Archive for the ‘Iran’ Category

5 reasons why Nasrallah’s threat to use Iraq and Iran fighters against Israel is alarming – The Jerusalem Post


The Jerusalem Post
5 reasons why Nasrallah's threat to use Iraq and Iran fighters against Israel is alarming
The Jerusalem Post
However, although Israeli and foreign experts warned about this road to the sea, few Iranian or Hezbollah officials discussed it openly. After Syrian regime soldiers reached the Iraqi border near Tanf and the PMU reached the Syrian border near Sinjar
Hezbollah says future Israel war could draw fighters from Iran, Iraq, elsewhereReuters

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5 reasons why Nasrallah’s threat to use Iraq and Iran fighters against Israel is alarming – The Jerusalem Post

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June 24, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Iran’s anti-Israel rallies, a tradition during Ramadan, this year include ballistic missiles – Los Angeles Times

Thousands of Iranians participated Friday in annual anti-Israel rallies, a heavily stage-managed show of support for the Palestinian territories that included displays of ballistic missiles.

The rallies on Quds Day, after an ancient Arabic name for Jerusalem, included the usual signs condemning Israel and the United States along with placards denouncing Saudi Arabia, its Sunni Muslim rival.

Protesters were bused into Tehran, the capital, or rode on subway trains whose fares were temporarily lifted. Demonstrators burned Israeli and American flags while others posed for selfies in front of yellow-painted missiles including the Zolfaghar, the type Iran fired this week at alleged Islamic State targets in Syria.

Irans Revolutionary Guard paramilitary force said it fired six Zolfaghar missiles on Sunday on the city of Deir el-Zour, one of Islamic States last remaining strongholds in Syria. Iran supports Syrian President Bashar Assad and is in an escalating confrontation with Saudi Arabia, which backs anti-Assad rebels.

The missile strikes were Irans first in more than a decade, according to reports, and came in response to attacks this month on the parliament building and a shrine in Tehran that were blamed on Islamic State militants.

Speaking at the Friday prayer ceremony at Tehran University following the march, firebrand clergyman Ahmad Khatami said that Iran would continue its missile program despite warnings from the Trump administration.

The missiles shot at Daesh were mid-range you can imagine the power of our long-range missile, Khatami said, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

AFP/Getty Images

Ballistic missiles are displayed during a rally marking Quds Day in Tehran.

Ballistic missiles are displayed during a rally marking Quds Day in Tehran. (AFP/Getty Images)

The annual protests held on the last Friday of the fasting month of Ramadan are organized by Irans hard-line Shiite Muslim establishment as a show of support for the Palestinian people. Iran does not recognize Israel and backs militant groups, including Hamas and Hezbollah, that oppose the Jewish state.

President Hassan Rouhani and other top officials attended the rallies while state television repeatedly played a song whose lyrics proclaimed that Israel will be wiped out.

Standing in the shade on a warm morning, Zia Zahedi, a white-turbaned clergyman, said protesters were showing their support as Muslims for any oppressed people, wherever they live.

We are here to express our hatred against Saudi Arabia, Israel and America, said Zahedi, 57. The Saudi Arabian regime is not Muslim they are allies of Israel.

Sadegh Sofiyani ,a retired teacher, said protesters were soldiers of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said in 2015 that Israel would cease to exist in 25 years.

We are ready to shed our last drop of blood in any war against Israel, or in defending holy shrines in Syria and Iraq against Daesh, no matter the cost, Sofiyani said.

Special correspondent Mostaghim reported from Tehran and Times staff writer Bengali from Mumbai, India.

shashank.bengali@latimes.com

Follow @SBengali on Twitter

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Iran’s anti-Israel rallies, a tradition during Ramadan, this year include ballistic missiles – Los Angeles Times

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June 23, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

UN Leader Softens His Predecessor’s Criticism of Iran Missile Tests – New York Times

The tests are not prohibited under the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and six major powers, which eased economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for its verifiable promises of peaceful nuclear work.

But Security Council Resolution 2231, which put the agreement into effect, called on Iran not to test ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

When Iran conducted missile tests in March 2016, critics led by the United States and Israel were infuriated, calling the countrys behavior a violation of the Security Council resolution and a sign that it would not honor provisions of the nuclear accord. Iran rejected the accusation.

In a report to the Security Council last July on compliance with Resolution 2231, Ban Ki-moon, then the secretary general, said he was concerned that the missile tests might not be consistent with the constructive spirit demonstrated by the nuclear accord. He called on Iran to refrain from conducting such launches, given that they have the potential to increase tensions in the region.

Mr. Guterress report, his first on Irans compliance with the resolution, also called on the country to refrain from missile tests. But it did not echo Mr. Bans broader concerns about them.

A spokesman for Mr. Guterres, Stphane Dujarric, did not immediately respond to a query about the difference.

Iran has long contended that the missiles are its defensive bulwark in an increasingly hostile region. Since it has already promised not to make nuclear weapons, its leaders have said, the missiles by definition cannot carry them. Iran has also argued that Resolution 2231s language does not ban missile tests.

Some disarmament experts suggested that Mr. Guterress report decreased the possibility of United Nations penalties against Iran over its missile development.

Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a Washington-based group, said the difference between Mr. Bans and Mr. Guterress reports was subtle.

Mr. Guterres may have adjusted the language in the report out of recognition that further sanctions of Iranian entities tied to missile development or production will not likely succeed in reducing, or even slowing, Irans ballistic missile program, Mr. Kimball said.

Sanctions intended as punishment for missile tests, he said, could even strengthen hard-liners in Iran who want to accelerate the program in response to U.S. pressure.

A version of this article appears in print on June 22, 2017, on Page A11 of the New York edition with the headline: U.N. Leader Softens Predecessors Criticism of Iran Missile Tests.

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UN Leader Softens His Predecessor’s Criticism of Iran Missile Tests – New York Times

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June 21, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Terror in Iran: The regime is pointing fingers at ISIS to distract from domestic unrest – Fox News

Since the June 7 terrorist attacks in Tehran, the Iranian government has made dozens of arrests and highlighted the fact that ISIS claimed responsibility. The countrys leaders have driven the narrative that Iran is yet another victim of this global terrorist network even going so far as to launch missiles targeting ISIS operations in Syria. But it is increasingly apparent that, while outside terrorists may have played a role, the governments focus on their involvement hides a more complex truth, with significant implications for U.S. policy.

Through recent news reports weve learned that those rounded-up as part of the attacks are all members of the Kurdish and Baluch ethnic minorities. The conflict with Irans Kurdish and Baluch minorities is not new: Tehran has been battling for close to a decade a much larger insurgency with both groups, without any evidence of direct links to ISIS. Most recently, on the eve of the Tehran attacks, a Kurdish nationalist group with no global terrorist connections killed two Iranian border guards near the city of Urmiya.

Despite this, the U.S. and other western countries appear to be taking Iran at its word that the attacks in Tehran were exclusively the work of ISISand part of the groups global campaign. But in doing so, they risk adopting a skewed view of Irans foreign relations and domestic stability.

Tehrans focus on ISIS as the driving force behind recent terror attacks is right out of the countrys playbook for dealing with ethnic conflict.

While Iran is commonly referred to as Persia, it actually has a multi-ethnic population. Close to half its citizens are non-Persian minorities, including Azerbaijanis, Turkmen, Arabs, Baluch and Kurds the latter make up about 10 percent of the population. These ethnic minorities are located primarily in the countrys border regions and share ties with co-ethnics in neighboring states: Turkey, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Pakistan. This geographic proximity has significant bearing on Tehrans regional foreign policy and individual relations with most of its neighbors.

Irans multi-ethnic composition also affects domestic stability. For close to a decade, Iranian security forces have been engaged in domestic armed conflict with Kurdish and Baluch groups. A disproportionate number of Iranian Kurds, including minors, are executed each year. While the offenders are often charged with drug and smuggling crimes, many observers believe the high number of executions is the result of ethnic politics rather than community crime. This was even more evident in spring 2016, when a large number of Iranian Kurds were executed for charges of enmity to God for membership in Kurdish political organizations. While most of Irans Kurds and Baluch are Sunni, the basis of their dissent seems mostly ethno-nationalist and not sectarian.

Iranian government representatives rarely acknowledge dissent or grievances among the countrys ethnic minorities. But when the conflicts spill into the political realm or the public eye, we get a better understanding of the concern they cause. For example, during the recent presidential campaign the leading candidates, Hassan Rouhani and Ebrahim Raisi, both appealed to Irans ethnic minorities and promised to allow greater use of minority languages in an attempt to gain their votes. In addition, Leader Khamenei also warned foreigners against stirring up ethnic minorities in efforts to interfere in Irans election process.

And the impact of internal dissent goes well beyond political rhetoric in February, when members of Irans Arab community held massive demonstrations, they successfully paralyzed the city of Ahvaz for days, which is the center of Irans oil production.

Despite political promises, Irans leaders rarely take steps to address domestic grievances. Instead, they typically blame outsiders for the activities of the ethnic minorities, often depicting them as tools of foreign governments, primarily Saudi Arabia, the U.S., Britain or Israel. And while Iran claims to be an Islamic Republic that does not differentiate between Muslims on ethnic basis, its leaders refuse to allow use of non-Persian languages in the official sphere and the Iranian mediatends to belittle non-Persian groups.

