Category Archive 'Iran'
09 Aug 2016

Still a Ransom, Even If You Call It Something Else

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ObamaRansomCartoon

Jay Solomon and Carol E. Lee reported on the Obama Administration’s hypocrisy in the Wall Street Journal.

The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran, according to U.S. and European officials and congressional staff briefed on the operation afterward.

Wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies were flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane, according to these officials. The U.S. procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland, they said.

The money represented the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration reached with Iran to resolve a decades-old dispute over a failed arms deal signed just before the 1979 fall of Iran’s last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

The settlement, which resolved claims before an international tribunal in The Hague, also coincided with the formal implementation that same weekend of the landmark nuclear agreement reached between Tehran, the U.S. and other global powers the summer before.

“With the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well,” President Barack Obama said at the White House on Jan. 17—without disclosing the $400 million cash payment.

Senior U.S. officials denied any link between the payment and the prisoner exchange. They say the way the various strands came together simultaneously was coincidental, not the result of any quid pro quo.

“As we’ve made clear, the negotiations over the settlement of an outstanding claim…were completely separate from the discussions about returning our American citizens home,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said. “Not only were the two negotiations separate, they were conducted by different teams on each side, including, in the case of The Hague claims, by technical experts involved in these negotiations for many years.”

But U.S. officials also acknowledge that Iranian negotiators on the prisoner exchange said they wanted the cash to show they had gained something tangible.

Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas and a fierce foe of the Iran nuclear deal, accused President Barack Obama of paying “a $1.7 billion ransom to the ayatollahs for U.S. hostages.”

“This break with longstanding U.S. policy put a price on the head of Americans, and has led Iran to continue its illegal seizures” of Americans, he said.

Since the cash shipment, the intelligence arm of the Revolutionary Guard has arrested two more Iranian-Americans. Tehran has also detained dual-nationals from France, Canada and the U.K. in recent months.

Read the whole thing.

19 Jan 2016

Why Were US Boats Near Farsi Island?

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Saudi-Iran-maritime-delinea

J.E. Dyer suggests that those riverine command boats were exposed to capture by Iran’s revolutionary guards because they were traveling a route intended to avoid Saudi waters.

The routine expectation that archipelagic transit will be accommodated by littoral states is a bedrock principle of the Law of the Sea. The Saudis may have had particular reasons over the years to be wary of extending that accommodation to some parties in the Persian Gulf. But that’s not a mitigating factor for a sea change in expectations that affects the United States, of all nations.

If this is why we took an especially dangerous route to move small boats around in the Gulf, it’s a very bad portent for the international order. The Law of the Sea itself falling apart is a key development that means we’re already in a world war, whether it’s been formally declared, in Westphalian style, or not.

I note, for completeness, that the CENTCOM news release isn’t convincing on the valid question of how 10 Navy sailors could possibly have exhibited the uniquely bad seamanship implied by the official explanation. It remains extremely unlikely that they failed to notice a navigation error taking them into Iranian waters. One mechanical error – earlier disavowed by DOD, now resurrected – between two boats doesn’t so absorb the attention of two boat drivers and two navigators that everyone strays off course.

But it looks like it’s “interesting times” for the U.S. Fifth Fleet today. If, as seems probable, there are important things we’re not hearing about the collapse of the status quo in the Gulf, those things are bound to be affecting maritime operations there. The situation is only going to get worse.

16 Jan 2016

More From Matt Bracken

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iranbracken

Posted at Gates of Vienna:

I think that the take-down happened in international waters. The Iranians would have known to the minute when the boats were leaving Kuwait, and their probable course to Bahrain, so an intercept would be simple. They know our ROE would be “Do not shoot EVER unless you are fired upon first. PERIOD!!!”

