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Review Category : Iran

Rouhani’s Deceptive U.N. Speech

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s September 21 opinion editorial in The Washington Post is extremely dishonest – in its depictions of Iran and of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran deal.

The dishonesty begins in the very title of the piece, when Rouhani – the figurehead leader of Iran who actually reports to the Iranian dictator, the Ayatollah Khamenei – claims that “Iran is keeping its nuclear commitments.”

This is simply not true. Iran is actually in violation of many of the commitments it made during the 2015 Iran deal. Most importantly, contrary to the clear language of the deal – see Q, 74 that permitted inspections at military sites which “will not be aimed at interfering with Iranian military or other national security activities” – Iran has banned the international inspectors from inspecting any of the military sites in Iran. These sites are exactly where any nuclear weapons development would be occurring. Rather than push back against this Iranian violation, the international inspectors have timidly avoided the issue by refusing to ask for any inspections of those sites.

Also, without these inspections of military sites, the international community has no way of knowing if Iran is keeping its other nuclear commitments.

But that is not all. Iran has also produced excessive heavy water, which it was allowed to sell on the open market for substantial monetary gain. Iran has exceeded the limits on advanced centrifuge research and development by building and operating larger numbers of such centrifuges than the deal allows. Iran is violating Section T of the deal, which explicitly bans Iran from “activities which could contribute to the development of a nuclear explosive device.”

German intelligence has frequently reported that despite the JCPOA prohibitions, Iran has continued illicit attempts to buy nuclear and missile technology outside of JCPOA-approved channels. And Iran has violated the UN Resolution enshrining the agreement, by shipping weapons and even ballistic missiles all around the Middle East.

And there are other breaches as well.

IN THE FIRST paragraph of the Post op-ed, Rouhani also laughably lauds Iran as a nation that has a “tradition of respect for the rule of law and norms of international law.” This would be news to any objective observer of the Middle East. In 1979, in its very first year in existence, student ideologues from the Islamic Republic of Iran violated the sanctity of the US Embassy to seize American hostages, whom they held for 444 days. These students were supported and eventually directed by then-Iranian dictator, the Ayatollah Khomeini.

Starting that same year, almost 40 years ago, the Islamic Republic of Iran has had the distinction of being the “leading state sponsor of terrorism” throughout the world. Iran birthed Hezbollah, which prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001, had killed more Americans than any other terror organization. Hezbollah has also killed Europeans, South Americans and, of course, many Middle Easterners as well.

Iran supports additional terror groups like Hamas, the Polisario Front in Morocco, al-Qaeda and many others. It backed terror groups in Afghanistan and Iraq, which during the post-US invasions, killed or wounded hundreds if not thousands of American soldiers. Iran also has frequently attacked international vessels in the Persian Gulf, including taking hostage American and British sailors. And it has supported the war crimes of the Assad regime in Syria, which includes using chemical weapons to slaughter children.

Later in the op-ed, Rouhani claims that the US government “has officially reneged on its international commitments, most notably UN Security Council resolution 2231,” and through its “illegal exit” from the Iran deal. Both of these claims are dishonest. Regarding the latter, the Iran deal “is not a treaty or an executive agreement” or in any way “legally binding” – it is an unsigned document between the Obama administration, Iran and several other governments. The Obama administration made no attempt to make this deal constitutional – and thereby more permanent – by using the treaty process, or even by enshrining it as an executive agreement. Successive US administrations, therefore, are not required to follow the JCPOA.

THE US ALSO is not reneging on its international commitments. Part of the UN resolution is simply the JCPOA which, as we know, is not legally binding. The rest of the resolution does have some obligatory parts; however, none of these legally-required sections have been violated by the US.

When it comes to implementing the JCPOA, the relevant language from the UN resolution simply “calls upon all Members States, regional organizations and international organizations to take such actions as may be appropriate to support the implementation of the JCPOA, including by taking actions commensurate with the implementation plan set out in the JCPOA and this resolution, and by refraining from actions that undermine implementation of commitments under the JCPOA…” Note that this language does not require that any nation support the JCPOA: it just “calls upon them” to do so.

