OIAC Offers its Condolences for the Passing of The Iranian Music Legend, Andranik Assatourian, to his family, friends and all Iranians across the world.
Celebrating Ando’s Life
By Amir Emadi
The autumn leaves fell when I heard of Ando’s condition a few months ago. But he said something that revived those leaves and floated them back onto my branches as if time had reversed: “if you think this cancer is going to keep me down, you’re terribly mistaken. I have too much work left against the cursed [Iranian] regime.” Ando blessed all of us with his greatest musical talents, dedicating them to the people of Iran and the residents of Camp Liberty in Iraq. They collaborated countless times to write and produce music. He loved his wife and children. His heart was without end, big enough to love everyone as his own blood.
Yesterday, I saw Ando wake for just a moment, and flash a smile at me so bright; you could see it from heaven. His spirit was alive. I felt it. It was the same feeling I got when he’d play us beautiful melodies on the piano or when he’d talk about his fascination with outer space. Today, I learned how heaven saw that smile and called him to join his family and friends. Today, Andranik Assatourian will be remembered for the immense impact he had on a vast number of lives – from famous Iranian artists to commoners like myself. Through his music and his words, Ando taught us all to keep our spirits up and to never stop believing. He was a fighter. He knew as long as he kept fighting, neither the regime of Iran nor death itself could win. Long live those lessons, his spirit, and his legacy until the day Iran is free again.
HRANA News Agency – 21 prisoners in prisons from Adel Abad in Shiraz, Bam, and Bandar Abbas prisons were executed during last 48 hours. State-run sources are silent about these executions.
According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), during last 48 hours, 21 prisoners were executed by hanging in three prisons; Adel Abad in Shiraz, Bam, and Banda Abbas.
During last 48 hours, 9 prisoners with charges of drug related crimes and retributions were hanged in Bandar Abbas prison. Three of them were from ward 1, four of them from ward 7 and 2 from ward 2 of this prison. Names of executed prisoners who have been identified so far are as follows: Sajad Ghochany, 27, from Tehran, Mohammad Gholami, 33, from Tabriz, Mohammad Kazem Yazdani Doboron, 55, from Mashhad, Alireza Razmi, 45, from Bushehr, Mehdi Shahdadi, 31, from Iranshahr, Mosa Nekoei Zadeh, 22, from Bandar Abbas, Ghasem Moradi Zadeh, 35, from Yazd.
Also according to HRANA’s reporter’s information, 9 prisoners were executed in Adel Abad prison, in Shiraz, whose identities is not known yet. They were accused with drug related crimes and retribution.
Execution Of Two More Political Prisoners
Organization of Iranian American Communities- US strongly condemns the execution of two political prisoner brothers, Razgar (Habibullah) and Ali Afshari, 26 and 34 years old, in Orumiyeh. Two brothers were hanged at dawn on Thursday, February 19. OIAC expresses its condolences to the families of the victims and to the People of Kurdistan, especially the young combatants in this region.
OIAC calls on International Communities and the UN Secretary General, the Security Council and all human rights organizations to condemn these brutal executions and to take binding measures against brutal and systematic violation of human rights, and especially to save the lives of other political prisoners facing execution.
Iran Human Rights, February 18, 2014: Three men were hanged in Rajaishahr prison of Karaj (West of Tehran) early Wednesday morning 18. February. According to sources Iran Human Rights (IHR) as been in contact with two of the prisoners were identified as “Mohammad Naderi” and “Mojtaba Shokohi” from the ward 1 of Rajaishahr prison, while the third prisoner was an unidentified Afghan prisoner from Ghezelhesar prison. Mohammad Naderi and Mojtaba Shokohi were convicted of murdering one Revolution Guard Corps general and sentenced to retribution. These executions haven’t been announced by the official Iranian sources yet.
One man was hanged publicly in Shiraz (Southern Iran) yesterday 17. February reported the state run Mehr news agency. He was identified as “M. R. P.” and convicted of murder and Moharebeh for armed robbery said the news.
