Category: Reza Shafiee

How to Stop Iran in Its Post-Deal Destabilization Game


Every three months, there’s a deadline for a U.S. “recertification” of the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). As that deadline approaches, discussions in the Beltway heat up as to what is the right approach toward a government which complies with the letter of the deal but not the “sprit,” despite signing off on the contract with six world powers in 2015, which limits its bomb-making capabilities for at least 10 years. 

If nothing has been learned from the behavior of mullahs in Tehran over the past 40 years, one thing is obvious; they succumb only when their back is against the wall. Case in point is the eight-year-old Iran-Iraq war, which left hundreds of thousands dead, and billions of dollars in losses just on Iran’s side. It ended when Supreme Leader Khomeini was convinced that the regime was only steps away from a crashing defeat and subsequent collapse.

Many Iran watchers in the West regrettably fail to notice the nature and structure of mullahs’ hierarchy, which is built on the foundation of Velayat-e faghih (Guardianship of Jurisprudence), and the absolute rule of the Supreme Leader – Ruhollah Khomeini in the 1970s and 1980s, and now Ali Khamenei. These two pillars of power simply mean ruling with an absolute iron fist at home and exporting its brand of Islamic ideology (terrorism and fundamentalism) abroad. There are no “moderates” or “hardliners” in Iran. 

There are talks in the media even among the staunch supporters of the Obama administration on one hand and the White House’s inner circles on the other as how to continue putting a tight leash on Iran beyond 2026 or 2031 when the JCPOA expires.

Politico reported on Sept. 15:

“One-time aides to Barack Obama are holding meetings, contacting lawmakers and working the media in an urgent bid to prevent the dismantling of one of the former president’s signature foreign policy achievements.” 

The Iranian regime’s unprecedented rage toward U.S. has not gone unnoticed. President Donald Trump reciprocated Khamenei’s tough takes on Iran which has tested a new bomb calleding “Father of all Bombs” –copycatting the U.S.’s Mother of all Bombs, which was tested last spring in Afghanistan – by calling  for rigorous inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency. He said: “Washington will walk away from a nuclear deal it agreed to with Iran and five other nations if it deems that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is not tough enough in monitoring it.”

The U.S. president made it crystal clear in his speech before the current session of UN General Assembly that he distinguishes between Iranian people and their desire for a peaceful free Iran, and ruling mullahs in Tehran who are busy making intermediate- and long-range ballistic missiles.

He called Iranian regime a “murderous regime,” which “masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy.” He called the Iran nuclear deal made by the Obama administration, “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into” and while not vowing to immediately cancel it, he added, “don’t think you’ve heard the last of it.”

A chief concern for the U.S. administration, despite Iran’s signing off on the nuclear deal is that it has a destabilizing role in the region. Obama was wishfully hoping that the mullahs would behave after the deal was struck, but it was just an illusion since he failed to realize that there is no good mullah in Tehran.  

Iran undermines the U.S.’s goal of kicking ISIS out of the Middle East and at the same time reassuring its jittery allies in the Arab world that they will not be harassed by their unpredictable neighbor Iran.     

The top American admiral in the Middle East,Vice Adm. Kevin M. Donegan, said that in Yemen, Iran is sustaining the Houthi rebels with an increasingly potent arsenal of anti-ship and ballistic missiles, deadly sea mines and even explosive boats that have attacked allied ships in the Red Sea or Saudi territory across Yemen’s northern border. The United States, the Yemeni government, and their allies in the region have retaliated with strikes of their own and recaptured some Houthi-held coastal areas to help blunt threats to international shipping, but the peril persists.

Stakes are as high as they can ever be in the Middle East and a minor miscalculation by big players such as the U.S. can leave devastating effects. We are at crossroads once again in a region that is strategic in many respects. With the departure of ISIS (when it finally happens) there should not be a big vacuum left behind for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to fill in Syria and a repeat of what happened when the U.S. forces packed up and left Iraq in 2010. According to the Syrian opposition, by the end of 2016, IRGC and its Quds Force had over 90,000 trained militias fighting in the country, not taking into account tens of thousands of Hezbollah fighters already established in Syria with an expanded operation from Lebanese border all the way to Damascus. It has significantly grown in numbers over the past few years in Syria and no one doubts that they are there to serve the mullahs’ Supreme Leader Khamenei, while no opportunity is missed by Hassan Nasrollah, the groups’ leader, to renew his allegiance to Tehran. He said last year: “We are open about the fact that Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, come from the Islamic Republic of Iran.” According to sources, Iran has quadrupled Hezbollah’s annual allowance for 2017.

IRGC spares no one from the tooth-and-nail fight in Syria. “Thousands of Shiite Muslims from Afghanistan and Pakistan are being recruited by Iran to fight with President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria, lured by promises of housing, a monthly salary of up to $600 and the possibility of employment in Iran when they return, say counterterrorism officials and analysts,” according to a Washington Post report on Sept. 16.

The U.S. and the West in general should learn from their flaws when it comes to dealing with the Iranian regime. Since the early days of the 1979 revolution, Tehran’s rulers are dreaming for a Khilafat or Shiite Crescent, which expands from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea via Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The bloody eight-year war with Iraq, according to Khomeini’s failed doctrine, was the first step in realizing his dream of an Islamic State, Shiite-style. Khomeini used to say that Iran would conquer the Shiite holy shrine of Imam Hossein (the third Imam of Shia Islam) in Karbala and then would march to Quds (Jerusalem). Despite Khomeini’s failure to deliver, his heirs never gave up the idea and with the emergence of ISIS and a strong foothold in Iraq, courtesy of Obama administration with its hasty exit from Iraq which left the vacuum for Iran to fill, now IRGC is establishing itself in Syria.

Once again, as in 2010 and Iraq, the window is closing in Syria, and soon, if the U.S. and its allies do not act swiftly in stopping and expelling the IRGC and its proxies from expanding in the lands ISIS is leaving behind, the Iraq scenario might repeat itself. The difference this time however, is that it would have a far greater impact on the geopolitics of the region.

Reza Shafiee (@shafiee_shafiee) is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

Every three months, there’s a deadline for a U.S. “recertification” of the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). As that deadline approaches, discussions in the Beltway heat up as to what is the right approach toward a government which complies with the letter of the deal but not the “sprit,” despite signing off on the contract with six world powers in 2015, which limits its bomb-making capabilities for at least 10 years. 

If nothing has been learned from the behavior of mullahs in Tehran over the past 40 years, one thing is obvious; they succumb only when their back is against the wall. Case in point is the eight-year-old Iran-Iraq war, which left hundreds of thousands dead, and billions of dollars in losses just on Iran’s side. It ended when Supreme Leader Khomeini was convinced that the regime was only steps away from a crashing defeat and subsequent collapse.

Many Iran watchers in the West regrettably fail to notice the nature and structure of mullahs’ hierarchy, which is built on the foundation of Velayat-e faghih (Guardianship of Jurisprudence), and the absolute rule of the Supreme Leader – Ruhollah Khomeini in the 1970s and 1980s, and now Ali Khamenei. These two pillars of power simply mean ruling with an absolute iron fist at home and exporting its brand of Islamic ideology (terrorism and fundamentalism) abroad. There are no “moderates” or “hardliners” in Iran. 

There are talks in the media even among the staunch supporters of the Obama administration on one hand and the White House’s inner circles on the other as how to continue putting a tight leash on Iran beyond 2026 or 2031 when the JCPOA expires.

Politico reported on Sept. 15:

“One-time aides to Barack Obama are holding meetings, contacting lawmakers and working the media in an urgent bid to prevent the dismantling of one of the former president’s signature foreign policy achievements.” 

The Iranian regime’s unprecedented rage toward U.S. has not gone unnoticed. President Donald Trump reciprocated Khamenei’s tough takes on Iran which has tested a new bomb calleding “Father of all Bombs” –copycatting the U.S.’s Mother of all Bombs, which was tested last spring in Afghanistan – by calling  for rigorous inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency. He said: “Washington will walk away from a nuclear deal it agreed to with Iran and five other nations if it deems that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is not tough enough in monitoring it.”

The U.S. president made it crystal clear in his speech before the current session of UN General Assembly that he distinguishes between Iranian people and their desire for a peaceful free Iran, and ruling mullahs in Tehran who are busy making intermediate- and long-range ballistic missiles.

He called Iranian regime a “murderous regime,” which “masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy.” He called the Iran nuclear deal made by the Obama administration, “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into” and while not vowing to immediately cancel it, he added, “don’t think you’ve heard the last of it.”

A chief concern for the U.S. administration, despite Iran’s signing off on the nuclear deal is that it has a destabilizing role in the region. Obama was wishfully hoping that the mullahs would behave after the deal was struck, but it was just an illusion since he failed to realize that there is no good mullah in Tehran.  

Iran undermines the U.S.’s goal of kicking ISIS out of the Middle East and at the same time reassuring its jittery allies in the Arab world that they will not be harassed by their unpredictable neighbor Iran.     

The top American admiral in the Middle East,Vice Adm. Kevin M. Donegan, said that in Yemen, Iran is sustaining the Houthi rebels with an increasingly potent arsenal of anti-ship and ballistic missiles, deadly sea mines and even explosive boats that have attacked allied ships in the Red Sea or Saudi territory across Yemen’s northern border. The United States, the Yemeni government, and their allies in the region have retaliated with strikes of their own and recaptured some Houthi-held coastal areas to help blunt threats to international shipping, but the peril persists.

Stakes are as high as they can ever be in the Middle East and a minor miscalculation by big players such as the U.S. can leave devastating effects. We are at crossroads once again in a region that is strategic in many respects. With the departure of ISIS (when it finally happens) there should not be a big vacuum left behind for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to fill in Syria and a repeat of what happened when the U.S. forces packed up and left Iraq in 2010. According to the Syrian opposition, by the end of 2016, IRGC and its Quds Force had over 90,000 trained militias fighting in the country, not taking into account tens of thousands of Hezbollah fighters already established in Syria with an expanded operation from Lebanese border all the way to Damascus. It has significantly grown in numbers over the past few years in Syria and no one doubts that they are there to serve the mullahs’ Supreme Leader Khamenei, while no opportunity is missed by Hassan Nasrollah, the groups’ leader, to renew his allegiance to Tehran. He said last year: “We are open about the fact that Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, come from the Islamic Republic of Iran.” According to sources, Iran has quadrupled Hezbollah’s annual allowance for 2017.

IRGC spares no one from the tooth-and-nail fight in Syria. “Thousands of Shiite Muslims from Afghanistan and Pakistan are being recruited by Iran to fight with President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria, lured by promises of housing, a monthly salary of up to $600 and the possibility of employment in Iran when they return, say counterterrorism officials and analysts,” according to a Washington Post report on Sept. 16.

