Iran’s military and political leaders: How high will they jump?

Iranian’s head honchos should remember Shakespeare’s words: “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.” What are you?

 by Alan Simons

If there’s been one American individual over the years that has clearly taken to task the United States’ foreign policy, credit must be given to Richard Nathan Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations since July 2003, prior to which he was Director of Policy Planning for the United States Department of State and a close advisor to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Haas most clearly outlined his foreign policy views in his book The Reluctant Sheriff (1997), in which he argued that the United States should play the role of international sheriff.  He said, “maintaining international order often means ‘assuming the role of international sheriff, one who forges coalitions or posses of states and others for specific tasks,’ Haas writes (Haas 1997). While Haas argued that the approach would largely benefit the international system, he also made it clear that he intended for the United States to play the role of international sheriff to pursue its own preferences for the world. In the years ahead, “what will prove crucial is the ability of the United States to persuade others to adopt and abide by its preferences – and the will and the ability of the United States to act as a sheriff, to mobilize itself and others to insist on them when resistance emerges,” Haas notes (Haas 1997). ‘”

Iran, the real choices. Losing face is not particularly one of Iran’s more favourable characteristics.

Eight years ago, on April 19, 2010, Haas, in a statement as the President, Council on Foreign Relations, made it adamantly clear to the Obama administration their initial approach toward Iran was wrong. This is what he had to say on the matter:

Gates’s Welcome Take on Iran Realities

      Richard N. Haas

The “Gates memo”–a classified memorandum written by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in January [2010], arguing to his senior colleagues that the administration needs to develop a more effective  policy for dealing with Iran’s nuclear progress–marks a significant signpost in the evolution of President Barack Obama’s national security policy and presidency.

The Obama administration’s initial approach toward Iran emphasized negotiations, but there is no evidence Iran is prepared to accept meaningful limits on its nuclear activities. The United States is working to gain UN Security Council approval of new sanctions, but while the symbolism of a common international front is welcome, the substance will not have much effect. The price of gaining Chinese and Russian support is delay and dilution. A second set of sanctions, more biting and more focused on the Revolutionary Guard, should be cobbled together quickly by those countries willing to sign on. And the United States should keep exploring what can be done to bolster Iran’s internal opposition.

But the reality is that these measures are unlikely to accomplish the goal of halting (much less reversing) Iran’s nuclear program. Three sets of actions are needed. First, the United States should take the steps that would allow it to enforce tough sanctions, such as a ban on Iranian oil exports and refined oil imports. Second, the United States should develop plans for the use of military force in an effort to set back Iran’s nuclear program and weaken the government. Third, the United States should assess the pros and cons of an alternative or a fallback: a “North Korean” strategy, in which there would be an implicit acceptance of an Iranian nuclear weapon (or something close to it) that would involve deterrence of Iran and defence for its neighbours. All planning should anticipate Iranian retaliation and what would be needed from Saudis and others to stabilize energy markets.

The Gates memo is right to focus attention on the real choices. In the end, it is Iran, far more than Afghanistan or Iraq or even Pakistan, that is likely to prove the most significant strategic decision and challenge for the forty-fourth president.

“Iran is able to build a plant for every field of nuclear program . . . this issue is not reversible.”

                Heshmatollah Falahatpishe

In September 2009, Heshmatollah Falahatpishe, (seen here on the right) member of Majlis the national security and foreign policy commission, said that construction of a new uranium enrichment plant indicated that Iran’s nuclear program is in progress on schedule,  in spite of political pressures.  He added, Iran is able to build a plant for every field of nuclear program, because, “we have gained access to the nuclear technology and this issue is not reversible, a fact that has already been acknowledged by IAEA analysts.” The MP added unlike Libya and Iraq, who bought nuclear technology in the markets, Iran, upon its own ability, has turned threats to an opportunity. (IRNA).

How much of what Falahatpishe had to say at the time would have been poo-pooed by the Obama administration as pure grandstanding is open to further debate. But, it is interesting to note that in 2016 Falahatpishe survived an assassination attempt in Kermanshah Province in the west of the country, Iranian news agencies reported. Falahatpishe sustained minor injuries but a local official and their driver were killed when gunmen opened fire on their vehicle, the reports said. Falahatpishe survived and today he is the Head of Iran’s all-powerful Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission.