HRANA News Agency – Despite many reports and speculation regarding the status of Saman Naseem, Sirvan Naxhavi, Ibrahim Shapoori, Ali Afshari, Habihollah Afshari and Younes Aghayan, prisoners of Uremia prison who are facing death sentences and have disappeared since five days ago, the officials are still not providing clear information regarding their status. This behavior caused concerns about the fate of these prisoners.
According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Saman Naseem, Sirvan Naxhavi, Ibrahim Shapoori (Eisa poor), Ali Afshari, Habihollah Afshari and Younes Aghayan have been transferred from their cells to an unknown location, on Wednesday February 18.
Different governments and also UN rapporteurs, alongside with international organizations like International Amnesty and Human Rights Watch repetitively warned about the execution of these people, specifically Saman Naseem who was only 17 when he was arrested, and asked for halting the sentence.
Juvenile Offender Saman Naseem Was Executed
Iran Human Rights
Saman’s family have been told o collect his body on Saturday, according to several independent sources. Despite the international appeals to halt the execution, Saman Naseem was hanged on Thursday. Iran Human Rights (IHR) strongly condemns Saman Naseem’s excution and holds the Iranian authorities’ Supreme leader Ali Khamenei responsible for Saman’s execution.
The Kurdish political prisoner Saman Naseem who was sentenced to death for offences he allegedely committed at 17 years of age, was executed in the prison of Urmia (Northwest of Iran). Iran Human Rights (IHR) reported earlier that Saman’s family were contacted by the authorities yesterday to meet at the prison to collect Saman’s belongings on Saturday. According to several independent sources, Saman’s family have been asked earlier today to collect Saman’s body tomorrow, Saturday 21. February. It is still unclear whether Saman was executed yesterday (Thursday) or today.
Western governments were somewhat alarmed when Khomeini stole the revolution that overthrew the shah in 1979, but strived to make peace with the new tyranny. The regime, however, responded by attacking the U.S. embassy and held 52 diplomats hostage for 444 days.
When Khomeini exported his extremism to Iraq and instigated the war in 1980, the U.S. engaged in shady weapons deals with Iran. Since then, the effects of that revolution more than three decades ago have been felt in the Middle East, by the West and in regions to which the mullahs have exported and supported terrorism. Appeasing the regime has merely emboldened it.
And the White House is still pretending it hasn’t unleashed demons on the country it once could have saved.
Contless memories haunt me after a decade of service in Iraq. Gripping the hands of an assassin-felled member of the provisional government as the life slipped out of her body in 2003; watching al Qaeda’sbeheadings of American hostages in 2004; seeing photos of young Sunni prisoners raped and tortured by Iran-backed Shiite militias serving within the Iraqi police in 2005; and sitting helplessly at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad as news came in of al Qaeda’s 2006 bombing of al-Askari Mosque, one of the holiest sites for Shiite Islam, ushering in the civil war.
But after countless visits to Arlington National Cemetery and Walter Reed Medical Center, nothing upsets me more than the fact that thousands of American soldiers, diplomats, intelligence officers, and contractors are now enabling and emboldening a government in Baghdad that is simply beyond redemption.
This February marks the anniversary of a momentous event in the modern history of democracy and extremism. Protests swept the country and the Shah who lived in tremendous excess and enforced a repressive, unpopular agenda by way of secret police, torture and executions was overthrown.
The 1979 revolution was certainly a time of hope and the Iranian people were grateful for it, defying curfews and taking to the streets, chanting slogans against the Shah’s dictatorship. But these chants turned into chants against the West, against secularism and against anyone who opposed the equally radical and oppressive agenda of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
By usurping the leadership of a genuine revolution seeking freedom, the Ayatollah planted the seeds of Islamic extremism and the foundations of global terror. The Iranian regime has long been a major supporter of terrorism, from the bombing of the U.S. Marine Barracks in Lebanon in 1983, to the Jewish Community Center bombing in Buenos Aires in 1993, to its campaign of terror through its Shiite proxies in Iran since 2003, and to its support for the Assad regime and beyond. But today, the regime’s support of the Assad regime is at unprecedented levels, it has stepped up sponsorship of Shiite militias and deployed troops in Iraq and backs the Houthi militia, which just took over the government in Yemen.
