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Making a Mistake with Iran?

(Photo: wikicommons/ Nick Taylor)

(Photo: wikicommons/ Nick Taylor)

We all make mistakes. Parents, teachers, doctors, and yes, even world leaders often make mistakes. They’re the result of poor judgment, miscalculations, or outright carelessness. But when a person receives ample warnings that they are about to drive off a cliff, from numerous and diverse sources, and they decide to ignore all those warnings and continue to drive off the cliff, is that a mistake?

I’m not sure that what we are seeing in Obama’s policy towards Iran is a mistake. I am not suggesting in the least that Obama wants Iran to become a nuclear power. Yet, so many in the Middle East, and I’m not just talking about Israelis, are confused and dismayed with this U.S. administration’s capitulation to Iran in nuclear talks.

President Obama attempted to hold a summit with Gulf State leaders in a failed effort to assure them that the deal being hammered out with Iran is in their best interest. In the end, four out of six of those heads of states opted not to show up, and, in their stead, they sent lower level politicians to meet with the leader of the free world.

As it turns out, Gulf leaders headed by Saudi Arabia have given Obama an ultimatum. They have requested a defense pact with the US, which would land American boots on the ground in the event that they go to war with Iran. Such a treaty, assuming Obama would agree to one, would never gain the necessary approval from the U.S. Congress anyway. Especially, after considering how many precious American lives have been sacrificed in the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Since Obama cannot agree to a defense pact with the Gulf, they have already stated clearly that they too will seek to acquire nuclear weapons. At a recent conference in South Korea, a senior Gulf leader said, quite simply, “Whatever the Iranians have [nuclear weapons,] we will have, too.”

And so, the nuclear arms race which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned would happen as…

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Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 at 11:10 AM  | Stand for Israel

Iran’s Maritime Power Play

(Photo: wikicommons/Aspahbod)

(Photo: wikicommons/Aspahbod)

Recently, Stand for Israel reported on Iran’s seizure of a cargo ship, and this past week news leaked of Iranian naval vessels firing on a tanker from Singapore. Yediot Achronot writes that with these glaring displays of maritime aggression even as it seeks a nuclear agreement with the West, Iran is testing international limits while projecting power:

The incidents coincided with a push by Washington to reassure Gulf Arab monarchies that their interests would not be threatened by a nuclear accord that Tehran and world powers are trying to reach by the end of June.

In an escalating confrontation with Saudi Arabia over Yemen, Tehran criticized Arab states for recklessness and brutality in that country, where a Saudi-led coalition is attacking an Iranian-allied militia.

Iran has also sent an aid ship, the Iran Shahed, to the Yemeni Red Sea port of Hodaida to test a naval blockade enforced by the coalition. Several Iranian military officials have warned of war if the Iran Shahed is attacked by Saudi-led forces. It expected to reach the port by Thursday.

“Iran’s recent measures in the Strait of Hormuz have one clear message to Saudi Arabia. No one can ignore Iran’s key role,” said an Iranian official, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.

“Whether reformist or hardliner, Iranian leaders have consensus on securing Iran’s influence in the region,” said the official…

On two previous occasions, in 2008 and 2010, Iran threatened to disrupt oil flow in the Gulf by shutting the Strait of Hormuz if there were any military strike on its nuclear sites.

Millions of barrels of oil are transported daily through the Bab el-Mandeb and Strait of Hormuz to Europe, the United States and Asia, waterways which pass the coasts of Yemen and Iran.

Iran, the United States, France, Germany, Russia and China are in talks aimed at clinching a long-term deal by June 30 to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for an…

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Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 at 8:28 AM  | Stand for Israel

Iran: We Have Divine Permission to Destroy Israel

(Photo: wikicommons)

(Photo: wikicommons)

If the ongoing nuclear talks, continued aggression across the Middle East, and implied threats against the U.S. are not enough, now The Algemeiner’s David Daoud reports that a top adviser for the Ayatollah Khamenei has announced that Iran has a divine right to destroy Israel:

An official close to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei asserted that his government has a godly ordained right to annihilate Israel, Al Arabiya reported on Tuesday.

