Tag Archives: Iran

History Lessons from Years Under Islamism, by Majid Rafizadeh

SLL has run several articles about life in Saudi Arabia, but not so many about life in Iran. Most Americans wouldn’t want to live in either one. From Majid Rafizadeh at gatestoneinstitute.org:

  • My father’s generation in Iran lived in an environment in which the Islamist party of the country’s clergy cunningly depicted themselves as intending no harm, supportive of the people, and not interested in power. So, before the revolution, many Iranians did not think that Khomeini’s party would be committing the atrocities that they are committing now or that they would have such an unrelenting hunger for power. Instead, during this time, the country thought it was on a smooth path towards democracy, with no expectation of ever returning to a barbaric era. Even the then-US President Jimmy Carter viewed Khomeini as a good religious holy man.
  • Iranians did not just submit to these new laws; they rose up in protest. This uprising was met with torture, rape, and death. With the regime eager to wipe any who dared to resist, the people had no choice but to surrender. Everyone’s daily activities were now under the scrutiny of the Islamists.
  • Many will still think it is impossible for something like this to happen in their country. What they fail to understand is that Iran is an example of exactly how successful this meticulous grab for power can be. Islamists in other countries including the West are pursuing the same techniques on the path to seizing power. It is a quiet, and subtle process, until the moment you wake up with no rights, a culture of fear, and no promise that you will live in freedom or even to see the next day.

In Iran, my generation, the first after Islamism came to power, is called the Burnt Generation (Persian: Nasl-e Sukhteh). Our generation earned this name for having to endure the brutality of the Islamist and theocratic regime from the time we were born, to adulthood. This brutality included the regime’s merciless efforts, such as mass executions, to establish its power, impose its barbaric and restrictive rules, and brainwash children and indoctrinate the younger generation with its extremist ideology through various methods including elementary schools, universities, state-controlled media outlets, imams and local mosques, and promoting chants such as “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”.

To continue reading: History Lessons from Years Under Islamism

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On The Syria Occupation And The New Face Of Imperialism, by Caitlin Johnstone

If you’re bent on empire, there’s no need to occupy countries if they’re governments will do your bidding. From Caitlin Johnstone at medium.com:

US forces have attacked the Syrian military, reporting over a hundred deaths.The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is calling the air strike a massacre, a war crime, and a crime against humanity.

The US is an invading, occupying force that is in Syria without the permission of its government, yet it is claiming that the air strike was an act of “self-defense” against an “unprovoked attack” upon the US-backed SDF, a mostly Kurdish militia which had occupied an area of Syrian land. No Americans suffered any injuries or deaths in the attack. The SDF suffered a single reported injury.

It’s a bit like saying you broke into someone’s house and strangled them from behind with a garotte in self-defense.

Believe it or not, it appears very likely that the US military’s latest act of butchery waged upon Middle Easterners on their own land was not about self-defense at all, but about oil. The always insightful Moon of Alabamamakes a compelling case that not only is America’s version of events full of plot holes, but that the whole thing could very well have been “a trap” to sabotage a local deal that had been made for the SDF to turn over an oil and gas field to the Syrian government in the near future.

This would fit in perfectly with comments Professor Joshua Landis made about the attack, saying that America’s plan is to keep Syria weak, poor and divided in order to disadvantage US/Israel/Saudi rivals Iran and Russia. It would also clarify US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s assertion a few weeks ago that thousands of American troops are being kept in Syria to prevent Assad from regaining control of areas that have been liberated from ISIS.

This is what the new imperialism looks like.

To continue reading: On The Syria Occupation And The New Face Of Imperialism

“Major Escalation”: Israel Carries Out “Large Scale Attack” On Syria After Israeli F-16 Shot Down, by Tyler Burden

It’s not clear from conflicting accounts what’s going on in Syria, but this looks significant. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Update 3According to Reuters, Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the situation in Syria in a telephone call following the heavy Israeli air strikes in the country, Interfax news agency cited the Kremlin as saying.

“They discussed the situation around the actions of the Israeli air force, which carried our missile strikes on targets in Syria,” Interfax quoted the Kremlin, adding that Putin told Netanyahu there was a need to avoid any steps that would lead to a new confrontation in the region.

Update 2: Iran dismissed Tel Aviv’s claims concerning an Iranian drone and a downed Israeli jet as “ridiculous.” An Iranian commander also warned Iran could unleash “hell” on the “Zionist regime” and destroy all US bases in the area.

“The claim about the flight of an Iranian drone and Iran’s involvement in the downing of a Zionist fighter jet is so ridiculous that it does not merit a comment,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said. He added that Iranian officials are acting in Syria only as advisers and do so “at the request of the… legitimate and lawful government.”

