Did The American Press Cover This?

The U.K. Daily Mail posted a video today of Iranian students refusing to walk of American and Israeli flags. Please follow the link to view the video. It is an amazing step forward for protesters in Iran. There have been a lot of protests in Iran lately–some sponsored and paid for by the government and some protesting that government. The thing to remember about Iran is the population demographic. Because of the tremendous loss of life during the war with Iraq from 1980 to 1988, there is a generation of Iranians that is essentially missing. The median age of the Iranian population is 30.1 years, and generally speaking these young people want to westernize the country. The government represents a generation that is dying and desperately trying to hold on to its power.

The article at The U.K. Daily Mail reports:

This is the incredible moment hundreds of Iranian students refuse to step on the American and Israeli flags amid anti-government marches in the country and a warning to its leaders from Donald Trump to ‘not kill protesters’. 

The clip taken at Shaheed Beheshti University on Sunday shows crowds deliberately avoiding walking over the Stars and Stripes and the Star of David before furiously berating those that do. 

Ali Khamenei’s regime is said to have painted the flags at the main entrance of the university for students to walk over as a sign of disrespect. 

In 2016, Iranian professor Sadegh Zibakalam, who has avoided walking on the flags in the past, said: ‘It is a sign of disrespect toward that nation. Placing the flag of a country on the ground and stepping on it is an error, a sign of disrespect toward that nation.’

Thousands had on Saturday gathered in front of the gate of the Amirkabir University of Technology near the former US embassy in Tehran to protest the government and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for mistakenly downing a civilian passenger plane.  

President Trump issued a stark warning to the leaders of Iran Sunday, tweeting: ‘To the leaders of Iran – DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS. Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the World is watching. 

‘More importantly, the USA is watching. Turn your internet back on and let reporters roam free! Stop the killing of your great Iranian people!’

Stay tuned. America is once again standing up for freedom. We can’t and shouldn’t ‘nation build,’ but we can certainly encourage other people to work for freedom in their own countries.

Sometimes I Just Have No Words

We need to keep in mind that Qasem Soleimani was a terrorists. He was responsible for the killing and injuring of hundreds of American soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He was responsible for killing hundreds of Iranian civilians who were protesting the current regime. He was the coordinator of various terrorist organizations throughout the Middle East and in other parts of the world. He was not simply a high-ranking government official in Iran–he was a cold-blooded murderer.

Below is some of the insanity of the American media in dealing with the death of Soleimani (posted on YouTube January 10th):

 

A Serious Mistake

U.S. officials are stating that they are confident that the Iranian airline that crashed in Tehran, Iran, on Tuesday night was hit by an Iranian missile.

Scott Johnson posted the following at Power Line Blog today:

Taking into account the Iranian regime’s obvious lying about the cause of the downing of the Ukrainian jetliner leaving Tehran this past Tuesday combined with the regime’s subsequent refusal to turn over the aircraft’s black boxes, and a reasonable person — say, the American Spectator’s Scott McKay — would infer that the regime shot it down one way or another.

Now comes word that “U.S. officials said Thursday it was ‘highly likely’ that an Iranian anti-aircraft missile downed a Ukrainian jetliner late Tuesday, killing all 176 people on board….The crash came just a few hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack against Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops amid a confrontation with Washington over the U.S. drone strike that killed an Iranian Revolutionary Guard general last week. Two U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence, said they had no certain knowledge of Iranian intent. But they said the airliner could have been mistaken for a threat.”

The Gateway Pundit reported the following today:

Al Hadath Dubai News reported a missile took down the Ukrainian flight after the crash on Wednesday.

(Tweets were translated)

Al Hadath: Preliminary images of the Ukrainian plane suspected of being hit by an Iranian missile

The majority of the passengers on the plane were Canadians and Iranians. It will be interesting to see if Canada responds to this at all.

Follow The Money And The Speaking Engagements

On Friday, The Gateway Pundit posted an article with the following headline, “Dem Senator Chris Murphy – Who Lashed Out at Trump Following Soleimani’s Death – Is Frequent Speaker at NIAC Council – the Iranian Regime’s US Lobby House.”

The article reports:

On Thursday the United States killed General Qassim Soleimani, a top commander of Iran’s al-Quds Force, in an airstrike at Baghdad’s International Airport. The strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces. Seven people were reportedly killed in the airstrike.

Following the death of Commander Soleimani Democrat Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) lashed out at President Trump for assassinating the Iranian al-Quds terrorist leader.

The Senator Tweeted an objection to the fact that Soleimani was killed without the assent of Congress and that he felt the assassination would set off a war.

The article continues:

Senator Murphy has been has a history of supporting Iran’s mullahs.
Murphy is a routine speaker at the NIAC Council, the regime’s lobby house in the US.

In fact, Trita Parsi, the regime’s top activist at NIAC, has praised Senator Murphy for his support of NIAC’s efforts.

NIAC’s Trita Parsi praised Sen. Murphy for being a hero of the Iran deal.

I wonder how much of the money involved in the Iran deal somehow found its way into the pockets of some of our Congressmen.

The Person Not Mentioned

Yesterday PJ Media posted an article posted an article about the other major terrorist that was killed in the attack on Iranian Revolutionary Guard Commander Qasem Soleimani.

The article reports:

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Commander Qasem Soleimani wasn’t the only major-league terrorist killed in the drone strike ordered by Donald Trump. Also killed was Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a top Iraqi paramilitary leader whose long, bloody career includes attacks on American and other Western embassies, as well as being a founder of Kata’ib Hezbollah, a group responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers in Iraq.

In 2009, the U.S. sanctioned both al-Muhandis and Kata’ib Hezbollah as terrorist entities.