Which brings me to Iran in 2018. Today, it’s military and senior political head honchos continue to put on a brave appearance to outsiders. After all, losing face is not particularly one of Iran’s more favourable characteristics.

First, let’s look at their military.

As I reported in jewishinfoNews in May 2018, “Iran’s military has major problems. The Iranian regime revealed last month that 2,100 Iranians have been killed fighting in Syria the past few years, more than double the previous death toll announced 16 months ago… “As a proportion of the population, that is a greater loss than the United States has suffered in all its wars in the Middle East since the start of the century… “Iran has said it does not send combat troops to Syria, only military advisers, most of whom are Pasdar officers… “Given that the United States has four times the population of Iran, the Iranian losses in Syria are proportionately about a quarter greater than the US losses throughout the region this century.”

Secondly, the economic turmoil and protests taking place throughout all sectors of society in Iran are now increasing on a day-to-day basis. This week alone, reports include the following:

Labor Minister impeached

The Iranian parliament has given a no-confidence vote to Labor Minister Ali Rabeei on Tuesday. Rabeei was impeached by 129 to 111 votes. This gives Rouhani three months to find a replacement. As Iran’s economy has worsened in recent months, the Iranian regime and particularly hardliners have tried to portray Hassan Rouhani’s economic team as being mainly responsible for the increasing hardships that Iranians face. In an interview before his impeachment, Rabeei had said the U.S. sanctions would increase economic pressures and until March 2019 one million jobs would be lost. (International Institute for Iranian Studies).

People’s rage building up

This editorial deals with Iran’s dire economy and people’s rage against reformists in this regard. The editorialist begins by saying that Iranian people have had it up to here with skyrocketing prices, corruption, and the government’s inefficiencies. People have repeatedly voiced their hope in reformists, voting for them in elections. However, reformists have not been able to find a solution to their problems, and people can no longer wait for a change in relation to this particular point. The editorial then zeroes in on President Hassan Rouhani and the role he and his administration play in creating unrest in society. Rouhani has become involved with those in his milieu who have no reasonable, organized relations with society and their political base. Neither can they pave the way for Rouhani to get connected with people. All things considered, people expect reformists to speak their mind candidly and with clarity under current conditions. In the end, the editorialist claims that the only way out is reform, but it is really getting late. An editorial in Mostaghal on August 7, 2018

Protests continue

Popular protests hit several cities in Iran on Saturday night. [August 4, 2018]. Along with confirming the death of a protestor in the city of Karaj, the city’s officials declared the implicit martial law in the city. Film footages sent to VOA show that at least in the cities of Tehran, Karaj, Shiraz, Qom, and Eshtehard, people held demonstrations on Saturday night. Fars news agency, affiliated with IRGC, announced that an individual was shot dead in Friday night protests in Karaj. This is the first death in the new round of demonstrations in cities of Iran. In December protests, at least 23 people were killed in more than 80 cities of Iran. In Tehran, protesters chanted: “Iranians will die, but will not accept humiliation” and “Death to Dictator!” VOA

Released footages in social networks indicate that gatherings and protests have continued in Tehran, Karaj, Shiraz, Qom, and Eshtehard. In footages related to demonstrations in Tehran, the protesters chanted: “Iranians will die, but will not accept humiliation,” “Iranians must show their courage,” “Death to Dictator,” and “Courageous Iranians, Support us.” In another footage, the narrator says: “Here everybody is exhausted. They all have wives and children and are under injustice. Here everybody has a lot of debts. Look, we are all together. We are exhausted. We all want freedom.” In Karaj, the protesters chanted: “Shame on you, Khamenei; let go of the country” and “Law enforcement, support us!” The new round of street protests in Iran started following the plunge in the value of the national currency, critical economic conditions, high prices, and daily increase in the price of foreign currency and gold coin. But in recent days, the protesters’ main slogans have been against the supreme leader, the regime, and the clerics. Radio Farda

