October 19, 2017

Iran Watch – September 14, 2007

[spoiler title=”What General Petraeus Should Tell America”] By Alireza Jafarzadeh
Fox.com
Today, Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, joined by U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, will appear before Congress to give his much anticipated assessment of the military/security situation in Iraq and the troop surge strategy.

Gen. Petraeus ought to tell the people of America that:

The political and security situation in Iraq is very bleak but not hopeless. The surge strategy has had some positive results in many areas. But it must be augmented with a comprehensive and courageous new approach.

President George W. Bush has appropriately framed the conflict in Iraq as a fight between “the forces of freedom” and “the forces of extremism.” He has said that “the future course of the Middle East will turn heavily on the outcome of the fight in Iraq. And the two dangerous strains of extremism vying for control of the Middle East have now closed in on this country.” Absolutely spot on.

The core problem in Iraq is neither a civil nor a sectarian war. The main strategic threat to Iraq is neither Al Qaeda nor the Sunni insurgents. True, they are both responsible for a significant portion of violence in Iraq, but they both lack strategic assets to take over Iraq politically and militarily.

Iraq’s No. 1 problem is, in fact, Iran’s widespread and deadly presence in Iraq. Iran is undoubtedly the main instigator of violence, instability and derailing the political process in that country. Unlike Al Qaeda, Iran is a strategic threat for a sovereign, unified and Democratic Iraq. It is a regime with vast resources dedicated to the sponsorship of terrorism and export of fundamentalism, a 900-mile porous common border, and huge political and intelligence assets both within and outside the Iraqi government. Tehran is spending nearly $70,000,000 per month arming, training and funding Iraqi Shiite and Sunni militias.

Tehran’s arms, however, have not reached into the heart and minds of the Iraqis. As the joy and pride that Iraqis felt and displayed for their national soccer team’s Asian championship made amply clear, national Iraqi pride transcended all sectarian lines. Indeed, in areas of Iraqi society not infested by Iran’s radical fundamentalist agenda and proxies, the prospect of a nation in which Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds live peacefully together shines through.

Four years ago, when Operation Iraqi Freedom flung open the door to Iraq, Iran’s ayatollahs leapt at the chance to fulfill their long-held goal of remaking Iraq in their own image.

Unfortunately, U.S. policy since 2003 has unintentionally yet effectively supported the Iranian regime. With its incorrect and somewhat naïve assessment of the central threat to Iraq and grave underestimation of the width and depth of the ayatollahs’ campaign in Iraq, the U.S. rolled out a red carpet to the Iranian regime’s proxies at the start of the war.

Four years on, Iran’s leaders have exploited all aspects of Iraq’s political and security landscape. Currently, Iran has as many as 32,000 Iraqis on its payroll, including senior officials in the Iraqi police force, ministries, National Assembly and other institutions. More ominously, rather than fulfilling his duty to disband and disarm the militias, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is also enhancing Iran’s position by keeping his loyalty to Tehran and empowering the Iran-backed militias.

It may seem that under the present circumstances there is no hope for an improvement of the situation in Iraq. Some suggest bringing in the Iranian regime as part of the solution. But the Iranian regime is the main problem, not a part of the solution in Iraq.

Some others say it is too late; that Iraq is lost to extremists and the sectarian religious war backed by Tehran. This defeatist attitude must be repelled. It only emboldens Tehran and its Shiite and Sunni proxies. The international community can still reverse the tide and win in Iraq. But it must act quickly and decisively.

It must start by stepping up the arrest of the regime’s agents in Iraq; cutting off smuggling routes for weapons, explosives and agents; disarming the Shiite militias including the Badr Corp and the Mahdi Army; and purging the Iraqi government of Tehran’s proxies – essentially dismantling Iran’s network in Iraq.

This must be coupled with empowering the moderate Iraqi voices in order to form a national unity government. These patriotic Iraqis are working to build an alternative coalition that includes the Sunnis, Shiites and ethnic Kurds. This campaign must be supported and placed at the center of Washington’s political efforts in Iraq. Nuri al-Maliki and his government, dominated by pro-Tehran politicians, are now viewed as a liability for a unified, non-sectarian and democratic Iraq.