In some ways, killing al-Muhandis was more significant than the death of Soleimani. He’s been an active terrorist against the U.S. since the occupation of Iraq and helped create the umbrella Shia militia group Hashd al-Shaabi. Hashd was originally founded to fight ISIS in Iraq, but has morphed into a shadow organization exercising political and military control of Iraq on behalf of Iran.

The article concludes:

The Popular Mobilization Force (PMF) is ostensibly part of the Iraqi security services. But Muhandis ran it as his own little fiefdom, defying the Iraqi government on occasion in order to do the bidding of his masters in Tehran.

Today the PMF and allied militias control large parts of Iraq and neighboring Syria, where they are allied with President Bashar Assad and the Lebanese Hezbollah. Israel and the U.S. view the groups as part of an aggressive Iranian campaign to dominate the region.

Over the summer, PMF groups blamed Israel for mysterious drone attacks that targeted their positions in Iraq. The strikes eventually lead to the restructuring of the PMF to integrate them into the Iraqi military. The restructuring was approved by Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi.

The death of Muhandis is a tremendous blow to Iranian influence in Iraq. Since Hashd exercised influence throughout the region, his death will be felt from Damascus to Beirut to Tehran. Muhandis was seen as something of a hero by many Shias in Iraq. But the fact is, he was a murderous, hateful fanatic who was an enemy of the United States and a threat to American interests and personnel.

We need to leave Iraq. However, eliminating some of the Iranian terrorists working in that country would be a really nice legacy.

The View From The Iranian People

The Gateway Pundit reported the following yesterday:

Iranians online are cheering the assassination of Iran Quds Force leader Major General Qassem Soleimani by a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad early Friday local time, with many thanking President Trump with a hashtag that reads: #TnxPOTUS4Soleimani. Many observers regarded Soleimani as the second most powerful person in Iran behind the Supreme Leader.

It was just Wednesday that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei trash talked President Trump, saying, “That guy has tweeted that we see Iran responsible for the events in Baghdad & we will respond to Iran. 1st: You can’t do anything. 2nd: If you were logical —which you’re not— you’d see that your crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan… have made nations hate you.”

Please follow the link above to the article to see all of the Tweets from Iranian citizens thanking President Trump for his actions. Soleimani was part of the tyrannical regime that the Iranians are trying to overthrow, and Soleimani had no problem killing his fellow countrymen.

 

The Insanity Of The Mainstream Media

Yesterday The Washington Free Beacon reported the following:

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper compared Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps killed in an American airstrike on Thursday, to French president Charles de Gaulle, a leader of the French resistance against Nazi occupation during World War II.

“Soleimani is—it’s difficult to convey how revered he is in Iran. Imagine the French Foreign Legion, at the height of the French empire. This guy is regarded in Iran as a completely heroic figure, personally very brave,” CNN host Fareed Zakaria said.

“I was trying to think of somebody, and I was thinking of de Gaulle, although he became the leader of the country,” Cooper said.

Soleimani was a terrorist. He has a lot of American blood on his hands. He was planning further attacks on Americans around the world.

A friend on Facebook noted the following:

The UN Security Council banned Soleimani from leaving Iran because of his extensive use of surrogates in other countries to commit terrorist acts. His presence in Iraq was in and of itself an act of war. He was there organizing part of a group of about 20,000 IRANIAN soldiers planning to attack the US embassy in military fashion. The first attacks were just to evaluate our defenses before the real attack they were planning.

Not any more.

It is wonderful having a leader who stands up to our enemies instead of sending them planes loaded with millions of dollars in cash to fund their killing of Americans.

It is a shame that our media has become so biased that they complain when our President protects Americans.

The Quest For Freedom

Hong Kong protests have been in the news for a while, but there is not a lot being written about what is currently happening in Iran. The protests in Iran are the largest since the protests nine years ago. This time the protesters know that America is cheering for them.

Yesterday Paul Mirengoff posted an article at Power Line about the protests in Iran.

The article reports:

The New York Times reports on the protests against Iran’s repressive regime. It calls them the most intense since 1979. The 1979 protests, of course, led to the overthrow of the Shah.

The mullahs were the target of strong protests in 2009. But the Times supplies evidence that the current wave is even more intense.

The 2009 protests are believed to have resulted in 72 deaths over a period of many months. The current protests have led to 180 to 450 deaths in just four days.

More significantly, the nature of the protesters appears to be different. Students led the 2009 protests. Reportedly, the current protesters are mainly unemployed or low-income men between the ages of 19 and 26, and the protests are centered not at universities but in working class neighborhoods.

This makes sense because the current protests were triggered by economic grievances, especially an increase in gasoline prices. The Times acknowledges that the Trump administration’s sanctions against Iran are “a big reason” for the economic squeeze.

The difference in the nature of the protests is significant because unemployed and low-income youths have less to lose than university students. They are less likely to cowed for long.

The article states that it is doubtful that this protest will lead to an overthrow of the mullahs, but it may be a step toward that end.

A Policy That Is Working

It is not really in the interest of anyone (other than Iran) for Iran to successfully build an atomic bomb. Iran is a major supporter of terrorism around the world, and no person on earth will be safe if Iran successfully builds a nuclear weapon capable of reaching Europe or North America. The Iran nuclear deal did not stop Iran’s nuclear program–it simply postponed it until President Obama was out of office.

John Hinderaker at Power Line Blog posted an article today about the impact of President Trump’s Iran policy on the economy of Iran.

