Iran: Execution Postponed for 10 Days For Woman Who Killed Attacker

Submitted by Emily on Thu, 2014-10-02 06:10


U.S. Has Power to Stop Blockade on Iranian Dissidents in Iraq

A Camp Ashraf shooting victim

A Camp Ashraf shooting victim

Shahriar Kia

In an unprecedented move, U.S. President Barack Obama chose in previous weeks to help the Yazidi and Turkmen communities in northern Iraq, who were besieged by the Islamic State (IS). The measures undertaken included humanitarian-aid drops as well as military support aimed at protecting the beleaguered communities and providing them with life-saving assistance. Following the U.S. intervention, other countries, including Britain, France and Germany contributed to the effort.

The decision, which some refer to a turning point in Obama’s foreign policy, is a testament to the fact that the international community can and must do more to prevent humanitarian crises across the globe.

In contrast, there are glaring instances of other catastrophes that could have been prevented with much less effort, but were abandoned and allowed to develop at the cost of many innocent lives.

The massacre at Camp Ashraf is one such example.

Last year in late August, the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki cut off the water and power of Camp Ashraf, a refugee camp in Iraq’s Diyala province inhabited by 100 members of the Iranian opposition group PMOI/MEK (the first party to reveal Iran’s illicit nuclear project in 2002). In tandem, Iraqi forces also prevented the delivery of food and medicine supplies to the camp’s residents.

Subsequently, the refugees and their representatives and lawyers abroad warned the U.S. and UN of an imminent catastrophe, but their calls fell on deaf ears. Absent a firm intervention – or any intervention for that matter – by UNAMI (the UN body in Iraq) and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, the Iraqi government found the boldness to continue intensifying its repressive measures against the residents without fearing reprisal by the international community.

The crisis became exacerbated and eventually culminated in the September 1 massacre, where Iraqi Special Forces taking direct command from the Prime Minister’s office staged a brutal raid against the camp, murdering 52 residents and abducting seven others, including six women.

All victims had received solemn and explicit promises by the U.S. and the UN for their safety and security, promises that proved their worthlessness when they were gunned down and abducted by Iraqi forces trained by the U.S. military.

The U.S. and UN didn’t even bother to investigate the heinous crimes, and confided in al-Maliki – the perpetrator of the crime itself – to do so. After a year, not a single person has been arrested and the hostages have not yet been released.

Human Security Center, an independent global think tank, recently published a report in which the incident was thoroughly investigated and al-Maliki’s government was found responsible for crimes against humanity. HSC also criticized the West for its shortcomings in upholding its commitments to the residents of Camp Ashraf and its disinterest in addressing the plight of this community of Iranian dissidents, which continue to suffer at the hands of the government of Iraq.

Now, as we mark the first anniversary of the tragic and brutal massacre, the government of Iraq continues to suppress the Iranian refugees, who now reside in Camp Liberty in the vicinity of the Baghdad International Airport. For the past three weeks, the nearly-2,800 residents of Camp Liberty have been deprived of fuel, food, medicine and other basic humanitarian needs by the Iraqi government, which according to international law amounts to an act of war crime.

These actions follows an unofficial trip to Iraq by a high-profile Iranian delegation, in which Iranian officials demanded that their cronies in the Iraqi government mount pressure against Camp Liberty residents.

Due to the fact that the camp’s infrastructure is in a poor state and that all activities in the camp depend on electricity produced by fuel-consuming power generators, this illegal measure has set the stage for the occurrence of an imminent humanitarian crisis, threatening the lives of thousands of innocent refugees.

Even more concerning is the obvious parallel between the intensifying blockade against Camp Liberty and the events that led to the September 1 massacre, hinting that a similar plot being hatched by the Iraqi government and the Iranian regime. The consequences of inaction in this case are not hard to guess.

In a conference held in Paris on the first anniversary of the September 1 massacre, dignitaries from different countries warned against the imminent perils that threaten the residents of Camp Liberty and called on the U.S. and the UN to live up to their commitments regarding the safety and security of the 2,800 refugees who are all protected persons.

The speakers underlined the fact that the international community should not remain silent in face of this crime against humanity and thus allow another humanitarian catastrophe to unfold at Camp Liberty.