Tehrans focus on ISIS as the driving force behind recent terror attacks is right out of the countrys playbook for dealing with ethnic conflict. Even if the Kurdish attackers cooperated with ISIS, their motivations and goals are very different than other affiliates. And even while dozens of Kurds and Baluch have now been jailed, this conflict is not going away anytime soon. Kurdish, Baluch and other domestic ethnic groups in Iran have extensive grievances and there continues to be fallout from the regular executions of activists from these communities.

Tehrans official statements and ISIS finger-pointing would have us dismiss domestic ethnic tensions as insignificant. But Irans modern history makes it clear that, during periods of greater political turbulence, these tensions impact the country and its wider political developments, such as during the Islamic Revolution. As Western leaders assess developments in Iran, its essential that they account for its multi-ethnic composition and domestic base of terrorism, and the major role these play in the countrys stability and foreign policy.

Brenda Shaffer is a professor with the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies at Georgetown and a fellow with the Atlantic Councils Global Energy Center.

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Terror in Iran: The regime is pointing fingers at ISIS to distract from domestic unrest – Fox News

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June 21, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

‘If Hezbollah fires rockets on Israel, IDF should hit Iran’s infrastructure’ – The Jerusalem Post


The Jerusalem Post
'If Hezbollah fires rockets on Israel, IDF should hit Iran's infrastructure'
The Jerusalem Post
If Hezbollah fires on Israel the IDF should strike Iran's infrastructure in response, former deputy defense minister Ephraim Sneh said on Wednesday, urging that Israel should target the Shi'ite terror organization's sponsor and great supporter Iran

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June 21, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Tensions rise in Syria as Russia, Iran send US warnings – Maryville Daily Times

BEIRUT Russia on Monday threatened aircraft from the U.S.-led coalition in Syrian-controlled airspace and suspended a hotline intended to avoid collisions in retaliation for the U.S. military shooting down a Syrian warplane.

The U.S. said it had downed the Syrian jet a day earlier after it dropped bombs near the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces conducting operations against the Islamic State group, adding that was something it would not tolerate.

The downing of the warplane the first time in the six-year conflict that the U.S. has shot down a Syrian jet came amid another first: Iran fired several ballistic missiles Sunday night at IS positions in eastern Syria in what it said was a message to archrival Saudi Arabia and the United States.

The developments added to already-soaring regional tensions and reflect the intensifying rivalry among the major players in Syrias civil war that could spiral out of control just as the fight against the Islamic State group in its stronghold of Raqqa is gaining ground.

Russia, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, called on the U.S. military to provide a full accounting as to why it decided to shoot down the Syrian Su-22 bomber.

The U.S. military confirmed that one of its F-18 Super Hornets shot down a Syrian jet that had dropped bombs near the U.S. partner forces SDF. Those forces, which are aligned with the U.S. in the campaign against the Islamic State group, warned Syrian government troops to stop their attacks or face retaliation.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that as of Monday, all coalition jets and drones flying west of the Euphrates River will be tracked as potential targets.

Areas of northern Syria west of the Euphrates were controlled by IS before Syrian government forces captured most of them in recent months. The Russians, who have been providing air cover for Assads forces since 2015, appear to want to avoid further U.S. targeting of Syrian warplanes or ground troops that have come under U.S. attack in eastern Syria recently.

It was the second time Russia suspended a hotline intended to minimize incidents with the U.S. in Syrian airspace. In April, Russia briefly suspended cooperation after the U.S. military fired 59 missiles at a Syrian air base following a chemical weapons attack that Washington blamed on the Assad government.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Washington is working to re-establish communications aimed at avoiding mishaps involving U.S. and Russian air operations in Syria.

Speaking in Washington, the top U.S. military officer said the two sides were in delicate discussions to lower tensions.

The worst thing any of us could do right now is address this with hyperbole, Dunford said.

Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the defense and security committee at the upper chamber of Russian parliament, described his Defense Ministrys statement as a warning.

Im sure that because of this, neither the U.S. nor anyone else will take any actions to threaten our aircraft, he told the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency. Thats why theres no threat of direct confrontation between Russia and American aircraft.

Ozerov insisted that Russia will be tracking the coalitions jets, not shooting them down, but he added that a threat for those jets may appear only if they take action that pose a threat to Russian aircraft.

Iran said the missile strike by its powerful Revolutionary Guard hit Syrias eastern city of Deir el-Zour on Sunday night and was in retaliation for two attacks in Tehran earlier this month that killed 17 people and were claimed by the Islamic State group.

It appeared to be Irans first missile attack abroad in over 15 years and its first in the Syrian conflict, in which it has provided crucial support to Assad. The muscle-flexing comes amid the worsening of a long-running feud between Shiite powerhouse Iran and Saudi Arabia, with supports Syrian rebels and has led recent efforts to isolate the Gulf nation of Qatar.

The Saudis and Americans are especially receivers of this message, Gen. Ramazan Sharif of the Revolutionary Guard told Iranian state TV in an interview.

It also raised questions about how U.S. President Donald Trumps administration, which had previously put Iran on notice for its ballistic missile tests, will respond. Israel also is concerned about Irans missiles and has deployed a multilayered missile-defense system.

The missile attack came amid recent confrontations in Syria between U.S.-backed forces and Iranian-backed pro-government factions. The U.S. recently deployed a truck-mounted missile system in Syria as Iranian-backed forces cut off the advance of the U.S.-supported rebels along the Iraqi border.

Iranian officials threatened more strikes. Former Guard chief Gen. Mohsen Rezai wrote on Twitter: The bigger slap is yet to come.

U.S.-backed opposition fighters said Assads forces have been attacking them in the northern province of Raqqa and warned that if such attacks continue, the fighters will take action.

Clashes between Syrian troops and the SDF would escalate tensions and open a new front line in the many complex battlefields of the civil war, now in its seventh year. Clashes between the Kurdish-led SDF and Syrian forces have been rare and some rebel groups have even accused them of coordinating on the battlefield.

Both sides are battling the Islamic State group, with SDF fighters focusing on their march into the northern city of Raqqa, which the extremist group has declared to be its capital.

Syrian government forces have also been attacking IS in northern, central and southern parts of the country, seizing 9,600 square miles and reaching the Iraqi border for the first time in years.

SDF spokesman Talal Sillo said the government wants to thwart the SDF offensive to capture Raqqa. He said government forces began attacking the SDF on Saturday, using warplanes, artillery and tanks in areas that SDF had liberated from IS.

Sillo also warned that if the regime continues in its offensive against our positions in Raqqa province, this will force us to retaliate with force.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks Syrias war, said government forces expanded their presence in Raqqa province by capturing from IS the town of Rasafa.

Vasilyeva reported from Moscow. Associated Press writers Nasser Karimi in Tehran and Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed.

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Tensions rise in Syria as Russia, Iran send US warnings – Maryville Daily Times

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June 20, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Containing Iran and Maintaining Legitimacy – Lawfare (blog)

The threat posed by the Iranian regime was one focus of a recent Academic Exchange (AE) retreat of International Relations specialists and international lawyers. Even with the reelection of President Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian regime poses a two-pronged threat to the Persian Gulf and the Middle East. For one thing, Iran is poised to gain on the ground in Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere. The need to counter Irans ground game is the catalyst for President Trumps efforts to collaborate with Persian Gulf states. Countering Iran seems even more urgent after news that Iran has sponsored Shia militias in the Syrian Golan Heights, abutting Israel (see report here). Moreover, Iran is also fighting a war of ideas, contesting the Wests legitimacy.

The U.S., Israel, and Persian Gulf states should recognize that countering Iran has two components: 1) gains on the ground from tangible measures, including sanctions and, where necessary, the use of force, and, 2) gaining the moral high ground of legitimacy in the war of ideas. Tensions between these two elements are inevitable, but manageable.

Lets start with the legitimacy tourney. Here, the U.S. and its allies have some work to do. Consider one action that has recently triggered substantial U.S. litigation: President Trumps revised executive order (EO) pausing travel from six countries, including Iran. Ive written before about why I believe the revised EO is legal (see my analysis here and Josh Blackmans New York Times op-ed here), but nevertheless constitutes bad policy. The EOs effects on Iranian nationals vividly demonstrate the policy point. Iranian immigrants to the U.S. confer substantial advantages on the U.S. population, through service as doctors and other professionals (in addition, a significant number of doctors in the U.S. hail from Syria, another one of the six countries listed by the EO, as this New York Times story shows). While Irans moves in the Middle East are indeed troubling, there is no reason to think that Iranians who wish to emigrate to the U.S. endorse those moves. Indeed, a Homeland Security study of terrorist-related crimes committed by foreign-born individuals in the U.S. shows precious little activity in this sphere by persons born in Iran (only three out of approximately ninety cases).

While the policy rationale for pausing admissions from any of the six countries is modest, the weakness of the justification regarding Iran is salient. The Administration may be right as a legal matter that the Iranian regimes role as a state sponsor of terror justifies a pause in admissions to ensure that U.S. immigration authorities are receiving accurate data from Iran. However, the collateral damage of the EO for Iranian people and the U.S. individuals who benefit from services provided by Iranian doctors and other professionals provides a strong basis for rethinking the EOs policy underpinnings. Count the EO as a victory for Iran in the legitimacy tourney.