The article reports:

Iran has been roiled by demonstrations against the dramatic increase in the price of gasoline that was dictated by the government earlier this month. The demonstrations have been brutally suppressed, with somewhere between 100 and several hundred protesters killed by police. For several days, the mullahs pulled the plug on internet service to prevent videos of the protests and police brutality to be seen by the outside world.

So why is Iran in turmoil?

The article explains:

In other words, the Trump administration’s sanctions are working. Iran’s government, short of cash, was forced to dramatically raise the price of fuel, even though it knew what the reaction would be. And the resulting explosion–the analogy to the Yellow Vest protests in France is obvious–has shaken the regime.

Trump’s policy of using sanctions to starve the mullahs of cash contrasts favorably with Barack Obama’s inexplicable policy of sending $100 billion dollars to the regime in exchange for empty promises.

President Trump’s policy toward Iran is working.

Can I Help You Pack?

Yesterday Fox News reported the following:

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Thursday that his country’s delegation would vote for the United Nations headquarters to be moved out of New York if given the chance, in the latest sign of escalating tensions with the United States on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

“If we’re ever asked, we will, of course, vote for it, for the United Nations headquarters to be transferred to a more secure and better country that does not have the narrow viewpoints that we have been witnessing,” he said in response to a question at a press conference. There appears to be no significant movement to move the U.N.

This is probably the first and last time I will agree with President Rouhani.

The article continues:

He mentioned a number of instances of Iranians being barred from entering the U.S. The Trump administration this week restricted senior Iranian government officials and their family members from entering the U.S.

“For years, Iranian officials and their family members have quietly taken advantage of America’s freedom and prosperity, including excellent educational, employment, entertainment, and cultural opportunities in the United States,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Thursday.

“Under this proclamation, designated senior regime officials and their families will no longer be allowed entry into the United States. No longer will elites reap the benefits of a free society while the Iranian people suffer under the regime’s corruption and mismanagement.”

Rouhani accused the U.S. of capitalizing on its position as host nation for the U.N.

“This is the house of peace and house of communications with one another and America must not take advantage of its position as a host and only grant visas to whom America likes,” he said.

Rouhani spoke at a lengthy press conference in which he blamed the U.S. for the collapse of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and called on the U.S. to remove sanctions before talks can occur between the two countries. President Trump had opened the door to talks with the Iranian regime, but has also kept up his “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions against Tehran.

“If these preconditions are taken off the table and then of course the possibility exists to talk with America,” Rouhani said.

Would the UN just leave if all the delegates were asked to pay their parking tickets?

The Threat Is Still There

Yesterday NJ.com posted an article about Alexei Saab, 42, of Morristown, New Jersey, who was also known as Ali Hassan Saab, Alex Saab, and Rachid. Mr. Saab has been arrested for offenses related to his support of Hezbollah. He has been in custody since July.

The article reports:

A LinkedIn page identifies Saab as the director of information technology at a Morristown energy firm, which said he was terminated in July, but would not say why. He was also listed as an adjunct lecturer at Baruch College. Officials there did not immediately return calls for comment.

But the 33-page federal criminal complaint unsealed in New York on Thursday, replete with photos and diagrams purportedly collected as part of his alleged intelligence gathering mission, outlined a long-running operation that began long before he swore allegiance to the United States, and continued for years.

“Even though Saab was a naturalized American citizen, his true allegiance was to Hezbollah, the terrorist organization responsible for decades of terrorist attacks that have killed hundreds,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman.

The article also notes:

Earlier this year, a federal court in New York convicted Ali Kourani, 34, a Lebanese-born U.S. citizen of charges that he bought weapons and plotted attacks in the city on behalf of Hezbollah. He was said to be surveying targets that included JFK International Airport and a federal building in Manhattan.

Cohen said with the current escalation of tensions with Iran, it is not surprising that the Federal Bureau of Investigation would be taking a hard look at known Hezbollah operatives and networks in the US “and if warranted, taking aggressive enforcement action.”

The article concludes:

While the U.S. Attorney’s office said Saab was a Morristown resident, records only show a Morristown post office box, listed as his residence for his voter registration. At two other addresses in Jersey City associated with Saab in public records, there was no answer when a reporter knocked on the doors. Several living in the neighborhood said they did not know him.

The charges against Saab include providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, conspiracy, receiving military-type training from a foreign terrorist organization, unlawful procurement of citizenship to facilitate international terrorism and citizenship application fraud.

Hezbollah is funded by Iran. Much of the money paid to Iran in the Iran deal brokered by President Obama has gone to various terrorist groups. Iran is one of those groups. For further information on the behind-the-scenes strategy that sold the Iran deal, see the following article posted on May 10, 2016. The article cites a New York Times interview of Ben Rhodes, the former creative writer who worked in the Obama administration to sell foreign policy to journalists and thus to the American public.

Sometimes Warnings Are There For A Reason

Common sense is not a flower that grows in everyone’s garden. When someone warns you about something, they may actually know something you do not.

Yesterday The Gateway Pundit posted an article about bloggers Jolie King and Mark Firkin. They announced in 2017 that they would be going on an international trip to “try to break the stigma around travelling to countries which get a bad rap in the media.” What could possibly go wrong?

Last Thursday, the BBC reported:

Two Australian citizens detained in Iran have been identified as Jolie King and Mark Firkin.

Ms King, who also holds a UK passport, and Mr Firkin were blogging their travels in Asia and the Middle East.

They were reportedly arrested 10 weeks ago near Tehran but news of the arrest, and that of another British-Australian woman, came to light on Wednesday.

Australia said it had repeatedly raised their cases with Tehran, including in a meeting between officials last week.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said she had lobbied on their behalf in a meeting with her Iranian counterpart.

