The U.S. Needs to Protect the Iranian Opposition in Iraq — and Counter Tehran in the Region

noviembre 5, 2015On the night of Oct. 29, Camp Liberty, which houses some 2,250 Iranian exiles, was the target of a rocket attack that killed 23 people. En route to the Vienna Talks on Syria, Secretary John Kerry quickly condemned the attack and offered the United States’ condolences “to the families of the victims, and we hope for the swift recovery of those injured.” He added, “We also urge the Government of Iraq to provide additional security for the camp’s residents and to find the perpetrators and hold them accountable for the attack, consistent with its obligations under the Dec. 25, 2011 agreement with the United Nations.”

The Associated Press and the Washington Times both covered the attack. Agence France Presse and the conservative news service CNS, reported bipartisan congressional calls for action. Digital Journal included a link to detailed video footage. Another clip shows the scene shortly after the attack. The calls included two Republicans, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ed Royce and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, as well as a Democrat Rep. Judy Chu.

Critics of the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) might say that the media coverage is really not independent because each one merely quotes what the Iranian dissidents said. But I say that when the mainstream media gives so much ink to a story, it is some evidence that they take the allegations seriously.

Critics might also say that members of Congress supportive of the MEK are acting in the interest of campaign contributions. But I say that the burden is on the naysayers to provide the evidence linking Royce, Ros-Lehtinen, and Chu as being “bought off” by the MEK. I am personally aquatinted with each of them, and I am impressed with their integrity and commitment to the MEK especially on humanitarian grounds. The attack is the epitome of a humanitarian tragedy.

Why is Iran targeting its opposition? Dissidents are trying to block Tehran’s aspirations to control Baghdad and Damascus, where the United States is fighting the Islamic State. Washington’s evolving strategy is dead on arrival on the Hill unless the Obama administration reaches out to the opposition and sees Iran as a threat across the porous border.

So how can it counter the threat from Iran? Align with others opposing Tehran and the bipartisan congressional coalition sharing that view.

Saudi Arabia’s alignment against Iran includes Israel as a silent partner. Saudis view Tehran and Damascus unfavorably. A potential partner for Riyadh and Washington is the Iranian resistance that rejects clerical rule in Tehran. All define the threat as Islamist.

On Oct. 5, 2015 Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir asked whether Iran is a “state or a revolution,” If it wants to export its 1979 revolution and revive the Persian Empire, “we cannot deal with it,” said Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in his speech before the U.N. on Oct. 1. Shifting alliances in the Middle East are drawing Arab countries like Saudi Arabia closer to Israel in confronting Iran and the Islamic State. Netanyahu’s Mar. 3 speech before the Congress stated that, “Iran’s regime poses a grave threat, not only to Israel, but also the peace of the entire world.”

Both Adel al-Jubeir and Netanyahu have previously distanced themselves from the MEK on different grounds. On one hand, Saudis attribute too much power to the MEK because of their role in bringing down the Shah — if their supporters can topple the Shah, perhaps they will side with those who wish to bring down the Kingdom. On the other hand, Netanyahu believes that the MEK is of too little consequence to cause even further trouble with the State Department, which fails to reach out to the MEK. Both assessments are based on my interviews with high level Saudis and Israelis.

My take is that the MEK is neither strong nor weak based on indicators like the following. According to my research, reported in my book Arab Rebels and Iranian Dissidents, during mid-2000, the Iranian regime paid more attention to the MEK than to all other groups combined, created expositions in every major city of Iran to warn the youths of the pro-democracy views of the organization, and paroled Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s daughter from prison because she was learning too many subversive ideas from MEK prisoners. In the expositions and the early release, Tehran’s tactics against the MEK backfired.

On Apr. 29, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing, “ISIS: Defining the Enemy.” Maryam Rajavi is President-Elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the coalition of which the MEK is the largest unit; she testified from Paris. Her written testimony showed how Tehran is an Islamist epicenter of terrorism to establish an Empire without borders and called for empowering the democratic tolerant Islam she represented.

