Category: Heshmat Alavi

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Hassan ‘The Facilitator’ Rouhani Wins Iran Election


Provided a second term not by the people but the ruling elite, Hassan Rouhani is merely another tear of the cloth known as the Islamic Republic of Iran. He provided the grounds needed for Tehran to go “ahead with multiple ballistic missile tests, fired rockets close to American warships in international waters, revealed a new missile bunker, assumed an intransigent posture with respect to a full accounting of past nuclear research, sanctioned the capture of American sailors and the harassing of our ships in the Gulf, and dispatched Iranian agents to Germany in search of nuclear technology,” as explained by the Financial Times.

There are also signs of Rouhani’s initiatives inflicting permanent damage to the mullahs’ rule. Through the course of his campaign trail Rouhani raised the stakes of his ousting by the senior ruling clerics, unveiling secrets of the regime’s dark history and pledges he obviously has no intention, let alone ability, to meet.

Rouhani’s practices have already sidelined the regime’s higher ranks, and considering the rigged nature of Iran’s voter turnout numbers, he is on course to disappoint the dismal few who actually did vote for him. As seen in the past 38 years, the road ahead with Rouhani as Iran’s president — a puppet of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei — will prove the fact that reform from within in Iran is nothing but a hoax.

Rouhani is known to be the first Iranian regime official to openly call for public executions in order to inflict a graver influence on the general public and impose a certain climate of fear to quell dissent.

“Conspirators should be hanged in Friday prayers for people to see them and to have more of an impact,” he said on July 14th, 1980.

At an “election” rally Rouhani went as far as emphasizing that “the people will say no to those who over the course of 38 years only executed and jailed.” This is considered a clear reference to Ebrahim Raisi, his then conservative rival known for his notorious role in the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners across the country.

While Raisi played a leading part, Rouhani, then a member of the regime’s so-called parliament, was fully informed of the atrocities in the regime’s dungeons and remained through the course, and to this day. Ever since, the Iranian regime has portrayed the issue as a taboo and no-man’s land in order to maintain a lid on it.

And yet a major campaign is ongoing inside the country and abroad, with brave activists rising to the challenge and demanding answers about the regime’s atrocities in general, especially the executions of the entire 1980s.

<iframe width=”814″ height=”455″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/XJBBOtI6UVg” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

Rouhani also served as Iran’s secretary of the Supreme National Security Council for decades and orchestrated the horrific crackdown of the 1999 student uprising, a prelude of the 2009 nationwide outburst. Rouhani has also boasted how he deceived the European Troika in in the 2003 nuclear talks, providing Iran the opportunity to maintain their nuclear program, only to expel UN inspectors in 2005 and relaunch the regime’s nuclear weapons drive with firebrand Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president.

More recently, Rouhani is also supervising the regime’s ongoing need to maintain a certain degree of domestic crackdown. Over 3,000 people were sent to the gallows during Rouhani’s first term, and ironically, his minister of justice has been none other than Mostafa Pourmohammadi, another member in the four-man commission overseeing the 1988 massacre.

While Rouhani in the elections surprisingly warned the Revolutionary Guards not to interfere in the regime’s so-called election process, his first term provided the platform of the Guards expanded their reach across the region. Rouhani’s remarks just two days after the election façade are quite interesting.

He “pledged the mullahs’ regime will continue their warmongering in the Middle East, adding they are on the ground in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon… ‘Iran has and will support these efforts through its diplomats and military advisors’,” he said according to a statement released by Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

Considering the fact that Rouhani lacks the ability or will to realize any change in Tehran’s foundations and conduct, measures are now needed to correctly confront the mullah’s flagrant human rights violations, expanding ballistic missile program, and support for terrorism, extremism and meddling in other states.

The recent Arab Islamic American Summit sent such a necessary message to this regime.

Heshmat Alavi is a political and rights activist. His writing focuses on Iran, ranging from human rights violations, social crackdown, the regime’s support for terrorism and meddling in foreign countries, and the controversial nuclear program.

He tweets at @HeshmatAlavi & blogs at IranCommentary

Provided a second term not by the people but the ruling elite, Hassan Rouhani is merely another tear of the cloth known as the Islamic Republic of Iran. He provided the grounds needed for Tehran to go “ahead with multiple ballistic missile tests, fired rockets close to American warships in international waters, revealed a new missile bunker, assumed an intransigent posture with respect to a full accounting of past nuclear research, sanctioned the capture of American sailors and the harassing of our ships in the Gulf, and dispatched Iranian agents to Germany in search of nuclear technology,” as explained by the Financial Times.

There are also signs of Rouhani’s initiatives inflicting permanent damage to the mullahs’ rule. Through the course of his campaign trail Rouhani raised the stakes of his ousting by the senior ruling clerics, unveiling secrets of the regime’s dark history and pledges he obviously has no intention, let alone ability, to meet.

Rouhani’s practices have already sidelined the regime’s higher ranks, and considering the rigged nature of Iran’s voter turnout numbers, he is on course to disappoint the dismal few who actually did vote for him. As seen in the past 38 years, the road ahead with Rouhani as Iran’s president — a puppet of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei — will prove the fact that reform from within in Iran is nothing but a hoax.

Rouhani is known to be the first Iranian regime official to openly call for public executions in order to inflict a graver influence on the general public and impose a certain climate of fear to quell dissent.

“Conspirators should be hanged in Friday prayers for people to see them and to have more of an impact,” he said on July 14th, 1980.

At an “election” rally Rouhani went as far as emphasizing that “the people will say no to those who over the course of 38 years only executed and jailed.” This is considered a clear reference to Ebrahim Raisi, his then conservative rival known for his notorious role in the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners across the country.