Finally, the idea that “Iran has not engaged in any external aggression during the past 250 years” and has “peace” in its arsenal is belied by the very violent and aggressive record of the Islamic Republic. Once again, see Iran’s 40 years as the leading terror state, partly documented above.

Rouhani’s Washington Post op-ed is nothing more than pure propaganda from an enemy (regime) against the United States. It certainly should not be taken seriously by anyone truly knowledgeable about the truth.

Originally published: https://www.jpost.com//Opinion/Rouhanis-deceptive-UN-speech-568416

Photo: Carlo Allegri/Reuters

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Don’t Fall for Iran’s Propaganda on 1953 Removal of Mossadegh

It has become conventional wisdom that in 1953, the United States’ CIA led a coup to overthrow the then-Prime Minister of Iran, Mossadegh, for nationalizing the Iranian oil industry, and that many of the U.S.’s problems with the current Iranian government stem from this coup. Former President Barack Obama believes this conventional wisdom. So does much of Hollywood, as demonstrated by the popular film “Argo.”

The latest media outlet to echo this popular notion is the Associated Press.

According to the AP, “more and more officials across Iran’s political spectrum are reevaluating and invoking Mossadegh’s stand as they oppose Trump.” The article then quotes two of those officials — Iranian President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif. Rouhani has asserted that “The U.S. owes the Iranian nation for its intervention in Iran,” while Zarif has complained on Twitter that “The US overthrew the popularly elected democratic government of Dr. Mossadegh, restoring the dictatorship & subjugating Iranians for the next 25 years.”

The only problem with this conventional wisdom is that it is all wrong.

First of all, technically, there was no coup.

Mossadegh was the Prime Minister of Iran, and as such, under the constitution then in place, he could constitutionally be removed by the Iranian Shah. And the Shah did, indeed, dismiss Mossadegh. In fact, the only unconstitutional behavior came from Mossadegh, who refused to step down, and ordered the arrest of the officers who tried to deliver the Shah’s notice of dismissal. This prompted the Shah to flee Iran. Opponents to Mossadegh then organized protests against the Prime Minister. When Mossadegh called out the army to restore order, the army instead ousted him.

Second, the CIA was not really the driving force behind the removal of Mossadegh. One CIA agent, in his biography, took credit for the protests that eventually led to the removal of Mossadegh. But declassified documents from the CIA demonstrate just the opposite. During the crisis, the CIA station in Tehran reported the anti-Mossadegh protests “contained a large element of spontaneity and there seemed to have been a genuine reaction of shock and dismay on part of the Tehran populace when the Shah left Iran for Iraq.” They also admitted that the “CIA cut out of military preparations by [General Nader] Batmangeliche and Zahedi.” And CIA acting director Charles Cabell briefed President Eisenhower that “an unexpected strong upsurge of popular and military reaction to Prime Minister Mossadeq’s government has resulted according to late dispatches from Tehran in the virtual occupation of that city by forces proclaiming their loyalty to the Shah, and to his appointed Prime Minister Zahedi.”

Third, as I have written before, it is beyond hypocritical for officials from the Islamic Regime to claim to be offended by the Mossadegh’s removal. This is because the Iranian regime’s founding father, the Ayatollah Khomeini, and indeed, much of the Shia clergy of Iran in the 1950’s, opposed Mossadegh and/or participated in his removal.

Khomeini himself was not actually involved in the 1953 protests. However, he was a strong opponent of the Prime Minister. Years later, Khomeini was interviewed about Mossadegh, and he “famously remarked that Mossadegh deserved to be slapped” because “‘had he survived, he would have slapped Islam.’” Khomeini’s criticism was in reference to Mossadegh’s secular left background, and Mossadegh’s plans to remove the ban on alcohol and enfranchise women.