The U.S. and its allies are heading for another defeat on the legitimacy front in the Saudi intervention against Iran-sponsored Houthi rebels in Yemens civil war. As Mike Newton and Ryan Goodman have rightly indicated, the Saudis have engaged in repeated violations of established law of war norms, including violations of the rule of proportionality. That rule bars attacks with expected harm to civilians that is excessive given the military advantage anticipated, when judged from the perspective of a commander prior to the attack. The U.S. has been trying to rein in Saudi forces for well over a year. I believe the U.S. has been sincere; some of the nations most capable military lawyers have invested substantial time and effort in working with the Saudis on compliance with the law of war. However, the results of this tutelage continue to be disappointing. At some point soon, unless the Saudis substantially improve their compliance, the U.S. may bear both policy and legal responsibility for Saudi violations. Although the jury is still out, score this as a preliminary win for Iran in the legitimacy tourney.

As to the score on the ground, consider the activities of pro-Iran Shia militias such as Harakat al-Nujaba on the Syrian Golan Heights. As I can testify based on a recent visit to the portion of the Golan Heights now held by Israel, this area presents commanding views of both Syria and Israel. Prior to the 1967 war, Syrian forces regularly shelled Israeli towns from positions on the Golan Heights. For good reasons, Israel is determined not to be put in this vulnerable position again. That is why Israel is intensely concerned about al-Nujabas announcement that it is moving militia units into the portion of the Golan Heights still controlled by Syria. Israel has made it clear that, if necessary, it will take military action to prevent opening up this new front in the Syrian conflict. The militia activities continue, although their precise scope is unclear.

Suppose Israel were to use force to hold the Shia militia at bay. How would Israeli action fare under international law? Three theories could support Israels action. It could be, (1) merely another episode in a continued state of war with Syria since 1967, (2) a response to a material breach by Syria of the 1974 post-Yom Kippur War disengagement agreement, or, (3) a form of self-defense under the U.N. Charter.

Theory (1) receives support from the preeminent international law scholar Yoram Dinstein, who outlined the theory in his essential treatise, War, Aggression and Self-Defence. This theory allows each party to the armed conflict substantial leeway, since no triggering action by one party would be required as a justification for the other partys action. It is logically true that if a state of war continues to exist, Israel would be within its rights in taking military action against Shia militias on Syrias portion of the Golan Heights. The Shia militias commander has made it easier for Israel to situate the militias activities within the Israel-Syria conflict. Speaking of his militia, which has collaborated in Syria with Irans Quds force, al-Nujaba leader Akram al Kabi said earlier this year that the group would undertake to liberate the portion of the Golan annexed by Israel if Syria so requested.

The difficulty with the continued-war theory is its disconnect from facts on the ground. While the relationship between Israel and Syria over the past 43 years has not exactly been harmonious, sustained military encounters have been rare. Against that relatively uneventful backdrop, it seems counterintuitive to insist that a turn toward force does not require some triggering event. While this theory is buttressed by Professor Dinsteins estimable support, it may be another loser in the legitimacy tourney.

Option (2) arguing that Syrian consent to Shia militias activities in the Golan constituted a material breach of the 1974 disengagement agreement suffers from a different problem: its inconsistency with the U.N. Charter framework governing the use of force. Article 2(4) of the Charter bars the use of force against another state. Absent Security Council authorization, the only exception is the use of force in self-defense against an armed attack, pursuant to Article 51. Some distinguished commentators, including Professor Dinstein, have argued that a material breach theory is viable despite the Charter (including in the case of the 2003 Iraq War). However, other experts strongly disagree. (See Sean Murphys rebuttal here.) The U.N. played a substantial role in implementing the 1974 Israel-Syria disengagement agreement by providing peacekeepers (including four Austrians who died when a mine exploded in the demilitarized zone created by the agreement; see Robert Morrisss piece [behind pay wall] here). It seems incongruous to accept the U.N.s help, but then reject the U.N. Charters framework governing the use of force. Score another loss in the legitimacy tourney.

On balance, the best option is theory (3): arguing that Israeli action against al-Nujaba would constitute self-defense. International law, going back to then-Secretary of State Daniel Websters 1841-42 correspondence with the British regarding their targeting of the U.S.-owned steamship The Caroline for aiding Canadian rebels, has held that a state can use force to thwart an imminent attack, as long as that force is necessary and proportionate to address the threat. (For current glosses relevant to nonstate actors, see UK Attorney General Jeremy Wrights January 2017 speech, the important 2012 article by Sir Daniel Bethlehem and this insightful piece by the U.S. Naval War College International Law Departments Alan Schuller.)

In the self-defense context, the uneventful climate of the past 40-plus years on the Golan would favor Israel. Dropped into this atmosphere of relative calm, the presence of a powerful Shia militia would itself be a marked departure from the status quo. Since Israel has not signaled any aggressive designs on Syrian territory, the mere presence of the militia suggests the kind of massing of troops that is consistent with the early phases of an attack. Intelligence information obtained by Israel that is consistent with this apparent hostile intent would reinforce the case, already strengthened by al-Nujaba leader Akram al Kabis stated plan to liberate the portion of the Golan controlled by Israel (which annexed that portion in 1981). The combination of forces massed on the ground and specific manifestations of hostile intent moves the current situation in the Syrian Golan Heights closer to the situation that prevailed just prior to Israels Six Day War fifty years ago, when Egypts President Gamal Abdel Nasser massed troops in the Sinai, instructed U.N. peacekeepers to quit the area, and blockaded the Straits of Tiran.

Of course, the reading of imminence outlined here is not free from controversy. (See the recent post by Charlie Dunlap here on alleged Israeli airstrikes in Syria targeting Hezbollah arms shipments and Kevin Jon Hellers response here). However, relying on a self-defense justification would acknowledge the primacy of the U.N. Charter and put Israel on solid footing along with the U.S. and United Kingdom. Score this as the West holding its own in the legitimacy tourney.

In sum, containing Iran requires both action on the ground and maintaining legitimacy under international norms. In some areas, such as the inclusion of Iranian nationals in President Trumps revised refugee EO and U.S. assistance to Saudi efforts in Yemen, the West has suffered blows to its legitimacy. Israels response to Shia militias in the Syrian Golan Heights presents another test. Careful attention to the justification for the use of force will be central to containing the Iranian regimes regional ambitions and recouping ground on the legitimacy front.

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June 19, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

What Would Happen in the Hours and Minutes After the US Bombed Iran? – VICE

Donald Trump predicted back in 2013 that the US would eventually go to war with Iran. At the time, Trump was merely a rich guy and right-wing gadlfy criticizing Secretary of State John Kerry on Fox News, but later, as a presidential candidate then a president, his rhetoric and policies have been strikingly antagonistic.

Trump promised to renegotiate Barack Obama’s signature deal with Iran on nuclear weapons during the 2016 campaign, and though he hasn’t done that, he has staffed his White House with people hostile toward Iran. That includes Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who has implied that Iran and ISIS are on friendly terms.

Shortly after Trump took office, Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen attacked a Saudi ship, killing two peopleand in pretty a wild leap leap of logic, the White House described it as an Iranian attack. In April, Trump said Iran wasn’t “living up to the spirit” of the nuclear deal. During a May trip to the Middle East, Trump appeared to side more aggressively with Saudi Arabia against Iran than past presidents, then continued that anti-Iran rhetoric in Israel.

Over the weekend, a report claiming that the Saudi coastguard had killed an Iranian fisherman, an announcement by Iran that it had fired multiple ballistic missiles into eastern Syria to target ISIS in retaliation for an attack in Tehran, and the shooting down of a Syrian plane by a US-led coalition only heightened tensions in the region.

This state of affairs has some people very worried. In The Independent, businessman and human rights activist Andrew McCleod warned that Trump is on track to nuke Iran inside of two years. That’s probably an exaggeration, but how much of an exaggeration?

Related: What Would Happen in the Minutes and Hours After the US Attacked North Korea?

Ahmad Majidyar is director of the Middle East Institute’s IranObserved Project. In a recent paper, he described the US and Iran as being on a “collision course” in Iraq and Syria. The idea is that once ISIS is defeated, Iran-backed militias and the US military will no longer have a common enemy. The risk, Majidyar told me, is “some sort of possiblenot very likelyconfrontation by the IRGC-led forces, and US-led forces in Mosul.”

But even without the conflict in Syria/Iraq, tensions remain between Iran and the US, tensions that have only been exacerbated by the Trump administration’s foreign policy. So the question remains: If the US were to actually bomb Iran itselfas has been advocated by plenty of mainstream Republicans like Arizona Senator John McCainhow and why would that happen? And how exactly would that conflict play out?

I posed these hypotheticals to Majidyar as well as international relations scholar Stephen Zunes, and Omar Lamrani, a senior military analyst at the military intelligence firm Stratfor. Here’s a map of the locations we discussed, for reference:

While Iran does provoke the US a bit by opposing Saudi Arabiaa close American allyin Yemen, Syria is the likeliest potential flashpoint to any serious US-Iran conflict. According to Lamrani, Iran’s dream is to have a steady flow of commercial traffic clear to the west coast of Lebanon, which it plans to achieve by creating a supply route that goes from Tehran to Baghdad to Syria to Lebanon. In Iran’s view, the US is blocking this effort.