So, if the Iranians jam our boats so they cannot communicate, and then swoop in close, it’s almost a guaranteed outcome. They KNOW we won’t shoot first! So by coming in closer and closer with weapons aimed at our sailors, overwhelming them with numbers at point-blank, then on loudspeaker they say, “Step away from your weapons or we will slaughter you!” At that point, it’s a fait accompli. Once our sailors step back from their guns, it’s over. Next, “Take off your jackets and weapons” etc, until they are in t-shirts only. Then “Kneel down!”

Step by step they get their way, based on a deep understanding of our ROE and our responses at every stage. Once they have control of our boats, they can drive them to Farsi Island, and remove every single GPS device, radar, cell phone etc. Then, there can be no proof of where the attack happened. And worst of all, Obama and Kerry are happy to go along with the lie, in order not to upset the nuclear deal applecart.

15 Jan 2016

Iran & US State Department Are Lying

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US-Sailors

Matthew Bracken comments on a Rick Moran American Thinker post:

I rarely pull out my dusty old trident, but in this case, here goes. I was a Navy SEAL officer in the 1980s, and this kind of operation (transiting small boats in foreign waters) was our bread and butter. Today, these boats both not only had radar, but multiple GPS devices, including chart plotters that place your boat’s icon right on the chart. The claim by Iran that the USN boats “strayed into Iranian waters” is complete bull$#it.

For an open-water transit between nations, the course is studied and planned in advance by the leaders of the Riverine Squadron, with specific attention given to staying wide and clear of any hostile nation’s claimed territorial waters. The boats are given a complete mechanical check before departure, and they have sufficient fuel to accomplish their mission plus extra. If, for some unexplainable and rare circumstance one boat broke down, the other would tow it, that’s why two boats go on these trips and not one! It’s called “self-rescue” and it’s SOP.

This entire situation is in my area of expertise. I can state with complete confidence that both Iran and our own State Department are lying. The boats did not enter Iranian waters. They were overtaken in international waters by Iranian patrol boats that were so superior in both speed and firepower that it became a “hands up!” situation, with automatic cannons in the 40mm to 76mm range pointed at them point-blank. Surrender, hands up, or be blown out of the water. I assume that the Iranians had an English speaker on a loudspeaker to make the demand. This takedown was no accident or coincidence, it was a planned slap across America’s face.

Just watch. The released sailors will be ordered not to say a word about the incident, and the Iranians will have taken every GPS device, chart-plotter etc off the boats, so that we will not be able to prove where our boats were taken.

The “strayed into Iranian waters” story being put out by Iran and our groveling and appeasing State Dept. is utter and complete BS from one end to the other.

15 Jan 2016

Why Was the US Navy Humiliated by Iran?

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Navy video illustrates lots of weaponry and boasts that Riverine Command Boats “pack a punch.”

What exactly is a Riverine Command Boat?

Old Salt Blog has the answer:

The Riverine Command Boat (RCB) is a design based on the Swedish Combat Boat 90. It is a highly maneuverable water-jet powered shallow-draft vessel that can operate at speeds of up to 40 knots. The design has been adopted by navies around the world. The Swedish Navy has 150 of the boats in service while Mexico has 48, Norway 20 and Malaysia 12, the US 6 and the UK 4.

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How are they armed?

The Washington Post noted:

In a number of pictures released by the U.S. Navy, the boats are outfitted with a number of light, medium and heavy weapons including .50 caliber heavy machine guns and GAU-19 miniguns.

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Nate Hale asks the obvious questions.

[T]here are a few serious questions surrounding the incident that remain unanswered. The two patrol boats (actually, Swedish-built CB-90s) were transiting from Kuwait to Bahrain when one (or both) of the vessels suffered a mechanical breakdown. Eventually, the boats drifted into Iranian territorial waters near Farsi Island, where they were detained by members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

The most direct route from Kuwait to Bahrain is along the western side of the Persian Gulf; Farsi Island is more centrally located. If the boats were following a direct route, they must have drifted for some time before reaching the Iranian-controlled island. If only one vessel was affected by the engineering casualty, why didn’t the second boat take it under tow? Why weren’t additional assets–including airpower–dispatched by 5th Fleet Headquarters in Bahrain? The presence of Navy helicopters and F/A-18s overhead might have caused the Iranians to think twice.

