December 16, 2017

Iran Watch – January 18, 2008

[spoiler title=”OP-ED: Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen”] Middle East Times
January 17, 2008
West should tackle Iran’s ruthless rulers:

Throughout recent years the Iranian regime and its activities in relation to terrorism and nuclear weapons have caused frenzy across not only the political world, but also the media. However, the evil nature of this regime should not be anything new. Anyone who has looked into the actions of this regime from the 1979 Revolution to this current day will know that this regime is evil from head to toe, having run a 28-year campaign of violence, murder and destruction against Iran’s people.

In fact, human rights violations inside Iran have reached a horrifically shocking level. Within the last two weeks alone we have seen three people hanged on Jan. 10 with five further individuals having hands and legs amputated on Jan. 7. These crimes occur alongside stoning to death, public lashings, the gouging out of eyes and over 170 other forms of torture that this regime commits in its notorious prisons. These are the truths that lie behind Iran’s borders and it is critical that such victims are not forgotten. Not only must they not be forgotten, in fact they must be looked to as the solution, because it has always been those demanding democracy and freedom in Iran that are the first to end up hanging from cranes in Iran’s city centers.

Amnesty International recently spoke out against stoning to death in Iran. In their statement they also addressed the issue of women’s rights. As an individual who has dedicated a great deal of my time to publicize equal rights in the U.K., I cannot place enough emphasis on how significant such support for women’s rights in Iran truly is.

Another major issue that needs much greater publicizing is the horrendous number of street children in Iran. In such an oil rich state, it is truly shocking that so many children in Iran live in the gutters of Iran’s cities, without the food or shelter needed to even live the most basic of lives. This in conjunction with Iran still executing individuals under the age of 18 leaves the children of Iran living a hard- hitting and dangerous life

These human rights abuses and the nature and shape of this regime today can be traced back to Ayatollah Khomeini. Khomeini viewed human rights abuses as the tool to maintain his rule and that of his regime. However, Khomeini needed to sell such abuses as necessity to his mercenaries and for this he used the one tool he knew would succeed above all, religion. Through the creation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, recently designated a terrorist organization by the United States, he created a force not only to carry out such abuses at home, but to spread the Islamic fundamentalism created by himself to the wider Middle East, a fundamentalism which has no essence of the true Islam that is practiced by so many.

It is today that the IRGC can be seen to be spreading this ideology, an ideology which has one consequence, bloodshed. This bloodshed is now visible from the streets of Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine to those of Pakistan. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan was an all too vivid portrayal of what we now face to achieve peace in that region. In Iraq the Iranian regime’s funding and supplying of weaponry to Iraqi insurgents has caused the death of British and coalition troops as well those of hundreds of innocent Iraqis. These as well as Iran’s support for Hezbollah and Hamas are creating an atmosphere of Islamic fundamentalism, which coupled with Iran’s nuclear weapons program acts as the greatest threat to world peace as we know it.

To achieve success in this fight against Islamic fundamentalism, we must cut it at its source, Tehran. Islamic fundamentalism began with the creation of Ayatollah Khomeini’s regime and will end with its downfall. However, support for change in Iran does not mean support for any external intervention in the country. War simply is not an option that should be contemplated. However, nor is it acceptable for the current climate to continue. Supporters of further dialogue with Iran wish us to believe there are moderates in Iran willing to change. This is a wholly mistaken view of the entire basis of this regime.

It is however on this basis that the U.K. government has based its entire foreign policy toward Iran. It has been an ill advised policy of appeasement, which has allowed the regime to continue its human rights abuses, to continue its support for terrorism and to continue unabated in its attempt to acquire nuclear weapons. Furthermore, this policy was the root cause of the terror listing of Iran’s democratic opposition, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran in 2002.