Moreover, many moderate Iraqi politicians, including some key members of the Iraqi Parliament, believe that Iran’s main opposition group, the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), based in Ashraf City, Iraq, has been the catalyst for building stability in Iraq and supporting moderate Shiites and Sunnis. In addition, 5.2 million Iraqis signed a document warning of the threat of Iranian meddling in Iraq and recognizing the MEK as a balancing factor to keep Iraq clear of Iran’s domination. A large bipartisan group of members of the United States Congress believe that Washington must open a dialogue with the MEK as a strategic partner in the fight against Islamic fundamentalism and a bulwark against the Iranian regime’s influence in Iraq. According to the U.S. military, since 2003, the MEK has unveiled a major part of Iran’s terrorist conspiracies in Iraq and as such has saved the lives of countless Iraqis and Americans.

The strength and resilience of the Iraqi people prove that the future Iraq does not have to be a sister Islamic Republic of Iran. If Iran is stopped from supporting the sectarian violence and interfering in Iraq’s political and social sectors, the Iraqi people will have a chance to form a peaceful, pluralistic and democratic society. Tehran is carefully listening to what Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker have to report to Congress today. There is a unique chance for them to send Tehran an unmistakably clear and decisive message that the surge strategy will be followed by dismantling Tehran’s network in Iraq, thus allowing the moderate Iraqi voices to be empowered. This roadmap will go a long way to secure the support of the U.S. Congress.

Alireza Jafarzadeh is a FOX News Channel Foreign Affairs Analyst and the author of “The Iran Threat: President Ahmadinejad and the Coming Nuclear Crisis” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).

Jafarzadeh has revealed Iran’s terrorist network in Iraq and its terror training camps since 2003. He first disclosed the existence of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility and the Arak heavy water facility in August 2002.

Prior to becoming a contributor for FOX, and until August 2003, Jafarzadeh acted for a dozen years as the chief congressional liaison and media spokesman for the U.S. representative office of Iran’s parliament in exile, the National Council of Resistance of Iran. [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Of Gallows and Heroes in Iran”] Commentary by U.S. Alliance for Democratic Iran

USADI – Gallows are being erected all over Iran. Construction cranes are used to build and develop everywhere else. In Iran of ayatollahs, however, they are used to destroy, to take life. Yes, in Iran, construction cranes are the main instrumnet of mullahs’ industry of death and used for public executions.

This week, Iran’s clerical regime, which has perfected the skill of staging barbaric spectacles of public executions, could not restrain itself form another display of savagery even while Mrs. Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was visiting Iran this week.

Her visit and subsequent speech at the ayatollahs- sponsored ministerial meeting of Non-Aligned Movement on human rights, in midst of appalling rise in the number of execution and public hangings was a slap in the face Iranians aspiring fro democracy and human rights. As expected, the visit was hugely exploited by the ayatollahs as sign of UN satisfaction with their human rights practices.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International, noting that at least 210 people including two child offenders have been executed in Iran since the start of 2007, issued a statement saying that it was “appalled at the reports of the execution of 21 people in Iran”, earlier in the week.

Only in Iran of ayatollahs 21 individuals are executed, many in public, while a conference on human rights is held in the capital. And only in Iran of ayatollahs the foreign minister has the despicable audacity to propose “that the Regional Bureau for Human Rights in Southwest Asia be stationed in Tehran” while a few blocks away, Iranians are getting lashed and arrested for mal-veiling

To be sure, Ayatollahs and the former assassin- turned-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are not oblivious to audacity or timing of their actions, but they are desperate. With economy in shambles and Iran’s growing isolation as a result of the leadership’s heightened belligerence, the anti-government protests are on the rise. Without gallows and public hangings, amputation of limbs, gouging eyes and humiliating lashing of disenchanted youth, without kidnapping and torture of dissidents, the tyrant mullahs would not be able to keep their house of cards. Without a reign of terror, they would not be able to quell the rising opposition to their nuclear program and financing of terrorism in Iraq while more than half of Iran’s population lives in poverty. [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Bolton Wants Iran Regime Change”] September 12, 2007
U.S. News and World Report

John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, says in an interview with U.S. News that despite the Bush administration’s continued attachment to a diplomatic solution on nuclear programs in Iran, he favors seeking a change of regimes there.

“My preference is regime change,” says Bolton, who is now affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. “The regime is more fragile and has less support than people think.”