And what about distress calls from the CB-90s to Navy command elements? Early reports suggested the Navy “lost track” of its assets. Perhaps someone can explain why the vast surveillance assets of the United States Navy couldn’t maintain radio and/or radar contact with a pair of patrol boats–or provide warning of Iranian activity. Major surface combatants (along with airborne assets) give the Navy an impressive SIGINT capability on the high seas; assuming we were tracking Iranian activities, it would be nice to know what information commanders had as the episode unfolded and how it impacted their decision-making.

There are also issues involving the commander of the boat element, believed to be the junior officer who issued the on-camera apology. Why did he offer no resistance when the Iranians began boarding his craft. Article II of the U.S. Military Code of Conduct states “I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they have the means to resist.” A CB-90 is heavily armed, with .50-caliber machine guns, GAU-19 mini guns and individual weapons for the crew. Obviously, no officer wants to see his command slaughtered; on the other hand, would it have been possible for the crew to resist, particularly with air support?

It’s also worth asking about the level of involvement by senior officials in Washington. Press accounts suggest that Secretary of State John Kerry was involved in the earliest contacts with Iran and spoke with his counterpart in Tehran no long after the sailors were detained. That quick response suggests the White House and State received early notification of the incident (reflecting the desired level of coordination). But it also begs another essential question: were senior officials micro-managing the episode from Washington, and decided early on to avoid a confrontation with Tehran at all costs.

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Investors Business Daily calls for a congressional probe of the incident.

How can an advanced, ultra-agile U.S. combat boat suffer a “navigation error” that leads to a terrorist state capturing its sailors? Tehran just revealed military ineptitude warranting a congressional probe.

The Swedish-designed Combat Boat 90 can make the sharpest of turns at high speed, stop nearly on a dime, maneuver like magic and, with its Rolls-Royce jet-propulsion system, can speed along at over 45 miles an hour in rivers and shallow coastlines while transporting 18 amphibious troops.

But what good is any of that if it falls into enemy hands?

There is something fishy about how such a high-tech U.S. craft can “stray accidentally into Iranian waters due to a navigation error,” as Defense Secretary Ash Carter described it on Thursday to Univision. The Pentagon had previously claimed engine trouble for an incident that’s humiliated the U.S., as Iranian video showed to the world 10 American sailors on their knees at gunpoint.

A retired operations commander for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, Christopher Harmer, told CNN the capture constituted “a severe failure,” charging that “either the naval leadership put these sailors in an impossible situation, or the sailors are professionally incompetent.” Harmer has researched the increased lethality of Iran’s submarine fleet for the Institute for the Study of War.

That one of the sailors would appear in an Iranian video apologizing may have actually violated the military’s Code of Conduct, which requires that a detainee give name, rank, serial number and age, but “evade answering further questions” and “make no oral or written statements disloyal” to his country “and its allies or harmful to their cause.”

Harmer told the Washington Times, “the U.S. Navy looks extraordinarily incompetent. … In its ability to transit boats without violating Iranian waters, they look incompetent to know how to deal with a mechanical malfunction, and now that they’ve been taken into custody, they’re apologizing.”

Harmer told CNN there was “no reason for a small vessel to be out that far and especially without escorting ships around it,” and “the Navy has to explain why you have small ships transiting 300 miles of open ocean.”

14 Jan 2016

Mystery of the Sea

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IranBoat

05 Nov 2015

Those Who Don’t Learn From History Are Likely to Be Compelled to Repeat It

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Putin6

ISIS taking credit for downing that Russian airliner in the Sinai caused John Hinderaker to recall the same events from the 1980s, back when Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists were kidnapping Western diplomats in Beirut. They took the American CIA station chief, William Francis Buckley, then turned him over to the Iranians who tortured him for fifteen months until he died in captivity. Then they kidnapped some Russian diplomats…

I dimly remembered a news story from several decades ago that also involved Arab terrorism, and found it via Google. Here it is, from 1986:

    The KGB has adopted novel, brutal and apparently effective methods of dealing with terrorists who attack Soviet interests in the Middle East, an Israeli newspaper reported Monday.

