrodsky .
Photo Mohammad Ali Jafari / Wikimedia
Also see:

Economic Crisis Triggers Massive Iranian Protests

A group of protesters chant slogans at the old grand bazaar in Tehran, Iran, June 25, 2018. (Iranian Labor News Agency via AP)

IPT, by John Rossomando  •  

Chants of “Death to Palestine,” “Help us, not Gaza,” “Our enemy is right here, they lie and say its America” and “Leave Syria alone and deal with Iran” reverberated through Iran’s capital Monday. Tehran merchants protested the collapse of their country’s currency, the rial, which has lost half its value this year.

Other demonstrations broke out in other Iranian cities.

The chants show discontent with the government’s indifference toward Iran’s economy and its insistence on spending billions of dollars on foreign wars and on terrorism. Iran received more than $100 billion in sanctions relief under the Obama administration’s nuclear deal, but ordinary Iranians have not seen the benefits.

Iran announced plans this week to set the official currency exchange rate at 42,000 rials to the dollar. A dollar bought 70 rials after Iran’s 1979 revolution. Sanctions announced last month by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo could further worsen the situation.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) dominates Iran’s economy. It also forms the backbone of Iran’s terror support around the world, from Hizballah and the Shiite militias in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The IRGC’s investment in terrorism is directly connected to the plummeting rial, exiled Iranian journalist Babak Taghvaee told the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

Protesters spontaneously filled Tehran’s Grand Bazaar Monday, marched on the parliament and clashed with IRGC riot police.

The magnitude of the protests rivals those of 1978 that brought the current regime to power.

While the protests caught the regime off guard, they are not expected to lead to its overthrow, Taghvaee said. Unlike the shah’s regime, which acquiesced to foreign pressure in the face of demonstrations, the Islamic Republic will fight to keep its power.

“This regime is not acting softly like [the] shah. As they always say: ‘We have not come to the power that easily, to leave quickly,'” Taghvaee said.

But if it did fall, the repercussions would extend far beyond Iran’s borders, Commentarymagazine writer Sohrab Ahmari wrote.

“Hamas and [Hizballah] and Palestinian Jihad can kiss their Iranian funding goodbye if the regime falls,” Ahmari said.

Also see:

Iran Admits To Facilitating 9/11 Terror Attacks

9/11 / Getty Images

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, June 8, 2018:

Iranian officials, in a first, have admitted to facilitating the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. by secretly aiding the free travel of al Qaeda operatives who eventually went on to fly commercial airliners into the Twin Towers in New York City, according to new remarks from a senior Iranian official.

Mohammad-Javad Larijani, an international affairs assistant in the Iran’s judiciary, disclosed in Farsi-language remarks broadcast on Iran’s state-controlled television that Iranian intelligence officials secretly helped provide the al Qaeda attackers with passage and gave them refuge in the Islamic Republic, according to an English translation published by Al Arabiya.

“Our government agreed not to stamp the passports of some of them because they were on transit flights for two hours, and they were resuming their flights without having their passports stamped. However their movements were under the complete supervision of the Iranian intelligence,” Larijani was quoted as saying.

The remarks represent the first time senior Iranian officials have publicly admitted to aiding al Qaeda and playing a direct role in facilitating the 9/11 attacks.

The U.S. government has long accused Iran of playing a role in the attacks and even fined the Islamic Republic billions as a result. The U.S. 9/11 Commission assembled to investigate the attacks concluded that Iran played a role in facilitating the al Qaeda terrorists.

Larijani admitted that Iranian officials did not stamp the passports of the al Qaeda militants in order to obfuscate their movements and prevent detection by foreign governments. Al Qaeda operative also were given safe refuge in Iran.

“The Americans took this as evidence of Iran’s cooperation with al-Qaeda and viewed the passage of an airplane through Iran’s airspace, which had one of the pilots who carried out the attacks and a Hezbollah military leader sitting [next to] him on board, as evidence of direct cooperation with al-Qaeda through the Lebanese Hezbollah,” Larijani was quoted as saying in the May 30 interview, which is gaining traction on social media.

The U.S. government has not formally commented on the interview, but did highlight it in an official tweet from the State Department’s Arabic-only Twitter page.

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