Thursday, March 30, 2017

Eye on Iran: General Calls Iran 'Destabilizing' Force, Suggests US 'Disrupt' Regime By Military Means

View our videos on YouTube


The nation's top military official in the Middle East on Wednesday said Iran is one of the greatest threats to the U.S. today and has increased its "destabilizing role" in the region. "I believe that Iran is operating in what I call a gray zone," Commander of the U.S. Central Command, Army Gen. Joseph Votel, told the House Armed Services Committee in testimony Wednesday. "And it's an area between normal competition between states - and it's just short of open conflict." The general said Iran is exploiting this area in a variety of different ways, through things such as "lethal aid facilitation," the use of "surrogate forces" and cyber activities, among other things. He also believes Iran poses "the greatest long-term threat to stability" in the entire region.

Yemen's embattled president has launched a scathing verbal attack on Iran, saying the non-Arab and mostly Shiite nation is pursuing expansionist policies to destroy the Arab identity. Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi told an Arab summit in Jordan on Wednesday that Iran "is the true sponsor of terrorism." Civil war has raged in Yemen for two years. The fighting pits Hadi's troops, backed by a Saudi-led international military coalition of mostly Arab states, against Shiite Houthi rebels, led by Abdul-Malek al-Houthi and backed by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his forces. Iran supports fellow Shiite Houthis.

The speaker of the US House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, called to designate the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group, describing it as a "terrorist army." He said "Iran supports the terrorist dictator of Damascus and the militias in Yemen, Baghdad and Beirut." Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said in a speech to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) that "We must exploit all the tools of American power and work with our allies, especially Israel, to confront the threats of Iran." Ryan stressed that in recent weeks both the US administration and Congress took serious measures to increase sanctions against Iran, pointing out that sanctions are not the only tool Washington has to fight the nuclear Iran.


"What are Americans doing in the Persian Gulf? They had better get out of this region and not cause nuisance for the regional countries," General Dehqan said on Thursday, in reaction to recent anti-Iran comments by commander of the US Central Command, Army General Joseph Votel. In a testimony to the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, Votel, America's top military official in the Middle East, said Iran is one of the greatest threats to the US today and has increased its "destabilizing role" in the region. In response, Iran's Defense Minister said it is nonsense to expect that one would roll out a red carpet for an "insane armed robber" intruding on their home, referring to US military presence in the Persian Gulf off the coasts of Iran.


The European Commission has decided it will not impose provisional duties on hot-rolled steel from Brazil, Iran, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine, but could still find the countries have breached rules on unfair competition, industry sources said on Wednesday. Historically, Eurofer has been most concerned about China, the world's biggest steel producer, but now China has begun to rein in its output and Indian expansion is beginning to slow, it says a new threat is from Iran. Iran has ambitious plans for a sector it hoped would supply a growing domestic economy following the easing of international sanctions. But a deal in 2015 in which Iran would curb its nuclear programme in return for a relaxation of sanctions, has had less impact than foreseen as foreign partners have struggled to find financing that does not conflict with continued U.S. strictures. Iran stood out, with 19 Iranian new capacity projects between now and 2019, for a total of nearly 24 million tonnes of extra capacity in addition to an estimated 28 million tonnes achieved so far.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is able to make a most reliable partner for the European Union in the Middle East region, its Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday. "Undoubtedly Iran has proved to be an independent country that relies on its own people and capacities, enjoys economic and cultural capabilities, and can be trusted for its steadfastness and stabilizing [role]", Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said. Iran has been making great efforts to fight terrorism, violence and sources of instability in the region, the Iranian diplomat underlined. Qassemi said that political and economic relations between Tehran and the EU had improved as a result of the conclusion of the 2015 nuclear deal and consultations between the two sides over other different issues. Iran is capable of fulfilling the economic demands of the EU as it can provide an intact market for investment following the removal of sanctions against the country under the nuclear deal, Qassemi added.


Iran strongly denied any meddling on Thursday after Arab leaders condemned "foreign interference" in their affairs in a clear reference to the Islamic republic. Arab heavyweight Saudi Arabia has been at loggerheads with Iran over the conflicts in Syria and Yemen and political unrest in Bahrain, and the final statement from Wednesday's Arab summit in Jordan again hit out at Iran, without naming it. Iran has "said repeatedly it does not need to intervene in the domestic affairs of other countries and always abides by the principles of good neighbourliness and respect for the sovereignty of governments," foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said. "We cannot, however, hide our deep sorrow for some Arab and Islamic leaders, who instead of dealing with the most important crises in the region and the Muslim world... go astray and fail to distinguish friend from foe, either intentionally or by mistake.


The US base in Bahrain was among the targets of a terror cell linked to Iran that was plotting attacks against Bahrain's security and stability. "The terrorist cell was trained to target important figures and high-ranking officials, bomb a security convoy and attack the US base in Bahrain," Bahraini Interior Ministry Undersecretary Major-General Tariq Al-Hassan told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday. Al-Hassan said the cell had started to monitor the US base and closely document the movements of soldiers and vehicles. "The US side is informed about the plan," the general said. On Sunday, Bahrain said it had dismantled an Iranian-linked "terrorist cell" suspected of involvement in a bomb attack on a police bus on February 26 and plotting to assassinate senior officials. Al-Hassan said that contact between the terrorist cell and its leaders in Iran was conducted through specific applications using encrypted messages on social media networks.