With this tension in the air, Trump could jeopardize the nuclear agreement by sanctioning Iran in a way Iran thinks is unfair. “The agreement is on tenuous ground, and if it does collapse, and the Iranians [could] go forward with more ballistic missile testing,” Lamrani said, adding that fallout from that testing could potentially trigger a war.

(It’s important to note here that no one I spoke to felt that an actual war was in any way likely, barring some black swan event to trigger it.)

The main scenario Zunes thinks could result in war is a terror attack perceived as having been sponsored by Iran and carried out against a target such as a US embassy in Europe.

“Iran has cells across the world,” Lamrani told me, citing Iran’s well-known connections to the terrorist group Hezbollah. He added that Iran would most likely only activate its Hezbollah cells if it were attacked first.

But according to Zunes, a terror attack wouldn’t have to be carried out by Iran or one of its proxies. Instead, the whole conflict might be triggered by “an attack by some unknown Salafi groupan al Qaeda, ISIS type,” he told me. Frustrated by Iran’s belligerent behavior, he says, “Trump could blame [the act of terror] on an Iranian-backed group, and use that as an excuse to attack Iran.” This isn’t unheard of. There was speculation just after 9/11 that a 1996 attack in Saudi Arabia, pinned on Iran, was actually the work of al Qaeda. (The US still officially blames Iran.)

Watch: These Young Radicals Are Fighting the Alt-Right in America’s Streets

“The idea was that we just bomb, and bomb, and bomb, and try to destroy as many strategic assets as possible,” Zunes told me.

This was a plan proposed by Republican Senator Tom Cotton in 2015. Rather than an invasion, he said on a radio show, “It would be something more along the lines of what President Clinton did in December 1998 during Operation Desert Fox,” a series of strikes on Iraqi military targets.

During this phase of our hypothetical conflict, Lamrani told me, US intelligence will have information at hand designed to make sure the attacks constitute “a very very comprehensive plan,” relying on air power, not just cruise missiles fired from the sea. “B-2s with those massive ordnance penetrators” would be involved, Lamrani said, referring to the MOABthe largest non-nuclear bomb ever dropped.

Iran is very adept as using its navy to taunt American vessels. In 2016, speedboats buzzed around the Persian Gulf, forcing a US ship to change course. A couple days later, Trump the presidential candidate said he would blow up any Iranian boats that tried that against his navy. Then they tried it again in March and Trump’s navy didn’t blow them up.

But the US Navy is very good a blowing things up, and doing so in extremely dramatic fashionsomething Trump obviously knows. “The Iranians are vulnerable when they’re all bunched up in their ports, and not at sea,” Lamrani told me. “For them to have any chance at all, they have to be very, very fast.”

Before the US could even nail down the specifics of its strategy, he said, the Iranians would “disperse their units, so their minelayers are already at sea, dropping mines, and their forces are already attacking before the US brings in all its forces to completely annihilate the Iranians.”

If Iran can’t knock out a US cruiser with its navy, what can its navy do?

It can interrupt international business. If you think of the Persian Gulf as the hallway that takes you to the vital ports belonging to Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, then the door to that hallway is the 21-mile-wide Strait of Hormuz, where part of the Arabian Peninsula juts off and almost pokes into Iran. Imagine Iran closing that door.

“That’s a massive shock to the global economy,” Lamrani said. He doesn’t think Iran would try anything so drastic given that it would cut off not just the oil trade, but food to countries like Qatar and Bahrain, bringing down the wrath of the entire Arab world.

But if you’re a container ship captain, Lamrani said, a war in the area is enough to keep you out of there unless you know it’s safe. So one way or another, until the US shows up with ships to clear the strait, “Technically, the threat, and the position of their anti-ship missiles, is going to be a de facto block,” he told me.

The United States operates a lot of bases in the region. Iran can’t do much to stop the units stationed at these bases from launching assaults, but it could at least hurt them back with its medium-range non-nuclear missiles. Iran could use one of the missiles that really freaked out Israel last year with its 2,000-kilometer range. That range means major US bases in Qatar, Bahrain, and Iraq are vulnerable.

But of course, attacking the US by attacking those countries would have consequences. “If the Iranians are suddenly launching missiles, obviously that brings those countries into conflict as well,” Lamrani told me.

According to Zunes, Israel would want to stay out of this nasty little war, but it wouldn’t be able to. Hezbollah would take the opportunity, he thinks, to attack Israel from its strongholds just past Israel’s border in Lebanon. “Whether or not Israel is involved,” Zunes told me, “Hezbollah would unleash a huge range of missiles on Israel.” Some analysts think Israel could even get invaded by Hezbollah ground troops next time a conflict gets sparked.

Tom Cotton can insist all he wants that this conflict wouldn’t escalate into a ground invasion, but the experts I spoke to think at least a few boots would probably touch Iranian soil. The Iranian nuclear program, Lamrani said, is “so big and dispersed” that “it’s hard to imagine a full US strike that does not lead to significant conflict between Iran and the United States.”

Zunes also imagines “a few commando type operations to blow up a few strategic facilities,” as well as to target nuclear scientists. “They’d try to kill as many nuclear scientists as they could,” he told me. “The civilian death toll would be pretty high, because a lot of these things are in urban areas.”

One factor to consider is that Trump appears to have de-prioritized rules of engagement that would spare civilians in Syria in Iraq, leading to a drastic spike in civilian deaths, according to human rights groups.

But let’s not forget that Iran has its terror-sponsoring fingers in a whole lot of geopolitical pies. Iran’s moderate president, Hasan Rouhani, might advocate for diplomacy, but if the Supreme Ayatollah disagrees, Rouhani doesn’t get any say in the matter. Nor does Rouhani control Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard Corpsand they’re the ones tied to Hezbollah and the Houthis in Yemen. Lamrani points out they’re also tied to “Iraqi and Syrian militias, plus cells in Afghanistan, and even beyond the region.”

“It can become very messy very very quickly, and spread the conflict across the world,” Lamrani told me.

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What Would Happen in the Hours and Minutes After the US Bombed Iran? – VICE

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Boeing’s Iran deal: Jobs claim is murky at best – The Hill (blog)

In December of 2016 Boeing announced that a new sale of 80 aircraft to Iran Air would support nearly 100,000 U.S. jobs. Those numbers seem murky at best.

Since the implementation of the Iran nuclear agreement in January 2016, government-owned Iran Air has flown at least 134 flights from Tehran to Damascus, even while this route does not appear in Iran Airs formal booking system. The Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ researchshows that these flights are unlikely to be civilian flights, but rather airlifts of weapons and military personnel that enable Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to continue waging war against his own population.

Boeing produces the 737 and 777 variants at its Renton and Everett facilities, respectively, in the state of Washington. Orders for the popular 737 have caused a backlog of an estimated 4,430 aircraft, meaning that customers have to wait several years for the planes they order.

Production at the Renton facility increased in 2013 from 35 to 38 planes per month. Last year, production at the facility stood at42 planes per month, with a goal of 47 planes per month in 2017. Boeing has even announced a goal of 57 planes per month at the facility by 2019. Rather than witnessing an increase in the number of jobs in these facilities, from 2013 to 2017, Boeing data shows that it in fact cut 15,000 jobs in Washington since 2013 (from 86,000 to 71,000), increasingly relying on automated production lines.

Did those jobs go to other states or shift to different Boeing facilities? Boeings annual reports indicate that the answer is no. From January 2013 to January 2017, Boeing cut 25,643 jobs even while orders have continued to come in. Yet, during this period, Boeings annual revenue increased from $81.7 billion in 2012 to an annual revenue of $94.6 billion in 2016.

Reportedly, Boeing will soon announce an additional 1,800 job cuts in Washington. It appears that Boeing is increasing its revenue while reducing what it spends on labor in the U.S. Of note, in the last year, Boeing has inked a deal to create a new plant in China to support the manufacturing of 737 aircraft.

Some of Boeings subcontractors may benefit from the deal in the next decade, but the windfall from a sale of planes to Iran Air will not accrue to U.S. workers.

The more important question Boeing must answer is how much profit it will seek while ignoring Iran Airs malign activities that enable Assads atrocities. By providing Hezbollah and the Assad regime with continued access to advanced weaponry and fresh troops to sustain the war against the Syrian people, Iran Air is instrumental in facilitating war crimes and atrocities against the Syrian civilian population.

Iran Airs ferrying of weapons to Hezbollah is helping to cement the terrorist groups role as a state within a state inside Lebanon.Moreover, it would be helping exacerbate the already dire refugee crisis triggered by the civil war.

Iran Air has also contributed to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) military buildup along Israels border with Syria. Were a new conflict to begin between Israel and Hezbollah, the IRGC could open a new front on the formerly quiet Israel-Syria disengagement line and lead to a direct Israel-Iran military showdown.

Iran Air was originally sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department because it provided material support to the IRGC and Irans Ministry of Defense, which in turn was blacklisted for its proliferation activities.When it was designated in 2011, Treasury pointed out that, Commercial Iran Air flights have been used to transport missile or rocket components to Syria.

Even though the Obama administration lifted the designation as part of the Iran nuclear deal, there is no evidence that this activity has ceased. Treasury should revoke Iran Airs license before the first plane is permitted to be transferred.

Boeings claim that the sale to Iran Air will support 100,000 U.S. jobs appears to be in conflict with Boeings shrinking U.S. employment numbers. But its shareholders, the Trump administration and the American people should also be asking how many more brutal deaths of Syrian, Lebanese and other civilians a sale to Iran Air would create or sustain.

