Some Comments On The Iranian Protests

Yesterday Fred Fleitz posted an article at The Center For Security Policy website about the ongoing protests in Iran.

The article reports:

There also is significant and growing opposition to the country’s theocratic system, especially by young people. Incredibly, protesters reportedly have been chanting “We don’t want an Islamic Republic” and “Death to Rouhani.”

It is no accident that the Iranian government announced today that it will no longer arrest women who go outside without wearing head scarves. So far these protests seem much smaller and not as serious as the massive Green Revolution protests that broke out in Iran after the fraudulent 2009 presidential election, which returned Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power. However, Amir Taheri, a well-known Iran expert, said in the below tweet that Iranian security reportedly is reluctant to fire on protesters:

When viewing the unrest in Iran, it is wise to consider the population demographics of the country. Because of the extended war with Iraq, a large group of the population is missing. Wikipedia posted a chart of the population demographic:

As you can see from the chart (although it is a few years old, the numbers are basically accurate), the largest percentage of the Iranian population is between the ages of ten and thirty-five. This group of people has no relationship with the Islamic revolution that took place in Iran in 1979–most of them were not even born then. The younger Iranians look with envy at the western world–they do not appreciate the rules of the mullahs. It is only a matter of time before the mullahs die out and the young people take over. I am not sure that democracy is possible in Iran after all they have been through, but there will come a time when a revolt leads to a more free society and hopefully one without nuclear ambitions.

It is telling that Iranian security is reluctant to fire on the protesters. That might be the result of the mullahs not wanting to create martyrs or it might be a reaction to the fact that the mullahs no longer have a friend in the White House. There are some positive aspects of the fact that many countries consider President Trump a loose cannon.

Following The Money

There have been a lot of stories told about the $400 million that was paid to Iran (coincidentally just as some American hostages were being released). Yesterday Claudia Rosett posted an article in the New York Sun that offers an interesting explanation as to where the $400 million came from.

The article reports:

Congressional investigators trying to uncover the trail of $1.3 billion in payments to Iran might want to focus on 13 large, identical sums that Treasury paid to the State Department under the generic heading of settling “Foreign Claims.”

The 13 payments when added to the $400 million that the administration now concedes it shipped to the Iranian regime in foreign cash would bring the payout to the $1.7 billion that President Obama and Secretary Kerry announced on January 17. That total was to settle a dispute pending for decades before the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal in at The Hague.

…The Judgment Fund has long been a controversial vehicle for federal agencies to detour past one of the most pointed prohibitions in the Constitution: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”

The Judgment Fund, according to a Treasury Department Web site, is “a permanent, indefinite appropriation” used to pay monetary awards against U.S. government agencies in cases “where funds are not legally available to pay the award from the agency’s own appropriations.”

In March, in letters responding to questions about the Iran settlement sent weeks earlier by Representatives Edward Royce and Mike Pompeo, the State Department confirmed that the $1.3 billion “interest” portion of the Iran settlement had been paid out of the Judgment Fund. But State gave no information on the logistics.

Aside from the fact that we are funding a regime that is using the money to fund attacks against American civilians and servicemen, I would like to note that the Tribunal at the Hague decided that America owned money to a known sponsor of terrorism. Based on that decision, I don’t think the Tribunal at The Hague is force for global peace. Giving money to a known sponsor of terrorism is not a good idea under any circumstances.

Is This Even Legal?

The National Review posted a story today about the nuclear deal with Iran. In the story, Fred Fleitz, the author, reports on two aspects of the deal with Iran that were not going to be made public (or available to Congress or other nations).

The article reports:

Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and Congressmen Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.) issued a press release yesterday on a startling discovery they made during a July 17 meeting with International Atomic Energy Agency officials in Vienna: There are two secret side deals to the nuclear agreement with Iran that will not be shared with other nations, with Congress, or with the U.S. public. One of these side deals concerns inspection of the Parchin military base, where Iran reportedly has conducted explosive testing related to nuclear-warhead development. The Iranian government has refused to allow the IAEA to visit this site. Over the last several years, Iran has taken steps to clean up evidence of weapons-related activity at Parchin. 

