Ex-Spy Slams Brennan’s ‘Freedom of Speech’ Hypocrisy

by John Rossomando
IPT News
September 6, 2018

Former CIA Director John Brennan wants Americans to view him as a victim of President Trump’s alleged effort to “suppress freedom of speech & punish critics.” President Trump ordered Brennan’s clearance stripped in July, a decision announced on Aug. 15.

“It should gravely worry all Americans, including intelligence professionals, about the cost of speaking out. My principles are worth far more than clearances. I will not relent,” Brennan wrote.

Brennan’s protest is a case of “do as I say, not as I do,” former CIA official Sam Faddis told the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT). He pointed to the case of his former CIA colleague Sabrina de Sousa as a case in point. Faddis has known de Sousa for 30 years and is a 20-year CIA veteran.

An Italian court convicted de Sousa in absentia in 2009 in connection with in the rendition of Osama Mustapha Hassan Nasr, better known as Abu Omar. CIA operatives and an Italian military police officer kidnapped Abu Omar off a Milan street in February 2003. Prosecutors claimed was sent from Rome to Milan to plan the rendition.

De Sousa told the IPT last year that she had nothing to do with it and that the case against her is unfounded.

Abu Omar, the victim in this scenario, told the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) via Twitter earlier this year that he believes in de Sousa’s innocence. She had to sue the Department of Justice to get Italian legal representation, which arrived too late to affect the outcome. U.S. and Italian state secrets prevented de Sousa from submitting evidence.

While the de Sousa case is unrelated to the president’s actions, people familiar with its details are pleased with the move. Brennan’s CIA left de Sousa hanging, a spokesman for the House Intelligence Committee said under condition of anonymity. This, Faddis said, typifies Brennan’s values.

“You ask people to go down range and do difficult and dangerous things. They agree out of patriotism. Whatever word you want to use, and they don’t make a lot of money. That obligation is not supposed to run one way,” Faddis said. “There is supposed to be just as solid of an oath back, that we will never forget you. That we will never cut you away.

“I think we have gotten to the point where those like Brennan have forgotten that entirely.”

Documents related to de Sousa’s case were over-classified to preserve the cover-up of the rendition, she told the IPT. Documents in the Abu Omar case, as well as de Sousa’s CIA employment, are subject to the “Glomar response” in which the CIA will “neither confirm nor deny” the existence of the Abu Omar rendition or de Sousa herself. CIA operating procedure calls for disavowing knowledge of those involved in compromised operations. Even House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., ran into a “brick wall” trying to find out what happened in her case, a knowledgeable U.S. government source said.

De Sousa blames Brennan for her spending 10 days in a Portuguese prison last year. Brennan twice visited Portugal in 2016, Portuguese intelligence sources said. Her case allegedly was discussed during Brennan’s second trip in November 2016, but Brennan did nothing to push back against the European arrest warrant against her.

“Certainly, the smell of it is that Brennan gave the go ahead on behalf of the Obama administration for her to be [cut loose] … I can only imagine from my experience with the Portuguese, they were probably hoping we would provide them with some sort of a mechanism to handover somebody who’s an American intelligence officer to Italian authorities,” Faddis said. “It sure smells like we’re not lifting a finger.”

In 2014, U.S. officials drew up a list of names of those convicted in the Abu Omar rendition to be presented to the Italian government for full pardons. De Sousa’s name was not included. Italian President Sergio Mattarella granted full pardons to one other CIA officer and one U.S. military officer. Faddis blamed Brennan, based on his knowledge of how the CIA operates. Why de Sousa was hung out to dry while others were spared is not publicly known.

“One of the things that also baffles me about John Brennan standing up as a talking head – name a show – is what is your record of accomplishment that establishes a foundation for why I should listen to anything you have to say?” Faddis asked. “Across the board, he’s an abject failure as a CIA director.

“Now, we’re supposed to give into his judgement. I have no idea why.”

Brennan’s ideas about Iran and Hizballah were consistently discredited.

He promoted an appeasement strategy toward Iran and Hizballah before joining the Obama administration in 2009.

