The U.S. is absolutely on the road to war with Iran

Is the U.S. on the road to war with Iran?

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

Is the U.S. on the road to war with Iran?
There are two kinds of people: those with, and without, grace. President Trump can decide on which side he falls, although Mrs. Abe the Japanese Prime Minister’s wife has clearly made up her mind. Anyone who can read a whole speech in English knows enough to say, ‘Excuse me, I do not speak English well’. So, to not respond at all to the U.S. president sitting beside her, who turns to converse, conveys a distinct meaning.

There was a time when countries prided themselves on their civility and their citizenry for their courtesy. Now the byword is the put down; rudeness, crudeness and vulgarity rule the day — not to forget the jingoism, demagoguery and xenophobia that can win elections. If such was the state of a democracy, its founders, were they alive, would weep.

In the past week, U.S. presidential ire has been directed at Iran. Shortly after the administration’s annual declaration to Congress certifying Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, it slapped additional economic sanctions the following Tuesday (July 18). Three days later, Trump added threats of ‘new and serious consequences’ unless detained U.S. citizens are returned. Robert Levinson, a former law enforcement officer disappeared ten years ago in Iran. In addition, Xiyue Wang, a Chinese-born U.S. citizen, as well as a father and son Iranian-Americans, Baquer and Siamak Namazi — the elder a former provincial governor in Iran — have been sentenced to 10 years jail for spying. For perspective, it is worth noting that 5 million tourists visit Iran annually contributing $2 billion in revenue, and the country is trying to expand its tourism industry.

The nuclear agreement itself is difficult for the U.S. to abrogate unilaterally as it involves the five permanent veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. Yet Trump appears to have swallowed the Netanyahu line on the deal. Add that to Trump’s new found chumminess with the Saudis and their deep Wahhabi antagonism towards Shia Iran and we could be on the edge of another cataclysm in the Middle East, this time enveloping the whole region.

If we recall the history of the deal, the Obama regime first had to give up their zero-enrichment requirement before the Iranians would even agree to talk. They got low enrichment.

While sanctions had hurt Iran, it refused to buckle under the pressure; in fact it added centrifuges and speeded up enrichment. Had the Obama administration continued on this course, they would have had a nuclear Iran or war.

There are those in Washington who still believe sanctions and pressure would bring Iran to its knees. They have forgotten the Iranian response to Iraq and the Iran-Iraq war when Iran stood up to a better-armed Iraq despite enormous casualties.

If Trump keeps up the pressure imposing further sanctions, how soon before the extremists in Iran secure an upper hand and the deal falls apart? Could an unwinnable war (Iraq and Afghanistan are living examples) and/or a nuclear Iran be the consequence?

Dr. Arshad M. Khan is a former Professor based in the US. Educated at King’s College London, OSU and The University of Chicago, he has a multidisciplinary background that has frequently informed his research. Thus he headed the analysis of an innovation survey of Norway, and his work on SMEs published in major journals has been widely cited. He has for several decades also written for the press: These articles and occasional comments have appeared in print media such as The Dallas Morning News, Dawn (Pakistan), The Fort Worth Star Telegram, The Monitor, The Wall Street Journal and others. On the internet, he has written for Antiwar.com, Asia Times, Common Dreams, Counterpunch, Countercurrents, Dissident Voice, Eurasia Review and Modern Diplomacy among many. His work has been quoted in the U.S. Congress and published in its Congressional Record.

Babylon vs Babylon the Great

Iran versus the United States – Raddington Report

BY MAJID RAFIZADEH

It’s war by any other means. The Iranian regime is heightening its efforts to damage US national interests and scuttle Washington’s foreign policy objectives by ramping up its interventions in the Middle East.

The regime’s concerted efforts are being directed by its Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, his Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its many tentacles. Among the actors in this play are the Navy, the Aerospace Force, ground forces, the Ministry of Intelligence, and the elite Qods force, which is led by General Qassem Soleimani and operates outside Iran’s borders to export the regime’s revolutionary ideals

Lately, Iran’s state-owned media outlets, long since the mouthpieces of Khamenei and the IRGC, have been extensively covering the increasing capabilities, power, and influence of Iran’s armed forces in the region. Iran’s leaders enjoy boasting about the leverage that the regime revels in defying the US in various fields.