Many British parliamentarians felt this terror tag to be absolutely unjust and a shameful act against an organization dedicated to bringing democracy to Iran. Fuelled by this injustice and the government’s steadfastness in appeasing Tehran, 35 MPs and peers, including myself took the British Parliament to court. On Nov. 30 of last year the Proscribed Organizations Appeals Commission ruled conclusively in our favor, indicating that the decision of the government was “perverse” and “flawed” while ordering it to remove the PMOI from its terrorism list. Furthermore, POAC went on to reject the government’s leave to appeal.

This victory occurs on the back of an unprecedented decision at the European Court of First Instance in December 2006. The CIF ruled the terror listing of the PMOI in the European Union as illegal and ordered it annulled. However, after more than a year the PMOI still remains on the EU list, an act which is in direct defiance of the CFI ruling. Dick Marty, a Swiss investigator working for the human rights body of the Council of Europe who conducted an investigation into the terror list, in reference to the PMOI case said, “it remains almost impossible, in practice, to be removed from the blacklist — a situation that is illegal and unacceptable.”

The PMOI must now be removed from both terror lists immediately. The PMOI offers a solution which can bring change to Iran, where a flourishing democracy will lead to the spread of democracy throughout the region and an end to Islamic fundamentalism. The PMOI a member group of the National Council of Resistance of Iran has 1,000 female members with women in control of the entire leadership council. In fact the NCRI, of which the PMOI is a member organization, is lead by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi. Rajavi acts as a ray of hope for the people of Iran and the people of the entire region. Through support for Rajavi and her third option advocating democratic change by Iranians for Iranians we can not only avert a further war in the region, but we can finally begin to lay the seeds of democracy for Iran and the wider region.

Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen is a Labour member of Britain’s House of Lords and a member of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom. [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Fundamentalist Octopus”] [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Targeting Ayatollahs Terror Machine”]
By every measure, last week was a horrendous week for the clerical regime in Tehran. Through a series of encounters and reports, the regime’s outlaw conduct at home, in Iraq and in the Persian Gulf, came under the intense international light again.

President Bush, condemning Tehran rulers of imposing repression and economic hardship at home and seeking “to intimidate its neighbors with ballistic missiles and bellicose rhetoric,” called on the Persian Gulf states to stand against Tehran “before it is too late,” during his visit of the United Arab Emirates.
Gen. David Petraeus told reporters on January 12 that attacks against American forces in Iraq using Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFP) supplied by Tehran had risen “by a factor of two or three” in January.
The most severe blow against the ayatollahs, however, came in the middle of the week on Wednesday when the U.S. Department of Treasury targeted the Qods Force, the heart of Tehran’s terrorism in Iraq and the region, with more sanctions. Qods Force is one of five forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC).

The Treasury, describing the Qods Force as “the regime’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists and Islamic militants,” under Executive Order 13438, slapped sanctions on its top commander, Brigadier General Ahmed Foruzandeh and two Qods Force top-notch Iraqi surrogates for “threatening the peace and stability of Iraq and the Government of Iraq.”

Coming on the heel of the last October designation of the entire Qods Force as supporter of terrorism and blacklisting of the IRGC as well as the Ministry of Defense and several state-run banks for proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the January 9 designation dealt another major blow to Tehran’s terror machine.
Brig. Gen. Foruzandeh is the deputy Commander of the Qods Force’s Ramezan Garrison in western Iran which is tasked with Iraqi affairs. As a veteran member of the IRGC, Foruzandeh is well versed in domestic suppression as well as masterminding terrorism beyond Iran borders particularly in Iraq.

Iran Hanging
Before 2003, for many years he commanded Fajr Garrison in the southwestern city of Ahwaz, which is subordinate to the Ramezan Garrison. Foruzandeh, known as “Abu Shahab” in Iraq, had the Badr Brigade, Sarollah Movement and Seyed ol-Shohada Movement under his command.