A deal may increase Boeings annual profits but little would fall into the hands of its employees. Even if it did, what would be the cost to Boeings reputation and to our values as a country?

Toby Dershowitz is senior vice president for government relations and strategy at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a think tank focused on national security and foreign policy. Tyler Stapleton is deputy director of congressional relations at FDD.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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Boeing’s Iran deal: Jobs claim is murky at best – The Hill (blog)

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June 16, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

5 reasons why Nasrallah’s threat to use Iraq and Iran fighters against Israel is alarming – The Jerusalem Post

The Jerusalem Post 5 reasons why Nasrallah's threat to use Iraq and Iran fighters against Israel is alarming The Jerusalem Post However, although Israeli and foreign experts warned about this road to the sea, few Iranian or Hezbollah officials discussed it openly. After Syrian regime soldiers reached the Iraqi border near Tanf and the PMU reached the Syrian border near Sinjar … Hezbollah says future Israel war could draw fighters from Iran , Iraq, elsewhere Reuters all 116 news articles »

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Iran’s anti-Israel rallies, a tradition during Ramadan, this year include ballistic missiles – Los Angeles Times

Thousands of Iranians participated Friday in annual anti-Israel rallies, a heavily stage-managed show of support for the Palestinian territories that included displays of ballistic missiles. The rallies on Quds Day, after an ancient Arabic name for Jerusalem, included the usual signs condemning Israel and the United States along with placards denouncing Saudi Arabia, its Sunni Muslim rival. Protesters were bused into Tehran, the capital, or rode on subway trains whose fares were temporarily lifted. Demonstrators burned Israeli and American flags while others posed for selfies in front of yellow-painted missiles including the Zolfaghar, the type Iran fired this week at alleged Islamic State targets in Syria. Irans Revolutionary Guard paramilitary force said it fired six Zolfaghar missiles on Sunday on the city of Deir el-Zour, one of Islamic States last remaining strongholds in Syria. Iran supports Syrian President Bashar Assad and is in an escalating confrontation with Saudi Arabia, which backs anti-Assad rebels. The missile strikes were Irans first in more than a decade, according to reports, and came in response to attacks this month on the parliament building and a shrine in Tehran that were blamed on Islamic State militants. Speaking at the Friday prayer ceremony at Tehran University following the march, firebrand clergyman Ahmad Khatami said that Iran would continue its missile program despite warnings from the Trump administration. The missiles shot at Daesh were mid-range you can imagine the power of our long-range missile, Khatami said, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State. AFP/Getty Images Ballistic missiles are displayed during a rally marking Quds Day in Tehran. Ballistic missiles are displayed during a rally marking Quds Day in Tehran. (AFP/Getty Images) The annual protests held on the last Friday of the fasting month of Ramadan are organized by Irans hard-line Shiite Muslim establishment as a show of support for the Palestinian people. Iran does not recognize Israel and backs militant groups, including Hamas and Hezbollah, that oppose the Jewish state. President Hassan Rouhani and other top officials attended the rallies while state television repeatedly played a song whose lyrics proclaimed that Israel will be wiped out. Standing in the shade on a warm morning, Zia Zahedi, a white-turbaned clergyman, said protesters were showing their support as Muslims for any oppressed people, wherever they live. We are here to express our hatred against Saudi Arabia, Israel and America, said Zahedi, 57. The Saudi Arabian regime is not Muslim they are allies of Israel. Sadegh Sofiyani ,a retired teacher, said protesters were soldiers of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said in 2015 that Israel would cease to exist in 25 years. We are ready to shed our last drop of blood in any war against Israel, or in defending holy shrines in Syria and Iraq against Daesh, no matter the cost, Sofiyani said. Special correspondent Mostaghim reported from Tehran and Times staff writer Bengali from Mumbai, India. shashank.bengali@latimes.com Follow @SBengali on Twitter

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UN Leader Softens His Predecessor’s Criticism of Iran Missile Tests – New York Times

The tests are not prohibited under the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and six major powers, which eased economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for its verifiable promises of peaceful nuclear work. But Security Council Resolution 2231, which put the agreement into effect, called on Iran not to test ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. When Iran conducted missile tests in March 2016, critics led by the United States and Israel were infuriated, calling the countrys behavior a violation of the Security Council resolution and a sign that it would not honor provisions of the nuclear accord. Iran rejected the accusation. In a report to the Security Council last July on compliance with Resolution 2231, Ban Ki-moon, then the secretary general, said he was concerned that the missile tests might not be consistent with the constructive spirit demonstrated by the nuclear accord. He called on Iran to refrain from conducting such launches, given that they have the potential to increase tensions in the region. Mr. Guterress report, his first on Irans compliance with the resolution, also called on the country to refrain from missile tests. But it did not echo Mr. Bans broader concerns about them. A spokesman for Mr. Guterres, Stphane Dujarric, did not immediately respond to a query about the difference. Iran has long contended that the missiles are its defensive bulwark in an increasingly hostile region. Since it has already promised not to make nuclear weapons, its leaders have said, the missiles by definition cannot carry them. Iran has also argued that Resolution 2231s language does not ban missile tests. Some disarmament experts suggested that Mr. Guterress report decreased the possibility of United Nations penalties against Iran over its missile development. Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a Washington-based group, said the difference between Mr. Bans and Mr. Guterress reports was subtle. Mr. Guterres may have adjusted the language in the report out of recognition that further sanctions of Iranian entities tied to missile development or production will not likely succeed in reducing, or even slowing, Irans ballistic missile program, Mr. Kimball said. Sanctions intended as punishment for missile tests, he said, could even strengthen hard-liners in Iran who want to accelerate the program in response to U.S. pressure. A version of this article appears in print on June 22, 2017, on Page A11 of the New York edition with the headline: U.N. Leader Softens Predecessors Criticism of Iran Missile Tests.

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Terror in Iran: The regime is pointing fingers at ISIS to distract from domestic unrest – Fox News

Since the June 7 terrorist attacks in Tehran, the Iranian government has made dozens of arrests and highlighted the fact that ISIS claimed responsibility. The countrys leaders have driven the narrative that Iran is yet another victim of this global terrorist network even going so far as to launch missiles targeting ISIS operations in Syria. But it is increasingly apparent that, while outside terrorists may have played a role, the governments focus on their involvement hides a more complex truth, with significant implications for U.S. policy. Through recent news reports weve learned that those rounded-up as part of the attacks are all members of the Kurdish and Baluch ethnic minorities. The conflict with Irans Kurdish and Baluch minorities is not new: Tehran has been battling for close to a decade a much larger insurgency with both groups, without any evidence of direct links to ISIS. Most recently, on the eve of the Tehran attacks, a Kurdish nationalist group with no global terrorist connections killed two Iranian border guards near the city of Urmiya. Despite this, the U.S. and other western countries appear to be taking Iran at its word that the attacks in Tehran were exclusively the work of ISISand part of the groups global campaign. But in doing so, they risk adopting a skewed view of Irans foreign relations and domestic stability. Tehrans focus on ISIS as the driving force behind recent terror attacks is right out of the countrys playbook for dealing with ethnic conflict. While Iran is commonly referred to as Persia, it actually has a multi-ethnic population. Close to half its citizens are non-Persian minorities, including Azerbaijanis, Turkmen, Arabs, Baluch and Kurds the latter make up about 10 percent of the population. These ethnic minorities are located primarily in the countrys border regions and share ties with co-ethnics in neighboring states: Turkey, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Pakistan. This geographic proximity has significant bearing on Tehrans regional foreign policy and individual relations with most of its neighbors. Irans multi-ethnic composition also affects domestic stability. For close to a decade, Iranian security forces have been engaged in domestic armed conflict with Kurdish and Baluch groups. A disproportionate number of Iranian Kurds, including minors, are executed each year. While the offenders are often charged with drug and smuggling crimes, many observers believe the high number of executions is the result of ethnic politics rather than community crime. This was even more evident in spring 2016, when a large number of Iranian Kurds were executed for charges of enmity to God for membership in Kurdish political organizations. While most of Irans Kurds and Baluch are Sunni, the basis of their dissent seems mostly ethno-nationalist and not sectarian. Iranian government representatives rarely acknowledge dissent or grievances among the countrys ethnic minorities. But when the conflicts spill into the political realm or the public eye, we get a better understanding of the concern they cause. For example, during the recent presidential campaign the leading candidates, Hassan Rouhani and Ebrahim Raisi, both appealed to Irans ethnic minorities and promised to allow greater use of minority languages in an attempt to gain their votes. In addition, Leader Khamenei also warned foreigners against stirring up ethnic minorities in efforts to interfere in Irans election process. And the impact of internal dissent goes well beyond political rhetoric in February, when members of Irans Arab community held massive demonstrations, they successfully paralyzed the city of Ahvaz for days, which is the center of Irans oil production. Despite political promises, Irans leaders rarely take steps to address domestic grievances. Instead, they typically blame outsiders for the activities of the ethnic minorities, often depicting them as tools of foreign governments, primarily Saudi Arabia, the U.S., Britain or Israel. And while Iran claims to be an Islamic Republic that does not differentiate between Muslims on ethnic basis, its leaders refuse to allow use of non-Persian languages in the official sphere and the Iranian mediatends to belittle non-Persian groups. Tehrans focus on ISIS as the driving force behind recent terror attacks is right out of the countrys playbook for dealing with ethnic conflict. Even if the Kurdish attackers cooperated with ISIS, their motivations and goals are very different than other affiliates. And even while dozens of Kurds and Baluch have now been jailed, this conflict is not going away anytime soon. Kurdish, Baluch and other domestic ethnic groups in Iran have extensive grievances and there continues to be fallout from the regular executions of activists from these communities. Tehrans official statements and ISIS finger-pointing would have us dismiss domestic ethnic tensions as insignificant. But Irans modern history makes it clear that, during periods of greater political turbulence, these tensions impact the country and its wider political developments, such as during the Islamic Revolution. As Western leaders assess developments in Iran, its essential that they account for its multi-ethnic composition and domestic base of terrorism, and the major role these play in the countrys stability and foreign policy. Brenda Shaffer is a professor with the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies at Georgetown and a fellow with the Atlantic Councils Global Energy Center.