She described the detentions as “a matter of deep concern” on Thursday, and confirmed that assistance had been offered to the families of the three detainees.

“[We] hope to see Mark and Jolie safely home as soon as possible,” their families said on Thursday.

The situation comes amid growing tensions between the West and Iran.

Several dual nationals have been detained in Iran in recent years, including the British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Relations between the UK and Iran have also been strained in recent months by a row over the seizure of oil tankers in the Gulf.

I guess maybe the media discourages people from traveling to certain places for a reason. We need to remember that not every country in the world plays by the same rules.

 

If You Wondered Why Energy Independence Is Important

The Wall Street Journal posted an article yesterday about the drone attack on Saudi oil fields. The Iran-allied Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen have claimed credit for the attack.

The article reports:

The production shutdown amounts to a loss of about 5.7 million barrels a day, the kingdom’s national oil company said, roughly 5% of the world’s daily production of crude oil.

Officials said they hoped to restore production to its regular level of 9.8 million barrels a day by Monday. Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said lost production would be offset through supplies of oil already on hand.

The strikes mark the latest in a series of attacks on the country’s petroleum assets in recent months, as tensions rise among Iran and its proxies like the Houthis, and the U.S. and partners like Saudi Arabia. The attacks could drive up oil prices if the Saudis can’t turn production back on quickly and potentially rattle investor confidence in an initial public offering of Saudi Aramco, the national oil company.

The article concludes:

The Yemen war is a central front in a new and more aggressive foreign policy overseen by Prince Mohammed, who launched the intervention with a coalition of allied states in 2015. Under the prince’s watch, the kingdom also applied a blockade on neighboring Qatar, detained Lebanon’s prime minister, and sent a team of men to kill exiled journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in 2018.

A conservative kingdom with a Sunni Muslim majority, Saudi Arabia has been an opponent of Iran in a struggle for power across the broader Middle East since the 1979 revolution that toppled Iran’s monarchy.

The attacks on Aramco’s facilities are poorly timed for Aramco’s coming IPO and pose a challenge to oil officials after a changing of the guard in their leadership. Aramco last week picked seven international banks to help it list on Saudi Arabia’s domestic exchange, an IPO that could value the company at about $2 trillion dollars and come before the end of the year.

There are a lot of things going on behind the scenes here. This is part of the conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. At their core, both the Saudis and the Iranians want to bring back the former caliphate. The Ottoman Empire (which was that caliphate) existed until the early 1900’s. Many Muslims want that Empire restored. The argument is over who will rule the caliphate when it is established. Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood are players in this conflict, as is ISIS. Jamal Khashoggi was a part of the Muslim Brotherhood. Descriptions of him as simply a journalist were misleading. Another part of this puzzle is the fact that Saudi Arabia is drawing closer to aligning with Israel because of the fear of a nuclear Iran. That also would be a cause for increased aggression from Iran.

Generally speaking, any terrorism that goes on in the Middle East can be traced back to Iran. They have been training and funding terrorists since the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

I have no idea what impact this will have on world oil prices. I do know that Saudi Arabia will work to repair the damage as soon as possible. I have no doubt that Iran is violating the sanctions on its oil exports, so if the price of oil rises significantly, Iran may be able to pull itself out of its current economic difficulties and calm its population. America will continue to prosper as oil prices rise because we are now a net exporter of oil rather than a net importer. Because of the policies of President Trump, we are in a very different situation than we were during the oil crisis of the 1970’s.

This Might Be A Problem For The Obama Legacy

On Wednesday, The Washington Examiner posted an article about Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead, a book written by General James Mattis about his time as leader of U.S. Central Command from 2010 to 2013, overseeing military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia. Some parts of the book do not portray President Obama in a positive light.

The article reports:

“From my first day at CENTCOM, I knew we faced two principal adversaries: stateless Sunni Islamist terrorists and the revolutionary Shiite regime of Iran, the most destabilizing country in the region,” he writes. “Iran was by far the more deadly of the two threats.”

That’s not how the president under whom Mattis served saw it, though, and Barack Obama eventually fired the storied Marine general for what Mattis believes were his insistent warnings about the Iranian threat.

Mattis says Washington didn’t even inform him when Iran committed an “act of war” on American soil.

The duty officer at his Tampa, Florida, headquarters on Oct. 11, 2011 told him that the attorney general and FBI director had held a press conference to announce the arrest of two Iranians who had planned a bomb attack on Cafe Milano, a high-end restaurant in Washington that was a favorite of the rich and famous, including Saudi Arabia’s ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir.

As Mattis writes, “Attorney General Eric Holder said the bombing plot was ‘directed and approved by elements of the Iranian government and, specifically, senior members of the Qods Force.’ The Qods were the Special Operations Force of the Revolutionary Guards, reporting to the top of the Iranian government.”

The article concludes:

Mattis says his reaction to the Cafe Milano bomb plot contributed towards Obama’s decision to fire him abruptly.

“While I fully endorse civilian control of the military, I would not surrender my independent judgment. In 2010, I argued strongly against pulling all our troops out of Iraq,” Mattis writes. (Earlier in the book, he recounts a discussion he had on the subject in Baghdad with Vice President Joe Biden, who was in charge of Iraq policy but “ignoring reality” and uninterested in the considered opinion of the general in charge of operations there.) “In 2011, I urged retaliation against Iran for plotting to blow up a restaurant in our nation’s capital. In 2012, I argued for retaining a small but capable contingent of troops in Afghanistan. Each step along the way, I argued for political clarity and offered options that gave the Commander in Chief a rheostat he could dial up or down to protect our nation.”

The commander in chief chose another option: fire the CENTCOM leader.

