Tag Archives: Iran

Even the US government does not know about the exact presence of IRGC in #Iran economy

21 Sep In this picture taken on Sunday, Sept. 21, 2008, Iranian Revolutionary Guards members march during a parade ceremony, marking the 28th anniversary of the onset of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), in front of the mausoleum of the late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, just outside Tehran, Iran. Speaking to Arab students at Carnegie Mellon's Doha campus, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday, Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps appears to have gained so much power that it effectively is supplanting the Iranian government. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Something has been puzzling me: its obviously in Obama’s interest (politically and in terms of his legacy) that the Iran nuclear deal succeeds, and that the moderates are strengthened in Iran through foreign investment in Iran’s economy. So why has the US Department of Justice not provided guarantees to big European banks about doing business with Iranian companies?

A recent article, part of which I am quoting below, may have answered my question. Penned by Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo who is also a member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, the article published today in Foreign Policy states:

I know that the CIA, Treasury Department, National Security Agency, and others work closely to keep tabs on the IRGC’s operations.

And how exactly do they do that? According to Congressman Pompeo (who is also a Tea Party member):

By using a huge, wall-sized poster, the Treasury Department delineates which Iranian individuals, government officials, and military commanders are tied to terrorism and which evasion mechanisms they are utilizing.

The poster’s hard lines and dashed lines map the constantly changing IRGC. It provides an impressive visual representation of the advanced network the IRGC maintains in dozens of critical industries. With this poster and many other tools, our intelligence community tries to keep a pulse on the members of the IRGC’s terrorist regime.

Great, so why doesn’t the Obama administration use this information to state which Iranian companies are “clean” from IRGC connections so that foreign businesses to do business with them? Well, here is where it gets tricky:

But the poster also contains enormous blank spaces and question marks. There are areas that we wish were filled in, but are empty. Despite the incredible amount of U.S. manpower and resources put into the maintenance of this sophisticated chart, there are many unknowns and imperfections.

So by the look of things, the US itself is not exactly sure about the exact extent of the IRGC’s presence in various companies in Iran. Therefore how can the Department of Justice issue guarantees to big banks about doing business in Iran?

You can read the entire article here.

Do you know who will be the next supreme leader of #Iran?

18 Aug عکسی_از_خمینی

A question I get asked frequently: who is going to replace the current Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei?

Do you know the answer? because I don’t. No one knows. The regime has not mentioned any names. So far, all that we have to go on are guesses and assumptions.

The same applied to the 1989 when Ayatollah Khomeini was about to pass away and people were wondering who will replace him. Although back then it was relatively easier to list the name of those who could succeed him, as it was (relatively) soon after the revolution and there were more notable candidates.

But even then respectable publications such as the New York Times got it wrong. See the below quote from the May 22 1989 article from the NYT:

In the power struggle that consumes Iran’s ruling clergy, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s son, Ahmad, has emerged as a prime contender to inherit his father’s authority.

The NYT got it wrong, with good reason. The process of choosing the next supreme leader was relatively opaque and secretive during Khomeini’s time, now days under Ayatollah Khamenei its far more opaque and secretive.

The quoted NYT article is a must read. It also provides a fascinating insight into a previously unknown 110 page letter published by Ahmad Khomeini against Ayatollah Montazeri, after the latter was dismissed from his role as Ayatollah Khomeini’s successor. Why? because he lambasted Khomeini for executing thousands of MEK prisoners without a proper trial and on dubious grounds.  Among other things (the late) Ayatollah Montazeri tells Khomeini:

”the crimes of your Ministry of Intelligence and those committed in your prisons are far worse than those of the Shah and Savak, and I speak of detailed knowledge.”

Read the entire article here.

Inside #Iran | Special Report

1 Aug Ali_Khamenei_(cropped).jpeg

Sky news correspondent Dominic Waghorn just spent some time in Iran, speaking to the public and officials.

His report is interesting, especially the part where a religious girl apologizes for chanting “Death to England” in front of a reporter who turns out to be British…

Is the #Iran regime still operating a secret nuclear program?

12 Jul centrif

With the anniversary of the Iran nuclear deal coming up this Thursday 14th of July, the Financial Times, quoting the German domestic intelligence agency published this important and worrying story:

“Iran has attempted to acquire nuclear technology in Germany even after the atomic accord it reached with western powers in Vienna last July, according to the German domestic intelligence agency.

