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July 6, 2015 / 19 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Tehran’

Reformist Candidate Wins Big in Iran’s Election

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.
 Hasan Rowhani, the only reformist candidate allowed in Iran’s presidential election, has won a landslide victory. There won’t even need to be a second, run-off round since he won over 50 percent of the vote.
If this was a regime maneuver to portray Iran as suddenly moderate, it seems to be working. Around the globe, mass media outlets are  claiming that Iran has been transformed and now is the time for the West to show patience or make concessions.Consider this: A stronger man and a more dedicated reformer and moderate than Rowhani, Muhammad Khatami, was president for eight years and did not accomplish a single reform under this regime.

Did the Tehran regime put in a seemingly moderate but actually helpless or compliant front so it could claim moderation and thus stall for time to build nuclear weapons? Or did he masses simply overwhelmed the regime so that his victory was undeniable? Perhaps the regime figured that a second straight election stolen by the regime from the reformists–the previous one was in 2009–would set off a revolt.

New York Times correspondent Thomas Erdbrink  reported that Tehran has turned into a massive street celebration. The police and militia vigilantes stayed off the streets where pop songs ruled instead of regime dress standards. People chanted, Erdbrink tweeted, “We are celebrating that we are free after 8 years of Ahmadinejad.”

Since supreme guide Ali Khamenei congratulated Rowhani it appears that the rulers have accepted his victory and he will not be denied office.

No matter what the regime’s intentions or acceptance, the outcome will be this:

1. Rowhani will have little power. Remember that a moderate already served eight years as president and accomplished nothing. Rowhani is clearly loyal to the regime or he wouldn’t have been the only reformist candidate who was approved for the election by the regime.
2. A lot of Iranians will be very happy. One big thing they will hope for is better management of the economy.

3. There will be many analysts and politicians and government officials saying that since Iran has now turned in a moderate direction, it must be given a chance to show whether this is true. Rowhani is a very articulate and glib man. He will know how to make things look good in Washington especially compared to Ahmadinejad’s outrageously radical style.

4. Therefore, the Obama Administration will spend the rest of 2013 in exploratory negotiations as Iran moves forward toward nuclear weapons. People will talk about gestures toward Iran like reducing sanctions and certainly not increasing them. Russia, Turkey, and China will continue to get waivers on sanctions.

5.  This will have no effect on U.S. policy in Syria, giving weapons to rebels.

6. What will this mean for the Green Movement, the reformist forces some of whom have been put under house arrest? These were the people from whom the 2009 election was stolen? Would Rowhani be like the sincerely reformist president Muhammad Khatami who, despite real efforts, had no successes in his eight years in office?

Many analysts–including myself–cynically suggested that the election would be once again fixed so a regime candidate would win. In retrospect, of course, this was wrong. In hindsight, perhaps it was a tip-off (if the regime wanted Rowhani to win–that it let in several regime supporters who took votes from each other. In the end, though, it didn’t matter. The key decision was to allow an honest tally of votes.

At any rate, while the Iran regime has not changed policy really, many will think it has done so. If the regime really wanted to change its aggressive and nuclear-oriented policy, it would have put into power a regime supporter who would announce a new set of positions. At any rate, all of these questions about Iranian politics and foreign policy will have to be seriously evaluated now.

World Powers Give Up on Iran Nuclear Talks

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

The European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers have collapsed.

Ashton said on Saturday that the two sides “remain far apart on substance,” after a second and, apparently, final day of negotiations in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said there was no agreement further talks – neither a date nor a place have been set.

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili admitted there were differences between the two sides. He reiterated Iran’s position that it has a right to enrich uranium, and complained that Tehran was not receiving recognition, as well as more concessions from world powers, before agreeing to curtail its uranium enrichment production. He also stated that the demands and the sanctions “are a sign of enmity towards the people of Iran.”

In the two days of meetings in Kazakhstan, the major powers had hoped to reach a compromise with Iran, whom they believe is engaged in a covert effort to produce nuclear bombs.

Delegates from the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany met with Iranian officials on proposals that would have allowed for exceptions to the international sanctions program against Iran, if the Iranians would shut down their nuclear facilities and turn over their stockpile of enriched uranium.

Earlier, a spokesman for Ashton urged Iran to take a “confidence-building step” and reassure the international community it is not engaged in a nuclear weapons program for military purposes.

