What the Arrests of Pro-Regime Americans Tells Us About Iranian Leadership in Turmoil

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With the recent arrest and detention in Iran of Siamak Namazi, an Iranian-American businessman, and Nizar Zakka, a U.S. legal resident, by intelligence operatives of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), murky jockeying for power at the top levels of the Tehran regime just got murkier.

Set against the backdrop of a nuclear ‘deal’ that nobody in Iran has either approved or signed and a generational shift underway between the by-now very wealthy founders of Khomeini’s 1979 revolution and a lean and hungry younger cohort of hardliners imbued with the zeal of true believers, the arrests seem at first glance to make little sense.

Namazi, a Dubai-based close associate of key Iran Lobby figure, Trita Parsi and his National Iranian American Council (NIAC), and Zakka, an IT executive with Beirut connections (and a checkered past involving Canadian accusations of running an illegal immigration racket), would appear to have all the right connections and credentials to stay out of this kind of trouble.

And yet, Namazi today sits in Evin Prison and Zakka was detained after being lured to a mid-September 2015 conference to promote entrepreneurship in Iran.

While some regime insiders, like President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who have been close to the top leadership since the Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah, now seek a more open business and political environment to develop and protect their economic equities, powerful factions within the IRGC, some of which own (collectively) as much as one-third of the Iranian economy, and some of whom (like former Pasdar President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) oppose any opening whatsoever to the U.S. or the West on ideological grounds, are determined to keep Iran (and its financial assets) firmly within their own grip.

The big question is, where does Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, stand?

If perennial reports about his ill-health are to be believed, he might not be standing at all for long. But at this writing, it is his word that – probably – still defines Iranian policy. Unless elements of the IRGC finally have grown powerful enough to challenge even the Supreme Leader. In any case, these recent arrests are likely as much about the gathering succession struggle as sending a signal to over-excited American officials panting after a nuclear deal that never was and probably never will be.

Adding Namazi and Zakka to the four American hostages already being held by the Tehran regime may not trouble the Obama White House or its hapless negotiating team, but ought to serve as notice on several counts:

  • There will be no gush of reciprocity from Tehran for the abundance of U.S. concessions made during the protracted talks over Iran’s nuclear weapons program
  • Any American hopes for a new dawn of mutual understanding with Tehran on its human rights abuses, regional geo-strategic aggression, support for terrorism, or commitment to development of nuclear weapons and the ballistic missile means to deliver them need to be dashed like pumpkins after Halloween
  • The internal succession struggle over who or what eventually will take the place of current Supreme Leader  is well-underway and we understand next to nothing about it
  • The entire nuclear negotiations process, not to mention more American citizens and U.S. policy in the Middle East itself, could well end up as collateral damage if U.S. national security leadership doesn’t soon get a lot more sober-minded about who and what it is we are dealing with in Tehran: a jihadist regime bent on hegemonic regional power, locked in by a deliverable nuclear weapons capability.

Clare Lopez is Vice President for Research and Analysis at the Center for Security Policy. Ms. Lopez manages the Center’s counterjihad and shariah programs, bringing with her also an expertise on Iran, Hizballah, and southern border issues.

Also see:

The Supreme Leader Caught in His Own Web?

khawebIran Truth, by Clare Lopez, August 19, 2015:

For those who have only experienced either democracy or dictatorship, it is difficult to grasp the complexities of Iran’s political system, which is an autocracy that has adopted some democratic features. A careful reading of the Iranian constitution, however, clarifies for the reader that the Supreme Leader is the one and only person who wields ultimate power in that system, including appointment power for a vast number of positions.

Hossein Shariatmadari, editor-in-chief of Kayhan, the most important Iranian daily widely viewed as the regime outlet for the Supreme Leader’s ideas and policies, is one of those appointed to his job directly by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Thus, it was no surprise that Shariatmadari’s 15 August 2015 editorial, claiming that Khamenei opposes the nuclear deal, drew immediate attention. Obviously, Shariatmadari would not have written that without Khamenei’s consent. The confusing part, however, is that Hamid Reza Moghadam Far, top advisor to MG Mohammed Ali Jafari, Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commander, then harshly criticized Shariatmadari and warned him not to ascribe to the Supreme Leader his own ideas and understandings.