The U.S. and the West in general should learn from their flaws when it comes to dealing with the Iranian regime. Since the early days of the 1979 revolution, Tehran’s rulers are dreaming for a Khilafat or Shiite Crescent, which expands from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea via Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The bloody eight-year war with Iraq, according to Khomeini’s failed doctrine, was the first step in realizing his dream of an Islamic State, Shiite-style. Khomeini used to say that Iran would conquer the Shiite holy shrine of Imam Hossein (the third Imam of Shia Islam) in Karbala and then would march to Quds (Jerusalem). Despite Khomeini’s failure to deliver, his heirs never gave up the idea and with the emergence of ISIS and a strong foothold in Iraq, courtesy of Obama administration with its hasty exit from Iraq which left the vacuum for Iran to fill, now IRGC is establishing itself in Syria.

Once again, as in 2010 and Iraq, the window is closing in Syria, and soon, if the U.S. and its allies do not act swiftly in stopping and expelling the IRGC and its proxies from expanding in the lands ISIS is leaving behind, the Iraq scenario might repeat itself. The difference this time however, is that it would have a far greater impact on the geopolitics of the region.

Reza Shafiee (@shafiee_shafiee) is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).



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How Does Election-Rigging Work in Iran?


Around the time of Iran’s presidential elections, for as far back as the first round in 1980, vote-rigging has not been unusual. Ever since the regime’s founding father Ruhollah Khomeini took power, a pattern was set to “select” a man for the job with the blessing of powerhouses such as the Supreme Leader’s establishment and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The Guardianship of Jurisprudence (Vali-ye faqih), or, the Supreme Leadership, does not in any form or shape have much respect for elections as they are seen in normal democracies, because the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei considers people as “his sheep” lost in the world and in desperate need of guidance. He said recently that we have to show the world our popularity at home and remind them that we ‘respond to our enemies with people’s turnout and show their will and desire for supporting the Islamic Republic.’ They came up with a solution to couple some form of election with their “selection” process: engineering the elections. The electoral process in Iran goes through many steps before reaching Election Day.   

Passing the vetting process

As in any other dictatorship, power struggles among the fighting factions within the regime have to be settled. From the early days, a term popped up in Iran’s word dictionary for politics and that is “insiders,” referring to individuals who are considered loyal to the fabric of the regime; individuals with absolutely proven devotion to Khamenei.  

To make it airtight, the mullahs have employed a vetting mechanism called the Guardian Council (GC), consisting of 12 men, all directly or indirectly chosen by none other than the Supreme Leader himself. In this election, as opposed to earlier ones, the council claimed to have vetted all 1600 candidates overnight and came up with six frontrunners. For those who have closely observed how the mullahs have cooked elections in the past, it is not that hard to figure out this year’s plan of action: a split right in the middle, with three candidates from Khamenei’s faction and three from Hassan Rouhani’s side. No doubt Khamenei would prefer none other than his protégé, Ebrahim Raisi, a close confidante, to be the next president. Raisi ran Astan Quds Razavi, the wealthiest charity foundation in charge of Iran’s holiest shrine in Mashhad, northwestern Iran.    

However, considering his role in the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners, mostly members and supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK) in the summer of 1988, he may run into problems with the rival camp’s stonewalling if they decide to pressure his weak spot. It is highly unlikely since Rouhani and his gang have, no doubt, the same blood on their hands. Rouhani’s track record is not any cleaner than that of Raisi’s when it comes to crackdowns and using a heavy hand when dealing with dissidents. In his current term as president, 3,000 executions have been recorded. Iran ranks fifth in the world for imprisoning journalists. Over 10 million Iranians live under the absolute poverty line, according to Tehran’s mayor. And in the most recent presidential debate on April 29, a new, somewhat suppressing, disclosure surfaced when Tehran’s mayor said: “Four percent of Iranians have everything while the other 96 percent are deprived of everything.”   

Rouhani had his Senior Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri register with him just in case the GC disqualifies him. The other two vetted candidates have absolutely no significance and are there just to put on a show. They are former culture minister Mostafa Mirsalim and former vice president Mostafa Hashemitaba.

Voters’s role in Iran’s elections

As opposed to regular ways of encouraging the voters to register and vote on Election Day, the mullahs use special tools to guarantee the turnout to the regime’s satisfaction to cook elections to their liking. One such famous tool is none other than Iran’s identification card system. These are booklets, and each time an eligible voter show up at the polling station, his ID booklet is stamped. The stamp on the booklet is a ticket to a hassle-free life for average citizens in Iran since it helps with getting a job, enrolling in a higher education institution, getting a raise in pay from a government entity, and is simply not to be questioned. The stamp helps a great deal in Iran.

Another tool is the state-run media, and on the top of the list is certainly state-run television, which constantly advertises the Supreme Leader and the IRGC’s candidate.  

Distributing goods among mostly lower class citizens with a great need of food in today’s economy is another tactic used by the candidates to buy votes. Raisi has already cashed in and has handed out tons of sugar and flour to needy people in Khorasan Province, northeastern Iran.

Female voters experience a more relaxed time in the days before elections. To buy their votes, security forces turn down the heat a few notches on women not observing the strict dress code. The relaxation does not last for long, and as soon as elections are over, it is once again business as usual and women face the same inhuman treatment. What they wear would again be an issue and there would be no difference between “reformist” Rouhani and “hardliner” Raisi. Let us not forget that in the early days, right after the 1979 Revolution, it was Rouhani who issued the first directive for female government employees to show up for work wearing what he described as Islamic dress. 

And the final episode of the election play is to unleash the paramilitary Basij Forces, a suppressive wing of the IRGC, on election day to use expired ID cards belonging to the deceased and fill the ballot boxes with fake votes in the polling stations in favor of the Supreme Leader’s candidate.

According to Iran’s police chief, Brig. Gen. Hossein Ashtari, ‘300,000 IRGC members will be deployed to secure the ballot boxes.’ In a simple comparison to France’s presidential election, with all the terror threats France faces, only 60,000 police were deployed to secure the polling stations. The Iranian police are there to stop people’s protests and uprisings in the volatile days.         

The president of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), Maryam Rajavi, described the ongoing stage-managed Iranian election as a total mockery. She said: “The Iranian people reject both a black and a white turban” referring to incumbent president Rouhani and his challenger Raisi. She said that we seek a free and democratic Iran where elections will find once more their true meaning.

Reza Shafiee is a member of Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) 

Around the time of Iran’s presidential elections, for as far back as the first round in 1980, vote-rigging has not been unusual. Ever since the regime’s founding father Ruhollah Khomeini took power, a pattern was set to “select” a man for the job with the blessing of powerhouses such as the Supreme Leader’s establishment and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The Guardianship of Jurisprudence (Vali-ye faqih), or, the Supreme Leadership, does not in any form or shape have much respect for elections as they are seen in normal democracies, because the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei considers people as “his sheep” lost in the world and in desperate need of guidance. He said recently that we have to show the world our popularity at home and remind them that we ‘respond to our enemies with people’s turnout and show their will and desire for supporting the Islamic Republic.’ They came up with a solution to couple some form of election with their “selection” process: engineering the elections. The electoral process in Iran goes through many steps before reaching Election Day.   

Passing the vetting process

As in any other dictatorship, power struggles among the fighting factions within the regime have to be settled. From the early days, a term popped up in Iran’s word dictionary for politics and that is “insiders,” referring to individuals who are considered loyal to the fabric of the regime; individuals with absolutely proven devotion to Khamenei.  

To make it airtight, the mullahs have employed a vetting mechanism called the Guardian Council (GC), consisting of 12 men, all directly or indirectly chosen by none other than the Supreme Leader himself. In this election, as opposed to earlier ones, the council claimed to have vetted all 1600 candidates overnight and came up with six frontrunners. For those who have closely observed how the mullahs have cooked elections in the past, it is not that hard to figure out this year’s plan of action: a split right in the middle, with three candidates from Khamenei’s faction and three from Hassan Rouhani’s side. No doubt Khamenei would prefer none other than his protégé, Ebrahim Raisi, a close confidante, to be the next president. Raisi ran Astan Quds Razavi, the wealthiest charity foundation in charge of Iran’s holiest shrine in Mashhad, northwestern Iran.    

However, considering his role in the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners, mostly members and supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK) in the summer of 1988, he may run into problems with the rival camp’s stonewalling if they decide to pressure his weak spot. It is highly unlikely since Rouhani and his gang have, no doubt, the same blood on their hands. Rouhani’s track record is not any cleaner than that of Raisi’s when it comes to crackdowns and using a heavy hand when dealing with dissidents. In his current term as president, 3,000 executions have been recorded. Iran ranks fifth in the world for imprisoning journalists. Over 10 million Iranians live under the absolute poverty line, according to Tehran’s mayor. And in the most recent presidential debate on April 29, a new, somewhat suppressing, disclosure surfaced when Tehran’s mayor said: “Four percent of Iranians have everything while the other 96 percent are deprived of everything.”   

Rouhani had his Senior Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri register with him just in case the GC disqualifies him. The other two vetted candidates have absolutely no significance and are there just to put on a show. They are former culture minister Mostafa Mirsalim and former vice president Mostafa Hashemitaba.

Voters’s role in Iran’s elections

As opposed to regular ways of encouraging the voters to register and vote on Election Day, the mullahs use special tools to guarantee the turnout to the regime’s satisfaction to cook elections to their liking. One such famous tool is none other than Iran’s identification card system. These are booklets, and each time an eligible voter show up at the polling station, his ID booklet is stamped. The stamp on the booklet is a ticket to a hassle-free life for average citizens in Iran since it helps with getting a job, enrolling in a higher education institution, getting a raise in pay from a government entity, and is simply not to be questioned. The stamp helps a great deal in Iran.

Another tool is the state-run media, and on the top of the list is certainly state-run television, which constantly advertises the Supreme Leader and the IRGC’s candidate.  

Distributing goods among mostly lower class citizens with a great need of food in today’s economy is another tactic used by the candidates to buy votes. Raisi has already cashed in and has handed out tons of sugar and flour to needy people in Khorasan Province, northeastern Iran.

Female voters experience a more relaxed time in the days before elections. To buy their votes, security forces turn down the heat a few notches on women not observing the strict dress code. The relaxation does not last for long, and as soon as elections are over, it is once again business as usual and women face the same inhuman treatment. What they wear would again be an issue and there would be no difference between “reformist” Rouhani and “hardliner” Raisi. Let us not forget that in the early days, right after the 1979 Revolution, it was Rouhani who issued the first directive for female government employees to show up for work wearing what he described as Islamic dress. 

And the final episode of the election play is to unleash the paramilitary Basij Forces, a suppressive wing of the IRGC, on election day to use expired ID cards belonging to the deceased and fill the ballot boxes with fake votes in the polling stations in favor of the Supreme Leader’s candidate.

According to Iran’s police chief, Brig. Gen. Hossein Ashtari, ‘300,000 IRGC members will be deployed to secure the ballot boxes.’ In a simple comparison to France’s presidential election, with all the terror threats France faces, only 60,000 police were deployed to secure the polling stations. The Iranian police are there to stop people’s protests and uprisings in the volatile days.         

The president of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), Maryam Rajavi, described the ongoing stage-managed Iranian election as a total mockery. She said: “The Iranian people reject both a black and a white turban” referring to incumbent president Rouhani and his challenger Raisi. She said that we seek a free and democratic Iran where elections will find once more their true meaning.