Iran claims that its nuclear program has only peaceful purposes, namely power generation.

The United States attended the talks with the four other permanent members of the UN Security Council: Britain, France, Russia and China, as well as Germany.

Italian FM: Israel First on Path to Secure Middle East

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Italy appears to be standing strong with Israel regarding Iran’s nuclear program.

On Wednesday, during the Herzliya Conference, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata told a packed audience that even if Iran acted rationally with nuclear weapons they would pose an unacceptable global threat.

“Under its own nuclear umbrella, Tehran would be free to raise and lower the volume of regional tension as best suits its national interest…” and that “with a nuclear Iran, the rules of the Middle Eastern game would not only change overnight; they would change irreversibly,” stated Terzi.

The Italian Foreign Minister went on to suggest that “in the end, however ‘regional’ the trigger, a nuclear crisis will always have a global impact…Should Tehran acquire nuclear capabilities, others would follow and the Middle East –at the very doorstep of Europe— would enter this new regional nuclear race.”

The Italian Foreign Minister also addressed the ongoing bloodshed in Syria. “We can no longer afford delays in our action. No example is better than Syria to remind us that the Assad regime and its allies do not necessarily act under similar constraints. We are witnessing the emergence of fast-rising economic and military powers, in different regions, which pursue their interest with the power of a State and the flexibility of a non-state actor.”

Terzi concluded by pointing to Israel as a regional stabilizer, stating that “Israel not only lies at their geographical center. It is also at their frontline. As the dust settles, and room grows for new ideas, Israel will be the first and foremost engine of a new path towards a more secure and peaceful Middle East.”

Iran has been an important topic at the Herzliya Conference, the annual forum for addressing Israel’s national agenda by bringing together Israeli and elite international policy makers. Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense, Rudy DeLeon, also announced on Wednesday that President Barack Obama is not bluffing regarding Iranian nuclear attainment. However, DeLeon emphasized that all other options had to be explored first.

“Precisely because America is strong, we are not afraid to talk to our adversaries,” he stated.

Mullahs Capitulate, Human Rights Lawyer Ends 49-Day Hunger Strike

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Nasrin Soutoudeh, a human rights lawyer in theocratic Iran, announced on December 4th that she would end a hunger strike she had carried out for 49 days from her cell in Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison. Her offenses had been to act as a court defender of opposition political figures and activists, as well as for juveniles condemned to death for crimes committed when they were under age 18.

Soutoudeh, now nearly fifty, was sentenced last year to 11 years’ imprisonment, and barred from work in the field of law. On appeal, her term was reduced to six years. During her sustained act of defiance, Nasrin Soutoudeh consumed only water mixed with sugar and salts. Her weight fell to 95 pounds; her health became fragile.

She concluded her starvation protest after the Iranian dictatorship acceded to her main demand: that a travel ban be lifted from her 12-year old daughter Mehraveh. Soutoudeh also initiated the fast to dramatize the bad conditions under which she is held. Her husband, Reza Khandan, remains restricted in his movements by order of the regime.

In a statement from Norway, the International Organization to Preserve Human Rights in Iran (IOPHR) pointed out that official Iranian media has accused local spiritual Sufis of supporting Soutoudeh as part of an alleged foreign conspiracy to subvert the Tehran authorities. IOPHR warns that on this basis, Sufis are vulnerable to false trials and imprisonment. According to Sufis and human rights monitors, the repressive Iranian institutions consider “having ‘compassion’ for a Muslim woman in prison to be ‘acting against national security,’ ‘disturbing public order” and ‘insulting the Supreme Leader,'” a post currently held by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

IOPHR identifies the persecution of Nasrin Soutoudeh and the Sufis with a sinister “think tank,” the “Islamic Center for the Study of Religions and their Different Interpretations” located in Qom, the headquarters of theological radicalism in Iran. As one of several such institutions with similar titles and the same goal – penetration of Western academic circles and dissemination of Iranian state ideology, this “Center,” through one of its Persian-language publications, Markaz Didban (Center Watch), has attacked Soutoudeh.