The regime is accomplishing these objectives by steadfastly extending the core pillar of its foreign policy. In practice, this means the regime is working hard to widen its connections to militia and terrorist groups through different means, including political and military interventions in countries throughout the Middle East, including as Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon — not countries known for their stability at present.

Over in Iraq, Iranian leaders are delegating a more expansive role to the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a network of Tehran-backed Shi’ite paramilitary groups, which are estimated to have roughly more than 60,000 fighters. With Tehran’s bank balances back in the black thanks to the nuclear agreement, the IRGC provides vital military, financial and advisory assistance to the PMF. The IRGC and Iran’s news outlets do not hide the presence of Iran’s ground forces in Iraq. The IRGC appointed one of its generals, Iraj Masjedi, to be the new ambassador to Iraq.

During the latest visit of the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to Tehran, Khamenei emphasized the expanding role of PMF and how the presence of Shi’ite paramilitary groups on the ground are becoming political realities in Baghdad. One approach is linked to intensifying interference in the upcoming Iraqi elections. Iran’s sophisticated interventions has prompted the Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi to point out that “Iran has been interfering even in the decision [making process] of the Iraqi people…We don’t want an election based on sectarianism, we want an inclusive political process … we [hoped] that the Iraqis would choose themselves without any involvement by any foreign power.”

Khamenei warned Haider al-Abadi not to interfere with Iranian foreign policy goals. He made it clear that the objective of expanding the role of Iraqi militia groups is to spread anti-American sentiments and disrupt US regional objectives, telling the Iraqi leader that “We should remain vigilant of the Americans and not trust them.”

In Syria, IRGC has launched ballistic missiles, kicking off fresh phase of military interventions — this is Iran’s first deployment of such weaponry abroad in nearly three decades. It speaks to a transformation in how Iran’s armed forces will escalate its engagement in the region. But it also highlights the fact that Iran is buttressing Assad’s military. The IRGC generals made it evident that the attacks were “a message” and a “warning” not only to ISIS but also to the US and its regional allies.

For Iran, this is just the beginning. As former IRGC Guard chief Gen. Mohsen Rezai warned, darkly, “The bigger slap is yet to come.”

Iran has been busy in Yemen, as well. The Iranian regime is not only stepping up its support for the Tehran-backed Houthis, but is also deploying other proxies, including Hezbollah, in the war-torn state, in an attempt to further damage the country’s infrastructure and spoil US initiatives in Yemen. Although Iranian leaders deny playing any role in Yemen, the IRGC forces and its proxies are present in Yemen fighting alongside Houthi forces. Iran’s rising shipments of arms to Yemen, however, is impossible to deny. Several countries including the US have intercepted Iran’s attempt to deliver weapons to the Houthis. Most recently, the Saudi navy captured three members of the IRGC from a boat approaching Saudi Arabia’s offshore Marjan oilfield. The Saudi information ministry stated: “This was one of three vessels which were intercepted by Saudi forces. It was captured with the three men on board, the other two escaped.”

Hezbollah currently enjoys a presence in “every third or fourth house” in southern Lebanon, according to the IDF Chief of Staff, a clear violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 — and Iran does not show any signs of wishing to give up on their Lebanese proxy. Hezbollah affects Lebanon decision-making to serve Khamenei’s interest, not that of the Lebanese people. The growing financial and military assistance has also made Hezbollah “more militarily powerful than most North Atlantic Treaty Organization members” according to a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations.

Iran’s support for terrorist groups across the spectrum, which are sworn to disrupt US foreign policy and damage Washington’s interests, is a core pillar of Tehran’s foreign policy. The 2016 statement by Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper remains very much accurate: “Iran — the foremost state sponsor of terrorism — continues to exert its influence in regional crises in the Middle East through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — Qods Force (IRGC-QF), its terrorist partner Lebanese Hezbollah, and proxy groups.”

There exists a rare opportunity that the US should seize. After eight years of Obama’s administration trying to appease the Iranian regime and after eight years of neglecting the security concerns of other regional governments, the Gulf states and other regional powers long to counter Iran’s support for terrorist groups, increasing use of brute force and regional military adventurism. The Trump administration can capitalize on regional powers’ political and military weight in holding back Iran. Isolating and sanctioning Tehran via establishing a powerful and united front is critical at this moment.