While Raisi played a leading part, Rouhani, then a member of the regime’s so-called parliament, was fully informed of the atrocities in the regime’s dungeons and remained through the course, and to this day. Ever since, the Iranian regime has portrayed the issue as a taboo and no-man’s land in order to maintain a lid on it.

And yet a major campaign is ongoing inside the country and abroad, with brave activists rising to the challenge and demanding answers about the regime’s atrocities in general, especially the executions of the entire 1980s.

<iframe width=”814″ height=”455″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/XJBBOtI6UVg” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

Rouhani also served as Iran’s secretary of the Supreme National Security Council for decades and orchestrated the horrific crackdown of the 1999 student uprising, a prelude of the 2009 nationwide outburst. Rouhani has also boasted how he deceived the European Troika in in the 2003 nuclear talks, providing Iran the opportunity to maintain their nuclear program, only to expel UN inspectors in 2005 and relaunch the regime’s nuclear weapons drive with firebrand Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president.

More recently, Rouhani is also supervising the regime’s ongoing need to maintain a certain degree of domestic crackdown. Over 3,000 people were sent to the gallows during Rouhani’s first term, and ironically, his minister of justice has been none other than Mostafa Pourmohammadi, another member in the four-man commission overseeing the 1988 massacre.

While Rouhani in the elections surprisingly warned the Revolutionary Guards not to interfere in the regime’s so-called election process, his first term provided the platform of the Guards expanded their reach across the region. Rouhani’s remarks just two days after the election façade are quite interesting.

He “pledged the mullahs’ regime will continue their warmongering in the Middle East, adding they are on the ground in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon… ‘Iran has and will support these efforts through its diplomats and military advisors’,” he said according to a statement released by Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

Considering the fact that Rouhani lacks the ability or will to realize any change in Tehran’s foundations and conduct, measures are now needed to correctly confront the mullah’s flagrant human rights violations, expanding ballistic missile program, and support for terrorism, extremism and meddling in other states.

The recent Arab Islamic American Summit sent such a necessary message to this regime.

Heshmat Alavi is a political and rights activist. His writing focuses on Iran, ranging from human rights violations, social crackdown, the regime’s support for terrorism and meddling in foreign countries, and the controversial nuclear program.

He tweets at @HeshmatAlavi & blogs at IranCommentary



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Iran’s Presidential Election and a Slate of Crises


What political dilemma is the regime in Iran intending to resolve through this presidential election?

In 2005, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, having the final say in all state matters, thought to spread his meddling across Iraq and the region, parallel to broad ambitions of obtaining nuclear weapons. As a result, firebrand Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was selected as president.

In 2013, Tehran needed to respond to the issue of nuclear negotiations.

Iran needs to solve a major riddle. The regime in its entirety, including all factions, seeks to defend its very existence in the face of an increasingly aggressive onslaught. This phenomenon can be described as a full house of intertwined calamities, defined as major political disorders caused by the regime’s own measures.

This means that relations between various currents and systems comprising the mullahs’ regime are suffering from numerous rifts threatening their entire existence.

A)  The ruling powers are now divided, and the separated components are placing crosshairs on each other, crippling or weakening their rivals. This is far beyond the factions loyal to Khamenei and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. We are also witnessing growing divides and disintegration among Khamenei loyalists.

B)  A destabilizing dynamism can be seen in the struggle to determine who will succeed Khamenei, known to be ill with cancer.

C)  Most important is the powder-keg society ready to explode into an uncontrollable uprising. Iran has in the past twelve months witnessed the most significant rise in protests since 2010.

D) The conflict placing Iran’s oppressed minorities, including Baluchis, Arabs, Kurds, and others against the ruling establishment has intensified.

E) Iran’s deep involvement in three wars across the region, including Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, without no end in sight.

F) The regime’s major defeat in their plot against the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). Members of this group were transferred collectively and as an organization from Iraq to safety in Europe, delivering a significant blow to Tehran’s plans for their annihilation.

G)  While highly flawed, the Iran nuclear deal has significantly reduced Tehran’s ability to realize its ambitions of obtaining nuclear weapons, at least for the time being.

For the mullahs, this is a defeat far more disastrous than the Iran-Iraq War.

H) The Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has become a political failure. We are witnessing how international sanctions are taking effect in different methods and may even be expanding. The JCPOA could only be effective under the Obama Doctrine, and Tehran has seen this window of opportunity slammed shut.

I) Rouhani’s administration has been nothing but a failure, both politically and economically. He has also lost his main supporters, those being former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and influential cleric Abbas Vaezi Tabasi, who died last year.

This defeat was fundamental. In fact, the so-called moderates have reached a dead end after continuously playing an important role in preserving the regime in power.

J) The process of rallying investments in Iran under the mullahs’ rule is suffering immeasurably. A very large portion of Iran’s money is wasted in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

Moreover, the very structure of the mullahs’ regime is a major stumbling block in this regard, with no solution in sight. Deep recession, a failing banking system, the government going bankrupt, and financial instability are various fruits of this crisis.

K) The environment in Iran, largely neglected, is reaching a critical point. This is of grave importance, especially an emerging water shortage dilemma linked tightly to political and social tensions.

L) A high percentage of the population is tormented by hunger, with at least 10 million people being unemployed and 20 million living in city outskirts.

How is all this related to Iran’s presidential election?

The end of Obama’s term and the accompanying rapprochement has left the regime in Iran weaker than ever before, creating a slate of dangerous consequences for Tehran.

Iran sees a serious need to first merge all divides amongst its senior ranks, parallel to restructuring its political establishment.

From Khamenei’s perspective, this is exactly why Ebrahim Raisi, a cleric close to Khamenei, has been brought into this calculation. However, Raisi’s introduction can be defined as the establishment having no clear solution for the abovementioned crises.

