Posts Tagged ‘Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’

Trump weighing aggressive Iran strategy — More than 80 experts urge Trump not to abandon Iran nuclear deal

September 14, 2017
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WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – President Donald Trump is weighing a strategy that could allow more aggressive U.S. responses to Iran’s forces, its Shi’ite Muslim proxies in Iraq and Syria, and its support for militant groups, according to six current and former U.S. officials.

The proposal was prepared by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and other top officials, and presented to Trump at a National Security Council meeting on Friday, the sources said.

It could be agreed and made public before the end of September, two of the sources said. All of the sources are familiar with the draft and requested anonymity because Trump has yet to act on it.

RELATED: US-Iran relations through time

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In contrast to detailed instructions handed down by President Barack Obama and some of his predecessors, Trump is expected to set broad strategic objectives and goals for U.S. policy but leave it to U.S. military commanders, diplomats and other U.S. officials to implement the plan, said a senior administration official.

“Whatever we end up with, we want to implement with allies to the greatest extent possible,” the official added.

The White House declined to comment.

The plan is intended to increase the pressure on Tehran to curb its ballistic missile programs and support for militants, several sources said.

“I would call it a broad strategy for the range of Iranian malign activities: financial materials, support for terror, destabilization in the region, especially Syria and Iraq and Yemen,” said another senior administration official.

The proposal also targets cyber espionage and other activity and potentially nuclear proliferation, the official said.

The administration is still debating a new stance on a 2015 agreement, sealed by Obama, to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The draft urges consideration of tougher economic sanctions if Iran violates the 2015 agreement.

The proposal includes more aggressive U.S. interceptions of Iranian arms shipments such as those to Houthi rebels in Yemen and Palestinian groups in Gaza and Egypt’s Sinai, a current official and a knowledgeable former U.S. official said.

The plan also recommends the United States react more aggressively in Bahrain, whose Sunni Muslim monarchy has been suppressing majority Shi’ites, who are demanding reforms, the sources said.

In addition, U.S. naval forces could react more forcefully when harassed by armed speed boats operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s paramilitary and espionage contingent, three of the sources said.

U.S. ships have fired flares and warning shots to drive off IRGC boats that made what were viewed as threatening approaches after refusing to heed radio warnings in the passageway for 35 percent of the world’s seaborne petroleum exports.

U.S. commanders now are permitted to open fire only when they think their vessels and the lives of their crews are endangered. The sources offered no details of the proposed changes in the rules, which are classified.

ISLAMIC STATE FIRST

The plan does not include an escalation of U.S. military activity in Syria and Iraq. Trump’s national security aides argued that a more muscular military response to Iranian proxies in Syria and Iraq would complicate the U.S.-led fight against Islamic State, which they argued should remain the top priority, four of the sources said.

Mattis and McMaster, as well as the heads of the U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Forces Command, have opposed allowing U.S. commanders in Syria and Iraq to react more forcefully to provocations by the IRGC, Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias, the four sources said.

The advisers are concerned that more permissive rules of engagement would divert U.S. forces from defeating the remnants of Islamic State, they said.

RELATED: Ballistic missile testing in Iran

Moreover, looser rules could embroil the United States in a conflict with Iran while U.S. forces remain overstretched, and Trump has authorized a small troop increase for Afghanistan, said one senior administration official.

A former U.S. official said Hezbollah and Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias in Iraq have been “very helpful” in recapturing vast swaths of the caliphate that Islamic State declared in Syria and Iran in 2014.

U.S. troops supporting Kurdish and Sunni Arab fighters battling Islamic State in Syria have been wrestling with how to respond to hostile actions by Iranian-backed forces.

In some of the most notable cases, U.S. aircraft shot down two Iranian-made drones in June. Both were justified as defensive acts narrowly tailored to halt an imminent threat on the ground.

 

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Trump’s opposition to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), poses a dilemma for policymakers.

Most of his national security aides favor remaining in the pact, as do U.S. allies Israel and Saudi Arabia despite their reservations about Iran’s adherence to the agreement, said U.S. officials involved in the discussions.

“The main issue for us was to get the president not to discard the JCPOA. But he had very strong feelings, backed by (U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations) Nikki Haley, that they should be more aggressive with Iran,” one of the two U.S. officials said. “Almost all the strategies presented to him were ones that tried to preserve the JCPOA but lean forward on these other (issues.)”