Iran's presidential elections, as well as those for town and village councils, are scheduled for May 19. Yet even before registration opens for candidates, a string of journalists have been arrested. If they have been arrested simply for speaking out peacefully, it would violate the right of free expression and possibly threaten the fairness of the elections. This week, intelligence authorities ramped up detentions of peaceful critics, arresting journalists Hengameh Shahidi, Ehsan Mazandarani, and Morad Saghafi. Authorities told Mazandarani, who had been released from prison just a month earlier after serving his sentence for vaguely defined national security charges, that his release had been "a mistake."

Three prisoners by the names of Sina Dehghan, Mohammad Nouri and Marjan Davari have reportedly been sentenced to death by Iranian courts based solely on opinions or beliefs they expressed. "Verdicts like the ones issued to Sina Dehghan, Mohammad Nouri and Marjan Davari are reminiscent of the ones issued in the medieval times. The international community must speak out about their death sentences. We call for global condemnation," says Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson for Iran Human Rights. According to close sources, Sina Dehghan, a resident of Tehran, was arrested on October 21, 2015 by Ministry of Intelligence agents from the city of Arak. At the time of his arrest, Mr. Dehghan was reportedly just finishing up his mandatory military service at a base in Tehran operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Close sources say that prior to his arrest, Sina Dehghan along with Mohammad Nouri, Sahar Elyasi, and an individual under the age of 18 used the messenger app "Line" to share content that the judicial and security authorities in Iran consider offensive to Islam.

Sina Dehghan, sentenced to death for "insulting the prophet" of Islam when he was 19-years-old, was tricked into signing his confession, an informed source told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). Despite the severity of the charge, a court-appointed attorney who failed to defend him properly represented him during his trial, added the source, who requested anonymity for security reasons. "During his interrogation, Sina was told that if he signed a confession and repented, he would be pardoned and let go," said the source in an interview with CHRI on March 21, 2017. "Unfortunately, he made a childish decision and accepted the charges. Then they sentenced him to death." "Later he admitted that he signed the confession hoping to get freed," said  the source. "Apparently the authorities also got him to confess in front of a camera as well."


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is credited with pulling the economy back from the brink, but less than two months before his re-election bid, has he done enough to convince voters? "This year was full of stress - no jobs, recession, a stagnant housing market," said Ali Bakhtiyari, a jeweller in the Tajrish bazaar of northern Tehran. Business has been slow, he said, even during last week's run-up to Nowruz, the Persian new year. "The government is trying to unlock things, but four years have passed. The locks should have been opened by now," he told AFP. Such sentiments are heard everywhere on the Iranian street, and weigh heavy on Rouhani's bid for re-election in May. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has also been sharply critical of the government's economic performance.


In its latest report on human rights conditions in Iran, the U.S. State Department noted that in 2016 there were "severe restrictions" on the Iranian people's civil liberties, "including the freedoms of assembly, association, speech, religion and the press." In addition, the State Department reported "abuse of due process," as well as "politically motivated violence and repression, disappearances, [and] limitation on citizens' ability to choose their government peacefully through free and fair elections." The report also noted arbitrary arrest; denial of fair public trial; and the lack of independent judiciary. Recent news from human rights monitors confirm that the new year has not brought an end to such abuses in Iran.

These are hard times for Hassan Rouhani. With fewer than two months to go until Iran's next national election, currently scheduled to take place on May 19, the long knives are out for the soft-spoken cleric who serves as the country's president. Recent weeks have seen mounting criticism of Rouhani's stewardship of the Iranian government and the emergence of new challengers seeking to grab the political reins from the Islamic Republic's embattled incumbent. Both trends have also been blessed by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is pushing an increasingly populist-and protectionist-political line. At the core of Iran's souring national mood lies the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear deal signed between Iran and the P5+1 powers (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) back in July 2015.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said recently that any group taking up arms in Iraq outside the state's official framework will be considered outlaws. However, it seems at least some of the factions fighting under the banner of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) in Iraq would not obey Abadi's order. On March 22, Abadi spoke at a meeting of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS (Islamic State, or IS) in Washington. Also during his trip, he told the media that IS will be eliminated from Iraq's cities "within weeks." What will happen then? Hashim al-Musawi, the spokesman for Iran-controlled, Shiite Iraq militia known as the Islamic Resistance Movement in Iraq (al-Nojaba), announced earlier in the month the formation of the Golan Liberation Brigade. But the announcement appeared to be more a declaration that Iran-affiliated Iraqi militias will be ready to take on a greater role in the region once IS is gone. (In addition, Musawi threatened to take military action against Turkish forces stationed near Mosul if they refuse to leave Iraq.)

Eye on Iran is a periodic news summary from United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) a program of the American Coalition Against Nuclear Iran, Inc., a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Eye on Iran is not intended as a comprehensive media clips summary but rather a selection of media elements with discreet analysis in a PDA friendly format. For more information please email

United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) is a non-partisan, broad-based coalition that is united in a commitment to prevent Iran from fulfilling its ambition to become a regional super-power possessing nuclear weapons.  UANI is an issue-based coalition in which each coalition member will have its own interests as well as the collective goal of advancing an Iran free of nuclear weapons.

No comments:

Post a Comment