So, Who Murdered Nisman?

It’s been nearly three months but nobody has an answer to this question. Based on the fact that Nisman was murdered for his relentless investigation into the AMIA bombing that remains unsolved since 1994, there is a good chance that Nisman’s murder might remain unsolved as well.

Too much evidence points to Tehran’s involvement in this murder as in the AMIA bombing. And yet, the Iranian suspects which include top officials such as former presidents, wannabe presidents, IRGC commanders, cabinet ministers etc…are all far from even being investigated.

The Argentinian government has bungled it up once again: instead of demanding that Tehran comes clean and allows the Iranian suspects to be investigated, the government first dismissed Nisman’s murder as suicide and then accused political opposition of murdering him just to make de Kirchner look bad.

This is the cost of maintaining diplomatic ties with Iran: innocent people die while government officials are forced to cover up.

Iran Recruits Terrorists through Cultural Centers

cultural terroristsIran has been abusing its diplomatic and cultural centers for the sake of strengthening its infrastructure of terrorism and subversion for years…a quick peruse of all my posts on this blog will testify to that.

And now, the mullahs in Tehran are at it again and this time, the abuse is justified in order to pit Jihadist Shi’ite terror against Sunni ISIS terror.

Last week, Sudan closed an Iranian cultural center and gave its members 72 hours to leave the country.

Why? Sudan’s foreign minister: “Lately, it was noticed that the center had violated its mandate and the activities it is allowed to carry out in a way that has become threatening to Sudan’s social and ideological security.” That’s the long version. The short one is this: Sudan chose Sunni Saudi Arabia over Shi’ite Iran.

Up until about two weeks ago, Iran consistently denied being worried about the possible threat of ISIS to Iran although it is next in line after Iraq. In order to deal with the threat of ISIS, Tehran is willing to cooperate with two of its biggest arch-enemies, the US and Saudi Arabia: The US, because it sees itself as the defender of the world against terrorism and Saudi Arabia because ISIS is reported to have been funded (and possibly still be funded) by Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, over in the UK, Tehran is recruiting Shi’ite Jihadists to fight ISIS in Iraq and once again, recruitment is organized through an Iranian cultural center, the Ahlul Bayt Islamic mission (AIM), which published a call for Jihadists on its website: “We must be ready to sacrifice, leave everything behind us and run for the defense of truth and its supporters, representatives, and relics…(to) prepare ourselves spiritually and deserve the honor of defending Islam. Every man must be ready to join the armed forces and every woman must urge the male members of her family to go seek this noble cause and do anything she can to serve this cause … May Allah (SWT) enable us to put our words into actions and to defend Islam and its principles till our last breathe and drop of blood!“. By the way, AIM is managed by one Muhammad Hassan Akhtari who just happens to be one of the founders of Hezbollah and it is believed that AIM is being directed by none other than Khamenei himself.

Hossein Abedini from the National Council of Resistance of Iran is not surprised: “We have had concrete information in the past that the theocratic regime ruling Iran has been recruiting people from European countries and dispatching them to terrorist camps inside Iran for training.” Unlike its Sudanese counterpart, AIM thrives in England and is yet to be shut down.

Last week, Iranian defense minister bragged about Iran’s growing sphere of influence in the world under Khamenei’s word, while the IRGC’s special Quds force chief, Qassem Suleimani, who is responsible for saving Assad’s ass in Syria is reputedly “secretly running” Iraq. Any way you look at it, Iran is getting ready to take on ISIS and is willing to work with the devil to do so.

And if you ask Henry Kissinger, we should be worried more of Iran than of ISIS:  “ISIS is a group of adventurers with a very aggressive ideology. But they have to conquer more and more territory before they can became a strategic, permanent reality. I think a conflict with ISIS — important as it is — is more manageable than a confrontation with Iran“. Somebody must have forgotten to tell Obama about this because he is rushing in to partner with Iran without really understanding that by doing so, he is partnering with Assad/Hezbollah/Quds and will find himself unable to effectively sanction his new-found partners if the nuclear negotiations flounder.

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.

