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July 7, 2016

The Iran Nuclear Deal: One Year Later

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This blog orig­i­nally appeared on Medium

As we approach the first anniversary of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) it is an appropriate time to reassess the merits of the deal. ADL was among the nuclear deal’s critics.

Beyond the nuclear restraints it would impose on Iran, our concern it is that it would normalize an expansionist, militant regime whose unrepentant and fundamentalist ideology was not tamed by the deal.

Unlike previous major arms control treaties in our country’s past that signaled a strategic turn in relation with historic adversaries, the Iran nuclear deal promised no such realignment. That is why we felt the sunset of the JCPOA’s most important constraints posed such a troubling problem. That is ultimately why we could not abide by it.

Iran Deal-condensed

During the past year, Iran has taken key steps outlined in the JCPOA to limit its nuclear program, including shipping the vast majority of its enriched uranium out of the country and dismantling centrifuges. In this sense, the Administration has delivered on its immediate term objectives of significantly lengthening the breakout time for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. Furthermore, the international community successfully has implemented a far reaching verification system across the entire supply chain of the production of uranium, making it far less likely for Iran to successfully maintain a covert uranium enrichment capacity. Indeed, as retired Israeli general and former director of Military Intelligence, Amos Yadlin has pointed out, if Iran remains fully compliant with the terms of the JCPOA, the deal will significantly reduce the immediate threat of a nuclear conflict in the Middle East.

Any reasonable observers must acknowledge this important reduction of nuclear risk in the short term. However, it would be foolish not to consider the wider effects of the JCPOA in the region — as well the challenges the deal will present over the long term. Iran reached an accommodation with the international community due to the tremendous economic damage it suffered under the unprecedented sanctions regime. Together with the precipitous drop in oil prices, the Islamic Republic of Iran essentially made a deal to postpone its nuclear options for 10–15 years.

But even before Iran is — under the terms of the deal — allowed to engage in research and development on advanced centrifuges, we can evaluate its behavior to determine whether early compliance was a good measure of the long term effectiveness of the JCPOA in terms of helping to facilitate Iran’s reentry into the community of nations. Theoretically there is much we can learn by looking at the early warning signs rather than waiting for a decade to determine progress. Indeed, in that timeframe, when sanctions are only a distant memory and with business and foreign investment likely flowing, a regime still committed to hostility could try to violate aspects of the agreement, testing the international communities’ willingness to enforce its provisions. Perhaps at first, these violations will not be egregious. But, slowly, an unrepentant Iran is likely to test the limits of enforcement.

So is Iran normalizing? Does the JCPOA herald a new era in its relations with the West? The early signs are not encouraging.

“Today the most impor­tant point for the Islamic world is unity against Israel and who­ever breaks this unity would be a trai­tor. Peo­ple of Iran never aban­don their goal. I hope that a third intifada will lead to the destruc­tion of Israel.”

— Grand Aya­tol­lah Hos­sein Nouri Hamadani

Iran’s continued development of ballistic missiles while not included in the terms of the JCPOA, continues in clear violation of existing UN Security Council Resolutions. So far it has faced few consequences.

It maintains the unenviable title of the “foremost state sponsor of terrorism” in the world.

As manifested in recent Quds Day demonstrations, its continued genocidal rantings toward Israel — including threats by Iran’s Supreme Leader that “God willing, there will be no such thing as a Zionist regime in 25 years. Until then, struggling, heroic and jihadi morale will leave no moment of serenity for Zionists,” — are far outside the pale, indicative of its role as leading fomenter of regional instability.

Indeed, in the eyes of its neighbors, the Iranian threat has grown, not diminished since the deal was signed. More troubling is that few countries have confidence that Iranian expansionism will be contained by reliable American leadership are low. Reports indicate that it is increasing its funding for the Lebanese terror militia Hezbollah whose leader recently admitted that for his group, “its budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, come from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Beyond Lebanon, Iran works to spread its revolutionary ideology in order to destabilize other countries throughout the region including IraqBahrain,Yemen and others. The noted Syrian-Palestinian activist Kassem Eid publicly described the Islamic Republic as “a religious dictatorship, the Shia face of ISIS” that “uses its resources to establish a sectarian empire across the Islamic world.”

Iran’s record on human rights at home is deplorable. Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, UN special rapporteur for human rights in Iran, recently reported that there “is an alarming surge in the rate of unlawful executions in the country, and ongoing arbitrary arrests, detentions and prosecutions of individual for the exercise of their fundamental rights.” Ethnic and religious minorities including Baha’i,Christians, and Sunni Muslims continue to suffer the cruel whims of the regime. Similar sorry fate is what is faced by juveniles and journalists targeted by the regime.

One year after it signed the supposedly historic agreement with the United States and its partners in the P5+1, the Islamic Republic remains the leading exporter of deadly conspiracy theories and hostile propaganda against the Jewish people and the Jewish state. In recent months we have seen a revival of their notorious Holocaust cartoon contest, which encourages Holocaust revisionism and outright denial. The regime is a font of global anti-Semitism. Wild accusations of Zionist plots abound, such as blaming imports of genetically modified products to infect Iranians with diseases on the Zionistsor accusing “Jewish actors” of conspiring Saudis to spread Wahhabism. In the last few days when the rest of the world has mourned the loss of noted peace activist Elie Weisel, Iran opted to slander the Nobel Laureate as a “criminal Zionist and fake witness of Holocaust.”

And while the lifting of sanctions was the trade-off in the deal, it is still troubling to see the Islamic Republic land large contracts with venerated Western firms, such as Boeing’s $25 billion deal with Iran to build up its air fleet. Not only might some of the planes be used for Iranian military activities, this sends an unambiguous message that Iran has become a fully-accepted member of the international community, a viable partner for business, without changing its extremist course.