“In December 2012, I received an unauthorized phone call telling me that in an hour, the Pentagon would be announcing my relief,” Mattis writes. “I was leaving a region aflame and in disarray.”

And the biggest threat in the region, Mattis says, then as now, was Iran. He predicted the Obama administration’s reluctance to punish Tehran for its bad behavior while the two sides negotiated a nuclear deal would come back to haunt the U.S. He concludes that “the Iranians had not been held to account, and I anticipated that they would feel emboldened to challenge us more in the future.”

Unfortunately I think that in the future we will see more situations where President Obama put his own search for a diplomatic victory ahead of the safety of Americans.

Dealing With A Country Whose Economy Is Collapsing Is Not Unlike Dealing With A Cornered Animal

The sanctions placed on Iran by the United States have created severe economic problems for the country. The people of the country are being hurt by the sanctions, the rules are still doing quite well due to black market dealings. A rebellion is brewing. The rebellion will probably be successful if the sanctions continue. The rulers of Iran know that and are trying almost anything to make the sanctions go away. Thus, the recent seizure of oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz.

One America News posted an article today with the headline, “Britain weighs response to Iran Gulf crisis with few good options.”

The article reports:

Britain was weighing its next moves in the Gulf tanker crisis on Sunday, with few good options apparent as a recording emerged showing that the Iranian military defied a British warship when it boarded and seized a ship three days ago.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said she would chair a meeting of Britain’s COBR emergency response committee on Monday morning to discuss the crisis.

Little clue has been given by Britain on how it plans to respond after Iranian Revolutionary Guards rappelled from helicopters and seized the Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday in apparent retaliation for the British capture of an Iranian tanker two weeks earlier.

Footage obtained by Reuters from an Iranian news agency on Sunday showed the tanker docked in an Iranian port — with Iran’s flag now hoisted atop.

The British government is expected to announce its next steps in a speech to parliament on Monday. But experts on the region say there are few obvious steps London can take at a time when the United States has already imposed the maximum possible economic sanctions, banning all Iranian oil exports worldwide.

“We rant and rave and we shout at the ambassador and we hope it all goes away,” said Tim Ripley, a British defense expert who writes about the Gulf for Jane’s Defence Weekly.

“I don’t see at this point in time us being able to offer a concession that can resolve the crisis. Providing security and escort for future ships is a different matter.”

A day after calling the Iranian action a “hostile act”, top British officials kept comparatively quiet on Sunday, making clear that they had yet to settle on a response.

“We are going to be looking at a series of options,” junior defense minister Tobias Ellwood told Sky News. “We will be speaking with our colleagues, our international allies, to see what can actually be done.

“Our first and most important responsibility is to make sure we get a solution to the issue to do with the current ship, make sure other British-flagged ships are safe to operate in these waters and then look at the wider picture.”

Seizing a ship in international waters is an act of war. The question is, “What are the western countries going to do about it?” War with Iran is not really a good idea–it’s what the rulers want–feeling that a war would unite the country. We have in the past used military escorts through the Straits of Hormuz. I suspect we will be doing so again. The good news is that America is energy independent and can help dilute the impact of the difficulties in getting oil through the Strait of Hormuz. Meanwhile, I am hoping we have some cyber experts that could make the life of the Iranian rulers a little more difficult.

Trivial Pursuit By The Press Corps

We have a quickly changing international situation brewing with the seizure of ships by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz. Decisions made in the White House could have major consequences in the lives of all Americans. Hopefully the right decisions will be made, but the situation is worth everyone’s attention. But I guess the Press Corps has other things on its mind.

Yesterday The Washington Examiner reported that shortly after receiving news that two tankers had been seized by the Iranians, the President was talking to the Press Corps.

The article reports:

President Trump was asked if he was “in favor of banning plastic straws” by a reporter on Friday afternoon, just a short time after an Iranian provocation in the Strait of Hormuz.

“Are you in favor of banning plastic straws?” a reporter asked the president outside the White House.

“I do think we have bigger problems than plastic straws. You know, it’s interesting about plastic straws. So you have a little straw, but what about the plates, the wrappers, and everything else that are much bigger and they’re made of the same material? So the straws are interesting, everybody focuses on the straws, there’s a lot of other things to focus on. It’s an interesting question.”

Evidently there was some context for the question:

“Trump Straws” went on sale on the Trump campaign website on Thursday. The 10-pack of reusable red straws are laser engraved with “Trump” on them, and the description reads, “Liberal paper straws don’t work. STAND WITH PRESIDENT TRUMP and buy your pack of recyclable straws today.”

I don’t know whether I would have been so gracious as to answer the question. It seems as if the Press Corps is playing Trivial Pursuit and ignoring the major news around them.

Unfortunately This Is Going To Require A Response

Fox News is reporting today that two tankers flying British flags have been seized by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz.

The article reports:

Fox News has learned that a second Liberian tanker operated by a British company was also seized by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and was seen on maritime tracking services making a turn, headed towards Iran.

President Trump said Friday that Iran is “nothing but trouble” and that “we heard one, we heard two,” tankers were seized.

Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz earlier Friday amid growing tensions in the region.

The Stena Impero, which has a crew of 23 onboard, “was approached by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter during transit of the Strait of Hormuz while the vessel was in international waters,” Stena Bulk, the shipping company that owns the vessel, said in a statement. “We are presently unable to contact the vessel which is now heading north towards Iran.”

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard forces, in a statement on their website, say the ship was seized for “non-compliance with international maritime laws and regulations” and is being brought to an unnamed Iranian port, according to the Associated Press.