The Iranian regime is rapidly using its militia and terrorist groups to shape political realities across the Middle East. It is penetrating the political, military and security infrastructures of several Middle Eastern nations. The aim is to advance the regime’s Islamist revolutionary ideals, hegemonic ambitions, and to damage US national interests. A swift and proportionate response to the Iranian regime, which is an integration of political pressure and military force, ought to be a top priority.

Antichrist Breaks From The Large Horn (Daniel 8)

Sadr urges Iran to end negative regional policies as Rouhani re-elected

by Mohamed Mostafa
May 21, 2017, 3:35 pm

Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) Iraqi Shia cleric and firebrand political Muqtada al-Sadr has congratulated Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani for re-election, but urged the Islamic republic to end regional policies of “negative” impacts.

“We congratulate the Iranian people for the victory of their reformist, moderate candidate despite the fervent political rivalry,” Sadr said in a statement.

He, however, urged the Iranian government to “steer away from all kinds of policy that negatively affect the region,” adding that “the situation can bear no more,’ as he put it.

He also urged Tehran to adopt openness to regional countries which he did not identify, and to “give up political and sectarian wrangles”.

Sadr’s statement came hours after Rouhani, in office since August 2013, was declared winner in the presidential elections, beating conservative opponent Ibrahim Raisi by more than 57 percent of votes.

Sadr has made an earlier call for Iran last week to seek better relations with its arch regional rival, Saudi Arabia, calling on both to engage in a “serious dialogue” to avert what he labelled a “sectarian war”.

“We hope this is the beginning of a de-escalation of sectarian tensions in the Arab and Muslim region,” he said of the recommended rapprochement between Tehran and Riyadh.

Sadr, though leading a wide base of Shia supporters, has been a vocal critic of the Iran-backed government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and his predecessor, Nuri al-Maliki, a close ally with Tehran. He has championed pro-reform and anti-corruption protests in Baghdad over the past few months.

Iran’s critics say it practices influence on Iraqi politics through the Shia-led government, and accuse it of meddling into regional conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and some Gulf countries for the favor of Shia minorities and majorities in those countries.

Iran Steps Up Hegemony In Middle East (Daniel 8:4)

Bahrain’s rulers have long sought confirmation from Washington that their country faces a terrorist threat sponsored by Iran. In March, the US finally validated them by sanctioning two Bahraini individuals as Specially Designated Global Terrorists. One of those sanctioned individuals evidently resides in Qom, the ideological center of Iran’s revolutionary regime.

The US designation comes amid increasing evidence showing that Tehran’s regional terrorist network is targeting the island kingdom, which hosts America’s most important naval base in the Middle East.

The State Department announced the sanctions on Mar. 17, describing the two individuals as linked to the Ashtar Brigades, a Bahraini group that it said has carried out terrorist acts targeting Bahraini, Saudi, and Emirati security officials. As such, the sanctions were also an important signal of support to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, whose leaders visited Washington just three days before the State Department’s announcement.

The designations are even more important given a Washington Post report last month that Western intelligence agencies believe Iran has attempted to smuggle into Bahrain enough C-4 explosives to sink a warship, as well as equipment to manufacture explosively formed penetrators  that can tear through tank armor.

Mortada al-Sanadi’s Radical Politics

The State Department was relatively terse in its description of the two newly designated terrorists, merely calling the more prominent one “an affiliate” of the Brigades, which it said receives money and other support from the government of Iran.

However, by validating Manama’s argument that this individual, Mortada al-Sanadi, is linked to the Brigades and confirming the group’s Iranian sponsorship, the US significantly bolstered Bahrain’s narrative about Sanadi, the Brigades, and the broader terrorist threat it faces.

Sanadi is spokesperson and a central committee member of the Islamic Loyalty Movement (ILM), a radical Bahraini political faction. The Movement is virulently anti-American, with its recent messages on social media calling the US “the mother of terrorism,” setting fire to images of President Donald Trump and the American flag, and displaying a cartoon of crosshairs targeting the Capitol Building. (The image can be seen above.)