Currency deputy of Central Bank arrested

Judiciary system spokesperson Gholamhossein Ejei said the currency deputy of the Central Bank, who was recently removed from his position, was arrested. He added that in dealing with cases of disruptors in the country’s financial system and currency, three individuals would be soon going to courts after issuing their indictments. Meanwhile, 20 lawmakers wrote a letter to the head of the judiciary, asking him to ban former governor of the Central Bank, Valiollah Seif, from leaving the country. Fars news agency

How much of what Richard Haas had to say in 2010 reflects on the Trump administration’s decision in 2018 to pulverize Iran by means of military pressure and especially by economic sanctions, is admittedly, on the onset, having a dent in Iran.

However, Holly Dagres, an Iran analyst and curator of The Iranist newsletter in a recent interview with Deutsche Welle said she, “believes that the Iranians will continue to pursue their political agenda in the region, in spite of renewed American pressure. After decades of international isolation, Iran has managed to circumvent sanctions in numerous ways, whether by working the middleman, the black market, or trading with countries that the American sanctions enforcement agency OFAC cannot reach. If Iran wants something to be done, it will find a way, Dagres concluded.”

Which in conclusion brings me to a quote I’ve used previously. There’s a well-known wise Persian proverb: “Risk – If one has to jump a stream and knows how wide it is, he will not jump. If he doesn’t know how wide it is, he’ll jump and six times out of ten he’ll make it.”

Iranians are an educated and proud people and in that, I would ask their leaders to remember Shakespeare’s words: “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.” What are you?

Alan Simons is the publisher and editor of jewishinfoNews. Comments to this article are accepted.

Partial content in this article is credited to Wikipedia. Photo credit: Flickr.

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IRAN: “Obama’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was an epic hoax. And a failure.”

“For many diaspora Jews and non-Jews alike, they have become too immersed in focussing on Trump’s decision to walk away from Obama’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and not on the primary issue at hand, namely of Israel’s survival from a country that has openly stated it ‘will’ not ‘wants to’ obliterate Israel and its population from the face of the earth.”

 

       by Alan Simons

Leon de Winter the acclaimed Dutch author and writer, this week in De Telegraaf, a leading  Dutch newspaper, put it as succinctly as it can get:

“With an overwhelmingly powerful speech, Donald Trump put an end to the Iran deal or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. By the way, it was not a deal but a set of guidelines.

“In November 2015, the US Department of State, then still under Obama, described the plan as ‘no treaty or measure, and is not a signed document.’

“President Obama did not have the plan ratified by Congress because it lacked a majority. Iran has not signed either. It was a ‘non-binding executive agreement’, which could be withdrawn by Obama’s successor. That has now happened.”

A few days ago, Vivian Bercovici, the Canadian ambassador to Israel between 2014 and 2016, writing in The Jerusalem Post referred to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (Iran nuclear deal) as ‘an epic hoax. And a failure.’ She added in part, referring directly to the Obama followers as having ‘no plan.’

“This is the clarion call of Obama acolytes – including most of the mainstream media – who support the capitulation which they choose to call a ‘deal.’

“A deal, like a contract, in its simplest form, refers to an exchange between two or more parties; where mutual accommodations are made to achieve the desired outcome.

“Under the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (Iran nuclear deal), the Islamic Republic, we are told, agreed to put the brakes on its nuclear ambitions for a brief period – at best delaying its ‘breakout’ potential by a few years. That’s it.

“The west gave up every shred of leverage it had. The deal terms dropped economic sanctions; provided billions in cash to support global terrorism; accepted absurdly lax inspection protocols of Iranian nuclear and military sites; did not address the issue of containing Iranian territorial ambition in the Middle East; and did not address Iran’s ongoing ballistic missile program.

“The JCPOA was an epic hoax. And a failure.

“Smug leadership utterly disconnected from the brutal reality of the Middle East pontificated to the mob, edifying us, in our simplicity, as to how complex it all is and how brilliant they all were to coax the so-called “moderate” faction of the Iranian leadership to the table and negotiate such a brilliant outcome.

