Iran Guards wield electoral power behind scenes

The Revolutionary Guards, a military force over 100,000 strong which also controls swathes of Iran’s economy, is widely assumed to have fixed the vote last time around, silenced those who protested and to be preparing to anoint a favoured candidate this year, having already narrowed down the field.

The successor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who steps down after a second term, will remain subordinate to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. And many see the hand of the Guards, the muscle of the Islamic Republic’s clerical rulers, in steering victory toward one of several conservative loyalists -while stifling the kind of protests that followed the 2009 vote. Continue reading

Gulf sources: “Accidents” to Ahmadinejad, Jalili were attempted assassinations

Twelve days before Iran’s presidential election, stubborn rumors were making the rounds that two “accidents” which took place Sunday, June 2, were in fact attempts on the lives of outgoing Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and a leading presidential hopeful, Iran’s senior nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili. Both escaped unhurt. The rumors pointed the finger of suspicion at supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or his underlings possibly acting on their own. Continue reading

Considering Containment — Report coauthored by former Obama aide suggests containment must be considered

When a country goes nuclear, there is almost no way to contain it. The solution is prevention, and during the last five years weak foreign policy towards Iran hasn’t worked. To see what ‘containment’ of Iran would be like, take a look at how contained North Korea is.

Unlike Kim Jong Un, Ahmadinejad likely wouldn’t hesitate pulling the trigger on Israel, either. They don’t care about losing lives, let alone the entire country from repercussusions, so long as the Mahdi’s return can be quickened.

In hindsight, the Obama administration is, by design, intentionally giving them a free pass under the guise of ignorance — as you don’t make 1000 mistakes in a row and get to be called ignorant. Regardless of what Kahl says, this is an act of counsel and endorsement of containment.

One of the Obama administration’s most senior former Middle East officials says in a report released Monday that the United States needs to develop a plan to contain Iran should it develop a nuclear weapon.

Colin Kahl, who served as Obama’s deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East until December 2011 when he transitioned to the president’s reelection campaign, writes in a new report that “if all else fails” the administration could be forced to “shift toward containment [of Iran] regardless of current preferences.” Continue reading

US withdrawal from Europe-based missile shield will impact Israel’s defense

On March 20, President Barack Obama arrives in Israel for the first foreign trip of his second term. The purpose of his visit is plain, except to Netanyahu’s domestic rivals: Facing a 50 percent cutback in military spending, the Obama administration cannot credibly threaten to go to war against a recalcitrant Iran. But the US president may still wave the Israeli military option in Tehran’s face.Not that the ayatollahs are likely to be impressed. Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have both dismissed talks with Washington “with a gun” at their head, meaning that they are not scared of the Israeli gun the Americans are putting to their heads.

In fact, the Islamic rulers of Tehran are reported by debkafile’s intelligence and Iranian sources to be fully confident that they are home and dry as a nuclear power after a secret US Pentagon research study was leaked that “casts doubt on whether the multibillion-dollar missile defense system planned for Europe” (originally by the Bush administration) “can ever protect the US from Iranian missiles as intended.” Continue reading

Is Venezuela Harboring Hezbollah?

That deadly serious question is increasingly troubling foreign policy and security experts as the South American country and Iran – which funds Hezbollah – move ever closer.

Despite deep cultural differences, a shared antagonism toward the US has drawn Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, into an unlikely political friendship in recent years. Continue reading

Defecting Iranian cameraman brings CIA priceless film of secret nuclear sites

debkafile reveals one of the CIA’s most dramatic scoops in many years, and epic disaster for Iran. Our most exclusive Iranian and intelligence sources disclose that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s personal cameraman, Hassan Golkhanban, who defected from his UN entourage in New York on Oct. 1, brought with him an intelligence treasure trove of up-to-date photographs and videos of top Iranian leaders visiting their most sensitive and secret nuclear and missile sites. Continue reading

Iranian leaders in Israel’s sights after calling for its destruction

This could also be considered a sign with the ongoing turmoil in Syria. Once the  highest ranking leaders start defecting or get picked off, Assad could decide to descend the entire Middle East into chaos.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was cheered by half a million demonstrators in Tehran shouting: Death to Israel! Death to America! when he declared Israel is a “cancerous tumor” that will soon be finished off in the new Middle East. He called “the Zionist regime’s existence an insult to all humanity.”