Given that Jafari is directly appointed by the Supreme Leader (just like Shariatmadari), and that there’s little history of this Iranian regime sending out such mixed messages from its own top ranks, the only conclusion possible is that sowing confusion is a calculated move at this time, intended to serve a regime objective.

For over three decades, the Islamic regime of Iran has made implacable enmity toward the U.S. and Israel the foundation of its official foreign policy, reflecting its leaders’ ideological dedication and fervor. Generations of young people have been indoctrinated to Islamic beliefs and recruited to the IRGC, Qods Force, and Basij on the basis of commitment to these beliefs. A blood-soaked litany of terror attacks instigated by this mullahs’ regime stretches from the ruins of the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut through Khobar Towers, the East Africa Embassy bombings, the USS Cole attack, 9/11 and hundreds of American troops killed and maimed by Iranian and Hizballah explosives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tehran’s support for Islamic terror groups has left a global trail of murder and mayhem. “Resistance” is what the Ayatollahs call it. “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” are the slogans, chanted in endless repetition. America is the “Great Satan” and Israel the “Little Satan.” Never did the Supreme Leader imagine negotiating, much less reaching an actual agreement, with such hated enemies.

But the sanctions took their toll and financial collapse had to be avoided, even if it meant coming to the table to negotiate with the world’s superpowers, however noxious that was for Khamenei personally. Getting the West to believe Iran was desperate enough to obtain relief from sanctions that it would agree to limit its nuclear weapons program was only a clever ruse, of course, but it worked. The first step was allowing Hassan Rouhani, an old regime hand who’d served as negotiator in earlier talks, to become president. Khamenei needed Rouhani’s smiling demeanor to smooth international impressions of the Islamic Republic. The years-long cultivation of Secretary John Kerry by Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also would pay off big time. The clincher was bringing in Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, an old friend of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEO) chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, to push through to the final agreement. Intelligence services like Iran’s are willing to invest lots of time and effort with targets at this level.

The American collapse on every single key issue—from enrichment (a stipulation demanded—and obtained—even before the first secret talks began in Oman in 2011) to centrifuges, the Arak plutonium-producing reactor, off-limits facilities, Iran’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), sanctions relief, and P5+1 technical assistance with nuclear development and site protection—surprised and delighted the Iranians. Contrary to Shariatmadari’s claims, the Supreme Leader is in fact quite satisfied with the nuclear deal; but, he cannot show that publicly, for two key reasons. If the U.S. Congress should vote against the deal, potentially leaving in place even some sanctions that President Obama could neither waive nor lift, Khamenei would find himself the public supporter of a failed deal. The powerful IRGC and Basij militia might hold him responsible for compromising the blood of martyrs and values of the Islamic Revolution for which the Iranian people sacrificed their economy and lives. And that would spell the end of the regime.

What to do? Khamenei wants the benefits of this deal without any of the possible liabilities. So, even as his trusted Iran Lobby pulls out the stops to make sure the deal goes through, he tries to find a way to support it without disappointing the guns that keep him in power. Solution: in public, Khamenei has spoken in general, nebulous phrases that convey no certain position. But in private, to certain audiences among the IRGC, Qods Force, and Basij, he pretends to oppose the deal. To others, he expresses support. Each group is allowed to go out and express its understanding of the Supreme Leader’s position with the media. Meanwhile, Khamenei plays the game safely and waits to see which way the deal will go.

If something goes wrong with the deal, Khamenei will be the one who warned Rouhani’s negotiating team not to trust the Americans. Publicly, then, he can discredit Shariatmadari and claim the media misstated his position (even though everyone knows that without Khamenei’s prior permission, neither Jafari nor Kayhan’s editor-in-chief would even discuss the subject). The regime is trapped in a web of its own making. It has radiated hatred toward Israel and the West for so long and so insistently that it cannot now just stop chanting “Death to America” or calling for Israel to be wiped off the face of the map. Nor can it abandon its terror proxies across the region. Disappointing the IRGC and Basij that are the backbone of this regime would shake the very foundation of the Islamic Republic of Iran: unthinkable.