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‘If Hezbollah fires rockets on Israel, IDF should hit Iran’s infrastructure’ – The Jerusalem Post

The Jerusalem Post 'If Hezbollah fires rockets on Israel, IDF should hit Iran's infrastructure' The Jerusalem Post If Hezbollah fires on Israel the IDF should strike Iran's infrastructure in response, former deputy defense minister Ephraim Sneh said on Wednesday, urging that Israel should target the Shi'ite terror organization's sponsor and great supporter Iran … and more »

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Tensions rise in Syria as Russia, Iran send US warnings – Maryville Daily Times

BEIRUT Russia on Monday threatened aircraft from the U.S.-led coalition in Syrian-controlled airspace and suspended a hotline intended to avoid collisions in retaliation for the U.S. military shooting down a Syrian warplane. The U.S. said it had downed the Syrian jet a day earlier after it dropped bombs near the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces conducting operations against the Islamic State group, adding that was something it would not tolerate. The downing of the warplane the first time in the six-year conflict that the U.S. has shot down a Syrian jet came amid another first: Iran fired several ballistic missiles Sunday night at IS positions in eastern Syria in what it said was a message to archrival Saudi Arabia and the United States. The developments added to already-soaring regional tensions and reflect the intensifying rivalry among the major players in Syrias civil war that could spiral out of control just as the fight against the Islamic State group in its stronghold of Raqqa is gaining ground. Russia, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, called on the U.S. military to provide a full accounting as to why it decided to shoot down the Syrian Su-22 bomber. The U.S. military confirmed that one of its F-18 Super Hornets shot down a Syrian jet that had dropped bombs near the U.S. partner forces SDF. Those forces, which are aligned with the U.S. in the campaign against the Islamic State group, warned Syrian government troops to stop their attacks or face retaliation. The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that as of Monday, all coalition jets and drones flying west of the Euphrates River will be tracked as potential targets. Areas of northern Syria west of the Euphrates were controlled by IS before Syrian government forces captured most of them in recent months. The Russians, who have been providing air cover for Assads forces since 2015, appear to want to avoid further U.S. targeting of Syrian warplanes or ground troops that have come under U.S. attack in eastern Syria recently. It was the second time Russia suspended a hotline intended to minimize incidents with the U.S. in Syrian airspace. In April, Russia briefly suspended cooperation after the U.S. military fired 59 missiles at a Syrian air base following a chemical weapons attack that Washington blamed on the Assad government. Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Washington is working to re-establish communications aimed at avoiding mishaps involving U.S. and Russian air operations in Syria. Speaking in Washington, the top U.S. military officer said the two sides were in delicate discussions to lower tensions. The worst thing any of us could do right now is address this with hyperbole, Dunford said. Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the defense and security committee at the upper chamber of Russian parliament, described his Defense Ministrys statement as a warning. Im sure that because of this, neither the U.S. nor anyone else will take any actions to threaten our aircraft, he told the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency. Thats why theres no threat of direct confrontation between Russia and American aircraft. Ozerov insisted that Russia will be tracking the coalitions jets, not shooting them down, but he added that a threat for those jets may appear only if they take action that pose a threat to Russian aircraft. Iran said the missile strike by its powerful Revolutionary Guard hit Syrias eastern city of Deir el-Zour on Sunday night and was in retaliation for two attacks in Tehran earlier this month that killed 17 people and were claimed by the Islamic State group. It appeared to be Irans first missile attack abroad in over 15 years and its first in the Syrian conflict, in which it has provided crucial support to Assad. The muscle-flexing comes amid the worsening of a long-running feud between Shiite powerhouse Iran and Saudi Arabia, with supports Syrian rebels and has led recent efforts to isolate the Gulf nation of Qatar. The Saudis and Americans are especially receivers of this message, Gen. Ramazan Sharif of the Revolutionary Guard told Iranian state TV in an interview. It also raised questions about how U.S. President Donald Trumps administration, which had previously put Iran on notice for its ballistic missile tests, will respond. Israel also is concerned about Irans missiles and has deployed a multilayered missile-defense system. The missile attack came amid recent confrontations in Syria between U.S.-backed forces and Iranian-backed pro-government factions. The U.S. recently deployed a truck-mounted missile system in Syria as Iranian-backed forces cut off the advance of the U.S.-supported rebels along the Iraqi border. Iranian officials threatened more strikes. Former Guard chief Gen. Mohsen Rezai wrote on Twitter: The bigger slap is yet to come. U.S.-backed opposition fighters said Assads forces have been attacking them in the northern province of Raqqa and warned that if such attacks continue, the fighters will take action. Clashes between Syrian troops and the SDF would escalate tensions and open a new front line in the many complex battlefields of the civil war, now in its seventh year. Clashes between the Kurdish-led SDF and Syrian forces have been rare and some rebel groups have even accused them of coordinating on the battlefield. Both sides are battling the Islamic State group, with SDF fighters focusing on their march into the northern city of Raqqa, which the extremist group has declared to be its capital. Syrian government forces have also been attacking IS in northern, central and southern parts of the country, seizing 9,600 square miles and reaching the Iraqi border for the first time in years. SDF spokesman Talal Sillo said the government wants to thwart the SDF offensive to capture Raqqa. He said government forces began attacking the SDF on Saturday, using warplanes, artillery and tanks in areas that SDF had liberated from IS. Sillo also warned that if the regime continues in its offensive against our positions in Raqqa province, this will force us to retaliate with force. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks Syrias war, said government forces expanded their presence in Raqqa province by capturing from IS the town of Rasafa. Vasilyeva reported from Moscow. Associated Press writers Nasser Karimi in Tehran and Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed.

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Containing Iran and Maintaining Legitimacy – Lawfare (blog)