In 2016, Bahrain’s government accused Sanadi and the ILM of having links to the Bahraini terrorist cell called the Basta Group, which ILM denied. According to Bahraini authorities, Basta also had ties to the Ashtar Brigades and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Bahrain’s government alleged that Basta’s leadership constituted the ILM’s armed wing, with terror capabilities under Sanadi’s command.

By accusing a leader of the ILM of links to terrorism, the recent US action seems to confirm that some of Bahrain’s more radical political opposition is also complicit in acts of violence against the state.

Disrupted Terrorist Plots

If Bahrain’s claims about Sanadi’s activities are correct – which the new US action appears to at least partly corroborate – then he is a key leader in the country’s terrorist insurgency.

Ten days after the US sanctioned Sanadi, Bahraini authorities accused the cleric of co-directing a terrorist cell linked to a February bus bombing that injured five police officers. That bombing came shortly after Sanadi’s announced that his movement was “beginning a new stage” by “seizing the public square and grasping the trigger.”

Manama alleged that the cell’s fourteen members plotted political assassinations and traveled to Iran nearly 70 times in three months. Six cell members are accused of receiving IRGC training in Iran, and five others are accused of being trained in Iraq by the US-designated, Iranian-proxy terrorist group Kata’ib Hizballah. According to Reuters, the Brigades announced an alliance with Kata’ib Hizballah earlier this year.

Previously, Bahraini authorities have accused Sanadi of playing a prominent role in terrorist plots in 2015. One was a July 2015 bombing that killed two policemen and injured six others. Bahrain’s Interior Ministry identified him as one of the plotters, calling him a religious leader for several Bahraini terrorist groups, and asserted that he receives monthly payments from the IRGC. Weeks earlier, Manama described Sanadi as one of the IRGC’s coordinators for a plot to smuggle explosives from Iraq into Bahrain, and from there into Saudi Arabia.

Tehran’s Ideological and Military Fingerprints

The ideology of Sanadi’s Islamic Loyalty Movement reflects Iran’s efforts to export its revolution. For example, Sanadi told a pro-Hizballah Lebanese newspaper in 2014 that the ILM’s ideology is modeled after that of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and first supreme leader of the Islamic Republic. The ILM website features 30 statements from Khomeini’s successor Ali Khamenei that are described as “golden commandments for a jihadist administration.” The group also promotes a book by Lebanese Hizballah’s deputy leader, which teaches its approach to military jihad and vilayat-e faqih, the Iranian regime’s draconian system of clerical rule.

In speeches delivered in Qom in 2015 and 2016, Sanadi himself embraced vilayat-e faqih and recognized Khamenei as amir al mu’minin, or leader of the faithful. He also authored an anti-American article on Khamenei’s official website in December 2016. Other than a brief appearance in the Iraqi city of Karbala in late 2013, virtually all of Sanadi’s public appearances for propaganda purposes seem to have been made from Qom, including as recently as March of this year.

Last year, Sanadi gave a lecture on Bahrain to the Masoumieh Religious Seminary, a top institution for training clerics to serve in Iran’s military and security services, including the IRGC. According to Reuters, Sanadi was even allowed in September 2016 to deliver a Friday sermon at the most prestigious mosque in Qom. His activities in Qom highlight the overlap between Iran’s extremist ideology and his Bahrain-oriented activism.

Iran has been known to host other IRGC-backed violent extremists in Qom, including Abu Dura, an Iraqi national designated by the US Treasury who was known as “the Shiite Zarqawi,” a reference to former al-Qaeda in Iraq chief Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Laith Khazali, an Iraqi who was imprisoned on charges of leading an operation that killed five American soldiers in the Iraqi city of Karbala, reportedly was hosted in Qom immediately upon his release in 2009. Another suspected leader in the 2007 Karbala attack, Azhar al-Dulaimi, purportedly received his training beforehand from Lebanese Hezbollah under IRGC supervision near Qom.

Militarily, the Ashtar Brigades appear linked not just to the IRGC but also other IRGC terrorist proxies throughout the region.

Manama claims Sanadi co-directed Bahraini terror cells in 2015 and 2017 with Qassim Abdullah Ali, who it said is based in Iran and Iraq, where he allegedly coordinates the training of Bahraini terrorists by Kata’ib Hizballah. Manama also asserts that leaders of the Ashtar-linked Basta Group received $20,000 from Lebanese Hizballah’s chief Hassan Nasrallah to support the ILM and launch attacks in Bahrain.