According to IOPHR, Ayatollah Muhammad Reza Mahdavi Kani, chairman of the Assembly of Experts, admitted that “the supporting pole of the regime’s tent is bent.” By this, Kani is said to recognize that conflicts between the personal, doctrinal, and political factions within the Islamist government have undermined its credibility. Entities such as the “Islamic Center for the Study of Religions and their Different Interpretations” harm Iranian stability more than any actions by dissidents by sowing intrigues and fear at all levels of society.

Meanwhile, IOPHR states, Ali Larijani, Khamenei’s “national security expert,” and promoter to the world of the Iranian nuclear program, travels daily to Damascus and Beirut to “maintain the status quo” embodied in the bloodthirsty Syrian dictatorship of Bashar Al-Assad and the Lebanese government dominated by the terror group, Hezbollah.

IOPHR has appealed for aid and cooperation from other international institutions; it seems to wish to use the great potential of public opinion outside Iran as a platform for a major global effort to expose conditions in the Iranian prisons. IOPHR describes Tehran’s penal establishments as torture houses and dungeons run by stubborn and self-interested bureaucrats answerable to nobody – not even to the higher strata of clerical power.

The human rights activists and Sufis have praised the example provided by Nasrin Soutoudeh in her deliberate refusal of food. The call of the Iranian dissenters should not go unanswered. Demonstrations and conferences are overdue in Western and other foreign capitals, especially in Europe, the United States, and Canada. The Iranian usurpers should learn that while their internal contradictions and quarrels threaten to bring their tent down on their heads, the world is watching. Inevitably, the doors of Evin Prison and Tehran’s other houses of cruelty and degradation must be opened.

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

French FM: Iran to Blame for Gaza War

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius outraged Tehran by placing the onus of “heavy responsibility” for the recent war between Israel and Gaza terrorists on Iran.

Fabius told France Culture radio on Wednesday that “there are long-range weapons up to 75 kilometers (45 miles) and these are Iranian weapons. Iran bears a heavy responsibility,” and called the Iranian government “extremely dangerous for world peace”, noting that Iran’s presence is felt in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Gaza “and each time with very negative intentions”.

Iran said Israel bears sole responsibility for the war in Gaza, and should be tried for “war crimes”, while the Palestinians should be provided with arms.

Obama’s Attempts At Making Nice With The Mullahs

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

It turns out that soon after taking office, President Obama tried to make friends – totally – with the mullahs’ regime in Iran.

The aim was to start with the opening of interest sections in Washington and Tehran, then progress to “full diplomatic ties, including U.S. and Iranian embassies and ambassadors in each other’s capitals, security cooperation…, [and] direct flights between the U.S. and Iran….”

All this amity, it was presumed, would get Iran to give up its nuclear program.

So, at least, reports the Israeli daily Maariv, basing itself on “two Western diplomats very close to the administration.”

Maariv says that, beginning in the summer of 2009, there were at least two U.S.-Iranian diplomatic meetings in this context. The second was between Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in Geneva in October 2009, on the sidelines of nuclear talks between Tehran and the P5+1 countries.

But Tehran, as they say, wasn’t into it. An Israeli source told Maariv that the regime “opposed any sign of normalization with the U.S., and refused to grant a ‘prize’ to the Americans.”

On Obama’s part, all this would have been in the spirit of his holiday video greeting to Iran in March 2009—and, more generally, his wooing of the Islamic world and all but apologizing for America’s supposed sins, most notably in his June 2009 Cairo speech.

In the mullahs’ case, Obama’s belief that he could talk them into friendship is particularly striking. U.S.-Iranian relations took something of a hit when the newly installed Ayatollah Khomeini regime seized 52 American diplomats as hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979, holding them for 444 days. Last week the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens listed some additional “American victims of Iranian aggression” since that time:

The 17 Americans killed in April 1983 at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut by the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad Organization, later known as Hezbollah. The 241 U.S. servicemen killed by Islamic Jihad at the Marine barracks in Beirut on Oct. 23, 1983. Master Chief Robert Dean Stethem, beaten to death in June 1985 by a Hezbollah terrorist in Beirut aboard TWA flight 847. William Francis Buckley, the CIA station chief in Beirut, tortured to death by Hezbollah that same month. Marine Col. William Higgins, taken hostage in 1988 while serving with U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon and hanged by Hezbollah sometime later. The 19 U.S. Air Force personnel killed in June 1996 in the Khobar Towers bombing, for which several members of Saudi Hezbollah were indicted in U.S. federal court.