Rouhani going on to a second term would mean the continuation of a failing status quo, while Raisi would be fueling a dangerous flame. The two don’t provide two different solutions. In fact, they are merely guards of different doors leading to the regime’s epicenter, that being Khamenei.

They both registered as candidates after gaining Khamenei’s blessing. A legitimate question is to ask who the supreme leader prefers.

No ruling power has much tolerance for partners or rivals. The Iranian regime, however, has no tolerance at all. Considering Iran’s powder-keg society and the people’s hatred of this regime, Khamenei is forced to tiptoe a tightrope to prevent triggering a new uprising.

To this end, as far as Khamenei is concerned, the best-case scenario would be to have Raisi become president. And one step prior to the worst-case scenario is to have Rouhani continue on to a second term.

However, which scenario will Khamenei be able to materialize remains a guess, especially after Ahmadinejad’s shocking entry into the campaign. The regime’s status domestically and internationally will also influence the outcome.

Rouhani and Raisi merely represent two different regime factions quarrelling over their portion of power and plundering the country’s wealth. Their only dispute is over how to maintain this regime in power, while overlapping extremely on objectives and general policies.

Moreover, the crises riddling this regime from within should not be minimized in regard to the May 19th polls. In fact, these disputes reflect the high-stakes tensions existing between the ruling regime and the people.

These predicaments should also not be viewed merely through an economic perspective, as they pose substantial political threats for the regime in its entirety.

What political dilemma is the regime in Iran intending to resolve through this presidential election?

In 2005, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, having the final say in all state matters, thought to spread his meddling across Iraq and the region, parallel to broad ambitions of obtaining nuclear weapons. As a result, firebrand Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was selected as president.

In 2013, Tehran needed to respond to the issue of nuclear negotiations.

Iran needs to solve a major riddle. The regime in its entirety, including all factions, seeks to defend its very existence in the face of an increasingly aggressive onslaught. This phenomenon can be described as a full house of intertwined calamities, defined as major political disorders caused by the regime’s own measures.

This means that relations between various currents and systems comprising the mullahs’ regime are suffering from numerous rifts threatening their entire existence.

A)  The ruling powers are now divided, and the separated components are placing crosshairs on each other, crippling or weakening their rivals. This is far beyond the factions loyal to Khamenei and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. We are also witnessing growing divides and disintegration among Khamenei loyalists.

B)  A destabilizing dynamism can be seen in the struggle to determine who will succeed Khamenei, known to be ill with cancer.

C)  Most important is the powder-keg society ready to explode into an uncontrollable uprising. Iran has in the past twelve months witnessed the most significant rise in protests since 2010.

D) The conflict placing Iran’s oppressed minorities, including Baluchis, Arabs, Kurds, and others against the ruling establishment has intensified.

E) Iran’s deep involvement in three wars across the region, including Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, without no end in sight.

F) The regime’s major defeat in their plot against the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). Members of this group were transferred collectively and as an organization from Iraq to safety in Europe, delivering a significant blow to Tehran’s plans for their annihilation.

G)  While highly flawed, the Iran nuclear deal has significantly reduced Tehran’s ability to realize its ambitions of obtaining nuclear weapons, at least for the time being.

For the mullahs, this is a defeat far more disastrous than the Iran-Iraq War.

H) The Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has become a political failure. We are witnessing how international sanctions are taking effect in different methods and may even be expanding. The JCPOA could only be effective under the Obama Doctrine, and Tehran has seen this window of opportunity slammed shut.

I) Rouhani’s administration has been nothing but a failure, both politically and economically. He has also lost his main supporters, those being former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and influential cleric Abbas Vaezi Tabasi, who died last year.

This defeat was fundamental. In fact, the so-called moderates have reached a dead end after continuously playing an important role in preserving the regime in power.

J) The process of rallying investments in Iran under the mullahs’ rule is suffering immeasurably. A very large portion of Iran’s money is wasted in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

Moreover, the very structure of the mullahs’ regime is a major stumbling block in this regard, with no solution in sight. Deep recession, a failing banking system, the government going bankrupt, and financial instability are various fruits of this crisis.

K) The environment in Iran, largely neglected, is reaching a critical point. This is of grave importance, especially an emerging water shortage dilemma linked tightly to political and social tensions.

L) A high percentage of the population is tormented by hunger, with at least 10 million people being unemployed and 20 million living in city outskirts.

How is all this related to Iran’s presidential election?

The end of Obama’s term and the accompanying rapprochement has left the regime in Iran weaker than ever before, creating a slate of dangerous consequences for Tehran.

Iran sees a serious need to first merge all divides amongst its senior ranks, parallel to restructuring its political establishment.

From Khamenei’s perspective, this is exactly why Ebrahim Raisi, a cleric close to Khamenei, has been brought into this calculation. However, Raisi’s introduction can be defined as the establishment having no clear solution for the abovementioned crises.

Rouhani going on to a second term would mean the continuation of a failing status quo, while Raisi would be fueling a dangerous flame. The two don’t provide two different solutions. In fact, they are merely guards of different doors leading to the regime’s epicenter, that being Khamenei.

They both registered as candidates after gaining Khamenei’s blessing. A legitimate question is to ask who the supreme leader prefers.

No ruling power has much tolerance for partners or rivals. The Iranian regime, however, has no tolerance at all. Considering Iran’s powder-keg society and the people’s hatred of this regime, Khamenei is forced to tiptoe a tightrope to prevent triggering a new uprising.

To this end, as far as Khamenei is concerned, the best-case scenario would be to have Raisi become president. And one step prior to the worst-case scenario is to have Rouhani continue on to a second term.

However, which scenario will Khamenei be able to materialize remains a guess, especially after Ahmadinejad’s shocking entry into the campaign. The regime’s status domestically and internationally will also influence the outcome.

Rouhani and Raisi merely represent two different regime factions quarrelling over their portion of power and plundering the country’s wealth. Their only dispute is over how to maintain this regime in power, while overlapping extremely on objectives and general policies.