Khamenei depends on the U.S. Congress to save his regime. Congressional members may want to think about that long and hard before voting on this disastrous deal next month.

This piece was co-written by Daniel Akbari, a lawyer certified to practice before the Supreme Court of Iran, holds a master’s degree from Texas State University and a graduate certificate in homeland security from the Bush School of Government and Public service. 

Also see:

Many believe that Senator Chuck Schumer holds the key to dismantling deal with Iran

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

Florida Family Association, July 30, 2015:

Thousands of protesters flooded Times Square on July 22, 2015 to rally against President Obama’s controversial Iran nuclear arms deal.  The rally is specifically aimed at urging Senator Chuck Schumer to rally Democratic opposition against the deal in Congress. “New York Senator Charles Schumer has the votes as presumptive leader to override this deal if he wants,” says Jeff Wiesenfeld, one of the group’s organizers. “If this deal is not stopped, New York voters will know whom to blame.”

The Hill Reports Lieberman: Schumer is key to blocking nuclear deal.

Former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) is pressuring a top Senate Democrat to buck the Obama administration on its Iran nuclear deal to ensure a safer future for Israel. 

Lieberman, the Senate’s first Orthodox Jew, blasted the agreement with Iran on “The Cats Roundtable” with host John Catsimatidis on New York’s AM 970.

He said the deal could be effectively blocked with the help of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). 

“I think it opens the way for a lot of other Democrats to oppose it as well,” Lieberman said of his longtime colleague, who is also Jewish.“Chuck is the key.” 

Schumer, who is likely to become the Senate’s next top Democrat, faces a major dilemma over the nuclear deal. He is both a key ally to both Israel and the White House, facing pressure from both sides on the deal.

Lieberman blasted White House negotiators for a deal that he said would allow Iran to ignore U.S. demands and instead support its own regional allies, which he described as “terrorist.” 

“How can you make a deal with somebody who says they want to kill you?” Lieberman asked, reiterating the stance of Israeli leaders and its supporters who oppose the deal. “Pretty impossible in my opinion.” 

ayatollah-ali-khamenei2

Iran’s Khamenei hails his people for demanding death to America and Israel.  Times of Israel – July 18, 2015Iran’s supreme leader on Saturday hailed the Iranian masses for demanding the destruction of Israel and America, and said he hoped that God would answer their prayers.

At Al-Quds day rallies last week, Khamenei noted appreciatively, “You heard ‘Death to Israel’, ‘Death to the US.’ You could hear it. The whole nation was shaken by these slogans. It wasn’t only confined to Tehran. The whole of the nation, you could hear, that was covered by this great movement. So we ask Almighty God to accept these prayers by the people of Iran.”In a viciously anti-US speech delivered in Tehran four days after Iran and the world powers signed an accord designed to thwart Iran’s nuclear program, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised “the slogans of the people of Iran” which “indicated what directions they’re heading for,” according to the English translation of his speech by Iran’s Press TV.

Here are three key points to consider regarding Obama’s Iran Deal:

  • The Iran deal does not permit anytime, anywhere inspections of Iran’s military facilities.
  • The Iran deal lifts the ban on other countries sending Iran conventional weapons in five years and intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of hitting the United States in eight years.
  • The Iran deal, valued at $150 billion, is worth more than all the U.S. aid to Israel since 1948. $150 billion would go to a single regime that has been a state sponsor of terrorism for the entire 36 years of its existence.

The deal does not prevent a nuclear Iran.  It paves the way for the largest state sponsor of terrorism to obtain nuclear weapons and become a major military power.

Senator Chuck Schumer opposing the Iran deal and successfully preventing its implementation would make him a true American and Israeli hero.  He would be taking a principled stand for the national security of Israel and America over succumbing to partisan politics and strong “friendly fire” from fellow democrats.  He would be a hero in all sense of the word.

Florida Family Association has prepared an email for you to send to urge Senator Schumer to be a hero for America and Israel by opposing the Iran deal.