All of these signs speak to a reality that Iran remains a belligerent actor whose norms and rhetoric do not line up with those of other nations, save perhaps North Korea. Despite the early benefits of the JCPOA, the regime appears more interested in hostility than normalcy. It is clear, given its regional behavior, that Iran does not sufficiently fear consequences for its actions. In short, it is undeterred. This is all the more alarming because as the robustness of the provisions restricting Iran’s nuclear ambitions wane towards the end of the life of the deal, credible deterrence will be the only force keeping it from crossing the hair-thin threshold to nuclear weapons.

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March 3, 2015

After ISIS Destroy Artifacts In Mosul, Iraqi Official Blames Israel

Dur­ing a Monday TV appearance on the pan-Arab satellite TV station AlMayadeen, Iraqi Deputy Min­is­ter of Tourism and Antiquities, Qais Hussein, claimed that ISIS’s destruction of ancient artifacts in the Iraqi city of Mosul is an Israeli conspiracy against the history of Iraq.

Qais Hussein

Qais Hussein

According to AlMayadeen, the Iraqi official “accused Israel of being behind the destruction and the looting of archaeological sites in Mosul, including the City Museum.” Hussein said, “Israel bares the primary responsibility in the vandalism of the archaeological sites.” He also claimed that the Iraqi government has evidence that antiques have been sold out and transferred from Iraq to Israel, stressing that Israel “is considered, today, a place to assemble the Iraqi antiquities, where some are kept while others are exported overseas to be sold at auctions.”

According to Hussein, Israel is behind these acts of destruction because of “the Torah and Jewish mythology.”

A number of Iraqi public figures have made similar absurd claims in the past few days regarding an alleged Israeli role in the destruction of Iraqi ancient artifacts on the hands of ISIS.

ADL has pre­vi­ously doc­u­mented several con­spir­acy theories, connecting ISIS to Jews and Zion­ists

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November 19, 2014

Recent Arrest Highlights ISIS Recruitment of Women

The recent arrest of a Virginia woman on charges related to her support for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) highlights the growing phenomenon of female members and supporters of ISIS – a trend linked to ISIS propaganda and recruitment efforts aimed directly at women.

ADL documented eight female U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been suspected of involvement with terrorist groups in 2014 (only four were arrested; the others were minors).  This is a sharp uptick: ADL documented only 12 female U.S. citizens and permanent residents arrested on terror charges between 2002 and 2013.

Six of the women believed to have engaged in terrorist activity 2014 are accused of involvement with ISIS. Estimates indicate that about 10% of the group’s Western recruits are female.

Heather Elizabeth Coffman, the most recent woman arrested in connection with her support for ISIS, had allegedly maintained several Facebook accounts on which she posted pro-ISIS messages and propaganda. Coffman claimed that she could facilitate travel to join ISIS for potential recruits, offering to connect them with terrorists abroad. She denied these activities in an interview with law enforcement and is charged with lying to federal agents about her involvement with ISIS.

ISIS messaging to women emphasizes their potential roles as the wives of fighters and mothers to the next generation of extremists. The terrorist organization has even established media wings aimed at women.

isis-al-zora-foundation

Poster announcing the creation of Al Zora Foundation

One such media outlet, Al Zora Foundation, publishes recipes and first aid suggestions together with posters of women in burkas declaring allegiance to ISIS. A recipe for dates with millet, for example, is provided as a “fast mild appetizer eaten with coffee that provides food for the muhajideen (fighters)…they are high in calories and provide the Mujahideen energy and strength.”

Al Zora has also provided advice to women seeking to travel to join ISIS. “How many female Muslims are distinguished from all female Muslims where her concern…and her life aspiration is the explosive belt?” asks one memo, followed by advice for these women to learn first aid, sewing, and cooking, and to participate in exercise and weapons training, as well as extra prayers and supplications that they can use to aid the fighters and teach other women upon their arrival in Syria. “Imagine with me, oh sister,” it states in the section on sewing, “if a mujaheed, a brother to you in Allah, is martyred and his jihadi clothes that he wore and in which he walked, trained, waged jihad, and afflicted the enemy of Allah, were made by your hands.”

isis-khansa-media

A Khansa media poster announcing a new series of posters for female ISIS supporters

Another media outlet, Khansa Media, releases posters and banners with ISIS propaganda statements set alongside flowers and pink backgrounds. It has recently introduced a series of posters proclaiming the “virtues of women.” A video announcing the relaunch of Khansa media this September stated, “We send our message to [Iraqi Prime Minister] al-Maliki and his army that we are ready for him, and we will remain as assets and support for our husbands and our children,” followed by clips depicting women training with weapons.

Both Khansa media and Al Zora also regularly repost and retweet propaganda from ISIS’s primary media outlets. Sometimes they also add their logos to the corners of posters praising dead fighters and the glories of battle.

Multiple female supporters of ISIS also engage with the group’s content on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and Ask.FM. These supporters post typical ISIS propaganda about fighting and beheadings alongside statements about modesty and extremist Islam. They emphasize their children (often their Twitter handles begin with the word “umm” which means ‘mother of’ followed by a child’s name) and everyday life, while providing tips to potential recruits and actively encouraging others to travel to Syria and Iraq to join the terrorist group.

Women engaging with terrorist groups is not a new phenomenon, nor is it ISIS specific. Two of the women arrested in 2014 who were not involved with ISIS are accused of supporting Al Shabaab, the Somali Al Qaeda affiliate. In previous years, women have been arrested for causes as diverse as attempting to establish a terror cell abroad to sending funds and aid to various terror groups to attempting to kill U.S. personnel abroad.

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