But that is not all. The leading Shia clerics of that period, including Ayatollah Borujerdi and Ayatollah Kashani, played an active role in the plotting against Mossadegh. Both men are revered in the Islamic Republic. Initially, the clerics organized a religious faction in opposition to the prime minister in the parliament. Later, they sponsored some of the protests against him. By the end, and right before Mossadegh’s removal, the CIA station was reporting, “Religious leaders now desperate. Will attempt anything. Will try [to] save Islam and Shah of Iran.”

Rouhani or Zarif are almost certainly aware of these facts. Rouhani is himself a cleric; but both men must be religious to have attained high office in the Islamic Republic. They know who Mossadegh was, and what he tried to do, and how the Islamic Regime really feels about this secular leftist.

But these officials are also familiar with the guilt many Americans have about the “1953 Iranian coup.” And how they can use this guilt to benefit their own regime.

Once again, officials of the Iranian regime are trolling the gullible Americans.

Originally published at: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/coup-mossadegh-shah-iran/2018/08/31/id/879738/

Photo: STF/AFP/Getty Image

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Time for Some Reality Therapy on the Golan Heights

As I write these words, news just broke that ISIS launched its first major attack in Syria, targeting a town occupied by Druze, on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, killing 100 innocent civilians. Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet last week that entered Israeli airspace, and two mortar shells launched from the Syrian side of the Golan landed near the Sea of Galilee (miraculously resulting in no injuries).

And this is just within the past 24 hours.

After the seven-year civil war, Syria is failed state. It has been given oxygen to survive from Iran and Russia.

Its inherent instability provides fertile territory for an entire array of terrorist groups from Jabhat al Nussra and ISIS on the Sunni side, to Hezbollah, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and the “Al Quds Force” on the Shi’ite side.

Syria depicts the Hobbesian state of war of man against man. The tragic events in Syria have led to at least a half-a-million casualties, approximately 6 million refugees and at least that many internally displaced people.

Iran, with its hegemonic aspirations, has taken advantage of the situation as a pretext for entrenching its military infrastructure into Syria. Syrian President Bashar Assad has enabled this by giving the Iranian terrorist proxies Syrian military uniforms.

It is determined to build a land bridge stretching from Tehran to Beirut to Damascus to the Mediterranean Coast.

Earlier this month, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei repeated his ominous exhortation that Israel is “a cancerous tumor that must be removed.”  And Hossein Salami, the deputy Commander of the IRGC in Syria, said he is “awaiting orders to eradicate the evil regime of Israel,” and that Israel has “no strategic depth”; therefore, “this can easily be achieved.”

Contrast this with the Israeli side of the Golan Heights, which provides an island of stability in a sea of chaos.

The Golan Heights—an area that Israel captured during its defensive 1967 Six-Day War and then retained from invading Syrian forces again in its defensive war of 1973—affords Israel a unique topographical and intelligence, affording it the eyes and ears to stare down into Syria and Lebanon.

All of this intelligence is shared readily with the United States.

There is a 1974 agreement mandating the separation of Syrian and Israel forces, which thins out the forces on both sides of the disengagement line.

In 1981, the Israeli government formally annexed the region. The annexation of the Golan Heights is a consensus issue that almost every Israeli, whether politically on the left, right or center agrees with.

As Major Gen. (ret.) Giroa Eiland of the Israel Defense Forces has recently written, “Israel does not possess a plausible solution to its security needs without the Golan Heights.”

The demarcation line of the Golan Heights represents the demarcation of freedom against tyranny—of a failed authoritarian regime against a vibrant, healthy state based on Western democratic values.

That is why tens of thousands of Syrians would love to flee into Israel, if given the opportunity.

That is why 422 Syrians who are part of the White Helmet Groups, a humanitarian volunteer organization, were rescued by the Israelis and given safe passage way into Jordan.