To send your email, please click the following link, enter your name and email address then click the “Send Your Message” button. You may also edit the subject or message text if you wish.

Click here to send your email urging Senator Schumer to be a hero for America and Israel by opposing the Iran deal.

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Senator Chuck Schumer holds the key to dismantling Obama’s deal with Iran.  Please send prepared email to urge Senator Schumer to oppose Iran deal.   http://floridafamily.org/full_article.php?article_no=495

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Contact information:

The Honorable Charles E. (Chuck) Schumer
United States Senate
322 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3203

DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax:    202-228-3027
NY Phone: 202-224-6542

Senator Chuck Schumer chuck_schumer@schumer.senate.gov

Mike Lynch, Chief of Staff:  mike_lynch@schumer.senate.gov

Megan Taira, Legislative Director:  meghan_taira@schumer.senate.gov

Iran’s Peace Letter from a Poison Pen

In case you haven’t heard, peace is about to break out in the Middle East.

I realize it doesn’t look like that from the headlines: The government just fell in Yemen; Islamic State forces are threatening U.S. Marines in Iraq’s Anbar Province; Hezbollah is vowing revenge against Israel for killing the son of one of their beloved mass murderers.

But then there is Iran. Thirty-six years after the Islamic Revolution, the mullahs may finally be warming up to the Great Satan. On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, sent a letter recently to President Barack Obama saying he was open to a more direct alliance against the Islamic State, if negotiators could iron out a deal on Tehran’s nuclear program. Khamenei has even said publicly he was open to a deal. Secretary of State John Kerry has been meeting with his counterpart, Javad Zarif. The meetings! The channels! The back channels! Diplomacy!

It’s the kind of thing that gets the hearts of our Iran-watchers palpitating. Over the years, Iran has sent a string of envoys to meet with Westerners to explain that their country’s war against the U.S., Israel, Sunni monarchies, ethnic minorities, gays, journalists and dissidents is all a big misunderstanding. Deep down, many of Iran’s leaders just want peace, these emissaries say, but they always end up getting undermined by the hardliners. Now, the hardliner of all hardliners, the supreme leader himself, is talking about peace too. And he’s even suggesting an alliance against a common foe. Any day now, he will lead the crowd in chants of “Life to America!”

All of this is tempting. The U.S. has little to show for its on-again-off-again war against Iran, and the two nations’ interests should be aligned in the war on terrorism that began after Sept. 11, 2001. The Sunni Islamists of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State consider the Shiites who run Iran to be apostates of the true faith. Iran has been fighting them in Syria and now is fighting them in Iraq. Why can’t bygones be bygones?

But before declaring Iran’s president his generation’s Gorbachev, it’s worth considering some bad news. To start, Iran has had an opportunistic relationship with al-Qaeda over the years, despite the whole apostasy problem. A year ago, the Treasury Department laid a lot of this out in a designation about al-Qaeda’s network in Iran. Terrorist operatives based in Mashhad, near Iran’s border with Afghanistan, were allowed to facilitate the transfer of al-Qaeda fighters from Pakistan to Syria through Iranian territory. After 9/11, Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, cut a deal with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps to allow family members to live in Iran while they moved from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Iran was also a key base in the last decade for al-Qaeda operatives such as Saif al-Adel, who was kept under a house arrest so loose he was able to write a semi-regular Internet column and help plan al-Qaeda’s war against the Iraqi government.

OK, opportunistic relationships can change. FDR and Stalin were allies against the Nazis, but after the Third Reich collapsed, the U.S. and the Soviet Union fought a cold war. Why can’t Iran and America be new allies in a war against the Islamic State? In many ways they already are.

The problem is: Iran really loves terrorism. Since 1979, it has used terrorism as a tool of statecraft like no other nation. In his testimony Thursday before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Nick Rasmussen, the head of the National Counterterrorism Center, said Iran and Hezbollah “remain committed to conducting terrorist activities worldwide and we are concerned their activities could either endanger or target U.S. and other Western interests.”

