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/Read More →
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.Read More →
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/Read More →
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.Read More →
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/Read More →
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 EyeRead More →
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?
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.Read More →
In response to the recent exposure of 100,000 Iranian nuclear weapons documents by Israel, Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, the Washington foundation, went after the real villain in this drama — Israel! Cirincione took to Twitter to charge, “May I just point out that #Israel had a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it tried and failed to hide for years. They repeatedly and consistently lied to US officials when confronted with the evidence.” Cirincione then pointed out, “Iran never actually built a single weapon, unlike Israel.”
This Twitter rant is nothing more than sheer stupidity.
Mr. Cirincione really should understand why the U.S. might have a problem with the Islamic Republic developing nuclear weapons, and not so much with Israel producing them. That is because Iran is technically at war with the U.S. Israel is not.
In 1979, the founding year of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Iranians violated our Embassy and seized American hostages, whom they mistreated. Every Nov. 4, the Iranian regime continues to celebrate a yearly “Death to America” day to commemorate their seizure of the U.S. Embassy and hostages.
In the 1980’s, Iran set up the terror group Hezbollah, which prior to Sept. 11, 2001, had more American blood on its hands than any other terror organization. Hezbollah bombed the Marine Barracks in Beirut and twice bombed the U.S. Embassy there. Almost 300 Americans were murdered. (On May 30, 2003, a U.S. Judge found Iran legally responsible for providing Hezbollah, with financial and logistical support for these attacks.)
Also, Hezbollah grabbed U.S. hostages individually, and oftentimes tortured and killed them. In 1996, Hezbollah bombed the Khobar Towers, and killed 17 American servicemen.
Post-2003, Iran provided explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) to Iraqi and Afghani terrorists for use against American soldiers. One study says that at least 500 U.S. military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan were directly linked to these Iranian explosives.
In 2011, when the Obama administration was trying to make nice with the Islamic Republic, an Iranian agent plotted to bomb the Saudi Ambassador at a Georgetown restaurant, which would have resulted in mass casualties among U.S. civilians.
After the announcement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA), Iran was aggressive in the Persian Gulf. U.S. forces operating in and around the Strait of Hormuz were “approached by Iranian warships and aircraft” on a “nearly daily basis,” according to a Pentagon official. This happened 35 times in 2016, double the amount from the same period in 2015. And in 2017. At one point in time, American sailors were seized and humiliated in a violation of international law.
Iran has had, and continues to hold, American citizens hostage, sometimes under horrible conditions. Currently, Iran has arrested and imprisoned 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. Other Americans were released for ransom money during the JCPOA negotiations.
Right now, all throughout the Mideast, the Iranians are using the money they gained from the U.S. through the JCPOA to inspire rebellions and mayhem and violence in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, and to threaten U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, and, yes, Israel.
Iran has also jumpstarted its program to test ballistic missiles. On March 8 and 9, 2016, Iran conducted multiple missile tests, and during which it called the U.S. the “main enemy.” Ballistic missiles “only make economic, political, and military sense“ to become a nuclear weapons power.
Iran has not been afraid to support Sunni terror groups too. Iran funds Hamas – annually $60-70 million – and Palestinian Islamic Jihad – annually $70 million. Both organizations have American blood on their hands. Even al-Qaeda got some Iranian assistance; Bin Laden once described Iran as al-Qaida’s “main artery for funds, personnel, and communication” and Iran has continued this until recently. Iran is supplying and funding weapons and training to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Iranian leadership continues to refer to the U.S. as “the Great Satan.”
Iranian school textbooks, such as “The Qur’an and Life” (Grade 12, p. 125) prepare Iranian children for an apocalyptic, horrifying, millenarian, military battle against the U.S. and other “arrogant oppressors of the world,” which are ostensibly led by “idolatrous devils.”
Meanwhile, in comparison, Israel has only been a strong friend and ally of the U.S.
Joe Cirincione is a prominent supporter of the JCPOA, so perhaps it is not too surprising that the man is worried that President Trump may follow through with his promises to leave the Iran deal.
But there is no excuse for Cirincione to take leave of his senses; any objective foreign policy observer should understand the difference between a nuclear weapon in the hands of the Israelis, and one in the hands of the Iranians.
Iran might use a nuclear weapon against the U.S. Israel never would.
It is really just that simple.