Applauded for planning and directing a series of terrorist operations carried out by the Badr Brigade against Iran’s main opposition, the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (MEK) in Iraq in 1990s, he was promoted to the Deputy Commander of Ramezan Garrison. Foruzandeh’s deputies are Brig. Gen. Obeidavi, Brig. Gen. Balalek, and Col. Heidar Saki.
In a news briefing in March of 2007 in New York, I revealed the central role Foruzandeh has played in the training of Iraqi extremist militias in Iran: “Foruzandeh, known as “Abu Shahab” in Iraq, has supervised terrorist operations against the Coalition Forces and the Iraqi personalities and is based in the main building of the Qods Force in Tehran (the former American Embassy).”

Based on the information obtained from my sources inside the Iranian regime associated with Iran’s main opposition, the MEK, I detailed the process by which the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), currently known as Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), was in direct contact with Foruzandeh to coordinate the dispatching of Iraqis selected for training in Iran under the guise of pilgrims.

Since 2003, with the exposure of Tehran’s sinister meddling in Iraq, many independent Iraqi political figures have been the target Foruzandeh’s hit squads. The Treasury in his report on Foruzandeh states that “In addition to providing financial and material support for attacks against Coalition Forces, Foruzandeh supplied a certain Shia militia group with a target for execution. On July 25, 2005, Foruzandeh held a meeting with representatives of Iraqi Hizballah and other Shia militia groups, calling upon them to continue liquidating all enemies of the Islamic revolution, including security and intelligence personnel, tribal chiefs, and religious clerics.”

Another vile individual blacklisted last week is Abu Mustafa Al-Sheibani whose “Iran-sponsored network was created to affect the Iraqi political process in Iran’s favor,” according to the Treasury Department. In a news briefing in January 2007 in Washington, DC, I exposed his network: “Abu-Mustafa Sheibani’s network — consists of approximately 300 special force personnel with the primary task of attacking US forces in Iraq by using IEDs or sharp-shooters.”
Abu-Mustafa Sheibani is a senior member of the Qods Force and is considered a Brigadier-General graduated from IRGC’s Imam Hossein University. Sheibani has family ties with Ali Yunesi (Iran’s former Intelligence Minister), IRGC Brigadier-General Ghassem Soleimani (Commander of Qods Force) and IRGC commander Reza Saifollahi.

The Treasury report has an equally damning description of Al-Shaybani’s network. It says that “As of March 2007, Al-Sheibani, known to transport Katyusha rockets to be used for attacks against Coalition Forces, launched rockets against Americans and made videos of the attacks to get money from Iran.” The report adds that “In an effort to cause instability in Iraq, Al-Sheibani and his network targeted Iraqi government officials. Al-Sheibani conducted attacks against the Iraqi Police Chief of Najaf, Iraq, and the Iraqi Deputy Governor in Najaf, Iraq.”
Early last week, with five speed boats of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp provocatively charging at three ships of the US Navy dropping sea mine look alike to bait the American forces, the whole world particularly the Persian Gulf states witnessed Tehran’s appetite for confrontation and belligerence.

Meanwhile inside Iran, “Spate of Executions and Amputations” did not deter residents of Qaemshahr in the Caspian Sea province of Mazandaran who last week rioted to protest fuel shortages and set fire to government offices. Iran, sitting on the world’s second largest gas reserves, is going through an unprecedented cold winter and a large portion of the country has been blanketed with snow in recent days. Some rioters ridiculed ayatollahs’ president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying “instead of fighting the whole world you should resolve our basic requirements.”
Describing the clerical regime as “the world’s leading state sponsor of terror,” President Bush made the observation that Tehran “sends hundreds of millions of dollars to extremists around the world, while its own people face repression and economic hardship at home.” To the Iranian people he said, “The day will come when the people of Iran have a government that embraces liberty and justice, and Iran joins the community of free nations.”

That day will come a lot sooner if Tehran’s capacity for suppression at home and terrorism abroad is stifled through punitive economic, political, and diplomatic measures by the international community. It also requires the United States, Members of Congress argue, to empower Iran’s democracy movement by removing unwarranted restrictions against Iran’s main opposition.