Reza Shafiee is a member of Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) 



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Trump Turns the Screws on Iran's Mullahs


The Trump administration sanctioned Iran’s prison system “for torturous interrogations, forced interrogations, and widespread mistreatment of inmates,” on April 15. It may seem a tiny step in the way of stopping Iranian regime’s human rights abuses against its own citizens but it certainly is significant as a change. It also deals a major blow to the perpetrators. The mullah regime’s survival strategy – from its first day – revolves around total suppression at home coupled with spreading Islamic fundamentalism abroad which simply translates into exporting terrorism to neighboring countries and beyond.

In deciding to deal with the Iranian regime’s human rights violations and the nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration went after the latter alone although at the end of day the nuclear deal was not a success.  The Trump administration hit a nerve by leveling sanctions on none other than Qassem Soleimani’s brother, Sohrab, the head of Iran’s prison system. Qassem Solemani is the chief of Islamic Revolutionary’s Guard Corps (IRGC)-Quds Force, responsible for carrying out operations on behalf of the regime’s suspicious activities in Syria, Iraq and Yemen just to name a few. Sohrab Suleimani is a senior official in the prison system in Iran.

A senior official on the White House National Security Council told the Washington Free Beacon that ‘the Soleimani family has a history of fomenting violence and unrest both inside and outside Iran.’

The same official said:

“It’s no coincidence that Sohrab Suleimani is the brother of the notorious Qassem Soleimani, the head of the IRGC’s Quds Forces, who has been responsible for so much of the violent disruption Iran has been spreading through the region.”


“There has been a disturbing and significant increase in the number of detentions and executions of Iranian citizens under President Rouhani, and the infamous Evin Prison under Sohrab Suleimani’s control has been a key facility in this program of domestic repression,” the official said.

The new designation highlights the existence of Evin Prison, built in 1972 as a symbol of the fearsome power of the state. The prison is intended to send chills down one’s spine; to terrify those potential prisoners of conscience just from the thought of spending a single night in the place. During the early days of its opening under the Shah’s notorious SAVAK security organs (the Shah’s secret police), ordinary Iranian citizens with university-aged children would often joke that ‘we don’t want our kids to end up in Evin’s Hotel’ by speaking out against the government. In the early days of 1979 Revolution, the fledgling mullahs’ regime, thinking of capitalizing on public ire for the place in their favor, promised that Evin would soon be turned into a museum for future generations to showcase the cruelty of the Shah’s regime. However, after almost four decades of mullahs’ rule, the brutal edifice is standing and even more appallingly, stories are still leaking out of it. Many of the 30,000 political prisoners executed in the summer of 1988 spent years in Evin. Some, either by accident or some other miracle escaped the fate of their fellow inmates, wrote about their chilling firsthand experiences in that prison.

Within the walls of this dungeon there are gruesome stories to tell of human rights and student activists, men, women, and, at times, small children, (jailed with their mothers) spending time for speaking out against the regime. One story belongs to Gholamreza Khosravi. He served an accumulated prison term of 12 years for simply for donating money to Iranian main opposition’s satellite TV-Simay Asadi (PMOI/MEK). He was held for 40 months in solitary detention before his execution on June 1, 2014. Many U.S. citizens have also been held as hostages in Evin prison under false pretenses of “espionage” and were released after ransoms of some kind were paid. A recent case in point was the cash payment made by the Obama administration in return for the release of four Americans held in Iran’s Evin prison and released on the day the nuclear deal with the Iranian regime was finalized.  

John E. Smith, director of the Treasury Department’s Official of Foreign Assets Control, said in a statement:

“Today’s designations highlight our continued support for the Iranian people and demonstrate our commitment to hold the Government of Iran responsible for its continued repression of its own citizens.”  

He added:

“We will continue to identify, call out, and sanction those who are responsible for serious human rights abuses in Iran.”


“We continue to see Government of Iran officials engage in repressive behavior against its own citizens, including through their mistreatment and abuse of prisoners,” the document states.

“This is especially evident at Evin Prison, which is where numerous prisoners of conscience are held. We have documented these and many other human rights abuses perpetrated by the government of Iran in our annual State Department authored Human Rights, Religious Freedom, and trafficking in persons reports.”

So far, the world has been busy finding ways to stop the mullahs from getting their hands on a nuclear warhead. No one in his right mind can argue with that, but the deal reached went too far and lost focus of the bigger picture with Iran. The Obama administration’s near fixation with getting the nuclear deal signed with the mullahs at any cost made it overlook other – equally serious, if not more serious – issues with the regime such as Iran’s destructive role in the region and its trampling of the human rights of its own citizens at home.

Sanctioning the Iranian regime for treatment of its citizen is no doubt a step in the right direction, not only for aiding the struggling people in the country but for calming the region and it definitely will help the fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Since the beginning of new administration in the White House, the ruling mullahs in Tehran – despite their occasional whining over the U.S. government slapping down new sanctions for its missile tests – have never reacted extremely against Trump – that is, until April 15. The regime’s foreign ministry spokesman, Bahram Ghassemi, slammed the decision and said, “Washington was not in a position to hold others accountable for rights violations.” He added:  “These measures and unilateral and bullying sanctions are illegitimate according to repeated United Nations resolutions and they have a negative impact on improving human rights.” Ghassemi also argued that “the new sanctions were politically-motivated and illegal.”

The new sanctions leveled on Iranian regime hit where it really hurts. The mullahs not only feel the heat with U.S. airstrikes last week on its closest ally, Bashar Al-Assad in Syria for killing his own citizens with Sarin gas – no doubt with Iran’s blessings – the Iranian people now feel that they are not alone in their struggle for freedom.

Reza Shafiee is a member of Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) 

 

The Trump administration sanctioned Iran’s prison system “for torturous interrogations, forced interrogations, and widespread mistreatment of inmates,” on April 15. It may seem a tiny step in the way of stopping Iranian regime’s human rights abuses against its own citizens but it certainly is significant as a change. It also deals a major blow to the perpetrators. The mullah regime’s survival strategy – from its first day – revolves around total suppression at home coupled with spreading Islamic fundamentalism abroad which simply translates into exporting terrorism to neighboring countries and beyond.

In deciding to deal with the Iranian regime’s human rights violations and the nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration went after the latter alone although at the end of day the nuclear deal was not a success.  The Trump administration hit a nerve by leveling sanctions on none other than Qassem Soleimani’s brother, Sohrab, the head of Iran’s prison system. Qassem Solemani is the chief of Islamic Revolutionary’s Guard Corps (IRGC)-Quds Force, responsible for carrying out operations on behalf of the regime’s suspicious activities in Syria, Iraq and Yemen just to name a few. Sohrab Suleimani is a senior official in the prison system in Iran.

A senior official on the White House National Security Council told the Washington Free Beacon that ‘the Soleimani family has a history of fomenting violence and unrest both inside and outside Iran.’

The same official said:

“It’s no coincidence that Sohrab Suleimani is the brother of the notorious Qassem Soleimani, the head of the IRGC’s Quds Forces, who has been responsible for so much of the violent disruption Iran has been spreading through the region.”


“There has been a disturbing and significant increase in the number of detentions and executions of Iranian citizens under President Rouhani, and the infamous Evin Prison under Sohrab Suleimani’s control has been a key facility in this program of domestic repression,” the official said.

The new designation highlights the existence of Evin Prison, built in 1972 as a symbol of the fearsome power of the state. The prison is intended to send chills down one’s spine; to terrify those potential prisoners of conscience just from the thought of spending a single night in the place. During the early days of its opening under the Shah’s notorious SAVAK security organs (the Shah’s secret police), ordinary Iranian citizens with university-aged children would often joke that ‘we don’t want our kids to end up in Evin’s Hotel’ by speaking out against the government. In the early days of 1979 Revolution, the fledgling mullahs’ regime, thinking of capitalizing on public ire for the place in their favor, promised that Evin would soon be turned into a museum for future generations to showcase the cruelty of the Shah’s regime. However, after almost four decades of mullahs’ rule, the brutal edifice is standing and even more appallingly, stories are still leaking out of it. Many of the 30,000 political prisoners executed in the summer of 1988 spent years in Evin. Some, either by accident or some other miracle escaped the fate of their fellow inmates, wrote about their chilling firsthand experiences in that prison.

Within the walls of this dungeon there are gruesome stories to tell of human rights and student activists, men, women, and, at times, small children, (jailed with their mothers) spending time for speaking out against the regime. One story belongs to Gholamreza Khosravi. He served an accumulated prison term of 12 years for simply for donating money to Iranian main opposition’s satellite TV-Simay Asadi (PMOI/MEK). He was held for 40 months in solitary detention before his execution on June 1, 2014. Many U.S. citizens have also been held as hostages in Evin prison under false pretenses of “espionage” and were released after ransoms of some kind were paid. A recent case in point was the cash payment made by the Obama administration in return for the release of four Americans held in Iran’s Evin prison and released on the day the nuclear deal with the Iranian regime was finalized.  

John E. Smith, director of the Treasury Department’s Official of Foreign Assets Control, said in a statement:

“Today’s designations highlight our continued support for the Iranian people and demonstrate our commitment to hold the Government of Iran responsible for its continued repression of its own citizens.”  

He added:

“We will continue to identify, call out, and sanction those who are responsible for serious human rights abuses in Iran.”


“We continue to see Government of Iran officials engage in repressive behavior against its own citizens, including through their mistreatment and abuse of prisoners,” the document states.

“This is especially evident at Evin Prison, which is where numerous prisoners of conscience are held. We have documented these and many other human rights abuses perpetrated by the government of Iran in our annual State Department authored Human Rights, Religious Freedom, and trafficking in persons reports.”

So far, the world has been busy finding ways to stop the mullahs from getting their hands on a nuclear warhead. No one in his right mind can argue with that, but the deal reached went too far and lost focus of the bigger picture with Iran. The Obama administration’s near fixation with getting the nuclear deal signed with the mullahs at any cost made it overlook other – equally serious, if not more serious – issues with the regime such as Iran’s destructive role in the region and its trampling of the human rights of its own citizens at home.

Sanctioning the Iranian regime for treatment of its citizen is no doubt a step in the right direction, not only for aiding the struggling people in the country but for calming the region and it definitely will help the fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Since the beginning of new administration in the White House, the ruling mullahs in Tehran – despite their occasional whining over the U.S. government slapping down new sanctions for its missile tests – have never reacted extremely against Trump – that is, until April 15. The regime’s foreign ministry spokesman, Bahram Ghassemi, slammed the decision and said, “Washington was not in a position to hold others accountable for rights violations.” He added:  “These measures and unilateral and bullying sanctions are illegitimate according to repeated United Nations resolutions and they have a negative impact on improving human rights.” Ghassemi also argued that “the new sanctions were politically-motivated and illegal.”

The new sanctions leveled on Iranian regime hit where it really hurts. The mullahs not only feel the heat with U.S. airstrikes last week on its closest ally, Bashar Al-Assad in Syria for killing his own citizens with Sarin gas – no doubt with Iran’s blessings – the Iranian people now feel that they are not alone in their struggle for freedom.