Uncontrolled decadence, secret police, torture, executions, and an agenda opposed by the people of Iran: Those factors are what brought down Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi in February of 1979. More than 36 years later, those conditions remain familiar to Iranians throughout the country and abroad, as the current regime has proven itself to be even more barbaric. Further, the country’s economy lies in shambles as the regime relentlessly pursues a fundamentalist Islamic agenda.
That radical agenda extends the Iranian threat far beyond its own people to neighbors in the region and, ultimately, to the West. Its involvement in Syria and Iraq, with military personnel on the ground, and its assistance to groups such as Hezbollah and, most recently, the Houthi group in Yemen, provide ample evidence of the escalation of Iranian ambitions.
Federal agents in Los Angeles are investigating an L.A. shipping firm and its Iranian-born owner who for years have participated in and promoted an obscure U.S. immigration program — allowing the company to recruit wealthy foreign investors to receive visas and potentially Green Cards, law enforcement sources told ABC News.
The company’s name surfaced in a confidential Department of Homeland Security government document, which raised “concerns that this particular visa program may be abused by Iranian operatives to infiltrate the United States.”
Whistleblowers inside the federal agency that oversees the immigration program told ABC News they have been deeply frustrated by an inability to de-certify the company, even after they became aware of the investigation and saw the company’s name surface in an alarming internal Department Homeland Security memo. The memo, shared with ABC News, outlines concerns that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have attempted to exploit the visa program “to infiltrate the United States.”
Whistleblowers: US Gave Visas to Suspected Forgers, Fraudsters, Criminals
As the White House races to conclude a deal with Tehran on Iran’s disputed nuclear program by a March 24 deadline, the American people should take a moment to consider the party we are trying to negotiate with. Iran is a tyrannical and theocratic regime that is extending its reach across the broader Middle East, exacerbating sectarian conflicts, and fostering opposition to Western interests — all while stringing along the United States and exploiting the Obama administration’s goodwill.
Nonetheless, no one in the international community has yet had the guts to confront Iran’s aggression in the region — including in Iraq and Syria — and its suppression of domestic dissent, including mass murders to enforce its anti-democratic idea of theological purity. We silently acquiesce to these threats and affronts in order to chase a nuclear deal that has eluded us year after year, and which the world wants far more than Tehran does.
Notwithstanding the stacks of evidence of Iran’s role in global and domestic terrorism – including the U.S. State Department’s own designation of Iran as the world’s number one state sponsor of terrorism and Amnesty International’s detailed reporting on shocking levels and methods of executions — the Iranian opposition gives us an insider’s look at the extent of Iran’s brutality. In fact, the National Council of Resistance of Iran offers a political as well as a cultural alternative to Islamic fundamentalism. It is led by a charismatic Muslim woman, Maryam Rajavi, and enjoys broad-based support among Iranians as well as Western politicians and policymakers.
Editor’s note: The following is a transcript of a February 10 interview Zalmay Khalilzad, a member of TNI’s Advisory Council, conducted with an Iranian newspaper. After receiving Khalilzad’s responses, the newspaper elected not to run the interview.In the ISIS crisis, Baghdad has managed to wipe out terrorists from Diyala Province. Yet, the international alliance of 60 countries against ISIS has failed to liberate any key region. Why has the alliance failed?
On the contrary, the coalition has provided critical support that enabled its Iraqi and Syrian partners to contain ISIS and achieve a number of successes: rescuing thousands of Yezidi civilians in Sinjar; retaking the strategic Mosul Dam; retaking Iraqi Kurdish areas initially lost to ISIS; liberating Kobane; and pushing ISIS out of Baiji. The U.S.-led coalition has also supported the Sunni tribes and Iraqi Army across Anbar.