The annual report of the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV) said that illegal Iranian attempts to procure technology “continued on a quantitatively high level by international standards” in Germany in 2015.” (I emboldened the important parts)

The American response? According to State Department spokesperson John Kirby:

We have no information to indicate that Iran has procured any materials in violation of the JCPOA.  More generally, the IAEA has reported that Iran continues to implement its nuclear-related commitments under the deal.  We understand that Germany shares this view and is not suggesting that Iran has violated its JCPOA commitments.

Kirby then went to state:

We understand the BFV report is mainly about missiles; and while it does mention nuclear dual-use technology, it covers all of 2015 and makes no distinction about whether the reported activities occurred prior to the JCPOA coming into effect.

So whom should we believe?

The nuclear deal was signed on the 14th of July 2015, and it came into effect (also known as implementation day) on January 16 2016.

Even if the reported activities took place before the recent nuclear deal came into effect, we still have much to worry about. The reason: Iran was illegally trying to purchase equipment for its nuclear program, which to me says that Iran was at least until recently pursuing the secret part of its military nuclear program. If these purchases were for civilian purposes only, then why was the Iranian regime trying to hide them?

The Germans would have much to lose by publishing such a report, as the have many impending business deals with Iran. The fact that they have published these reports shows their level of concern.

And if these purchases did take place after the atomic deal with Iran, then at the very least, Iran is not only showing dishonesty, with such behavior it will be pushing investors away. After all, who would want to invest in a country which is sailing so close to the winds of new sanctions?  

#India, #Iran, and the Chabahar Port Deal

30 May

According to a new article by Dr Albert B.Wolf:

On Monday, May 23, the government of India announced that it would invest $500 million (USD) in the development of the Iranian port of Chabahar.

So whats so special about this deal? As he puts it in his article for the American Security Project:

The deal kills four birds with one stone: it bypasses Pakistan, bests China’s Maritime Silk Road project, provides New Delhi with greater access to oil-rich Central Asia and lowers its dependence on energy sources in the Middle East.  India’s investment has been welcomed in nearly all quarters in Tehran. Even with the gradual reduction in sanctions on the Islamic Republic, the heavy hand of the Pasdaran and the country’s out-of-date banking system have put off many potential foreign investors.

I highly recommend reading his article on this important, geostrategic development which impacts Iran, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. You can find it here.

In case you were wondering how the planned new railway line will connect India to Afghanistan via Iran: the map below explains.


An Israeli conversation about the recent missile tests by #Iran

17 Apr newmissile

What message do the latest missile tests by Iran send to Israel, and to the international community? Why is Iran carrying out these missile tests now? What implications will they have for the nuclear agreement and for Israel? Who is gaining the upper hand in Iran: the government or the regime? How should Israel view the recent developments in Iran ?

These are some of the questions answered by the Israeli panelists in Jerusalem, which were:

  • Amir Oren is a senior correspondent and columnist for Haaretz and a member of the newspaper’s editorial board. He writes about defense and military affairs, the government and international relations.
  • DR Eldad Pardo teaches at the Rothberg School, Hebrew University, Research Director at The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-SE).
  • Meir Javedanfar teaches at the IDC Herzliya and is a researcher at the Meir Ezri Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies at Haifa University

Take a virtual tour of Haim synagogue- in Tehran, #Iran

6 Feb haimsynagogue

There are different estimates as to how many functioning Synagogues there are in Tehran. I have heard numbers as high as 20, and as low as 12.

One of the oldest synagogues of Tehran is the Haim Synagogue, which was built 103 years ago. Its situated on 30 Tir avenue, near the British Embassy in Tehran. The synagogue is named after Rabbi (Hakham) Haim Mor-e. In the 1950s, it played host to fleeing Iraqi Jews, who immigrated to Israel, via Iran. They camped in the Synagogue.

These days the synagogue is only open on Shabbat and high holidays, due to the dwindling numbers of its congregants, mainly because of immigration.

With thanks to the 7Dorim site, Iran’s Jews community who do such a great job of keeping Iran’s Jewish heritage intact.

To start the virtual tour, click here