That is why the IDF was able to provide tons of truckloads of supplies to the Syrian refugees, including medicines, baby formula, food, feel and shoes.

And that is what enabled the IDF to clandestinely arrange for approximately 4,000 Syrians wounded in Syria’s protracted civil war to be treated in Israeli hospitals, without asking which side they were fighting for or why.  And then, the healed were clandestinely delivered back to the Syrian side of the border.

It is in America’s best national security interests to recognize the annexation of the Golan Heights as part of Israel’s sovereign territory. Israel provides an island of tranquility in the chaotic world of the Middle East, and the line between chaos and stability cuts right through the demarcation line.

After all, after Friday prayers throughout Tehran, the chant is not only “Death to Israel,” but “Death to America.”

By keeping the Golan Heights as part of the lexicon of “occupied territories,” the international community simply perpetuates the conflict and the Syrian-Iran-Russians axis the pernicious delusion that this area is still in play. It keeps Israel’s northern front as a possible area of conflict that can flare up at any point.

American recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights will finally put an end to these dangerous delusions. In an age when Iran constitutes the greatest menace to the region and one of the greatest to the world, it would constitute an effective and potent form of “reality therapy.”

Originally posted at: https://www.jns.org/opinion/time-for-some-reality-therapy-on-the-golan-heights/

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Potential Israeli Sovereignty over the Golan Heights

Syria claimed to capture a key position overlooking the Golan Heights – an area in the northeastern part of Israel that was taken by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) during the 1967 Six-Day War. In May, Iranian forces fired rockets from Syria targeting the Golan Heights, and Iran and its proxy Shi’ite militia groups are expanding their presence in southwestern Syria, attempting to establish military bases on the border.

The Iranian expansion-backed by the Assad Regime- could be catastrophic; the Golan Heights provides Israel with a strategic advantage, and if Israel was attacked from Syria, the Golan Heights would give the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) the ability to withstand ground offensives.

Israel annexed the territory in 1981, and the US has previously assured Israel that it supports the annexation, but has not fully recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan. But members of Congress are now encouraging the Trump Administration to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, in order to counter the presence of terrorist groups in the region, and prevent Iran from taking over the territory.

What are the strategic interests of the U.S. in recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights? How would recognition of Israeli sovereignty potentially help stabilize the region? Our expert panel of Sarah Stern, Zvi Hauser, and Michael Doran explores these questions and more.

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Nothing Secret or Surprising About Stark Danger Iran Poses

 

Iranian Foreign Minister — and chief propagandist — Javad Zarif is very upset with the U.S. and the Trump administration.

We know this because of the long, rambling letter he produced, responding to a speech by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that outlines the U.S.’s twelve conditions for a new nuclear deal with the Iranian regime. In his letter, Zarif compiled a total of twenty-seven conditions for any deal with the U.S. Many of these requirements are absurd on their face.

One of Zarif’s criticisms was as follows:

The United States must abandon its policy of resorting to the threat or use of force — which constitute a breach of the preemptory norms of international law and principles of the Charter of the United Nations — as an option in the conduct of its foreign affairs with or against the Islamic Republic of Iran and other states.

If only Iran followed its own foreign minister’s advice.

Just last week, Iran made it very clear that it believes strongly in using both threats of force and force itself.

First, an Iranian diplomat and other Iranian nationals were arrested for plotting a bomb attack on a rally held by an exiled Iranian opposition group in France. The Belgian authorities found 500 grams of the powerful homemade explosive TATP and an ignition mechanism hidden in a toiletry bag in a car.

The rally, which attracted thousands of participants, took place in Villepinte, just outside of Paris. Many prominent Americans attended this event, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former FBI Director Louis Freeh.

The Iranian diplomat arrested was the “third counselor” based in Vienna, Austria.