Critics might argue that it is easy to promise democracy and criticize the regime as being an Islamist epicenter. There is “evidence” the MEK is an intolerant cult, which forces its members to drink the proverbial Kool-Aid. I have interviewed family members of a young girl who committed suicide when Maryam Rajavi was in a Paris jail. The parents told me they did not believe their daughter had done so because of pressure from the MEK. Indeed, when the jailers informed Rajavi of the suicide, she immediately issued a statement saying that she neither sanctions such behavior nor wishes anyone else to do so in the future — not the words of a cult leader.

I grant the jury is out whether the MEK will be as tolerant when the regime falls as Tehran has been intolerant towards the MEK. Think of a soft landing when the regime falls as in the disintegration of communism in Europe or a hard landing like the one in Libya. If soft, then I expect a tolerant MEK.

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Washington’s Third Option Against a Nuclear Iran

febrero 17 15

Being a nuclear threshold state and a rouge regime is toxic.Iran is a threshold state and rogue regime. Its 1979 Revolution says resist compromises in the national interest. No need to choose between bombing Iran and a nuclear-armed Iran: Seek soft revolution via coalition that rejects clerical rule.

Jay Solomon and Carol Lee, two widely respected reporters of The Wall Street Journal, wrote last week on Iran as both a nuclear threshold state and a rogue regime. On Feb. 13, Solomon and Lee said that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sent a new letter to President Obama.

That letter was in response to one sent by President Barack Obama in October 2014 that linked progress in the nuclear talks with cooperation between Washington and Tehran against the Islamic State (also called ISIS). According to these journalists, an unnamed Iranian diplomat informed them that Obama had sent a letter that raised the possibility of what I would call an American-Iranian entente cordiale to counter the Islamic if a nuclear deal is secured. Khamenei was supposedly “respectful” but noncommittal on the Obama offer to cooperate against the Islamic State.

Congressional pushback against a bad deal in the bilateral nuclear talks between Tehran and Washington plus expected failure of the multilateral Geneva talks could invigorate Hill pressure on the administration for reversion to the prior international consensus of zero right to enrich uranium gas on Iranian soil and zero breakout time before Tehran can dash for the bomb before inspectors can detect its moves. During July 2014, moreover, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton exclaimed that allowing Iran to have “any enrichment will trigger an arms race in the Middle East,” a signal that she favored the zero-enrichment option.

There also is growing support for tough measures against Iran in general. They include: ballistic missile constraints and zero collusion of Washington with Tehran in the fight against the Islamic State. Anticipate the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations under the leadership of Chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-NJ) to hold hearings that put the heat on Team Obama for tying the nuclear talks to an informal alignment with Iran against ISIS.

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Professor Raymond Tanter on Bloomber TV.

bloomberg october 17On October 14 2014, Professor Raymond Tanter was on Bloomberg  TV discussing; Does U.S. Need Iran in Fight Against Islamic State?

Professor Emeritus Raymond Tanter talks with Trish Regan about the fight against the Islamic State as militants draw closer to Baghdad and the role of Iran in the battle. He speaks on “Street Smart.”

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On October 17 2014, Professor Tanter was on Bloomberg  TV discussing; Mistake to Further Inflame Relations With Iran: Sachs.

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Where does Turkey fit in the coalition against IS?

cctv september 23For more now on the coalition against the Islamic State, CCTV America was joined by Raymond Tanter. He’s a professor of political science and a former member of the National Security Council in the Reagan-Bush White House.

Tanter Iran worsened Iraq Shiite-Sunni split, allowing ISIS 2 Gain Sunni support + Proxy Threats 2 CampLiberty PMOI.

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U.S. attacks on IS in Syria not in Iran’s interest

USA_Iran_250609Baku, Azerbaijan, Sept. 11

By Umid Niayesh – Trend:

U.S. President Barack Obama said in a televised address to the nation that the United States would strike at the Islamic State in in Iraq and in Syria, too, if needed. This is not at all in Iran’s interest. The Islamic Republic has failed to incorporate the Syrian regime into the anti-IS coalition, an Iranian expert says.

Syrian president, Bashar Assad has no place in the United States new anti-IS strategy, despite all efforts made by Iran, Hassan Hashemian, Iranian expert on Arab region issues told Trend on Sept. 11.

Hashemian also said that Iran itself will be excluded from international anti-IS efforts in Syria, but may be permitted to continue its current position in Iraq.

