How Iran Continues To Deceive The West

Obama Iran contrast

Last week’s IAF strike on a Hezbollah convoy near Kuneitra on the Israel-Syria border, in which six members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were killed, has led to increased Iranian threats to annihilate the Jewish State.

Iranian top officials vowed to hit Israel with “devastating thunderbolts” that would cause “the collapse of the Zionist regime.” The IAF strike killed Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ali Allahdadi, who oversaw Iranian military actions in Syria on behalf of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

The presence of the IRGC members on the Golan Heights in Syria has led to speculation that Iran and Hezbollah were on the verge of executing a military operation against Israel.

Eyal Ben Reuven, a retired Israeli major general and former deputy head of the Northern Command of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), last week said that if the “highest level of Hezbollah and IRGC commanders were in the Golan Heights it means that what they’re planning could be an operation on a high level.”

Other reports claimed that Hezbollah planned to bring rocket launchers to the Kuneitra area in order to open a new front against Israel from the Golan Heights.

This seems to be pure speculation. The fact of the matter is that IRGC members were on a reconnaissance mission on the Golan Heights.

What does that mean? It is new evidence of Iran’s success in advancing its strategy for Syria and other parts of the Middle East (Iraq, Yemen, Gaza, Bahrain).

The aim of this strategy is to widen Iran’s influence in the Middle East and beyond. It is for this reason too that Iran develops nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles; and it is one of the reasons it aims to destroy Israel, the sole regional superpower. It is therefore more reasonable to assume that Israel delivered a strong signal to Iran to not upset the delicate status quo on the Golan Heights, and that it will put limits on Iran’s activities adjacent to Israeli borders.

Iran’s involvement in Syria

Israel apparently realizes that Iran has taken over control of (what remains of) Syria from President al-Assad.

Here is how that happened.

In late 2012, al-Assad was on the ropes in his battle with opposition groups such as al-Nusra in the north of Syria and the area around Damascus. He had to make tough choices and decided to shift his forces from the Qusayr area to the area of Damascus and to eastern Ghouta and Daraya.

At that point, Hezbollah and IRGC stepped in to defend Qusayr to make sure that Homs would not be cut off from Damascus and to secure access from the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon to Damascus and Homs.

However, as has become clear from a recent Der Spiegel report, there was another reason for the Iranians to step in at Qusayr.  The German Magazine reported on January 9th that it had obtained secret information that made clear that the world had again been misled about Syria’s nuclear ambitions. A new nuclear facility had been built after Israel destroyed Syria’s nuclear reactor in Deir al-Zur in 2007.

This new nuclear facility is located west of Qusayr, two kilometers from the border with Lebanon.  The area saw heavy fighting between al-Nusra and elite Hezbollah units in the spring of 2013. Hezbollah suffered heavy losses, but succeeded in holding the area.

Intercepted radio traffic between a high-ranking Hezbollah operative and Ibrahim Othman, the head of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission, delivered the clearest proof that an underground nuclear facility has been built in Qusayr. The Hezbollah man referred to the site as the “atomic factory.” During the intercepted conversations, he also mentioned that members of the IRGC were working at the facility.

According to Der Spiegel, it is almost certain that Chou Ji Bu, the engineer who built the nuclear reactor in Yongbyon in North Korea, is also involved in the new nuclear project at Qusayr.

Der Spiegel labeled the secret facility at Qusayr “a new Syrian push for nuclear weapons.” However, the area has been controlled by Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard since mid-2013. The commander of the Iranian paramilitary al-Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, was the one who fully orchestrated the Hezbollah takeover of Qusayr.

Though it is true that al-Assad originally directed the work in Qusayr that began in 2009, today it is clear that Hezbollah and the IRGC are the ones controlling the facility.

Members of the Free Syrian Army in the area of Qusayr reported on January 12th that Iranian officers were supervising the secret facility and that the Syrian regime is only a cover-up for this.

Another indication that Iran has de facto taken over Syria came from IRGC commander Haji Zadeh. He said that Iran is now manufacturing Iranian missiles on Syrian soil. He also said that Iranian missiles were made to hit Israel in the first place.

From Zadeh’s statement, it becomes clear that Iran uses the territory of Syria to advance its quest for regional domination and to advance its plans for the destruction of Israel.