Then, Iran threatened the world’s oil supply. After supposed “moderate” Iranian President Rouhani hinted at it, not one, but two, prominent Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) leaders explicitly threatened the oil supply. “If they want to stop Iranian oil exports, we will not allow any oil shipment to pass through the Strait of Hormuz,” IRGC commander Ismail Kowsari said.

And Qasem Soleimani, the IRGC Quds force commander wrote in a letter to Rouhani that was made public that the IRGC “is ready to implement a policy that hinders regional oil exports if the United States bans Iranian oil sales.”

It is particularly important to stress that in both of these cases, Iran is targeting nations and people who are actually sympathetic and catering to it. Iran threatened the oil supply because of the U.S. decision to remove itself from the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) and reimpose sanctions in May.

Much of the oil that comes through the Gulf is going to European and Asian nations, four of whom — China, France, Germany, and the UK — are still participating in the JCPOA, and virtually all of the other nations support the JCPOA. And the bombing could have killed or injured hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent Europeans in Villepinte, presumably mostly French.

Then again, none of this should be a surprise, as, contrary to Zarif’s statement, Iran has a long history of “resorting to the threat or use of force.”

As is well-known, the Iranian regime organizes rallies every February to mark the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, arranges June rallies during its celebration of al-Quds day, and also organizes demonstrations every November to commemorate the taking of the American hostages in 1979. At all three events, the crowds shout “Death to America” and “Death to (Israel).”

Even when the U.S. was trying to make nice with the Iranians, under the Obama administration, the Iranians didn’t let up. During that time, the Iranians chanted “Death to Obama,” and “Death to Kerry.” Also, Iranians set up a booth to throw shoes at President Obama, hung Obama in effigy, and used an image of Obama to throw darts at.

And, certainly, Iran is not known for making idle threats. During the 1980s, Iran previously attacked international ships carrying oil through the Persian Gulf. During the 1980s and 1990s, it used its proxy Hezbollah to kill and injure hundreds of Americans and others.

During the U.S.-led war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Taliban controlled Afghanistan, Iran supplied Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFP’s) and other weapons to Iraqi and Afghani terrorists that killed more than 1100 U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. These EFP’s also killed British troops.

Today, Iran is bankrolling the Syrian regime that has killed hundreds of thousands of its own people, Shia militias in Iraq, Yemen’s Houthis, and Hamas. Today, Iran is training Sunni Muslim Taliban on the condition that they “should put more focus on attacking American and NATO interests in Afghanistan . . . ”

Zarif can say whatever he wants. But facts are facts, and Iran’s record of threatening other nations and attacking other nations (sometimes through proxies) is easily available for all to see.

There is a reason that Iran has been called the leading state sponsor of terrorism for the last three decades.

Originally published at: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/efp-jcpoa-kerry/2018/07/12/id/871420/

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“When Going to War with Syria, Are We also Going to War with Russia & Iran?”

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Dr. Mordechai Kedar discusses recent developments in the Middle East since the horrific use of chemical weapons by the brutal dictator, Bashar al Assad of Syria, which killed at least 48 innocent people and injured some 500 more. The United States responded with its allies the United Kingdom and France, with precision targets aimed at destroying the nuclear weapons facilities and research labs. Syria’s seven-year long civil war has diminished smaller non-state actors and has cleared the way for larger states and their proxies to grab a piece of the shattered state. Turkey with its FSA and Al Qaeda supporters attacked our allies the Kurds in Afrin Canton, and Iran and its Hezbollah proxies have set up bases across Syria and are well under way in completing a land bridge towards Israel’s northern border. Meanwhile, Russia has continued to undermine US strategy, protect Assad’s horrific crimes and is now intending on selling the dictator S-300 missiles which will ultimately threaten Israel’s sovereignty and security. Dr. Kedar analyzes and assesses the potential for a direct conflict between Russia and the United States in Syria.