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[spoiler title=”US-Iran Tensions Heightened”]

Roger Gale – UK Member of Parliament – 1/17/2008

The war of words and actions between the Iranian regime and the US administration has been at the forefront of all Middle Eastern affairs since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. However, one incident in the last week brought this to our sharp attention. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in the Straight of Hormuz were seen to have threatened a US naval fleet with what can only be described as extremely provocative actions. This most recent event occurs less than a year after 15 British sailors were detained in international waters by Iranian officials, taken to Iran and paraded on TV.

Ever since President Ahmedinejad came to power in 2005, analysts have poured over the issue of how much if any of the actions of the IRGC are commanded from the top of Iranian politics. The evidence throughout Ahmedinejad’s reign has been clear. Not only do the IRGC now command an enormous percentage of the Iranian economy, but they also control political matters at the highest level. President Ahmedinejad himself is a well known former commander of the IRGC and he has taken it upon himself to ensure that his Cabinet is filled with Revolutionary Guards from the top down. The appointment of Saeid Jalili to the post of Chief Nuclear Negotiator for Iran was the latest in a long line of appointments, which have given the IRGC command of Iranian matters from the internal to the external.

The IRGC was the creature of Ayatollah Khomeini, created for one task and one task only, to defend the regime from any change. This crucial role of the IRGC has not been lost by Khomeini’s successor Ayatollah Khamenei and he has been seen to use the IRGC on all fronts. Internally, the IRGC has been the tool in the brutal crackdown on women and students in Iran and the considerable increase in public executions in Iran. Externally, the IRGC and its international command unit, the Qods Force has been used to spread fundamentalism throughout the Middle East. In Iraq, the Qods has used its extensive support from the Iranian government to fund and supply the insurgents with the weaponry used to cause bloodshed in Iraq. However, its role does not lie simply in Iraq, it was seen as the great instigator of the recent war been Hezbollah and Israel and has had extensive influence in creating a fundamentalist ideology throughout the Middle East, which most recently lead to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan.

President Bush has taken his trip to the Middle East as an opportunity to indicate to the world that Iran was a threat and most definitely still remains a threat and will continue to be seen as one by the US administration. Some analysts have termed this as provocative and warmongering. However, from the evidence that we have all seen, I think that is without doubt that the Iranian regime is not only a threat to its own people, but it is a threat to the stability in the Middle East and the entire world.

Therefore, as politicians it is critical that we do not simply address the Iranian regime as a threat and offer no solution. Politicians and analysts look at this in two different ways. There is a group who have a belief that this regime is one that can be talked to and convinced by dialogue to change its ways and become a country which will play a positive role in the international community. This group now takes a stance that the US administration must offer unconditional dialogue to Iran. Not only does this option contain the bizarre belief that this regime wants to change, it also seems to take an extremely selective view of what has been occurring throughout the past 10 years.

The Iranian regime has been offered immense incentives by the US and EU and merely, to get the Iranians to abide by what they should already be doing under international law. This idea seems simply ludicrous. The Iranian regime was offered its first major incentive in 1997 by President Clinton. His administration in what has been termed by his own advisers as a ‘goodwill gesture’ to President Khatami, listed the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK/PMOI) as a terrorist organisation. This was followed by the same incentive being provided by Jack Straw in the UK in 2001 and the EU in 2002 under pressure to do so by Jack Straw . On the back of all of this has been the immense economic deals offered by the EU-3 in their nuclear negotiations with the Iranian regime. In light of all such incentives that have come and just as quickly been rejected by the Iranian regime, are we expected to view unconditional talks as the solution? I think not.

Appeasement of the Iranian regime is not the solution, it is the cause. This policy of appeasement is what has emboldened the regime to such an extent that it feels that it can hold the world to ransom over its nuclear weapons programme, it can assist in the murder of British and coalition troops in Iraq, it can cause destruction across the Middle East and at home and still the international community will stand weak in its path, asking politely if the regime will please change its ways.