And then there are the thousands of U.S. troops killed by improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan. The most lethal IEDs were manufactured in Iran for the purpose of killing Americans.

Obama’s belief that America was at fault in having wronged and angered Iran must have been very strong to regard this record as something that could have been overcome between friends – to the extent that he was familiar with it.

The trouble is that, three years later, there are signs that Obama is still unable to grasp the fact that the Iranian regime is implacably hostile to America. It was last March, just as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was in Washington warning that Iran was closing in on the bomb, that Obama chose to renew diplomatic talks with Iran – talks that, as acknowledged by all, have been an empty sham that has merely bought Tehran time just as Israel had warned.

True, Obama – under heavy pressure from Congress – finally, along with other Western countries, imposed sanctions on Iran that are taking a real toll. Just two weeks ago, though, a report by the Congressional Research Service acknowledged a “consensus” that these have in no way slowed Iran’s march toward nukes.

And it was just last week that The New York Times reported that the U.S. and Iran had agreed to still more nuclear talks after November 6. The White House denied the specifics of the report – but, incorrigibly convinced of Tehran’s potential amicability, said it remained ready, as ever, to meet with the mullahs and hash out the differences.

In other words, there are worrisome indications that when it comes to Iran’s Islamist regime, the U.S. chief executive remains dangerously delusional.

Iranian Agent Admits Plot to Kill Saudi Ambassador in Washington DC

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Visit Rubin Reports.

Perhaps you remember an incredibly sensational story from back in October 2011 that after a brief period in the headlines disappeared completely. The U.S. government arrested an Iranian-American citizen in Texas and charged him with being an agent of the Iranian government who planned at Tehran’s behest to hire a Mexican drug gang to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in a fiery terrorist attack in Washington D.C.

It would have been another September 11, albeit on a far smaller scale. Knowing about such an operation should have been a real game-changer for U.S. Middle East policy.

Now that man, Manssor Arbabsiar, arrested in September 2011, has pled guilty to these charges in a Manhattan court. The trial is scheduled for January.

The case is so important because the U.S. government was officially claiming that the Iranian regime planned an act of war on American soil. Talking to journalists, U.S. officials insisted that the very top leaders in Iran must have authorized the attack, though they admitted they didn’t have hard proof.

Nevertheless, the highest officials in the United States threatened retaliation. President Obama said: “Even if at the highest levels there was not detailed operational knowledge, there has to be accountability with respect to anybody in the Iranian government engaging in this kind of activity.” Notably, however, the Obama Administration policy attitude toward Tehran, already involved in sanctions of course, was not altered further by this new revelation.

The government says it has impressive evidence, based on the fact that the Mexican “drug lord” Arbabsiar was propositioning with was a secret U.S. agent. It includes tapes of the accused speaking with intelligence officials from the Quds Force inside Iran and his withdrawing $100,000 as down payment for the hit.

We do know that Iran has sponsored terror attacks against Americans in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and elsewhere. Yet an assassination in the heart of Washington D.C., with passers-by and restaurant patrons being blown up, would have marked a considerable escalation. Some argued that the plot was too strange to believe: Iranian intelligence delegating a used car salesman to contract with Mexican drug lords.

It is understandable that some are incredulous about this story. I have no idea what the truth is, but note that the U.S. government says it has strong evidence and that the Obama Administration—not known for its boldness in challenging America’s enemies—really stuck its neck out in this case. They must really believe that the plot was real.

What does all of this tell us?

This operation should once again remind American leaders that the Tehran regime is not just a problem because of the nuclear weapons’ project but because it is a determined foe of the United States on every issue. A major priority for U.S. policy should be then to battle Tehran’s influence everywhere, notably in Lebanon, Syria, and Bahrain. (This has already been done in Iraq, though Iran’s influence there is now on the rise and that of the United States diminishing.) Those supposedly friendly governments helping Iran—with Turkey and Venezuela at the top of that list—should not be treated as allies.

And if the attack was an independent initiative, albeit one that the Iranian regime didn’t actively oppose, it shows that once Iran has nuclear weapons there might be other such “rogue” operations. While I don’t support a military attack on Iran, such a factor should be taken into account in making such a decision in future.

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Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/iranian-agent-admits-plot-to-kill-saudi-ambassador-in-washington-dc/2012/10/19/

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