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Iranian Dictator Blunders with Statement on Mexican Immigrants

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Islamist clerical dictator of Iran, recently made news by criticizing the U.S. policy of separating illegal immigrant children from their parents when they are caught attempting to enter the U.S.:

You see who your enemies are and how cruelly they stand before, not only the Iranian nation, but the whole of humanity. The matter of separating thousands of children from their mothers [at the U.S. border] is a serious issue. One cannot watch with a sound state of mind these children crying on TV. How can they commit such a crime of separating children from their mothers for the excuse of implementing some policy? This shows how evil they really are.”

This criticism by the Supreme Leader is rich, indeed.

Regardless of what you think about this particular American policy, there can be no doubt that Iran has a truly miserable human rights record. This record is so bad that it is impossible to take Khamenei’s criticism seriously, as his regime has done far worse to people, including its own citizens, including non-citizens who entered Iran legally or illegally, and including children.

Iran has long used child soldiers to fight its wars. During the Iran-Iraq War, Iran — then under Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini and under the Presidency of Khamenei — brainwashed its own children to clear minefields. These children were given plastic keys and were told that these keys and their martyrdom — by running over the mines and detonating themselves — would allow them to enter heaven. Thousands of Iranian children were killed as a result. More recently, Iran has recruited Iranian teenagers to fight in the Syrian civil war.

Iran has also conducted “a staggering execution spree” under its current figurehead president, Rouhani, despite his supposed “moderate” status. As a result, in 2017, “more than half (51 percent) of all recorded executions in 2017 were carried out in Iran.” Iranian children are among those put to death. Iran once even went so far as to execute the entire adult male population of a village for drug offences.

Iranians are punished not just for what we would call crimes: homosexuals are hung from cranes, women who conduct extramarital relationships are whipped, Iranians who convert to Christianity (or any other non-Shia Muslim religion) are imprisoned, 10 to 15 years in several cases, and atheists may be tortured and given the death penalty for “apostasy.” Iranians don’t have the right to speak out against the government or vote for the candidates they want to support. And, under Iranian law, girls as young as 13 (and sometimes younger) may be married off to much older men.

Iran also has its own immigrant and illegal immigrant community that it oppresses. There are 3 million Afghani refugees in Iran, only about a third of which are UN registered, whom have fled the long conflict in their homeland. Afghanis in Iran may suffer from severe mistreatment by the Iranian government, including summary deportations, physical abuse at the hands of security forces, limited job opportunities outside menial labor, restricted health insurance, and restricted access to education. This includes Afghani children, of course. Further, facing a shortage of manpower for the wars Iran is involved in — see Iraq and Syria — the Iranian government has bribed or even impressed thousands of Afghani refugees into service, threatening them with deportation if they don’t “volunteer.” This, once again, includes children, some as young as 14.

Iran has a history of grabbing foreign or dual citizens as hostages. In 1979, it grabbed Americans at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, and held (most) of them for 444 days, humiliating, terrorizing, and sometimes torturing them. It currently holds six U.S. persons, Siamak Namazi, Baquer Namazi, Nizar Zakka (a resident), Reza “Robin” Shahini, Karan Vafadari (a resident), graduate student Xiyue Wang, and (probably) a seventh, Robert Levinson. These hostages are most likely being abused. Certainly, other U.S. citizens/residents who were held by Iran illegally and ransomed to the U.S. in 2015, such as Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post reporter, have reported Iranian brutality. While being held in Iran’s notorious Evin prison, Rezaian was forced to sleep on the cold floor under harsh bright lights, was refused any medical care, and was threatened with death.

Iran also continues to be the leading state sponsor of terrorism, killing thousands of innocents over the past forty years. It created and/or funds terror groups like Hezbollah and Hamas. Prior to 9/11, Hezbollah had more American blood on its hands than any other group. Hamas is also responsible for killing U.S. citizens and Israeli civilians, including children. And since the 2015 Iran deal provided it with billions of extra dollars, Iran has doubled down on violence and terror, using its newfound riches to wage wars of aggression throughout the Middle East. This includes in Syria, where the Iranians and their allies have been accused of ethnic cleansing to eradicate Sunni Muslim families and replace them with Shia families.