Meanwhile, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, the deputy head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps, said that “any aggressive actions” by Tel Aviv would trigger a serious response. That is because Iran is capable of creating “hell for the Zionists.”

* * *

Update: According to Al Masdar, the Israeli pilot whose warplane was shot down by Syrian air defense forces on Saturday morning has died from injuries sustained during the engagement.While according to initial reports both crew members ejected – the weapons operator with light injuries and the pilot with ‘severe’ injuries, according to subsequent, still unconfirmed, reports, the Israeli pilot with serious injuries has died in hospital. No further details were given according to Al Masdar. This report however is being denied by the Times of Israel  which reported that the pilot suffered wounds to chest, abdomen while ejecting from jet; co-pilot set to be released home Sunday.

 

To continue reading: “Major Escalation”: Israel Carries Out “Large Scale Attack” On Syria After Israeli F-16 Shot Down

Will Washington’s Syria Chess Game Lead to War with NATO Ally Turkey? by Darius Shahtahmasebi

The best thing the US could have done in Syria would have been to stay out. Instead, the government seems hell-bent on staying there and making the situation worse for itself and everyone else. From Darius Shahtahmasebi at mintpressnews.com:

America’s current Syria strategy opens up the door for a war with Turkey and a potential war with Iran and Syria. All the while the U.S. loses its status as the so-called global leader, with Russia emerging unscathed from the conflict as the region’s major power broker.

It’s not clear if the United States knows what it is doing in Syria anymore. Having successfully toppled the Libyan government in 2011, former President Barack Obama subsequently spent a good three years attempting to bring about the fall of the Syrian government, under the guise of humanitarianism, that embroiled the region in chaos and civil strife. Incessant calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to formally step down, combined with the billions of dollars in arms and funding for radical Sunni jihadists who sowed the seeds of sectarianism and a bloody civil war in order to divide and conquer Syria, plagued Obama’s foreign policy for years. And let’s not forget the extensive strike plan Obama drew up in 2013, which would have almost certainly extinguished Assad’s presidency.

Unfortunately for the establishment, Obama’s strike plan didn’t have the approval of America’s warmongering partner in crime, the United Kingdom; and was strongly opposed by Russia. Most importantly, there was significant disapproval among the general public and military, and the U.S. knew it would never garner the support needed to carry out such an intervention.

Then in 2014, the U.S. military found backdoor access by riding the international outrage and horror provoked by the radical group ISIS, which had attained huge swaths of territory in both Iraq and Syria. Anyone who had been paying attention knew deep-down that the focus on ISIS was essentially just a façade to pave the way for the U.S. military to take on Assad directly — though this scenario proved much harder than expected, after Russia’s formal intervention in 2015. With Russia backing the Syrian government directly, there was little the U.S. could do but direct most of its energy towards ISIS, with some minor, albeit noticeable, exceptions.

And then came Donald Trump, the alleged Russian stooge and lackey, who was going to focus on making America great again and who had proposed instead to work with Assad and Russia. Whether or not Trump has any say in the matter is unclear, but it became quickly apparent that the war-hawks in his administration are just as schizophrenic as their predecessors.

 

To continue reading: Will Washington’s Syria Chess Game Lead to War with NATO Ally Turkey?

How regional rivalries threaten to fuel the fire in Syria and Iran, by James M. Dorsey

Proxy wars are not over in either Syria or Iraq. This article illustrates why the only way the US is ever going to “win” in the Middle East is to get out. The Middle East is centuries-old rivalries that have seen many outsiders have their heads handed to them. The US is not exempt. From James M. Dorsey at almasdarnews.com:

Turkish allegations of Saudi, Emirati and Egyptian support for the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) threaten to turn Turkey’s military offensive against Syrian Kurds aligned with the PKK into a regional imbroglio.

The threat is magnified by Iranian assertions that low-intensity warfare is heating up in areas of the Islamic republic populated by ethnic minorities, including the Kurds in the northwest and the Baloch on the border with Pakistan.

Taken together, the two developments raise the spectre of a potentially debilitating escalation of the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran as well as an aggravation of the eight-month-old Gulf crisis that has pitted Saudi Arabia and its allies against Qatar, which has forged close ties to Turkey.

The United Arab Emirates and Egypt rather than Saudi Arabia have taken the lead in criticizing Turkey’s incursion into Syria designed to remove US-backed Kurds from the countries’ border and create a 30-kilometer deep buffer zone.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said the incursion by a non-Arab state signalled that Arab states would be marginalized if they failed to develop a national security strategy.