The “government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has divine permission to destroy Israel,” said Mojtaba Zolnour, a Khamenei representative in the elite Revolutionary Guards.

According to semi-official state news agency Fars, Zolnour said that, “the Noble Koran permits the Islamic Republic of Iran to destroy Israel.” He added that, “Even if Iran gives up its nuclear program, it will not weaken this country’s determination to destroy Israel.”

This is by no means the first time that Iranian political or military officials have threatened Israel with destruction.

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Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 at 8:49 AM  | Stand For Israel

Do We Know Outcome of Iran Talks?

(Photo: wikicommons/Konstantin von Wedelstaedt)

(Photo: wikicommons/Konstantin von Wedelstaedt)

With the deadline for a final Iranian nuclear deal on its way, and so many other troubling issues having reared their heads, yet another has arisen. Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin writes that the latest breakdown in sanctions against Iran shows yet again that the Islamic Republic has no intention of sticking to any agreement:

[T]he economic sanctions that brought Iran to the table are already breaking down. As Eli Lake reports at BloombergView, the delivery of nine used commercial airliners in Iran for use by Mahan Air illustrates that the ground on which Obama is standing is falling apart. If sanctions can’t be kept now, why would Iran give in on any of these issues, let alone fear they would be re-imposed later?

The airliner deal that Lake discusses is important because, as he notes, the U.S. Treasury Department has targeted Mahan Air in the past because of its ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. But now apparently, all is forgiven and the company’s efforts to bolster its fleet are not being interfered with by the U.S. or its allies.

The efforts of Russia, which has already announced the sale of anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, and China to undermine the sanctions to which they have only reluctantly endorsed, are well known. So, too, if the fact that Western Europe has been chomping at the bit to buy Iranian oil as well as do business in the country. As I wrote last month, even American companies are now eagerly preparing to dive back into the Iranian market.

The impact of these efforts will be felt once a deal is signed and create a huge and powerful constituency against any effort to hold Iran accountable for its compliance with the weak nuclear deal or to re-impose sanctions should Tehran chose to cheat on the easily evaded restrictions in the pact…

 

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Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 at 8:20 AM  | Stand For Israel

Iranian Cash Already in West Bank

(Photo: flickr/ crazymaq)

(Photo: flickr/ crazymaq)

While Iran’s intention to attain nuclear capabilities remains perhaps the Islamic Republic’s most troubling goal, we have also been following its reach across the Middle East. Writing at The Times of Israel, Arieh Dan Spitzen says that Iranian funds are now being used to buy influence in the West Bank, among Hamas and Palestinian Authority followers alike:

This has led critics to worry that Iran will gain immediate access to enormous sums of money that it can use to bolster Hezbollah and strengthen Hamas in Gaza. In fact, very recently, the British newspaper The Telegraph reported that Iran has given Hamas millions of dollars to reconstruct the tunnels in the Gaza Strip that were destroyed by the IDF in last summer’s fighting. But even without the enormous new flow of funds promised by the removal of US and international sanctions, Iran has not limited its financial contributions in the Palestinian arena to Hamas or to Gaza.

Instead, the evidence suggests that it has been funneling money to the Palestinian Authority through its Shari’a courts and buying influence with the Palestinian public in the West Bank as well…

Standing alone, this Iranian financial support can only be considered a small beachhead in that nation’s efforts to gain influence with the PA and West Bank Palestinians, but it remains unclear whether there are other, less open financial streams flowing from Tehran to Ramallah. More importantly, the willingness of the Palestinian Authority to allow its postal service and government department to be used as a channel for financial support from an Iranian financed and US designated Hezbollah organization raises further questions about both the PA’s internal cohesion and its ultimate sympathies. The only thing that is clear is that Tehran, through its renewed support for Hamas and its coordination with the PA to fund payments to the families of “martyrs” in the West Bank, is seeking a key position of influence in the Palestinian territories.