Iran’s leaders have been implicated in terrorist attacks in South America, Europe and the Middle East. The Justice Department in 2011 accused Iran of attempting to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington at a popular Georgetown restaurant, Cafe Milano. For the Islamic Republic to give up its predilection for terror would require a cultural revolution inside its defense establishment. What would the Quds Force be without car bombers and kidnapping?

Some might argue that the 2013 election of President Hassan Rouhani, a supposed reformer, signifies just this kind of change. But there is little evidence he is opening up Iranian society. State executions of gays and arrests of dissidents continue. Even though Rouhani tweeted in 2013 a Jewish New Year message to his followers on Twitter, the regime remains steeped in ugly anti-Semitism. In response to the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris last month, a cultural center in Iran with close ties to the regime announced a Holocaust cartoon contest. Despite Rouhani’s campaign promises, the leaders of the country’s green movement, the people who took to the streets to protest the 2009 elections, remain under house arrest or brutal detention in the country’s prisons. If Iran is unwilling to stop terrorizing its own people, why should anyone think it will stop terrorizing the citizens of its historic enemies?

And this gets to the most important argument as to why an alliance with Iran is a recipe for more war. Iran has been a partner of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as his troops continue to massacre his own people, causing a death toll conservatively estimated to be north of 129,000. In Yemen, Iran-supported Houthi rebels drove the Obama administration this week to shutter its embassy and CIA station in Sana’a, setting back a crucial war against al-Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate. Iran-supported militias in Iraq threaten the Sunni Arab population, driving many potential Sunni allies into the arms of the terrorists. Iran’s participation in a coalition against Islamic State forces, while seemingly helpful, threatens to turn a fight against a terrorist group into a bloody, regional sectarian war.

It’s hard to know exactly what kind of deal, if any, will emerge from Iran’s nuclear negotiations in Geneva with the U.S. and other great powers. But if Obama believes he can purchase Iranian counter-terrorism cooperation with concessions on its nuclear program, he is paying Iran twice and getting very little in return.

It’s also possible that Khamenei’s messages have been lost in translation. With apologies to Mel Brooks, it could be that when Iran’s supreme leader said he wanted “peace,” he meant: a piece of Yemen, a piece of Iraq, a piece of Syria, a piece of Gaza, a piece of Lebanon. You get the picture.

To contact the author on this story:
Eli Lake at elake1@bloomberg.net

Iran’s New Strategy Of Diversion: Persuading The Sunni Camp To Fight Israel, Not Iran

July 23, 2014 Facebook announcement by Khamenei's office (Source: Facebook.com/www.Khamenei.ir)

July 23, 2014 Facebook announcement by Khamenei’s office (Source: Facebook.com/www.Khamenei.ir)

By: A. Savyon and Y. Carmon:

Introduction

Recently, the Iranian regime has launched a campaign for arming the Palestinians in West Bank and Israel’s Arab citizens; the campaign is being led by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

On July 23, 2014, on the eve of Iran’s Qods (Jerusalem) Day, Khamenei said that “the only solution [for Israel] is its annihilation and liquidation. Of course, until that time [when this happens], the determined and armed Palestinian resistance, and its spread to the West Bank, are the only way to deal with that bestial regime… Therefore, it is my belief that the West Bank should be armed just like Gaza. Anyone who cares about the fate of Palestine, and who is capable of doing something, should act in this matter in order to reduce the suffering and torment of the Palestinian people by means of their strong hand…”[1]

This campaign played a role in Iran’s strategy, in two vital areas that are completely unconnected to the war in Gaza or to the Palestinian cause: a) It serves the Iranian regime in its struggle against the Sunni world, which has ratcheted up its pressure on Iran, and b) it serves the Iranian regime in its struggle against the opposition, i.e. the pragmatic camp, at home, that has recently escalated its attacks on the ideological camp (see MEMRI series on The Struggle Between Khamenei And Rafsanjani Over The Iranian Leadership).

While the policy of annihilating Israel is one thing that the ideological and the pragmatic camps in Iran have in common, as it is a founding tenet of the regime, the move to arm the West Bank Palestinians and Israel’s Arab citizens is a new element that the regime is stressing in recent days, and by all possible means. In every major speech and announcement, regime spokesmen emphasize the need for the Sunni world to stop fighting Shi’ites and join Iran in its fight against Israel.[2] The regime also is highlighting the need for unity at home, which is actually a demand that the pragmatic camp accept the authority of the ideological camp.