Qusayr and JPOA

It is no coincidence either that Iran now controls a nuclear facility outside its own territory. Although Syria is a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, inspections by the IAEA are not possible because of the turmoil in the country. This is an ideal situation for Iran, which is currently negotiating with the P5+1 countries about a deal designed to curb its nuclear program.

Under the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) that was part of the interim deal between Iran and the six UNSC countries from November 2013, Iran should halt activities at its plutonium plant in Arak. The White House fact sheet stated: “Iran has committed to no further advances of its activities at Arak and to halt progress on its plutonium track.”

Observers were quick to notice that the text contained a loophole. The reference to activities at Arak seemed to allow unlimited research and work on locations away from the site as long as they did not physically happen at Arak.

Later, it became clear that Iran had noticed the loophole too. Foreign Minister Zarif announced that Iran would continue construction at the facility. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki did not see any problem when reporters pressed her on the issue. She asked: “What’s the big deal about a road here or a building there?”

Foreign Policy last month reported that the United States has privately accused Iran of an international shopping spree to acquire components for a heavy water reactor such as the one in Arak. The magazine wrote that a U.S. delegation informed a UNSC panel of experts that Iranian procurement agents have been increasing their efforts to illicitly obtain equipment for the reactor at the Arak nuclear complex.

It is not clear yet what type of nuclear facility has been built at Qusayr. Weapons expert Jennifer Dyer says it is certainly not a centrifuge facility like the complexes in Natanz and Fordo in Iran. It could be a plant where yellowcake is converted to UF4 and is metalized into fuel rods for a reactor. But it also could be a plutonium facility.

The reactor in Deir al-Zur was assessed to be a gas-graphite reactor like the one in Yongbyon, North Korea. That reactor could produce enough plutonium for one or two plutonium bombs per year, Dyer wrote.

Whatever the type of nuclear facility in Qusayr, the fact is that Iran has decided to use Syrian territory to advance its nuclear program. The US State Department, however, insists that the facility in Qusayr has nothing to do with the Iranian nuclear program and that the issue will not be discussed in the ongoing negotiations with Iran.

Israeli TV shows Iranian IBM

Other evidence of Iran’s aggressive ambitions was published by Israeli TV Channel Two last week.

The Channel showed a satellite image taken by the Israeli EROS B satellite of a twenty seven meter-long Iranian Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (IBM) on a launch pad close to Teheran. This type of missile is generally used to carry a nuclear warhead and can reach the United States.

The existence of such a missile was known to Israeli intelligence. But Channel Two now reported that although images of the missile were never shown in the US and Europe, the existence of the IBM has been known to the West for at least two years. So both the EU and the US knew about the existence of the missile before they signed the interim agreement with Iran.

Iran is obligated by United Nations Security Council resolutions to suspend work on ballistic missiles. The images published by Channel Two clearly show that Iran has violated these UNSC resolutions.

More astonishing, however, is the fact that the JPOA that was part of the interim agreement between Iran and the 5+1 countries did not impose any restrictions on ballistic missile development. Originally, an US National Security Council official said that an Iranian ballistic missile test would “be in violation of the agreement” and cause the deal to “cease to exist.”

Obama officials, however, clarified their stance. Instead of imposing absolute restrictions on such tests, the JPOA apparently imposed no restrictions on ballistic missile tests. As a result, Iran now possesses a missile that can carry a nuclear warhead to the United States.

Twelve fruitless years of negotiations

These recent developments involving Iran show clearly that the regime in Teheran has not changed its ways and is still advancing its agenda of exporting the Islamic revolution by destabilizing the region.

It is also very clear that Iran keeps making progress on its nuclear program and is only conducting talks with the P5+1 -countries to buy time.

How do we know this? In fact, it is a simple story. The West has been negotiating with Iran for twelve years now. Iran’s position has remained unchanged since 2003, when the EU3 countries started to engage Iran regarding its nuclear program, through 2008, when U.S. Under Secretary of State William Burns joined the negotiations, until today, when the Obama administration is trying to obtain a deal.

The regime in Teheran insists on its right to enrich uranium and to build new nuclear facilities. Iran continues to work on the development of ballistic missiles that are used to carry nuclear warheads.

The Iranians also breached the JPOA by feeding gas into IR-5 centrifuges and by testing advanced IR-8 centrifuges. They illicitly acquired parts for their heavy-water reactor and busted through energy caps every single month of the deal. Iran is also heavily involved in a new nuclear facility in Syria that could be a plutonium plant.

