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April 14, 2015 0

How to Deal With Iranian Expansionism

By Abra­ham H. Fox­man
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

At the very moment that a nuclear deal with Iran is look­ing closer to real­ity, Iran is expand­ing its influ­ence through­out the Mid­dle East. To the Saudis, the Emi­rates and Israel — all of whom see Iran as the great­est threat in the region — this is a dis­turb­ing phenomenon.

Israel has reacted by call­ing on the United States to link the nuclear nego­ti­a­tions to Iran’s broader behav­ior in the region.  In his address before a joint ses­sion of Con­gress, Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Netanyahu said the U.S. should not sign a deal until Iran halts its ter­ror­ist activ­ity and ceases its sup­port of extrem­ist groups. More recently, the prime min­is­ter has called for no agree­ment until Iran accepts Israel’s     legitimacy.

Not sur­pris­ingly, the U.S. rejected those pro­pos­als as unachiev­able and saw them as an effort to block any nuclear deal.

The Saudis, in their usual way, took a more restrained approach, say­ing nice things about the frame­work agree­ment while decry­ing Iran’s activ­i­ties on many fronts in the region. Clearly, at this moment when the U.S. is pro­vid­ing essen­tial sup­port for the Saudi-led mil­i­tary coali­tion against the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen, they are not look­ing for a full-blown con­fronta­tion with their main ally and sup­porter, the United States.

On the other hand, the Saudis con­tinue to express in many ways their frus­tra­tion with what they per­ceive to be weak Amer­i­can lead­er­ship in the region. While not will­ing to link their cri­tique to the nuclear issue, they have found other ways to get their point across.

Their most extreme reac­tion took place in the fall of 2013 when in an unprece­dented fash­ion they turned down a seat at the United Nations Secu­rity Coun­cil. While they never stated a rea­son it was widely under­stood to be a protest over Amer­i­can pol­icy toward Syria and Iran.

Since then, Saudi con­cerns have only grown as they watch a con­tin­ued Iran­ian role in Syria and Iraq, U.S. coop­er­a­tion with Iran against ISIS and — more recently — the poten­tial for new sig­nif­i­cant Iran­ian influ­ence in Yemen through the Houthis.

Both the Israelis and the Saudis fear that lift­ing the deep­est sanc­tions against Iran through the nuclear deal will fur­ther embolden Iran­ian expansionism.

More­over, what­ever their views on the nuclear deal, they fear that the basic under­ly­ing theme, despite U.S. protests to the con­trary, is that Iran under Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani is an evolv­ing nation that can be moved toward a state of nor­malcy both at home and in its inter­na­tional rela­tions. So they worry that after the nuclear deal is signed, sealed and deliv­ered, the U.S. will be even more reluc­tant to iden­tify Iran for what is and to take action against it.

What is it that the U.S. admin­is­tra­tion can do to reas­sure its allies?

First, its rhetoric about Iran­ian behav­ior must be ele­vated by many deci­bels. The notion that such a change would jeop­ar­dize the nuclear talks does not ring true. The Ira­ni­ans have a huge inter­est in the removal of sanc­tions while also being able to main­tain its nuclear infra­struc­ture. They are not very likely to walk away because of a more hon­est and focused U.S. approach to Iran­ian behavior.

It was encour­ag­ing in that respect that Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry on April 8 on PBS New­sHour crit­i­cized Iran for sup­ply­ing the Houthis in Yemen and added that the U.S. “could do two things at once” – the nuclear deal and con­tain­ment of Iran’s desta­bi­liz­ing activ­i­ties in the region.

Still, a more sus­tained U.S. approach is needed, one which rec­og­nizes that Iran remains unre­pen­tant and extreme — includ­ing recent state­ments by its lead­ers call­ing for Israel’s destruc­tion — and is the great­est threat in the region.

Call­ing atten­tion to the huge arse­nal of mis­siles amassed by Iran­ian sur­ro­gate, Hezbol­lah, is a good place to start.

Using Holo­caust Remem­brance Day on April 15 to denounce Iran’s open call for Israel’s destruc­tion, most recently by the head of the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard, would add to the chorus.

And finally, the president’s remarks about hav­ing Israel’s back in the face of any Iran­ian threat should be reflected in clear agree­ments. What exactly does it mean for the U.S. to be there for Israel and Saudi Arabia?