“His view, along with others that Iran deserved a ‘place at the table’ certainly gave the Islamic Republic the space to operate and extend its reach across the region,” Phillip Smyth, an expert on Iranian-backed Shiite militias at the University of Maryland, told the IPT. “There are a number of ongoing regional wars and potentially future ones which will be a consequence of this thinking.”

Brennan argued in 2008 that the United States should help “advance rather than thwart Iranian interests” because he thought it would be a “carrot” that could incentivize Iran to moderate its policies. He claimed that the “brash labeling” of Iran’s “suspected” nuclear weapons program was responsible for Iran’s support for groups like the Taliban.

Brennan argued in a 2009 speech that Hizballah’s participation in Lebanese politics made the terrorist group “legitimate.” He claimed that many Hizballah members were renouncing terrorism. Brennan again argued in a 2010 speech that building ties with “moderate” elements in Hizballah could help de-radicalize the terrorist group.

Appeasing the mullahs failed to moderate Iran. This became clear after the Obama administration signed the Iran deal. It used the $150 billion of formerly impounded funds received as a result of the deal to support Shiite militias in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in May.

Brennan incorrectly predicted in March 2015 that Iran wouldn’t continue to dominate Iraq in congressional testimony prior to the passage of the Iran deal. He made his prediction despite outside warnings. Iran emerged from the deal in a dominant position in Iraq just as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu predicted. Iran also emergedas the dominant power in Syria following the Iran deal.

Brennan wasn’t only wrong about Iran. He repeatedly argued against using the term “jihadist,” saying that using the term gave terrorists undeserved religious legitimacy. Jihad was a “holy struggle” that aimed to “purify for a legitimate purpose,” Brennan said.

Brennan made this point in a Feb. 13, 2010 speech sponsored by the Islamic Society of North America at New York University Law School (NYU). He repeated these same talking points in a May 26, 2010 speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), adding that America wasn’t at war with terrorism “because terrorism is but a tactic.”

The emergence of the Islamic State (ISIS) didn’t alter Brennan’s thinking. He argued in 2015 that it had nothing to do with religion. Calling it “Islamic,” he said, helped ISIS’s recruitment effort by giving it undeserved legitimacy.

“I do think it does injustice to the tenets of religion when we attach a religious moniker to them,” Brennan said.

Jihad denialism became policy under Brennan.

This was true when American Islamists, led by the legal group Muslim Advocates, turned to Brennan for help expunging training materials connecting Islamic texts with terrorism. The administration shared “your sense of concern,” Brennan replied, “… and we are moving forward to ensure problems are addressed with a keen sense of urgency.”

An interagency working group was formed and an FBI purge of training materials followed in 2012.

Jihadist recruitment exploded during Brennan’s time in the Obama administration despite the conscious effort to not use terms like “Islamic” or “jihadist” to describe Muslim terrorists. This policy didn’t deter ISIS recruitment. ISIS was “larger than al-Qaida ever was,” Brennan said in a 2016 NPR interview.

His track record shows that he lets narratives and wishful thinking trump facts and that he doesn’t practice what he preaches. Consequently, Brennan’s commentary on national security matters should be taken with a grain of salt.

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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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Also see:

Inside Pompeo’s Fraught North Korea Trip

 

Mike Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol in Pyongyang on July 7.Photographer: Andrew Harnik/AFP via Getty Images

Bloomberg, by Nick Wadhams, July 8, 2018:

As U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo touched down in Pyongyang at 10:54 a.m. on Friday he had few details of his schedule in the North Korean capital — even which hotel he and his staff would stay in.

Not much was clear aside from lunch with counterpart Kim Yong Chol to start filling in the “nitty-gritty details’’ from the Singapore declaration signed between the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea, according to his spokeswoman Heather Nauert. A handshake with Kim Jong Un, at least, seemed certain.

In the end, Pompeo stayed at neither of the hotels where he thought he’d be. The North Koreans took him, his staff and the six journalists traveling with the delegation to a gated guesthouse on the outskirts of the capital, just behind the mausoleum where the bodies of regime founder Kim Il Sung and his son Kim Jong Il lie embalmed and on occasional display.

