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As Trump Tweets Threats, Warnings of His Team ‘Working in Lock Step to Lay Groundwork’ for War With Iran

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“Everything they’re doing right now is only compatible with a policy of confrontation.”

President Donald Trump in May announced his decision to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump in May announced his decision to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)Following weekend reporting that key members of President Donald Trump’s cabinet are leading a campaign to “foment unrest” in Iran, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s warning that a conflict between the two countries “would be the mother of all wars,” Trump turned to Twitter late Sunday with a message for Rouhani:

“Trump’s tweet chastised Iran for the very language Trump employed in his tweet,” observed Peace Action executive director Jon Rainwater. “Every peace-loving person in the U.S. needs to press the president to tone down his rhetoric and rethink this march to war.”

“The administration is making clear that military action is very much on the table.”
—Jon Rainwater, Peace Action
In a televised speech from Iran’s capital, Tehran, on Sunday, Rouhani had warned Trump that the United States cannot block Iran from exporting crude oil. “Do not play with the lion’s tail or else you will regret it,” he declared. “Peace with Iran would be the mother of all peace and war with Iran would be the mother of all wars.”

As the New York Times noted, “last month the United States said it would impose sanctions on all exporters of Iranian oil. American officials have since moderated the sanctions demand, which roiled oil markets.”

While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has praised the Trump administration’s “tough” threats toward Iran, European and Iranian leaders have been trying to salvage the Iran nuclear deal. Trump announced in May that he would ditch the agreement and reimpose sanctions, to which National Iranian American Council (NIAC) president Trita Parsi responded, “this is how the Iran war started.”

On Saturday Reuters reported that Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have “launched an offensive of speeches and online communications meant to foment unrest and help pressure Iran to end its nuclear program and its support of militant groups,” which is supposed to “work in concert with [Trump’s] push to economically throttle Iran by re-imposing tough sanctions.”

“This is not an administration that is pursuing a policy of actually trying to find a new way to the negotiating table or striking a new deal.”
—Trita Parsi, NIAC

At an event in Los Angeles on Sunday, Pompeo delivered a speech to a group of Iranian Americans entitled “Supporting Iranian Voices.” Pompeo reportedly claimed the nation’s leadership “resembles the Mafia more than a government” and called Iran’s clerics “hypocritical holy men.”

“In a single day the Trump administration has firmly steered the U.S. onto a path of confrontation with Iran,” remarked Rainwater. “The whole administration appears to be working in lock step to lay the groundwork for a military confrontation. By lodging personal attacks against Iran’s supreme leader, making demands that no one believes Iran can fulfill, and hinting at regime change, the administration is making clear that military action is very much on the table.”

Parsi appeared on Democracy Now! Monday morning to discuss the ramped up rhetoric, including the president “essentially threatening war over Twitter.”

“Without a doubt, this is not an administration that is pursuing a policy of actually trying to find a new way to the negotiating table or striking a new deal. Everything they’re doing right now is only compatible with a policy of confrontation,” Parsi concluded. “Whether that confrontation will take place through a direct military confrontation, or whether it will be the Trump administration continuing and intensifying their efforts to destabilize Iran—or, as Reuters reported over the weekend, to foment unrest in Iran—remains to be seen.”

Watch:

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Pompeo, Religion, and Regime Change in Iran

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“The Trump administration, committed to neither secularism nor freedom within the content of its own governance, is transparently adopting the form of ‘supporting Iranian voices’ for ends that cannot be genuine.”

“That Pompeo sounds like an acolyte of the Islamic Republic is of great importance to the integrity of his support for Iranian voices. It is probably even more significant than his disdain for Islam, the faith to which millions of Iranians deeply adhere even if they wish religion would stay out of politics. How can a man like Pompeo advocate for secularism?” Batmanghelidj writes. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/cc)

In his brief stint as CIA director, Mike Pompeo brought God to Langley. At least that’s how it felt it to many in the intelligence community. According to Foreign Policy, Pompeo attended “weekly Bible studies held in government buildings, referenced God and Christianity repeatedly in his first all-hands speech” and planned to start “a chaplaincy for the CIA campus like the military has.” When challenged on these matters, a CIA spokesperson countered, “Director Pompeo is a man of faith…The idea that he should not practice his faith because he is Director of CIA is absurd.”

