Special coverage of US elections from Abu Dhabi and Washington

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Professor Raymond Tanter appeared in Washington DC on an Abu Dhabi News Channel, Sky News Arabia. He debated another scholar on 7 November 2016, about Iran and Saudi Arabia in English, which was translated into Arabic. The debate may be viewed at 31:00 minutes out of about a 51:00 minutes segment of Sky News “Special Coverage of U.S. Elections from Abu Dhabi and Washington.”

One of the themes of Tanter’s comments in the debate centered on remarks in his post in The Fikra Forum of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Preparing for Regime Change in Iran. The statements were by His Royal Highness, Prince Turki Al Faisal of Saudi Arabia; the Prince complimented the leader of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), saying that,

“Maryam Rajavi, your endeavor to rid your people of the Khomeinist cancer is an historic epic that…will remain inscribed in the annals of history.”

Tanter pointed on that on July 9, 2016, he observed a rally in Paris at which Prince Turki put forth what has become known as the “Turki Option,” i.e., regime change in Iran by the people.

When the crowd chanted, “The people want regime change,” the Prince joined the crowd in Arabic saying, “I, too, want regime change” in Iran, a remark that brought the house down.

The Iranians and US: A Shared Civilization Marred by Revolutionary ‘Identity’ Policies,” Turki’s talk, contains an argument that contrasts to the historically risk-averse nature of the Saudis, signaling the rising temperature of the cold war against revolutionary Iran.

Prince Turki stated that, “The Khomeinist regime has brought only destruction, sectarianism, conflict and bloodshed – not only to their own people in Iran, but across the Middle East. This is not the way forward.”

Then what is the way?

First, limit U.S. “engagement” with Tehran: Hillary Clinton is likely to take a hard line against Iran, as she did in the nuclear deal’s preliminary talks while Secretary of State. And if Donald Trump were elected, he pledged to renegotiate the deal, which hardly favors engagement.  Tanter mentioned how Iran was the problem in Syria and should not be a part of the solution there. In this respect, he used a new book by the NCRI entitled, “How Iran Fuels the Syria War” to demonstrate the widespread presence of Iranian-controlled on the ground troops in Syria.

Second, enhance existing sanctions. This action reverts to Republican-inspired coercive diplomacy that brought Iran to the table. In the spring 2016, the House of Representatives approved three new bills against Iran: blocking Iran’s access to the dollar outside of the U.S. financial system, sanctioning any sector of Tehran’s economy that directly or indirectly has applications for Iran’s ballistic missile program, and prohibiting Washington from buying heavy water from Iran.

Third, embrace regime change, because sanctions alone are insufficient to keep the regime in compliance. Publicly backing the Iranian opposition for regime change is the “Turki Option,” and the one that better ensures long-term compliance because the Iranian dissidents do not favor nuclear weapons in word and deed.

As the Prince attempts to redraw the arc of history, now is the time for the West to join the coalition that to shape the future.

Click here for the Arabic version of “Preparing for Regime Change in Iran.”

To watch the interview please go to: bit.ly/2ep4YXf

Preparing for Regime Change in Iran

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Excerpts from “Preparing for Regime Change in Iran,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, available at Fikra Forum

 “Maryam Rajavi, your endeavor to rid your people of the Khomeinist cancer is an historic epic that…will remain inscribed in the annals of history.” -His Royal Highness, Prince Turki Al Faisal

On July 9, 2016, I observed a rally in Paris at which Prince Turki of Saudi Arabia, former ambassador to the U.S. and intelligence chief but no longer in any official position, addressed Maryam Rajavi, President-Elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). The Turki option — regime change in Iran — turned up the heat on Tehran. When the crowd chanted, “The people want regime change,” the Prince joined the crowd in Arabic saying, “I, too, want regime change” in Iran, a remark that brought the house down.

With some Arabs leading the call, various dissidents like the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) core of the NCRI are accelerating their calls for regime change in Iran. The Arab conflict with Iran has been mainly sectarian, but Turki sought to move the conflict to a strategic level with a greater focus on removing the “revolutionary” nature of Iran’s regime. With some support for the NCRI in the U.S. Congress, European national parliaments, and the European Parliament, it is time for the West to join this effort.

Georgetown University students and colleagues in the Iran Policy Committee conducted a study to assess the image of the NCRI and other Iranian dissident groups, including organizations not espousing regime change. Using the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) for the period from January-December 2005, we performed a content analysis and determined the NCRI/MEK was the topic of discussion almost four time as often as all other dissident organizations combined.