It should be noted that on the internal level, this tactic has been successful, as expected; the pragmatic camp has hastened to stand with the regime on this matter.[3]

However, the effort to divert the Sunni camp from its struggle with Iran and the Shi’ites has as of yet yielded no results. Apparently, the Sunni world understands Iran’s gambit and is not going along with it; it is also stepping up its pressure on the Shi’ites in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.[4]

It should be clarified that this strategy of diversion is not just talk – the Iranian regime is working to implement it in coordination with the leaders of Hizbullah and of the Palestinian factions. But the main importance of this effort for Iran is that it serves both Iran’s existential interest against the external Sunni threat and also the interest of the Iranian regime at home against the opposition.

Read more at MEMRI

Iran’s Proxy War Against Israel

ayatollah_2146641b-450x336Front Page, by Majid Rafizadeh:

While the mainstream media has focused solely on Hamas and Israel in the current ongoing war, there has been less attention given to the major role that the Islamic Republic of Iran has been playing in ratcheting up the conflict with its military assistance to Hamas fighters, including Iranian-built Fajr 5 and M-75 with ranges of approximately 75 kilometers.

These are missiles and rockets that can target cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

It is worth noting that the export of arms as well as military and weaponry assistance by the Islamic Republic to Hamas is legally prohibited by the United Nations Security Council, written in UN Resolution 1747.

Although Iranian leaders often deny that they are supporting Hamas militarily, some, including former Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, admitted that the Islamic Republic has been supplying military aid and technology to Hamas in the Gaza Strip. On the Iranian parliament’s website, Larijani stated, “We are honored to provide the Palestinian people with military aid, while all Arabic countries do is hold meetings. Palestinian people do not need lectures and meetings.”

In addition, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Mohammad, Ali Jafari, admitted that Iran is supplying weapons to Hamas and other groups: “Iran provides technical assistance to all Muslims who fight against world arrogance.”

What is Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s stance? Is he truly a moderate? Rouhani’s stance on arming Hamas and standing against Israel is no different from his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The Iranian president recently projected Iran’s leadership by calling Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and pointing out that tthe Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation, and the international community, ought to take immediate and serious steps to assist Hamas and the Palestinians.

After all, Iranian presidents are all loyal to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.

In fact, across Iran’s political spectrum, there is no difference with regard to their position towards arming Hamas and fighting Israel. They all share anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinians views. In addition, whenever the international community or the United States has attempted to broker a peace, Iranian leaders have attempted to scuttle it. Their view is the same as what Ahmadinejad previously conveyed:  “Who gave them [Mahmoud Abbas’ negotiating team] the right to sell a piece of Palestinian land? The people of Palestine and the people of the region will not allow them to sell even an inch of Palestinian soil to the enemy. The negotiations are stillborn and doomed.”

The Iranian leaders hypocritically and frequently point out that the reasons they support the Palestinians and Hamas are humanitarian. Nevertheless, the main reason is advancing Iran’s regional hegemonic ambitions and its strategic, geopolitical and ideological goals.

In addition, the Islamic Republic has been seeking to project its regional hegemonic supremacy by supporting not only Shiite groups such as Hezbollah (Lebanon), Bashar Al Assad (Syria), and Nori Al Maliki (Iraq), but also penetrating the Sunni communities and supporting groups such as Hamas.

Since the Islamic revolution in Iran, the main foreign policy objectives of the Islamic Republic have been rivalry and antagonism towards the United Sates and its ally Israel.

The Islamic Republic attempted to find or create any group possible to stand against US foreign policy in the region (as well as those of Israel), in order to advance Tehran’s ideological, strategic and geopolitical objectives in the region.

The major force in Iran supporting Hamas are the Quds forces, an elite branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps which fight abroad, under the leadership of Khamenei and headed by Qasem Suleimani.