The stark difference between the plight of Camp Liberty residents and that of the Turkmen and Yazidi communities is that the source of their miseries isn’t the Islamic State but the government of Iraq itself, an entity that is supposedly an ally of the United States. This means that President Obama does not need to go out of his way with airstrikes and military intervention to remedy the situation.

Washington holds more than enough sway over Baghdad to rein in its criminal behavior and force it to lift the siege on the residents of Camp Liberty without firing a shot. The U.S. government can easily have the committee in charge of the camp replaced with persons that are not affiliated with the Iranian regime.

This would also send a strong message to Tehran, which is orchestrating the siege on Camp Liberty and is trying to take advantage of the current power vacuum in Iraq to expand its influence and strike against the PMOI/MEK, an organization that has proven its worth and value to the international community time and again.

Nothing justifies the continued idleness of the U.S. and UN in addressing the developing crisis in Camp Liberty. If the past serves as a prologue, another disaster lies at the end of this road unless clear, concrete measures are taken to end the five-year oppression of Camp Liberty residents.


Shahriar Kia is a press spokesman for an Iranian opposition  group housed at Camp Liberty in Iraq. Kia says the group, the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI, also known as MEK), advocates for a democratic, secular Iran with separation of church and state and gender quality that is nuclear-free. He graduated from North Texas University and currently resides in Iraq. His Twitter handle is @shahriarkia 

You can read Kia’s previous interview with the Clarion Project here

Iran: Common Denominator of Middle East Chaos

Iranian Revolutionary Guards shown saluting in front of a picture of the leader of the 1970 Islamist revolution in Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (Photo: © Reuters)

Iranian Revolutionary Guards shown saluting in front of a picture of the leader of the 1970 Islamist revolution in Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (Photo: © Reuters)

Shahriar Kia

Islamic Fundamentalism, the Iranian regime’s weapons of choice in the Middle-East

Everyone agrees that the Middle East region has become a hodgepodge of religious, ethnic and sectarian conflicts, with the prospects of a respite in death and destruction indeed being bleak. The effects are most evident in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, and more recently in Libya and Lebanon. Other countries are not immune and are under the imminent threat of being pulled into the fray by joining one of the many confusing conflicts that are ravaging the region.

Where opinions diverge is how to deal with this crisis.

Erroneous interpretations by regional and world powers in pinpointing the true source of the disaster and careless dithering in laying out a suitable roadmap and an effective approach to tackle the problem have given rise to the perception that peace and stability in the Middle East as a hopeless cause.

The Iranian regime, the root of Islamic fundamentalism and the heart of problems in the Middle East

The common denominator of all calamities that can be witnessed in the region is Islamic fundamentalism and extremism, which is not only a regional but a global threat. This perverse interpretation of Islam has so far worked into the hands of dictators, helping to shore them up against their legitimate oppositions and has also buried the true face of Islam – which is in reality stands for peace and tolerance – under a thick crust of blood, violence, and death.

Islamic fundamentalism finds its main contributor in Iran, where the Velayat-e-Faghih (uncontested rule of the clergy) regime is being run by the mullahs. Their rule is based on regional expansionism and export of fundamentalism and terrorism abroad, and the violent suppression of the people at home.

The mullahs rely on their regional proxies to instigate civil conflicts and stoke the fires of sectarianism in the countries of the region in order to evade the many domestic and international crises that are entangling their own regime.

In this regard, Iraq and Syria have been hit the worst.

Iran’s role in the instigating the Iraq crisis

Had it not been for the oppressive and violent meddling of the Iranian regime, Iraq would have been moving along the path of democratization in the recent years. A peaceful and stable state led by an inclusive government would have left no room for the emergence of extremist groups in Iraq.

In fact, before the Iranian regime gained leverage with the nascent post-war Iraqi state, millions of Iraqi Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds had lived alongside each other peacefully for years.

But following the hasty withdrawal of U.S. forces, the government of Iraq came under the complete sway of the Iranian regime. At the behest of the Iranian regime, the government of Iraq undertook sectarian-oriented policies, consolidating power in a tight circle of Iran-friendly forces and militia, gradually and violently marginalizing the Sunni community, and eventually setting the stage for widespread peaceful protests which turned into an all-out uprising after being brutally suppressed by government security forces.

Naturally, extremist groups have tried taking advantage of the situation to gain influence over the masses of people disgruntled by the disaster caused by the Iranian regime and its proxies in Iraq.

Fearing the loss of its hegemony, the Iranian regime poured thousands of troops into Iraq under the excuse of protecting religious shrines, and is doing all within its power to transform a democratic uprising to a sectarian conflict.

Recent reports of high-ranking Iranian commanders among the casualties in clashes in Iraq are proof of how deeply the Iranian regime is entrenched in the conflict.

Meanwhile, dazed and confused from the sudden turn of events in Iraq, and frantic to find a short-term solution to the situation that is quickly slipping through its grasp, the U.S. government is entertaining the possibility of cooperating with the Iranian regime to stabilize the situation.

Such an undertaking would be a recipe for disaster, would deepen sectarian divides and push Iraq further away from becoming the stable and secure state that its people deserve.

Iran props up the dictator of Syria against the democratic opposition

In 2012, Syria was moving on the path to democratic revolution at a fast pace and Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad – a strategic ally of the Iranian regime – had all but lost the war. But the intervention of Iran-backed Hezbollah and the Iranian regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) gave him a boost and evened the odds.

Here again, the international community failed to respond appropriately. Fearing the unraveling of the much coveted nuclear talks with the mullahs, the West avoided a confrontation with the Iranian regime over its meddling in Syria, and therefore opted to turn a blind eye on the flow of supplies, arms and troops from Iran to the Assad regime.

The West’s idleness weakened the hand of the secular and democratic opposition forces and pushed the conflict into a stalemate, causing further bloodshed and giving rise to more extremist elements.

Now well into its third year, the Syrian crisis has claimed the lives of more than 170,000 people and has spilled over three million refugees into neighboring countries, with no prospect of a peaceful end in sight.

Even though the Iranian regime faces a precarious situation in Iraq, it refuses to relinquish Syria, and its officials continue to assert that holding Assad in power is a strategic goal. Thousands of Hezbollah fighters continue to fight for Assad on the behalf of the Iranian regime, and Iran continues to send troops to Syria.

Iranian regime, the main benefactor of bloodletting in Gaza

The situation in Gaza has so far served the interests of the Iranian regime by diverting international attention from the crises in Iraq and Syria.

While the world is calling for a cease-fire, the Iranian regime continues to hype the continuation of the conflagration and is using the conflict as a window of opportunity to extend its influence in the region.

Iranian officials, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, are openly scorning any sort of cease-fire and are adamantly calling for the continuation of the conflict. “If we do not fight in Palestine, Gaza and Lebanon,” Iranian MP said in a parliamentary session, “We would be forced to fight in streets of Tehran.”

The real solution to the grievances in the Middle East

The eviction of the Iranian regime from all countries in the region and eventually a regime change in Iran that would see the theocratic dictatorship replaced with a secular and democratic government would be the true, definitive solution to the crises plaguing the Middle East.

As much as a terrorism- and fundamentalism-exporting Iran – such as that of the mullahs – plays a pivotal role in the development of calamities in the Middle East, a peaceful and democratic Iran can have a crucial role in the establishment of lasting peace and stability in the region.

Such an idea is gaining more and more support worldwide, and was the focus of a momentous gathering in Paris on July 26 at a conference titled “Religious dictatorship in Iran, epicenter of sectarian wars in the Middle East.”

Attended by representatives and members of Shiite and Sunni communities from different countries of the Middle East region as well as dignitaries from the U.S. and European states, the conference offered accurate insights and solutions to the crises in the Middle East.

Speaking at the conference, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the principle opposition to the Iranian regime, called for the eviction of the Iranian theocracy from all countries in the region is the practical solution to the current situation.

Rajavi’s remarks were widely touted by other speakers.

Dr. Walid Phares, commentator on global terrorism and Middle Eastern affairs, criticized the West for abandoning the democratic opposition and engaging the dictatorship in Iran. Alluding to Rajavi’s movement, which represents a democratic, secular and nuclear-free alternative to the current regime in Iran, Phares said, “You are showing if liberty comes to Iran, every other country every other civil society would have more hope.”

Also speaking at the conference, Marc Ginsberg, former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco, said, “We… understand the importance of having an Iran that lives side by side with every country in the region in freedom and dignity without the threat the Iranian mullahs pose to the world.”

Ginsberg described Islam as a “proud and peaceful religion” that has been hijacked by those in Iran who claim to preach the true word of Islam.”

A firm position in dealing with the Iranian regime can be decisive in determining the future of the Middle East.

The West can continue to try to reach a compromise with the Iranian regime in order to douse the flames of sectarianism and fundamentalism. But as proven in the past, failure awaits at the end of that path. It is past time that the U.S. and the international community stood with the Iranian people and their resistance for regime change in Iran, the only way to start on the path of ending the global threat of Islamic fundamentalism.


Shahriar Kia is a press spokesman for an Iranian opposition  group housed at Camp Liberty in Iraq. Kia says the group, the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI, also known as MEK), advocates for a democratic, secular Iran with separation of church and state and gender quality that is nuclear-free. He graduated from North Texas University and currently resides in Iraq. His Twitter handle is @shahriarkia 

You can read Kia’s previous interview with the Clarion Project here

Tue, July 29, 2014 Tens of Thousands of Shiites Worldwide Join Iran's Foreign Legion

Shiite volunteers to the Iraqi security forces. (Photo © Reuters)

Shiite volunteers to the Iraqi security forces. (Photo © Reuters)

Jacob Campbell

Earlier this month, the Asia Times reported that “the [Indian] organisation Anjuman-e-Haideri, led by Shi’ite cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawad, has launched a campaign to recruit volunteers willing to travel to Iraq to defend the Shi’ite shrines in Karbala and Najaf.”

Up to 25,000 Indian Shi’ites have already answered the call. Their leader, Kalbe Jawad, a radical cleric notorious for his anti-Western activities, is described in a leaked American embassy cable from 2006 as a “principal agent” of the Iranian regime, which allegedly pays him “approximately $4,000 per month” for his services.

By contrast to this veritable Shi’ite army, Indian authorities are aware of just 18 of their citizens fighting alongside Iraq’s Sunni jihadists. Intelligence sources told the Times of India that, unlike their Shi’ite counterparts, these Indian Sunnis “didn’t come from any extremist group ... but were individually radicalised.”

This follows the precedent set in Syria, where, Aaron Y. Zelin of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation observes, “the Sunni jihadists are coming in through informal networks,” whereas Shi’ite jihadists “are directed through Iran’s state-sponsored apparatuses.”

India is not the only country for whom this is a problem. On May 22, the Wall Street Journal revealed that “Iran has been recruiting thousands of Afghan refugees to fight in Syria,” while intelligence agencies have noted the presence of Shi’ite jihadists from as far afield as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Pakistan, Yemen, Bahrain, Somalia and the Ivory Coast. On the Syrian battlefield, they supplement the ranks of a predominantly Iranian-Iraqi-Syrian-Lebanese force led by Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards.

Meanwhile in Britain, a Shi’ite Londoner told the Guardian, “there are a lot of youth talking about [going out to Iraq] ... A lot of people [in the UK] are willing to defend Karbala. And to be honest with you, if my son was of a much older age and he turned around to me and said, ‘Look, I want to go and fight,’ I’d send him on his way.” As sectarian conflict metastasises from Syria to Iraq – where many of the most sacred Shi’ite shrines are located – the phenomenon of Shi’ites leaving their native lands to take up arms in those countries may well spread from the Asian and African continents to the Western world.

A great deal has been written in recent months – and particularly in the past few weeks – about the diverse ethnic composition of the Sunni jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and the national security threat posed by its foreign fighters as they return to their respective countries of origin. Although that threat is serious – as the May 24 terrorist attack on the Jewish Museum of Belgium clearly demonstrates – the Iranian regime’s equally diverse de facto foreign legion arguably constitutes an even greater danger, by virtue of its superior organisation and centralised leadership.

“In our assessment,” writes the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre, “the involvement of Shi’ite foreign fighters in Syria ... is liable to create for the Iranians ... ready-made networks of trained, battle-experienced fighters that can be leveraged by Iran for its terrorism and subversive activities.” Indeed, many of these war-hardened militants are already being redeployed to Iraq, thereby exhibiting Tehran’s ability to mobilise its foreign legion whenever and wherever its interests are jeopardised.

If the “lone wolf” terrorism of veteran ISIS fighters is cause for alarm, consider the regional – if not global – reach of Iran’s state-sponsored multinational guerrilla force. Victory for the Iranian regime in Iraq and Syria would free up its foreign legion for a protracted anti-Western offensive against which the Sunni jihad would pale in comparison. As if to underline that point, a June 23 editorial in Iran’s regime-controlled Kayhan newspaper boasted that “Iran is the main threat to Israel, not al-Qaeda. Unlike al-Qaeda, Iran is a stable power and a threat to Israel’s existence.”

Tehran, therefore, must not be allowed to prevail in Iraq or Syria, not least because the regime perceives these conflicts as an extension of its perennial war with the West. “Today’s war in Syria,” explains the Revolutionary Guards’ Colonel Mohammad Eskandari, “is really our war with America.” If the regimes in Damascus and Baghdad survive and suppress the popular uprisings against them, Iran’s anti-Western crusade will only press onward to new fronts – and its burgeoning foreign legion is likely to follow.

For more information see our factsheet on Iranian Regional Hegemony.

Jacob Campbell is a senior fellow of the Humanitarian Intervention Centre, head of research at Stand for Peace, and co-chairman of the Ashraf Campaign (ASHCAM)

Threat of Nuclear Iran Looms Due to the West's Weak Resolve

Iranian nuclear negotiators (Photo: © Reuters)

Iranian nuclear negotiators (Photo: © Reuters)

Shahriar Kia

The sixth and final round of talks between the Iranian regime and P5+1, which started on July 3, is quickly running its course toward its self-imposed July 20 deadline, at which time world powers and the Iranian regime are supposed to reach a final agreement on Iran’s illicit nuclear program and curb the nuclear capabilities of a regime that has already proven to be a regional and global threat without nuclear weapons.

The talks were initially launched with a lot of pomp and ceremony. Accordingly, a lot of optimism was pumped into mainstream media, mainly centered on the positive changes that would supposedly occur now that the Iranian regime’s new president Hassan Rouhani had assumed office, and his foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was at the helm of Iranian negotiating team.

Western states rushed to the negotiating table, offering the Iranian regime many concessions and not demanding much in return, seemingly forgetting that this same regime has so far defied six U.N. Security Council resolutions, and Rouhani has previously bragged about how he had duped the West and preserved the Iranian regime’s nuclear project during his 2003-2005 nuclear tenure.

Also being ignored is the proven fact that no matter who is up front, it is the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who has the final say on important matters, the nuclear project included.

Now, after many months of ongoing talks, it turns out that the Iranian regime had nothing new to offer and insists on preserving its nuclear program and its potential to produce nuclear arms.

Even U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who had touted the talks and had high hopes over the prospects of reaching a solution to Iran’s nuclear deadlock, now feels a little disgruntled and dubious about the whole affair.  “What will Iran choose?” he wrote in his June 30 op-ed in the Washington Post, “Despite many months of discussion, we don’t know yet.”

With a few days left on the schedule, many sticking points remain between Iran and world powers, including the number of centrifuges, the much-debated Arak heavy water reactor, the possible military dimensions of the program and the regime’s ballistic missile program, which could be used to launch nuclear warheads to intended targets.

If recent remarks by Khamenei are any indication, the gap between the Iranian regime and world powers is too great and isn’t likely to be bridged within the next weeks. Acknowledging that it is at a critical milestone, the Iranian regime’s supreme leader made it clear in a session with high-profile regime officials that his regime needs 190,000 SWUs (Separate Work Units) as compared to the 10,000 that the international community is willing to concede. He also dismissed any notion of shutting down military facilities or giving up on nuclear research.

Khamenei took advantage of the weak resolve of the international community to taunt the West and affirm that any attempts at further sanctions or possible military action against his regime would fail.

The best result that the talks could yield is a bad deal, one which allows the Iranian regime to preserve its capacity to create a nuclear bomb and make a break for it at a time of its choosing. The only amount of relief U.S. President Barack Obama might draw from the situation is that the catastrophe might not come to pass on his watch.

The alternative will be an extension to the talks, which will buy the mullahs more time to continue their nuclear program at its current pace while allowing them to enjoy sanctions relief that the West has conceded according to the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action.

Either way, the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran will continue to loom on the horizon, and the international community will at best succeed in kicking the can a little further down the road.

What’s more disappointing is that the international community seems to ignore the fact that the real weapon of mass destruction in Iran is the regime itself, with its outdated religious fascist mindset and its policy of exporting Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism to the region and worldwide.

Even without nuclear bombs, the Iranian regime is already responsible for the ongoing crises in Syria and Iraq – to mention just a few – and the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in the region. Furthermore, Iran has seen a spike in executions and human rights violations during the tenure of Rouhani, the self-proclaimed “moderate” president much touted by the West.

None of the above will dissipate when the final agreement over the Iranian regime’s nuclear program is penned, be it on July 20 or at a later date. Given its nature, the Iranian regime will never be a contributing force to peace and stability in the region, a fact that Obama and the other members of the P5+1 seem to miss altogether – or deliberately ignore.

The real solution to the grievances that the international community faces regarding the Iranian regime is not to engage it but to overthrow it and replace it with a democratic alternative.

This was the focus of a huge gathering held in Paris on June 27 by the Iranian diaspora, in which more than 100,000 people from 69 countries attended, representing all generations and walks of life in Iran.

The huge crowd had rallied around one cause: regime change in Iran.

Speaking at the convention, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton described the Iranian regime’s nuclear program as “the principal threat to peace and security in the region.”

“Combined with the regime’s roll in financing terrorism,” he said in his speech, “the ayatollahs have been the principal cause for the destabilization of the Middle East, resulting in conflicts that are erasing national boundaries and fostering the collapses of the regional states.”

His thoughts were seconded by many of the 600 parliamentarians and political figures who attended the conference from U.S., Canada, Europe and the Middle East, representing a wide spectrum of political tendencies.

“There is only one sure way to secure the world from the threat that this regime in Tehran represents,” said former U.S. senator Joseph Lieberman, who was among the first speakers at the event. “It is for the Iranian people to overthrow these tyrants, and for freedom loving people throughout the world to support this next great revolution.”     

Comparing Iran with other countries in the region that have either undergone or are undergoing regime change in recent years, former mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani argued, “[R]egime change in Iran is easy.” Alluding to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its leader, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, he added, “There is an alternative in Iran, an alternative that stands for democracy, stands for freedom, stands for human rights, stands for the rights of women, is led by a woman, and most importantly at this time in our history, it stands for a non-nuclear Iran.”

The NCRI, the main opposition of the Iranian regime, was the first party to blow the whistle on Iran’s secret nuclear program in 2002, and has since provided the international community with valuable information about Iran’s nuclear sites and activities.

Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the NCRI, was the keynote speaker of the event. She made it clear in her speech that the Iranian regime could not be trusted, saying, “[The mullahs] want to take advantage of the West appeasement policy as much as possible to buy time and leave open the path to acquiring nuclear weapons.”

She stipulated that, in addition to the dismantlement of all its nuclear facilities, the Iranian regime must be forced to accept additional protocol and full inspections of its sites, plus unrestricted interviews with all those involved. She also emphasized that the Iranian regime must be held accountable for its record of blatant human rights violation and its role in the genocide of the Iraqi and Syrian people.

Rajavi underscored that the Iranian people want regime change, and change in Iran will be possible “through the Iranian people and their resistance.”

While reiterating her commitment to replacing the regime in Iran with a non-nuclear republic based on separation of church and state, gender equality and the abolishment of capital punishment, she emphasized, “The time has come for the international community to stand with the Iranian people.”

Making the wrong choices – especially in the Middle East – has become the hallmark of the Obama administration’s foreign policy in the past five years. The effects are clearly visible in Syria and Iraq today.

Despite his botched attempts, Obama continues to try to rein in the Iranian regime through appeasement and concessions, an endeavor that is doomed to fail again. Now at a critical juncture, he can either continue to side with the criminal, illegitimate dictatorship ruling in Tehran, or, for once, make the right choice and stand with the Iranian people and their resistance for regime change in Iran, an undertaking that will definitely help promote peace and stability in the region and across the world. 


Shahriar Kia is a press spokesman for an Iranian opposition  group housed at Camp Liberty in Iraq. Kia says the group, the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI, also known as MEK), advocates for a democratic, secular Iran with separation of church and state and gender quality that is nuclear-free. He graduated from North Texas University and currently resides in Iraq. His Twitter handle is @shahriarkia 

You can read Kia’s previous interview with the Clarion Project here

Wed, July 9, 2014 "Obama Will Take Military Action if Iran Tries to Go Nuclear"

Illustrative photo of a nuclear reactor. Photo © Reuters.

Illustrative photo of a nuclear reactor. Photo © Reuters.

July 8, 2014 – Clarion Project hosted an exclusive briefing for diplomats and journalists from all over the world with Dr. Gary Samore, President Obama's former adviser for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction and the president of United Against Nuclear Iran.

In light up the upcoming July 20 end of the interim agreement between Iran and the P5+1, Dr. Samore spoke about Iran’s current objectives as well as the differences between the negotiating parties.

The main point of contention is Iran’s nuclear breakout capacity. “Iran wants to have the ability to create nuclear weapons on short notice, while the six world powers are not prepared to accept Iran as a nuclear threshold state,” Dr. Samore explained.  

Dr. Samore mapped out the current time it would take for Iran to “breakout” and build nuclear weapons. “Right now, on paper, Iran’s breakout time is two to three months. The six world powers are demanding Iran significantly reduce this capability … to make breakout time over one year and to keep that in place for more than a decade.”

However, on this core issue – enrichment capabilities -- neither side is willing to make concessions, says Dr. Samore. Further, he explains, “Both sides are very constrained by domestic politics. President Obama can’t sell a nuclear deal to Congress if it allows Iran to retain a credible nuclear weapons option, and President Rouhani cannot sell a nuclear deal to Supreme Leader Khamenei if it requires Iran to give up its nuclear weapons option.”

“But, even if a deal is impossible,” Dr. Samore continued, “I think all parties appear relatively comfortable with the status quo that has been created by the interim agreement. The U.S. and its allies have essentially succeeded in freezing the most important part of its nuclear program with only modest sanctions relief.”

Further, Dr. Samore says that inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency have been highly effective in deterring Iran from breaking their agreements at known nuclear facilities. In terms of covert facilities, ferreting them out is and always has been the job of U.S. and other intelligence agencies.

Due to the current volatile world situation, Dr. Samore expects that the interim agreement will be renewed without changes for another six months. This is due in part, to the political situation in Ukraine, Iraq and the deadlock between the negotiating parties for which a renewal would allow all parties to attain their goals.

Even though at this point it looks as if Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to support a negotiated settlement with Ukraine, Dr. Samore says that, “From Iran’s standpoint, the confrontation over Ukraine presents a golden opportunity  -- or at least a possibility -- that there will be an open fracture between the Western countries  and Russia.”

Therefore, in Dr. Samore’s assessment, Teheran “will not make any significant concessions until they know for sure that Russia will not make an open break with the P5+1.”

The Iranians also believe they will be able to leverage American concessions in exchange for greater cooperation from Iran in defeating ISIS in Iraq. However, the view in Washington is that since ISIS is on Iran’s back door, “The U.S. doesn’t feel it has to pay a price for Iran to do what is already in its own interest.”

When asked if the Obama administration had seriously considered a military option against Iran, Dr. Samore said that military action was “very seriously” considered. Operational plans were drawn up, including how to limit military escalation, minimize “blowback” to allies in the region and prevent Iran from closing the Straits of Hormuz – the Middle East’s oil-shipping passageway to the West.

Although Dr. Samore believes that the U.S. would take military action if Iran were to make an overt move toward nuclear weapons, he doesn’t think that is likely to happen -- namely, because Ayatollah Khomeini “is not willing to take risk of US attack.” Thus, the threat of military action -- as well as the imposition of economic sanction and export controls -- has been an effective tool in deterring Iran from doing what they could have done to move closer to obtaining nuclear weapons.

Most relevant to the current negotiations, all of these options have allowed both Iran and the West to buy time. And in the current political climate, that may be, ironically, a victory for both sides. 

Dr. Samore is currently head of research at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

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