Websites tracking the ship’s path show it turning sharply in the direction of Iran’s Qeshm Island, instead of its intended destination of Saudi Arabia.

“We are urgently seeking further information and assessing the situation following reports of an incident in the Gulf,” a U.K. government spokesperson told Fox News.

In July 2018 Reuters posted the following:

With a third of the world’s sea-borne oil passing through it every day, the Strait of Hormuz is a strategic artery linking Middle East crude producers to key markets in Asia Pacific, Europe, North America and beyond.

That dynamic has changed slightly due to the fact that America now exports more crude oil than they import. The countries that will be hurt by problems in the Strait of Hormuz will be Europe, India, and China. I am sure that America will be willing to help Europe, Russia will also increase her oil production. The price of oil will rise sharply, but it is doubtful that the Strait will remain closed.

The latest report that I have heard is that there are actually three tankers that have been seized. This is an international problem and should be handled by the international community in unison.

This Shouldn’t Surprise Anyone

Yesterday One America News reported that the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani warned European partners in its faltering nuclear deal on Wednesday that Tehran will increase its enrichment of uranium to “any amount that we want” beginning on Sunday, putting pressure on them to offer a way around intense U.S. sanctions targeting the country.

This is called nuclear blackmail. It is the technique that Iran would have used when the limits on their uranium production ended as provided in the nuclear treaty. First of all, does anyone actually believe that Iran was following the rules of the treaty to begin with? Note that the treaty did not allow inspections of all probable uranium enrichment sites.

The article reports:

The hike will put the country above the limits set by the 2015 nuclear deal made with six major world powers. President Trump pulled out that deal, saying the country was showing no intention of abiding by the agreement.

Earlier this week, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani teased their latest move, threatening to violate the terms of the 2015 agreement.

“We will increase the cap to whatever level we deem is essential for us and to a level that we need, you must also know that if you do not fulfill all your obligations to us under the agreement and in the agreed time frame, then from July 7th the nuclear reactor will return to its previous activity,” Rouhani said.

Iranian state media said, the Ayotollah regime will officially make the announcement on Sunday.

The only way to end the danger of the Iranian quest to be a nuclear power is to increase the sanctions to the point where there is a change of leadership in Iran. Many of the Iranians who thought they were fighting for freedom in 1978 were very disillusioned by the government that followed the revolution. A free Iran would be considerably less dangerous to the world than the current totalitarian Islamic state.

The Unraveling Continues

Yesterday John Solomon posted an article at The Hill about a Russian billionaire named Oleg Deripaska.

The article reports:

The oligarch who once controlled Russia’s largest aluminum empire has been an international man of intrigue in the now-completed and disproven Trump collusion investigation.

Deripaska was a disaffected former business client of Donald Trump’s fallen campaign chairman Paul Manafort. He also was a legal research client of Trump-hating, Clinton-aiding British spy Christopher Steele. In his spare time, he was an occasional friendly cooperator with the FBI and its fired deputy director, Andrew McCabe.

During his interview with John Solomon, Deripaska talked about being interviewed by the FBI and stating the following:

“I told them straightforward, ‘Look, I am not a friend with him [Manafort]. Apparently not, because I started a court case [against him] six or nine months before … . But since I’m Russian I would be very surprised that anyone from Russia would try to approach him for any reason, and wouldn’t come and ask me my opinion,’ ” he said, recounting exactly what he says he told the FBI agents that day.

“I told them straightforward, I just don’t believe that he would represent any Russian interest. And knowing what he’s doing on Ukraine for the last, what, seven or eight years.”

The article explains why this is important:

OK, so why should you care if a Russian denied Trump campaign collusion with Russia during the election?

First, Deripaska wasn’t just any Russian. He was closely aligned with Putin and had been helpful to the FBI as far back as 2009. So he had earned some trust with the agents.

Most importantly, Deripaska’s interview with the FBI reportedly was never provided by Team Mueller to Manafort’s lawyers, even though it was potential proof of innocence, according to Manafort defense lawyer Kevin Downing. Manafort, initially investigated for collusion, was convicted on tax and lobbying violations unrelated to the Russia case.

That omission opens a possible door for appeal for what is known as a Brady violation, for hiding exculpatory information from a defendant.

“Recent revelations by The Hill prove that the Office of Special Counsel’s (OSC) claim that they had a legitimate basis to include Paul Manafort in an investigation of potential collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government is false,” Downing told me. “The failure to disclose this information to Manafort, the courts, or the public reaffirms that the OSC did not have a legitimate basis to investigate Manafort, and may prove that the OSC had no legitimate basis to investigate potential collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government.”

The article then explains why Deripaska is trusted by the FBI:

Deripaska confirmed a story I reported last year from FBI sources that he spent more than $20 million of his own money between 2009 and 2011 on a private rescue operation to free Robert Levinson, a retired FBI agent captured in Iran in 2007 while on a CIA mission.

…Deripaska said his privately funded rescue team came very close to a deal with the Iranian captors to secure Levinson’s release but he was told by his FBI handlers that the deal ran into difficulties at Hillary Clinton’s State Department and was scuttled. “I heard that some Russian ‘hand,’ or whatever you call people who are expert on the Russians at the State Department, [said], ‘We just don’t want to owe anything to this guy,’ ” Deripaska told me, adding that he never expected any U.S. favors for his personal efforts to free Levinson.

Asked if he thought the former FBI agent is alive, some dozen years later, Deripaska answered: “I don’t think so.” He pointed out that if Levinson had been alive, he likely would have come home in 2016, after the Obama administration struck a nuclear deal with Iran.

Deripaska said he is continuing to investigate what really happened at State with Levinson, as he tries to fight the sanctions levied against him in 2018. His company, Rusal, has been removed from the sanctions list.