 

 

Tehran’s Zigzag Diplomacy Pays Off

zigzag Zigzaging Away

While Tehran shouted foul over the threat of added sanctions, it was trying to thread every single loophole it could find from day one: continued construction at the heavy-water plant at Arak (November 27th – Zarif), “legitimate” threats of increasing Uranium enrichment to 20% levels (December 18th – Zarif), plans to install new centrifuges for Uranium enrichment (December 27th – Salehi), an upcoming bill in the Majlis that will “forced” enrichment to 60% levels (December 28th – Majlis), a threat to build a bomb just to “put down Israel” (January 6th – Nabavian) etc… In the meantime, Supreme Leader Khamenei called the US “Satan”, adding that the nuclear negotiations were a sign of the “enmity of America”, pitting the US squarely against “Iran, Iranians, Islam and Muslims”. Statements like these are classic reminders of Khamenei’s pre-Rouhani days in which the US was deemed the epitome of the “arrogant powers”, the leader of a “global dictatorship” and a “tyranny of a corrupt and evil network”. Needless to say, these plans and threats did not help to increase levels of confidence between the P5+1 and Tehran. But Tehran is smart enough to understand that confidence is not a goal in itself. It is a double-edged sword tactic: Building confidence creates the right atmosphere to help close a deal but a lack of confidence can intimidate the West in giving up more in order to salvage the deal.

 

Where There is a Will…

In his famous “this century is the century of Islam” speech from January 2012, Khamenei shed some insight into his strategy  on diplomacy: “The battle is a battle of wills. Any side whose will is stronger has the upper hand“. This concept was echoed by none other than President Rouhani himself in a statement reminiscent of Ahmadinejad summing up the Geneva deal as a sign that the world powers had “surrendered to the Iranian nation’s will“. There’s that word again, “will”. The following uproar by the West forced Rouhani to delete his tweet and replace it with a more neutral and diplomatic tweet about “mutual political will” by the US and Tehran to “rapidly solve the nuclear issue”. Mediators were quick to portray the “surrender” tweet as necessary rhetoric aimed to appease hardliners in Tehran and its removal as proof or Rouhani’s real determination to appease the West. Perhaps the opposite is truer: the “surrender” tweet was a glimpse at the real determination of Rouhani to channel the all-powerful Iranian “will” while its deletion was simply rhetoric necessary to appease the West. Did Iran’s will succeed? In the meantime, the answer is a resounding “yes” judging from the facts that the nuclear deal is definitely sweeter on Iran than on the P5+1, that President Obama has vowed to veto any added sanctions and that EU Chief Ashton is planning a trip to Tehran in the coming weeks. This is classic Iranian diplomacy at its most effective: smile and threaten alternatively while strengthening its will to enhance Iran’s sphere of influence in the future.

Earlier articles:

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

http://shadow-diplomacy.com/2014/01/06/with-friends-like-these-iranian-me-diplomacy-part-3/

With friends like these – Iranian Diplomacy in the Middle East (part 1)

gulf eye

Updated from November 4th: “A Bahraini court sentenced four Shi’ite Muslims to life and six others to 15 years in jail on charges of setting up a militant cell linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard that aimed at assassinating public figures in the Gulf Arab kingdom”.

Iran and the Gulf States

It’s no secret that Iran is not only reaching out to the West (a la the recent NYC visit by Hassan Rouhani); it wants to revive and cement friendships closer to home. The big difference between Iran’s efforts in Middle East countries is that they are usually home to large populations of Iranians, Shia worshippers, Iranian investors and/or Iranian diplomats.

The Gulf States are a definite focal point for Tehran.

Two states are currently on particularly good terms with Iran. Oman, which has supported Tehran since the Islamic revolution, is especially key these days: Muscat reportedly served as intermediator in thawing relations between Washington-Tehran, which so far has led to a Rouhani-Obama telephone conversation and a brief bilateral between Zarif-Kerry)). In addition, Qatar has renewed its support since the ascent of Crown Prince Hamad Al Thani – an avid supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and of Assad.