This Sunday, Secretary of State Pompeo will give an address in “support of Iranian voices” at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi, California as part of outreach to the Iranian-American community. In a background briefing on Thursday, a senior State Department official previewed Pompeo’s message. Reflecting the upcoming anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Pompeo will “survey the last 40 years of stealing from the Iranian people, the terrorism they have committed around the region, the brutal repression at home.” He will also expose “the corruption of the regime” and highlight “religious persecution.” These issues Pompeo will raise are not fictions, but the sincerity of his support for activism may be.

As Politico’s Nahal Toosi has written, the speech is part of a wider Trump administration policy, which Pompeo defined in May by issuing “12 demands of Iran’s clerical leaders, a list so broad that some analysts say it amounts to a call for regime change.” As unrest has gripped Iran, the administration “increased its use of social media targeting Iranians…to cheer on protests in Iran, highlight the government’s economic mismanagement and, especially lately, challenge its abuse of human rights.”

The Lure of Regime Change

During Thursday’s background briefing, the New Yorker’s Robin Wright asked specifically about the connection between the list of demands and any goals of regime change. The senior state department official countered that “nobody at the time thought that those 12 demands were a proxy for regime change” and explained that “the length of the list is simply a scope of the malign behavior of Iran.” The administration has been reluctant to directly disavow the idea of regime change.

For many Iranian-Americans who yearn to see an end to the Islamic Republic, the strong political messaging from Pompeo and the wider Trump administration, particularly the avowed support for protests in Iran, has galvanized a sense that regime change is achievable. As Mariam Memarsadeghi, a co-founder of Tavaana, an organization that helps support civil-society capacity-building in Iran and receives State Department funding, has tweeted, “I’m a never-Trumper, but believe in admin’s Iran approach.” In further indication of what that approach might be, Memarsadeghi has written that “the Islamic Republic must fall.”

What should replace the Islamic Republic is a question that few regime-change proponents have been able to answer in any real detail. But, as relayed by Reza Pahlavi, son of Iran’s deposed Shah, most Iranian-Americans who seek political change in Iran can agree that the country should be “a secular, parliamentary democracy.” To this end, Pahlavi notes, it is “not the form that matters, it’s the content” and that the “final form has to be decided by the people.”

But the insistence on seeing Iran become secular does clearly indicate a concern for form. After all, the Islamic Republic is structured with the authority of clerical leadership. In Memarsadeghi’s view, “Khomeinist totalitarianism is a totalitarianism rooted in Islam.”

Pompeo’s Religious Politics

Importantly, this is a view that Pompeo shares, not only because of his long-standing animosity towards Iran, but also because of his more specific beliefs about Islam. The former Kansas congressman once told his constituents in Wichita, “The threat to America is from people who deeply believe that Islam is the way and the light and the only answer.” In this conception, if totalitarianism or terrorism is the content of the Iranian policy, then the Islamic Republic is its enabling form.

But the role of secularism as a cornerstone of regime-change advocacy makes Pompeo an unlikely ally. Whatever the content of Pompeo’s own political and governmental leadership, its form is anything but secular. This is a man who has proclaimed that “to worship our Lord and celebrate our nation at the same place is not only our right, it is our duty” and has described politics as a “a never-ending struggle…until the rapture.”

A messianic view of politics is something Pompeo shares with many figures in Iran. Though his own politics were generally more juridical than mystical, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini once exclaimed, “We place this revolution into the hands of the Mahdi: if it pleases God, let this revolution be the first step toward the appearance of The One Whom God Has Preserved, and let it pave the way for his arrival!”

That Pompeo sounds like an acolyte of the Islamic Republic is of great importance to the integrity of his support for Iranian voices. It is probably even more significant than his disdain for Islam, the faith to which millions of Iranians deeply adhere even if they wish religion would stay out of politics. How can a man like Pompeo advocate for secularism?