It was the start of a confused visit of less than 30 hours, marked by a pair of lavish banquets that the secretary and his staff appeared to dread for their length and the daunting number of courses presented by unfailingly polite waiters. He only learned of his own schedule hours ahead of time, and the meeting with Kim Jong Un never happened — despite strenuous efforts from his staff

Read more: U.S.-North Korea Talks Stumble

The trip reflects the difficulty for Pompeo in dealing with one of the world’s most reclusive and unpredictable regimes, which can shift from threats to warm words and back again at speed. It comes as pressure mounts on him to show progress on the delicate task of getting North Korea to move forward on nuclear disarmament, including the issue of verification, and make good on President Donald Trump’s claimed accomplishments from the Singapore summit.

Amid talk of goodwill and Trump’s repeated tweets of the bond he has developed with Kim, it was also a jarring reminder that North Korea’s approach may not have changed as much as U.S. officials — and Pompeo in particular — had hoped. The U.S. is seeking to persuade the world the North Koreans are genuinely prepared to give up the weapons they have developed in the face of years of false starts and broken promises to successive U.S. administrations.

From the moment Pompeo landed in Pyongyang, North Korean officials quickly asserted control. Kim Yong Chol set the optics during their first meeting, which took place around a long wooden table in one of the many conference rooms off the carpeted hallways of the guesthouse complex.

Read more: North Korea Expanding Missile-Manufacturing Plant

Normally, media handlers from the host country would let reporters witness the first 30 seconds or so of such a meeting. But Kim’s staff allowed reporters to stay for several minutes.

“The more you come, the more trust we can build between one another,” Kim said.

Pompeo, who has yet to gain a taste for such theater, murmured a few pleasantries but quickly lost patience and called on Nauert to usher all media — North Korean reporters included — from the room.

Between the many hours of talks, the North Koreans sought to put forward an image of bounty and wealth, an alternate reality in a country where much of the population lives in hunger, lacks electricity and has little to no access to the internet or foreign television.

Bearing Fruit

In the guesthouse, each room had bowls of bananas, grapes, oranges and pears that were replenished whenever the occupant was out. The internet speed was fast in each room and the BBC played on flat-screen televisions. In a country laden with the iconography of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, there were no portraits of either man in the compound.

Still, the reminders were there. Guests could roam the grounds and walk a path that surrounded a lake, but were blocked from approaching workers erecting a building nearby. Guards watched surreptitiously from behind a stand of trees.

The lack of U.S. control clearly rankled Pompeo. A former military officer accustomed to short, focused meetings, he was made to sit through multi-course meals with Kim and his staff, as waiters brought plate after plate of food — foie gras, turkey, pea soup, boiled oak mushrooms, kimchi, watermelon and ice cream, plus a drink branded “American Cola.”

By the morning of his second day, Pompeo had enough. Instead of the elaborate breakfast prepared for him, he ate toast and slices of processed cheese.

Read more: U.S. Upgrading Korea Missile Defense Even as ‘War Games’ Halted

Despite the lack of progress, the North Koreans showed a keen awareness of broader politics in the U.S. under Trump. On the way from the airport, riding in a Dodge Ram van, a minder was noncommittal about what the talks might bring.

“We’ll have to see, like your president says,” he said. He paused and added: “In this van, no fake news?”

The specifics of what happened behind closed doors remain unclear. Whether Pompeo somehow annoyed his counterpart, or pressed too hard, or whether the North Koreans are simply reverting to their hot-and-cold tactics, is hard to say. But the regime made sure to have the final word, and it was not pleasant.

As he was leaving, Pompeo told reporters the conversations were “productive and in good faith.” Hours later North Korean state media issued a statement that did not mention him by name but called the demands he presented “gangster-like.”

Days before the trip began, reporters traveling with Pompeo had to rush to get new passports with a special endorsement allowing entry to North Korea. In the end, authorities in Pyongyang never stamped them and the documents were returned unblemished. It was as if the secretary had never visited at all.

Also see:

U.S. Prepares Timeline of ‘Specific Asks’ for North Korea

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Breitbart, by Jon Hayward,  June 26, 2018:

A senior defense official giving a background briefing to reporters on Sunday stated that the Trump administration will soon present North Korea with a “specific timeline” for denuclearization filled with “specific asks,” and will judge Pyongyang’s degree of “good faith” by how well the timeline is received.