There have been successes by Iran-backed Shiite militias against ISIS in Diyala. However, there are troubling reports that those militias are also committing acts of sectarian cleansing to push Sunnis away from the Iranian border and to punish Sunnis collectively for the crimes of ISIS. If true, such actions will exacerbate Iraq’s problems by increasing sectarian tensions and strengthening Sunni extremism, whether on the part of ISIS or its successors. Moreover, even with successes achieved to date, there is a long way to go to achieve the goal of destroying ISIS.
Over at Mosaic Magazine, former Bush aide Michael Doran claims that the Obama administration has had a secret strategy to engage Iran from the time it took office. He’s right, but he neglected to mention that George W. Bush and his national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice, adopted the same strategy from the same source in November 2006, after the Republicans got crushed in the 2006 congressional elections. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld got a pink slip, Vice President Dick Cheney got benched, and “realist” Robert Gates-the co-chairman of the 2004 Council on Foreign Relations task force that advocated a deal with Iran-took over at Defense. Michael Doran reports all of this, all, that is, except Gates’ central role in the plan. That would place a good deal of the blame at Bush’s doorstep.
When he arrived in Washington in 2006, [Obama] absorbed a set of ideas that had incubated on Capitol Hill during the previous three years-ideas that had received widespread attention thanks to the final report of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan congressional commission whose co-chairs, former secretary of state James Baker and former Indiana congressman Lee Hamilton, interpreted their mission broadly, offering advice on all key aspects of Middle East policy.
The report, published in December 2006, urged then-President Bush to take four major steps: withdraw American troops from Iraq; surge American troops in Afghanistan; reinvigorate the Arab-Israeli “peace process”; and, last but far from least, launch a diplomatic engagement of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its junior partner, the Assad regime in Syria.
While the Obama administration systematically engages Iran as the centerpiece of a Middle East strategy, my distinguished colleague, David Goldman, writes that President George W. Bush adopted a similar strategy after 2006 based on the guidance of Robert Gates, former secretary of Defense.
Relying on the work of Michael Doran, erstwhile Bush aide, Goldman notes that the Iraq Study Group – a bipartisan commission including former Secretary of State James Baker, former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.) and Gates – proposed a diplomatic engagement with Iran “and its junior partner, the [President Bashar] Assad regime in Syria.”
Moreover, the history of this proposal has its origin in a Council of Foreign Relations report written by Gates and Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s national security adviser. In this report, the U.S. is criticized for creating security concerns on Iran’s western border after toppling Saddam Hussain’s Iraqi regime. “By contributing to heightened tensions between the Bush administration and Iran, the elimination of Saddam’s rule has not generated substantial strategic dividends for Tehran. In fact, together with U.S. statements on regime change, rogue states, and preemptive action, recent changes in the regional balance of power have only enhanced the potential deterrent value of a ‘strategic weapon.'”
DUBAI, Feb 3 (Reuters) – Iran is sidestepping Western sanctions and managing to sell hundreds of thousands of tonnes of fuel oil every month through companies based in the U.S.-allied United Arab Emirates, trading sources told Reuters.
The U.S. and EU sanctions that came into force in 2012 prohibit the import, purchase and transport of Iranian petroleum products to pressure Tehran to halt its disputed nuclear programme. Washington has also pressed its allies around the world to clamp down on the shipping of Iranian oil products.
But Tehran has been using innovative methods to circumvent the restrictions, several Middle East-based trading sources said.
They include tankers switching off their tracking systems, ship-to-ship transfers, discharging and loading at remote ports, blending Iranian products with fuels from another source to alter the shipment’s physical specification and selling them with Iraqi-origin documents, the sources said.
The Iranian fuel oil is mainly offered from the UAE port and bunkering hub of Fujairah, through trading firms acting as middlemen for buyers who may not know the cargo is from Iran, the sources said.