This question points to something of a double bind for Iranian-Americans who invite a closer dialogue with the administration on Iran’s political future. As they push for a secular Iran, they must decide whether the form of Pompeo’s beliefs, as well as those of other administration officials and Republican lawmakers, is compatible with their own advocacy, or whether content can actually overcome form.

Form v. Content

If form takes precedence, then the Iranian-American activist cannot align with this administration, which has sought to bring religious dogma into American political institutions. After all, if there is a body in Iran in which a religious form is responsible for unjust content, it is the judiciary, which enforces (and bends) the rule of law with an ideological outlook. But if proponents of regime change are to point to the judiciary to explain why secularism needs to be a cornerstone of their advocacy, they cannot in good conscience align with Pompeo. When the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2013, Pompeo released a statement declaring, “I am deeply saddened by the Supreme Court’s ruling that imposes legalized gay marriage…It is a shocking abuse of power. It is wrong. I will continue to fight to protect our most sacred institutions.” He was no doubt influenced by his participation in gatherings such as the U.S. Capitol Bible Study of Pastor Ralph Drollinger, who prepared a reading of the Book of Leviticus for members of Congress, including Pompeo, in the lead-up to the court’s deliberation, and which began with this introduction:

Surrounding the prohibited Hebrews were the permissive Canaanites who practiced same-sex marriage. Do you know any Canaanites today? How about Jewish folks? That illustrates the huge error of every society that has allowed sexual predilection to determine marriage privilege… Many are the simpletons who advocate that “love” should be the sole basis for sanctioning marriage rights. But if “love” is the reason for marriage then how can our courts deny matrimony to a petitioner who loves her cat?

Drollinger now leads the White House Bible Study Group, which includes Vice President Mike Pence, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and of course, Pompeo.

Perhaps the Iranian-American proponents of regime change can cast aside these issues on the basis that content takes precedence. In this assessment, Pompeo is advocating a sound policy on Iran, so his personal beliefs do not matter. But to assert that Pompeo is able to lead despite his personal beliefs is to concede that secularism in governance is really an institutional matter, not an ideological one. As I recently outlined in Bloomberg Opinion, aside from the judiciary, most of the relevant institutions in Iran responsible for routine state failures—chronic unemployment, environmental degradation, rampant corruption—are essentially secular spaces, neither run by religious leaders nor operated in accordance to religious prescriptions. In the American context, Pompeo’s bible study can remain a personal matter precisely because institutions create spaces that accommodate and constrain the non-secular. But as a result, the failures of the American government to meet the needs of its people, just as in Iran, ought to be attributed to the poorly functioning bureaucracies—institutions that will require slow and grinding reform even if Iran’s republic ceases to be Islamic.

Ahead of Sunday’s speech, it is dismaying to see so little critical engagement of these issues within the Iranian-American community itself. The Trump administration, committed to neither secularism nor freedom within the content of its own governance, is transparently adopting the form of “supporting Iranian voices” for ends that cannot be genuine. To adapt a revolutionary slogan about Iran being beholden to neither East nor West, the Iranian-American community must declare, “Neither Trump nor Khamenei: independent advocacy.” Until then, the calls for secularism and democracy in Iran will continue to be tainted by those to whom Iranian-Americans look for leadership.

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Iran Opens New Missile Production Line After Trump’s Bombastic Twitter Threats Against Rouhani

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With top Iranian officials condemning Trump’s words as “psychological warfare,” Iran doubled down on its refusal to bow to U.S. pressure by unveiling a new mass production line of medium-range air-to-air missiles just hours after Trump’s tweet.

President Donald Trump speaks during his meeting with members of his cabinet in Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, July 18, 2018. Pablo Martinez Monsivais | AP

President Donald Trump speaks during his meeting with members of his cabinet in Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, July 18, 2018. Pablo Martinez Monsivais | AP

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Trump Administration ‘Working in Lock Step to Lay Groundwork’ for War With Iran

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“Everything they’re doing right now is only compatible with a policy of confrontation.”