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(Writing by Jonathan Landay.; Reporting by Arshad Mohammed,Jonathan Landay, and Steve Holland.; Additional reporting by Phil Stewart and John Walcott; Editing by Howard Goller)

Includes videos:

https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/09/12/report-trump-weighing-aggressive-iran-strategy-against-malign-activities/23206015/

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Donald Trump is pictured here. | Getty Images
President Donald Trump’s administration has been reviewing the Iran nuclear deal. | Andrew Harrer/Getty Images

More than 80 experts urge Trump not to abandon Iran nuclear deal

More than 80 experts on nuclear proliferation urged the Trump administration not to abandon the Iran nuclear deal in a statement on Wednesday.

The agreement, which was negotiated under former President Barack Obama in 2015, ended several sanctions against Iran in exchange for that country taking steps to dismantle its nuclear program. Iran is subject to regular inspections to monitor whether it adheres to those rules under terms of the agreement.

The signatories, which include many academics and some former State Department officials, wrote that they are “concerned by statements from the Trump administration that it may be seeking to create a false pretext for accusing Iran of noncooperation or noncompliance with the agreement in order to trigger the re-imposition of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran.”

Last week, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley described the deal as a “very flawed and very limited agreement” and contended that “Iran has been caught in multiple violations over the past year and a half.”

The experts who signed the letter, though, described the agreement as “an effective and verifiable arrangement that is a net plus for international nuclear nonproliferation efforts” and warned against leaving it.

“Abandoning the deal without clear evidence of an unresolved material breach by Iran that is corroborated by the other EU3+3 partners runs the risk that Tehran would resume some of its nuclear activities, such as enriching uranium to higher levels or increasing the number of operating centrifuges,” they wrote. “These steps would decrease the time it would take for Iran to obtain enough nuclear material for a warhead.”

President Donald Trump was a critic of the Iran deal as a candidate, but he has not taken steps to abandon it since taking office. His administration, however, has been reviewing the deal.

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/13/trump-iran-nuclear-deal-letter-242655

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Iran Announces New Missile Production Line: State Media

July 22, 2017

BEIRUT — Iran announced the launch of a new missile production line on Saturday, according to state media, against a backdrop of tension between the United States and Tehran.

The Sayyad 3 missile can reach an altitude of 27 km (16 miles) and travel up to 120 km (74 miles), Iranian defense minister Hossein Dehghan said at a ceremony.

The missile can target fighter planes, unmanned aerial vehicles, cruise missiles and helicopters, Dehghan said.

Last week, the United States slapped new economic sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program, and said Tehran’s “malign activities” in the Middle East undercut any “positive contributions” coming from a 2015 Iran nuclear accord.

The measures signaled that the administration of President Donald Trump was seeking to put more pressure on Iran while keeping in place the agreement between Tehran and six world powers to curb its nuclear program in return for lifting international oil and financial sanctions.

 Image result for Iranian defense minister Hossein Dehghan, photos
Iranian defense minister Hossein Dehghan

The U.S. government said it was targeting 18 entities and people for supporting what it said were “illicit Iranian actors or transnational criminal activity”.

Those sanctioned had backed Iran’s military or the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps by developing drones and military equipment, producing and maintaining boats, and procuring electronic components, it said. Others had “orchestrated the theft of U.S. and Western software programs” sold to Iran’s government, the Treasury Department said.

On Monday, the Trump administration said Iran was complying with the nuclear agreement but that it was in default of the spirit of the accord.

It was the second time Trump has certified Iranian compliance with the agreement since he took office in January, despite having described it as “the worst deal ever” during his 2016 presidential campaign, criticizing then-President Barack Obama, whose administration negotiated the accord.

Dehghan said at the ceremony on Saturday that the recent $110 billion military deal between the United States and Saudi Arabia, announced during Trump’s visit to Riyadh in May, was intended as a threat to Iran.

“We recently witnessed an immense purchase that some countries in the region paid as a ransom to America and they intend to bring weapons into the region, and this purchase was done with the goal of threatening Islamic Iran,” Dehghan said according to the website for state TV.

(Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Andrew Bolton)

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Iran reveals production line of new missile it says can shoot down stealth fighter jets 75 miles away

  • The new Sayyad-3 missile is allegedly capable of hitting targets at altitudes of up to 17 miles 
  • Iranian defense chiefs boast it’s ‘completely indigenous technology’ and can track 30 targets simultaneously
  • They insisted the move was defensive and said Iran was the ‘protector of peace and security in the region’
  • Although Iran’s nuclear programme was dismantled in 2016 tensions with Israel and the U.S. still remain high 

Iran has begun a production line for a new version of an air defense missile.

The new weapon is called the Sayyad-3, which means ‘hunter’ in Farsi, and has range of roughly 75 miles. It is allegedly capable of hitting targets at altitudes of up to 17 miles.