Reza Shafiee is a member of Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) 

 



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Iran’s Stage-Managed Elections


Every four years, Iranian citizen witness a show called ‘elections.’ These have nothing in common with genuine democratic elections; they’re facades. The upcoming May 19 elections are no exception.

A closer look at the candidates proves that they are no different from one another and all have a clear track record of participation in suppression of Iranian people over the past four decades. They have won the approval to enter the race by the mullahs for just this reason.

The two more serious ones are: Hassan Rouhani, the incumbent president; and Ebrahim Raisi, custodian of Iran’s wealthiest charity, Astan Quds Razavi in Iran’s holiest shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad, northeastern Iran. Having charge of such vast amount of wealth, it’s a given that Raisi enjoys Supreme Leader Khamenei’s full trust. Both candidates are cut from the same cloth and are committed to principle to Supreme Guardianship (Velayat-e faqih), meaning, the rule of the ayatollahs

So who are they? Let’s start with the second one.  

Ebrahim Raiai a member of “Death Commission” and close confident of Ali Khamenei

He was a low-level cleric who climbed the ladder in the mullahs’ hierarchy just for his undeniable services to the late Khomeini in slaughtering of 30,000 political prisoners in summer of 1988. (In Iran, we don’t refer to Khomeini as “Ayatollah,” just Khomeini is enough.  The title has been stolen and abused by the ruling mullahs in Iran.) The prisoners were mainly members and sympathizers of the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organizations of Iran (PMOI/MEK).  

The “Death Commission” was a four-member body with the sole task of carrying out Khomeini’s fatwa against dissidents. In his hand-written decree, Khomeini openly ordered the commission to kill the political prisoners, the majority of whom had been already imprisoned.

Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, Khomeini’s handpicked successor was later sacked over his quarrel with Khomeini for the indiscriminate killings. In a shocking 28-year-old audio file of one the meetings of Death Commission leaked in August by his son Ahmad, Montazeri called the killings a “crime that future generations will certainly not forget” and declared: “It is committed in the name of the Islamic Republic and carried out by you.” 

Ahmad Montazeri has regarded Ebrahim Raisi’s standing for presidential elections a ‘joke’ and ‘an insult to Iranian people’. Raisi’s record does not stop at just his role in the massacre of political prisoners in 1988, but what he did overrides any other tasks he has undertaken in Islamic Republic’s killing machine.

Canada’s Parliament adopted the following motion on June 5th, 2013 on the events of 1988 in Iran: “That the House condemn the mass murder of political prisoners in Iran in the summer of 1988 as a crime against humanity, honors the memory of the victims buried in mass graves at Khavaran cemetery and other locations in Iran, and establishes Sept. 1 as a day of solidarity with political prisoners in Iran.”

Now let’s look at the other candidate:

Hassan Rouhani is no saint

Make no mistake about Rouhani being a saint by comparison. He is not far behind Raisi when it comes to cruelty. For starters, Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, his justice minister, is none other than another member of the same notorious Death Commission. Last summer when Pour-Mohammadi was pressed to answer for the massacre of 1988, he proudly said: “I carried out God’s will and I have not lost sleep over what I did.”

The rate of executions during Rouhani’s presidency has been unprecedented in past 25 years in Iran, according to Ahmed Shaheed, who was Iran’s last UN Special Rapporteur for human rights. During Rouhani’s tenure, around 3000 executions were carried out. 

When asked about hangings during his presidency, Rouhani simply said: “They were carried out according to God’s laws.”

Amnesty International’s report for 2016 indicates that with the exception of China, Iran carried out 55 percent of all executions worldwide. 

Rouhani has always said that he has been in a decision making-position throughout the life of the Islamic Republic. He personally was in a commanding position when the 1999 student uprisings were crushed in Iran.

The European Union extended its sanctions on Iranian regime’s offices for participating in suppression of Iranian citizens. 

EU documents state that they target persons complicit in “torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, or the indiscriminate, excessive and increasing application of the death penalty, including public executions, stoning, hangings or executions of juvenile offenders.”

As U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley mentioned recently: “Peace and security cannot be achieved in isolation from human rights.” The long-suffering people of Iran, Syria, and Iraq bear witness that “human rights abuses are not the byproduct of conflict; they are the cause of conflict, or they are the fuel that feeds the conflict.”

There’s also a third candidate worth looking at:

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is back in the race

The trio of Rouhani, Raisi and Ahmadinejad in Iran’s upcoming elections is more than a mere joke: It has a plain and clear message – that of Khamenei’s extreme weakness in controlling his goons. The humorous Iranian people have already made jokes about the three and this bagatelle called elections. Social media is full of them.

Khamenei ordered Ahmadinejad to stay away from elections. By disobeying his master’s direct order he is demonstrating the Supreme Leader’s unprecedented lack of control over his establishment. Khamenei offered an explicit warning in September that his candidacy would be a “polarizing situation” that would be “harmful to the country.” 

That is a reference to the disputed election in 2009 which ignited massive street demonstrations and subsequent arrests of thousands of protesters and the killing of hundreds of others by the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). 

Final thoughts       

Iran’s history has shown that people are willing to risk and speak openly when they have outside support and sympathy. The United States’ policies with regard to human rights have an instant effect in hearts and minds of ordinary citizens in Iran. What happened in Iran in 2009 is not a distant memory. The Obama administration’s flawed policy set off a chain reactions in the region which still reverberates in Syria, Yemen and Iraq. By focusing just on getting the nuclear deal done with the mullahs in Tehran, it actually left out other pressing issues such supporting the Iranian people and indirectly preventing the carnage in the neighboring countries. 

The elections in Iran – for parliament or president – have been designed or “engineered,” as the word has been widely used, by the regime’s inner circles, for both internal and external consumption. However after the nuclear deal with the West, it has become a high priority for the regime to show popular support at home and project it as an image to the rest of the world as a regime fully in control and ready to do business. It is no secret that the regime has no popular support in Iran.

Ebrahim Rasis, Hassan Rounhani, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and their likes should not be allowed to escape the consequences of their crimes against humanity. Known human rights criminals such as entire ruling mullah class in Iran should not go unpunished. They should soon see the inside of International Criminal Court.

Reza Shafiee is a member of Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) 

 

Every four years, Iranian citizen witness a show called ‘elections.’ These have nothing in common with genuine democratic elections; they’re facades. The upcoming May 19 elections are no exception.

A closer look at the candidates proves that they are no different from one another and all have a clear track record of participation in suppression of Iranian people over the past four decades. They have won the approval to enter the race by the mullahs for just this reason.

The two more serious ones are: Hassan Rouhani, the incumbent president; and Ebrahim Raisi, custodian of Iran’s wealthiest charity, Astan Quds Razavi in Iran’s holiest shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad, northeastern Iran. Having charge of such vast amount of wealth, it’s a given that Raisi enjoys Supreme Leader Khamenei’s full trust. Both candidates are cut from the same cloth and are committed to principle to Supreme Guardianship (Velayat-e faqih), meaning, the rule of the ayatollahs

So who are they? Let’s start with the second one.  

Ebrahim Raiai a member of “Death Commission” and close confident of Ali Khamenei

He was a low-level cleric who climbed the ladder in the mullahs’ hierarchy just for his undeniable services to the late Khomeini in slaughtering of 30,000 political prisoners in summer of 1988. (In Iran, we don’t refer to Khomeini as “Ayatollah,” just Khomeini is enough.  The title has been stolen and abused by the ruling mullahs in Iran.) The prisoners were mainly members and sympathizers of the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organizations of Iran (PMOI/MEK).  

The “Death Commission” was a four-member body with the sole task of carrying out Khomeini’s fatwa against dissidents. In his hand-written decree, Khomeini openly ordered the commission to kill the political prisoners, the majority of whom had been already imprisoned.

Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, Khomeini’s handpicked successor was later sacked over his quarrel with Khomeini for the indiscriminate killings. In a shocking 28-year-old audio file of one the meetings of Death Commission leaked in August by his son Ahmad, Montazeri called the killings a “crime that future generations will certainly not forget” and declared: “It is committed in the name of the Islamic Republic and carried out by you.” 

Ahmad Montazeri has regarded Ebrahim Raisi’s standing for presidential elections a ‘joke’ and ‘an insult to Iranian people’. Raisi’s record does not stop at just his role in the massacre of political prisoners in 1988, but what he did overrides any other tasks he has undertaken in Islamic Republic’s killing machine.

Canada’s Parliament adopted the following motion on June 5th, 2013 on the events of 1988 in Iran: “That the House condemn the mass murder of political prisoners in Iran in the summer of 1988 as a crime against humanity, honors the memory of the victims buried in mass graves at Khavaran cemetery and other locations in Iran, and establishes Sept. 1 as a day of solidarity with political prisoners in Iran.”

Now let’s look at the other candidate:

Hassan Rouhani is no saint

Make no mistake about Rouhani being a saint by comparison. He is not far behind Raisi when it comes to cruelty. For starters, Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, his justice minister, is none other than another member of the same notorious Death Commission. Last summer when Pour-Mohammadi was pressed to answer for the massacre of 1988, he proudly said: “I carried out God’s will and I have not lost sleep over what I did.”

The rate of executions during Rouhani’s presidency has been unprecedented in past 25 years in Iran, according to Ahmed Shaheed, who was Iran’s last UN Special Rapporteur for human rights. During Rouhani’s tenure, around 3000 executions were carried out. 

When asked about hangings during his presidency, Rouhani simply said: “They were carried out according to God’s laws.”

Amnesty International’s report for 2016 indicates that with the exception of China, Iran carried out 55 percent of all executions worldwide. 

Rouhani has always said that he has been in a decision making-position throughout the life of the Islamic Republic. He personally was in a commanding position when the 1999 student uprisings were crushed in Iran.

The European Union extended its sanctions on Iranian regime’s offices for participating in suppression of Iranian citizens. 

EU documents state that they target persons complicit in “torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, or the indiscriminate, excessive and increasing application of the death penalty, including public executions, stoning, hangings or executions of juvenile offenders.”

As U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley mentioned recently: “Peace and security cannot be achieved in isolation from human rights.” The long-suffering people of Iran, Syria, and Iraq bear witness that “human rights abuses are not the byproduct of conflict; they are the cause of conflict, or they are the fuel that feeds the conflict.”

There’s also a third candidate worth looking at:

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is back in the race

The trio of Rouhani, Raisi and Ahmadinejad in Iran’s upcoming elections is more than a mere joke: It has a plain and clear message – that of Khamenei’s extreme weakness in controlling his goons. The humorous Iranian people have already made jokes about the three and this bagatelle called elections. Social media is full of them.

Khamenei ordered Ahmadinejad to stay away from elections. By disobeying his master’s direct order he is demonstrating the Supreme Leader’s unprecedented lack of control over his establishment. Khamenei offered an explicit warning in September that his candidacy would be a “polarizing situation” that would be “harmful to the country.” 

That is a reference to the disputed election in 2009 which ignited massive street demonstrations and subsequent arrests of thousands of protesters and the killing of hundreds of others by the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). 