Moreover, the crises riddling this regime from within should not be minimized in regard to the May 19th polls. In fact, these disputes reflect the high-stakes tensions existing between the ruling regime and the people.

These predicaments should also not be viewed merely through an economic perspective, as they pose substantial political threats for the regime in its entirety.



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The Correct First Step on Containing Iran


The new threat made by Iran to ignore a key aspect of the nuclear deal aimed at curbing its nuclear program is a necessary reminder of a very important issue. Despite all the probable results that may ensue from Iran’s upcoming presidential elections, the mullahs’ regime in Tehran will not lose its dangerous characteristics.

This can also be perceived as a silver bullet against the impression, put forward by the Obama administration, that the highly flawed 2015 accord will actually transform the regime into a “moderate” entity. While Tehran has been at the receiving end of tens of billions, any engagement between Iran and the West is a repeat of a decades-old failed appeasement policy.

Iran’ support for terrorism, its campaign to literally take control over Sunni governments, its increasing military posturing, the provocative threats made against the West and its allies, and domestic human rights violations have all been subjects of condemnation by the United States and its allies. With Tehran intensifying its belligerence and raising the stakes against the nuclear accord, all abovementioned factors are deepening into new perspectives.

In the latest of such episodes, Tehran is again challenging the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) by raising threats to unilaterally overturn a provision limiting its heavy water stockpile to 130 tons. This is a highly sensitive issue, as heavy water is a major element used in the production of plutonium. While already twice over the limit, Tehran has now informed the International Atomic Energy Agency through a letter saying there should be no need to abide by the terms as the mullahs continue their efforts to find buyers abroad for their heavy water surplus.

There are further concerns over compliance issues with Iran, especially since signs are seen in measures aimed at rewriting the JCPOA. The IAEA remains “unable to determine the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities in Iran,” as noted by the prestigious nonproliferation think tank Institute for Science and International Security.

Iran is currently raising the stakes for Washington and its Middle East allies by carrying out military drills. The regime’s navy is seeking to expand its exercise campaign in international waters, according to Iran’s naval chief, going to make claims of launching an indigenous warship, the Sahand destroyer. Such announcements are made only a month after naval drills covering a two million square-kilometer area spanning Persian Gulf waters, especially the complex Strait of Hormuz.

Iran has further pursued such behavior by unveiling the Karrar, claiming to be its first advanced battle tank, despite many questioning the legitimacy of such assertions. Testing more sophisticated ballistic missiles continue to be on the regime’s schedule, many of them enjoying nuclear-warhead mounting capability.

In the meantime, Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen are now resorting to the use of Iran-designed drone boats packed with explosives. Such practices pose serious threats to commercial and military shipping lines in the strategic Bab el-Mandeb strait. However, Iran understands the consequences of becoming even more involved in Yemen’s continuing conflict.

In Lebanon, reports suggest that Iran is establishing underground rocket factories for its offspring, the Hizb’allah, Tehran’s terrorist client camped deep in southern Lebanon and strategically located near Israel’s northern borders. The controversial matter has continued for decades as Israel is known to have launched airstrikes targeting Hizb’allah convoys and attacking a major arms factory in Sudan.

In regards to human rights, Tehran is escalating the crackdown against any individual deemed to threaten the intense grip the regime has established on political and social matters. Troubling numbers include nearly 3,000 executions under the watch of the so-called “moderate” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, including 75 women.

As the next presidential elections are looming around the corner in May, those following developments in Iran are mistakenly — and at times with political motivations — sounding alarm bells that increasing U.S. “aggression” in the face of Iran will strengthen the regime’s “hardliners”, increase the possibility of Rouhani losing, and rendering a new period of tension in U.S.-Iran relations.

Yet despite this perspective that has taken conventional wisdom in Washington hostage for decades, there is a stark reality that deserves recognition: it is Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who has the final word on all national security and foreign affairs. Neither Rouhani, nor any other president before him, have been anything near a “moderate” or “reformer”.

One reason lies in the fact that the regime’s 12-member Guardian Council carefully vets all candidates before any elections. This is an ultraconservative body with members directly and indirectly selected by Khamenei himself. This leaves no room for even the slightest hope of change from within the Iranian regime.

Iran has a regime that has been – and remains — completely anti-American from day one. Careful consideration and planning for the future is needed after the Obama administration provided too much breathing room for the mullah’s regime. From this day forward, Tehran must be punished for its belligerence, starting with blacklisting the Revolutionary Guards, the entity behind much of the crises riddling the Middle East and beyond. This is how the international community begins to contain Iran.

The new threat made by Iran to ignore a key aspect of the nuclear deal aimed at curbing its nuclear program is a necessary reminder of a very important issue. Despite all the probable results that may ensue from Iran’s upcoming presidential elections, the mullahs’ regime in Tehran will not lose its dangerous characteristics.

This can also be perceived as a silver bullet against the impression, put forward by the Obama administration, that the highly flawed 2015 accord will actually transform the regime into a “moderate” entity. While Tehran has been at the receiving end of tens of billions, any engagement between Iran and the West is a repeat of a decades-old failed appeasement policy.

Iran’ support for terrorism, its campaign to literally take control over Sunni governments, its increasing military posturing, the provocative threats made against the West and its allies, and domestic human rights violations have all been subjects of condemnation by the United States and its allies. With Tehran intensifying its belligerence and raising the stakes against the nuclear accord, all abovementioned factors are deepening into new perspectives.

In the latest of such episodes, Tehran is again challenging the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) by raising threats to unilaterally overturn a provision limiting its heavy water stockpile to 130 tons. This is a highly sensitive issue, as heavy water is a major element used in the production of plutonium. While already twice over the limit, Tehran has now informed the International Atomic Energy Agency through a letter saying there should be no need to abide by the terms as the mullahs continue their efforts to find buyers abroad for their heavy water surplus.