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Monday, May 11th, 2015 at 8:37 AM  | Stand For Israel

Reminders About Iran

(Photo: U.S. Dept. of State)

(Photo: U.S. Dept. of State)

Yesterday, we brought you an analysis that warned that Iran is not and will not be a partner for the West. Today, former national security adviser Elliott Abrams provides some more reminders about the Islamic Republic, “the nature of its regime, its defiance of international law, and its contempt for the United States”:

So it is interesting to see how Iran is conducting itself during this period. The answer is clear: it is practicing no restraint whatsoever. The best example of this may be its seizure of the cargo ship Maersk Tigris which was plying the waters of the Gulf. This seizure has forced the United States to provide naval escorts to some American and British ships, and it served notice on the world that Iran would use military force when it pleased, negotiations or no negotiations.

A second example is the espionage charge against the imprisoned Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian. He has been in an Iranian jail since July, 2014, and the ludicrous espionage charge is not simply a reminder of the nature of Iran’s “legal” system…

Meanwhile Foreign Minister Zarif travels the world, offering assurances of Iran’s good faith and pacific intent. Zarif is a salesman, or put more nicely a diplomat, but not a policymaker, and the policymakers are showing us week after week the true nature of the regime. If we pay more attention to Zarif’s speeches and interviews than to the actual conduct of the regime, we have nothing and no one to blame but ourselves and our illusions about the Islamic Republic.

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Friday, May 8th, 2015 at 8:01 AM  | Stand For Israel

Senate Passes Bill Giving Congress Review of Iran Deal

(Photo: U.S. Government)

(Photo: U.S. Government)

When Western powers and Iran recently agreed on a framework to a nuclear agreement, many were left worried, American legislators included. The Times of Israel’s Rebecca Shimoni Stoil reports that the U.S. Senate has passed bipartisan legislation (by a vote of 98-1) that will allow Congress to review any future  deal with Iran:

A key bill to increase congressional oversight of a future nuclear agreement with Iran passed the Senate by an overwhelming majority of 98-1 Thursday, in a move that could limit President Barack Obama’s maneuverability in negotiations with Tehran…

The bill will allow Congress a 52-day review period of any agreement that the US reaches with Iran over its nuclear program in the framework of ongoing talks between Tehran and the six world powers. It will also require regular reports from the president on the progress of Iranian steps to scale down its nuclear program, and will curb the president’s ability to negate Congress-imposed sanctions by signing repeated waivers.

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Thursday, May 7th, 2015 at 3:24 PM  | Stand for Israel

Iran Is Not a Partner

(Photo: flickr/yeowatzup)

(Photo: flickr/yeowatzup)

Stand for Israel has kept you up-to-date – and we’ll continue to keep you updated – on the Iranian nuclear deal. But the Islamic Republic’s ongoing push for the bomb is not the only troubling matter. Writing at the Gatestone Institute, Yaakov Lappin says that while Iran would have the West believe it is a partner, in actuality, its aggression across the Middle East shows otherwise:

The international community is failing to respond to Iran’s weapons and terrorism networks.

In recent years, Iran’s networks have been expanding significantly, most often with deadly results for the region.

While Iran’s nuclear program is the focus of intense global attention, the international community frequently overlooks the sophisticated Iranian transnational weapons smuggling and terrorism networks, currently fueling wars and instability across the Middle East.

Weapons ships disguised as cargo vessels, Iranian airlines that carry arms, and ground convoys ferrying missiles, rockets, guns, and ammunition are all used to arm members of Iran’s regional network…

Nowhere is Iranian intervention more evident than in Syria, where Iran has acted as the Assad regime’s life support system, helping to fuel a conflict that has killed more than 250,000 people and created more than seven million refugees.

Iran views the Assad regime as a key regional base, and a strategic bridge to its chief proxy: Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Iran’s support for Assad enables this conflict, the most deadly in the world just now, to roll on month after month. That conflict, in turn, is what has directly led to the mushrooming of radical Sunni groups, especially the Islamic State.

Iran’s Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, the most heavily armed terrorist entity in the world, is fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with the Assad regime’s forces. Together with Iran, Hezbollah has been trying to set up terrorist bases in southern Syria in order to initiate cross-border attacks on Israel.