The threat posed by the Iranian regime was one focus of a recent Academic Exchange (AE) retreat of International Relations specialists and international lawyers. Even with the reelection of President Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian regime poses a two-pronged threat to the Persian Gulf and the Middle East. For one thing, Iran is poised to gain on the ground in Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere. The need to counter Irans ground game is the catalyst for President Trumps efforts to collaborate with Persian Gulf states. Countering Iran seems even more urgent after news that Iran has sponsored Shia militias in the Syrian Golan Heights, abutting Israel (see report here). Moreover, Iran is also fighting a war of ideas, contesting the Wests legitimacy. The U.S., Israel, and Persian Gulf states should recognize that countering Iran has two components: 1) gains on the ground from tangible measures, including sanctions and, where necessary, the use of force, and, 2) gaining the moral high ground of legitimacy in the war of ideas. Tensions between these two elements are inevitable, but manageable. Lets start with the legitimacy tourney. Here, the U.S. and its allies have some work to do. Consider one action that has recently triggered substantial U.S. litigation: President Trumps revised executive order (EO) pausing travel from six countries, including Iran. Ive written before about why I believe the revised EO is legal (see my analysis here and Josh Blackmans New York Times op-ed here), but nevertheless constitutes bad policy. The EOs effects on Iranian nationals vividly demonstrate the policy point. Iranian immigrants to the U.S. confer substantial advantages on the U.S. population, through service as doctors and other professionals (in addition, a significant number of doctors in the U.S. hail from Syria, another one of the six countries listed by the EO, as this New York Times story shows). While Irans moves in the Middle East are indeed troubling, there is no reason to think that Iranians who wish to emigrate to the U.S. endorse those moves. Indeed, a Homeland Security study of terrorist-related crimes committed by foreign-born individuals in the U.S. shows precious little activity in this sphere by persons born in Iran (only three out of approximately ninety cases). While the policy rationale for pausing admissions from any of the six countries is modest, the weakness of the justification regarding Iran is salient. The Administration may be right as a legal matter that the Iranian regimes role as a state sponsor of terror justifies a pause in admissions to ensure that U.S. immigration authorities are receiving accurate data from Iran. However, the collateral damage of the EO for Iranian people and the U.S. individuals who benefit from services provided by Iranian doctors and other professionals provides a strong basis for rethinking the EOs policy underpinnings. Count the EO as a victory for Iran in the legitimacy tourney. The U.S. and its allies are heading for another defeat on the legitimacy front in the Saudi intervention against Iran-sponsored Houthi rebels in Yemens civil war. As Mike Newton and Ryan Goodman have rightly indicated, the Saudis have engaged in repeated violations of established law of war norms, including violations of the rule of proportionality. That rule bars attacks with expected harm to civilians that is excessive given the military advantage anticipated, when judged from the perspective of a commander prior to the attack. The U.S. has been trying to rein in Saudi forces for well over a year. I believe the U.S. has been sincere; some of the nations most capable military lawyers have invested substantial time and effort in working with the Saudis on compliance with the law of war. However, the results of this tutelage continue to be disappointing. At some point soon, unless the Saudis substantially improve their compliance, the U.S. may bear both policy and legal responsibility for Saudi violations. Although the jury is still out, score this as a preliminary win for Iran in the legitimacy tourney. As to the score on the ground, consider the activities of pro-Iran Shia militias such as Harakat al-Nujaba on the Syrian Golan Heights. As I can testify based on a recent visit to the portion of the Golan Heights now held by Israel, this area presents commanding views of both Syria and Israel. Prior to the 1967 war, Syrian forces regularly shelled Israeli towns from positions on the Golan Heights. For good reasons, Israel is determined not to be put in this vulnerable position again. That is why Israel is intensely concerned about al-Nujabas announcement that it is moving militia units into the portion of the Golan Heights still controlled by Syria. Israel has made it clear that, if necessary, it will take military action to prevent opening up this new front in the Syrian conflict. The militia activities continue, although their precise scope is unclear. Suppose Israel were to use force to hold the Shia militia at bay. How would Israeli action fare under international law? Three theories could support Israels action. It could be, (1) merely another episode in a continued state of war with Syria since 1967, (2) a response to a material breach by Syria of the 1974 post-Yom Kippur War disengagement agreement, or, (3) a form of self-defense under the U.N. Charter. Theory (1) receives support from the preeminent international law scholar Yoram Dinstein, who outlined the theory in his essential treatise, War, Aggression and Self-Defence. This theory allows each party to the armed conflict substantial leeway, since no triggering action by one party would be required as a justification for the other partys action. It is logically true that if a state of war continues to exist, Israel would be within its rights in taking military action against Shia militias on Syrias portion of the Golan Heights. The Shia militias commander has made it easier for Israel to situate the militias activities within the Israel-Syria conflict. Speaking of his militia, which has collaborated in Syria with Irans Quds force, al-Nujaba leader Akram al Kabi said earlier this year that the group would undertake to liberate the portion of the Golan annexed by Israel if Syria so requested. The difficulty with the continued-war theory is its disconnect from facts on the ground. While the relationship between Israel and Syria over the past 43 years has not exactly been harmonious, sustained military encounters have been rare. Against that relatively uneventful backdrop, it seems counterintuitive to insist that a turn toward force does not require some triggering event. While this theory is buttressed by Professor Dinsteins estimable support, it may be another loser in the legitimacy tourney. Option (2) arguing that Syrian consent to Shia militias activities in the Golan constituted a material breach of the 1974 disengagement agreement suffers from a different problem: its inconsistency with the U.N. Charter framework governing the use of force. Article 2(4) of the Charter bars the use of force against another state. Absent Security Council authorization, the only exception is the use of force in self-defense against an armed attack, pursuant to Article 51. Some distinguished commentators, including Professor Dinstein, have argued that a material breach theory is viable despite the Charter (including in the case of the 2003 Iraq War). However, other experts strongly disagree. (See Sean Murphys rebuttal here.) The U.N. played a substantial role in implementing the 1974 Israel-Syria disengagement agreement by providing peacekeepers (including four Austrians who died when a mine exploded in the demilitarized zone created by the agreement; see Robert Morrisss piece [behind pay wall] here). It seems incongruous to accept the U.N.s help, but then reject the U.N. Charters framework governing the use of force. Score another loss in the legitimacy tourney. On balance, the best option is theory (3): arguing that Israeli action against al-Nujaba would constitute self-defense. International law, going back to then-Secretary of State Daniel Websters 1841-42 correspondence with the British regarding their targeting of the U.S.-owned steamship The Caroline for aiding Canadian rebels, has held that a state can use force to thwart an imminent attack, as long as that force is necessary and proportionate to address the threat. (For current glosses relevant to nonstate actors, see UK Attorney General Jeremy Wrights January 2017 speech, the important 2012 article by Sir Daniel Bethlehem and this insightful piece by the U.S. Naval War College International Law Departments Alan Schuller.) In the self-defense context, the uneventful climate of the past 40-plus years on the Golan would favor Israel. Dropped into this atmosphere of relative calm, the presence of a powerful Shia militia would itself be a marked departure from the status quo. Since Israel has not signaled any aggressive designs on Syrian territory, the mere presence of the militia suggests the kind of massing of troops that is consistent with the early phases of an attack. Intelligence information obtained by Israel that is consistent with this apparent hostile intent would reinforce the case, already strengthened by al-Nujaba leader Akram al Kabis stated plan to liberate the portion of the Golan controlled by Israel (which annexed that portion in 1981). The combination of forces massed on the ground and specific manifestations of hostile intent moves the current situation in the Syrian Golan Heights closer to the situation that prevailed just prior to Israels Six Day War fifty years ago, when Egypts President Gamal Abdel Nasser massed troops in the Sinai, instructed U.N. peacekeepers to quit the area, and blockaded the Straits of Tiran. Of course, the reading of imminence outlined here is not free from controversy. (See the recent post by Charlie Dunlap here on alleged Israeli airstrikes in Syria targeting Hezbollah arms shipments and Kevin Jon Hellers response here). However, relying on a self-defense justification would acknowledge the primacy of the U.N. Charter and put Israel on solid footing along with the U.S. and United Kingdom. Score this as the West holding its own in the legitimacy tourney. In sum, containing Iran requires both action on the ground and maintaining legitimacy under international norms. In some areas, such as the inclusion of Iranian nationals in President Trumps revised refugee EO and U.S. assistance to Saudi efforts in Yemen, the West has suffered blows to its legitimacy. Israels response to Shia militias in the Syrian Golan Heights presents another test. Careful attention to the justification for the use of force will be central to containing the Iranian regimes regional ambitions and recouping ground on the legitimacy front.

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June 19, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