Last week, IAEA director Yukiya Amono  said that Iran still refuses to give the Atomic Agency all the information it needs to determine if all of the Iranian nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes.

Here is what Amono said during a speech at the University of Indonesia last Friday: “As far as Iran is concerned, the Agency is able to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared to us by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. But we are not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is for peaceful activities.”

When the moment of truth came in the negotiations in July and November last year, the Iranians refused once again to accept the proposals to limit their nuclear program.

At the same time, the positions of the West have totally collapsed. Gone is the demand that Iran dismantle its centrifuges and ship its uranium stock to a third country. Also gone is the demand that Iran cease all uranium enrichment as well as the demand to downgrade its plutonium reactor. And finally, the original demand to halt all proliferation-sensitive missile activity has gone, too.

The original Western threat that “all options (including the military) are on the table” to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold power has become a joke. Now, the U.S. administration even opposes a Congressional bill to impose deadline-triggered sanctions against Iran if no reasonable deal is reached by July of this year.

During a closed-door meeting of Senate Democrats in Baltimore last week, Obama charged that the Congressmen who favor the bill were doing so only to please “donors.” Everybody in the room understood that he meant Jewish and pro-Israel donors. Senator Robert Menendez, who initiated the bill, took this as a personal affront; but Obama didn’t back away from his statement.

While on CBS’ ‘Face the Nation’, Senator John McCain this weekend said that the president has lost touch with reality. He said that Iran is on the march everywhere, and there is no strategy to defeat them. McCain stated that there is a need for congressional ratification of any agreement that is made, and that it is important that Israeli PM Netanyahu speak to the American people about the dangers of a nuclear Iran.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Obama’s Foreign Policy Blunders To Explode

Photo credit: Navajo Nation Washington Office (Flickr)

When it comes to foreign policy, 2014 might have seemed unstable. But the actual shooting wars were well contained.

As we look forward to 2015, however, the landscape looks more chaotic than ever.

Let’s take a tour through the top five foreign policy blunders that are about to erupt over the coming months…

Blunder #1: Iran. When Obama entered office, the containment of Iran was a primary objective of American policy. Iran was using Russian and North Korean technology to become a nuclear power with a stated objective of ending the “Jewish” occupation of Palestine.

Iran’s nuclear program is an existential threat that Israel cannot (and should not) allow. 2015 is the year Israel moves unilaterally to end this threat.

Obama has been trying to coax Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions through diplomacy. This has been an adventure in naivety. To his surprise, Obama’s coaxing has only given Iran the time and ability it needed to consolidate its technological gains.

Expect Iran to become a flashpoint in 2015.

Blunder #2: Syria. Next up is Syria. (Iran and Russia are involved here, also.) Bashar al-Assad has hung on as Syrian President against all odds. His civil war, which began as a legitimate democracy movement, metastasized into the Islamic State.

If Obama had left well enough alone and not encouraged jihadi warriors with his support of the Arab Spring, then Assad would have likely never seen his country disintegrate. We’re now in Syria fighting – essentially, with Assad – because of Obama’s earlier bloopers.

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Blunder #3: Iraq. The Islamic State also was greatly helped by Obama’s premature withdrawal from Iraq. Iraq has suffered under unbelievable incompetence by both Bush and Obama.

Bush should have never dissolved the Iraqi Army. And just as a new one was finally taking shape, Obama left the field, and they disintegrated (this time on the battlefield).

Blunder #4: Ukraine. Circle around to Ukraine, and you see Obama pushing Russia up against the wall with economic sanctions and military aggressiveness within sight of their border. How would America feel if Russia made a deal with Mexico to station Russian tanks on our southern border?

Ukraine deserves freedom, but real freedom will result not from economic sanctions and blustering talk. The country suffered horribly in 2014. Its currency has lost half of its value. Food and medicine are scarce; and in parts of the country, a live shooting war is taking place.

Vladimir Putin shouldn’t shoulder all of the blame. Putin has been aggressive and has tried to look strong, but he’s Russian and proud. The way to deal with Russia is how Reagan handled the situation. Be firm, but also extend the hand of friendship. Eternal economic sanctions only hurt the lower classes. The elites never feel the pain.