The other side deal relates to the possible military dimensions (PMDs) of Iran’s nuclear program. Evidently the PMD issue is not resolved. In 2013, Iran agreed to answer International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) questions about work in weapons-related areas, but has not actually answered the questions.

This is a copy of part of the press release issued by Senator Cotton and Congressman Pompeo:

According to the IAEA, the Iran agreement negotiators, including the Obama administration, agreed that the IAEA and Iran would forge separate arrangements to govern the inspection of the Parchin military complex — one of the most secretive military facilities in Iran — and how Iran would satisfy the IAEA’s outstanding questions regarding past weaponization work. Both arrangements will not be vetted by any organization other than Iran and the IAEA, and will not be released even to the nations that negotiated the JCPOA [Iran nuclear agreement]. This means that the secret arrangements have not been released for public scrutiny and have not been submitted to Congress as part of its legislatively mandated review of the Iran deal. 

Do we need any more reasons to reject this treaty?



Sometimes The Logic Just Escapes Me

John Hinderaker at Power Line posted an article today about the nuclear deal with Iran. The article cites an interview on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) were Secretary of State Kerry stated that Iran won’t use the money to support terrorism because it isn’t “allowed” to do so. He then clarified that there is nothing about this in the nuclear deal, but that existing U.N. resolutions prohibit Iran from supporting Hezbollah and other terrorists.

The article points out:

But wait! Existing U.N. resolutions also prohibit Iran from producing nuclear bombs. If all it takes to stop Iran is a U.N. resolution, why does the administration think we need the current agreement?

Please follow the link above to Power Line to watch the interview.

The article reports:

Kerry went on to add that Iran has significant domestic needs, including rebuilding its oil infrastructure. He suggested that the mullahs will put the money to such peaceful uses. I agree that some of the windfall will no doubt be spent domestically. But that is the other half of the problem: the billions in cash, plus the economic relief that will continue to flow from the removal of sanctions, will validate the mullahs’ policies and entrench their power. We should be trying to get the mullahs turned out, not helping them to perpetuate their rule.

The problem with Iran going nuclear is that the mullahs are in control of the country. They do not represent a government that is willing to live at peace with all of their neighbors. It is ironic that the Iranian government has done more to unite many of the Arab countries with Israel that diplomacy could ever do.


A Letter From Someone Who Is There

Yesterday Michael Ledeen posted an article at PJ Media that included a letter from an Iranian dissident, Heshmat Tabarzadi.

This is the text of the letter:

The major world powers namely 5+1 are trying hard to engage the government of Iran to join the rest of the international community, by taking advantage of the recent “Flexibilities” that have been shown by the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, and as implemented by President Hassan Rouhani.

Indeed, we have arrived at a significant and historic juncture. However, without a cautious and comprehensive effort moving forward, the road ahead towards a mutually beneficial and peaceful outcome will remain uncertain and elusive. Ever since the election of President Rouhani, the number of executions in Iran has nevertheless increased substantially (nearly 400 executions since he took office). Keeping in mind that Iran already held the second highest record of executions after China (1st in the world as a percentage of the population), this represents an urgent human rights crisis.

In addition, the Iranian government has hundreds of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, including those such as Mr. Mir Hussein Mousavi, Mrs. Zahra Rahnavard and Mr. Mehdi Karroubi, who have been under house arrest since 2010, without any legal or court proceedings. The majority of Iranian political prisoners are sentenced solely due to the exercise of their rights to express their opinion or for peaceful assembly.

The legitimacy of any ruling power is measured by its practice of observing and respecting the rights of its own people. In what follows, I briefly give an account of my personal experience living in Iran, which is not an isolated case. Hundreds of fellow Iranian political activists are experiencing a similar situation. Indeed, the lack of basic human rights and freedom in Iran reflects poorly on the prospect for the effective and peaceful resolution of the issues of the Iranian government with the international community. One cannot be addressed in the absence of the other.