Bahrain’s broader landscape

As these allegations suggest, Sanadi is not the only Bahraini individual Manama accuses of playing a top role in the Ashtar Brigades, and the group is not the only Bahraini extremist group aligned with Iran.

For example, the State Department indicated in its 2013 Country Reports on Terrorism that Manama intercepted a speedboat with arms and explosives linked to Iran and thought to be bound for the 14 February Youth Coalition, a radical Shiite opposition faction that has praised Khamenei.

Other Bahraini groups such as the Saraya al-Karar and the Revolutionary Struggle Organization have used imagery based on the IRGC logo of a hand reaching up to grasp a Kalashnikov rifle, according to Caleb Weiss. Weiss adds that another Bahraini terrorist group, Saraya al-Mokhtar, has demonstrated support for numerous IRGC proxies inside Iraq.

When the State Department sanctioned Sanadi, it took care to discourage Manama from perceiving its action as carte blanche for a domestic crackdown on the country’s Shiites, who form the majority of the population but are marginalized by its Sunni monarchy. Indeed, the announcement urged Bahrain’s government “to clearly differentiate its response to violent militia groups from its engagement with peaceful political opposition.”

This is particularly relevant given that the head of Bahrain’s main opposition party, al-Wefaq, is serving a four-year prison sentence for acts the US describes as “peaceful expression.” However, the State Department could undermine its own message if it moves ahead with its plan to drop human rights conditions from a proposed $2.8-billion sale of US fighter jets to Bahrain.

Bahrain’s regime has yet to address its serious domestic challenge from nonviolent Shiite opposition groups and a disaffected Shiite-majority public. But it also faces a genuine security threat from violent extremists. Washington’s recent counterterrorism sanctions against Sanadi and its confirmation of Tehran’s support for the Ashtar Brigades confirms one of the pivotal pieces in the Bahraini government’s narrative about Iran’s role sponsoring terrorism inside the kingdom. But if Bahrain’s rulers don’t find a constructive outlet for legitimate Shiite dissent, then they risk driving more of the opposition into Iran’s arms.

David Andrew Weinberg is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He specializes on Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Amir Toumaj is a Research Analyst at Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Completing The Shia Horn (Daniel 8)

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Iranian militia leader talks of full Middle East dominance

JEDDAH: A notorious sectarian leader in Iraq has claimed that the Shiite project of encircling and dominating the Middle Eastern states is on track.

Delivering a speech in Arabic, at a graduation ceremony of Shiite clerics in Iraq on Thursday, Asaib Ahl Al-Haq militia commander Qais Al-Khazali said: “The reappearance of Imam Mahdi will mark the completion of the Shiite project. Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Asaib Ahl Al-Haq and the Houthis are working hard to make the ground fertile for Imam Mahdi.

Al-Khazali was referring to the Shiite belief that Imam Mahdi — the 12th and last Shiite imam who disappeared in the 9th century — will one day appear in order to bring justice to earth.

Asaib Ahl Al-Haq, which Al-Khazali leads, is one of the most violent Shiite militias in Iraq. It is aided and abetted by Iran. Al-Khazali reportedly said: “We’ll continue to work toward our project of a Shiite full moon, not a Shiite crescent as our enemies say.”

The phrase “Shiite crescent” was first coined by King Abdallah of Jordan 10 years ago. At that time, he meant Iranian control over Lebanon via Hezbollah, Syria via the Bashar Assad regime, and Iraq through the new Iran-allied government in Baghdad. Al-Khazali is now talking of a “Shiite full moon.”

“They (Iran and its allied militias) are looking for complete regional dominance,” said political analyst and former US diplomat Ali Khedery.
Talking to Arab News on Thursday, Khedery explained the background of Al-Khazali and the implications of his statement.

“Al-Khazali is the commander of Asaib Ahl Al-Haq. It used to be part of Muqtada Al-Sadr’s Jaish Al-Mahdi but then splintered off. It was specially cultivated by Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ special forces unit, the Al-Quds Force.

“Asaib Ahl Al-Haq is one of the most violent Shiite militias that has operated in Iraq alongside, for example, Kata’ib Hezbollah and the Badr Corps, and they report directly to Al-Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani,” said Khedery.