We updated the 2005 study by using the large number of attacks by the IRGC or Iranian proxies against the NCRI. Again, the NCRI family of entities were targeted more than other rebellious minorities in Iran. In addition, the Iranian regime regularly sets up expositions throughout the country to convince Iranians to refrain from paying any attention to the NCRI.

If the regime were not so leery of the NCRI, they would hardly pay so much attention to it. Furthermore, Iran would not spend its political capital with foreign governments asking them to suppress the group or seek the destruction of Camp Ashraf/Liberty in Iraq, where MEK dissidents were confined in exile at Liberty until September 9, 2016.

The 2009 uprising showed that millions in Iran wanted regime change, a goal espoused by the NCRI, whose members paid a disproportionate price for participation. Some Arab governments are now lining up with Iranian dissidents because they perceive the revolutionary enemy regime at their doorstep. As the Prince attempts to redraw the arc of history, this is the time for the West to join the coalition that could shape the future.

——–

*** Other contributions of the author at The Washington Institute  are available in Arabic at: http://bit.ly/2exfybj

*** Click here for the Arabic Word version of “Preparing for Regime Change in Iran”

Professor Raymond Tanter served on the U.S. National Security Council and as Personal Representative of the Secretary of Defense to arms control talks in the Reagan-Bush White House.

 

 

 

A Plan to Prevent a Nuclear-Armed Iran

february 24-2016

For the Islamic Republic of Iran, Jan. 17 Implementation Day of the nuclear deal and Feb. 11 commemoration of the founding of the Islamic Republic highlight two faces of the state. On one side, the deal shows a normal state that can become nuclear-arms capable within 10 years.

On July 14, 2015, The U.N. Security Council adopted UNSCR 2231: “The resolution’s provisions should, pending confirmation of implementation, expire 10 years after its adoption, and with that, it would remove the Iranian nuclear issue from its agenda.” And on Aug. 18, 2015, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) released a report that said, “The JCPOA has many strengths but one of its most serious shortcomings is that it almost ensures that Iran can emerge in 15-20 years as a nuclear power with the potential, at a time of its choosing, to make enough weapon-grade uranium for several nuclear weapons within a few weeks.”

The major powers, however, do not care, because Iran will have moderated even more than it is today.

On the other side, the deal is with a revolutionary state. Critics say Iran cannot ever be trusted with the bomb; that the deal expands its revolution across borders; and the country suppresses its people so that the religious dictatorship survives challenges from within.

By becoming a nuclear-armed state (see UNSCR 2231 and ISIS above), Iran signals to its population that — because the regime can get what it wants from the major powers — it surely can dictate to the people, so they need not think about revolting. The first face of Iran requires minimal sanctions, inspections, and scant resolve if detection reveals cheating. The second needs maximum sanctions inspections and resolve.

All but the most generous perspectives recognize that the nuclear deal will fail unless it is embedded in a larger strategy that keeps the pressure on Iran and keeps a very close eye out for cheating. The pressure that will have the greatest effect on Iran is that which holds the regime’s survival at risk and makes double-dealing without detection hard.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its largest unit, the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI) — more commonly known as the Mujahedeen-e- Khalq (MEK) — are in a good position to detect cheating and be the tip of the political spear within Iran. The NCRI’s claim to monitoring is strong, but could be reinforced if it had the support of the West. Likewise its contribution to pressuring the regime requires more backing from the West.

Opponents to working with the NCRI would likely raise objections to the wisdom of this kind of cooperation. They might ask: Because the NCRI is considered as a beleaguered terrorist group besieged at Camp Liberty in Iraq, can it contribute much pressure, and why should the United States risk close association with the NCRI? Or offer that if threatening regime survival makes Iran move more quickly to become a nuclear-armed state, might it not be better to wield pressure in the form of withheld carrots (economic sanctions, for instance) that do not trigger the nuclear itch? Or even say, if the NCRI were essentially irrelevant to the 2009 Green Revolution, the time when Iran really did feel the pressure, is it better to work with the Greens than NCRI?

With the argument and counterargument in mind, consider how sanctions, cheating, and detection form a trifecta.

Sanctions

In Not by Sanctions Alone penned July 13, 2013, for The Washington Institute for Near East Study (TWI), Michael Eisenstadt argued that in addition to sanctions, military and “other means” were necessary to bolster nuclear diplomacy with Iran. Concerning the military, on Jan. 5, 2016, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told former Ambassador Dennis Ross that President Barack Obama said to Netanyahu that he had taken the military option off the table.

If military strikes are not relevant, what other means are there to pressure Tehran? The Iranian regime fears that it might fall from within. Because it came to power through revolution and has dealt with episodic domestic unrest since its inception, regime survival is the foremost concern of the Supreme Leader and those around him, including those who are considered as moderates by Western nations. So regime change from within is a principal fear of Tehran.