President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci).

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No, Putin Didn’t Agree to Play Lackey Against Iran to Appease Trump & Netanyahu

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Russian Vladimir Putin arrives to attend a meeting with Russian ambassadors to foreign countries in Moscow, Russia, July 19, 2018. Putin says his first summit with U.S. President Donald Trump was "successful" and is accusing Trump's opponents in the U.S. of hampering any progress on the issues they discussed. Sergei Karpukhin | AP

While Moscow hopes to balance its relationship with Tehran with its ties to Tel Aviv and Washington, premature gloating about the Kremlin abandoning Iran outright — in some “deal” beggared by Netanyahu and Trump, no less — remain mere wishful thinking.

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IRAN – A SAFE PLACE FOR JEWS ‘ Video’

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Image result for IRAN Jews CARTOON

IRAN – A SAFE PLACE FOR JEWS UNTIL ISRAEL STARTS BOMBING THEM…

THIRTY CENTURIES OF CO-EXISTENCE

Would you believe that…

Iran is a safe place for Jews to live?

It has been for going on for thirty centuries?

It has the largest population of Jews in Middle East, second only to Israel.

What’s going on?

Reality is what’s going on.

And non-stop 24/7/365 propaganda in the US news is what’s going on too.

How is it possible this kind of basic factual information is not common knowledge?

– Honoring the memory of Anthony Bourdain (1956 – 2018)

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Trump Is Seeding War Clouds Over Iran

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Trump and Pompeo are squeezing Iran where it hurts. They are trying to prevent Iran from selling oil internationally. They are applying maximum pressure upon Iran. This is overt. It is announced policy. For example, the State Department says

“Very broadly, Saudi Arabia is a key partner in our effort to isolate and pressure Iran. And as I said, we had a number of bureaus from the State Department to discuss energy, diplomacy, security, and economic pressure. We were also joined by Treasury Under Secretary Sigal Mandelker for some of these meetings so that they can hear from Treasury officials and coordinate our efforts on applying maximum economic pressure on Iran.”

The U.S. is threatening China and India if they buy Iranian oil:

“On Tuesday a senior State Department official described tightening the noose on Tehran as ‘one of our top national security priorities’.

“The official warned countries including China and India, who are key buyers of Iranian oil, that they should stop purchasing crude from the country before the November deadline or face US sanctions.”

Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally and enemy of Iran, will pump more oil to mitigate price effects of cutting Iran out of the international market. This increases enmity between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The economic isolation of Iran via an economic blockade deprives Iran of essential revenues. In essence, the U.S. policy is an act of war. Trump is seeding war clouds over Iran. He wants Iranians to overturn their government. Failing that, he appears to want Iran to attack American assets or engage in some other act of retaliation, perhaps in Europe or the Persian Gulf, that can be made into a cause of war so that the U.S. and its allies (NATO, Israel, Saudi Arabia) can attack Iran in force. At least, that is what he is risking. For example, Pompeo is criticizing Iran for planning to terrorize Iranian opposition persons (National Council of Resistance of Iran) on European soil. He also threatens to keep the Persian Gulf open if Iran disrupts its traffic. This is a war threat.

Trump’s policy on Iran augments the longstanding U.S. policy of sanctioning Iran and treating Iran as an enemy. Trump is escalating the past low-level and medium-level pressure upon Iran into higher-level and much more serious warfare. The U.S. cannot blockade Iran, if such a blockade via sanctions is successful, without causing serious consequences.

In the imaginations of American leaders, Iran has assumed the shape of a demon whose appearance must be exorcised in order to obtain psychological relief. Not peculiar to Trump, this has been the case for the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Executive and Israel ever since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. (Similarly, the U.S. trade deficits are a new demon peculiar to Trump’s mind that he is attempting to destroy via trade wars.)

Trump unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA with Iran, the first major step in seeding the war clouds. Piling on a severe set of sanctions is his second big step toward war. Iran is being backed into a corner.