Final thoughts       

Iran’s history has shown that people are willing to risk and speak openly when they have outside support and sympathy. The United States’ policies with regard to human rights have an instant effect in hearts and minds of ordinary citizens in Iran. What happened in Iran in 2009 is not a distant memory. The Obama administration’s flawed policy set off a chain reactions in the region which still reverberates in Syria, Yemen and Iraq. By focusing just on getting the nuclear deal done with the mullahs in Tehran, it actually left out other pressing issues such supporting the Iranian people and indirectly preventing the carnage in the neighboring countries. 

The elections in Iran – for parliament or president – have been designed or “engineered,” as the word has been widely used, by the regime’s inner circles, for both internal and external consumption. However after the nuclear deal with the West, it has become a high priority for the regime to show popular support at home and project it as an image to the rest of the world as a regime fully in control and ready to do business. It is no secret that the regime has no popular support in Iran.

Ebrahim Rasis, Hassan Rounhani, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and their likes should not be allowed to escape the consequences of their crimes against humanity. Known human rights criminals such as entire ruling mullah class in Iran should not go unpunished. They should soon see the inside of International Criminal Court.

Reza Shafiee is a member of Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) 

 



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An effective first step toward containing Iran


The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, talked tough on Iran last March 28, stating that the regime is a danger to the U.S., in need of non-nuclear sanctions, and calling for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to be listed by the U.S. as a foreign terrorist organization.

Coming from such high-ranking U.S. office-holder, it points to the heart of the problem when it comes to Iran’s regime: that it uses the IRGC and its armed Quds Force as a means to an end to export Islamic fundamentalism across the Middle East and beyond. Ryan explicitly suggested that IRGC be listed as a foreign terrorist organization to put a leash on mullahs’ relentless craving to devour the region.

At the conference he spoke at, some believed and even entertained the idea that Iran will come around with the nuclear deal. Speaker Ryan pointed out that such deal did no good in reforming the Iranian regime’s behavior, something the Obama administration tried so hard to sell. He said that the deal “has been an unmitigated disaster – and I don’t say that lightly,” he added. Ryan also warned that, ”Iran has stepped up its support for terrorism, increased its human rights abuses, and ramped up its ballistic missile program following the July 2015 agreement – while also gaining additional funds as a result of sanctions relief.”

The statement from House Speaker coupled with that of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, saying that Iran gained a lot from the nuclear deal and that is the reason why the world now faces a much more aggressive Iran. Iran’s behavior and expectations after the nuclear deal were “concerning, and the reason it’s concerning is because when the Iran deal took place, all it did was empower Iran,” she said: “And it emboldened Iran to feel like they could get away with more.”

Since the nuclear deal with Iran in the summer of 2015, the regime in Tehran changed gears, taking the money released to go full throttle in the business of making long range missiles and stepping up meddling in the region.

There were primary targets: Iraq, Syria and Yemen, with an eye always on Lebanon. The Iranian regime is not stupid and knows full well that it has almost zero popular support at home and needs to place the nuclear program at least for now on the back burner. Since the 1979 revolution, the mullahs have always looked to expand beyond Iran’s borders and they consider it their right to export their brand of Islam to other countries. One of IRGC’s mandates described in the constitution is to defend Islam wherever needed.

IRGC’s aggressive presence in Iraq and Syria and participation in the massacre of half a million people in Syria stems from that logic.  

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has said throughout the painstaking nuclear deal negotiations that he “does not believe such talks bear any fruit.” He only agreed to the deal at all because Iran was broke and the prospect of popular uprising was not only possible but inevitable. The Iranian economy had buckled under crushing sanctions. The Obama administration on the other hand misread the signals coming from Iran as signs that the mullahs were changing their behavior and ignored the growing evidence of chaos and terror, which is deeply enshrined in their ideology.

Iran’s neighbors to the south are extremely concerned with Tehran’s intentions. The regime showed its true colors in Syria by setting aside all claims of being true champions of Islam and unleashed Lebanese Hezbollah in addition to its Quds Force to terrorize and brutalize the innocent people of Syria. IRGC works overtime to stir violence and unrest among the Shiite population on the tiny island-state of Bahrain. In past few weeks, especially, the island’s government has faced plot after plot, and all of them bankrolled by IRGC. A closer look at this makes it crystal clear that the mullahs’ insidious interest in the island is for a far more important reason: Bahrain is the home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, responsible for keeping sea lanes open through the Persian Gulf.   

On March 29, Arab League members strongly condemned Iran’s destabilizing role in the region and unanimously called for Iran’s containment.The  Arab League’s Ministerial Quartet Committee was tasked with following up the developments of the crisis with the Iranian regime, an dit denounced on March 27 the Iranian regime’s continued intervention in the internal affairs of Arab countries.

The U.S.’s seasoned top military official, Secretary of Defense General James Mattis, on March 31 in London confirmed his 2012 statement in which he had said that the three gravest threats to American’s national security were “Iran, Iran, Iran.” He also said: “At the time when I spoke about Iran, I was a commander of U.S. Central Command and [saying] that (Iran) was the primary exporter of terrorism, frankly, it was the primary state sponsor of terrorism and it continues that kind of behavior today.”

U.S. CENTCOM commander Gen. Joseph Votel also agrees with Secretary Mattis. On March 29, he said: “Iran poses the most significant threat to the central region and to our national interests and the interests of our partners and allies.”  Last year, in a hearing, General Votel told Congress that Iranian regime has become “more aggressive in the days since the [Iran nuclear] agreement.”

What’s coming up next are Iran’s elections.

Next month Khamenei must make a crucial decision which would leave unprecedented outcomes for the regime. It has always been true that mullahs in power “engineer” the electoral results. They pull out of ballot boxes the votes for their favored candidates behind the scenes and then announce them as winners for the Iranian presidential office. It is also true that for a right mind their actions are confusing and the myth of “moderates” verses “hardliners” in Iran – which pops up especially at election time – was shaped for the sole propose of selling a backward and fundamentalist regime to the rest of us as a unique model of “Islamic Democracy.”

Don’t think there aren’t champions out there of this sort of fraudulent ‘narrative.’

Mohammad Javad Larijani, the head of the so-called Iranian Judiciary’s Human Rights Council, and ironically, American-educated, often brags about Islamic democracy and complains about the West’s lack of appreciation for the Islamic Republic’s values. His brand of democracy simply boils down to suppression at home and terror aboard. 

But the turning point for Iranian history may have arrived. The United States and rest of the world have the desire and ability to stand on the side of the Iranian people and their will for a democratic change; one that not only affects them, but their neighbors, and the entire region, if not the world. Something that the Congress and officials of the new administration in past few weeks seem to have agreed on is taking a tough and firm stance toward mullahs’ regime in Iran. Together, they are sending the message to the Iranian regime that actions have consequences. The new era has begun and the world would be a safer place without them. The first logical step in the right direction to stop Iran is slapping the IRGC right where it belongs: On the U.S. blacklist.

 

Reza Shafiee is a member of Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) 

 


 

The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, talked tough on Iran last March 28, stating that the regime is a danger to the U.S., in need of non-nuclear sanctions, and calling for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to be listed by the U.S. as a foreign terrorist organization.

Coming from such high-ranking U.S. office-holder, it points to the heart of the problem when it comes to Iran’s regime: that it uses the IRGC and its armed Quds Force as a means to an end to export Islamic fundamentalism across the Middle East and beyond. Ryan explicitly suggested that IRGC be listed as a foreign terrorist organization to put a leash on mullahs’ relentless craving to devour the region.

At the conference he spoke at, some believed and even entertained the idea that Iran will come around with the nuclear deal. Speaker Ryan pointed out that such deal did no good in reforming the Iranian regime’s behavior, something the Obama administration tried so hard to sell. He said that the deal “has been an unmitigated disaster – and I don’t say that lightly,” he added. Ryan also warned that, ”Iran has stepped up its support for terrorism, increased its human rights abuses, and ramped up its ballistic missile program following the July 2015 agreement – while also gaining additional funds as a result of sanctions relief.”

The statement from House Speaker coupled with that of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, saying that Iran gained a lot from the nuclear deal and that is the reason why the world now faces a much more aggressive Iran. Iran’s behavior and expectations after the nuclear deal were “concerning, and the reason it’s concerning is because when the Iran deal took place, all it did was empower Iran,” she said: “And it emboldened Iran to feel like they could get away with more.”

Since the nuclear deal with Iran in the summer of 2015, the regime in Tehran changed gears, taking the money released to go full throttle in the business of making long range missiles and stepping up meddling in the region.

There were primary targets: Iraq, Syria and Yemen, with an eye always on Lebanon. The Iranian regime is not stupid and knows full well that it has almost zero popular support at home and needs to place the nuclear program at least for now on the back burner. Since the 1979 revolution, the mullahs have always looked to expand beyond Iran’s borders and they consider it their right to export their brand of Islam to other countries. One of IRGC’s mandates described in the constitution is to defend Islam wherever needed.

IRGC’s aggressive presence in Iraq and Syria and participation in the massacre of half a million people in Syria stems from that logic.  

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has said throughout the painstaking nuclear deal negotiations that he “does not believe such talks bear any fruit.” He only agreed to the deal at all because Iran was broke and the prospect of popular uprising was not only possible but inevitable. The Iranian economy had buckled under crushing sanctions. The Obama administration on the other hand misread the signals coming from Iran as signs that the mullahs were changing their behavior and ignored the growing evidence of chaos and terror, which is deeply enshrined in their ideology.

Iran’s neighbors to the south are extremely concerned with Tehran’s intentions. The regime showed its true colors in Syria by setting aside all claims of being true champions of Islam and unleashed Lebanese Hezbollah in addition to its Quds Force to terrorize and brutalize the innocent people of Syria. IRGC works overtime to stir violence and unrest among the Shiite population on the tiny island-state of Bahrain. In past few weeks, especially, the island’s government has faced plot after plot, and all of them bankrolled by IRGC. A closer look at this makes it crystal clear that the mullahs’ insidious interest in the island is for a far more important reason: Bahrain is the home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, responsible for keeping sea lanes open through the Persian Gulf.   

On March 29, Arab League members strongly condemned Iran’s destabilizing role in the region and unanimously called for Iran’s containment.The  Arab League’s Ministerial Quartet Committee was tasked with following up the developments of the crisis with the Iranian regime, an dit denounced on March 27 the Iranian regime’s continued intervention in the internal affairs of Arab countries.

The U.S.’s seasoned top military official, Secretary of Defense General James Mattis, on March 31 in London confirmed his 2012 statement in which he had said that the three gravest threats to American’s national security were “Iran, Iran, Iran.” He also said: “At the time when I spoke about Iran, I was a commander of U.S. Central Command and [saying] that (Iran) was the primary exporter of terrorism, frankly, it was the primary state sponsor of terrorism and it continues that kind of behavior today.”

U.S. CENTCOM commander Gen. Joseph Votel also agrees with Secretary Mattis. On March 29, he said: “Iran poses the most significant threat to the central region and to our national interests and the interests of our partners and allies.”  Last year, in a hearing, General Votel told Congress that Iranian regime has become “more aggressive in the days since the [Iran nuclear] agreement.”

What’s coming up next are Iran’s elections.