There are further concerns over compliance issues with Iran, especially since signs are seen in measures aimed at rewriting the JCPOA. The IAEA remains “unable to determine the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities in Iran,” as noted by the prestigious nonproliferation think tank Institute for Science and International Security.

Iran is currently raising the stakes for Washington and its Middle East allies by carrying out military drills. The regime’s navy is seeking to expand its exercise campaign in international waters, according to Iran’s naval chief, going to make claims of launching an indigenous warship, the Sahand destroyer. Such announcements are made only a month after naval drills covering a two million square-kilometer area spanning Persian Gulf waters, especially the complex Strait of Hormuz.

Iran has further pursued such behavior by unveiling the Karrar, claiming to be its first advanced battle tank, despite many questioning the legitimacy of such assertions. Testing more sophisticated ballistic missiles continue to be on the regime’s schedule, many of them enjoying nuclear-warhead mounting capability.

In the meantime, Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen are now resorting to the use of Iran-designed drone boats packed with explosives. Such practices pose serious threats to commercial and military shipping lines in the strategic Bab el-Mandeb strait. However, Iran understands the consequences of becoming even more involved in Yemen’s continuing conflict.

In Lebanon, reports suggest that Iran is establishing underground rocket factories for its offspring, the Hizb’allah, Tehran’s terrorist client camped deep in southern Lebanon and strategically located near Israel’s northern borders. The controversial matter has continued for decades as Israel is known to have launched airstrikes targeting Hizb’allah convoys and attacking a major arms factory in Sudan.

In regards to human rights, Tehran is escalating the crackdown against any individual deemed to threaten the intense grip the regime has established on political and social matters. Troubling numbers include nearly 3,000 executions under the watch of the so-called “moderate” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, including 75 women.

As the next presidential elections are looming around the corner in May, those following developments in Iran are mistakenly — and at times with political motivations — sounding alarm bells that increasing U.S. “aggression” in the face of Iran will strengthen the regime’s “hardliners”, increase the possibility of Rouhani losing, and rendering a new period of tension in U.S.-Iran relations.

Yet despite this perspective that has taken conventional wisdom in Washington hostage for decades, there is a stark reality that deserves recognition: it is Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who has the final word on all national security and foreign affairs. Neither Rouhani, nor any other president before him, have been anything near a “moderate” or “reformer”.

One reason lies in the fact that the regime’s 12-member Guardian Council carefully vets all candidates before any elections. This is an ultraconservative body with members directly and indirectly selected by Khamenei himself. This leaves no room for even the slightest hope of change from within the Iranian regime.

Iran has a regime that has been – and remains — completely anti-American from day one. Careful consideration and planning for the future is needed after the Obama administration provided too much breathing room for the mullah’s regime. From this day forward, Tehran must be punished for its belligerence, starting with blacklisting the Revolutionary Guards, the entity behind much of the crises riddling the Middle East and beyond. This is how the international community begins to contain Iran.



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Iran’s Missile Production Progam in Lebanon


Looking for means to continue spreading havoc across the Middle East and maintain a grip on its dwindling influence across the region, new alarming reports indicate Iran is now digging dangerously deep to establish a long-term strategic foothold in Lebanon.

A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) general has recently informed a Kuwaiti newspaper of the launching of rocket and missile factories for the Lebanese Hizb’allah. To further raise eyebrows, these factories are reported to be over 50 meters underground, protected by layers of armored concrete in the face any possible Israeli airstrike.

The al-Jarida daily ran a report on Monday quoting an IRGC deputy explaining how Iran in recent months has placed the final touches on manufacturing sites making Hizb’allah capable of manufacturing missiles, rockets, and firearms. Mohammad Ali Jafari is the chief commander of the IRGC and yet the al-Jarida report did not specify which of his deputies exactly made the comments.

Just recently, Iranian Defense Ministher Hossein Dehghan, himself a former IRGC brigadier general, boasted of Hizb’allah currently establishing itself as an entity capable of producing missiles and rockets with a variety of ranges, including over 500 kilometers, and able to target any and all parts of Israel. Dehghan’s comments did not go as far as to provide any specific details on Hizb’allah’s new capabilities.

Reports indicate these new missiles include surface-to-surface, land-based anti-ship missiles that maybe replicas of China’s C-802s, and torpedoes fired from light high-speed craft.

However, there are speculations about how the Lebanese Hizb’allah is actually obtaining necessary materials, and going forward with the production of components described as sophisticated, and yet very necessary for the output of advanced weaponry. The truth is Iran itself is facing difficulties in ballistic and anti-ship missiles.

The factories have reportedly been active for the past three months, with IRGC advisers and Lebanese experts trained in Tehran’s Imam Hossein University stationed amongst its staff. The Imam Hossein University is used as a key training institution to prepare IRGC personnel for its most sensitive missions, including Iran’s nuclear program, ballistic missile drive, and exporting terrorism abroad. Reports indicate hundreds of IRGC personnel and foreign elements have received training at the facility, especially on how to master techniques of rocket and missile manufacturing.

These clandestine sites are said to be constructed deep underground, as Hizb’allah continues to fear potential airstrikes. The multiple layers of defensive measures also reveal the distance Iran will go and the budget it is willing to allocate in its disastrous support for terrorism. No single facility in this network spread across Lebanon produces complete rockets or missiles. In fact, each site is designed for separate aspects of the ordinance needed which are then sent to a specific assembling facility to finalize the effort.

This new initiative to establish indigenous rocket/missile factories came after Israeli attacks against a weapons factory based in Sudan and various supply routes from Syria used by Iranian elements to transfer Iran-made rockets to Hizb’allah.