Originally published at: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/cirincione-efp-jcpoa/2018/05/08/id/859127/
Photo: Fintastique/DreamstimeRead More →
U.S. Army Gen. Joseph Votel recently expressed his support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran nuclear accord reached with Iran, in Vienna, Austria, in July of 2015 ): “The JCPOA addresses one of the principle threats that we deal with from Iran, so if the JCPOA goes away, then we will have to have another way to deal with their nuclear weapons program.” (Reuters, March 13, 2018).
I have enormous respect for Gen. Votel, and for his service to our nation. But he, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford, are just totally wrong in their position on the JCPOA.
The JCPOA does not deal with any nuclear threat coming from Iran. It is a political agreement that is totally toothless when it comes to Iran, and actually counterproductive to the U.S. national interests.
Of crucial importance, the JCPOA provides us no assurance that Iran is keeping to its’ nuclear restrictions. Iran does not allow the international inspectors into its military sites, where any nuclear development would actually occur. Physical inspections are a necessity; satellite surveillance can only show so much, and sometimes it raises more questions than it answers.
The inspectors have diplomatically, and cowardly, chosen to avoid any controversy with the Iranians by not asking for any inspections of military sites. This, in no way, can be said to be addressing the threat of a nuclear Iran.
Iran may also be working with North Korea to conduct nuclear and ballistic missile tests.
The international inspectors have no way of knowing what is going on in that hermit Asian nation, so this is yet another avenue for Iranian violations.
Iran also defies a number of another supposed requirements from the JCPOA. Iran has produced excessive heavy water and sold it for profit. It has exceeded the limits on advanced centrifuge research and development by building (IR-8) and operating (IR-6) larger numbers of advanced centrifuges than is allowed. Iran is also continuing to produce uranium enriched to 5 percent beyond the quantity it is permitted.
Further, aside from the nuclear restrictions, Iran has violated the five-year conventional arms embargo that was part of the JCPOA. Iran illegally ships weapons to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and many other nations.
Iran has also taken advantage of the JCPOA’s change in ballistic missile language to step up its ballistic missile tests. Until the JCPOA, UN. Security Council Resolution 1929, from 2010, said “Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology, and that States shall take all necessary measures to prevent the transfer of technology or technical assistance to Iran related to such activities.”
However, under the JCPOA and the accompanying UN resolution, Iran is “called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology . . . ” “Called upon,” of course, is much weaker language than “shall not,” which explicitly forbids the actions. Further, the Iranians have also blatantly lied by claiming the missiles they are testing are not designed to carry nuclear warheads, even though ballistic missiles are meant to deliver nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, the JCPOA has provided Iran with tremendous amounts of monies to continue their aggressive and dangerous behavior in the Mideast. Simply to negotiate with the P 5 plus 1 (the U.N. Security Council’s five permanent members: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.) the Iranians received $12 billion or more in frozen funds.
For the deal itself, Iran obtained another $115 billion — or more — in frozen funds. Then, they collected another $1.7 billion in cash, at the exact same time, for some American hostages. And none of this includes the money Iran earned and is continuing to earn from the lifting of sanctions, which is valued at billions more.
Iran has put all this money to good use. In tandem with the Russians, they kept their bloodthirsty puppet Assad in power, and are currently helping him pummel the remaining rebel groups and slaughter civilians in Syria. They have been sponsoring jihadist groups in Lebanon, Gaza, Yemen and Bahrain.
And they have effectively come to dominate Iraq, thanks to their Popular Mobilization Front troops. They are even “mucking around” by funneling money into Iraq to sway the outcome of its coming elections, according to Secretary of Defense Mattis.
So, to sum up, the JCPOA has been a total disaster for the U.S. Under it, Iran is still able to work on the nuclear program and its affiliated ballistic missile program. Thanks to it, “(a) cross the greater Mideast, Iran is proliferating dangerous weapons, fueling sectarian violence, and supporting terrorist proxies and militias, such as Hezbollah.
“The regime proudly chants “Death to America” and “Death to Israel . . . (i)n Syria, Iran’s actions have directly interfered with efforts to de-escalate violence, defeat ISIS, and protect innocent civilians.”
And just by agreeing to it, the JCPOA has given Iran respectability with the outside world, despite its continuing human rights abuses and undemocratic actions. It has also helped end Iran’s economic isolation.
General Votel is simply incorrect when he claims the JCPOA has addressed the nuclear threat (and other threats) from Iran. It hasn’t. And it is way past time for the U.S. to acknowledge that fact, and act accordingly.
Originally published at: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/hezbollah-jcpoa-votel/2018/03/27/id/851073/