The article concludes:

Throughout the interview, it was clear Deripaska chose his words in English carefully. But there was one word he offered only twice — once in response to the Steele dossier’s allegations of Trump-Russia collusion, and the other time to respond to the allegations used to sanction him. “Balderdash,” he insisted.

Now it’s time for Team Mueller to answer the same questions.

I wonder why the State Department would have blocked the return of Levinson. Is it possible that he might have said things that would have scuttled the Iran deal?

The Appropriate Response And The Slanting Of The Story

Yesterday John Hinderaker posted an article at Power Line Blog about the warfare of the future. In the article Mr. Hinderaker mentions that according to The New York Times, Russia and China are working on the technology of hypersonic weapons. These weapons would render our missile defense systems useless.

The article also mentions President Trump’s response to the Iranian attacks on oil tankers:

Cyber warfare is almost old hat by comparison. The Associated Press (AP) says that President Trump ordered cyber attacks on Iran in place of actual bombings:

U.S. military cyber forces launched a strike against Iranian military computer systems on Thursday as President Donald Trump backed away from plans for a more conventional military strike in response to Iran’s downing of a U.S. surveillance drone, U.S. officials said Saturday.

The article then illustrates how the Associated Press can spin a story by quoting the AP’s reporting on the President’s response:

“This is not a remote war (anymore),” said Sergio Caltagirone, vice president of threat intelligence at Dragos Inc. “This is one where Iranians could quote unquote bring the war home to the United States.”

Caltagirone said as nations increase their abilities to engage offensively in cyberspace, the ability of the United States to pick a fight internationally and have that fight stay out of the United States physically is increasingly reduced.

Note that the AP accuses the United States of picking a fight internationally.

The article concludes:

Did the U.S. pick a fight here? I thought Iran did that, by bombing tankers in international waters and shooting down an American drone. But for the AP, like many other American liberals, anything other than Obama-style supine acquiescence constitutes picking a fight.

Well said, sir.

Moving Cautiously In A Time Of Crisis

Breitbart is reporting today that President Trump called off a military strike on Iran last night at the last minute. The strike would have been in retaliation for Iran’s shooting down of an unmanned drone.

The President is right to exercise caution here. The younger generation of Iranians are not happy about the way the Mullahs are running the country. The younger generation would very much like to westernize Iran. They tend to be pro-American. For America to launch an attack (justified or unjustified) might change that dynamic. That dynamic is what will eventually bring down the Mullahs.

The article reports:

President Donald Trump confirmed Friday he pulled back a military strike on Iran after he learned the number of possible casualties.

“We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on three different sights (sic),” Trump revealed on Twitter. The attack was planned in retaliation for Iran shooting down a U.S. surveillance drone on Thursday in international waters.

Trump said prior to the strikes he was told by a general the casualties could be up to 150 people.

“Ten minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone,” he wrote.

Trump added that he was in “no hurry” for additional military conflicts with Iran but warned them against obtaining a nuclear weapon.

The president recalled the recent history of the United States relationship with Iran noting that former President Barack Obama “made a desperate and terrible deal” that included over a billion in cash.

“Iran was in big trouble and he bailed them out,” Trump said. “Gave them a free path to Nuclear Weapons, and SOON.”

The president added that Iran continued to shout “Death to America” despite the deal, which he terminated as president.

“They are a much weakened nation today than at the beginning of my Presidency, when they were causing major problems throughout the Middle East,” Trump said. “Now they are Bust!”

There needs to be a response to the continuing aggression of Iran. However, that response does not have to be immediate and it does not have to involve civilian casualties.

How Should We Deal With Iran?

On Friday, Bret Stephens posted a column in The New York Times about the recent aggressive actions taken by Iran against international shipping. Bret Stephens is not a supporter of President Trump, but in this instance, his views seem to be in line with the policies of the Trump administration.

The column notes:

On April 14, 1988, the U.S.S. Samuel B. Roberts, a frigate, hit an Iranian naval mine while sailing in the Persian Gulf. The explosion injured 10 of her crew and nearly sank the ship. Four days later, the U.S. Navy destroyed half the Iranian fleet in a matter of hours. Iran did not molest the Navy or international shipping for many years thereafter.

Now that’s changed. Iran’s piratical regime is back yet again to its piratical ways.

Or so it seems, based on a detailed timeline of Thursday’s attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman provided by the U.S. Central Command, including a surveillance video of one of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps patrol boats removing an unexploded limpet mine from the hull of one of the damaged tankers.

The column notes that the evidence points to Iran as behind the recent attacks:

In this case, however, the evidence against Iran is compelling. CentCom’s account notes that “a U.S. aircraft observed an IRGC Hendijan class patrol boat and multiple IRGC fast attack craft/fast inshore attack craft (FAC/FIAC) in the vicinity of the M/T Altair,” one of the damaged tankers. The Iranian boats are familiar to the U.S. Navy after decades of observing them at close range. And staging deniable attacks that fall just below the threshold of open warfare on the U.S. is an Iranian specialty.

So what do we do now?

The column concludes:

It can’t be the usual Trumpian cycle of bluster and concession. Neither can it be the liberal counsel of feckless condemnation followed by inaction. Firing on unarmed ships in international waters is a direct assault on the rules-based international order in which liberals claim to believe. To allow it to go unpunished isn’t an option.

What is appropriate is a new set of rules — with swift consequences if Iran chooses to break them. The Trump administration ought to declare new rules of engagement to allow the Navy to engage and destroy Iranian ships or fast boats that harass or threaten any ship, military or commercial, operating in international waters. If Tehran fails to comply, the U.S. should threaten to sink any Iranian naval ship that leaves port.