According to Long War Journal, “…the Revolutionary Guard began building the factories in Lebanon ‘after Israel destroyed an Iranian weapons factory in Sudan years ago which provided arms to Hezbollah’ – likely referring to an Oct. 2012 air strike attributed to the Israelis on the Yarmouk weapons factory in Khartoum  – ‘and targeted weapons shipments to Hezbollah from Syria.’”

The new underground facilities signal a significant advance in the capability enjoyed by Hizb’allah to obtain more sophisticated rockets/missiles and increase its dangerous stockpile like never before. The report indicate Hizb’allah has been test-firing these rockets/missiles and using such weapons in large numbers in its Syria campaign. The production of armor-piercing rounds and anti-tank missiles are amongst the most sensitive concerns.

This trend has been an ongoing process for over a decade. Hizb’allah’s deputy chief Naim Qasem in late 2014 claimed the group had already acquired the capability to produce some of the components of rockets used in the 2006 war. Months later, Iran’s export of missile production technology was confirmed by IRGC Air Force chief General Amir Ali Hajizadeh. Hizb’allah, Iran’s proxy in Iraq, Syria, and Palestine, were the recipients of this technology. The latest developments add to the signs of Iran’s widespread effort of making its proxies capable of practicing autonomous and domestic fighting tactics.

This new development underscores the dangerous nature and depth of Iran’s involvement in Syria, Lebanon and across the region. This further proves the correctness of CENTCOM chief General Joseph Votel’s recent remarks at a Senate hearing describing how “Iran poses the great long-term threat to stability for this part of the world.”

Considering the fact that Iran also uses Syria as a ground link to provide arms and other logistics for Hizb’allah, there is a need to fully implement measures stated by Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., on bring an end to Syria being a “safe haven for terrorists” and the necessity “we get Iran and their proxies out.”

Alarming is also the fact how the nuclear deal sealed between six world powers and Iran has provided a windfall of billions of dollars for Tehran, money that should be used to benefit the Iranian people’s interests.

These latest reports of Iran launching underground rocket/missile factories for Hizb’allah in Lebanon highlight how Iran has taken advantage of a weak international position to this day to spread its support for terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, and how urgent measures are needed to bring an end to such lethal meddling across the Middle East. The first necessary step in this path is to designate Iran’s IRGC according to its true identity: a foreign terrorist organization.

Heshmat Alavi is a political and rights activist. His writing focuses on Iran, ranging from human rights violations, social crackdown, the regime’s support for terrorism and meddling in foreign countries, and the controversial nuclear program.

He tweets at @HeshmatAlavi & blogs at IranCommentary

Looking for means to continue spreading havoc across the Middle East and maintain a grip on its dwindling influence across the region, new alarming reports indicate Iran is now digging dangerously deep to establish a long-term strategic foothold in Lebanon.

A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) general has recently informed a Kuwaiti newspaper of the launching of rocket and missile factories for the Lebanese Hizb’allah. To further raise eyebrows, these factories are reported to be over 50 meters underground, protected by layers of armored concrete in the face any possible Israeli airstrike.

The al-Jarida daily ran a report on Monday quoting an IRGC deputy explaining how Iran in recent months has placed the final touches on manufacturing sites making Hizb’allah capable of manufacturing missiles, rockets, and firearms. Mohammad Ali Jafari is the chief commander of the IRGC and yet the al-Jarida report did not specify which of his deputies exactly made the comments.

Just recently, Iranian Defense Ministher Hossein Dehghan, himself a former IRGC brigadier general, boasted of Hizb’allah currently establishing itself as an entity capable of producing missiles and rockets with a variety of ranges, including over 500 kilometers, and able to target any and all parts of Israel. Dehghan’s comments did not go as far as to provide any specific details on Hizb’allah’s new capabilities.

Reports indicate these new missiles include surface-to-surface, land-based anti-ship missiles that maybe replicas of China’s C-802s, and torpedoes fired from light high-speed craft.

However, there are speculations about how the Lebanese Hizb’allah is actually obtaining necessary materials, and going forward with the production of components described as sophisticated, and yet very necessary for the output of advanced weaponry. The truth is Iran itself is facing difficulties in ballistic and anti-ship missiles.

The factories have reportedly been active for the past three months, with IRGC advisers and Lebanese experts trained in Tehran’s Imam Hossein University stationed amongst its staff. The Imam Hossein University is used as a key training institution to prepare IRGC personnel for its most sensitive missions, including Iran’s nuclear program, ballistic missile drive, and exporting terrorism abroad. Reports indicate hundreds of IRGC personnel and foreign elements have received training at the facility, especially on how to master techniques of rocket and missile manufacturing.

These clandestine sites are said to be constructed deep underground, as Hizb’allah continues to fear potential airstrikes. The multiple layers of defensive measures also reveal the distance Iran will go and the budget it is willing to allocate in its disastrous support for terrorism. No single facility in this network spread across Lebanon produces complete rockets or missiles. In fact, each site is designed for separate aspects of the ordinance needed which are then sent to a specific assembling facility to finalize the effort.

This new initiative to establish indigenous rocket/missile factories came after Israeli attacks against a weapons factory based in Sudan and various supply routes from Syria used by Iranian elements to transfer Iran-made rockets to Hizb’allah.

According to Long War Journal, “…the Revolutionary Guard began building the factories in Lebanon ‘after Israel destroyed an Iranian weapons factory in Sudan years ago which provided arms to Hezbollah’ – likely referring to an Oct. 2012 air strike attributed to the Israelis on the Yarmouk weapons factory in Khartoum  – ‘and targeted weapons shipments to Hezbollah from Syria.’”