    The Jerusalem Post said the Soviet secret police last year secured the release of three kidnaped Soviet diplomats in Beirut by castrating a relative of a radical Lebanese Shia Muslim leader, sending him the severed organs and then shooting the relative in the head.

    The incident began when four Soviet diplomats were kidnaped last September by Muslim extremists who demanded that Moscow pressure the Syrian government to stop pro-Syrian militiamen from shelling rival Muslim positions in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli.

    The militiamen, the Jerusalem paper said, did not cease their attacks, and the body of one of the Soviet diplomats, Arkady Katkov, was found a few days later in a field in Beirut.

    The KGB then apparently kidnaped and killed a relative of an unnamed leader of the Shias’ Hezbollah (Party of God) group, a radical, pro-Iranian group that has been suspected of various terrorist activities against Western targets in Lebanon.

    Parts of the man’s body, the paper said, were then sent to the Hezbollah leader with a warning that he would lose other relatives in a similar fashion if the three remaining Soviet diplomats were not immediately released. They were quickly freed.

    The newspaper quoted “observers in Jerusalem” as saying: “This is the way the Soviets operate. They do things–they don’t talk. And this is the language Hezbollah understands.”

Arab terrorists never again, to my knowledge, tried to kill or kidnap Russians in the Middle East.

04 Aug 2015

Civilian Purposes

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IsraeliCivilians

27 Jul 2015

What Barack Obama’s Iran Deal Accomplishes

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IranBefore&After

17 Jul 2015

Negotiations Went Smoothly

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DeathtoAmerica

07 Jun 2015

John Kerry’s Bike Accident a Cover Story?

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KerryBicycle

We all read that poor John Kerry broke his leg recently, bicycling at age 70 near the French border, then winding up in a hospital in Geneva before being flown home to Massachusetts General at the expense of the US taxpayer.

But the Jerusalem Post reported subsequently that the Iranian media exploded this week with stories claiming that Kerry was actually shot in the course of a meeting with ISIS representatives that turned out to be an assassination attempt.

The latest Iranian report, first published by the Nasim news agency and subsequently picked up by dozens of Iranian news sites, based its information on “an American news website” which cites a Russian foreign intelligence service report as the source of the information.

According to the report in Nasim, Kerry secretly met with one of the leaders of Islamic State on Sunday. The meeting eventually led to an armed clash and an attempt to assassinate the US secretary of state.

Kerry’s meeting, in which the alleged assassination attempt took place, was with Gulmurod Khalimov, a senior Tajik police commander, trained in the United States, who announced his defection to Islamic State in a video released last week, the report states.

Having received training from the US State Department previously, Khalimov was well aware of State Department security procedures and he used the knowledge to get another member of his entourage into the secret meeting with Kerry, with the intention of assassinating him, the report claims.

The report cited communications intercepted by Russian intelligence from France, the US and Switzerland as confirming that two other people were shot in the incident, one of them fatally.

The story of Kerry breaking his femur in a bicycle accident in Switzerland was then concoted to hide the real source of his “grave injuries,” according to the report.

I don’t see DEBKAfile confirming this one though.

21 Feb 2015

DEBKAfile: Nisman was Killed By Iran in Cahoots With Kirchner Regime

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Nisman
Natalio Alberto Nisman, 1963-2015

DEBKAfile, the Mossad mouthpiece, claims to have the inside story on the assassination last month of Argentone prosecutor Natalio Nisman by a supposed Iranian defector.