If after that Iran still fails to comply, we would be right to sink its navy, in port or at sea. The world cannot tolerate freelance Somali pirates. Much less should it tolerate a pirate state seeking to hold the global economy hostage through multiplying acts of economic terrorism.

Nobody wants a war with Iran. But not wanting a war does not mean remaining supine in the face of its outrages. We sank Iran’s navy before. Tehran should be put on notice that we are prepared and able to do it again.

Sometimes you simply have to stand up to a bully in order to correct his behavior.

An Entirely Predictable Outcome

The Washington Free Beacon posted an article today about some recent statements by top Iranian leaders.

The article reports:

Top Iranian leaders issued a series of warnings on Tuesday, telling world leaders it is on the brink of restarting a significant portion of its most contested nuclear work, including the enrichment of uranium to prohibited levels that could be used as part of a weapons program.

With tensions mounting between the United States and Iran following a bevy on new sanctions issued by the Trump administration, Iranian leaders warned their counterparts in Europe that the country will begin to enrich uranium—the key component in a nuclear weapon—to levels needed for weapons research.

Iran also will begin to stockpile low-enriched uranium instead of shipping it out of the country, as it had been doing under the nuclear agreement. The Islamic Republic also will stop exporting its heavy water reserves, a nuclear byproduct that can provide a plutonium-based pathway to a weapon.

Both of these moves are enflaming global tension surrounding Iran’s nuclear program, which the country has used to receive billions in sanctions relief and cash windfalls as a result of the Obama administration’s accord. Iranian leaders insist that if Europe does not reject the new U.S. sanctions and help Tehran bypass them, they will stop adhering the nuclear deal, which several European counties are still party to.

Does anyone actually believe that Iran suspended its nuclear program while the treaty was in effect?

The article concludes:

Iran also is seeking to have its international oil trade restored.

The Trump administration, after a protracted inter-agency fight, decided last month to stop issuing sanctions waivers to several countries purchasing large amounts of Iranian crude oil. The removal of these waivers effectively killed Iran’s oil trade.

Keivan Khosravi, a spokesman for Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said all banking and oil rights must be immediately restored or Tehran will continue with efforts to ramp up prohibited nuclear work.

“As the honorable president declared, concurrent with the SNSC statement, Iran will continue subsequent and staged steps to stop nuclear deal undertakings based on the UNSC statement until the status quo of its oil sales and banking transactions return to the conditions that prevailed before the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal,” Khosravi wrote in a memo published Tuesday by Iran’s state-controlled press.

Translated loosely, this means that the sanctions are working and we need to leave them in place. If Iran does ramp up its nuclear program, we need another computer virus to slow it down. The reactor sites are hidden too deep underground to be bombed successfully, but an electronic attack on their computers and power grid would probably slow them down for a few years at least. The answer to the problem of a nuclear Iran is an Iran not controlled by the mullahs. That is a possibility as the younger generation tends to lean toward western ideas, but those that make those tendencies known wind up in prison or dead. Iran needs another revolution. The sanctions and the economic hardship they cause make that revolution a possibility.

One thing I believe we need to consider is a lesson learned in recent years about setting up democracies in places that do not understand freedom. It seems that in order to create a free county, you need brave men of integrity willing to lead a revolution and fight for freedom for all people. You can’t come in and just plant a democracy. Planting a democracy is somewhat like helping a baby chick hatch–the baby chick needs the hatching process to gain the strength to survive. If you help a baby chick hatch, it will not survive. It seems that in recent years we have learned that democracies have the same problem–they have to do their own hatching. When the work is done for them, the wrong leaders rise and the people gain new despots–they don’t gain freedom.

The Golan Heights

On March 21st The New York Post reported that President Trump called for the US to recognize Israel’s sovereignty of the Golan Heights, the 700-square-mile northern plateau that Israel captured from Syria in the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel annexed the Golan Heights in 1981, although the territorial claim was never acknowledged by the international community. The Golan Heights is strategic to the survival of Israel geographically.

In an article from December 2016, The U.K. Daily Mail reported on a strange event in the Golan Heights.

The article reports:

A huge cloud of dust and rain blew up along the border between Israel and ISIS last week, sparking online claims that it was a biblical storm.

Four days after ISIS fighters attacked an Israeli patrol in the Golan Heights, a plateau in Syria which the Jewish state has occupied since 1967, the bizarre meteorological phenomenon suddenly appeared. 

Eyewitnesses said the storm seemed to stop at the boundary and be unable to enter the Golan Heights, which tower above the rest of Syria.

Footage of the dust barrier was uploaded onto Facebook by Israel News Online

They wrote: ‘A weather phenomenon occurred at 8am Thursday on the other side of the Syrian border, in the same place where ISIS attacked Israel.

This strange storm of what appears to be dust, cloud and rain did NOT cross the border fence into Israel. It sat like a barrier between ISIS and Israel.’

Underneath Deborah Van Dam posted: ‘Absolutely the divine intervention of God protecting Israel. Amen!’

This is the picture (taken from the U.K. Daily Mail):

This is a map showing the location (taken from the U.K. Daily Mail):

The Golan Heights is strategic because it is high ground that overlooks Israel. It is part of what protects Israel from rocket fire or invasion from Syria. Because Syria has become a satellite of Iran, it also protects Israel from Iranian forces working in Syria.

The Bible says that he who blesses Israel will be blessed and he who curses Israel will be cursed. History bears that out. By moving the Israeli embassy and acknowledging Israel’s possession of the Golan Heights, President Trump is blessing Israel.