Egypt, for its part, condemned the incursion as a “fresh violation of Syrian sovereignty” that was intended to “undermine the existing efforts for political solutions and counter-terrorism efforts in Syria,”

Despite Saudi silence, Yeni Safak, a newspaper closely aligned with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), charged that a $1 billion Saudi contribution to the reconstruction of Raqqa, the now Syrian Kurdish-controlled former capital of the Islamic State, was evidence of the kingdom’s involvement in what it termed a “dirty game.”

To continue reading: How regional rivalries threaten to fuel the fire in Syria and Iran

VP Pence Confirms US Will No Longer Certify Iran Deal, by Mike Pence

If the Trump administration refuses to certify the Iranian Nuclear Agreement, it just about guarantees that Iran will restart their nuclear program. That’s the only way it can protect itself from US sponsored regime change. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

While President Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans battle to reopen the federal government, Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Israel this week to meet with dignitaries and visit a handful of historic sites – including the Holocaust Memorial.

But during a speech to the Knesset – Israel’s parliament – Monday afternoon (local time) , Pence surprised his audience by declaring that the US would not re-certify the Iran deal when it comes up for renewal in May, virtually guaranteeing that the US will reimpose economic sanctions against the Iranian regime. Trump re-certified the deal earlier this month “for the last time”, part of a deal with Democrats to buy them some time to work out a compromise.

Here’s the Associated Press:

Vice President Mike Pence is calling the Iranian nuclear deal a “disaster” and says the Trump administration will no longer certify it.

Instead, Pence told the Israeli parliament on Monday that the administration is “committed to enact effective and lasting restraints on Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.”

Pence has received a warm welcome in Israel, which has praised the American decision last month to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is among the fiercest opponents to the nuclear accord the Obama administration reached with Iran, saying it could pave a path for the Islamic Republic acquiring a nuclear weapon that could threaten Israel’s existence.

Pence says that the deal is not fixed and that in the coming months, the United States will “withdraw from the deal.”

While a wave of economic protests that momentarily threatened the government’s grip a few weeks ago have mostly subsided, Iranians are still struggling with massive youth unemployment and runaway inflation.

The US bowing out of the deal would most likely lead to its collapse, as Iranian leaders have warned they would consider the whole pact – which also involves Germany, the European Union, Russia, China and France – null and void if the US were to pull out.

To continue reading: VP Pence Confirms US Will No Longer Certify Iran Deal

Trump’s Phony Support for Iran’s Popular Protests, by Reese Erlich

Most Iranians, even the ones who don’t like their own government, can’t stand Trump. From Reese Erlich at antiwar.com:

During a recent reporting trip to Iran, I interviewed almost two dozen people at random in both rich and poor neighborhoods of Tehran. All the middle and upper-middle class people I spoke with said the government of President Hassan Rouhani had made economic progress, although not as much as they wanted. All the working-class Iranians said they had seen no economic improvements since Rouhani’s election in 2013.

Iranians overwhelmingly oppose Trump’s policies. Reese Erlich photo

Starting in late December, spontaneous protests broke out among young, working-class Iranians. While hundreds demonstrated in Tehran, tens of thousands demonstrated in eighty towns and smaller cities. To date, the government has arrested an estimated 1,000 people and twenty-two have died. The 2009 Green Movement mobilized much larger crowds but attracted mostly intellectuals and other middle-income folks.

The International Monetary Fund estimates that Iran’s economy will grow 4.2 percent by March. But, just as in the United States, very little of the country’s wealth trickles down.

A construction worker told me he has no regular place to live while working in Tehran. Sometimes contractors provide refurbished shipping containers as living quarters. Sometimes he stays with relatives. He blamed Iran’s economic problems on the economic sanctions imposed by the United States. He also blamed the Iranian government for wasting billions of dollars on wars in Syria and Iraq.

“First you have to feed your own people and then go around helping others,” he told me. He criticized widespread Iranian corruption. When the Revolutionary Guard builds projects, for example, workers often don’t get paid on time and then the officers say, “Oh, we spent the money in Syria or Iraq.”

But many other Iranians, while critical of corruption, are not willing to break with the Rouhani government. Tens of thousands of people participated in pro-government marches on January 5 as hardliners blamed the United States and foreign powers for the unrest.

Back in the United States, President Donald Trump has sought to use the protests to justify his aggressive policies.

He tweeted, “Such respect for the people of Iran as they try to take back their corrupt government. You will see great support from the United States at the appropriate time!”

But Iranians don’t believe Trump supports them. In my numerous, random interviews, I did not encounter a single person with anything positive to say about Trump. They opposed his ban on Iranian travel to the United States, his declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and his efforts to cancel the nuclear accord.

To continue reading: Trump’s Phony Support for Iran’s Popular Protests