“We’ll know pretty soon if they’re going to operate in good faith or not,” the anonymous official said, as recounted by Reuters. “There will be specific asks and there will be a specific timeline when we present the North Koreans with our concept of what implementation of the summit agreement looks like.”

Reuters implies the promise of “specific asks” was, to some degree, a response to criticisms that President Donald Trump has not made enough specific demands of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un yet, and most of the concessions offered by Kim to date have been symbolic gestures of little real cost to the North Korean regime.

The press briefing was held on Sunday in advance of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s trip to Asia, during which he will visit China, South Korea, and Japan. As he departed, Mattis confirmed that both the major Ulchi Freedom Guardian drill and two smaller training exercises with South Korea have been suspended, a gesture intended to keep negotiations with North Korea on track.

The timetable presented to North Korea will probably be quite aggressive, as Reuters notes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has stated major disarmament should be underway before the end of President Trump’s first term. Some analysts have said full and irreversible disarmament could take 15 years or more, so the Trump administration’s goal is presumably to complete solid initial steps that will demonstrate North Korea is truly committed to following that long path.

One of the goals Mattis outlined for his trip to China is ensuring Beijing will remain committed to enforcing strong sanctions against North Korea until denuclearization is achieved. China will almost certainly wish to reward North Korea with immediate sanctions relief if progress on denuclearization is made, so it will be important to ensure China understands and agrees with the timetable presented to Pyongyang.

Mattis will also push for more regional security cooperation from China by pointing out that the suspension of U.S. military exercises with South Korea satisfies a major Chinese strategic objective, which is the real reason China has insisted so strongly on its “freeze-for-freeze” plan that made suspension of American exercises a precondition for nuclear talks with North Korea.

Also see:

Bolton: Withdrawing From U.N. Human Rights Council Was ‘Decades in the Making’

Washington Free Beacon, by David  Rutz, June 20, 2018:

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton said Wednesday the U.S. decision to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council was “decades in the making” and “clearly the right decision.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley announced the decision to withdraw from the council on Tuesday. They cited the membership of known human rights abusers like China, Cuba, and Venezuela on the council, its fixation on condemning Israel and its inability or lack of desire to condemn true wrongdoers.

“This decision in many respects has been decades in the making,” Bolton said on “Fox and Friends,” calling the council a place where human rights were a priority. “It’s clearly the right decision to get off. It’s the right decision to defund the Human Rights Council.”

Bolton said the U.S. was self-governing and didn’t need advice from the U.N. or other international bodies on how to run itself. He noted he voted against creating the council when he served as U.N. Ambassador during the George W. Bush administration.

From 2006 to 2016, the Human Rights Council condemned Israel 68 times. In comparison, it condemned Syria 20 times and Iran six times.

“Israel is, as the saying goes, a canary in the mineshaft for the United States,” Bolton said. “Countries that attack Israel do it because they think it’s easier, but much of their criticism is really aimed at us.”

Speaking about the decision Tuesday night, Pompeo called the organization a “poor defender of human rights.”

“Worse than that, the Human Rights Council has become an exercise in shameless hypocrisy with many of the world’s worst human rights abuses going ignored and some of the world’s most serious offenders sitting on the Council itself,” he said.

Haley said the Human Rights Council “damages the cause of human rights.”

“For too long, the Human Rights Council has been a protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias … The Council ceases to be worthy of its name,” she said.

Game on: The New Strategy of the US and its allies in the Middle East

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers remarks on the Trump administration’s Iran policy at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, US May 21, 2018.. (photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)

Bad management, corruption and a failure of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to generate expected levels of foreign investment compound the problem.

Jerusalem Post, by Jonathan Spyer, May 24, 2018:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s outlining of 12 conditions that Iran would need to meet in order to make possible a new nuclear deal amounts to a call for the wholesale reversal of Iranian regional strategy.