This becomes more sig­nif­i­cant than ever because of the per­cep­tion that the eager­ness for the nuclear deal was partly moti­vated by a U.S. desire to pull back from the region. And, it is sig­nif­i­cant because Saudi con­cerns about a poten­tially expand­ing nuclear Iran could lead them to seek their own nuclear weapons.  The con­se­quences for the region and the world of such nuclear pro­lif­er­a­tion would be disastrous.

Even before the nuclear frame­work agree­ment, the U.S. had a lot of work to do to reas­sure its allies in the Mid­dle East.

The need for such reas­sur­ance takes on a greater urgency as the real­ity of the nuclear agree­ment and the prospect of an embold­ened Iran loom larger.

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July 25, 2014 1

Iran Weekly: Selected News & Developments

The fol­low­ing is a selec­tion of news reports and com­men­tary from Iran­ian media and main­stream pub­li­ca­tions on devel­op­ments per­tain­ing to Iran. This weekly update includes a sam­pling of pub­lished reports from Iran’s Farsi-language media*as well as rel­e­vant arti­cles from the inter­na­tional press.

Iran­ian Media

The only rem­edy is the destruc­tion of the Zion­ist regime*
(Office of the Supreme Leader – July 24, 2014)khamenei-tehran-university-speech

In a meet­ing with stu­dent group at Tehran Uni­ver­sity on Thurs­day, Supreme Leader Aya­tol­lah Ali Khamenei said that “Israel must be wiped out.” Khamenei added that this “rem­edy” is not meant “to destroy the Jew­ish peo­ple from that region.” Khamenei also repeated that the government’s solu­tion to the ques­tion of Pales­tine is for all the inhab­i­tants of the Holy Land to hold a ref­er­en­dum, “and through this way the ille­git­i­mate usurp­ing regime will be removed.”

Iran urges Pales­tini­ans, Syr­ian, Lebanese resis­tance groups to ink defense pact
(Fars News Agency – July 22, 2014)

Moham­mad Reza Naqdi, the com­man­der of the Basij force, called on regional ter­ror­ist groups to sign a defense treaty. Naqdi added, “We ask the resis­tance forces in Pales­tine, Syria and Lebanon to endorse a defense pact so that an attack on any of them will be an attack on all of them and if the Zion­ist regime makes an aggres­sion against any of them, all of them will grow united to con­front it.”

Rouhani calls for peo­ples’ mas­sive turnout in Quds Day ral­lies
(Fars News Agency – July 22, 2014)

Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani appealed to the nation to come out in larger num­bers than before for Friday’s Quds Day ral­lies against Israel. “The more mag­nif­i­cent this year’s Quds Day ral­lies are held, the greater sup­port they will indi­cate for the oppressed Pales­tin­ian nation.”

Chants of ‘Death to Israel’ will be said in 770 cities in the coun­try*
(Fars News Agency – July 22, 2014)

Ramazan Sharif, the chief of staff of the Coun­cil of Islamic Pro­pa­ganda and Al Quds Intifada, said dur­ing a press con­fer­ence held for the upcom­ing Quds Day protests: “Calls for peace from all Mus­lims and free­dom lov­ing peo­ple will be sent to the peo­ple of Gaza who have been wag­ing jihad in the path of Allah dur­ing the month of Ramadan against the usurp­ing Zion­ist regime.”

Iran to launce new home-made destroyer soon

(Fars News Agency – July 22, 2014)

The Iran­ian Navy announced plans to reveal a new destroyer named “Dama­vand” and it will be deployed in inter­na­tional waters.

Iran’s Zarif, EU’s Ash­ton issue joint state­ment on exten­sion of talks
(Fars News Agency – July 19, 2014)

Fol­low­ing the last round of talks between nego­tia­tors from the P5+1 and Iran, For­eign Min­is­ter Zarif and EU rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cather­ine Ash­ton released a joint state­ment stat­ing that talks would con­tinue to Novem­ber 24, 2014.

Inter­na­tional Media

Iran’s leader appears unbend­ing on core nuclear issues, say experts
(The Los Ange­les Times – July 21, 2014)

An exten­sion on the nuclear talks sig­nals Aya­tol­lah Khamenei’s pos­si­ble will­ing­ness to com­pro­mise, but not on the core ques­tion of ura­nium enrich­ment capacity.