In comparison, relations with the UAE have traditionally been tense. This state of affairs stems both from Abu Dhabi’s strong opposition to Iran’s nuclear program, as well as territorial disputes which keep on flaring up keeping diplomatic relations between Tehran and Abu Dhabi on edge. That leaves Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain – states which all suffer from different levels of shadowy diplomacy and subversion by Iran.

Iranian Spy Ring in Saudi Arabia

In March 2013, Saudi Arabia uncovered an intricate Iranian spy ring working in the country. At first 18 people were arrested and by May, that number had risen to 28 – mostly Saudis but including Iranians and Lebanese nationals.

This spy ring’s mission was to pass on vital information about Saudi Arabia’s strategic military installations as well as information of US installations in the region.

But that isn’t all: Rhiyad further accused Iran of trying to create unrest within the Shiite population in Saudi Arabia as part of an “undeclared war” between the two countries.

Tehran, of course, denied any involvement and called the accusations baseless and blasted back accusations at Saudi Arabia. Iranian diplomats have yet to be connected with this spy ring but Saudi officials are not ruling this possibility out.

An Earlier Spy Ring in Kuwait

Back in 2010, an Iranian spy ring managed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Kuwait was busted. The spy ring (four Iranians, one Kuwaiti, one Syrian – and one Dominican!) and linked to Iranian diplomats – was charged with photographing military bases and planning to carry out terrorist activities, such as blowing up pipelines.

Iran, again, denied the allegations which the foreign minister at the time, Ali Akbar Salehi dismissed as a “conspiracy against Muslim countries” blaming “malevolent (forces) who do not desire good relations between the two countries“.

Kuwait expelled three Iranian diplomats and an embassy employee and the spy ring members were sentenced by a Kuwaiti court to death – later reduced to life sentences.

Bahrain later expelled two top Iranian diplomats for their involvement in the Iranian spy ring in Kuwait, which caused another round of accusations and denials.

It appears, then, that Iran’s exploitation of diplomacy to advance strategic objectives is not relegated to Asia  , Latin America, Europe , Africa  and the Caucasus. Surprise,  surprise

And while Iranian President Rouhani has wasted no time reaching out  to Saudi Arabia, particularly, it remains to be seen whether Tehran’s shadow apparatus will follow suit vis-a-vis Riyadh and the Gulf states in general.

Bosnia Shows Iranian Diplomacy the Door

bosnia

Iranian Diplomats in Bosnia, Jadidi Sohrab & Hamzeh Doolab,  Declared Persona Non Grata

Despite all the fanfare surrounding new Iran President Hassan Rouhani, for the moment it looks as if the West’s closed diplomatic doors to Iran will remain basically shut – at least until the new team delivers on its promises. And so Tehran can be expected to continue searching desperately for windows of opportunity in countries it views as especially vulnerable.

In this context, it should not come as a surprise that Iran often tries its luck in areas boasting local Moslem populations whether they are Shiite or Sunni, in the Balkans or the Caucasus.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that Tehran’s potential “victims” are naïve as to its intentions. Consider Bosnia-Herzegovina, for instance. The historical ties between Iran and Bosnia grew significantly thanks to former Bosnian President (and Islamic fundamentalist) Alija Izetbegovic, reportedly on Tehran’s payroll. It was widely believed that Iran’s influence since then was increasing.

That is, up until a few months ago. In May 2013, two Iranian diplomats, Jadidi Sohrab and Hamzeh Dolab Ahmad, were expelled from Sarajevo  and declared persona non grata for activities “in violation of their diplomatic protocol“. In fact, Sohrab and Ahmad were employed by Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and National Security (MOIS) and were intelligence officers suspected of involvement in subversion activities. A third diplomat, Muhsin Bayat Giashi, was expelled in June 2013 for violating immigration laws. As if to admit its wrongdoing, Tehran apparently has not taken reciprocal measures against Sarajevo.

Bosnia, like other states formed after the breakup of Yugoslavia, seeks to join the EU in the future and has aligned itself with EU policy in a host of areas (despite some lingering difficulties). For some reason, the expelled Iranian diplomats did not understand they were operating in hostile territory. Now they – and their superiors – know better.