Next month Khamenei must make a crucial decision which would leave unprecedented outcomes for the regime. It has always been true that mullahs in power “engineer” the electoral results. They pull out of ballot boxes the votes for their favored candidates behind the scenes and then announce them as winners for the Iranian presidential office. It is also true that for a right mind their actions are confusing and the myth of “moderates” verses “hardliners” in Iran – which pops up especially at election time – was shaped for the sole propose of selling a backward and fundamentalist regime to the rest of us as a unique model of “Islamic Democracy.”

Don’t think there aren’t champions out there of this sort of fraudulent ‘narrative.’

Mohammad Javad Larijani, the head of the so-called Iranian Judiciary’s Human Rights Council, and ironically, American-educated, often brags about Islamic democracy and complains about the West’s lack of appreciation for the Islamic Republic’s values. His brand of democracy simply boils down to suppression at home and terror aboard. 

But the turning point for Iranian history may have arrived. The United States and rest of the world have the desire and ability to stand on the side of the Iranian people and their will for a democratic change; one that not only affects them, but their neighbors, and the entire region, if not the world. Something that the Congress and officials of the new administration in past few weeks seem to have agreed on is taking a tough and firm stance toward mullahs’ regime in Iran. Together, they are sending the message to the Iranian regime that actions have consequences. The new era has begun and the world would be a safer place without them. The first logical step in the right direction to stop Iran is slapping the IRGC right where it belongs: On the U.S. blacklist.

 

Reza Shafiee is a member of Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) 

 


 



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Stop Iran’s expansionism in the Middle East


Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei authorized for the first time an offer of Iranian citizenship to Afghans willing to fight in Syria. Javan, one of many Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) dailies officially broke the news on March 17. Many may not see it as something new, but indeed it is since; for months IRGC tried to hide its sending of organized fighting brigades of scores of Afghan and Pakistani nationals, known as Fatemiyoun Division for Afghans and Zenabiyoun Division for Pakistanis, to Syria.

According to a recent report by Agence Presse-France, more than 2,100 Afghan citizens were killed in Syria.  Mohammad Ali Shahidi, head of Iran’s veterans’ affairs office, said on March 7th that more than 2,000 “fighters sent from Iran have been killed in Iraq and Syria” and “Some 2,100 martyrs have been martyred so far in Iraq or other places defending the holy mausoleums,” Shahidi told the state-run IRNA news agency.

Of course this figure is not at all accurate simply because it has left out the causalities of the IRGC in Syria. There, hardly a day goes by that in corners of Iran, one of IRGC’s men goes unburied. Some big names were among them last year. Senior IRGC commanders such as Hossein Hamedani came home in body bags. No one in Iran would miss not seeing the likes of him around because he was a butcher of Iranian dissidents at home and a war criminal in the eight year Iran-Iraq and Syrian wars. But he too was a casualty in this illegal war.

Expansionism in the form of meddling in the affairs of neighboring countries and destabilizing the region is second nature to the Iranian regime. Khomeini and his predecessors have never hidden the idea of “glorifying Islam.” It is often said in the regime’s inner circles that if: “We were to confine Islamic Republic to its borders it will suffocate.” Mullahs in Tehran have made their mission since 1979 to foster instability outside the regime. The eight-year Iran-Iraq War was but one bloody reminder of what mullahs in Tehran are capable of. The string of hostage-taking, bombings, including the U.S. barracks in Lebanon in early 1980s, and the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia in 1976 are but a few examples. These attacks cost many American lives.

Yemen is certainly the next stop for the Iranian regime to secretly occupy through its proxies. It is believed for some time now that IRGC and the Quds Force are actively supplying the Houthis minority rebels with sophisticated weapons and so-called advisors who are actually Quds Force members. What might come as shock to some is that IRGC is planning to turn them into yet another Lebanese Hezbollah. Some informed sources told Reuters on Tuesday how Iranian regime operates: “This mirrors the strategy it has used to support its Lebanese ally Hezbollah in Syria.”  A senior Iranian official said Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force – the external arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – met top IRGC officials in Tehran last month to look at ways to “empower” the Houthis.

One thing is for sure that the former U.S. administration and the rest of the Western world have tried vigorously for a long time to find “moderates,” “reformers,” and “good guys,” inside the regime. The gambit failed.

The Obama administration stretched itself thin trying to please and talk some sense to mullahs in Tehran. Some may argue that the nuclear deal was at least good for pushing back Iran’s “breakout” time to one year. But currently, the regime is bellyaching about the deal and refusing to ship out its excess heavy water out of Iran, as the terms call for.

What the Obama administration could have done to ensure the regime would not be an actual threat would have been to uphold previous UN Security Council resolutions banning Iran from enrichment altogether.  But it did not do the job and it has now left the world with current dilemma.

It is obvious that mullahs are shaken to the core by the prospect of Trump administration’s response to regime’s bullying in the region. One clear sign is Khamenei’s lack of desire for his usual tongue lashing at the United States.     

It is no secret that Khamenei is behind all strategic decisions made in Iran and every gesture his regime makes toward the United States. One crucial factor in this shift, although may be just tactical, is the fact that Obama’s “golden days” for the mullahs’ regime are certainly over. 

Ambassador John Bolton recent remarks at the Iranian Resistance’s Nowruz Celebration-Iranian New Year- in Albania made it abundantly clear that a new era in U.S.-Iran relations had begun. He said:

“I have a few words to Mullahs in Tehran. The golden era of relations with the United States is over. It is vitally important that the whole world understands that American policy on Mullahs’ regime in support of international terrorism and nuclear power program, is fundamentally changed.”

The regime may have let go of nuclear adventurism for now but surely it has hung up to something far more dangerous that is engaging in terrorism in the region. In 2004, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, president of the National Council of Resistance (NCRI) described Iranian regime’s destabilizing role in region: “Tehran’s meddling across the region is far more dangerous than the mullahs’ quest to obtain nuclear weapons.”

It is an open secret for a long time that the Iranian regime thrives on chaos because it has zero popular support at home and the only other option for it to sustain itself would be to stir unrest in the region. The single viable option to stop it would be to remove it from the neighboring countries and push it as far back as behind the Iranian borders as possible; something which should have been done a long time ago. The IRGC should not be allowed to roam around and wreak havoc.

Reza Shafiee is a member of Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)   

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei authorized for the first time an offer of Iranian citizenship to Afghans willing to fight in Syria. Javan, one of many Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) dailies officially broke the news on March 17. Many may not see it as something new, but indeed it is since; for months IRGC tried to hide its sending of organized fighting brigades of scores of Afghan and Pakistani nationals, known as Fatemiyoun Division for Afghans and Zenabiyoun Division for Pakistanis, to Syria.

According to a recent report by Agence Presse-France, more than 2,100 Afghan citizens were killed in Syria.  Mohammad Ali Shahidi, head of Iran’s veterans’ affairs office, said on March 7th that more than 2,000 “fighters sent from Iran have been killed in Iraq and Syria” and “Some 2,100 martyrs have been martyred so far in Iraq or other places defending the holy mausoleums,” Shahidi told the state-run IRNA news agency.

Of course this figure is not at all accurate simply because it has left out the causalities of the IRGC in Syria. There, hardly a day goes by that in corners of Iran, one of IRGC’s men goes unburied. Some big names were among them last year. Senior IRGC commanders such as Hossein Hamedani came home in body bags. No one in Iran would miss not seeing the likes of him around because he was a butcher of Iranian dissidents at home and a war criminal in the eight year Iran-Iraq and Syrian wars. But he too was a casualty in this illegal war.

Expansionism in the form of meddling in the affairs of neighboring countries and destabilizing the region is second nature to the Iranian regime. Khomeini and his predecessors have never hidden the idea of “glorifying Islam.” It is often said in the regime’s inner circles that if: “We were to confine Islamic Republic to its borders it will suffocate.” Mullahs in Tehran have made their mission since 1979 to foster instability outside the regime. The eight-year Iran-Iraq War was but one bloody reminder of what mullahs in Tehran are capable of. The string of hostage-taking, bombings, including the U.S. barracks in Lebanon in early 1980s, and the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia in 1976 are but a few examples. These attacks cost many American lives.

Yemen is certainly the next stop for the Iranian regime to secretly occupy through its proxies. It is believed for some time now that IRGC and the Quds Force are actively supplying the Houthis minority rebels with sophisticated weapons and so-called advisors who are actually Quds Force members. What might come as shock to some is that IRGC is planning to turn them into yet another Lebanese Hezbollah. Some informed sources told Reuters on Tuesday how Iranian regime operates: “This mirrors the strategy it has used to support its Lebanese ally Hezbollah in Syria.”  A senior Iranian official said Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force – the external arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – met top IRGC officials in Tehran last month to look at ways to “empower” the Houthis.

One thing is for sure that the former U.S. administration and the rest of the Western world have tried vigorously for a long time to find “moderates,” “reformers,” and “good guys,” inside the regime. The gambit failed.

The Obama administration stretched itself thin trying to please and talk some sense to mullahs in Tehran. Some may argue that the nuclear deal was at least good for pushing back Iran’s “breakout” time to one year. But currently, the regime is bellyaching about the deal and refusing to ship out its excess heavy water out of Iran, as the terms call for.

What the Obama administration could have done to ensure the regime would not be an actual threat would have been to uphold previous UN Security Council resolutions banning Iran from enrichment altogether.  But it did not do the job and it has now left the world with current dilemma.

It is obvious that mullahs are shaken to the core by the prospect of Trump administration’s response to regime’s bullying in the region. One clear sign is Khamenei’s lack of desire for his usual tongue lashing at the United States.     

It is no secret that Khamenei is behind all strategic decisions made in Iran and every gesture his regime makes toward the United States. One crucial factor in this shift, although may be just tactical, is the fact that Obama’s “golden days” for the mullahs’ regime are certainly over. 

Ambassador John Bolton recent remarks at the Iranian Resistance’s Nowruz Celebration-Iranian New Year- in Albania made it abundantly clear that a new era in U.S.-Iran relations had begun. He said:

“I have a few words to Mullahs in Tehran. The golden era of relations with the United States is over. It is vitally important that the whole world understands that American policy on Mullahs’ regime in support of international terrorism and nuclear power program, is fundamentally changed.”

The regime may have let go of nuclear adventurism for now but surely it has hung up to something far more dangerous that is engaging in terrorism in the region. In 2004, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, president of the National Council of Resistance (NCRI) described Iranian regime’s destabilizing role in region: “Tehran’s meddling across the region is far more dangerous than the mullahs’ quest to obtain nuclear weapons.”

It is an open secret for a long time that the Iranian regime thrives on chaos because it has zero popular support at home and the only other option for it to sustain itself would be to stir unrest in the region. The single viable option to stop it would be to remove it from the neighboring countries and push it as far back as behind the Iranian borders as possible; something which should have been done a long time ago. The IRGC should not be allowed to roam around and wreak havoc.