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said:  “The fake Zionist (regime) will disappear from the landscape of geography,”

And although both were severely rebuked by world leaders for their violent invective, it continued to pour out of Tehran in a comment by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force Chief, Brig. Gen. Amir Hajizadeh who said an Israeli attack would be welcome “as a pretext to get rid of Israel for good.”

Israel’s new Home Defense Minister Avi Dichter laid it out in plain language: While Syria, Lebanon and Gaza confront Israel with a strategic threat, Iran imperils our very existence.

Certain Western intelligence sources were reminded of a speech by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in 2006 when he quoted a Holocaust survivor as saying:  “My main lesson from the Holocaust is that if someone tells you he is going to exterminate you, believe him. And I add to that. Believe him and stop him!”

Six years later, those sources now suggest, after America’s top soldier Gen. Martin Dempsey offered the opinion that Israel can no longer destroy Iran’s nuclear weapon capacity – only delay it , that Netanyahu may be willing to go further: Not only to stop them, but kill them.

They are quietly using the term “decapitation.”

They point to the Israeli Mossad’s long record of targeted covert operations for dealing with past and would-be annihilators: In the fifties, the Mossad captured the Nazi criminal Adolf Eichmann in Operational Finale.

In the seventies, Golda Meir ordered Operation Wrath of God to hunt down and pick off one by one the Palestinian Black September murderers of 11 Israeli sportsmen at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

In February 2008, Iran’s senior terrorist operations commander, Hizballah’s Imad Mughniyeh, was liquidated in Damascus, so ending a bloody career of assassinations, terrorism and abductions against US and other Western targets as well as Israel.

Hizballah’s chief Hassan Nasrallah knows the score: He has spent six years hunkered down in a fortified bunker, taking care never to  broadcast his inflammatory speeches calling for Israel’s destruction live, only by video.

It cannot be ruled out that this point, Israel may decide to disable Iran’s nuclear program by going for its leaders.

Full article: Iranian leaders in Israel’s sights after calling for its destruction (DEBKAfile)

Iran begins construction of $300 million anti-aircraft missile base

New facility near the city of Abadeh will host 7 battalions, says senior commander

Amid increasing talk of a possible Israeli strike on its nuclear facilities, Iran has begun construction of a new, state-of-the-art, anti-aircraft missile base.

The new base, located near the city of Abadeh, in southern Iran, will cost $300 million, be home to 6,000 personnel, and host seven battalions, Iran’s Fars news agency reported Tuesday.

The Deputy Commander of the Khatam ol-Anbia Air Defense Base, Mohammad Hosseini, said the base, the largest of its kind in Iran, will also include one of the most important military training centers in the country.

Also on Tuesday, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiled an upgraded version of a short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile just weeks after it was test-fired, Iranian state media reported.

Iran has also been pushing to upgrade its missiles, which already can target Israel and US bases in the Middle East. The Pentagon released a report in June noting significant advances in Iranian missile technology, acknowledging that the Islamic Republic has improved the accuracy and firing capabilities of its missiles.

Iran’s purported military advancements are impossible to independently verify because the country does not release technical details of its arsenals or rely on equipment from major international defense contractors.

Full article: Iran begins construction of $300 million anti-aircraft missile base (The Times of Israel)

Ahmadinejad: Iran Can Go Years with No Oil Sales

Iran can survive for years without selling oil, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed Tuesday, according to Fars news. “Even if we didn’t sell oil for two to three years, the country would manage easily,” he said.

The European Union is planning to ban Iranian oil in an attempt to pressure Ahmadinejad to drop the country’s nuclear program.

Full article: Ahmadinejad: Iran Can Go Years with No Oil Sales (Arutz Sheva)

Khamenei: Syria’s Anti-Israel, So We’ll Defend It

“Iran will defend Syria because of its support for the anti-Zionist regime resistance,” Khamenei was quoted as having said as he received Erdogan in the northeastern city of Mashhad.

The supreme leader reiterated Tehran’s staunch rejection of foreign intervention in Syria, saying, “We are strongly opposed to any interference by foreign forces in the internal affairs of Syria… the reforms which have begun there should continue.”

Full article: Khamenei: Syria’s Anti-Israel, So We’ll Defend It (Arutz Sheva)

Turkey voices support for Iran nuclear programme

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on thursday expressed his support of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. In a statement issued by Ahmadinejad’s office, Erdogan was quoted as saying: “The government and nation of Turkey has always clearly supported the nuclear positions of the Islamic republic of Iran, and will continue to firmly follow the same policy in the future.”