According to Khedery, Al-Khazali was responsible for the kidnapping and then the killing of five American soldiers from a joint Iraqi-American Operations Center in 2007 in Karbala.

“As a result of that kidnapping and murder operation, US forces arrested him and held him for several years in a facility called Camp Cropper — the same high-value detainee facility where the Americans held Saddam Hussein. Al-Khazali was later released at Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki’s personal request,” Khedery told Arab News.

He said during the Iraq war, the Asaib Ahl Al-Haq militia was responsible for killing and wounding hundreds, if not thousands, of US soldiers and then also kidnapping or killing probably thousands of Iraqis.

“After the rise of Daesh, it became very active again and is now part of Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units) to which the Iraqi government pays billions of dollars annually. It is now a virtual extension of the Iraqi Army,” he said.

Khedery said he would advise the international community against doubting the words and statements of these militia leaders.

“I take Iranian generals or the supreme leader or the militia commanders at their word because they have always — almost always — followed through on their threats. So, for example, when the Iranian supreme leader promises to wipe out Israel or when the Iranian defense minister threatens Saudi Arabia, or when Qassem Soleimani promises to change the regime in Bahrain or when Al-Khazali, in this case, promises to complete the Shiite crescent and make it a moon, I take them at their word,” said Khedery. “They are intent on exporting (former Iranian leader Ruhollah) Khomeini’s revolution across the Middle East.”

Since King Abdallah’s coinage of the phrase “Shiite crescent” 10 years ago, “the Iranians have unfortunately consolidated their grip over Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and the Iranian forces (have) further expanded into Pakistan and Afghanistan. Now they take Pakistani and Afghan recruits and send them to wage Khomeinist jihad in places like Iraq and Syria,” said Khedery. “They want to keep going with the export of the Khomeinist revolution. So their next targets are Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and then probably eventually Qatar and the UAE. And obviously, the Iranian-allied Houthis have taken control of Sanaa.”
Harvard scholar and Iranian affairs expert Majid Rafizadeh echoed Khedery’s words and said Asaib Ahl Al-Haq was an Iranian-backed Shiite militia, which has reportedly received significant financial, military and political support from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.

“Al-Khazali’s statement highlights three critical issues,” Rafizadeh told Arab News. “First of all, Iran and its proxies’ political agenda is anchored in sectarianism: Shiite versus Sunni. Second, although Iran views itself as leader of all Muslims, Tehran has been working effortlessly to export its particular version of Shiite ideology and revolutionary ideals. Third, Iran is determined to export its Shiite ideology through any possible means, including supporting many militias and designated terrorist groups.

Iran And The Shia Horn (Daniel 8:4)

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Tehran Backs Syria, Iraq to Ensure Regional Stability

The foreign policy advisor to the Leader of Islamic Revolution said Iran’s efforts to defend regional countries, including Syria and Iraq, are in line with the policy of promoting regional stability.

Ali Akbar Velayati was also quoted as saying by ISNA on Saturday in a meeting with German State Secretary Markus Ederer that if terrorism succeeds, “another Libya could take shape”.

“The Islamic Republic has always resisted [destabilizing forces] in the region and such moves [to support regional states] have obviously been made for the sake of peace and stability in the international arena and fighting terrorism,” he said.

He said regional states and the wider international community should not allow terrorists present in Syria and Iraq to repeat what they did to Libya.

Libya has been in complete chaos since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi by western-backed forces, with two rival administrations and armed groups fighting for control of the country.

Velayati referred to Iran’s role in protecting the Middle East from the extremism and stressed that any country that attaches importance to global peace should follow the same path.

“We consider defending Syria and Iraq and their leadership as defending ourselves since preventing their disintegration is the key to maintaining regional stability,” he said.

The senior official explained that the Islamic Republic’s military advisory support to Iraq and Syria in their campaign against terrorism has been offered at the request of the two countries’ governments.

Iraq and Syria have been facing the growing threat of terrorism, mainly posed by the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group that made swift advances in much of northern and western Iraq in mid-2014, after capturing large swaths of northern Syria.  Backed by their allies, the two Arab countries have in recent months made significant gains in the fight against terror and violence.

Velayati called Germany a major player in the global arena, especially in Europe, and said, “We hold great respect for Germany’s position in  the European Union and this can have a great impact on [Iran-Germany] bilateral ties.”