Reza Shafiee is a member of Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)   



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From Iran, the Mullahs' Malevolence to the US Grows


The Iranian regime has been and will be a source of instability in the region. Not a single day goes by without another indication of this insidious behavior. Aside from somewhat more evident and aggressive moves, such as Iran’s chasing U.S. and U.K. battleships with speedboats in the volatile Strait of Hormuz – almost about a third of all oil exports pass through it every day – there are also less-noticeable and cannier moves planned and executed by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the area. One is the building of a missile factory for Lebanon’s Hezbollah, according to a report in Al-Arabiya‘s Persian language website on March 11.

It may come as shock to some who believed that after all the hustle and bustle of signing the nuclear deal with six world’s powers, that this regime would come around and behave itself. However, despite the former U.S. administration officials’ optimism that mullahs’ regime might think twice before engaging in yet another provocation, it has been busy doing the exact opposite.

Al-Arabiya explains that after a weapons factory belonging to IRGC was bombed in Sudan, the Iranian regime is now building not one but several missile factories in Hezbollah-held territories in Lebanon. The website refers to a high ranking IRGC commander’s comments that Iran is building missile factories and in three months’ time will turn the operations over to Hezbollah.

The IRGC official also reveals that these factories have multifunctional capabilities which enable the industry to manufacture even drones among other things such surface to surface and surface to air missiles with a range of over 300 miles.  


Informed sources say that the actual factories are built in bomb proof bunkers over 150 feet deep underground to avoid Israeli air strikes.

Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan, Iranian regime’s defense minister, said. “The Lebanese Hezbollah is now able to build missiles covering the hole of Israel.” Earlier he had commented on the need to “wipe out Israel.”

On March 13, in an interview with state-run television, General Dehghan unveiled IRGC’s strategy to attack “enemies” in the West.

He says that there will be a situation of asymmetric warfare where “we need to have sufficient power to surprise the enemy. In other words, we need to hit the enemy where it hurts the most.”

The best examples of such warfare he is referring to can be seen in the 9/11 attacks and the war in Afghanistan. 

The full scale of his comments sink in when last week harsher but similar views were expressed by another IRGC strategist, Hassan Abbasi. His remarks were picked up by CNS NEWS where he said that U.S. heartland was their target and they had plans to hit the U.S. where it hurts. The stark similarities of comments are not to be taken lightly. 

Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the United Nations -breferring to mullahs’ regime’s frequent missile tests in recent weeks –  said that the United States believed it imperative to “get Iran and their proxies” out of Syria to maintain longstanding peace.

This of course was not the only U.S. official who pointed out the destabilizing role the regime plays in the region.

CENTCOM commander and Army Gen. Joseph Votel told the Senate Armed Services Committee on  March 9  that a range of competing interests in the Middle East were creating complex situations for U.S. Central Command to navigate.

General Votel later in his testimony said: “Iran seeks to be the regional hegemon,” and poses the greatest security threat in the whole CENTCOM area of responsibility.” Giving an example, he said that the country is building a layered defense that includes a Russia-built air defense system and anti-ship cruise missiles.

It is not just U.S. officials who are alarmed by the Tehran-based rulers’ destructive and destabilizing activities with the help of IRGC in the region, but most Arab neighbors too. The latter are extremely nervous about the way this regime misbehaves.

Salman Al-Dossary, former editor in chief of Asharq–Al–Awsat wrote on Sunday:

Iran’s elite revolutionary guard, an armed force intended to protect Tehran’s theocratic regime, has registered disruptive and intrusive activity in 14 regional states.

In his view, the IRGC has been stepping up its meddling in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon from the time the Iranian regime began talking with the six world powers about the nuclear issue.

Al-Dossary presents his argument against Iranian regime based on an investigative report the paper published on March 10 by Struan Stevenson, president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association arguing and documenting for the blacklisting of the IRGC and potential ways to confront its destructive actions in the Middle East.     

Based on Stevenson’s report, Al-Dossary estimates that the cost of regime’s dangerous meddling just in Syria alone amounts to $100 billion.

A valuable and enlightening book called, “The Rise of Revolutionary Guards’ Financial Empire” describes how IRGC pays for its terrorists’ plans in the region and was introduced last week in Washington. The U.S. representative office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) held a press conference about the new book.

Ambassador Adam Ereli said in the conference:

the book shows that 50 percent of Iran’s GDP is in the hands of regime’s leader and the organizations under his control, primarily the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), which uses the government assets for financing of terrorism abroad and repression at home.

Sadly the Obama administration did not realize that unfreezing Iranian assets following the nuclear deal would automatically end up in Syria, Yemen and Iraq to bankroll IRGC and Quds Force build up in the more vulnerable areas in the region such as Aleppo. The regime in Iran neither has nor is willing to spend a dime on problems ordinary citizens have in Iran. Iranian citizen in southwestern Iran are simply dying of air pollution and dust storms. The only money ever spent is to upgrade and modernize weapons for suppressive security forces in the country.


In the course of past four decades that the mullahs are ruling Iran one fact remains unchanged that Iranian regime would never change its behavior. It has ruled with an Iron fist at home and unlashed IRGC and Quds Force on its neighbors in the region. It may, from time to time, depending on which US administration is in the White House somewhat changed course to avoid direct confrontation. The time has certainly come to take concert actions to stop this regime. The place to start is indeed blacklisting the IRGC.

Reza Shafiee is a member of Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) 

 

 

The Iranian regime has been and will be a source of instability in the region. Not a single day goes by without another indication of this insidious behavior. Aside from somewhat more evident and aggressive moves, such as Iran’s chasing U.S. and U.K. battleships with speedboats in the volatile Strait of Hormuz – almost about a third of all oil exports pass through it every day – there are also less-noticeable and cannier moves planned and executed by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the area. One is the building of a missile factory for Lebanon’s Hezbollah, according to a report in Al-Arabiya‘s Persian language website on March 11.

It may come as shock to some who believed that after all the hustle and bustle of signing the nuclear deal with six world’s powers, that this regime would come around and behave itself. However, despite the former U.S. administration officials’ optimism that mullahs’ regime might think twice before engaging in yet another provocation, it has been busy doing the exact opposite.

Al-Arabiya explains that after a weapons factory belonging to IRGC was bombed in Sudan, the Iranian regime is now building not one but several missile factories in Hezbollah-held territories in Lebanon. The website refers to a high ranking IRGC commander’s comments that Iran is building missile factories and in three months’ time will turn the operations over to Hezbollah.

The IRGC official also reveals that these factories have multifunctional capabilities which enable the industry to manufacture even drones among other things such surface to surface and surface to air missiles with a range of over 300 miles.  


Informed sources say that the actual factories are built in bomb proof bunkers over 150 feet deep underground to avoid Israeli air strikes.

Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan, Iranian regime’s defense minister, said. “The Lebanese Hezbollah is now able to build missiles covering the hole of Israel.” Earlier he had commented on the need to “wipe out Israel.”

On March 13, in an interview with state-run television, General Dehghan unveiled IRGC’s strategy to attack “enemies” in the West.

He says that there will be a situation of asymmetric warfare where “we need to have sufficient power to surprise the enemy. In other words, we need to hit the enemy where it hurts the most.”

The best examples of such warfare he is referring to can be seen in the 9/11 attacks and the war in Afghanistan. 

The full scale of his comments sink in when last week harsher but similar views were expressed by another IRGC strategist, Hassan Abbasi. His remarks were picked up by CNS NEWS where he said that U.S. heartland was their target and they had plans to hit the U.S. where it hurts. The stark similarities of comments are not to be taken lightly. 

Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the United Nations -breferring to mullahs’ regime’s frequent missile tests in recent weeks –  said that the United States believed it imperative to “get Iran and their proxies” out of Syria to maintain longstanding peace.

This of course was not the only U.S. official who pointed out the destabilizing role the regime plays in the region.

CENTCOM commander and Army Gen. Joseph Votel told the Senate Armed Services Committee on  March 9  that a range of competing interests in the Middle East were creating complex situations for U.S. Central Command to navigate.

General Votel later in his testimony said: “Iran seeks to be the regional hegemon,” and poses the greatest security threat in the whole CENTCOM area of responsibility.” Giving an example, he said that the country is building a layered defense that includes a Russia-built air defense system and anti-ship cruise missiles.

It is not just U.S. officials who are alarmed by the Tehran-based rulers’ destructive and destabilizing activities with the help of IRGC in the region, but most Arab neighbors too. The latter are extremely nervous about the way this regime misbehaves.

Salman Al-Dossary, former editor in chief of Asharq–Al–Awsat wrote on Sunday:

Iran’s elite revolutionary guard, an armed force intended to protect Tehran’s theocratic regime, has registered disruptive and intrusive activity in 14 regional states.

In his view, the IRGC has been stepping up its meddling in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon from the time the Iranian regime began talking with the six world powers about the nuclear issue.

Al-Dossary presents his argument against Iranian regime based on an investigative report the paper published on March 10 by Struan Stevenson, president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association arguing and documenting for the blacklisting of the IRGC and potential ways to confront its destructive actions in the Middle East.     

Based on Stevenson’s report, Al-Dossary estimates that the cost of regime’s dangerous meddling just in Syria alone amounts to $100 billion.

A valuable and enlightening book called, “The Rise of Revolutionary Guards’ Financial Empire” describes how IRGC pays for its terrorists’ plans in the region and was introduced last week in Washington. The U.S. representative office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) held a press conference about the new book.

Ambassador Adam Ereli said in the conference:

the book shows that 50 percent of Iran’s GDP is in the hands of regime’s leader and the organizations under his control, primarily the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), which uses the government assets for financing of terrorism abroad and repression at home.

Sadly the Obama administration did not realize that unfreezing Iranian assets following the nuclear deal would automatically end up in Syria, Yemen and Iraq to bankroll IRGC and Quds Force build up in the more vulnerable areas in the region such as Aleppo. The regime in Iran neither has nor is willing to spend a dime on problems ordinary citizens have in Iran. Iranian citizen in southwestern Iran are simply dying of air pollution and dust storms. The only money ever spent is to upgrade and modernize weapons for suppressive security forces in the country.


In the course of past four decades that the mullahs are ruling Iran one fact remains unchanged that Iranian regime would never change its behavior. It has ruled with an Iron fist at home and unlashed IRGC and Quds Force on its neighbors in the region. It may, from time to time, depending on which US administration is in the White House somewhat changed course to avoid direct confrontation. The time has certainly come to take concert actions to stop this regime. The place to start is indeed blacklisting the IRGC.

Reza Shafiee is a member of Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) 

 

 



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Time to Call Iran's Revolutionary Guards What They Are: Terrorists


Ever since signs emerged that Trump administration is considering a long-overdue classification of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, the ruling mullahs have gone to work. They put into place a well-known strategy of intimidation and deception aboard, coupled with an absolute iron fist at home. They do this because they know the value of controlling a terrorist organization. The problem is in the harm it means for everyone else.

In the past, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khomeini, would brandish the former by reminding Western governments that if they chose to cross Tehran then they must be prepared to pay dearly. But that was decades ago. One fact is undisputable now: The Iranian regime has long passed its prime revolutionary and glory days when Khomeini rode in on the tides of millions who were sadly unaware of what was to come. In those days, people tasted a short-lived period of high expectations, at the time wildly called “spring of freedom.”

