10182017Wed

Iran Focus

London, 18 Oct - There are four things in Iran that impact heavily on US foreign policy: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, his personal terror squads (the Revolutionary Guards and its Quds Force unit), the Iranian Government led by so-called moderate Hassan Rouhani, and the Iranian people themselves whose views and values are incredibly different to that of their oppressive rulers.

The first, second, and third elements are hard to untangle.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which is only answerable to Khamenei, controls much of the Iranian economy (often through illicit means), while the Quds Force (designated as a terrorist supporter by the US and Canada) seeks to destabilise the Middle East through proxy terror cells.


Iran Focus

London, 17 Oct - Donald Trump believes that the Iranian Regime may be changing its tone, just days after he decertified their compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, but stressed that this shift may not be genuine because they are skilled negotiators.

He said: “They negotiated a phenomenal deal for themselves but a horrible deal for the United States, and we’re going to see what happens.”

On October 16, just days after decertifying them, Trump said: “This nation has been taken advantage of for many, many years—for many decades, frankly—and I’m tired of watching it.”

Iran Focus

London, 3 Oct - While regime change in a rogue state may be preferable to all (accept the dictators themselves, of course), there are numerous cases of it being forced upon a nation by the US and ending badly; so what can make regime change smoother?

The Cipher Brief analysts Levi Maxey and Fritz Lodge compiled a report into regime change, particularly in the now-pressing cases of the Iranian Regime, “which seeks to extend its growing influence throughout the Middle East and tug at the threads of its nuclear deal with the West by pushing its ballistic missile program forward”, and the North Korean Regime “and its nuclear weapons programme”.

Iran Focus

London, 17 Oct - According to the reports, an athlete has been under arrest since August 2017 in Iran. He has been arrested for receiving an invitation from the Bodybuilding Federation of Israel and expressing interest in participating in the tournament. The athlete Mohammad Kahkesh was shortly detained in the ward of the Ministry of Intelligence and is currently in the general ward of Evin Prison.

In a letter, Mohammad Kahkesh emphasizes his innocence writing that he is the official trainer of the Iranian Fitness Federation, the sports consultant for more than 10 sports clubs in Khuzestan Province, and sports coach and consultant of the Iran national junior football team.

Iran Focus

London, 30 Sep - In Iran, labor protests and strikes have increased across the country. Workers are demonstrating against layoffs and nonpayment of wages. Iran’s economy seems not to have recovered, even after economic sanctions were lifted after the signing of the 2015 nuclear deal. The Iranian peoples’ living conditions do not appear to have improved.

Iranian state is said to have attempted to halt protests by arresting workers and sentencing them to prison. Still, the increase in the number of labor protests in the past few months suggests that the Iranian labor movement is going to give more workers a voice to dissent.

Iran Focus

London, 16 Oct - America should clarify that Donald Trump’s decision to decertify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal does not mean that sanctions will be swiftly reimposed, but that the Iranian Regime will be given a chance to properly curb their nuclear and military activities according to an expert in the Middle East.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed, the former general manager of Al Arabiya news channel, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, wrote an op-ed for Arab News in which he said that America should lay out the terms before the Iranian Regime’s PR campaign has further painted the US as the Great Satan.

Iran Focus

London, 27 Sep - The Iranian Regime has filed charges against the CEO of the encrypted messaging app Telegram.

Tehran’s prosecutor, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, claimed that Telegram is popular with the so-called Islamic State, child pornographers, human traffickers and drug smugglers, which is why they’ve levied charges against CEO Pavel Durov, who lives in Russia.

Durov tweeted his surprise at the charges.

He said: “We are actively blocking terrorist and pornographic content in Iran. I think the real reasons are different.”

Iran Focus

London, 14 Oct - On Friday, Defense Secretary James Mattis said he supports President Trump's newly unveiled strategy regarding Iran, following the president's announcement of his decision not to certify Tehran's compliance with the The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal, which is an international agreement reached in Vienna in 2015, between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany, (the P5+1).

Iran Focus

London, 26 Sep - The US should definitely get tough on Iran for its violations of the 2015 nuclear accord, but the deal should not be removed without a proper strategy in place, according to two national security experts.

Vice Admiral John Bird (ret.), member of the board of advisors of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) and former commander of the US 7th Fleet, and Stephen Rademaker, a former assistant secretary of state for International Security and Nonproliferation, wrote an op-ed for The Hill in which they advised Donald Trump against allowing the Iran nuclear deal to collapse for fear that Iran would end up like North Korea.

Iran Focus

London, 14 Oct - A cyber-attack on the email accounts of dozens of MPs occurred in June, and according to an unpublished assessment by British intelligence, Iran is to blame.

Disclosure of the report comes at an awkward juncture, as Donald Trump made it clear on Friday that he wants to abandon the Iran nuclear deal. However, European leaders, including Theresa May, want to retain it.