“Until President Donald Trump began ‘talking turkey’ last October, no deal proponents spoke about modifying it, supplementing its deficiencies with a stronger addendum. There was no need for such nonsense because the deal was as good as it gets.”

Today, not to be left out, Melanie Phillips, the British journalist, broadcaster and author added some scathing words in her article, “The Elephant in the Room is Regime Change,” where in part she said:

“Amid the brouhaha over President Donald Trump’ decisions to pull the US out of the appalling Iran nuclear deal, the elephant in the room is standing quietly all but unobserved.

“Trump’s initiative is being either praised to the skies or deplored with dismay. The question being discussed is whether it will force the Iranian regime to abandon its nuclear program in a new deal or precipitate a terrible war.

“Following Trump’s announcement, an Iranian missile attack on Israeli military bases on the Golan Heights led to heavy Israeli air strikes against Iranian targets in Syria.”

Phillips added:

“Let’s go back to something approaching first principles. The Iranian regime is a menace to the world going far beyond its nuclear ambitions.

“It has waged a self-declared war against the West since it came to power in 1979. It has killed numerous American, British and other coalition troops in Iraq. It is the greatest single state sponsor of terrorism in the world, responsible for the murder of countless innocents.

“It has a burning genocidal ambition to wipe Israel off the map. Some of its members, especially the Supreme Leader, are fanatics of the Shia “Twelver” sect who believe that destroying Israel and the US in a global apocalypse will bring the Shia messiah to earth.

“It is developing long-range missiles outside the terms of the nuclear deal altogether and which in themselves threaten the region and the world. The nuclear archive extracted in the Mossad coup proves its leaders are congenital liars who can never be trusted under any circumstances.

“Accordingly, no accommodation can ever be reached with this regime to negate the threat it poses. The only reasonable strategic aim is, therefore, its removal.”

For many diaspora Jews and non-Jews alike, they have become too immersed in focussing on Trump’s decision to walk away from Obama’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and not on the primary issue at hand, namely of Israel’s survival from a country that has openly stated it “will” not “wants to” obliterate Israel and its population from the face of the earth.

Irrespective of the content of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran’s thirst for obliterating Israel has not diminished over the years and as we saw this past week Israel responded to Iran’s actions in the only way a threatened nation must, not passively, but with strength and understanding of the psychological make-up of Iran’s leaders and population.

Iran is run by an apocalyptic bunch of religious despots who, as Bernard Lewis the renowned scholar remarked over ten years ago, “the threat of many Iranians perishing in a war did not deter the Iranian leadership, which believes ‘it would be doing them a favor, by giving them a free pass to heaven.’”

In an earlier article titled, “An Open Letter to the Ordinary People of Iran,” published on May 1, 2018, in the jewishinfoNews and The Times of Israel, I wrote:

“As Iranians, you will remember that during the Iran–Iraq war, beginning on September 22, 1980, an estimated 190,000 Iranian combat personnel were killed. How strange it must be now for you to admit that Israel supported you in your war.

“Sadly, 38 years later in Syria, your children are still being killed. The Iranian regime revealed last month that “2,100 Iranians have been killed fighting in Syria the past few years, more than double the previous death toll announced 16 months ago…

“As a proportion of the population, that is a greater loss than the United States has suffered in all its wars in the Middle East since the start of the century… “Given that the United States has four times the population of Iran, the Iranian losses in Syria are proportionately about a quarter greater than the US losses throughout the region this century.”

I added:

Hezbollah members perform during a rally

“Notwithstanding the frolics of your Ayatollah Khamenei, you are a proud and educated people. Keep it that way! Fighting Iraqis, fighting in Syria, and now using your so-called ‘axis of resistance’ (Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and Gaza), which forms the growing ‘Shiite Crescent’ to do all your dirty work, is one thing. However, you Iranian people should remember Israel has been fighting in this war zone for 70 years.

“You are the military newcomers, already with thousands of your children returning to Iran in body bags. So, I suggest you pick your primary battles very carefully.

“Too many of your own children have died. Let your mothers now have a long and quiet life ahead of them!