Is war with Iran necessary for American security? How does Iran threaten America and Americans? The largest possible threat was the nuclear threat, but that was mitigated through the deal that Trump abandoned. Iran does not threaten America and Americans directly. Iran is said by General Votel to be “the major threat to U.S. interests and partnerships in the Central Region”. A threat to the U.S. (government) is not the same as a threat to America and Americans. The Central Region includes “Egypt to Pakistan and from Kazakhstan to Yemen”. The threat appears to be oil supply, but it is not. Iran needs to sell oil as a source of revenue. The U.S. fears the political influence of Iran in the region. That is why Votel warns:

“Iran has extended its tentacles across the region through numerous proxies, including Lebanese Hizballah operating in multiple countries, hardline Iranian-backed Shia Militia Groups (SMGs) in Iraq and Syria, and Iranian support has enabled the Houthis.”

The U.S. fears Iranian influence in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen; and it fears further influence in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kazakhstan. To prevent the growth of that influence, the U.S. wants a government in Tehran that is not expansionary or revolutionary. The U.S. long-term aim is to have this entire region be under the wing of America. No U.S. government will be satisfied until this happens, whether it takes 50-100-200 years. A resurrected Persian Empire is highly unlikely, because all these countries have their own peoples, histories, religions, ethnic groups, languages and interests. Yet the idea of a rival in the Central Region haunts the minds of American leaders a continent and ocean away.

Supposing that the expansion of the American empire is the fundamental aim of the U.S. government, what means are more likely to achieve it? War measures against Iran or peace measures that bring other countries into the American fold through mutual gains? War in Afghanistan has proven fruitless. War against Iraq has augmented Iranian influence. The attempt to bring Syria’s Assad down by war has amplified Iran’s presence in Syria. The support of Saudi Arabia’s war against Yemen is leading to a genocide.

The U.S. cannot expand what it claims to be a “good” empire by means of war and imperialism that produce mass evils. It cannot build nations, states and nation-states. It cannot manufacture wholesome governments that are free of corruption. It cannot accomplish that even in this country. It cannot elevate the economies of foreign countries by means of government projects and investments.

The extension of property rights, sound law, sound government and free markets to backward regions is simply not something that the U.S. government knows how to do or can do. Our government is attempting to do this through military special forces who are trained to work with foreign security forces and peoples. This won’t succeed. Successful social systems do not arise and persist via the injection of some foreign elements that are thought to be critical or missing, be they capital projects, laws, leaders, literacy, or security forces.

The U.S. government is implementing incorrect theories of social improvement, both abroad and here. The U.S. government doesn’t know how civilizations form, succeed and fail. The federal government of America doesn’t know how to foster civilized life, even the particular brand of civilized life that we call American or Western.

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Top Nazi Security Expert Warns Against War with Iran

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Top Israeli Security Expert Warns Against War with Iran

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Featured image: Eran Etzion, a former Israeli deputy national security adviser (Source: PressTV)

Former Israeli deputy national security adviser Eran Etzion has warned Tel Aviv “not to become entangled with Iran directly” as he expressed alarm over frictions between the two sides in Syria.   

“Something dramatic is happening in Syria: For the first time, there is direct military friction between Israel and Iran,” Israel’s Haaretz newspaper quoted Etzion as saying.

“There is now a higher probability than ever before of deterioration into an open war, which could take all kinds of different forms,” he added.

An Israeli airstrike against the T-4 airbase in Syria’s Homs Province on April 9 killed more than a dozen people, including seven Iranian military advisers. Iran has pledged that it would punish Israel for the deadly air raid.

“[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is constantly harping that our goal is to remove the Iranians from all of Syria, and everyone involved is echoing him. That goal is simply not within our power, and insistence on it is liable to generate a war in what is a very unstable environment, involving Iranians, pro-Iranian militias and Hezbollah, with Turkey also meddling,” he added.

Over the past few years, Israel has frequently attacked military targets inside Syria in an attempt to prop up terrorist groups that have been suffering defeats at the hands of Syrian government forces.

Tel Aviv has also been providing weapons to anti-Damascus militants as well as medical treatment to the Takfiri elements wounded in Syria.