Bolton called military strikes on Iran’s nuclear sites “the last resort” and “deeply unattractive,” but he nonetheless said that the Bush administration or a future administration may have to confront that choice to prevent Iran from fielding a nuclear arsenal. On regime change, he cited the dissatisfaction with Iran’s ruling mullahs among many youth and restiveness in some of the areas populated by ethnic minorities. But he says that even clandestine U.S. support for regime change “may take longer than we have” on the nuclear issue.

Iran is mastering uranium enrichment techniques despite facing technical problems, he adds, and the U.N. Security Council is not likely to direct decisive sanctions against Iran. Consequently, within the Bush administration, he says, “there is frustration, and that’s an understatement.”

-Thomas Omestad [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”U.S. Starts a Push for Tighter Sanctions on Iran”] By Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 13, 2007
The Bush administration has begun mobilizing support for a third U.N. resolution that would impose tougher sanctions against Iran, as the top U.S. military and diplomatic officials in Baghdad said yesterday that one of the biggest and still unfolding surprises in Iraq has been the depth of Iran’s intervention.

Iran is increasingly the backdrop in discussions about the future of Iraq, evident in congressional testimony this week by Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker and in warnings from senior administration officials. In his speech to the nation tonight, President Bush is also expected to cite Iran’s role in the region as justification for continued U.S. efforts to stabilize Iraq.

In an interview yesterday with Washington Post editors and reporters, Crocker said Tehran now has a “fairly aggressive strategy” on the ground in Iraq. Its stepped-up support of extremist militias contributed to the near unraveling of Iraq last year, he said. Tehran is now trying to create a force like Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite force in Lebanon, to advance its long-term interests in Iraq, Crocker added.

In his new dialogue with his Iranian counterpart in Baghdad, Crocker said his main message was: “We know what you’re doing in Iraq. It needs to stop.” Continuing U.S. investigations into the scope of Iran’s supplying of weapons and the training of extremists were boosted by the capture this year of two Shiite militant leaders and a top Hezbollah official, who all confessed to ties with Iran, Crocker said.

In a briefing at the National Press Club, Petraeus said arms supplies from Iran, including 240mm rockets and explosively formed projectiles, “contributed to a sophistication of attacks that would by no means be possible without Iranian support. . . . The evidence is very, very clear.” The evidence included items from the wallet of one of the five U.S. soldiers killed in an attack by Iranian allies in January in Karbala. The wallet items had been digitized on a computer belonging to one of the captured men, Petraeus said.

“Iran is a very troublesome neighbor, and I would note that President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad said that if the United States leaves Iraq, Iran is prepared to fill the vacuum,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on NBC’s “Today” show yesterday. “That is what is at stake here.”

In part because of Iran’s role in Iraq, Washington is preparing to sanction Iran’s Quds Force, an elite unit of the Revolutionary Guards in charge of Iran’s covert operations abroad, U.S. officials said. The Quds Force “seeks to turn these Shia militia extremists into a Hezbollah-like force to serve its interests and fight a proxy war against the Iraqi state and coalition forces in Iraq,” Petraeus said in congressional testimony.

In a further reflection of the tensions between the two countries, the United States will host top officials from Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany on Sept. 21 for talks on punitive measures in a new U.N. resolution following Tehran’s failure to suspend uranium enrichment. The fuel cycle can be used to produce both peaceful energy and the world’s deadliest weapon.

So far, however, the United States has met resistance from China, Russia and Germany to sweeping new measures against Iran, said diplomats familiar with the debate. A meeting in Berlin of Iran experts from the six governments last week was described by Western envoys as “chilly” and “a disaster” because Germany balked. As a result, they now expect any new U.N. resolution to be only slightly tougher than the ones passed in December and March.

Iran dismissed the U.S. allegations yesterday. Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said in a written statement that the Petraeus-Crocker reports “will not save America from Iraq’s swamp.” Ali Larijani, Iran’s national security adviser, said during a news conference, “We think that it is in the interest of Iraq and America that they leave Iraq.”

In an interview, a senior Iranian diplomat said the United States “is scapegoating its failure by blaming the Iranian side.” He said the Bush administration should instead be answering questions about its support for the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan, whose leader, Rahman Haji-Ahmadi, was in Washington last month.

The Iranian separatist faction — popularly known as PJAK — is based in northern Iraq and has reportedly attacked Iranian targets. It also allegedly has links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has attacked Turkish government targets and is considered a terrorist group by the United States.

View Source Here [/spoiler]