Tehran’s Glass House Syndrome

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It starts, as always, with a bang. A rather big bang, that is still heard days later. We’re talking of course on the twin explosions that rocked Beirut on the 19th of October, Killing four people and leaving 38 wounded.

The explosion, which was carried by a car bomb and a motorcycle laden with explosives, targeted an Iranian cultural center, the 2nd time in 3 months that Iranian institutes are attacked in the Lebanese capital.

Although Tehran officials quickly assured that there were no Iranian diplomats or personnel affected by the bombing, it raises a question: Why is Iran being targeted? What makes it and its out-of-country establishments prone to terror attacks?

Well, Iran has been very active as of late in the international front – trying to get back with diplomatic ties with several countries (while discussing Syria). But what might be more important, is the active role that the Islamic republic takes when it comes to the Syrian civil war.

This active role is not simply in the demand Iran is making to be a part of the team that decides on Syria’s future. Iran has been supporting Assad, not only vocally in the news but with military forces going from Iran to the Syrian battlefields.

Although Iran’s efforts at subversion in neighboring countries are not new, their outcries against Al Qaeda and Saudi Arabia, although probably justified, make me think of the saying “people in glass houses should not throw stones”. Or in Tehran’s case, “people who throw stones should live in stone houses and expect to be hurt”.

Iraq to Join Lebanon and Syria

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It seems that, at least for now, the specter of the Iran-Iraq war is buried deep in the past with Iraq’s former dictator Saddam Hussein. And while Iraq has been steadily imploding for the past few years due to internal strife, Iran’s world smile offensive has placed it in a unique position to take the Tehran-Baghdad relationship to the next level – a level which will place Iraq in company with Lebanon and Syria.

Iran is investing in its Northern neighbor – ideologically, militarily and financially. Iraq’s Shia population is a powerful incentive for Tehran’s Islamist regime and such populations usually preclude subversive efforts by Iran such as in the case of Bahrain.

But in the case of Iraq, as in Lebanon and Syria, subversion is supported by military might in efforts to fight Al Qaeda Sunni terrorism operating relatively freely in Iraq.  Essentially, Iran has evolved into a key player in the Iraqi landscape, a terror-infested country that is undergoing a radical change since its dictator has fallen. Right now, Iranian Qods and IRGC forces are involved in fighting in Iraqi territory while Iraq, on its part, is keeping Iran’s interests closely guarded.

And as befits the Rouhani presidency, money is a key issue and Baghdad seems geared to become a business partner for Tehran’s economic ambitions.Iran’s interests in Iraq are mostly economic – it wants to export its gas across the border, since the regime is short on cash. Also, the two countries want to team up and take on the Saudis in the international oil market.

This situation should alarm everyone in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. Iran, riding on waves of its smile diplomacy, is gaining strength, both politically and economically. It wants to sell weapons to Iraq (Iraq Is actually buying weapons from the US) and to expand its control over the region.

Iran’s influence in Lebanon and Syria are long-standing: its influence in Iraq is still in its infancy but Iran needs to take control over Iraq quickly – a weak Iraq will create pockets of unruly terrorism close to Iran and a strong Iraq will place its Sunni might against Shia Iran.

Furthermore, Iraq is much closer to home and fits in with Iran’s world vision of dominating the Middle East. You can expect a lot of Iranian shadow diplomacy in Baghdad in which diplomats and Qods forces will pull strings and set up infrastructures of rule.

 

 

Profitable Amnesia Vis a Vis Iran

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Iranian Smiles and Money produce “Selective Amnesia”

Since the nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1, or some would say since Rouhani got elected, foreign diplomats are rushing to Tehran. It’s as if all the previous allegations and criticism against the Iranian regime were suddenly forgotten.

Why? Either to cash in politically or simply to cash in.

Iranian smiles and the limelight they are in represent twin magnets for many world leaders who wish to share the smiling photo-op limelight, meant for their political home-base as well as their allies and enemies abroad.

But, the “smile limelight” is almost overshadowed by the “mountains” of Iranian Rials that the nuclear agreement promised through renewed trade and drops in sanctions just when the economy is ripe: still low but promising to grow.

For some countries, it’s very simple according to Russian Ambassador to Tehran Levan Dzhagaryan: “We do not recognize the unilateral sanctions of the United States and the European Union regarding Iran, that is why we solely put our national interests first when carrying out trade and economic cooperation with Tehran”.

Since Iran’s influence within Russian territory has never amounted to much they can only win from gain. So whether it’s money or fame, they are rushing for Rials.

But what about other countries that are the targets for a global campaign to export the “Revolution” from Tehran through local Iranian/Shi’ite populations, anti-“imperialistic” (read: US) organizations and Embassy/IRGC/Qods/Hezbollah operatives? Their rush for fame and fortune has led to a selective amnesia of some of the reasons they should not board that plane headed for Tehran.

