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

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.

To continue reading please go to:

Preparations for Assaults on Iranian Dissidents in Iraq by Iran’s Forces and Proxies

20861a34-74b5-4c36-b1a2-76c2f2601f05Consider the strategic value of Iranian dissidents in Iraq, current preparations and prior attacks by Iranian regime proxies, and responsibility to protect.

For Tehran, Iranian dissidents in Camp Liberty, Iraq are of strategic import. Despite the regime’s charm offensive, talks on its nuclear file are likely to deadlock. And even if negotiations resume after a pause, military options are bound to become front page news again. The dissidents have extensive contacts on the ground in Iran and are potential strategic assets for Washington and its allies against Tehran. The dissidents have historic ties in the area that can help tilt the balance against radical Sunnis and counter an extremist “Shiite arc” of Tehran and its counterpart in Damascus.

Iran seeks to demoralize the dissidents in Iraq so they abandon their cause, repatriate them to Iran, and destroy them as the only organization that challenges clerical rule in Tehran. Moderate Sunni Arab Kingdoms like Jordan and Saudi Arabia are quietly sympathetic to the dissidents because they help counter the threat from radical Iran. Because of their strategic import, during June 2009 demonstrations in Iran in which colleagues of the dissidents participated, Iraqi forces acting on behalf of Tehran attacked the dissidents in Camp Ashraf, Iraq on July 30. Iraqis raided the Camp, killed 11, held 36 as hostages, and then releasedthem in October.

When unrest recurred in Iran during February 2011, Baghdad again ordered an attack to be launched against dissidents in Ashraf on April 8. There is video evidence of Iraqi forces directly aiming and firing at Camp residents.

On September 1, 2013, there was an attack on Ashraf that killed 52 residents, and assailants seized 7 as hostages. The UN stated, “The missing persons arereportedly being held somewhere in Iraq and may be at risk of being returned involuntarily to Iran, which would be a serious breach of international law.”

Rocket and mortar shells fell on the dissidents in Camp Liberty, killing six and wounding over fifty, on February 9, 2013. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) called these attacks, “a despicable act of violence” and described residents as asylum seekers entitled to international protection.

Read more: bit.ly/1nol8wA 

Iran prepares to assault Iranian dissidents in Iraq

Iranian_Soldiers_boarding_a_SH-3_Sea_KingConsider the strategic value of Iranian dissidents in Iraq, current preparations and prior attacks by Iranian regime proxies, and responsibility to protect.

For Tehran, Iranian dissidents in Camp Liberty, Iraq are of strategic import. Despite the regime’s charm offensive, talks on its nuclear file are likely to deadlock. And even if negotiations resume after a pause, military options are bound to become front page news again. The dissidents have extensive contacts on the ground in Iran and are potential strategic assets for Washington and its allies against Tehran. The dissidents have historic ties in the area that can help tilt the balance against radical Sunnis and counter an extremist “Shiite arc” of Tehran and its counterpart in Damascus.

Iran seeks to demoralize the dissidents in Iraq so they abandon their cause, repatriate them to Iran, and destroy them as the only organization that challenges clerical rule in Tehran. Moderate Sunni Arab Kingdoms like Jordan and Saudi Arabia are quietly sympathetic to the dissidents because they help counter the threat from radical Iran.

Because of their strategic import, during June 2009 demonstrations in Iran in which colleagues of the dissidents participated, Iraqi forces acting on behalf of Tehran attacked the dissidents in Camp Ashraf, Iraq on July 30. Iraqis raided the Camp, killed 11, held 36 as hostages, and then released them in October.

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/foreign-policy/211744-iran-prepares-to-assault-iranian-dissidents-in-iraq#ixzz375ZLkdYC

 

Video

World Insight – CCTV News: Iraq divided; Ukraine crisis; Cross-Straits relations

RT CCTNews Paris 3

Actions by Tehran in support of Damascus and Baghdad give the impression that the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, (ISIS rebranded as The Islamic State (IS), is acting alone. In fact, The IS implicitly acts in concert with Damascus and Tehran, which creates a narrative for Assad and Maliki to argue they are fighting terrorists; but Damascus and Baghdad are also suppressing dissent from their respective populations.