Ahmadinejad thanked Turkey for its “clear and frank” stance on the issue, the statement added.

Full article: Turkey voices support for Iran nuclear programme (Ahram Online)

Iran threatens N. Israel with bombardment from Lebanon

Tehran is capitalizing on its allies’ two perceived victories: Bashar Assad’s success in seizing Idlib from rebel hands and the Palestinian Jihad Islami’s triumphal missile assault from Gaza on southern Israel. The Iranians are moving forward with plans to match that assault with a Hizballah offensive on northern Israel from Lebanon. This was the object of a rendezvous opposite Metulah Wednesday, March 14, between a high-ranking Iranian delegation headed by Ahmadinejad’s spokesman Ali Akbar Javanfekr and Hizballah intelligence officers.

Full article: Iran threatens N. Israel with bombardment from Lebanon (DEBKAFile)

Khamenei allies trounce Ahmadinejad in Iran election

Clerical Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has tightened his grip on Iran’s faction-ridden politics after loyalists won over 75 percent of seats in parliamentary elections at the expense of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a near-complete count showed.

The widespread defeat of Ahmadinejad supporters – including his sister, Parvin Ahmadinejad – is expected to reduce the president to a lame duck after he sowed divisions by challenging the utmost authority of Khamenei in the governing hierarchy.

Full article: Khamenei allies trounce Ahmadinejad in Iran election (Reuters)

Iran’s nuclear, terror offensives meet slow US-Israeli responses

Shrugging off Western sanctions and Israeli recriminations, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad played a starring role in a widely televised spectacle by inserting his country’s first domestically-made fuel rod into the Tehran Research Reactor Wednesday, Feb. 15. The scene came after the announced cutoff of Iranian oil exports to six European countries – Netherlands, Spain, Italy, France, Greece and Portugal. Two hours later, the Iranian oil ministry challenged the announcement, spoiling the show by attesting to differences in high regime ranks.

By this show, Tehran thumbed its nose at Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s call on the world Wednesday to set red lines for Iran’s nuclear program and denounce its terrorist activity. “If Iran’s aggression is not halted, it will ultimately spread to other countries,” he told the Knesset.

Tehran paused only briefly in its multi-pronged offensive to deny Israeli charges of an Iranian hand behind the bombing attacks on its diplomats in New Delhi, Bangkok and the Georgian capital of Tbilisi this week, in which an Israeli woman was injured.

Full article: Iran’s nuclear, terror offensives meet slow US-Israeli responses (DEBKAfile)

What Does the Ayatollah Want?

Last year a CD was widely distributed within Iran, titled The Appearance Is Imminent. From this CD we learn that the Mahdi is soon to appear. The CD also suggests that the Ayatollah Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad are the Mahdi’s helpers. Atousa Bayan, writing on balatarin.com, tells us the CD was “widely criticized” and that Iranian clerics and officials admonished the people who produced it, “and distanced themselves from the program.” However, wrote Bayan, “[T]wo important people did not react to the whole debacle – Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.” Bayan went on to site a prominent Qom cleric who insisted on “the story of a miracle in which witnesses said that at the time of his birth, Ayatollah Khamenei uttered the name of Imam Ali.” Such claims, according to Bayan, show “the deteriorating image of clerics who would resort to telling unfathomable stories in order to create an air of sanctity around Iran’s Supreme Leader, a man bestowed with unlimited and unchecked power….”

In 2008 The Middle East Quarterly offered an article by Mohebat Ahdiyyih, titled Ahmadinejad and the Mahdi. According to Ahdiyyih, “After the 1979 revolution, the Islamic Republic incorporated the idea of Mahdism into its complex system of governance.” In this concept, the government of Iran and its top leaders are, by definition, “representatives of the Madhi in the ‘first government of God’ on earth.” In fact, the Iranian parliament is allowed to exist only insofar as its deputies offer their “services to [the] Lord of the Age [the Mahdi], may God speed his blessed appearance.” Since the first days of Ayatollah Khomeini’s regime, officials of the Iranian government paid lip service to the Madhi. Ahmadinejad and Khamenei are not the first Iranian leaders to pose as harbingers of the messiah. They have merely brought this belief front and center.

Full article: What Does the Ayatollah Want? (JR Nyquist)