Tehran has not only been using its Quds Force network to send guided missiles and rockets to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon; it has also been paying Hamas tens of millions of dollars to continue digging tunnels from…

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Thursday, May 7th, 2015 at 8:01 AM  | Stand For Israel

Iranian Leader’s Bizarre Twitter Feed

(Photo: Presidential Press and Information Office)

(Photo: Presidential Press and Information Office)

All too often, the people (and leaders) of Iran rejoice in hurling insults and death threats at Israel and the United States. They do so in the streets, and they do so in the digital realm, as well. Michael J. Totten takes a look at the bizarre Twitter account of Iran’s “Supreme Leader,” Ayatollah Khamenei:

Khamenei has 120,000 Twitter followers but only follows five people himself. Wondering who are the lucky five, I clicked to find out and discovered that three of them are his other accounts, one of them is from the ghost of his predecessor, Ayatollah Khomeini, and the last is some random Islamic Twitter feed.

Twitter is a one-way conversation for this guy. Following other people? That’s for teachable folks who might learn something from somebody else, or at least for those of us who are passively interested in what somebody else has to say.

Iran’s ruler is doing what the Soviet Union used to do and what Hugo Chavez did more recently. Both used the West’s language of human rights as weapons against the West while resisting everything Western human rights activists stand for. Partly they were just being cynical, and partly they were pointing out the West’s supposed hypocrisy.

You could argue that I’m just doing what Khamenei is doing by saying the other guy has no clothes, but there’s a difference, and it’s crucial. I actually care about human rights, not just for Americans, but also for Iranians and everyone else. Plenty of Iranians care about human rights, too, but it’s safe to say that pretty much none of them are fixtures in the Iranian government.

The most foolish among us might be convinced that tyrannical dictators on the other side of the planet care more about such things than we do. That’s the theory, anyway. Hey, maybe the Iranian leader is one of us! Maybe everything our own government says is a lie!

Every village has its idiot. Moscow managed to sucker some of…

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Monday, May 4th, 2015 at 8:20 AM  | Stand for Israel

Iran Testing the West

(Photo: wikicommons/Aspahbod)

(Photo: wikicommons/Aspahbod)

The Iranian Navy intercepted a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship in the Persian Gulf as it passed through an internationally recognized maritime route near the Strait of Hormuz. Four Iranian patrol boats surrounded the commercial vessel, fired shots across its bow, and escorted it to Iranian territory. The status of the vessel and its crew is still unclear.

The U.S. Navy has long maintained security for shipping routes all across the world. And while there have been multiple incidents of piracy along the coast of Africa in recent years, a flagrant action such as the one taken by Iran has not been attempted for some time.

Forgive me for being naïve, but wouldn’t you think Iran would hold off on abducting U.S.-protected cargo ships until after the impending nuclear agreement has been finalized? And if Iran is so brazen without a nuclear weapon and with its economy crippled from years of sanctions, how will it act with refilled coffers and a nuclear bomb?

On April 2, President Obama victoriously announced that U.S.-led negotiators had reached a “historic agreement with Iran which … will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” while Israelis, Saudis, Egyptians, Turks, and others who fear a nuclear-capable Iran watched in disbelief.

What really happened in the nuclear talks is that the world powers and Iran did not reach an understanding. John Kerry, who is spearheading the talks, failed to convince his Iranian counterpart to agree to the framework he hoped to achieve. Instead, both parties issued a “Fact Sheet,” each of which contradicted the other on key issues.

So it seems to the Iranians, as well as to the rest of the world, that no matter what the mullahs in Tehran do, they will not be penalized for their actions. As a result, it’s not business as usual for Iran’s terror ambitions. Right now, business is booming.

Iran is continuing and even stepping up its open support of Hamas and Hezbollah. Tehran is also one of the driving forces behind Syria’s horrific civil war. Meanwhile, even as nuclear negotiations…

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Friday, May 1st, 2015 at 10:52 AM  | Stand For Israel