Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Eye on Iran: Iran's Khamenei Blames U.S. For Regional Instability, Creation Of Islamic State

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Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday blamed the United States for instability in the Middle East and said Washington's fight against the Islamic State militant group was "a lie". "You (the United States) and your agents are the source of instability in the Middle East...who created Islamic State? America ... America's claim of fighting against Islamic State is a lie," Khamenei said in a meeting with high-ranking Iranian officials, according to his official website. Iran and the United States cut diplomatic ties shortly after Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution and enmity to Washington has long been a rallying point for hardline supporters of Khamenei in Iran. Khamenei has made several statements denouncing the United States since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, while U.S. President Donald Trump has spoken out against Iran in harsh terms since taking office, indicating that he will reverse the previous administration's attempts at rapprochement with Tehran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday said Saudi Arabia was supporting militants inside Iran, days after hardline Sunni group Islamic State claimed attacks in Tehran Relations between the two neighbors are at their most tense in years. Last week Riyadh, along with other Arab governments, severed ties with Qatar, citing its support of Iran as one of the main reasons for the move. Two days later, the suicide bombings and shootings in Tehran killed 17 people. Iran repeated accusations that Saudi Arabia funds Islamic militants including Islamic State. Riyadh has denied involvement in the attacks. "We have intelligence that Saudi Arabia is actively engaged in promoting terrorist groups on the eastern side of Iran, in Baluchistan," Zarif told a news conference held on the sidelines of a conference on peace mediation in Oslo.

Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said on Monday the Trump administration will end up abiding by the 2015 nuclear deal despite its protestations to the contrary because it is in the national interest of the United States. Trump has previously said that the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran is a "disaster" and the "worst deal ever negotiated". "Unfortunately the behavior from the new administration in Washington is not very promising," Zarif told reporters after meeting his Norwegian counterpart. "We believe that at the end of the day they will find it necessary to abide by the deal. "I believe the U.S. administration will find it in the interest of the United States, as well as the interest of international peace and security, to live up to its commitments."


Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn plans to introduce an amendment to an Iran sanctions measure that would target the country's largest commercial airline. Cornyn, R-Texas, in a Senate floor speech, said his amendment would require Homeland Security to list airports where Mahan Air operates and come up with increased security measures for Americans traveling to those airports. Mahan Air, Cornyn said, "doubles as a preferred mode of transportation for terrorists and their weapons," and "is a conduit for personnel, weapons, and a violent ideology throughout the region." Cornyn said Mahan has been expanding international routes, including airports in Europe. "This is an obvious threat to the safety and security of the people where these planes are allowed to land," Cornyn said.


New efforts by Iranian-backed militias to control supply lines in southern Syria highlight an alarming trend in the war-torn region: Militias and their foreign backers are accelerating their rivalry for power as the U.S.-led coalition shrinks the Islamic State's territory. "You can see everyone maneuvering frenetically," said Michael Knights, an analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The problem surfaced in recent weeks when Iranian-backed militias maneuvered close to a U.S. outpost in southern Syria. The outpost at al-Tanf is a base for several hundred coalition advisers and the local forces they are supporting. Last week, U.S.-led coalition aircraft struck the militias for a third time to warn them away from U.S. forces. An American warplane also shot down an Iranian-built armed drone operating in the same area after it fired at U.S. advisers and their partner forces.


Since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, about 90 case files were reportedly opened in the city of Qazvin (central Iran) for individuals who were caught eating or drinking during the fasting hours. The Iranian state-run media, Mehr, announced the news, citing the Prosecutor of Qazvin.  According to the Qazvin Prosecutor, 20 individuals were issued flogging sentences and fines on the same day as their arrests, and their sentences were reportedly carried out on the same day as well.  Flogging is a clear example of torture and a violation of Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.


Police in Iran killed four Daesh (ISIS) suspects, two of them foreigners, in the southern province of Hormuzgan and seized explosives, guns and the group's flag, an Iranian news agency said Monday. A major security operation is underway after 17 people were killed last Wednesday in suicide bombings and gun attacks in Tehran, the first to be claimed by the hard-line Sunni Islamist group Daesh inside Iran, a Shiite power. "Police forces clashed with the four men and killed them in a mountainous area in southern Iran," the semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted a local police chief as saying. Two of those killed were not Iranian, he said, without elaborating. Guns, ammunition, explosives and the flag of Daesh were seized during the operation, Tasnim reported, citing the police chief. A local official at the port town of Jask, also in Hormuzgan, said five suspects linked to Daesh were detained Monday, Iran's Mizan news agency reported.


My remarks today are based on a recent Iran Watch report about transparency under the JCPOA. The agreement promised more information on Iran's nuclear program and greater access to Iranian facilities. Such transparency was described as one of the primary benefits of the JCPOA by architects of the agreement and its supporters. However, this promise has not been fulfilled. Instead, a sort of diplomatic veil has been drawn over Iran's nuclear status, obscuring important parts of it from view. Initially, the veil may have been drawn to preserve the agreement, but it is our view that the lack of transparency now raises questions about whether the monitoring, verification, and enforcement measures of the JCPOA are functioning properly.

As all acts of terrorism go, Wednesday's twin attacks, carried out by the Islamic State against Iran's parliament and the tomb of the Islamic Republic's founder, were heinous crimes that shed the blood of defenseless civilians. The attacks drew condemnations from heads of state and political figures across the world. President Trump also reminded that "states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote," a reference to Iran's destabilizing role in the region. However, the difference between an attack taking place in Tehran and recent terrorist attacks in London and Manchester is that the Iranian regime is not a victim but a beneficiary, and will use it to justify suppressing dissent and expanding its nefarious agendas in the region.

The rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran is consuming the Middle East in proxy conflicts from Yemen to Syria - and now in a diplomatic spat with Qatar. But their struggle is also one of narratives, a war of words that has reached the shores of the United States and is raging in the nation's capital. The recent juxtaposition of images of Donald Trump in Riyadh - showered in Saudi ostentation, his hands on a glowing orb - and of jubilant Iranians on the streets of Tehran celebrating the re-election of President Hassan Rouhani provoked a flare-up of Twitter volleys and op-eds over a few days defending or attacking the Iranians and the Saudis. In response to praise on Twitter about Iran's elections, Ali Shihabi - a former Saudi banker who recently set up the Arabia Foundation in Washington, D.C. - shot back: "Iran had a revolution, killed hundreds of thousands of its people, 'elections' to posts with no power while unelected Supreme Leader rules."

Two terrorist attacks that recently rocked the capital of Tehran illustrated the truth behind the well-worn adage, "You reap what you sow." Karma, meet the extremist mullahs of Tehran.  First and foremost, the Islamic State's terrorist attacks are truly a human calamity, and there is never any justification for terrorism. As fellow global citizens linked through our humanity, we sympathize with the relatives and friends of the 17 people killed at Iran's parliament in Tehran, and certainly with the victims. It is also important to recognize the significant role that symbolism plays in both Iranian and Middle Eastern cultures. Which is why the second terrorist attack targeting Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's tomb complex, the leader of Iran's Islamic revolution, was a veritable attack at Iran's core. These twin terror attacks, striking the mullahs' parliament and shrine to the Khomeini, represent a very painful bitter pill for the Iranian regime to swallow.

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 press@uani.com.

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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