The Mullahs' Provocations

Iran heightens the stakes.

The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote in his Twitter account last week that the UN embargo on Iran will expire soon, and he asked the Iranian regime to end its “destabilizing behavior.” He added that the “clock is ticking,” and urged the international community to recognize that it means the Islamic Republic will be able to resume its nuclear weaponization and that its Quds Force (part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps or IRGC) commander Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani will be able to travel freely again and foment trouble and instability worldwide. Pompeo called upon the western powers to continue their support for sanctions on the Iranian regime.

Pompeo charged Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, with inciting violence against Israel on the eve of the ninth of Av, a tragic day for Jews, which commemorates the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem. The Ayatollah Khamenei exhorted Muslim pilgrims to Mecca to take an active part in defeating America’s “deceit,” a reference to the U.S. Middle East Peace Plan, also known as the ‘Deal of the Century.’ 

Pompeo tweeted in response that: “It’s sick that on the eve of Tisha (ninth) B-av, a solemn day for the Jewish people, Khamenei calls for violence against the Jewish state.” Pompeo took issue with Khamenei’s hypocritical positioning of Iran as the champion of the Palestinians. He wrote that Khamenei’s “faux concern” for the Palestinian people runs so deep, that under his reign of terror he provided less than $20,000 in aid since 2008, while the U.S. provided $6.3 billion in support to the Palestinians since 1994.” In another tweet, Pompeo wrote that, “Khamenei doesn’t see “progress” as prosperity for the Palestinian people, but for Palestinian terrorists switching from rocks to rockets to kill more Jews.”

The Islamic Republic of Iran repeated threats to “wipe Israel off the map,” and other calls for violence against the Jewish state are not the only onerous actions by the regime. Its terroristic meddling in the Arab Middle East, and its oppression of non-Persian minorities inside Iran are perhaps less known, but just as worrisome.

In the meantime, the State Department website mentions that the Islamic Republic of Iran is the leading nation-state in funding terror for over 40-years. Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami, head of the International Institute for Iranian Studies wrote a column in Arab News (8/12/2019) stating that “Through his writings, (Mohammed Javad) Zarif (Iran’s Foreign Minister) wants to convey the idea that Iran enjoys security and stability in a volatile Arab region despite the fact that some non-Persian ethnic areas in Iran frequently witness instability followed by state-sponsored oppression such as in Sistan and Baluchistan, (Arab) Ahwaz and Kurdistan provinces.”

Al-Sulami continued, “More importantly, the points made by Zarif in his articles disregard the central fact that Iran’s regime is one of the primary instigators of tensions in the Arab region through its support for terror groups and militias in several countries, with Tehran, supplying them with money and weapons. Tehran’s regime, which also sends its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to fight in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen is, in effect, an arsonist posing as a firefighter, setting the region on fire and then claiming to be engaged in helping to extinguish the fire.”

There are, however, numerous American apologists for Iran’s nefarious behavior, including Vali Nasr, an Iranian native who served as an adviser to the Obama administration. Nasr currently serves as a professor of Middle East Studies at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington DC. In an interview with Germany’s Weekly, Der Spiegel, which was headlined “Vali Nasr: The U.S. has to get a sense of Iran’s Security Interests,” the following exchange occurred:

Der SpiegelWhy did the Iranians shoot down the American drone and seize a British tanker as they have now done? Do they want to provoke a war with the U.S.?

Nasr: I don't think so. For a year, the Iranians did not escalate in response to the U.S. leaving the nuclear deal and increasing pressure. The Iranians' strategy was what they call "strategic patience." But in late April, Trump increased sanctions more and said the U.S. would force Iran's oil exports down to zero. The U.S. also designated the Revolutionary Guard as a foreign terrorist organization. The Iranians made the decision that the U.S. had interpreted "strategic patience" as weakness and saw no resistance or risk to increasing pressure. Even moderate voices in Iran decided that unless Iran reacts and creates some deterrence to Trump, that he was going to keep escalating. Their message is very clear: We can escalate this crisis. You can threaten war, but it will be costly to you. We can be crazier than you.

Nasr’s pro-Iranian bias overlooks the fact that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) are major purveyors of terror worldwide, and their aggression against western shipping in the Persian Gulf is indeed responsible for whatever hostilities might occur in the near future and beyond. Moreover, Iran has been cheating on the nuclear deal long before the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal as revealed by the Israeli intelligence services. Moreover, downing a U.S. drone, and giving a green light to its Iraqi Shiite militia proxies to attack a U.S. base in Iraq, as well as the development of long-range ballistic missiles, are not exactly gestures of peaceful “strategic patience.” In fact, these are provocative actions on the part of Iran.

Asked by Der Spiegel: What should the Europeans do to save the deal? Nasr responded: 

There are some options, and all have to do with the Europeans fulfilling their economic commitments under the Joint Plan of Comprehensive Action (JPCOA) nuclear deal. For instance, the governments of the European signatories to the deal, Germany, France and the UK, could buy Iranian oil or they could give Iran a credit line equivalent to a certain amount of oil. Of course, that would risk a direct confrontation with Washington. Since this would be a government deal, it would challenge the U.S. to sanction European governments, although that's not likely.

In giving Iran a credit line equivalent to a certain amount of oil, or actually buying oil from the Tehran regime would only benefit this oppressive regime. If the past is any lesson, then we expect the regime to use the funds to strengthen its oppressive apparatus and increase its support for Hezbollah and other Shiite militias using Iran’s violent bidding in Syria, Yemen, and against domestic enemies, both Persian and non-Persian. As for the Europeans, especially France and Germany, their appeasement of Iran is a glaring reality, and their willful blindness to the consequences of financially supporting a regime that makes a mockery of human rights and threatens genocide on Israel, is shameful.

Mike Pompeo was right in referring to Ayatollah Khamenei as “sick” in calling for violence against Israel on Tisha B-av. And he is correct in stating that “Khamenei doesn’t see “progress” as prosperity for the Palestinian people, but instead for Palestinian terrorists switching from rocks to rockets to kill more Jews.” Perhaps Vali Nasr and the Europeans should give it some thought.

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