The new underground facilities signal a significant advance in the capability enjoyed by Hizb’allah to obtain more sophisticated rockets/missiles and increase its dangerous stockpile like never before. The report indicate Hizb’allah has been test-firing these rockets/missiles and using such weapons in large numbers in its Syria campaign. The production of armor-piercing rounds and anti-tank missiles are amongst the most sensitive concerns.

This trend has been an ongoing process for over a decade. Hizb’allah’s deputy chief Naim Qasem in late 2014 claimed the group had already acquired the capability to produce some of the components of rockets used in the 2006 war. Months later, Iran’s export of missile production technology was confirmed by IRGC Air Force chief General Amir Ali Hajizadeh. Hizb’allah, Iran’s proxy in Iraq, Syria, and Palestine, were the recipients of this technology. The latest developments add to the signs of Iran’s widespread effort of making its proxies capable of practicing autonomous and domestic fighting tactics.

This new development underscores the dangerous nature and depth of Iran’s involvement in Syria, Lebanon and across the region. This further proves the correctness of CENTCOM chief General Joseph Votel’s recent remarks at a Senate hearing describing how “Iran poses the great long-term threat to stability for this part of the world.”

Considering the fact that Iran also uses Syria as a ground link to provide arms and other logistics for Hizb’allah, there is a need to fully implement measures stated by Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., on bring an end to Syria being a “safe haven for terrorists” and the necessity “we get Iran and their proxies out.”

Alarming is also the fact how the nuclear deal sealed between six world powers and Iran has provided a windfall of billions of dollars for Tehran, money that should be used to benefit the Iranian people’s interests.

These latest reports of Iran launching underground rocket/missile factories for Hizb’allah in Lebanon highlight how Iran has taken advantage of a weak international position to this day to spread its support for terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, and how urgent measures are needed to bring an end to such lethal meddling across the Middle East. The first necessary step in this path is to designate Iran’s IRGC according to its true identity: a foreign terrorist organization.

Heshmat Alavi is a political and rights activist. His writing focuses on Iran, ranging from human rights violations, social crackdown, the regime’s support for terrorism and meddling in foreign countries, and the controversial nuclear program.

He tweets at @HeshmatAlavi & blogs at IranCommentary



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Iran in Crisis


The recent dust storms that wreaked havoc in southwest Iran signaled only one of the many crises the mullahs are facing less than three months before critical elections. Tehran has been hit with severe blows during the Munich Security Conference, contrasting interests with Russia, the recent escalating row with Turkey, and most importantly, a new U.S. administration in Washington.

These crises have crippling effects on the mullahs’ apparatus, especially at a time when Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei sees his regime facing a changing balance of power in the international community, and is faced with a major decision of selecting the regime’s so-called president.

Iran and Ahvaz

The dust storms crisis in Ahwaz, resulting from the mullahs’ own destructive desertification policies, caused severe disruptions in water and power services and people pouring into the streets in major protests.

The regime, and especially the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), has for decades pursued a desertification policy of constructing dams, drying lagoons, digging deep oil wells beneath underground water sources with resulting catastrophic environmental disasters. Various estimates indicate the continuation of such a trend will literally transform two-thirds of Iran into desert lands in the next decade. This will place 14 to 15 million people at the mercy not only dust storms but also salt storms.

Iran and the Munich Security Conference

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attended this conference with a series of objectives in mind, only to face a completely unexpected scene. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence described Iran as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the mullahs are the source of threats and instability throughout the Middle East. Turkey went one step further and said Tehran is the heart of sectarianism and spreads such plots across the region, and all traces in Syria lead to Iran’s terrorism and sectarian measures.

This resembles a vast international coalition against Tehran, inflicting yet another blow to the mullahs following a new administration taking control of the White House. These developments are very costly for Khamenei and the entire regime.

In comparison to the early 2000s when the U.S. launched wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran was the main benefactor. The current balance of power now is quite different, as seen in Munich. While there is talk of an Arab NATO, any coalition formed now in the Middle East will be completely against Iran’s interests.

Iran and Russia

Following a disastrous joint campaign in Syria, for the first time Russia is reportedly supporting a safe zone in Syria. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said contacts have been made with the Syrian regime to establish safe zones in Syria. These are the first remarks made by any Russian official on the issue of safe zones in Syria.

Moscow’s increasing contrast in interest with Iran over Syria has the potential of playing a major role in regional relations. Russia certainly doesn’t consider Bashar Assad remaining in power as a red line, a viewpoint far different from that of Iran. Moscow is also ready to sacrifice its interests in Syria in a larger and more suitable bargain with the Trump administration over far more important global interests.

Iran and Turkey

Yes, Ankara and Tehran enjoy a vast economic partnership. However, recent shifts in geopolitical realities have led to significant tensions. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the mullahs of resorting to “Persian nationalism” in an effort to split Iraq and Syria.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused Iran of seeking to undermine Bahrain and Saudi Arabia as part of Tehran’s “sectarian policy.” Cavusoglu used his speech in Munich to say, “Iran is trying to create two Shia states in Syria and Iraq. This is very dangerous. It must be stopped.”

Tehran considers Ankara’s soldiers in Iraq and Syria as a major obstacle in its effort to expand its regional influence.

U.S. president Donald Trump’s strong approach vis-à-vis Iran and the possibility of him supporting the establishment of a Turkish-administered northern Syria safe zone may have also played a major part in fuming bilateral tensions between these two Middle East powers.

Erdogan has obviously realized completely the new White House in Washington intends to adopt a much more aggressive stance against Tehran. This is another sign of changing tides brewing troubles for Iran’s mullahs.

Iran and Presidential Elections

With new reports about his ailing health, Khamenei is extremely concerned about his predecessor. One such signal is the candidacy of Ibrahim Reisi, current head of the colossal Astan Quds Razavi political empire and a staunch loyalist to Khamenei’s faction, for the presidency. With former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani out of the picture, Khamenei may seek to seal his legacy by placing Reisi against Iranian president Hassan Rouhani in the upcoming May elections.