Ederer pointed to longstanding relations between the two states, which could help deepen ties. He also voiced Berlin’s positive stance on Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers and looked forward to improvement of the country’s relations with the global community.

Germany was among the major powers that helped conclude the nuclear accord with Iran, which led to sanctions relief in exchange for Tehran scaling down its nuclear activities.

The Iranian Horn Will Defend The Shia Crescent (Daniel 8:3)

News ID: 3955982 –

TEHRAN, Apr. 18 (MNA) – Hassan Rouhani said Iran’s defensive Army is not a threat to region and is ready to defend the whole critical and pivotal region of the Middle East.

Speaking at the massive military parade on Tuesday morning to mark Iran’s Army Day, President Rouhani said “I would like to extend my warm congratulations on the National Army Day to all staff, commanders, their respected families as well as the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei.”

“Army Day marks a reminder for sacrifice of brave Iranians during eight years of Imposed War against Iraq as well as protecting the country’s borderlands for almost 30 years after the war,” he continued.

“Virtuousness and grandeur have always been attributed to the Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran both in the regions and in the world. Some armies in the world are associated with interference in internal affairs of other countries, genocide, protecting terrorists, coup, disrespect for view of people and the law while the Iranian Army is reminiscent of order, discipline, faith and holy defense of territories within the framework of law and national interests,” Rouhani said.

“The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran requires the Army to protect the country’s independence and territorial integrity as well as to maintain the Islamic Revolution,” he underscored.

Rouhani highlighted that capabilities of Iranian armed forces are now incomparable to the time of Imposed War since eye-catching achievements have been made in the meantime; “Iran’s defense industry and armed forces are becoming more powerful on a daily basis.”

The Iranian President rejoiced to note that one major objective of his government had been strengthening the country’s defense capabilities as evidenced by the 45% rise in the budget for defense sector despite tough economic conditions.

He recalled that the amount of progress in the past three and a half years were equal to the 10-year period before that saying “Iran’s armed forces are more prepared than any other time though they would never pose threat to others.”

Hassan Rouhani emphasized that the Army mainly seeks to prevent tensions and conflicts while at the same time maintains vigilance against conspiracies and boosts its deterrent power.

The senior official reassured neighboring countries that Iranian armed forces were ready to defend the whole critical and pivotal region of the Middle East; “other states can be confident that Iran’s Army holds defensive rather than offensive power.”

“Nevertheless, we have shown how vigorously will the Army defend people and the country in the face of aggression by invaders.”

Later at his speech, Iran’s President enumerated unique characteristics of the country’s Armed Forces including faith and divine inspiration since Army personnel are devoted and has always had sacrifice.

“Another distinguished feature of Iranian armed forces is their close relations with the nation which is a mutual relation indeed,” he stressed.

Rouhani said enjoying a Commander in Chief was another distinguished aspect of the Armed Forces, a leadership which stems from Islamic jurisprudence and moderation and possesses a legal and religious position.

He recalled the remarks made by Imam Khomeini and the Leader Ayatollah Khamenei who urge the armed forces to keep away from political games as a means of gaining more power and enjoying support of the nation.

Rouhani expressed hope that, by implementing religious orders of the Leader, unity will increase in Armed Forces in order to give sense of safety and calmness to the people.

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Iran Fires Another Nuclear Missile (Daniel 8:4)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has successfully tested a ballistic missile, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported Thursday.The report quotes Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, chief of the Guard’s aerospace division, as saying the missile destroyed a target from a distance of 250 kilometers (155 miles). It said the sea-launched ballistic missile dubbed Hormuz 2 was tested last week.The Hormuz 2 is capable of hitting floating targets with high accuracy within a range of 300 kilometers (186 miles), Fars said. It provided no additional details.Meanwhile, the semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Hajizadeh as saying the Revolutionary Guard had prepared a ballistic missile for civilian purposes but plans to launch it were canceled after a threat by the United States.

“We have prepared a ballistic missile for carrying a satellite for civilian purposes … but some people sent it to the warehouse after a threat by the Americans. This behavior is humiliating,” he said.

Earlier this month, U.S. President Donald Trump imposed new sanctions on entities and individuals who support Iran’s ballistic missile program.