Iran has been offering military advisory support to Syria at the request of the Damascus government, enabling its army to speed up its gains on various fronts against terror outfits.

Etzion said that

“if a war between Israel and Hezbollah is something we haven’t yet experienced, then a direct war between Israel and Iran is something I don’t want to imagine.”

Asked who is stronger Iran or Israel, he said,

“The question is how you measure strength. There’s a key term called ‘strategic depth,’ which the Iranians used not long ago, precisely in the context of this friction.”

“A senior Iranian figure said that Israel should be careful, because it has no strategic depth. You really have to go to the basics and look at the geography, the demography and the history. Israel possesses military power, but Iran has tremendous geography, a population of 80 million and a history going back thousands of years. It’s a civilization.”

Referring primarily to the 2009-2013 period, when the idea of an Israeli assault on Iran’s nuclear facilities was under discussion, Etzion said he was very concerned.

“I dealt with that subject a great deal both in the National Security Council and when I was in the Foreign Ministry,” he said.

“There are things I can’t talk about, but if my wife were sitting here, she would tell you how many sleepless nights I had. And not because I was in the office working. Simply from deep concern.”

Iran nuclear deal ‘not bad’

Elsewhere in his remarks, he stressed that the nuclear deal signed between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries in 2015 was “not bad”, adopting a stance which is contrary to that of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“The agreement, in my view, as is the view of the overwhelming majority of experts on the subject, is not bad. Netanyahu labeled it a bad agreement and launched a war around the headline, ‘Better no agreement than a bad agreement.’ But the good agreement, in which Iran abandons its entire nuclear capability and closes all its nuclear studies faculties, etc., just doesn’t exist.”

In May, US President Donald Trump announced Washington’s pullout from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and vowed to reinstate nuclear sanctions on Iran. Netanyahu hailed Trump’s decision, calling the accord a “recipe for disaster.”

Under the deal, which entered into force in January 2016, Iran agreed to limit some aspects of its peaceful nuclear program in exchange for the removal of all nuclear-related sanctions.


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Michel Chossudovsky

The “globalization of war” is a hegemonic project. Major military and covert intelligence operations are being undertaken simultaneously in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Far East. The U.S. military agenda combines both major theater operations as well as covert actions geared towards destabilizing sovereign states.

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Year: 2015
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A Neoconservative Plan for Punishing Iran

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No understanding in the White House of what might come next

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President Donald Trump makes a point of insisting that he has nothing against the Iranian people and is only interested in opposing what he regards as the dangerous activities of their government, but his own record in office belies that claim. It is clear that what he is trying to do is put pressure on the people of Iran to rise up and force a change in government, a process otherwise referred to as regime change. Indeed, if one is to believe Trump confidant Rudy Giuliani, the White House is now committed to “bring down the Iranian regime.” He added that

“The collapse of the Islamic Republic of Iran is around the corner.”

Giuliani was addressing a Paris meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran at the end of June, the political front group for the terrorist Mujahideen-e-Khalq, for which he has been a frequent paid speaker. This dream of an abrupt transition in government is a fantasy project that is widely held within neoconservative and pro-Israel circles in Washington, to include Giuliani, and it very often is invoked as part of what is sometimes referred to as the “Obama betrayal,” which posits that if President Barack Obama had actively supported so-called “green” reformers in the Iranian election of 2013, they might have actually won. That supposition greatly inflates the actual support for the reformers at that time and also currently, confusing a largely civil rights movement with a unified political party.

Obama then went on to sign the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement with Iran, which has been a target of joint Israeli and neocon wrath ever since. Trump, of course, has risen to the bait and has withdrawn the United States from the deal, also reintroducing both general and targeted sanctions as well as seeking to ban the sale of Iranian oil worldwide.

Unfortunately, as is so often the case, Trump and his advisers, certainly to include National Security Adviser John BoltonSecretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Senior Adviser for Policy Stephen Miller, are engaging in the wrong tactics to bring about any what might reasonably be regarded positive changes to moderate the grip of Iran’s Supreme Religious Council and are instead hardening domestic popular support for the government through the threats and sanctions which ultimately accomplish little more than punishing the Iranian people.