My name is Heshmat Tabarzadi. I am an Iranian secular democrat human rights activist. I have been arrested several times on charges related to my activities, most recently after the green movement and the disputed election results of 2009. In October 2010, I was sentenced to eight years in prison, convicted of five charges of “insulting the Leader,” “insulting the President,” “propaganda against the system,” “gathering and colluding with intent to harm the state security,” and “disturbing public order.” I had already spent seven years of my life in prison, nearly three years of it in solitary confinement for my activities as a student leader. Additionally I have spent another 4 years of my latest verdict and still have four more years remaining. I have spent part of every year of my life in prison since 1999 and while imprisoned I have been tortured on several different occasions. Meanwhile my different publications have been shut down, I have been denied the right to peaceful participation in two secular democratic and human rights organizations, and I have been prohibited from any social activities for 10 years.

I was recently released on a temporary leave with the condition of remaining silent, and until very recently I maintained my silence. However, the situation of the people and my country is such that I could no longer keep quiet and therefore I broke my silence and called for a united campaign demanding “No to executions and freedom of all political prisoners.” Shortly after, I received a phone call from the prosecutor’s office, demanding that I report back to the prison. Similar to my court proceedings and sentencing, this summoning was done outside of the legal frames, with the intent of silencing me, but I have chosen not to report to prison and instead am engaging in civil disobedience. My rights as stated in the international articles of the human rights (as well as the constitution of the Islamic Republic) have repeatedly been violated since 1999. If anyone should stand trial, it should be those who are in violation of denying not only my rights but the rights of many other political prisoners who have been denied their most basic legal, civil and human rights.

The United Nations General Assembly recently approved Iranian President Rouhani’s proposal known as “A World without violence and extremism.” The Iranian leadership should begin by abiding by the terms of its own resolution, namely, “that a primary responsibility of each State is to ensure a peaceful and violence-free life for its people, while fully respecting their human rights without distinction of any kind, …..and …..respect for and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons as well as tolerance, the recognition and appreciation of others and the ability to live together with and to listen to others, form a sound foundation of any society and of peace.”

The United States and European Union may hope for a politically softer regime in Tehran as it happened in China despite its human rights record, but in a country such as Iran where the first declaration of human rights was created 2552 years ago, where only in the past 107 years two major freedom seeking revolutions have taken place, where today the most basic social freedoms such as how to dress and behave, are strictly limited and where a woman is considered half of a man, this is only wishful thinking.

Iranian people, although short lived, have experienced secular democracy on different occasions and they will not tolerate for too long the religious, social and political limitations forced upon them, even if the major powers chose to turn a blind eye on their civil and human rights. The question is, on which side of the history the United States, President Obama and the major world powers will stand this time?

The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to U.S. President Barack Obama for his “extraordinary efforts” to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. This did not mean only peace with the governments but also meant consideration for the peace and human rights of “The People.” Until the international community do not hold the government of Iran accountable for its actions against its own citizens, any agreements at the government levels while closing eyes to the fate of the Iranian nation and their legal , civil and human rights will neither be lasting nor complied with, because a government which violates the legal rights of its own people under its own and international laws will not have any hesitation in violating any other accords and agreements. North Korea is a recent example of that.

I therefore call for the leaders of the 5+1, the international community, organizations, activists and other government leaders to demand of the Iranian authorities to stop these senseless executions and to free all political prisoners. Mr. Nelson Mandela was recently honored by the international community as well as the Iranian government. However, Mr. Mandela’s struggles as a political activist and prisoner, only after being amplified by the pressures from the International community, resulted in his freedom and abolition of apartheid in South Africa. Today 50% of the Iranian population, the women, are facing gender apartheid; not to mention the violation of the basic rights of minorities, ethnicities and many others.