The record clearly shows that Leader Khamenei is a bloodthirsty Islamist tyrant. There is no way such a person would care in the slightest what is happening to immigrant children half a world away.

This speech just shows that he is a “troll” as well.

Originally published at: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/iran-khamenei-mexico-human-rights/2018/06/25/id/868212/

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Iraqi Elections: A Loss for the US, an Even Bigger Loss for Iran

Iraq just held its first elections since the defeat of the so called Islamic State. The victory over the terror group was led by Prime Minister Haider al Abadi as he affirmed, “our forces fully control the Iraqi-Syrian border, and thus we can announce the end of the war against Daesh.” This was in December 2017, five months before the elections took place. Prime Minister Abadi had the full backing of the United States, and was commonly known as “our guy in Baghdad.” For Abadi, the US did all it could to strengthen his position, the current administration even went as far as supporting Abadi during the Kurdish independence referendum held in September 2017 and ignored Kurdish calls to stop the Iranian funded, legalized Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) incursion into Kirkuk, just a week after President Donald Trump designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization. The US was willing to do anything to keep another Maliki type figure from regaining power in Iraq. US strategy was clear, keep Iraq physically united, keep the Kurds tied to Baghdad, and ultimately weaken Iranian influence.

However, the US missed a key component of Iraqi politics, its devious foe, Muqtada al Sadr. Al Sadr is a Shiite but is also heavily nationalistic and has challenged both Iran and the US. Al Sadr has been accused numerous times by the Pentagon for American deaths during the height of the 2003 war. The Mahdi Army, led by Al Sadr, was the first Shiite militia to target US forces in Iraq following the toppling of Saddam Hussein. At one point, the Pentagon stated, “the Mahdi Army had replaced al Qaeda in Iraq as the most dangerous accelerant of potentially self-sustaining sectarian violence.” Muqtada al Sadr himself will not hold the prime ministerial position but will have the ability to appoint one which align with his views.

Al Sadr’s Sairoon (The Marchers) bloc, in alliance with Iraq’s Communist Party and a handful of other parties, composed of both Sunnis and Shiites including a Kurdish faction, was victorious. Iranian backed Fatah Alliance came in second while Abadi’s Al Nasr, despite his victory against the Islamic State and retaining control of the Kurds, established a weak third and Maliki came in fourth. Turnout for the election was at an all-time low, 44.52% compared to 60% in 2014. So, what does this mean for the US?

Although Al Sadr continues his anti-American rhetoric, he is still not Iran. He has transformed himself from a former Iranian ally to nothing short of an Arab nationalist. He has met with Sunni heads of states, including the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in July 2017. If anyone can push Iranian influence out of Iraq, it is al Sadr. This may be enough for the United States’ long term policy in Iraq. But there is one catch, al Sadr demands for the total withdrawal of all US troops in Iraq, now numbering at a little over 5,000. For American policy, the hope still lies with Abadi, a possible coalition with al Sadr may convince him to allow the presence of a small footprint to continue the training of Iraqi forces and play a strategic role against Iran’s continued expansion into Iraq and beyond.

The Fatah Alliance, a pro-Iranian coalition, is backed by the PMF and Iranian General Qassim Soleimani, commander of the IRGC who surprisingly lost to Al Sadr. Iraqi’s seem unsatisfied with a strong Iranian presence within their state, and feel they’ve lost their country to the neighboring Shiite theocracy. Nonetheless, Soleimani is dedicated to pressuring the fractured lists in uniting with Iran, strengthening Tehran while undermining Baghdad. The loss comes shortly after the US withdrew from the infamous Iran nuclear deal and recent successful Israeli attacks against IRGC bases in Syria, further isolating the Islamic regime.

