When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sat down for an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network in a hotel in Jerusalem earlier this month, he made a remark that was perhaps the most revelatory of any in his nearly one year in office. An evangelical Christian, Mr. Pompeo had just returned from tours of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built on the ground where Jesus is said to have been crucified and buried, and of tunnels beneath the Western Wall, by the holiest site in Judaism. The interviewer posed a question around a biblical tale about a queen who saved Jews from slaughter by a Persian official: Did Mr. Pompeo think President Trump had been “raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from the Iranian menace?” “As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible,” Mr. Pompeo said. “It was remarkable — so we were down in the tunnels where we could see 3,000 years ago, and 2,000 years ago, if I have the history just right — to see the remarkable history of the faith in this place, and the work that our administration’s done, to make sure that this democracy in the Middle East, that this Jewish state, remains. I am confident that the Lord is at work here.” White evangelical Christians are a powerful force in the Republican Party. Vice President Mike Pence is a staunch believer and former President George W. Bush is an adherent, too.
The White House has pushed forward a secret program to sabotage Iranian missiles and rockets as part of a campaign to undercut Iran's military, according to administration officials in a report by the New York Times.
As Iranian people struggle for democracy and respect for human rights and the rule of law, as well as preserving the national security and territorial integrity of their country, two main groups have emerged among the opposition to Iran’s hardliners, both within Iran and in the diaspora. One group, the true opposition that includes the reformists, religious-nationalists, secular leftists, various labor groups, human rights activists, and others, believes that it is up to the Iranian people living in Iran how to change the political system in their country. This group is opposed to foreign intervention, particularly by the United States and its allies, the illegal economic sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran, and the constant threats of military confrontation espoused by John Bolton, President Trump’s national security advisor, and other Iran hawks.
Relations between the two countries, long bound by common interests in oil and security, have strained over what some analysts see as a more assertive Saudi foreign policy.
Upon securing most of its war goals in Syria, Iran appeared to shift its objectives toward establishing a military presence in that country while upgrading Hezbollah's fire precision and effectiveness in Lebanon. But once its Syrian facilities came under increased Israeli fire, Tehran began moving some of these activities into Lebanon, knowing that Israeli strikes would be more complicated there due to the escalation potential. Yet the prospect of Hezbollah acquiring or producing advanced "precision" weapons is Israel's main redline, and could put the parties on a collision course that leads to conflict in Lebanon. This new Policy Note by TWI experts Katherine Bauer, Hanin Ghaddar, and Assaf Orion examines Tehran's objectives, Russia's regional goals, and the way these translate to long-term threats and short-term risks for Israel. If Hezbollah continues working on precision missiles inside Lebanon, Israel may feel compelled to respond one way or another. To avoid a disastrous escalation, the international community will need to plan ahead and take concerted action on several fronts: UNIFIL's shortcomings, increased sanctions on Iran's commercial airlines, U.S. aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces, ministries headed by Hezbollah officials, and State Department transparency regarding its intelligence on Iran's activities in Lebanon.
An Iranian Kurdish rebel group is the latest faction to jump on Washington’s anti-Tehran bandwagon. The Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan, an armed group with communist origins exiled in northern Iraq, registered with the Justice Department late last month as a lobby aiming to “establish solid and durable relations” with the Donald Trump administration. The registration hints at a more public role for a group that has left a digital track record of foreign advocacy on Capitol Hill dating back several years.
Less than a month after Iran’s consulate in Basra was attacked, a group of terrorists claiming to be members of the Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz attacked a military parade in the capital of Iran’s Khuzestan province, killing 25 people and wounding many more. When the Basra consulate incident took place , some commentators in Iran speculated that the attackers also wanted to target Khorramshahr and Abadan. Now it seems that they were not too wrong.
During his State of the Union address on January 29, 2002, President George W. Bush named Iran as one of three countries forming an “axis of evil.” The other two were North Korea and Iraq. According to Bush and his neocon backers, these three nations posed a threat to our security and the security of our allies. They “sponsor terror” and are actively seeking or already in possession of weapons of mass destruction with which to “threaten world peace.” ...
The State Department’s Iran Action Group will mostly focus on “nukes, terrorism, and the detention of American citizens.” […] Hook said the group’s work will center on the 12 demands made of Iran by Pompeo in a speech in May, adding that the focus will mostly be “around nukes, terrorism, and the detention of American citizens arbitrarily detained.” In that speech, Pompeo warned “of unprecedented financial pressure in the form of the strongest sanctions in history” if Tehran did not comply with the U.S. demands.
In the past few days, the Internet has been flooded with a frankly silly rumor about the US soliciting Australia’s assistance in preparing an attack on Iran. Needless to say, that report does not explain what capabilities Australia would possess which the US would lack, but never-mind that. […] In one of these reports, Eric Margolis has described what such a US attack could look like. It is worth quoting him in full: …