Blunder #5: Asia. Asia also has some really urgent problems. Rhetoric is heating up between India and Pakistan. These two nuclear powers just can’t keep from fighting. Essentially, it boils down to a religious war between Islamic Pakistan and the Hindu-influenced Indian government.

Obama has ignored Pakistan and encouraged instability there by using a highly destabilizing drone policy in which the United States insists it has the right to kill people inside of other sovereign nations. This is a policy fraught with unintended future consequences (none of them good).

Bottom line: I hope you’re prepared… Any of these Obama failures has the ability to spin out of control and strike U.S. financial markets – creating uncertainty, which limits economic growth and the future of peace.

 

This commentary originally appeared at WallStreetDaily.com and is reprinted here with permission. 

Photo credit: Navajo Nation Washington Office (Flickr)

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Syria Causing Heated Debate On Capitol Hill

Photo credit: Navajo Nation Washington Office (Flickr)

The big debate before the Committee on Foreign Relations is an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) in Syria.

Under normal circumstances, this would involve the Obama administration sending Congress a draft AUMF resolution and requesting its passage.

These types of resolutions are required under the War Powers Act, and have largely replaced the constitutionally required Declaration of War.

But Obama has sent nothing to Congress.

He seems to believe the open-ended resolution that was passed in 2002 – giving President Bush the authorization to oust Saddam Hussein – still gives him enough power to push ahead with war in Syria.

So, as Senate Democrats are rushing to pass one of these resolutions before Republicans take control of the Committee (and the U.S. Senate) in January, what can we expect to happen?

Not Another Iraq…

Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey (Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations for the next few weeks) wants any resolution to contain clear boundaries on troop deployments and a limited timeframe–the main reason being the Democrats’ frustration with the open-ended resolution Bush had on Iraq.

On December 10, Secretary of State John Kerry was on Capitol Hill arguing against the restriction. And here’s what he said before the Committee: “The fact is that we’re going to continue this operation, because the president and the administration are absolutely convinced – and I respect your opinion – [that] we have the authority.”

Translation: They believe they don’t need Congress’ okay.

In hindsight, it’s ironic that both Obama and Kerry held different opinions when they were in the U.S. Senate. As Senators, both were actively trying to limit President Bush’s actions as Commander-in-Chief.

Unconstitutional Moves?

At this point, the fight is primarily within the Democratic Party. Most Republicans are sitting on the sidelines because they believe the U.S. President has wide latitude to make his own decisions concerning the use of force. Heck, the majority of Republicans would give even Barack Obama a blank check to run the war anyway he pleases.

While the Republicans are mum, one stands alone – Rand Paul. And his position is much more principled. Paul believes we don’t need an AUMF resolution, but a full-blown Declaration of War (as mandated by the U.S. Constitution) before Obama moves forward.

At the same hearing… Paul said, “The Constitution is quite clear that this responsibility lies with Congress… For four or five months, we’ve been derelict in our duty… [and] I think this president has been derelict.”

So there’s the real division in D.C.: Both the Democrats and Republicans disregard the Constitution’s call for a Declaration of War – happy to settle with an AUMF. Obama has even less care for the rule of law, as he doesn’t even want a new AUMF.

And yet, only the Tea Party Constitutionalist Rand Paul wants a Declaration of War. And by the look of things, he’s completely outnumbered.

 

This commentary originally appeared at WallStreetDaily.com and is reprinted here with permission. 

Photo credit: Navajo Nation Washington Office (Flickr)

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

House Chooses New Cold War With Russia

Photo credit: speaker.gov

Last week, the US House voted overwhelmingly in favor of an anti-Russia resolution so full of war propaganda that it rivals the rhetoric from the chilliest era of the Cold War. Ironically, much of the bill condemns Russia for doing exactly what the US government has been doing for years in Syria and Ukraine!

For example, one of the reasons to condemn Russia in the resolution is the claim that Russia is imposing economic sanctions on Ukraine. But how many rounds of sanctions has the US government imposed on Russia for much of the past year? I guess sanctions are only bad when used by countries Washington doesn’t like.

The resolution condemns Russia for selling weapons to the Assad government in Syria. But the US has been providing weapons to the rebels in Syria for several years, with many going to terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS that the US is currently bombing!