Iran’s rul­ing elite embrace Face­book, while ordi­nary cit­i­zens are arrested over it
(Slate.com – July 21, 2014)

Although Face­book is blocked to ordi­nary Ira­ni­ans, gov­ern­ment offi­cials includ­ing Pres­i­dent Rouhani and For­eign Min­is­ter Zarif enjoy unfet­tered access to the pop­u­lar social media site.

Iran elim­i­nates sen­si­tive stock­pile under interim nuclear deal: IAEA
(Reuters – July 20, 2014)

Accord­ing to a monthly update released by the Inter­na­tional Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has met the terms stip­u­lated in the ini­tial six-month agree­ment and has moved to elim­i­nate its most sen­si­tive stock­pile of enriched ura­nium gas.

Iran nuclear talks: Is a com­pre­hen­sive deal still on the table?
(The Chris­t­ian Sci­ence Mon­i­tor – July 20, 2014)

It remains unclear if nego­tia­tors from the P5+1 and Iran will be able to bridge sig­nif­i­cant gaps over what Iran’s nuclear future will look like.

Why Iran believes the mil­i­tant group ISIS is an Amer­i­can plot
(Time – July 19, 2014)

An arti­cle from the Iran­ian state-run Islamic Repub­lic News Agency claims that there was a joint U.S., British and Israeli plan to “cre­ate a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion capa­ble of cen­tral­iz­ing all extrem­ist actions across the world.” Unfor­tu­nately for IRNA, there is no men­tion of such a plan in the doc­u­ments leaked by Edward Snow­den which IRNA claims as its source.

Sanc­tions nearly halve Iran oil export rev­enue in two years, OPEC says
(The Wall Street Jour­nal – July 18, 2014)

Accord­ing to newly released data from OPEC, sanc­tions have caused Iran’s petro­leum export rev­enue to decrease by 42% in 2013.

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July 10, 2014 0

Iran Weekly: Selected News & Developments

The fol­low­ing is a selec­tion of news reports and com­men­tary from Iran­ian media and main­stream pub­li­ca­tions on devel­op­ments per­tain­ing to Iran. This weekly update includes a sam­pling of pub­lished reports from Iran’s Farsi-language media*as well as rel­e­vant arti­cles from the inter­na­tional press.

Iran­ian Media

Dif­fi­cult days ahead for the occu­piers*
(Basij News Agency – July 9, 2014)

Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iran­ian Armed Forces Mas­soud Jaza­y­eri said in response to the esca­lat­ing vio­lence between Israel and Hamas mil­i­tants, “Dif­fi­cult days lie ahead for the occu­piers [Israel] and the Pales­tin­ian resis­tance has once again cast the Zion­ist war machine into the mud.” Speak­ing about recent events that occurred lead­ing up to the renewed fight­ing, Jaza­y­eri added, “The mar­tyr­dom of the Pales­tin­ian teenager, after he was tor­tured and set on fire alive, [was done] with the excuse of the kid­nap­ping of three Jew­ish set­tler youth, and this has inflamed the world’s opin­ion against the hang­man exe­cu­tioner Zionists…”

Head of the judi­ciary crit­i­cizes incor­rect state­ments made by some cul­tural offi­cials*
(Rasa News Agency – July 9, 2014)

Aya­tol­lah Sadegh Lar­i­jani, the head of Iran’s judi­ciary, claimed that Amer­ica and its allies are sup­port­ing the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), claim­ing, “One the one hand, the Amer­i­cans claim that they are against ISIS, and on the other, it’s observed that America’s lack­eys are the pri­mary sup­port­ers of the ter­ror­ists in the region and they give money, weapons and sup­port to them.”


Marziyeh Afkham

Iran strongly con­demns inten­si­fied Israeli crimes against Pales­tini­ans in Gaza Strip
(Fars News Agency – July 8, 2014)

Iran­ian For­eign Min­istry Spokes­woman Marziyeh Afkham con­demned Israeli “aggres­sions” against the Gaza Strip, claim­ing that Israel is using the recent tragic mur­ders of three Israeli teenagers as cover for its airstrikes against Hamas tar­gets: “Surely, the sav­age aggres­sions and killing of the defense­less peo­ple which started on the false pre­text of abduc­tion of three Israeli set­tlers and have con­tin­ued for more than two weeks now and the mur­der of the mar­tyred Pales­tini­ans teenager (Moham­mad Abu Khdeir) which is a rem­i­nis­cent of the crimes com­mit­ted by the ter­ror­ists in Syria and Iraq show inca­pa­bil­ity and des­ti­tute of that regime vis-à-vis the resis­tance of the heroic peo­ple of Pales­tine [sic].”