The conditions stated are not only, or primarily, concerned with the nuclear program. In addition to a call for the Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force to end “support for ‘terrorists’ and ‘militant’ partners around the world,” there are specific demands for a cessation of support to Lebanon’s Hezbollah, the Iraqi Shia militias, the Houthis in Yemen and the Assad regime in Syria.

These are not a list of demands issued with the expectation that they will be met. Rather, they are a clear setting down of US goals in an emerging strategy to contain and roll back Iran’s advance in the region.

SO WHAT are the practical aspects of such a policy? And what might Iran’s response be to an attempt to implement it?

Iran today is a country in the midst of an economic and environmental crisis.

The rial has fallen 47% against the dollar since January. The country is blighted by drought – precipitation across the country fell by 46% in the past 50 years, and Tehran has seen a 66% drop in rainfall in just a year. This is impacting on the agricultural sector.

Bad management, corruption and a failure of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to generate expected levels of foreign investment compound the problem. Unrest and demonstrations continue in many parts of the country.

At the same time, Iran is in danger of imperial overstretch. It is heavily committed in two ongoing regional conflicts – in Syria and in Yemen – and also has major assets requiring investment in Lebanon (Hezbollah), Iraq (the Shia militias) and among the Palestinians (Islamic Jihad and Hamas). While Iran is dominant in Lebanon and ascendant in Syria and Iraq, it has achieved a final and conclusive victory in no area.

A strategy seeking to contain further Iranian gains and then to roll Iran back is likely to focus on increasing the cost of Iran’s adventures abroad and exacerbate internal tensions while subjecting the country to tactical humiliations and defeats in order to reduce any domestic benefit to be accrued from regional commitments. Tehran will thus be forced to either spend more on its commitments, exacerbating the problems at home, or pull back, with the accompanying humiliation and loss of prestige.

Thus, the intention will be to raise the cost and reduce the benefits accruing to Iran from its policy of interference and sponsorship of proxies in neighboring countries.

What precise form is this effort likely to take? First, it is important to note that this is not to be a US effort alone. Rather, the clear intention is to mobilize US allies that share the concerns regarding the Iranian threat.

There are three areas in which the effort is likely to be undertaken – military, economic and political.

Regarding military activity, there are currently two fronts of active conflict occurring in the region between Iran and US allies. These are the Saudi/ UAE intervention in Yemen, and Israel’s actions to prevent Iranian consolidation and entrenchment in Syria.

It is unlikely that the events of May 10, in which Israel and Iran exchanged fire across the Syrian frontier, will prove to be the final round of conflict between the two countries. (It is notable that this round came from an unsuccessful Iranian attempt to respond through missile fire for earlier Israeli operations.)

Apart from their practical application, the Israeli operations have the value of forcing the Iranians into an arena in which they are very weak – air power and air defense – thus hitting at their prestige.

They currently have the choice of appearing to desist from further attempts at developing their infrastructure or facing the certainty of Israeli action in an area in which they have little ability to respond.

In Yemen, it has become commonplace to describe the Saudi/Emirati intervention as a quagmire and a failure. In reality, however, the intervention prevented the Iran-supported Houthis from reaching the strategically crucial Bab-el-Mandeb Strait. Houthi advances have stopped, and since the killing of former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, it is not clear what the goals of the Houthis’ rebellion are beyond mere survival.

A third important conventional military front is eastern Syria, where US and French forces, in cooperation with local allies, hold around 30% of Syrian territory, including the greater part of the country’s oil and gas resources. This territorial holding prevents the operation of a contiguous Iranian land corridor from Iran to the Mediterranean and the border with Israel. It also offers an example of a successful US partnering with a local proxy. Its maintenance is crucial.

REGARDING THE economic front, the US policy of renewed sanctions is already in operation. New sanctions have been imposed in recent days on five Iranian officials suspected of involvement in the Iranian program to provide missiles to the Houthis. The US Treasury Department, meanwhile, imposed sanctions on officials of Iran’s Central Bank in the days following the decision to quit the nuclear deal. The officials were suspected of helping move Revolutionary Guard Corps funds to Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Treasury has announced new sanctions on members of Hezbollah’s Shurah Council. Notably, US and UAE officials cooperated in recent days in disrupting a currency exchange network maintained by the Quds Force.

