Friday, March 24, 2017

Eye on Iran: Senators Agree On Iran Sanctions Measure

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After more than a year of wrangling, senators announced a bipartisan bill Thursday to impose mandatory sanctions on Iran over its spate of ballistic missile tests and support for a group that President Trump may soon dub a terrorist organization. The measure from top Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee comes despite Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's repeated warnings that expanding sanctions against Iran would jeopardize the nuclear deal struck in 2015 - a deal that Trump promised to undo during his presidential campaign. Leading Democrats resisted an effort last year from Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and high-ranking Democrat Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) - both of whom opposed the Iran deal - to impose similar sanctions over fears that it would put the nuclear deal in a precarious position. The Obama administration also opposed efforts to expand sanctions against Iran, over fears it could adversely affect the controversial deal.

Both chambers of Congress are introducing bipartisan Iran sanctions bills this week just in time for the main pro-Israel lobby's annual conference in Washington. Legislation from House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., would require the Donald Trump administration to sanction Iranian and foreign individuals and entities that support Tehran's ballistic missile program, according to a copy obtained by Al-Monitor. The panel's top Democrat, Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., is co-sponsoring the bill, according to an aide. Meanwhile, in the Senate, Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., introduced broader legislation March 23 that would also target Iran over its human rights violations and terrorism. It would notably extend terrorism sanctions to the Islam Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and sanction anyone found to violate the international arms embargo against Iran.

The Trump administration is planning to roll out new targeted sanctions on Iran as soon as Friday, multiple sources tell CBS News. The sanctions will target foreign entities that have helped Iran with its ballistic missile program, but they are not believed to be a violation of the Obama-era international deal to freeze Iran's nuclear program. Although President Trump has publicly criticized that deal, European diplomats say they have been informed that Mr. Trump has agreed to honor it. But earlier this week, Mr. Trump said on camera at the start of a meeting with the Iraqi Prime Minister that "nobody knows why" his predecessor agreed to the deal which was also co-signed by Russia, China, Germany, Britain and France. "One of the things I did ask is, 'why did President Obama sign that agreement with Iran?' because nobody has been able to figure that one out," Mr. Trump said.


Iran maintains a network of spies and lobbyists who clandestinely push the Islamic regime's agenda in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, according to the head of Iran's ministry of intelligence, who touted the pro-Iran network's ability to spread its ideology to the West. Mahmoud Alavi, Iran's intelligence minister, in recent remarks independently translated by the Washington Free Beacon, bragged about the Islamic Republic's ability to operate an unnamed "lobby group" in D.C. that helps to push the regime's hardline agenda. Alavi disclosed that Iranians with dual citizenship in the United States, Canada, and England, remain devoted to the "Islamic revolution" and are working to promote this agenda in their adopted homelands.


Chinese telecommunications group ZTE fell as much as 2 per cent on Friday morning after the company announced a loss for 2016 following a $1.2bn fine for violating US sanctions on Iran and North Korea. ZTE reported after market close on Thursday a net loss of Rmb2.36bn ($342m) for the twelve months to December , which it said was primarily linked to a $892m fine imposed by the US Departments of Justice and Commerce. The company's revenue rose 1 per cent to Rmb101.23bn on growth from carrier's networks and its consumer business. ZTE said it expects to see new growth opportunities this year as technologies including virtual reality, 5G and smart cities drive market developments. It also forecast rapid growth in network data flow. Shares eased from the early fall to be down 0.3 per cent at HK$14.80. The benchmark Hang Seng index was up 0.1 per cent.


Amid a widening crackdown on journalists and activists in Iran ahead of the country's May 2017 presidential election, security agents arrested Morad Saghafi, the reformist editor-in-chief of Goftegoo (Conversation) magazine, on March 15, 2017 His lawyer, Hamed Zargar, said on March 16 that Saghafi had a phone conversation with a family member the day after he was arrested, and has little chance of being released on bail before the start of the Iranian New Year on March 21. Saghafi owns the Shirazeh (Essence) publishing house and is the executive director of Yek Shahr (One City), a non-governmental organization that aims to "elevate the people's ability to enjoy their rights as citizens and improve their lives."


Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, used his most important speech of the year to criticize President Hassan Rouhani and his administration's economic performance. With presidential elections two months away, Khamenei's criticism opens the door for other conservatives to attack the president on a vulnerability. The supreme leader's Nowruz (Iranian New Year) speech is similar to the State of the Union Address in the United States and delivered at the shrine of the 8th Shiite imam in the city of Mashhad, the most important site in the country for Iranian Shiites. In his speech on March 21, Khamenei discussed not only the previous year, but also laid out the most pressing issues for the upcoming year. Khamenei also proclaimed that this year, 1396, would be the "Year of Resistance Economy: Production and Employment." The president is largely responsible for managing the economy, so it is up to the president and his administration to ensure that Khamenei's economic objectives for the year are met.


Iranian Principlists are finding that getting their house in order ahead of an election is becoming more complicated than ever. As the conservative camp takes measures to agree on a single candidate who can challenge incumbent Hassan Rouhani in the May 19 presidential election, reports of internal strife continue to surface. In an attempt to unite behind a consensus nominee, some Principlists announced the formation of the Popular Front of Revolutionary Forces, known by its Persian acronym JAMNA, on Dec. 25. The founders of this group are 10 Principlist figures who many have speculated will be potential presidential candidates. Among them is former Minister of Health and Medical Education Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi, one of the Principlists' top prospects. However, JAMNA has yet to get the broader conservative camp to agree on a single candidate.

In Venezuela's Toxic Brew, Failed Narco-State Meets Iran-Backed Terrorism | Emanuele Ottolenghi and John Hannah for Foreign Policy

As if the political and economic chaos wracking Venezuela wasn't worrying enough, a couple of recent stories underscore the potential national security threat brewing there. First, last month's designation of Venezuela's vice president, Tareck El Aissami, as a drug kingpin by the U.S. Department of Treasury. Second, a CNN investigative report revealing that Venezuela's embassy in Iraq was allegedly selling Venezuelan passports and identity documents to Middle Eastern nationals - raising the disturbing prospect that Caracas is facilitating the entry of Islamist militants to Latin America. Indeed, the CNN report echoed revelations from 2013 that the Venezuelan embassy in Syria was issuing passports to terrorists under the direction of Ghazi Atef Nassereddine, a Treasury-sanctioned, FBI-wanted Venezuelan diplomat who happens to be a key Hezbollah operative. Put all this together and what do you get? A rabidly anti-American failed state that appears to be incubating the convergence of narco-trafficking and jihadism in America's own backyard.

None of nature's most vicious have an instinct for barbarism and cruelty like that of the Iranian Basij - Basij Mostazafan (mobilisation of the oppressed) - the foot soldiers of the Iranian regime. Acting out the role of morality police, they prowl the streets of Iran enforcing a code of conduct, mercilessly hunting down any women who disobey the rules on decency set down by the country's leading clerics, attacking those who do in the most horrendous way. In response to women breaking these laws, which have been enforced in Iran since the 1979 revolution, whether a women is inappropriately veiled and not wearing long loose fitting clothes such as a chador in public, or is seen to be wearing lipstick, or it is just a case of a young teenage girl seen to be "fraternizing" with a lad in public, such violations are all classed by the Iranian regime's hardliners as a sin in the spirit, or committing "indecent" behavior.

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.

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