The country’s air defense chief, Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili, said during a ceremony that the missile is ‘a completely indigenous technology.’

The new missile, which translates as 'hunter-3', is allegedly capable of tracking up to 30 targets simultaneously 

The new missile, which translates as ‘hunter-3’, is allegedly capable of tracking up to 30 targets simultaneously

The country's Defense Minister claimed it was capable of engaging with threats including drones and stealth aircraft 

The country’s Defense Minister claimed it was capable of engaging with threats including drones and stealth aircraft

Iran’s Defense Minister, General Hossein Dehghan, told local media the weapons system can track 30 targets and engage 12 of them simultaneously.

He said: ‘Sayyad-3 is designed based on the latest technologies in the world and is capable of fighting with various types of threats including drones, stealth aircraft, cruise missiles, helicopters and various types of other aircraft.

‘We regret that our neighbours consider Iran’s capabilities and power as threats to themselves, while we are the protector of peace and security in the region.’

The Sayyad-3 joins Iran’s formidable arsenal of Surface to Air Missiles, which includes the Russian-built S-300 air defense system – installed last August around the Fordo nuclear site, south of the capital Tehran.

Iran commonly boasts about its indigenous military technology, but it has not been verified by outside experts

Iran commonly boasts about its indigenous military technology, but it has not been verified by outside experts

NATO considers the missiles system to be one of the most advanced in the world. Israeli Air force commander Major General Amir Eshel said the S-300 could pose a ‘significant but not insurmountable challenge’.

Iran has long been preoccupied with potentially having to defend its nuclear weapons programme from Israeli or American fighters.

In 2016 it agreed to dismantle major parts of its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of sanctions, however tensions remain.

Iran's Defense Minister, General Hossein Dehghan, said the country was the 'protector of peace and security in the region' 

Iran’s Defense Minister, General Hossein Dehghan, said the country was the ‘protector of peace and security in the region’

Iran occasionally announces production of sophisticated homegrown weapons that cannot be independently verified.

In 2013, the Iranian Air Force announced that it had built a prototype for a single-seat stealth aircraft called the Qaher-313. However independent experts widely ridiculed the plane.

In 1992 the country began a military self-sufficiency program under which it produces mortars to missiles and tanks to submarines.

Iran’s Air Force, however, still comprises of Cold War-era aircraft, liken the F-14 Tomcat and the MiG-29.

In 1992 Iran began a military self-sufficiency programme to produce everything from tanks to planes and missiles 

In 1992 Iran began a military self-sufficiency programme to produce everything from tanks to planes and missiles

An Israeli Air Force F-15. Tensions between the two countries remain high, despite the Iranian nuclear deal in 2016

An Israeli Air Force F-15. Tensions between the two countries remain high, despite the Iranian nuclear deal

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4720642/Iran-reveals-production-line-new-missile.html#ixzz4naHsivzr
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Iran protests against Tillerson ‘transition’ remarks — Tillerson seemed to say U.S. would back a change of government in Iran

June 20, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made the Iran transition remarks whilst giving evidence to a Congressional committee on June 13, 2017

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran has called in the Swiss charge d’affaires, who looks after US interests, to protest against comments by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson backing “peaceful transition” in the Islamic republic.The administration of President Donald Trump has taken an increasingly hawkish position towards Iran since taking office in January but Tillerson’s testimony to a Congressional committee last week appeared to be the first expression of support for a change of government.

“The Swiss charge d’affaires was summoned to the foreign ministry to be a handed a strong protest from the Islamic Republic of Iran against the comments by the US secretary of state…. which were contrary to international law and the UN charter,” ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi told Iranian media.

Alongside Monday’s summoning of the Swiss envoy, Iran also sent a protest letter to UN chief Antonio Guterres, the ISNA news agency reported.

In last Wednesday’s testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Tillerson accused Iran of seeking “hegemony” in the Middle East at the expense of US allies like Saudi Arabia.

“Our policy towards Iran is to push back on this hegemony… and to work toward support of those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government,” the US top diplomat said.

“Those elements are there certainly, as we know,” he added, without elaborating on the groups he was referring to.

Iran was, with North Korea and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, part of the “axis of evil” that the George W. Bush administration earmarked for “regime change” after it took office in 2001.

But when Saddam’s ouster in the US-led invasion of 2003 triggered a deadly insurgency that continues to this day, the policy fell out of favour.

In his testimony, Tillerson also raised the possibility of imposing sanctions on the whole of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s main military force and a major player in the country’s economy.