Wall Street Journal Editorial, Iran’s Nuclear Masters—Tehran has kept its core team of weaponization researchers intact, 17 May 2014 and Letters to the Editor about the Editorial

Requires Subscription: on.wsj.com/1nRkDgB

Image <–(An Iranian opposition group says this is Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the father of Iran’s nuclear-weaponization program. National Council of Resistance of Iran)

The International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran last week issued a joint statement in which Tehran pledged to apprise the Agency of “the initiation of high explosives, including the conduct of large scale high explosives experimentation in Iran.” In a word: weaponization, the most secretive dimension of the Iranian nuclear program. Tehran’s willingness to broach the topic will be hailed by supporters of the current talks as a sign that they’re yielding results.

Yet Iran has thus far dismissed as “fabrications” evidence of its weaponization work compiled by the IAEA. We’ll believe honest disclosures of prior weaponization activity when we see them. More to the point, we’ve obtained a plausible new report from the Mujahedeen-e Khalq, an Iranian opposition group, suggesting that Tehran has kept active and intact its core team of weaponization researchers.

The Islamic Republic’s attempts to develop a nuclear explosive device date to the late 1980s, when the regime established a Defense Ministry-linked physics research center in Tehran, according to Western intelligence agencies. By the next decade, according to the IAEA, the regime would consolidate its weaponization researchers under an initiative called the “AMAD Plan,” headed by Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a Ph.D. nuclear engineer and senior member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The AMAD Plan was charged with procuring dual-use technologies, developing nuclear detonators and conducting high-explosive experiments associated with compressing fissile material, according to Western intelligence agencies. The AMAD Plan’s most intense period of activity was in 2002-03, according to the IAEA, when current President Hasan Rouhani headed Iran’s Supreme National Security Council before becoming its chief nuclear negotiator.

Feeling the heat from the MEK’s disclosure of two nuclear facilities in 2002 and the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, the mullahs apparently halted the AMAD Plan’s activities in late 2003. But Mr. Fakhrizadeh and his scientists didn’t stop their weaponization work. As former United Nations weapons inspector David Albright told us, “Fakhrizadeh continued to run the program in the military industry, where you could work on nuclear weapons.” Much of the work, including theoretical explosive modeling, was shifted to Defense Ministry-linked universities, such as Malek Ashtar University of Technology in Tehran.

Mr. Fakhrizadeh has continued to oversee these disparate and highly compartmentalized activities, now under the auspices of Iran’s new Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, known by its Persian acronym, SPND. The MEK first disclosed the SPND’s existence in 2011. Now the opposition group has obtained what it says are key new biographical details and the first photograph of the 56-year-old Mr. Fakhrizadeh, whom Iran has refused to make available to the IAEA for long-sought interviews.

The MEK has also compiled a list of what it says are 100 SPND researchers. Far from disbanding the SPND, the MEK alleges, the Tehran regime has kept its nucleus of researchers intact. Possibly to avoid detection by the IAEA, the MEK says, the regime recently relocated the SPND’s headquarters from Mojdeh Avenue in Tehran to Pasdaran Avenue. “The new site,” the MEK adds, “is located in between several centers and offices affiliated to the Defense Ministry . . . , the Union of IRGC, the sports organization of the Defense Ministry . . . and Chamran Hospital.”

To further mask the illicit nature of the relocation from the IAEA, the MEK says, “parts of Malek Ashtar University’s logistical activities were transferred to the former site of SPND. The objective was to avoid closing [the former] center, and in the event of inspections, to claim that the site has always had the current formation.” Don’t expect the regime to fess up to much of this by the August 25 deadline set in its joint communique with the IAEA.

The fact that the IAEA and the Western powers are now turning to the weaponization question is a sign of how far the Iranian nuclear-weapons program has progressed. As the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center’s Henry Sokolski, a former nonproliferation director at the Pentagon, told us: “A concern about weaponization followed by testing and use is the moral hazard when you don’t pay attention to fissile-material production.”

In other words, having ceded a right to enrich and permitted the Islamic Republic to develop an advanced enrichment capability, the West is now left with preventing weaponization as the final barrier against a nuclear-capable Iran. The diplomacy of Mr. Rouhani and his Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, is intended to soothe jittery Western nerves on weaponization.

That palliative effect will be reinforced by the IAEA’s latest quarterly report, also released last week, in which the Agency reported that Iran has sharply reduced its stock of 20% uranium and hasn’t enriched above 5% since the November interim agreement took effect. The report also highlights the Islamic Republic’s new willingness to address at a technical level the “possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program,” including Tehran’s development of exploding bridge-wire detonators and high-explosives testing.

But if past is precedent and the MEK’s new disclosures are to be believed, Mr. Fakhrizadeh will continue to do his work as he has to this day. The snake may shed its skin but not its temper, runs an old Persian proverb.