At the same time, hostage-taking by IRGC’s protégés, such as nascent Lebanese Hezbollah, of foreign nationals, preferably Americans, was routine. The ayatollahs were behind it even though it often took place in Lebanon. After each kidnapping, IRGC’s proteges then engaged hostages’ governments in a lengthy and humiliating process of hostage negotiations and sometimes hostage swaps in the 1980s.

Today the IRGC has made it much more convenient to reach the same ends by taking the hostages among dual citizens who take the risk of traveling to Iran. Case in point was hostages released just after Iranian regime struck the nuclear deal with the U.S. and five other world powers. IRGC’s deputy chief, Brigadier General Hossein Nejat, in a speech in Bushehr (south of Iran), said: “The Iranian-American journalist of the Washington Post, Jason Rezaian, who had formed an espionage network was identified and arrested by the IRGC.”

Hossein Nejat stated: “The former Secretary of State, John Kerry with his intelligence forces urged the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif to release Jason Rezaian. Consequently, the U.S. government in return paid 1 billion and 400 million dollars ransom to Iran for the release of Jason Rezaian.”

Other IRGC officials, on different occasions after the hostages were released, have bragged that the Obama administration released Iranian prisoners in the United States and on top of that paid a hefty sum as ransom money.  

In past few weeks, despite attempts by regime officials, such as Zarif, to keep a low profile while anxiously monitoring Donald Trump’s every move, IRGC is actively scheming. It raised the prize on Salman Rushdie’s head, showcased and glorified old terrorists such as Anis-Alnaghash on state-run television and openly threatened the U.S.

CNC News revealed on Feb. 28 that an IRGC strategist, Hassan Abbasi renewed threats that the force has planned to unleash terror cells on U.S. soil. He has elaborated plans to sabotage nuclear plants in the United States among other things. Ironically, at the same time, IRGC has claimed that it is fighting terrorism in neighboring countries.

Javad Zarif has recently said: “the world at large agrees that the IRGC has extended the utmost support for neighboring countries in their fight against terrorism.”

Zarif seemingly refers to IRGC’s destructive and brutal role in Syria and is trying to sell it as constrictive. According to IRGC’s own figures, more than 1,000 members of its rank and file have been killed in cities around the war-torn country.  Many were veteran IRGC officers. The Iranian regime claims that it has only an advisory role in Syria, however it has recruited and dispatched thousands of Afghani and Pakistani nationals to Syrian fronts. Not one has fought ISIS.

On March 2, Brigadier General Ismail Ghaani, who is deputy Quds Force commander, speaking in the northeastern city of Mashhad, told a group from the Fatemiyoun Division, an offshoot of the force fighting in Syria: “Fatemiyoun proved that it is a capable force ready to operate not only in Syria but anywhere else on the planet when Islam requires it.” Fatemiyoun was formed of Afghani recruits, along with its sibling organization Zenabiyoun Division of Pakistanis.

The Iranian regime today makes it no secret that it is heavily involved in Syria and Iraq. It sugarcoats its involvement with the illusion that IRGC and its armed wing, the Quds Force, are fighting ISIS. But it’s not true. After almost six years of involvement in the bloody civil war in Syria, it is out in the open that the regime has no quarrel with ISIS. Former Secretary of State John Kerry said in an interview with Fox News: “Assad facilitated the release of 1,500 prisoners, parallel to 1,000 by Maliki in Iraq, leading to the foundation of ISIS.”  Former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, James Jeffrey, said that Americans knew what Prime Minister Maliki was up to, but chose not to take any action.

It is also a hard fact that Maliki was in every way a puppet of the Iranian regime. He was trained by the IRGC and fought alongside its forces during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.

What is missing in all the talks and arguments made in Washington as to what is an effective remedy to counter the mullahs in Iran is the role of Iranian people. Iran is boiling with popular discontent, now. According to Brigadier General Hossein Ashtari, the Iranian regime’s chief of police: “On average 20 to 30 protest gatherings take place around the country by citizens who have lost their life savings to the banks,” These citizens are mainly retired with very limited savings and were scammed out of their lifetime savings by various government-owned financial institutions.  Such protests are but a drop in the ocean when we add the teachers, nurses, factory workers, and an army of college graduates with no prospects of finding decent jobs to the discontent. This amounts to tens of thousands of people, in large numbers of gatherings each year. According to a BBC report, more than 11 million or Iran’s 83 million people are unemployed in the country.

When it comes to Iran, the decision-makers in Washington have two options: One is to follow the status quo and tolerate a regime which is the number one state sponsor of terrorism in the world, a stirrer of sectarian violence in the region, and engaged in two wars in Iraq and Syria. It’s a nation that secretly supplies weapons to Yemen’s Houthis which has also cost American servicemen’s lives. If the Trump administration chooses this option, it will make the same mistakes the Obama administration made.

The other, and better, option is to stand with Iranian people and their resistance, to let them shape their own future. All they asked of U.S. in 2009 was for the U.S. to stand with them. At the time, they chanted: “Obama are you with us or with them.” They clearly hoped the U.S. would not placate mullahs with concessions, nor turn a blind eye to regime’s terrorism.

One such good signal in the right direction would be to designate IRGC as a terrorist organization.  In light of all it has done and its growing strength, in designating the IRGC as a terrorist group, we are doing ourselves a favor.

Reza Shafiee is a member of Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) 

Ever since signs emerged that Trump administration is considering a long-overdue classification of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, the ruling mullahs have gone to work. They put into place a well-known strategy of intimidation and deception aboard, coupled with an absolute iron fist at home. They do this because they know the value of controlling a terrorist organization. The problem is in the harm it means for everyone else.

In the past, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khomeini, would brandish the former by reminding Western governments that if they chose to cross Tehran then they must be prepared to pay dearly. But that was decades ago. One fact is undisputable now: The Iranian regime has long passed its prime revolutionary and glory days when Khomeini rode in on the tides of millions who were sadly unaware of what was to come. In those days, people tasted a short-lived period of high expectations, at the time wildly called “spring of freedom.”

At the same time, hostage-taking by IRGC’s protégés, such as nascent Lebanese Hezbollah, of foreign nationals, preferably Americans, was routine. The ayatollahs were behind it even though it often took place in Lebanon. After each kidnapping, IRGC’s proteges then engaged hostages’ governments in a lengthy and humiliating process of hostage negotiations and sometimes hostage swaps in the 1980s.

Today the IRGC has made it much more convenient to reach the same ends by taking the hostages among dual citizens who take the risk of traveling to Iran. Case in point was hostages released just after Iranian regime struck the nuclear deal with the U.S. and five other world powers. IRGC’s deputy chief, Brigadier General Hossein Nejat, in a speech in Bushehr (south of Iran), said: “The Iranian-American journalist of the Washington Post, Jason Rezaian, who had formed an espionage network was identified and arrested by the IRGC.”

Hossein Nejat stated: “The former Secretary of State, John Kerry with his intelligence forces urged the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif to release Jason Rezaian. Consequently, the U.S. government in return paid 1 billion and 400 million dollars ransom to Iran for the release of Jason Rezaian.”

Other IRGC officials, on different occasions after the hostages were released, have bragged that the Obama administration released Iranian prisoners in the United States and on top of that paid a hefty sum as ransom money.  

In past few weeks, despite attempts by regime officials, such as Zarif, to keep a low profile while anxiously monitoring Donald Trump’s every move, IRGC is actively scheming. It raised the prize on Salman Rushdie’s head, showcased and glorified old terrorists such as Anis-Alnaghash on state-run television and openly threatened the U.S.

CNC News revealed on Feb. 28 that an IRGC strategist, Hassan Abbasi renewed threats that the force has planned to unleash terror cells on U.S. soil. He has elaborated plans to sabotage nuclear plants in the United States among other things. Ironically, at the same time, IRGC has claimed that it is fighting terrorism in neighboring countries.

Javad Zarif has recently said: “the world at large agrees that the IRGC has extended the utmost support for neighboring countries in their fight against terrorism.”

Zarif seemingly refers to IRGC’s destructive and brutal role in Syria and is trying to sell it as constrictive. According to IRGC’s own figures, more than 1,000 members of its rank and file have been killed in cities around the war-torn country.  Many were veteran IRGC officers. The Iranian regime claims that it has only an advisory role in Syria, however it has recruited and dispatched thousands of Afghani and Pakistani nationals to Syrian fronts. Not one has fought ISIS.

On March 2, Brigadier General Ismail Ghaani, who is deputy Quds Force commander, speaking in the northeastern city of Mashhad, told a group from the Fatemiyoun Division, an offshoot of the force fighting in Syria: “Fatemiyoun proved that it is a capable force ready to operate not only in Syria but anywhere else on the planet when Islam requires it.” Fatemiyoun was formed of Afghani recruits, along with its sibling organization Zenabiyoun Division of Pakistanis.

The Iranian regime today makes it no secret that it is heavily involved in Syria and Iraq. It sugarcoats its involvement with the illusion that IRGC and its armed wing, the Quds Force, are fighting ISIS. But it’s not true. After almost six years of involvement in the bloody civil war in Syria, it is out in the open that the regime has no quarrel with ISIS. Former Secretary of State John Kerry said in an interview with Fox News: “Assad facilitated the release of 1,500 prisoners, parallel to 1,000 by Maliki in Iraq, leading to the foundation of ISIS.”  Former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, James Jeffrey, said that Americans knew what Prime Minister Maliki was up to, but chose not to take any action.

It is also a hard fact that Maliki was in every way a puppet of the Iranian regime. He was trained by the IRGC and fought alongside its forces during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.

What is missing in all the talks and arguments made in Washington as to what is an effective remedy to counter the mullahs in Iran is the role of Iranian people. Iran is boiling with popular discontent, now. According to Brigadier General Hossein Ashtari, the Iranian regime’s chief of police: “On average 20 to 30 protest gatherings take place around the country by citizens who have lost their life savings to the banks,” These citizens are mainly retired with very limited savings and were scammed out of their lifetime savings by various government-owned financial institutions.  Such protests are but a drop in the ocean when we add the teachers, nurses, factory workers, and an army of college graduates with no prospects of finding decent jobs to the discontent. This amounts to tens of thousands of people, in large numbers of gatherings each year. According to a BBC report, more than 11 million or Iran’s 83 million people are unemployed in the country.

When it comes to Iran, the decision-makers in Washington have two options: One is to follow the status quo and tolerate a regime which is the number one state sponsor of terrorism in the world, a stirrer of sectarian violence in the region, and engaged in two wars in Iraq and Syria. It’s a nation that secretly supplies weapons to Yemen’s Houthis which has also cost American servicemen’s lives. If the Trump administration chooses this option, it will make the same mistakes the Obama administration made.

The other, and better, option is to stand with Iranian people and their resistance, to let them shape their own future. All they asked of U.S. in 2009 was for the U.S. to stand with them. At the time, they chanted: “Obama are you with us or with them.” They clearly hoped the U.S. would not placate mullahs with concessions, nor turn a blind eye to regime’s terrorism.

One such good signal in the right direction would be to designate IRGC as a terrorist organization.  In light of all it has done and its growing strength, in designating the IRGC as a terrorist group, we are doing ourselves a favor.

Reza Shafiee is a member of Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) 



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