There is more to come. Sanctions are due to be placed on the acquisition of dollar banknotes by Iranian institutions. Penalties for institutions dealing with Iran’s Central Bank and other designated bodies are also forthcoming. All are designed to stretch the Iranians to the limit, producing either retreat or internal unrest.

In the political field, Iraq is now the central arena. The Iranians suffered a setback in the recent elections there. With the 90-day coalition-forming period under way, the issue will be the make up of the new government. The key player here on the pro-US side will be Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis have been quietly growing their involvement in Iraq in recent months. They have pledged $1 billion in loans and $500,000 in export credits for reconstruction following the war against Islamic State. Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman hosted Muqtada al-Sadr, the main winner of the elections, in Riyadh last year. Direct flights have been resumed.

The Saudi goal is to revive Iraqi Arab identity as a counterweight to Iran’s sectarian, non-Arab appeal to Iraq’s Shia-Arab majority. The oilrich Basra province is a focus of Saudi activity.

The issue in Iraq will not be the complete expulsion of Iranian influence, but rather to set up a counterweight to the Iranians, again forcing Tehran to spend time and energy on preventing the erosion of its position.

Lastly, it is possible that clandestine activity is underway to connect those in Iran who are opposed to the regime with the expertise and funding of US allies.

Will this project succeed? It appears to derive from an attempt to locate Iran’s weak spots and exploit them. The Iranians, without doubt, will be seeking to develop a counter- strategy along similar lines against the US and its allies.

The region, as a result, is entering a new strategic chapter. The game is afoot.

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Pompeo Vows to ‘Crush’ Iran’s Terror & Nuke Programs

IPT, by John Rossomando  •  

New sanctions are around the corner that could help “crush” Iran’s ability to fund terrorism and its nuclear program, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday in a speech at The Heritage Foundation. Pompeo promised the “strongest sanctions in history.” He listed 12 demands that Iran would need to fulfill to have the sanctions lifted. These demands include an end to Iran’s support for terror; carte blanche inspection of Iranian nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); and ending ballistic missile proliferation.

“We will track down Iranian operatives and their Hizballah proxies operating around the world and we will crush them,” Pompeo said. “Iran will never again have carte blanche to dominate the Middle East.”

On May 8, President Trump announced the end of U.S. participation in the Iran deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). European governments, however, say they plan to remain in the agreement.

Pompeo slammed the Obama administration, which negotiated and pushed for the deal, for failing to listen to critics who argued that releasing approximately $100 billion in frozen assets to Iran would increase its ability to support terrorism.

“Remember, Iran advanced its march across the Middle East during the JCPOA,” Pompeo said. Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force chief “Qasem Soleimani has been playing with house money that has become blood money. Wealth created by the West has fueled his campaigns.”

Iran used the released money from the JCPOA to fund the IRGC, the Taliban, Hizballah, Hamas and the Houthis in Yemen, Pompeo said. Iranian backed militias under Soleimani’s leadership control a wide swath of territory between the Iran-Iraq borders all the way to the Mediterranean. Israel recently launched retaliatory strikes on Iranian targets in Syria after Iranian rockets landed in the Golan Heights.

Al-Qaida leaders also continue to be harbored in Iran.

Not surprisingly, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani rejected Pompeo’s demands, saying Iran will “continue our path with the support of our nation.”

Last week, the Trump administration sanctioned the IRGC Quds Force and imposed sanctions on the head of Iran’s central bank, which Pompeo said funded Hizballah and other terrorist organizations.

“The Iranian economy is already in free fall. That has to put a crimp in the regime’s capacity to fund surrogates. If the administration follows through there certainly won’t be more money to spread around,” James Carafano, vice president and director of the Center for Foreign Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation, told the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT).

U.K.-based exiled Iranian dissident and author Babak Taghvaee criticized Pompeo’s speech on Twitter for not including human rights as a condition for lifting sanctions.

“Iranians could have helped #US to not only achieve these twelve objectives rather more,” Taghvaee told the IPT.

Other Iranians responded by creating #ThankYouPompeo and #IranRegimeChange hashtags on Twitter.