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

Sky News Soundbites on Syria Hit on 12 OCT 2016

Professor Raymond Tanter appeared on Sky News Arabia on 12 October 2016. Tanter spoke about Syria in English, which was translated into Arabic.

One of the themes of Tanter’s comments centered on this Idea, FORCE AND DIPLOMACY GO HAND TO HAND. In addition, he said Russian airstrikes and barrel-bombing by Assad plus Iranian-controlled ground forces make for coercive diplomacy. The West only has diplomacy that is not reinforced by troops on the ground but only in the air.

People don’t live in the air or on the sea. They live on the ground. The way to control the ground is to be on the ground with combat forces.

There are some 60,000 troops on the ground in Syria controlled by Iran. They include the Quds Special Forces of Islamic Republican Guard Corps, Hezbollah from Lebanon, as well as those from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and a scattering from other countries that Tehran controls.

The West cannot succeed unless it has friendly forces on the ground, protected by a buffer zone, or a safe haven, coupled with a no-fly zone to keep warring aircraft out of the zone.

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.

To continue reading please go to: http://atfp.co/1HxuCfN

Syria crisis

october8, 2 2015Professor Raymond Tanter appeared on World Insight on 05 October 2015. At the end of the World Insight program 19:08 mins, Prof. Tanter said that National Council of Resistance of Iran intelligence exposes Iran role in Iraq to counter Intel of Moscow, Tehran, and Baghdad.

To watch the complete interview please go to:bit.ly/1FVZRFZ

Raymond Tanter appeared on Russian TV Arabic

1 de febrero 15University of Michigan Professor Raymond Tanter appeared on Russian TV Arabic Service from Washington on 29 January 2015. Below is a summary of what he said in English, which was translated into Arabic. Tanter’s portion begins after another commentator spoke: http://bit.ly/1DrPS5n

The Islamic Republic of Iran reinforces the destabilizing role of the Islamic State, aka, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Daesh in Arabic. Without Iran, the fight against ISIS in Iraq would be easier; but Tehran is supporting radical Shiite militias in Iraq. Tehran has undue influence over the Interior and Human Rights ministries in Iraq, which allow extremist militias to operate in Iraq. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Qods Force (IRGC-QF) conducts operations in Iraq, contrary to the security of moderate Shiite Iraqi Arabs as well as moderate Sunni Iraqi Arabs. The IRGC-QF is a growing threat to moderate Shiite Iranians—the Peoples’ Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI)—held in prison-like conditions in Camp Liberty, Iraq, at the behest of Tehran.

Democratic transition to prevent revolutionary Iran from nuclear-armed status

US-VOTE-2012-DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN-OBAMAKey senators in the incoming Republican majority and like-minded Democrats have a vision of Iran as a revolutionary state. It is risky to conduct business as usual with revolutionary Iran. If “regime change from within” were an implicit part of U.S. policy, emergence of a free Iran that does not become a nuclear-armed state is likely. President Barack Obama, however, treats Iran as if it were a normal state to engage in give-and-take bargaining.

Regarding current talks to prevent Iran from getting the bomb, Republican senators believe they have votes from both parties to pass additional economic sanctions on Tehran to overcome a veto by Obama. The White House is on record to avoid congressional scrutiny of any agreement. But a bipartisan coalition could use its majority to compel a vote on any accord from the November 18-24, Vienna talks between the major powers and Iran.

Opposing congressional oversight, supporters of reaching out to Iran say it has not decided whether it is a revolutionary movement or a normal state; hence, U.S. diplomacy can strengthen pragmatists against revolutionaries. This unsuccessful search for a moderate highlights the fallacy of treating Iran as a normal state. Even “pragmatistsaccept rule by Iranian clerics.

Business as usual is consistent with a report that Washington may reestablish an economic-diplomatic presence in Tehran, if there were a positive outcome in Vienna. But expectations are rising that an agreement is likely to be a “bad deal.” If so, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chair of foreign operations subcommittee of the incoming Appropriations Committee and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), incoming Foreign Relations Committee chair are cosponsoring a bill intended “to kill” a bad deal, according to Graham.

In addition to being a nuclear threat, Iran may be building missile facilities in Syria to prop up the Assad regime. Such missile production is acclaimed on religious beliefs inherent in the Iranian Revolution: “Today, the Islamic Iran has grown into the world’s sixth missile power and this is a major source of pride for the Revolution,” stated an officer of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). It has enhanced military capabilities in Iraq “to steal the show from Washington,” with a blow by the IRGC to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, (ISIS).

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Are U.S. Ground Troops in the Middle East Inevitable?

bloomberg september 23On September 23 2014, Professor Raymond Tanter was on Bloomberg  TV. Discussing the U.S. battle against the Islamic State military group in Syria with Trish Regan on “Street Smart.”

US Boots On Ground unnecessary for Obama  to Succeed if Arab States Keep Iran from Iraq & Help Kurds.

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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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