The latest evidence of this policy lies with the UK Government’s reaction to the case of the PMOI which was heard before the Proscribed Organisations Appeals Commission (POAC). 35 MPs and Peers took the British Government to court over the labelling of the PMOI as a terrorist organisation and its refusal to remove the PMOI from its blacklist. They were successful, with the Court finding the Secretary of State’s decision ‘perverse’ and ‘flawed’, while ordering the Secretary of State to lay an order before Parliament removing the PMOI from the list.

The Government’s answer has been to appeal and attempt to prolong this policy of restraining the democratic Iranian opposition in order to please the world’s most dangerous regime. This is not only unjustified, it is simply bad politics. The solution to this crisis lies with the Iranian opposition and Maryam Rajavi the President-elect of the NCRI. They have the support both inside and outside Iran and the necessary ability to bring about that democratic change. Let us hope the British Government realises its errors and seizes the moment. The Iranian opposition and the Iranian people are the opportunity to solve this crisis. Restrain them and a further war in the region may loom on the horizon.

Roger Gale is a British MP. He’s the former Vice Chairman of Conservative party.

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[spoiler title=”Iran: Student activist dies in police custody”] Tehran, 17 Jan. (AKI) – A Kurdish student has died in custody at the Iranian intelligence ministry’s detention centre in Sanandaj where he was taken after his arrest ten days ago.

Ebrahim Lotfollahi was a well known activist from Payam Nour University in Sanandaj, capital of the Iranian province of Kurdistan.

The parents of Ebrahim who saw him for the last time after his arrest on Wednesday last week told the media that “the boy showed evident signs of torture and abuse”.

As soon as news spread about his death, dozens of students gathered at his university campus.

The students blame Ebrahim’s death on Mehdi Molavali, from the office of the intelligence ministry, who reportedly conducts interrogations of political detainees and is said to use violence to obtain confessions. [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Six power talks to show unity on Iran — Germany”] THURSDAY, 17 JANUARY 2008
VIENNA, Jan 17 (Reuters) – German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Thursday a meeting of six big powers next Tuesday aimed to show international determination not to allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons technology.

Steinmeier was speaking to reporters before talks with International Atomic Energy Agency Director Mohamed ElBaradei.

“There are open questions which Iran urgently needs to resolve to reestablish lost trust. It remains the case that the international community cannot and will not permit nuclear weapons technology to be developed in this region,” Steinmeier said.

“We will be meeting in Berlin in a few days time with the respective Security Council members to debate how we can express demonstrable unity on these questions in the future.”

The West fears Tehran is secretly seeking an atom bomb. Iran says its nuclear programme is only for power generation and a recent U.S. intelligence estimate said Tehran had stopped an active nuclear arms drive in 2003, compounding disagreement within the six powers over next steps on Iran.

Steinmeier said he and ElBaradei were discussing possible solutions to the stand-off with Iran and emphasised that the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies were important and needed to be taken into account.

“Recently we have seen new estimates on the status of research and development work (in Iran),” he said. “In this connection it is of course important what the (U.S. National Intelligence Estimate) has expressed.”

After their talks that lasted about an hour, neither Steinmeier nor ElBaradei made any further statement.

Germany said on Wednesday it wanted a new U.N. resolution increasing sanctions against Iran. Steinmeier and his counterparts from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council were expected to join the Berlin talks.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog chief had talks in Tehran last week to seek swifter cooperation with a long IAEA inquiry into Iran’s nuclear history and an end to curbs on U.N. inspections meant to ensure its present programme is wholly peaceful.

ElBaradei came back with an agreement from Tehran to answer outstanding questions within a month about past, covert nuclear work that had military applications. (Reporting by Mark Heinrich, writing by Karin Strohecker; Editing by Charles Dick)

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