 “Go in peace!”

Unhappily, Khamenei’s concept of peace bears no rapport to that of a civilized society and unless the current Iranian regime is eradicated by its own people, the continuation of Khamenei’s iron-fisted rule of law will see many more Iranian families experience what it is like, as Israeli families have, to lose their children in war.

To all ordinary Iranians living in Iran, I say this. “Remember September 22, 1980.” In 2018, regrettably, you may experience something far worse!

Alan Simons is the publisher and editor of jewishinfoNews.

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Crisis. Diaspora at the Crossroads?

“Are we floundering in a sea of self-importance, self-centred and swaggering declarations, that are not only communicated to death, but offend and push non-Jews away from us?”

by Alan Simons

Frank Luntz, the US-based political and business pollster, once said: “Non-Jews do not want to hear our complaints. They want to know our solutions.” I agree with him whole heartedly. Unfortunately, as I see it, the vast majority of Diaspora Jews and Jewish institutions continue to go their merry way in making sure their messages do everything to conceivably extricate a dialogue with non-Jewish communities.

Most of our messages are floundering in a sea of self-importance, self-centred and swaggering declarations, that are not only communicated to death, but offend and push non-Jews away from us.

When on earth are we, in the Diaspora, going to cease telling all how important we are to the world and, as Luntz says, start to articulate what our solutions are?

As it was written some time ago, the Jews are a “famously accomplished group. They make up 0.2 percent of the world population, yet 54 percent of the world chess champions are Jews, 27 percent of the Nobel physics laureates and 31 percent of the medicine laureates are Jews. Jews make up 2 percent of the U.S. population, but 21 percent of the Ivy League student bodies, 26 percent of the Kennedy Center honorees, 37 percent of the Academy Award-winning directors, 38 percent of those on a recent Business Week list of leading philanthropists, 51 percent of the Pulitzer Prize winners for nonfiction.” How many times have we read that every computer in the world has a component that was invented in Israel? Or that our contribution in the field of medicine and science is second to none.

Yes, yes, yes, all of this is commendable and may make some of us personally feel – dare I say it – superior. But to the vast majority of virulent Judeophobic hate mongering bigots, who actually have a brain in their head, well, they couldn’t care a damn!

Yet, we in the Diaspora seem to insist in wanting to pander to them, to secure, as it were, our place in history. Well, in my mind, we have already accomplished that, and not just in the past two hundred or so years.

And what can positively be achieved by the never-ending outpouring of comments from Jews regarding Jewish vs Islamic Nobel Prize comparisons?

Some years ago Luntz stated: “Over the past 20 years, we have developed some very destructive communication habits that have seriously undermined our efforts and the causes we believe in. Our words lose their resonance and our style and tone offend… We push people away when we should pull them in.”

Our Diaspora doesn’t have the reputation for being circumspect about our achievements, but seems to be lost in a quagmire of guarded pessimism with regard to our future. And that simply means the Iranians, Hamas, Hezbollah, Hizb-ut Tahrir and all their lot, thrive on our wallowing.

I was once told of a group of Canadian and American Jews who had a meeting in Israel with the late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. They proceeded to give him some advice as to how Israel should handle their enemy. Sharon was incensed. In essence, he told them to go back to where they came from and handle their own issues, not Israel’s.

Perhaps this is the crux of the matter for Jewish organisations in the Diaspora, especially in North America. Perhaps it’s easier to indulge in giving advice from afar, even though it’s not wanted, than to face and communicate to the vast majority of non-Jews at home on possible solutions to religious intolerance, antisemitism, hate and violence.

All of this of course means open public dialogue and cooperation among individuals. How many Jewish organisations do you know who are willing to venture out of their closet mind-set and chance that?

Well anyway, that’s how I see it.

Alan Simons, is an author, ghost writer and social activist and is the publisher of jewishinfoNews.

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SEVENTY YEARS LATER -

SEVENTY YEARS LATER – “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” | “The more things change, the more they stay the same”

Thank God there’s an Israel!

بفضل الله، هناك إسرائيل

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