Iran first tried to dissuade the U.S. from attacking the IS in Syria, the expert explained. When it failed, as second step the Islamic Republic tried to be a part of the coalition that would have made Assad a strategic ally of anti-terrorism coalition.

However, the U.S. refused to accept Iran’s participation and over 40 countries including some regional countries which are against Iran’s policies in Syria will be part of the coalition, Hashemian underlined.

What will be Iran’s reaction towards the forecasted air strikes?

Raymond Tanter, the president of Iran Policy Committee Publishing, believes that Iran is likely to condemn any violation of Syrian airspace and double down on its support for Assad in view of prospective U.S. air attacks and support for Free Syrian Army.

Tanter who served at the White House as a Senior Member on the National Security Council staff told Trend that Tehran can support Assad even more by ordering additional Hezbollah forces into the fight against the Free Syria Army before it becomes more of an effective fighting force with training in Saudi Arabia.

Iran also might transfer more units of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Qods Force units to Syria, from where they are operating now in Iraq, Tanter said. He went on to add that Tehran could provide Assad with surface to air missiles to attack American aircraft operating in eastern Syria, but it is unlikely.

Iranian officials have started making statements against the possible air strikes as well as formation of the anti-IS coalition.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham expressed suspicion about the international anti-IS coalition, saying there are fundamental questions in the seriousness of the coalition to fight terrorism honestly. She noted that “some countries that join the coalition are supporters of the terrorists in Iraq and Syria.”

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Obama’s Moment to Seize the Day in Iraq

descargaReports President Obama authorized surveillance flights over Syria suggest he is beginning to seize the moment given to him by the horrific execution of American journalist, James Foley. If he authorizes airstrikes into Syria against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), even over the horizon from Iraq, it could reinforce the “moderate” Free Syrian Army against both ISIS and Assad. Even if such strikes also helped Assad against ISIS, they would be worth the effort.

Interests

If the surveillance over Syria indicates the President if abandoning his strategy of defensive containment and going on the offensive with a mini-surge—sending additional military advisors to Iraq in a rollback strategy to defeat ISIS, the surveillance is in the American interests. Rolling back ISIS from Iraq makes more sense if the President authorizes or our partners conduct raids into Syria, because ISIS forces will flee to eastern Syria when attacked in northwest Iraq.

U.S. Special Forces can act as spotters to identify targets in Syria, as they do in Iraq; otherwise, widening the battlefield space would not be as effective against ISIS. The President shattered his own campaign pledge of “not placing boots on the ground,” when he authorized deployment of U.S. military advisors in Iraq: They are at risk, walk on the ground, and wear boots. The deteriorating strategic landscape in Iraq gives the President political space to act in the national interest and jettison his prior vow not to be drawn into another land war.

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Raymond Tanter, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Alhurra TV, Arabic

alhurra sep 1On 24 August 2014, Raymond Tanter was on Alhurra an Arabic TV.channel.

Tanter used for his discussion on Iraq, Iran, and Syria the following talking points. He called for a regional strategy that incorporated the porous borders of the Iraq and Syria as a point of departure and to support moderates in these three countries.

Turning to Tehran to help stabilize Iraq would be like asking an arsonist to help put out the fire. So the road to stabilizing Baghdad does not run through Tehran. The road to Baghdad runs through a coalition of moderates in the region and in Iraq. And the road to Baghdad bypasses Damascus to provide more robust support to “moderate” Syrian rebels.

Likewise, Washington needs to take action to relieve the plight of Iranian refugees held in prison-like conditions in Iraq. Called the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), these Iranian dissidents are the core of the prodemocracy movement and largest unit within the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

The NCRI/PMOI provided intelligence to Washington that helped save American lives in Iraq and continue to expose Iranian cheating on its nuclear weapons program. Hence, Washington should help resettle them to third countries, including the United States.

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Raymond Tanter on Bloomberg TV

26 agosto 14Boots on the Ground: Obama’s Options in Iraq.

On August 25 University of Michigan Professor Emeritus Raymond Tanter and Bloomberg’s Phil Mattingly discuss President Obama’s strategy for combating Islamic State in Iraq. They speak on “Street Smart.”

U.S. boots on ground in Iraq & Air Surveillance over adversary Syria an ally of Iran that pressures Camp Liberty.

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