The alternative path for the United States in Iraq is to pivot back towards the Kurds in the north. After a feeling of betrayal among the leadership of the Kurdistan Regional Government and those who voted for the independence referendum, the Kurds are always willing to accept US support. The Kurdish house has been in disorder dating back to the 2017 referendum, and the recent elections proved no different. Mass accusations of election fraud, system hacking, threats, and gun fights in party headquarters quickly ensued. The main faction, Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) align closer with al Sadr. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) is deeply influenced by Iran, as are the rest of the Kurdish groups including New Generation, Coalition for Democracy and Justice (CDJ), Change Movement, and the two small Islamic parties. The alternative path may not have a solid foothold in Baghdad, with only 58 seats but can be reconstructed that the KRG are playmakers once again as they were prior to the referendum. If the US does not strengthen the KRG, Kurds will likely shift towards either Iran or al Sadr.

Despite the United States having major setbacks due to the conflict, it remains a key player. The US invested heavily in Abadi while crippling the Kurds, only to keep a failed state intact. The unpredictability of Muqtada al Sadr may force Abadi on the sidelines to further isolate the United States. Iran, however, suffered the most and will continue to undermine the Iraqi security forces by bolstering the PMF. We may also find Iran resorting to sectarianism to delegitimatize Al Sadr’s unity coalition in the near future.

Originally published: https://securitystudies.org/guest-opinion-iraqi-elections-loss-us-even-bigger-loss-iran/

Photo: Middle East Eye

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Phone Seminar: “Trump Exits the Iran Deal & the U.S. Embassy Opens in Jerusalem: What’s Next?””

Click here to listen to the phone seminar

Thursday, May 17, 2018 – Phone Seminar with Dr. David Wurmser

On May 8th, President Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and outlined the next steps regarding Iran.  The President directed his Administration to immediately begin the process of re-imposing sanctions related to the JCPOA, targeting critical sectors of Iran’s economy, such as its energy, petrochemical, and financial sectors.  Companies doing business in Iran will be provided a period of time to allow them to wind down operations in or business involving Iran, but those who fail to do so will risk severe consequences.  It is hoped that the United States’ withdrawal from the JCPOA will pressure the Iranian regime to alter its course of malign activities and ensure that Iranian bad acts are no longer rewarded.

The European nations and Iran claim that they will continue the deal.  But if the U.S. re-imposes sanctions on the Iranians, and on companies that work with the Iranians, will this succeed?  And will Iran continue its aggression throughout the Middle East, and its support of terrorism?

About David Wurmser

Dr. David Wurmser is the executive and founding member of the Delphi Global Analysis Group, LLC – a firm specializing in geopolitical risk analysis and mitigation for infrastructure, high-tech, defense and financial firms from the United States, Japan and India navigating in Israel.  Prior to founding the Delphi Global Analysis Group, LLC in 2007, Dr. Wurmser was the senior advisor from 2003-2007 to the U.S. Vice President (Richard Cheney) on Middle East, proliferation and strategic affairs — a duty requiring timely, high‐pressure and accurate production of information, memoranda and briefings directly for the Vice President and the highest level of the US government during crises.

Before becoming the senior advisor for the Vice President in 2003, Dr. Wurmser was the senior advisor to Under Secretary of State John Bolton at the State Department. His diplomatic missions included participating in sensitive high‐level strategic discussions with Israel and Jordan, coordinating with foreign governments on Iran policy, participating on the United States negotiating team at several Nuclear Non‐Proliferation Treaty meetings and conferences, and helping negotiate base rights in key countries (Qatar) prior to the 2003 Iraq War.  Immediately following the 9/11 attacks, Dr. Wurmser consulted until January 2002 for the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the U.S. Department of Defense on a war‐related classified project on understanding the nature and strategic significance of terrorist group networks.

Before entering government, Dr. Wurmser founded the Middle East studies program at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in 1996.  Dr. Wurmser has 11 years of intelligence experience — for which he was awarded the prestigious Defense Meritorious Service Medal — in the U.S. Navy Reserves, reaching the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

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