Today I am free with my family while you can make a difference, but tomorrow may be too late.

This is the reason we need tougher sanctions on Iran–not secret deals.

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The United States Attorney’s Office Has Seized An Iranian Skyscraper In New York City

On Thursday, Fox News reported that the United States Attorney’s Office has seized a skyscraper in New York City allegedly secretly owned by the Iranian government.

The article reports:

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara claimed that the property owner, the Assa Corporation, was nothing more than a front for the state-run bank that financed the building.

“The Judge’s opinion upholds what was the contention of this Office from outset: ‘Assa was (and is) a front for Bank Melli, and thus a front for the Government of Iran,’” Bharara said in a statement.

The building was originally erected in the 1970s by the Phalavi Foundation, a non-profit that was operated at the time by the Shah of Iran and financed by Bank Melli, which is controlled by the Iranian Government. 

After the Iranian revolution, the loan for the building was cancelled in the 1980s and ownership was transferred to Assa and the Alavi Corporation. The U.S. alleges that Assa and Alavi were shell companies set up by the Iranian regime, with the former based in the UK’s Channel Islands to launder money back to the government.

Needless to say, the Alavi Foundation intends to appeal the court’s decision.

The article reports:

The government plans to use money from the seizure to compensate victims of Iranian–sponsored terrorism.

The building is valued at between $500-700 million and recently had $11 million in improvements.

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Some Clear Thinking In The Midst Of The Fog

Michael Ledeen posted an article at Pajamas Media yesterday dispelling three basic myths currently controlling America’s foreign policy. All three of the myths can be debunked by common sense, but somehow the mainstream media seems to have missed that.

The three myths:

The Syrian peace negotiations

The Iranian nuclear negotiations

“Resets” and other dreams

In reference to Syria, Mr. Ledeen points out that peace happens in war only after one side wins. He mentions that too many Syrians have been killed and there has been too much violence for both sides to sit down and simply talk peace. Until there is a winner, there will be no peace. He suggests that America support one side or the other in order to bring a quicker end to the war and to bring peace.

In reference to Iran, Mr. Ledeen points out that Iran has been at war with us since 1979, when they were in the streets yelling, “Death to America!”  They want a nuclear weapon because it will make them invulnerable to American and Israeli power.

Mr. Ledeen states:

…“Negotiations” are tactical moves to divide their enemies, gain more time to build their arsenal, and fend off further sanctions.

As the Washington Post‘s editorialists said, if you want to solve the nuke problem, you need regime change in Tehran.  But hardly anyone among the B & Bs cares to discuss how to bring down the Iranian regime, any more than they are doing the slightest thing to bring down the Assads’ tyranny in Damascus.

Forget about the nukes, it’s the war, stupid.

In reference to pushing the “reset button,” Mr. Ledeen points out that good relations with foreign countries are generally the result of shared cultural values. Since we do not have many shared cultural values with Comrade Putin, we can push the reset button all we want, but probably won’t get results.

Mr. Ledeen concludes:

Contrary to the rhetoric of the current secretary of state, the important “reset” is the one that has already occurred, the change in the Russians’ (and others’) evaluation of our willingness to fight for our position in the world.  The current crop of Russian leaders don’t respect us, and most assuredly do not fear the consequences of challenging us.

Those attitudes are very widely shared, from the Middle East to Latin America.  Lack of respect leads even such minor figures as Venezuela’s Chavez to dream of regional empire, and a deadly assault on the United States.

Forget about working things out around conference tables.  The war against us is on, and we won’t have anything approaching peace until that war is won.  By us, or by our enemies.

Common sense is a dangerous thing.







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Things To Think About

Last night I had the privilege of hearing Marc Kahlberg speak at the Ahavath Torah Congregation in Stoughton, Massachusetts. Marc is from South Africa and has lived in Israel for the past 25 years. He spoke of his military service in South Africa and the transition to being involved with the Israeli military.