What Would Happen in the Hours and Minutes After the US Bombed Iran? – VICE

Donald Trump predicted back in 2013 that the US would eventually go to war with Iran. At the time, Trump was merely a rich guy and right-wing gadlfy criticizing Secretary of State John Kerry on Fox News, but later, as a presidential candidate then a president, his rhetoric and policies have been strikingly antagonistic. Trump promised to renegotiate Barack Obama’s signature deal with Iran on nuclear weapons during the 2016 campaign, and though he hasn’t done that, he has staffed his White House with people hostile toward Iran. That includes Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who has implied that Iran and ISIS are on friendly terms. Shortly after Trump took office, Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen attacked a Saudi ship, killing two peopleand in pretty a wild leap leap of logic, the White House described it as an Iranian attack. In April, Trump said Iran wasn’t “living up to the spirit” of the nuclear deal. During a May trip to the Middle East, Trump appeared to side more aggressively with Saudi Arabia against Iran than past presidents, then continued that anti-Iran rhetoric in Israel. Over the weekend, a report claiming that the Saudi coastguard had killed an Iranian fisherman, an announcement by Iran that it had fired multiple ballistic missiles into eastern Syria to target ISIS in retaliation for an attack in Tehran, and the shooting down of a Syrian plane by a US-led coalition only heightened tensions in the region. This state of affairs has some people very worried. In The Independent, businessman and human rights activist Andrew McCleod warned that Trump is on track to nuke Iran inside of two years. That’s probably an exaggeration, but how much of an exaggeration? Related: What Would Happen in the Minutes and Hours After the US Attacked North Korea? Ahmad Majidyar is director of the Middle East Institute’s IranObserved Project. In a recent paper, he described the US and Iran as being on a “collision course” in Iraq and Syria. The idea is that once ISIS is defeated, Iran-backed militias and the US military will no longer have a common enemy. The risk, Majidyar told me, is “some sort of possiblenot very likelyconfrontation by the IRGC-led forces, and US-led forces in Mosul.” But even without the conflict in Syria/Iraq, tensions remain between Iran and the US, tensions that have only been exacerbated by the Trump administration’s foreign policy. So the question remains: If the US were to actually bomb Iran itselfas has been advocated by plenty of mainstream Republicans like Arizona Senator John McCainhow and why would that happen? And how exactly would that conflict play out? I posed these hypotheticals to Majidyar as well as international relations scholar Stephen Zunes, and Omar Lamrani, a senior military analyst at the military intelligence firm Stratfor. Here’s a map of the locations we discussed, for reference: While Iran does provoke the US a bit by opposing Saudi Arabiaa close American allyin Yemen, Syria is the likeliest potential flashpoint to any serious US-Iran conflict. According to Lamrani, Iran’s dream is to have a steady flow of commercial traffic clear to the west coast of Lebanon, which it plans to achieve by creating a supply route that goes from Tehran to Baghdad to Syria to Lebanon. In Iran’s view, the US is blocking this effort. With this tension in the air, Trump could jeopardize the nuclear agreement by sanctioning Iran in a way Iran thinks is unfair. “The agreement is on tenuous ground, and if it does collapse, and the Iranians [could] go forward with more ballistic missile testing,” Lamrani said, adding that fallout from that testing could potentially trigger a war. (It’s important to note here that no one I spoke to felt that an actual war was in any way likely, barring some black swan event to trigger it.) The main scenario Zunes thinks could result in war is a terror attack perceived as having been sponsored by Iran and carried out against a target such as a US embassy in Europe. “Iran has cells across the world,” Lamrani told me, citing Iran’s well-known connections to the terrorist group Hezbollah. He added that Iran would most likely only activate its Hezbollah cells if it were attacked first. But according to Zunes, a terror attack wouldn’t have to be carried out by Iran or one of its proxies. Instead, the whole conflict might be triggered by “an attack by some unknown Salafi groupan al Qaeda, ISIS type,” he told me. Frustrated by Iran’s belligerent behavior, he says, “Trump could blame [the act of terror] on an Iranian-backed group, and use that as an excuse to attack Iran.” This isn’t unheard of. There was speculation just after 9/11 that a 1996 attack in Saudi Arabia, pinned on Iran, was actually the work of al Qaeda. (The US still officially blames Iran.) Watch: These Young Radicals Are Fighting the Alt-Right in America’s Streets “The idea was that we just bomb, and bomb, and bomb, and try to destroy as many strategic assets as possible,” Zunes told me. This was a plan proposed by Republican Senator Tom Cotton in 2015. Rather than an invasion, he said on a radio show, “It would be something more along the lines of what President Clinton did in December 1998 during Operation Desert Fox,” a series of strikes on Iraqi military targets. During this phase of our hypothetical conflict, Lamrani told me, US intelligence will have information at hand designed to make sure the attacks constitute “a very very comprehensive plan,” relying on air power, not just cruise missiles fired from the sea. “B-2s with those massive ordnance penetrators” would be involved, Lamrani said, referring to the MOABthe largest non-nuclear bomb ever dropped. Iran is very adept as using its navy to taunt American vessels. In 2016, speedboats buzzed around the Persian Gulf, forcing a US ship to change course. A couple days later, Trump the presidential candidate said he would blow up any Iranian boats that tried that against his navy. Then they tried it again in March and Trump’s navy didn’t blow them up. But the US Navy is very good a blowing things up, and doing so in extremely dramatic fashionsomething Trump obviously knows. “The Iranians are vulnerable when they’re all bunched up in their ports, and not at sea,” Lamrani told me. “For them to have any chance at all, they have to be very, very fast.” Before the US could even nail down the specifics of its strategy, he said, the Iranians would “disperse their units, so their minelayers are already at sea, dropping mines, and their forces are already attacking before the US brings in all its forces to completely annihilate the Iranians.” If Iran can’t knock out a US cruiser with its navy, what can its navy do? It can interrupt international business. If you think of the Persian Gulf as the hallway that takes you to the vital ports belonging to Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, then the door to that hallway is the 21-mile-wide Strait of Hormuz, where part of the Arabian Peninsula juts off and almost pokes into Iran. Imagine Iran closing that door. “That’s a massive shock to the global economy,” Lamrani said. He doesn’t think Iran would try anything so drastic given that it would cut off not just the oil trade, but food to countries like Qatar and Bahrain, bringing down the wrath of the entire Arab world. But if you’re a container ship captain, Lamrani said, a war in the area is enough to keep you out of there unless you know it’s safe. So one way or another, until the US shows up with ships to clear the strait, “Technically, the threat, and the position of their anti-ship missiles, is going to be a de facto block,” he told me. The United States operates a lot of bases in the region. Iran can’t do much to stop the units stationed at these bases from launching assaults, but it could at least hurt them back with its medium-range non-nuclear missiles. Iran could use one of the missiles that really freaked out Israel last year with its 2,000-kilometer range. That range means major US bases in Qatar, Bahrain, and Iraq are vulnerable. But of course, attacking the US by attacking those countries would have consequences. “If the Iranians are suddenly launching missiles, obviously that brings those countries into conflict as well,” Lamrani told me. According to Zunes, Israel would want to stay out of this nasty little war, but it wouldn’t be able to. Hezbollah would take the opportunity, he thinks, to attack Israel from its strongholds just past Israel’s border in Lebanon. “Whether or not Israel is involved,” Zunes told me, “Hezbollah would unleash a huge range of missiles on Israel.” Some analysts think Israel could even get invaded by Hezbollah ground troops next time a conflict gets sparked. Tom Cotton can insist all he wants that this conflict wouldn’t escalate into a ground invasion, but the experts I spoke to think at least a few boots would probably touch Iranian soil. The Iranian nuclear program, Lamrani said, is “so big and dispersed” that “it’s hard to imagine a full US strike that does not lead to significant conflict between Iran and the United States.” Zunes also imagines “a few commando type operations to blow up a few strategic facilities,” as well as to target nuclear scientists. “They’d try to kill as many nuclear scientists as they could,” he told me. “The civilian death toll would be pretty high, because a lot of these things are in urban areas.” One factor to consider is that Trump appears to have de-prioritized rules of engagement that would spare civilians in Syria in Iraq, leading to a drastic spike in civilian deaths, according to human rights groups. But let’s not forget that Iran has its terror-sponsoring fingers in a whole lot of geopolitical pies. Iran’s moderate president, Hasan Rouhani, might advocate for diplomacy, but if the Supreme Ayatollah disagrees, Rouhani doesn’t get any say in the matter. Nor does Rouhani control Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard Corpsand they’re the ones tied to Hezbollah and the Houthis in Yemen. Lamrani points out they’re also tied to “Iraqi and Syrian militias, plus cells in Afghanistan, and even beyond the region.” “It can become very messy very very quickly, and spread the conflict across the world,” Lamrani told me.

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June 19, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed

Boeing’s Iran deal: Jobs claim is murky at best – The Hill (blog)

In December of 2016 Boeing announced that a new sale of 80 aircraft to Iran Air would support nearly 100,000 U.S. jobs. Those numbers seem murky at best. Since the implementation of the Iran nuclear agreement in January 2016, government-owned Iran Air has flown at least 134 flights from Tehran to Damascus, even while this route does not appear in Iran Airs formal booking system. The Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ researchshows that these flights are unlikely to be civilian flights, but rather airlifts of weapons and military personnel that enable Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to continue waging war against his own population. Boeing produces the 737 and 777 variants at its Renton and Everett facilities, respectively, in the state of Washington. Orders for the popular 737 have caused a backlog of an estimated 4,430 aircraft, meaning that customers have to wait several years for the planes they order. Production at the Renton facility increased in 2013 from 35 to 38 planes per month. Last year, production at the facility stood at42 planes per month, with a goal of 47 planes per month in 2017. Boeing has even announced a goal of 57 planes per month at the facility by 2019. Rather than witnessing an increase in the number of jobs in these facilities, from 2013 to 2017, Boeing data shows that it in fact cut 15,000 jobs in Washington since 2013 (from 86,000 to 71,000), increasingly relying on automated production lines. Did those jobs go to other states or shift to different Boeing facilities? Boeings annual reports indicate that the answer is no. From January 2013 to January 2017, Boeing cut 25,643 jobs even while orders have continued to come in. Yet, during this period, Boeings annual revenue increased from $81.7 billion in 2012 to an annual revenue of $94.6 billion in 2016. Reportedly, Boeing will soon announce an additional 1,800 job cuts in Washington. It appears that Boeing is increasing its revenue while reducing what it spends on labor in the U.S. Of note, in the last year, Boeing has inked a deal to create a new plant in China to support the manufacturing of 737 aircraft. Some of Boeings subcontractors may benefit from the deal in the next decade, but the windfall from a sale of planes to Iran Air will not accrue to U.S. workers. The more important question Boeing must answer is how much profit it will seek while ignoring Iran Airs malign activities that enable Assads atrocities. By providing Hezbollah and the Assad regime with continued access to advanced weaponry and fresh troops to sustain the war against the Syrian people, Iran Air is instrumental in facilitating war crimes and atrocities against the Syrian civilian population. Iran Airs ferrying of weapons to Hezbollah is helping to cement the terrorist groups role as a state within a state inside Lebanon.Moreover, it would be helping exacerbate the already dire refugee crisis triggered by the civil war. Iran Air has also contributed to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) military buildup along Israels border with Syria. Were a new conflict to begin between Israel and Hezbollah, the IRGC could open a new front on the formerly quiet Israel-Syria disengagement line and lead to a direct Israel-Iran military showdown. Iran Air was originally sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department because it provided material support to the IRGC and Irans Ministry of Defense, which in turn was blacklisted for its proliferation activities.When it was designated in 2011, Treasury pointed out that, Commercial Iran Air flights have been used to transport missile or rocket components to Syria. Even though the Obama administration lifted the designation as part of the Iran nuclear deal, there is no evidence that this activity has ceased. Treasury should revoke Iran Airs license before the first plane is permitted to be transferred. Boeings claim that the sale to Iran Air will support 100,000 U.S. jobs appears to be in conflict with Boeings shrinking U.S. employment numbers. But its shareholders, the Trump administration and the American people should also be asking how many more brutal deaths of Syrian, Lebanese and other civilians a sale to Iran Air would create or sustain. A deal may increase Boeings annual profits but little would fall into the hands of its employees. Even if it did, what would be the cost to Boeings reputation and to our values as a country? Toby Dershowitz is senior vice president for government relations and strategy at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a think tank focused on national security and foreign policy. Tyler Stapleton is deputy director of congressional relations at FDD. The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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June 16, 2017   Posted in: Iran  Comments Closed


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