Italy, is a case in point.

Italians “Forgetting” Local Iranian Subversion

Details of Iran’s subversive involvements in Italy were outlined in an earlier post in November: Iranian diplomats and diplomatic support of local “cultural” projects were leading to active Iranian support for radical anti-establishment political organizations working within Italy against the government.

But when, for the first time in 10 years, an Italian Foreign Minister, Emma Bonino, visited Tehran on December 22nd, there were only smiles for “longstanding” and “strong” ties with Italy, specifically a “good history of cooperation between Iranian and Italian companies“.

Within two weeks a parliamentary delegation headed by Italian Chairman of Foreign Policy Pier Ferdinando Casini flew in promising that “mutual ties could develop in all aspects“.

 Only a week passed by before Italian Minister of Tourism and Culture Massimo Bray visited Iran stating that “Iran and Italy enjoy a long lasting and deep-rooted relationship, adding the two countries share several cultural commonalities” while Zarif ironically added that “The only way to fight [violence and terrorism] is to engage in a cultural action“. Today it is clear that Italy is leading the pack.

It’s obvious none of these people have read our earlier post. Maybe I should translate it to Italian.

Iran in a Bizarro World

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The Bizarro World

The term “Bizarro World“, or Htrae (“Earth” from back to front), is an imaginary planet that was born in a comic book back in the ’60’s but was resuscitated  by  none other than Seinfeld. The Bizarro World is our opposite world where good is bad, up is down, back is front…and terrorist are pacifists.

Reading through some of President Rouhani’s tweets lately made me think that he had temporarily moved to the Bizarro World under a new name, Inahour, and is trying to take us there with him. Although his wishes to present a positive force for change in Iran is admirable, trying to reposition Iran which has been and is still connected to terrorism globally as a symbol of pacifism comes off as a satirical comedy.

Bizarro Free Syria!

Iran is undisputedly the foreign power most involved in the Syrian civil war: Tehran supports Assad militarily, economically and politically with Hezbollah and Iranian troops on Syrian ground, a steady air-convoy of arms to Damascus and billions of dollars in bank guarantees.

But in Bizarro World, Iran was, is and never will be involved in the Syrian civil war.  Here are a couple of quotes straight from the Bizarro World capital, Narhet:

No one except for d ppl of #Syria should determine Syria’s future. Bloodshed must end & states sponsoring  #terrorism should stop their support.”

“Situation in #Syria is devastating. All must unite to put a stop to the fighting & brutal killing that goes on. #WAVE (World Against Violence and Extremism)”.

Deeming accusations of Iran’s involvement through Hezbollah as “preposterous”, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (or Firaz, as he would be called in the Bizarro World) fred Iran of any involvement by simply stating “We are not sending people (to Syria), Hezbollah has made its own decision“.

It’s as if all those Iranian and Hezbollah troops in Syria suddenly seized to exist…as if all those shipment of arms were magically deleted…as if all those Syrian victims by Iranian subversion miraculously had come back to life.

Bizarro Peaceful Terrorism!

Iran’s link to terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas is also undisputed: Iran has been funding, recruiting and training terrorist troops for decades and were Iran to stop doing so, Hezbollah and Hamas would probably fracture into disintegration. But Iran’s link with terrorism is not only through proxy organizations: As can be read in my earlier posts, its elite Quds forces are operational globally and are covered in the blood of civilians.

And yet, in Bizarro World, Iran has no ties with terrorism…at all. It’s as if all the money that is funding terrorist organizations and none of the terrorists attacks outlined in this blog (or even this blog at all) ever existed.

Terrorism will come back to haunt those who sponsor it. If a govt thinks it can topple another govt by supporting terrorist, it’s 100% wrong“.

Some states sponsor terrorism w/aim to increase influence. Not only will they not reach that goal but will suffer terrible consequences“.

And even if there had been a tie between Tehran and Hezbollah in the real world, in Bizarro World, the ties between Narhet and Hallobzeh is nearly non-existent.

With Rouhanis’ WAVE initiative at the forefront, anyone in the Bizarro World might actually believe that Tehran is really and truly disconnected from any form of terrorism and has been disconnected for a while.

The families of the victims of Tehran –backed terrorism must feel relieved to know that their murdered family members are alive and well…in a Bizarro World.

Related:

http://shadow-diplomacy.com/2014/01/21/tehrans-zigzag-diplomacy-pays-off/

http://shadow-diplomacy.com/2013/12/09/irans-diplomatic-duality-in-the-gulf/

http://shadow-diplomacy.com/2013/12/03/zarif-iranian-diplomacy-the-nuclear-deal/