The resolution condemns what it claims is a Russian invasion of Ukraine (for which it offers no proof) and Russian violation of Ukrainian sovereignty. But it was the US, by backing a coup against the democratically elected Yanukovich government in February, that first violated that country’s sovereignty. And as far as a military presence in Ukraine, it is the US that has openly sent in special forces and other military advisors to assist the government there. How many times have top US military and CIA officials visited Kiev to offer advice (and probably a lot more)?

The resolution condemns Russia for what it claims are attempts to “illicitly acquire information” about the US government. But we learned from the Snowden revelations that the NSA is spying on most of the rest of the world, including our allies! How can the US claim the moral authority to condemn such actions in others?

The resolution attacks Russian state-funded media, claiming that they “distort public opinion.” At the same time, the bill demands that the thousands of US state-funded media outlets step up their programming to that part of the world! It also seeks “appropriate responses” to Russian media influence in the rest of the world. That should be understood to mean that US diplomats would exert pressure on foreign countries to shut down television networks like RT.

The resolution condemns what it claims is Russia’s provision of weapons to the Russian-speaking eastern part of Ukraine, which seeks closer ties with Russia, while demanding that the US government start providing weapons to its proxies on the other side.

As I have said, this is one of the worst pieces of legislation I can remember. And trust me, I have seen some pretty bad bills. It is nothing but war propaganda, and it will likely lead to all sorts of unintended consequences.

Only ten Members — five from each party — opposed this reckless resolution. Probably most of those who voted in favor did not bother to read the bill. Others who read it and still voted in favor may have calculated that the bill would not come up in the Senate. So they could vote yes and please the hawks in their districts — and more importantly remain in good graces of the hawks who run foreign policy in Washington — without having to worry about the consequences if the bill became law.

Whatever the case, we must keep an eye on those Members of Congress who vote to take us closer to war with Russia. We should thank those ten Members who were able to resist the war propaganda. The hawks in Washington believe that last month’s election gave them free rein to start more wars. Now, more than ever, they must be challenged!

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Exposed: The Ridiculousness Of The Kumbaya Temptation

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Nov. 4 was a national vote of no confidence in Barack Obama.

Had a British prime minister received a vote like this, he would have resigned by now.

The one issue on which all Republicans agreed, and all ran, was the rejection of Obama. And by fleeing from him, some even refusing to admit they voted for him, Democrats, too, were conceding that this election was about Obama, and that they were not to blame for his failures.

Yet, though this was a referendum on Obama and his policies, and though both were repudiated, some pundits are claiming that America voted for an “end to gridlock” and a new era of compromise and conciliation.

How so? If the American people were truly saying that, why did they vote to turn the Senate over to Mitch McConnell? Why did they vote to send more Republicans to strengthen the hand of John Boehner and those in the House who had “shut down” the government?

Did America vote for the GOP to go back to Washington and work with Obama? Or did America reward the GOP for promising to return and continue to oppose Obama’s policies?

Is the answer not obvious?

What Republicans are hearing now is the siren song of a Beltway elite that just got its clock cleaned, an elite that revels in Republican defeats, but is ever at hand to give guidance and counsel to Republicans when they win.

And that counsel is always the same: Time to put the acrimony behind us. Time to reach out and take the extended hand of the defeated. Time to come together to end gridlock and move forward. And invariably, this means move in the same old direction, if a bit more slowly.

Consider several areas where the kumbaya temptation is strongest.

The first is the rising clamor from Corporate America for the newly empowered Republicans to grant Obama fast track authority and support his Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Fast track would be a unilateral surrender of Congressional authority, yielding all power to amend trade treaties to Obama, and leaving Congress with a yes or no vote on whatever treaty he brings home.

This would be a Republican ratification of the policies of Bush I and II that produced $10 trillion in trade deficits, hollowed out our manufacturing base, and sent abroad the jobs of millions of Reagan Democrats.

Globalization carpet-bombed Middle America and killed the Nixon-Reagan coalition that used to give the GOP 49-state landslides.

Why would Republicans return to that Bush-Clinton-Obama policy that ended the economic independence of Eisenhower’s America?

The party should re-embrace economic patriotism, stand up to Japanese protectionists and Chinese currency manipulators, and put American workers first, ahead of corporate outsourcers.

Immigration reform is a second area where the GOP is being urged, even by some of its own, to compromise. In return for Obama agreeing to improve border security, Republicans will be asked to go along with amnesty for millions here illegally.

But did any Republican run on amnesty? Is the nation demanding amnesty? If not, then who is?

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom