Eye on Iran: U.S. Fears More Plots from Iran’s Quds Force

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Reuters: „The United States believes Iran’s shadowy Quds Force is becoming increasingly aggressive overseas and may be working on other international plots beyond the alleged plan to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington, three U.S. officials told Reuters. U.S. allegations last week of a foiled plot in Washington have escalated tensions between the United States and Iran. They have also renewed Washington’s focus on the Quds Force, the covert operations arm of Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is believed to have sponsored attacks on U.S. targets in the Middle East — but never before in the United States. ‚They’re being more aggressive… not only in Iraq but worldwide,‘ one senior U.S. official said in an interview. The official and others insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record and because of the sensitive nature of the matter. U.S. officials have long charged that the Quds Force — the Arabic word for Jerusalem — has used proxies to attack U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.“ http://t.uani.com/pF29zr 

Reuters: „Tehran on Wednesday slammed a report by a U.N. investigator that said human rights abuses in Iran appear to be increasing and blamed the United States and Europe for the negative assessment of Tehran… Iran’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Eshagh al-Habib rejected the report’s findings, saying the assembly’s decision to appoint a special rapporteur in the first place was the ‚result of a one-sided approach and political ambition of certain countries in particularly the United State and its Europeans allies.‘ ‚The U.S. as the main enemy … of Iran spares no effort to manipulate the international community with fabricated and misleading misinformation,‘ he said, according to the written text of his speech to the General Assembly’s Third Committee, which covers human rights issues.“ http://t.uani.com/peWX4P

Reuters: „Russia fears a U.N. report which is expected to heighten suspicions about Iran’s atomic ambitions could undermine Moscow’s initiative to help resolve a nuclear dispute with Tehran, diplomatic sources said on Wednesday. Russia’s concern about the timing of the U.N. report, due next month, contrasts with the hopes of Western states that the document will strengthen their case to step up pressure on the Islamic state over its nuclear program. Western powers fear Iran is using its nuclear program to develop atomic weapons. Iran says it needs to refine uranium for a planned network of nuclear power plants. Russia’s concerns may be a sign of differences among the six major powers involved in the search for a diplomatic solution to the nuclear row — the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — on how to best approach the Iran issue.“ http://t.uani.com/pshOjE

Terror Plot
NYT: „Obama administration officials on Wednesday denied Iranian news reports that a man charged in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States is actually an agent of an exiled Iranian opposition group. „We note that these reports originate solely with Iranian state media sources, which have a documented history of fabricating news stories,“ said Rhonda H. Shore, a State Department spokeswoman. American officials said they are sure that the man, Gholam Shakuri, is an officer of the Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, as asserted in the criminal complaint unveiled last week by the Justice Department.“http://t.uani.com/pXvu7B


Nuclear Program & Sanctions

FT: „Workers are thin on the ground at Iran’s biggest petrochemical production facility, set in a dedicated economic zone in the port city of Mahshahr in the north of the Gulf. Under a scorching sun, some labourers can be seen sporadically putting down paving in the Petrochemical Special Economic Zone or making asphalted roads. But they are few and far between. Local authorities deny reports by reformist opposition websites that thousands of workers have been on strike for weeks in protest about contract terms, delays in wages and health insurance… Whether there is a strike or not, the nervousness of local officials and lack of activity in Mahshahr strengthen suspicions that Iran’s petrochemical sector is suffering from under-investment and shortage of feedstock that have led to financial problems.“ http://t.uani.com/oueGtZ

Human Rights

BBC: „The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has led Hollywood industry organisations in calling for the release of jailed Iranian film-makers. Six independent documentary makers whose films have appeared on BBC Persian TV were arrested in September. Actress Marzieh Vafamehr has been imprisoned and sentenced to 60 lashes for being in a film critical of Iran. The groups have also condemned the continued house arrest of Jafar Panahi for making a film about Iranian unrest.“http://t.uani.com/opqTo9

AFP: „Iran has sentenced reformist journalist Abdolreza Tajik to six year in prison after he was convicted of propaganda against the regime, the governmental Iran newspaper reported on Thursday. The report said that Tajik was arrested in June 2010 and charged with acting against the national security and propaganda against the regime. He was also charged with collaborating with the Centre for the Defence of Human Rights, a banned organisation founded by Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, according Iran report. It added that Tajik who worked for several reformist newspapers was detained for weeks twice before, once for disrupting public order and propaganda against the regime.“ http://t.uani.com/pdD9yT

Opinion & Analysis

Kim Holmes in WT: „What is the Obama administration’s response to the Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Washington? To ‚work closely with our international partners to increase Iran’s isolation,‘ according to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and unite ‚world opinion‘ against Iran, according to Vice President Joseph R. Biden. There’s only one problem: Iran’s leaders don’t fear Barack Obama or the kind of ‚isolation‘ his administration promises. President Obama thought that softening criticism of Iran and backing off support for Iranians‘ democratic aspirations would make the regime more cooperative. Instead, the regime used this policy to ease international pressure over Iran’s nuclear program and ratchet up repression at home. It responded to Mr. Obama’s belated and muted criticism of its crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in 2009 by rounding up, torturing and killing dissidents, and by accelerating uranium enrichment for nuclear weapons. The administration tried sanctions, but the current crop poses no immediate threat to the regime. The Iranian people, sectors of the economy and even some government factions bridle at them, but not enough to force Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the ’supreme leader,‘ to change policies. And though the U.S. bans trade and investment in Iran, others trade with it to varying extents and buy its oil that bankrolls the regime. Tehran no doubt thinks Mr. Obama can’t get heftier sanctions approved. It expects Russia and China to block any attempt at the U.N. Security Council. It doesn’t expect countries to ban its oil in this tight market. Without international unity, proposed sanctions to strangle its international financial transactions and destroy its currency won’t work. That unity, promised by Mr. Obama’s friendlier outreach to Iran, never materialized. Iran’s leaders don’t expect military force either. Washington already indicated reluctance to exercise that option, despite recent claims it is still ‚on the table.‘ Most of the ‚hard power‘ pressure on Iran is believed to have come from the Israelis. The Stuxnet cyber-attack is mainly responsible for the Iranian nuclear program’s difficulties, but all it did was slow its advancement. The amount of enriched uranium the Iranians have today is greater than before the attack. Sanctions may have restricted imports of specialized steel for centrifuges, but they have not stopped progress in the overall program. If U.S. intelligence supported the Stuxnet attack, it was likely the result of work done in George W. Bush’s presidency. What the Obama administration never understood is that Iran’s leaders never wanted his brand of engagement. The last thing they want is to open up to the West and allow Americans in to bolster democratic opposition. Iran’s leaders fear their own people more than Barack Obama, who in the past made it clear that he was reaching out to the mullahs, not the Iranian people. Now that none of these policies has worked, the administration is flipping to a position of overt hostility. It is caught between what it doesn’t want to do (threaten force against Iran) and what it can’t do (arrange true international diplomatic isolation). About the only way to get the regime’s full attention – short of attack – is to immediately cut off the money flow and bring the Iranian people back to the streets.“ http://t.uani.com/pXghXj

Dorian Jones in Radio Farda: „Tehran has reacted with anger and threats over Ankara’s decision to allow NATO to deploy a radar as part of its antimissile system.Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has condemned the decision, while senior Iranian military commanders and government officials have warned of consequences. ‚This is very serious, this is important for Iran, Iran does not like it,‘ says Iran analyst Jamsid Assadi of France’s Burgundy School of Business. ‚Iran is feeling very much more isolated and in danger. And if for example when I read Iranian press, especially the very conservative ones, they criticize very clearly what’s happening.‘ Ankara’s decision is widely seen as a military and diplomatic victory for Washington, confirming Turkey’s commitment to its NATO partners, over its Iranian neighbor. It’s a turn away from the trend of the past few years, when Turkey’s Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) had prioritized deepening its relations with Tehran as part of its policy of ‚zero problems‘ with its neighbors. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at one point even described Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad as a good friend of Turkey, and criticized Ankara’s Western allies for their tough stance toward Tehran over its nuclear program. But former Turkish diplomat Sinan Ulgen believes the policy of rapprochement has come to an end. ‚I think we can talk about a new phase. So indeed we are entering a period of more realistic assessment,‘ he says. Ulgen adds that ‚obviously the fact that these statements are coming out from Tehran show that there is now an increasing risk of heightened tension between Ankara and Tehran. This is a tension that is inherent in the relationship of Turkey with Iran. It is inherent because of a historical legacy, because of the influence that these countries are trying to have in the region, which pits one against the other.‘ Those inherent tensions were already becoming visible even before the radar-deployment decision. Ankara is increasingly seeking to challenge Tehran’s influence over shared neighbor Iraq. In March, Erdogan made a high-profile visit to Baghdad. But it’s the Arab Spring and Turkey’s positioning itself as a supporter of democracy and even the secular state as a model for the new regimes that poses the greatest threat to Iranian-Turkish relations, none more so than Ankara’s support of the Syrian opposition.“ http://t.uani.com/pqRk8C

Ilan Berman in WT: „The foiled Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, which was made public by the White House on Oct. 11, amounts to a dramatic escalation of the West’s confrontation with Iran. In the wake of the disclosure, the Obama administration has talked tough, pledging new diplomatic pressure against Iran and emphasizing that „all options are on the table“ as it contemplates its response. But what can actually be done about Iran’s clerical army and the radical regime that enables it? The most ready answer lies in the prominent role the IRGC now plays in the Iranian economy, which can be exploited by Washington and its allies in the service of a new economic offensive against the Islamic republic. The groundwork for such a campaign was laid back in October 2007, when the George W. Bush administration took the unprecedented step of listing the IRGC as a „specially designated global terrorist“ under U.S. law. That designation marked only the second time in modern history that Washington had blacklisted the favored military of another nation. (The first was during World War II, when the Roosevelt administration explicitly singled out Hitler’s Waffen SS for punitive action.) It was also potentially far-reaching, providing Washington with the authority to target the various companies and commercial entities controlled by the IRGC and to begin to systematically exclude them from international markets. To date, though, comparatively little has been done on that score. While some sanctions have been levied by the Treasury Department against IRGC-owned businesses, interests and personnel, these restrictions are still far from comprehensive. Europe, too, has not done nearly enough to exclude IRGC-linked enterprises from operating in the eurozone. Nor does the showpiece of American sanctions efforts – the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act signed into law by President Obama last summer – deal extensively with clipping the IRGC’s economic wings. Underlying these lapses is a troubling reality: Neither the United States nor its allies seem to have an authoritative picture of the IRGC’s global economic presence. Because they don’t, economic measures against the Iranian regime’s most powerful economic actor have remained limited… A more aggressive American approach that penalizes multinationals who knowingly engage in commerce with the IRGC can help chill investments that enrich Iran’s most dangerous global actor as well as place serious diplomatic pressure on the regime in Tehran. So could the application by Europe of travel bans, asset freezes and other penalties that make it significantly more difficult for IRGC officials and members to operate freely abroad. A requisite first step, however, is for the United States and its allies to map the width and breadth of the IRGC’s economic empire – and then to move decisively against it. The foiled October terror plot only serves to confirm just how high the potential costs of not doing so could be.“ http://t.uani.com/qzieia

Veröffentlicht am 20. Oktober 2011 in Medien, Meinungen, Politik und mit , , , , , getaggt. Setze ein Lesezeichen auf den Permalink. Kommentare deaktiviert für Eye on Iran: U.S. Fears More Plots from Iran’s Quds Force.

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