Oddly, the White House seems unaware of the fact that Iran is neither Libya nor Iraq. It has a strong and historic national identity that means that it does and will resist being bullied by outside powers, including the “leader of the free world” United States. The neocon and pro-Israel script that has evidently taken control of Trump pushes all the wrong buttons as it basically employs an increasing number and severity of sanctions to seek to wreck the economy and create discord in Iran that will eventually bring people out into the streets in large numbers. That means in practice using not only sanctions that selectively targeting “bad guys” like the Revolutionary Guards but also benign institutions that exist to maintain social stability inside the country.

Reports from inside Iran suggest that the renewed and additional sanctions are already hurting the Iranian people while at the same time having little impact on the government commitment to remain in Syria, which is the principal bone of contention at the moment vis-à-vis the joint U.S./Israeli/Saudi grossly exaggerated and self-serving assessment of what Iran may or may not be doing to destabilize the Middle East.

Two organizations which have recently come under sustained attack by the neocons and their allies are the “Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order” (EIKO) and its associated Barakat Foundation. The EIKO’s principal mission is to help poor families in Iran and to perform other charitable works, but it has been assailed as a major economic resource controlled by the Supreme Religious Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s office, which misrepresents how the foundation is organized and functions.

Leading the charge against EIKO, inevitably, has been renowned neocon Canadian import and Iranophobe Mark Dubowitz, Chief Executive of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), who has described how the Iranian leadership controls a vast business empire which must be targeted with U.S. sanctions to punish the government and strip it of the resources available to make mischief.

This campaign, spearheaded by Dubowitz and his associate Saeed Ghasseminejad, has been going on since Trump was elected, with the folks at FDD confident they had a friend in the White House.

Other outlets in the pro-neocon-inclined and friendly to Israel media have also picked up on the theme that Iran must be the target of what amounts to economic warfare. The National Interest recently ran an article advocating the imposition of oil sanctions on Iran in general while also targeting EIKO in particular in order to “change Iran’s behavior,” which is presumed by the authors to be very bad though without any real explanation of why that is so.

And the U.S. Congress is also in on the act. As is nearly always the case, the U.S. House of Representative’s Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s subcommittee on National Security sought expert testimony on how to punish Iran but only looked for speakers who were inclined to take a hard line. They received that kind of enlightenment from the FDD’s own Richard Goldberg, who is hardly a disinterested observer on the subject.

Goldberg begins by making his case for bipartisan ire directed against Tehran, gushing about how “[he] had the privilege to work with many talented people – Democrats and Republicans – who shared a passion for keeping America and our allies safe from the long list of threats posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Together, we put forward numerous bipartisan bills to increase the pressure on Iran. …It is my sincere hope that we can find a way to resuscitate the bipartisan spirit that once infused this important national security issue.”

Goldberg, who is a bit vague on exactly what kind of “long list of threats” Iran represents, was senior foreign policy adviser to Israel-firster hawk former Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois. He celebrates in his FDD bio how “[he] was instrumental in the deployment of a U.S. missile defense radar to the Negev Desert – the first-ever full-time deployment of U.S. forces in Israel. In the Senate, Rich emerged as a leading architect of the toughest sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic of Iran. He was the lead Republican negotiator for three rounds of sanctions targeting the Central Bank of Iran, the SWIFT financial messaging service and entire sectors of the Iranian economy.”

There has been some pushback against the war-by-sanctions approach currently being advanced by the Trump Administration. Robert Fontina of Counterpunch has rejected the depiction of EIKO as anything but a charitable foundation. The truth is that EIKO engages in major social projects, including rural poverty alleviation, empowering women, home and school building, and provision of healthcare. American sanctions against it and similar entities hit ordinary Iranians’ lives by producing food insecurity while also restricting the supplies of needed medications. Ahmad Noroozi of the Barakat Foundation claims that numerous Iranians have already been affected by U.S.-initiated sanctions directed against his country, restricting access to cancer treatments and other pharmaceuticals. And it is all aimed at fomenting social unrest and ultimately regime change.