Last month, Iranian media reported the Revolutionary Guard launched several sophisticated rockets during military exercises in the country’s central desert.

Iran Horn Plans For Israeli Attack (Daniel 8:4)

WATCH: Hezbollah Propaganda Clip Warns Of Strikes On Nine Israeli Nuclear, Chemical Sites

by DEBORAH DANAN

5 Mar 2017

Lebanese Hezbollah fighters march near portraits of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (L), founder of Iran’s Islamic Republic, late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, during a parade on February 14, 2015 in the southern Lebanese town of Jibsheet. The Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah is marking today the death of three of its commanders, Abbas al-Mussawi, Ragheb Harb and Imad Mughnieh. Mussawi was killed on February 16, 1992 in an Israeli air raid on Nabatiyeh, Harb was assassinated in south Lebanon during Israel’s occupation in February 1984 and Mughnieh was killed in a car bombing in the Syrian capital Damascus on February 12, 2008. AFP PHOTO / MAHMOUD ZAYYAT (Photo credit should read MAHMOUD ZAYYAT/AFP/Getty Images)

TEL AVIV – Hezbollah will strike nine sensitive chemical and nuclear sites in Israel, according to a new propaganda video released by a news website affiliated with the Lebanon-based terror group.

The clip, published by the al-Ahed news website, comes after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah made numerous threats saying the Shiite group is targeting Israel’s nuclear reactor in the southern city of Dimona and an ammonia plant in the northern city of Haifa.

In the opening sequence, the video shows what appear to be Russian S-300 missiles being fired and striking the Dimona nuclear reactor to the sound of alarms, the Times of Israel reported.

The video goes on to list eight other sites around Israel, including the Nahal Sorek desalination plant, the Kishon chemical plant, nuclear weapons research sites, and sites allegedly belonging to the IDF as storage facilities for ballistic weapons.

The clip also includes other sensitive information such as satellite images of the locations, amount of employees, the number of buildings per site and a description of toxic materials on each site.

Israel’s military has said that the terror group has between 100,000 and 120,000 short- and medium-range missiles and rockets, as well as several hundred long-range missiles, with the medium-range missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv.

However, there has been no evidence to suggest that Hezbollah has S-300 missiles as shown in the video.

In February, Minister of Intelligence Yisrael Katz warned that “all of Lebanon will be struck” if Nasrallah goes through with his threat to strike Israel’s vital infrastructure sites.

Also last month, Israel reportedly targeted Hezbollah-bound weapons in a series of airstrikes in Syria.

Earlier this week, a Haifa court ruled that an ammonia plant in Haifa must be emptied out within ten days, partially in response to an Israeli officials’ warning that a missile strike on the site could cause tens of thousands of fatalities.

Iran Simulates Attack on US Forces

Director Farhad Azimi told local media his 80-minute “Battle of the Persian Gulf II” is “a response to the gibberish of Hollywood and American politicians”.

 Four years in the making, its expensive graphics, thumping soundtrack and barrages of missiles are a slick addition to Iran’s propaganda efforts, clearly aimed at teenage boys.

The star of the show is a commander whose salt-and-pepper beard was explicitly modelled on Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the Revolutionary Guard’s external operations arm, the Qods Force.

Soleimani heads Iran’s operations in Syria, Iraq and beyond, and has become a prominent fixture in the media in recent years, often pictured on the frontline or alongside supreme leader Ali Khamenei.

His high profile has led to speculation he may emerge as a presidential candidate one day, although he has so far denied any desire to move into politics.

“Battle of the Persian Gulf II” cost some five billion rials ($140,000 130 million euros) to make, part of increasing military propaganda efforts that in many ways mirror the close involvement of the Pentagon in Hollywood’s more gung-ho blockbusters.

It comes at a time of mounting tensions after President Donald Trump warned that any Iranian boats harassing the US Navy — a regular occurrence in the Gulf, according to the Pentagon — would be “shot out of the water”.

Azimi said he wanted to highlight Iran’s defensive capabilities.

“If one bullet is fired by the enemy toward Iran, we will respond firmly,” he said.

The film has premiered in Iran’s second city Mashhad and is due to arrive in Tehran next week. The makers are also hoping to show the film in China and Russia.

© AFP 2017