FM: Iran not to strike final deal with world pow­ers at all costs
(Fars News Agency – July 8, 2014)

Speak­ing on the side­lines of the lat­est round of nuclear nego­ti­a­tions tak­ing place in Vienna, Iran­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Moham­mad Javad Zarif said, “We do not accept to reach a solu­tion at all costs as we insist on our rights while try­ing to find an accept­able, log­i­cal and long-term solu­tion.” Zarif added, “I hope that the other side will be ready to see the real­i­ties, take our word seri­ously and accept that the Iran­ian nation has never with­drawn under pressure.”

Amer­ica and ISIS are both lack­eys of the Zion­ists*
(Rasa News Agency – July 8, 2014)

Speak­ing dur­ing a ser­mon after prayers, Aya­tol­lah Hos­sein Moza­heri, a senior cleric from the Esfa­han province, claimed, “ISIS and Amer­ica are the lack­eys of the Zion­ists. Amer­ica and Zion­ism have com­bined forces to get rid of our pre­cious Islam.”

Regional events have no other result than ‘the final con­quest of Jerusalem’*
(Fars News Agency – July 6, 2014)

Head of the Basij Vol­un­teers Orga­ni­za­tion Moham­mad Reza Naqdi, stated dur­ing a speech that “The name of Hezbol­lah is one con­sid­ered like a mis­sile force in the world that shakes Israel’s iron limbs. In Pales­tine we also see that the calls of the Imam [Khome­ini] are awak­en­ing them, and the peo­ple who stand against the occu­piers of Jerusalem with sticks and stones can deal a response to Tel Aviv with rockets.”

Inter­na­tional Media

Open the files on the Iran coup
(The New York Times, Op-Ed – July 9, 2014)

Op-ed con­trib­u­tor Roham Alvandi writes that now is the time for the U.S. and Britain to dis­close their roles in Iran’s 1953 coup, and that this admis­sion will help mend the “open wound in Iran’s rela­tions with the West.”

Iran’s supreme leader calls for more ura­nium enrich­ment capac­ity
(Newsweek – July 8, 2014)

In a state­ment pub­lished online, Supreme Leader Aya­tol­lah Ali Khamenei stated that Iran must have 190,000 cen­trifuges, call­ing this “the country’s absolute need.”

Iran’s hand in Gaza
(The Wall Street Jour­nal – July 8, 2014)

A recent United Nations report indi­cat­ing Iran’s role in pro­vid­ing weapons to Pales­tin­ian mil­i­tants goes unnoticed.

Khamenei: Nuclear team ‘will defend Iran’s rights’
(Now Media – July 7, 2014)

Speak­ing after break­ing the Ramadan fast, Supreme Leader Khamenei expressed his sup­port for Iran’s nuclear nego­ti­at­ing team ahead of the lat­est round of talks in Vienna.

Iran weighs U.S.-trained econ­o­mist as its new UN envoy
(Bloomberg News – July 6, 2014)

An American-educated econ­o­mist may be selected by the Rouhani admin­is­tra­tion to serve as Iran’s next UN ambassador.

Iran’s mes­sage: We can make his­tory
(YouTube – July 2, 2014)

For­eign Min­is­ter Zarif released a YouTube clip appeal­ing to the West to forge a nego­ti­ated set­tle­ment to the Iran­ian nuclear issue.

As dead­line nears for an Iran nuclear pact, the fin­gers are point­ing
(The New York Times – July 2, 2014)

As nego­tia­tors for the P5+1 and Iran pre­pare to ham­mer out an agree­ment before the July 20 dead­line, both sides are reit­er­at­ing red lines they can­not cross.

Iran­ian nuclear deal still is pos­si­ble, but time is run­ning out
(The Wash­ing­ton Post, Op-Ed – June 30, 2014)

Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry writes that Iran has a chance to end its “eco­nomic and diplo­matic iso­la­tion and improve the lives of their peo­ple” if the Ira­ni­ans show flex­i­bil­ity and reach an agree­ment with the P5+1.

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