Iranian writer Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, no friend of the Iranian government, has declared that American sanctions directed against the Iranian economy and people are little more than “sanctioned terrorism.” Her assessment is undeniably correct.

It is indeed disturbing that the abandonment of the rule of law by the Trump Administration and its allies in the media has meant that Washington is resorting more and more to sanctions as an extreme form of punishment in order to enforce its geopolitical demands. Countries that oppose Washington’s policies are now routinely subjected to financial and trade penalties. Cuba, North Korea, and Iran have recently been joined by Russia and Syria as targets of the U.S. Treasury Department. Even America’s European allies and friends are being threatened if they seek to buy Iranian oil or cooperate with Russian energy initiatives.

The sad fact is that the pretense of U.S. global leadership now consists of a basket of new “rules” that are both arbitrary and basically illegal supported by pretexts that are essentially fabricated. Consider the frequent fallacious designation of Iran as “the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism” and the repeated false assertions from U.S. and Israeli government sources that Tehran is secretly building a nuclear bomb. Trump has become effectively the mouthpiece of Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu, with the latter calling the shots. Shortly after Trump had announced American withdrawal from JCPOA, Israel mounted a series of deadly air strikes against Syria, specifically targeting Iranian military personnel present by invitation in the country to fight ISIS and other terrorist groups. It was an incident that could have rapidly escalated into a broader war, which was clearly the Israeli intention.

There are deadly consequences to following the Israeli and Saudi lead into a possible major war with Iran. If sanctions produce desperation inside Iran, an apparent breakdown in order could easily invite a hypocritical U.S. and Israeli “humanitarian” intervention, possibly escalating into an international conflict, something that the White House appears to not understand. As is often the case, the Trump Administration has not developed sufficient maturity to appreciate that if one pushes hard against a certain country or group of countries there will be an equally strong reaction, and the results might not be pretty. Punishing the Iranian people without any real understanding of what might emerge in pursuit of nebulous political objectives just might not be a good idea.

Posted in IranComments Off on A Neoconservative Plan for Punishing Iran

Ayatollah Khamenei slams West’s ‘shameless’ human rights posture

NOVANEWS
Image result for Ayatollah Khamenei CARTOON
Press TV 

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has strongly denounced the Western states for their pretense of advocating human rights while in reality supporting terrorist groups and acts of terror.

Addressing the staff of Iran’s Judiciary at a meeting in Tehran on Wednesday, Ayatollah Khamenei made reference to human rights violations committed by the United States in various parts of the world as well as France and Britain’s crimes of the past decades which took place in Africa and the Indian subcontinent.

The Leader added that the West’s support over the past years for the Daesh terror group in Syria and the atrocities being committed in Myanmar and elsewhere “is indicative of the repeated lies of the shameless fake human rights advocates.”

Ayatollah Khamenei said when it comes to the issue of human rights, it is actually the Islamic Republic that stands in the position of the true advocate of human rights as opposed to “the criminal Western pretenders.”

The Leader expressed satisfaction with the Judiciary’s work in restoring the Iranian nations’ rights in the face of bullying powers.

Separately, Ayatollah Khamenei advised the judicial officials to work closely with the government towards resolving the country’s economic problems.

‘Systemic corruption a lie’

The Leader criticized certain people who seek to create the impression among the public that there is “systemic corruption” within Iranian state institutions.

Corruption does exist in a number of governmental and commercial enterprises, “but the existence of systemic corruption is not true,” the Leader said. “This wrong impression should not be allowed to affect the public opinion.”

Ayatollah Khamenei further stated that foreign enemies and certain oblivious elements at home have made the Judiciary the target of the most severe propaganda and media pressure.

In order to effectively confront this massive propaganda campaign, the Leader suggested, the judicial system needs to develop a strong and skillful media arm.

Posted in USA, IranComments Off on Ayatollah Khamenei slams West’s ‘shameless’ human rights posture

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