This is literally Khamenei playing with fire, as Reisi is considered a hardline figure and such an appointment may spark 2009-like protests across the country, as the country has become a scene of massive social challenges. Rouhani himself doesn’t enjoy any social base support, especially after four years of lies and nearly 3,000 executions.

Final Thoughts

This places the entire regime in a very fragile situation. From the internal crises of Ahwaz, the upcoming elections and the formation of a significant international front threatening the Iranian regime’s strategic interests.

Forecasting what lies ahead is truly impossible, making Khamenei and his entire regime extremely concerned, trekking this path very carefully and with a low profile. As we witnessed with the inauguration of Ronald Reagan, Iran immediately released the 52 hostages held for 444 days.

This regime understands the language of force very carefully. And yet, there is no need to use military force to inflict a significant blow and make Tehran understand the international community means business. Blacklisting Iran’s IRGC as a terrorist organization by the U.S. at this timing would be the nail in the coffin for the mullahs.

The recent dust storms that wreaked havoc in southwest Iran signaled only one of the many crises the mullahs are facing less than three months before critical elections. Tehran has been hit with severe blows during the Munich Security Conference, contrasting interests with Russia, the recent escalating row with Turkey, and most importantly, a new U.S. administration in Washington.

These crises have crippling effects on the mullahs’ apparatus, especially at a time when Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei sees his regime facing a changing balance of power in the international community, and is faced with a major decision of selecting the regime’s so-called president.

Iran and Ahvaz

The dust storms crisis in Ahwaz, resulting from the mullahs’ own destructive desertification policies, caused severe disruptions in water and power services and people pouring into the streets in major protests.

The regime, and especially the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), has for decades pursued a desertification policy of constructing dams, drying lagoons, digging deep oil wells beneath underground water sources with resulting catastrophic environmental disasters. Various estimates indicate the continuation of such a trend will literally transform two-thirds of Iran into desert lands in the next decade. This will place 14 to 15 million people at the mercy not only dust storms but also salt storms.

Iran and the Munich Security Conference

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attended this conference with a series of objectives in mind, only to face a completely unexpected scene. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence described Iran as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the mullahs are the source of threats and instability throughout the Middle East. Turkey went one step further and said Tehran is the heart of sectarianism and spreads such plots across the region, and all traces in Syria lead to Iran’s terrorism and sectarian measures.

This resembles a vast international coalition against Tehran, inflicting yet another blow to the mullahs following a new administration taking control of the White House. These developments are very costly for Khamenei and the entire regime.

In comparison to the early 2000s when the U.S. launched wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran was the main benefactor. The current balance of power now is quite different, as seen in Munich. While there is talk of an Arab NATO, any coalition formed now in the Middle East will be completely against Iran’s interests.

Iran and Russia

Following a disastrous joint campaign in Syria, for the first time Russia is reportedly supporting a safe zone in Syria. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said contacts have been made with the Syrian regime to establish safe zones in Syria. These are the first remarks made by any Russian official on the issue of safe zones in Syria.

Moscow’s increasing contrast in interest with Iran over Syria has the potential of playing a major role in regional relations. Russia certainly doesn’t consider Bashar Assad remaining in power as a red line, a viewpoint far different from that of Iran. Moscow is also ready to sacrifice its interests in Syria in a larger and more suitable bargain with the Trump administration over far more important global interests.

Iran and Turkey

Yes, Ankara and Tehran enjoy a vast economic partnership. However, recent shifts in geopolitical realities have led to significant tensions. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the mullahs of resorting to “Persian nationalism” in an effort to split Iraq and Syria.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused Iran of seeking to undermine Bahrain and Saudi Arabia as part of Tehran’s “sectarian policy.” Cavusoglu used his speech in Munich to say, “Iran is trying to create two Shia states in Syria and Iraq. This is very dangerous. It must be stopped.”

Tehran considers Ankara’s soldiers in Iraq and Syria as a major obstacle in its effort to expand its regional influence.

U.S. president Donald Trump’s strong approach vis-à-vis Iran and the possibility of him supporting the establishment of a Turkish-administered northern Syria safe zone may have also played a major part in fuming bilateral tensions between these two Middle East powers.

Erdogan has obviously realized completely the new White House in Washington intends to adopt a much more aggressive stance against Tehran. This is another sign of changing tides brewing troubles for Iran’s mullahs.

Iran and Presidential Elections

With new reports about his ailing health, Khamenei is extremely concerned about his predecessor. One such signal is the candidacy of Ibrahim Reisi, current head of the colossal Astan Quds Razavi political empire and a staunch loyalist to Khamenei’s faction, for the presidency. With former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani out of the picture, Khamenei may seek to seal his legacy by placing Reisi against Iranian president Hassan Rouhani in the upcoming May elections.

This is literally Khamenei playing with fire, as Reisi is considered a hardline figure and such an appointment may spark 2009-like protests across the country, as the country has become a scene of massive social challenges. Rouhani himself doesn’t enjoy any social base support, especially after four years of lies and nearly 3,000 executions.

Final Thoughts

This places the entire regime in a very fragile situation. From the internal crises of Ahwaz, the upcoming elections and the formation of a significant international front threatening the Iranian regime’s strategic interests.

Forecasting what lies ahead is truly impossible, making Khamenei and his entire regime extremely concerned, trekking this path very carefully and with a low profile. As we witnessed with the inauguration of Ronald Reagan, Iran immediately released the 52 hostages held for 444 days.

This regime understands the language of force very carefully. And yet, there is no need to use military force to inflict a significant blow and make Tehran understand the international community means business. Blacklisting Iran’s IRGC as a terrorist organization by the U.S. at this timing would be the nail in the coffin for the mullahs.



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