A special investigation conducted by debkafile’s intelligence, Iranian and counter-terror sources has discovered that the Argentine-Jewish prosecutor Natalio Alerto Nisman, 51, was murdered on Jan. 18 by an Iranian agent, who had won his trust by posing as a defector under the assumed name of Abbas Haqiqat-Ju. His killer struck hours before Nisman showed the Argentine parliament evidence that President Cristina Kirchner and Foreign Minister Hector Timerman had covered up Iran’s complicity in the country’s worst ever terrorist attack, the 1994 bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish community center in which 85 people died, two years after 29 people were killed by a blast at the Israeli embassy.

Nisman’s evidence had it been presented would have ultimately proved Iran’s culpability in the two terrorist attacks. …

Nisman had made the powers-that-be in Tehran jittery, because a) he was ambitious, honest and a courageous searcher after the truth; b) he was Jewish and had active connections with Israel; and c) in pursuit of his inquiry, he spread his net wide to include contacts with the Israeli Mossad and the American CIA.

Furthermore, in 2006, after three years on the job, the prosecutor had put together an intelligence file on the unbelievable scope of Iranian intelligence penetration, using Lebanese Hizballah agents, deep into the government and intelligence establishments of many Latin American countries – not only Argentina, but also Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Surinam, Trinidad-Tobago and Guyana. …

Iran’s security organs are no strangers to political assassination at home and among its exile communities, in such places as France, Austria and Germany.

But at first, they tried to win the Argentinean round by bribery, which had always worked before in Buenos Aires. For $10 million, Carlos Saul Menem (Argentine president from 1989 to 1999) and his minions agreed to close the investigation of the two terrorist bombings in its tracks.

Tehran handled President Kirchner differently. She was promised economic and trade benefits for Argentina, along with financial perks for government and intelligence heads.

debkafile’s Buenos Aires sources report that, at first, Kirchner feared that Nisman’s sudden demise would bring her under suspicion at the cost of her presidency. But Tehran assured her through their private channels of communication that the deed would be accomplished cleanly without leaving the slightest trace.

Read the whole thing.

03 Oct 2014

Andrew Sullivan’s Foreign Policy

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andrew-sullivan
Andrew Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan (who has never been a US citizen, and who has escaped criminal conviction and consequent deportation only through blat), nonetheless, editorializes about Americans in the plural including himself (“We War-Loving Americans“), and makes a personal specialty of prescribing US Foreign Policy, often vigorously denouncing the decisions in that area made by mere elected presidents.

Despite Andrew’s long-demonstrated canine love for Barack Obama, Obama’s recent decision to bomb ISIS has seriously offended Andrew’s Neville-Chamberlain-esque principles, and the Chosen One is coming in for a stern scolding these days from his disappointed admirer.

One particularly penetrating observation leapt out at me. After airily asserting that defeating the Sunni Insurrection was beyond our powers, Andrew advised allowing the Middle Eastern atrocities to proceed. In his view, the successful erection of the new Caliphate would have no consequences affecting Europe or the United States, and would naturally simply diminish to the status of a “regional conflagration.” If (and when) Iran proceeded to intervene in the conflict, we should hope “both sides lose,” and perhaps “intervene from a distance” (which must mean: bomb). According to Andrew: “Our real interest is in bolstering the one stable power in the region, which is Iran.”

Now, there is foreign policy analysis at its finest. The same United States which defeated the German Army and the Japanese Navy cannot possibly defeat 10,000 sand monkey belligerents armed with AKs and driving new Toyotas. And our real interest (who knew?) lies in supporting the Shiite fanatics and long-time sponsors of terrorism in Iran who have made hatred of America and the West their regime’s very raison d’être since the time of Jimmy Carter.

IranHangings
How Andrew’s most admired regime maintains its stability.

04 Mar 2014

How They Used to Deal With Islamic Extremists

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Persian soldiers pose with the straw-stuffed heads of Turkmen chiefs delivered to Tehran, c. 1911 source: Wikimedia commons.

Via Fred Lapides.

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