Initial suspicion for the attack fell on Russia, but according to the intelligence assessment, the evidence amassed is pointing to Iran.

Iran Focus

London, 25 Sep - Following some absurd comments by the Supreme Leader of Iran about his and the Regime’s status in the Muslim world, one political scientist is telling the Regime to take their cues on peaceful co-existence from Saudi Arabia.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, wrote an op-ed for Arab News in which he dismissed claims on Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s website in which he is described as the “leader of the Islamic World”.

Rafizadeh highlights that a leader of the Islamic world should at least show some qualities of Islam, like uniting the Shiite and Sunni worlds and building bridges between the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds.

He said that nothing in the Iranian Regime suggests that religion has been used to unify but everything suggests that it has been corrupted to divide.

Jubin Katiraie

On Friday October 13, After President Trump unveiled a new strategy against Iran that included decertifying the nuclear agreement negotiated under the Obama administration. The Pentagon said it is reviewing its “entire breadth” of methods to counter Iran.

The review includes security cooperation activities, force posture and plans, Pentagon spokesman Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway said in a statement.

Iran Focus

London, 22 Sep - As US President Trump is known for being an unpredictable political leader, the eyes of the world were on his first speech at the UN General Assembly, especially when he said, “We cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for eventual construction of a nuclear program.”

He spoke about such subjects such as the threats from North Korea, the refugee crisis, and Iran’s activities in the Middle East. In fact, he mentioned Iran 11 times during his speech, indicating that Tehran’s destabilizing actions in the region will be one of the most crucial issues for the US foreign policy.

Iran Focus

London, 9 Oct - In London, vigils are held for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe outside the Iranian Embassy. When asked if the vigils help, Nazanin’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said, “It doesn’t matter. I know it’s what Nazanin wants. She needs to know that I’ve stood by her side.”

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian London resident in her thirties, is serving time for “non-specific charges” in a Tehran prison. She was arrested at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport by members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as she was boarding a flight home to London with her two-year-old daughter.

Iran Focus

London, 22 Sep - On Thursday, H.R. McMaster, President Trump’s National Security Adviser, said that the administration is very concerned about Iran’s destabilising behaviour. He also said that the Iran nuclear deal is “fundamentally flawed” because it is so one-sided. Iran was the one that got all the benefits. Furthermore, the deal did not address fundamental issues leaving the regime free to advance with its nuclear program.

McMaster pointed out that there are various ways in which the US can deal with the Iranian regime and emphasised that Trump is looking at the full situation in the Islamic Republic rather than focusing on just the nuclear aspect.

He also said that Trump is ensuring that American interests are protected including American citizens and allies.

Iran Focus

London, 7 Oct - The White House is preparing a series of tough measures targeting Iran and its affiliates. In the coming days the new action is expected to be announced that will focus on two entities: Iran's Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah.

Two administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, and someone familiar with the unfolding policy on Iran, but not authorized to speak about private conversations, described the measures, which have not been officially announced. They said that financial sanctions on those doing business with the Revolutionary Guard are expected to be announced, as well as rewards for information leading to the arrest of two operatives of the Iran-backed Hezbollah.

Iran Focus

London, 21 Sep - An Iranian translator has been forced to defend himself after coming under fire for altering Donald Trump’s address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, in order to downplay Trump’s criticism of Iran.

Nima Chitsaz, a translator for Iranian state broadcaster IRIB, said that he wanted to spare his Persian-speaking viewers from Trump’s verbal attacks.

He said: “I don’t think it would be nice for me to speak on national TV against my own country.”

However, if Chitsaz’s goal was to protect the people of Iran, it is unclear why he mistranslated a comment by Trump that spoke of the power that the Iranian people had to overthrow the Regime.

Iran Focus

London, 6 Oct - A team of Iranian hackers used Facebook to target Deloitte, one of the world’s biggest accounting firms, according to Forbes.

One Deloitte employee fell victim to the scam in late 2016 at roughly the same time as a separate hack which affected Deloitte data in Microsoft's Azure cloud-hosting service.

The hacking group known as OilRig, which as Forbes pointed out in July were believed to have been working for the Iranian Regime, created a fake Facebook profile for a beautiful, charming woman using the name Mia Ash.

Iran Focus

London, 20 Sep - Iran and the US are heading for a confrontation, according to one US national security expert.

Hal Brands, a Senior Fellow in the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Program on National Security, wrote an op-ed for Bloomberg in which he assessed that Iran is the adversary that the US should be concerned about, rather than North Korea.

Brands, a Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), wrote: “[Iran is] a rogue-state adversary, a potential foe that has proved rational yet ruthless in pursuit of its interests, including the aggressive development of its nuclear program and associated military capabilities.”

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