Another admission from the Islamic Republic on arming Hamas came from its own press, surprisingly. Last week, Javan newspaper, an Iranian state newspaper, stated, “The Islamic Republic of Iran is the only country in which a consensus on the Palestinian issue exists between the regime and its people. Together with popular support for the Palestinian fighters, the [Iranian] regime also provides important aid to the Palestinian fighters, including military weaponry… This measure by the Islamic Republic – arming the Palestinian groups – is carried out publicly, and not in secret, and has even been publicly emphasized by the leader [Khamenei],” according to Algemeiner and MEMRI’s translation of the Persian text.

Accordingly, the Islamic Republic has also provided Hamas with Fajr 5 missiles and Abadil drones before the war.

Across Iran’s political spectrum, Iranian leaders follow the words of the founder of this theocratic regime, Iran’s former Supreme Leader, Ayatollah and Ali Khomeini, who repeatedly attempted to rally people against Israel and the United States, “To liberate Qods [Jerusalem], Muslims should use faith-dependent machine guns and the power of Islam and keep away from political games which reek of compromise… Muslim nations, especially the Palestinian and Lebanese nations, should punish those who waste time indulging in political maneuvers.”

Under the presidency of Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s foreign policy has not shifted and it is crucial to draw attention to Iran’s intervention and military assistance as the Islamic Republic is major player in ratcheting up the ongoing war.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist and scholar, is president of the International American Council and serves on the board of the Harvard International Review at Harvard University. Rafizadeh is also a senior fellow at the Nonviolence International Organization based in Washington, DC and is a member of the Gulf project at Columbia University. He can be reached at rafizadeh@fas.harvard.edu. Follow Dr. Rafizadeh at @majidrafizadeh.

Obama Religious Adviser Visits Tehran

unnamed-e1402004853423By Reza Kahlili:

An American religious delegation is in Iran to improve dialogue between the United States and the clerics who rule the Islamic Republic, an Iranian media outlet reported Thursday.

The 30 American delegates, headed by what Jahan News called President Obama’s “spiritual adviser,” Dr. Joel Hunter, traveled to Tehran in late May and continue to hold meetings with the radicals who rule Iran. The news outlet said the U.S. delegation’s travel to Iran was coordinated with the country’s intelligence services.

Hunter, the senior pastor of Northland Church, is accompanied by, among others, Dr. Barbara Skinner, head of the National Network of US-African Priests; Dr. James August Kovalevsky; Professor Anthony Destro of Washington Catholic University; and Dr. Alex Roy Medley, head of the National Council of U.S. Churches.

Jahan News reported that Dr. Hunter serves on the White House’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, consults with Obama and was influential in the election of the president in 2008. It called Hunter one of the most important evangelists in America who has taken the lead after Jerry Falwell’s death and that he represents the “Zionist Christians” in America.

Jahan News also reported that an American economic delegation traveled to Iran recently looking to expand ties in the automobile industry despite the fact that the Islamic Republic is under several U.N., U.S. and European sanctions barring any company from doing business with the regime because of its illicit nuclear program.

Last week, the regime’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a speech to parliamentarians, called for jihad against America until it is destroyed. “Battle and jihad are endless because evil and its front continue to exist,” Khamenei said. “This battle will only end when the society can get rid of the oppressors’ front with America at the head of it, which has expanded its claws on human mind, body and thought. … This requires a difficult and lengthy struggle and need for great strides.”

In another speech days ago on the anniversary of the death of the founder of the Islamic Revolution, Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Khamenei said, “The oppressors’ front (America) is mistaken in thinking that the root cause of the Islamic Awakening can be destroyed; however the understanding and the thought which resulted in the Islamic Awakening (Islamic revolution in Iran) will not go away.”

The clerical establishment ruling Iran is one of the worst human rights violators in the world, having executed hundreds of Iranians so far this year alone. A report by the U.S. State Department in February took note of human rights violations in Iran, including its record of floggings and court-ordered amputations, discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities, a crackdown on press freedoms and over 600 executions – many after fake trials. Reports by the U.N.’s special representative on human rights in Iran also point to systematic violations by the regime, including torture and executions.

Read more at Daily Caller