I have attended a number of lectures by various experts on terrorism and preventing terrorism in an effort to gather information that I could share on this website. Although all of the information is useful, after a while, much of it is repetitive. Last night was not.

Mr. Kahlberg spoke of what it is like living in Israel since the suicide bombings began in the 1990’s. He cited the 1994 Number 5 bus bombing as the turning point for Israelis in dealing with the problem of suicide bombers. The 1994 attack took 2 to 3 days to clean up. It was demoralizing to the citizens of Israel. Today, after a suicide bomber attack, the Israeli authorities can bring the area back to normal in a matter of hours. It is a useful skill, but it is tragic that they have had to develop it.

What is life like in Israel today? Since last Friday, there have been more than 200 missiles fired into Israel from Gaza. Thanks to the deployment of the Iron Dome (See March 12, there has not been nearly the devastation those who fired the rockets had hoped for. Why is the world standing quietly on the sidelines while rockets and suicide bombers attack Israel and while Iran pledges to destroy Israel? Where are the news stories in the media? Is the world willing the stand idly by as another holocaust is brewing?

Mr. Kahlberg talked about the coming war between Israel and Iran. He pointed out that the war has already begun. Iran is the biggest supporter of terrorism in the Middle East (and worldwide) and many of the rockets coming into Israel are Iranian.

What are the dangers of Israel attacking Iran in order to end its nuclear program? In a war with Iran, Israel will probably have 20,000 fatalities, 100,000 injured, and one and a half to two million people suffering from trauma. If Iran has nukes, it will probably totally destroy Israel. Great choice. The other thing that was pointed out was that in dealing with the leaders of Iran, we are not dealing with people we can depend on to act rationally. There is a martyrdom aspect of the Iranian regime that does not make them rational when it comes to dealing with nuclear weapons. A regime that sends twelve-year old boys with keys around their necks to march into minefields to clear the mines (keys that were supposed to assure them the instant entrance to paradise when they were killed by the mines) should not be considered rational.

Mr. Kahlberg ended the evening by pointing out to all of us in attendance how complacent we have become. All of us need to become more aware of our surroundings and the people around us in order to help prevent terrorist attacks. We will never be able to stop every person who wishes us ill, but by being more aware, we can help protect ourselves. When the Times Square bomber left his SUV in Times Square, it wasn’t the police who saw the threat, but a Viet Nam veteran who alerted the police to the danger. All of us need to learn from that man. If we see something out of place or unusual, we need to ask questions.



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A Letter From Iran

Michael Yon is one of my favorite reporters. His website is MichaelYon-online.

This is a brief summary of some of his work:

I first traveled to Iraq in December 2004, but the prime impetus to go occurred almost nine months earlier, after two friends were killed in two days in Iraq–one in Falluja, the other in Samara. In April, 2004, I attended both their funerals, also days apart, one in Colorado, the other in Florida. I met many veterans of the war on terror, some of whom encouraged me to go to Iraq or Afghanistan, and write the truth.

One childhood friend in particular—Rodney Morris—regularly called and emailed me, asking me to come over to Iraq, where he was then known as Lieutenant Colonel Morris. My initial reaction was, “Are you crazy!? I am a writer, not a war correspondent.” I thought there was nothing I could offer, and being intimately familiar with the effects of bombs and bullets, and having no wish to be burned alive or shot down, I repeatedly declined. But those two funerals, coming so close upon each other, got me thinking.

In a decision that entailed shelving serious investments in labor and time, I put current projects on hold and packed off for Iraq. When 2004 turned into 2005, I was in Baquba, near Baghdad. At that time, heading into Iraq’s historical first elections, there was daily fighting in Baquba. It was definitely newsworthy, but I was not sponsored by or affiliated with any media organizations. In fact, I had barely heard of the word “Blog,” when about three weeks into January 2005, I blogged my own first dispatch from Baquba.