At issue is what groups might be most suitable to lead internal regime change. The NCRI is in a good position to help lead a coalition that rejects clerical rule in Iran. There is evidence that other groups that sought to make deals with the regime have withered away. As reported in my 2006 book, Appeasing the Ayatollahs and Suppressing Democracy, a number of groups were destroyed by the regime. To name but a few, the Organization of Iranian People’s Fedai Guerrillas fell victim to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini’s efforts to create disunity, and by 1980, the group fractured.

Some of the leadership cooperated with Khomeini and aligned itself with the communist Tudeh Party. This faction changed its name to the Organisation of Iranian People’s Fedaian Majority, dropping the “guerrillas” to reflect a plan to participate peacefully in government. Despite its endorsement of the clerical establishment and call to arm the Revolutionary Guard with heavy weaponry, the Fedaian Majority was suppressed by Khomeini in the 1980s. It regrouped in exile but remained dedicated to working through the existing political system to achieve reform. How? By throwing support behind approved parliamentary and presidential candidates, the group sought the favor of the regime, but to no avail.

The Green Movement has taken a page from the failed playbook of others that withered on the vine, despite cutting deals with the regime. The Iranian Green Movement faction headed by former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, accepted clerical rule. On Feb 11, 2015, Akbar Ganji, an Iranian investigative journalist and dissident who is a friend of the “Greens” and imprisoned in Tehran from 2000 to 2006, stated that, “Since February 2011 the leaders of Iran’s Green Movement, former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife Dr. Zahra Rahnavard, and former Speaker of the Majles [parliament] Mehdi Karroubi have lived under strict house arrest, ordered by Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC).”

The Iran Primer, an organ of the U.S. Institute of Peace, issued a report favorably inclined toward the Green Movement. It stated that during the fall of 2009, demonstrators yelled slogans: “Others chanted, ‘Khamenei is a murderer. His rule is null and void.’” This post infers that “others” is an indirect reference to the NCRI, which is often not mentioned explicitly by supporters of the Green Movement. Circumstantial evidence that the chants were NCRI in origin may be seen in that its supporters received the most severe suppression from the demonstrations.

The NCRI alone has survived because it refused to compromise, despite humongous losses inflicted by the regime and has the support of the students on the streets of Tehran. How do we document such support? Look at over 100,000 supporters of the NCRI who annually gather in Paris. The gatherings are to express adherence to the ideals of the organization. Such numbers reflect the backing within Iran because each attendee has family members who are in Iran in quiet support.

To continue reading please go to: bit.ly/1WJbymD

“North Korean nuclear & missile experts assist mullahs’ concealment plan in dealing with IAEA inspections”

RT SEPTEMBER 15Please click here to access the full report of allegations by the National Council of Resistance of Iran: The following are excerpts from an article by Kellan Howell of The Washington Times of 4 September 2015

 

Protracted presence of several North Korean

nuclear & missile experts in Iran

A number of North Korean experts are currently in Tehran

 September 4, 2015

 

The network of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) has obtained information from within the Iranian regime according to which Tehran has been working on a secret plan to deceive the IAEA’s inspectors when they visit suspect sites in Iran.

For some time, the clerical regime has been working on ways to conceal the military dimension of its nuclear projects from the IAEA.

To do so, it has sought the advice and expertise of North Korean experts by engaging in serious and continuous consultations with them.

Based on this information, a number of North Korean experts are currently based in Tehran. Their stay has continued after the July 14 agreement without any changes in their agenda, and they are working inside Iran.

While other North Korean experts come to Tehran for limited durations, this group has been based in Tehran for several months.

They have expertise in ballistic missile and nuclear work areas, particularly in the fields of warheads and missile guidance.

This specific group is a six-member team and is joined by other groups as well.

The North Korean project and the section in charge of their work in Hemmat Industrial Complex (responsible for development of ballistic missiles) is designated as code 9000. This demonstrates the systematic nature of the regime’s relationship and its collaboration with North Koreans in the missile and nuclear field. It also underscores its significance as far as the regime is concerned.

This six-man team is only one group of North Korean experts stationed in Tehran. Specifically, the team collaborates with Nouri Industries, which is concentrating on the production of ballistic missile warheads for Shahab-3 and Ghadr missiles. Both missiles can carry a nuclear payload. Nouri Industries is identified with code 8500.

Nouri Industries actively and systematically cooperates with the “Center for Research and Design of New Aerospace Technologies,” which is one of the seven sub-divisions of the “Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research” (known by its Farsi acronym SPND). Experts of SPND are in constant liaison with the Nouri Industries.