Today Michael posted the following letter from a young woman in Iran. This is his dispatch:

A young Iranian woman has written to me off and on for a couple of years.  Yesterday she sent a note.

I responded in part with a few questions:

What do young Iranians think about our government and about the Iranian government?  Also, do you think there will be war?

She replied immediately.  I corrected some minor grammar:

“To make the long story short people in Iran, not just youth, hate the government and want to move out of the country as soon as they can.  My sister [deleted] is moving to [deleted] with her husband this July and then when my mother gets retired, me, my younger sister [deleted] and my parents will sell our house and move to live with them.  My father isn’t convinced yet but all he needs is time, I’m sure he will choose to come with us.

“I am a patriot and I will remain one no matter where I am, but lets face it. Things are bad and getting worse as every day goes by. I have plans for my future and do not want to stay in a country where my skills and capabilities are most likely going to waste.

“The Iranians do not hate you nor do they hate ur government.  This is all the media.  The people have nothing to do with the media Michael.  No one is against you here except for those on the government’s side.  Unfortunately they’re not few, they’re actually many, but they won’t last forever. Someday this is all gonna turn upside down.  Sometimes I ask myself do I wanna be here for the next revolution?  I dunno …

We need to remember that although Iran is currently ruled by evil people, the people of the country are not all evil. My heart goes out to this lady and my sympathy goes out to her for what she has been through. The best answer for Iran would be for the people of overthrow the current government, but I suspect the government has done away with anyone with the potential to lead such a revolution. The country is not evil–the government of the country is.

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Some Things To Keep In Mind About The Recently Discovered Iranian Plot Against The United States

The recently-discovered Iranian plot against America was a shock to all of us. It shouldn’t have been–Iran has been killing American soldiers since we first went into Afghanistan, but it was.  I have heard a few questions about the timing of the news on this plot and the motives behind them. My best source on this is Andrew C. McCarthy.

Mr. McCarthy posted an article at National Review’s The Corner with his perspective on the foiled plot.

Mr. McCarthy reports:

The case is being handled by my old office (the Southern District of New York), where the U.S. attorney is a very honorable guy and the prosecutors are notoriously resistant to micro-management by Main Justice. The FBI director is also a straight arrow, as are the vast, vast majority of agents. There are just too many people involved — good, hardworking people, who would take no part in a charade designed to take the heat off the AG.

The article further points out that historically Iran has been willing to work with almost anyone if it involves working against American interests in the world. To quote the article directly:

Al Qaeda is a Sunni terrorist organization that is not overly fond of Shiite Muslims. The Taliban was Iran’s nemesis when it was running Afghanistan. Yet, the Iranians have colluded with al Qaeda and armed the Taliban for what they see as the greater good of making trouble for us.

Mr. McCarthy reminds us that the brazenness of the attack should not be a surprise–Iran has been attacking us for some time, and we have not responded strongly. Why not continue if there are no consequences? He points out that in our search for moderates in the Iranian government, we are willing to avoid responding to almost anything–including an attempt at a direct attack within America.

At some point America is going to have to decide whether or not we are worth defending. Either our way of life is worth preserving or it is not. How should we deal with those who are determined to put an end to the American way of life?

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An Interesting Aspect Of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Visit To The United Nations Last Week

John Hinderaker at Power Line posted an article about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s statement to the United Nations last week that the September 11th attack on America was done by the Bush administration. Evidently, al Qaeda did not appreciate his remarks.

Power Line reports:

[T]he Yemen-based compiler of [al Qaeda’s] Inspire magazine wrote that President Ahmadinejad had appeared “ridiculous” when he questioned the origins of the attack that killed almost 3,000 people.

“The Iranian government has professed on the tongue of its president Ahmadinejad that it does not believe that al Qaeda was behind 9/11 but rather, the US government,” it said. “So we may ask the question: why would Iran ascribe to such a ridiculous belief that stands in the face of all logic and evidence?”

There is nothing I can add to that statement.

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