Currently, Washington has only blacklisted the Guards’ foreign operations arm — the Quds Force — and some individual commanders.

“We continually review the merits, both from the standpoint of diplomatic but also international consequences, of designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in its entirety as a terrorist organisation,” Tillerson said.

The Guards have played a major role in training Shiite militias in Iraq that are a significant force in the fightback against the Islamic State group, and have also trained thousands of “volunteers” to battle alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria.

The United States has had no diplomatic relations with Iran since the aftermath of the Islamic revolution of 1979 and its interests are looked after by Switzerland.

Related:

 (Includes links to Saudi, Qatar dispute articles)

Iran Increases Support to Houthi in Yemnen in Proxy War Against Saudi

March 22, 2017

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Image may contain: 2 people, outdoor

Houthi fighters ride on the back or a truck during a parade before heading to the frontline to fight against government forces, in Sanaa, Yemen January 3, 2017. REUTERS – Khaled Abdullah

By Reuters – Mar 21,2017 – Last updated at Mar 21,2017

LONDON/ANKARA/DUBAI: Iran is sending advanced weapons and military advisers to Yemen’s rebel Houthi movement, stepping up support for its ally in a civil war whose outcome could sway the balance of power in the Middle East, regional and Western sources say. Iran’s enemy Saudi Arabia is leading an Arab coalition fighting the Houthis in the impoverished state on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula – part of the same regional power struggle that is fueling the war in Syria.

Sources with knowledge of the military movements, who declined to be identified, say that in recent months Iran has taken a greater role in the 2-year-old conflict by stepping up arms supplies and other support. This mirrors the strategy it has used to support its ally Hezbollah in Syria.

A senior Iranian official said Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force – the external arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – met top IRGC officials in Tehran last month to look at ways to “empower” the Houthis.

“At this meeting, they agreed to increase the amount of help, through training, arms and financial support,” the official said.

“Yemen is where the real proxy war is going on and winning the battle in Yemen will help define the balance of power in the Middle East.”

Iran rejects accusations from Saudi Arabia that it is giving financial and military support to the Houthis in the struggle for Yemen, blaming the deepening crisis on Riyadh.

But Iran’s actions in Yemen seem to reflect the growing influence of hard-liners in Tehran, keen to pre-empt a tougher policy towards Iran signaled by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri, spokesman for the Arab coalition fighting the Houthis, told Reuters: “We don’t lack information or evidence that the Iranians, by various means, are smuggling weapons into the area.

“We observe that the Kornet anti-tank weapon is on the ground, whereas before it wasn’t in the arsenal of the Yemeni army or of the Houthis. It came later.”

A Houthi leader said coalition accusations that Iran was smuggling weapons into Yemen were an attempt to cover up Saudi Arabia’s failure to prevail in an intractable war in which at least 10,000 people have been killed.

“The Saudis don’t want to admit their failings so they are searching for false justifications … after two years of the aggression that the United States and Britain are involved in,” the Houthi leader, who declined to be named, told Reuters.

Iran’s activities have alarmed Sunni countries in the Middle East, with one senior official from a neighboring country saying: “We want Iran to stop exporting Shiism in the region, whether in Yemen or elsewhere.”

Saudi Arabia intervened in Yemen’s civil war in 2015 to back President Abed Rabbou Mansour Hadi after he was ousted from the capital Sanaa by the Houthis. Government forces in the south and east hold most of Yemen’s territory, while the Houthis control most population centers in the northwest, including the capital Sanaa.

A former senior Iranian security official said Iran’s hard-line rulers planned to empower Houthi militia in Yemen to “strengthen their hand in the region.”

“They are planning to create a Hezbollah-like militia in Yemen. To confront Riyadh’s hostile policies … Iran needs to use all its cards,” the former official said.

A Western diplomat in the Middle East agreed: “Iran has long been trying to cultivate portions of the Houthi militias as a disruptive force in Yemen.

“This is not to say that the Houthis are Hezbollah, but they do not need to be to achieve Iran’s goals, which is to encircle the Saudis, expand its influence and power projection in the region and develop levers of unconventional pressure.”

Sources say Iran is using ships to deliver supplies to Yemen either directly or via Somalia, bypassing coalition efforts to intercept shipments. Western sources say once the ships arrive in the region, the cargoes are transferred to small fishing boats, which are hard to spot because they are so common in these waters.

Favored areas are believed to include fishing coves around the port of Mukalla, even though that would require smuggled men or equipment to make a long, risky journey to the main Houthi-controlled districts.

The coalition ejected Al-Qaeda from the area last year, but still cannot prevent the smuggling of weapons and people, according to sources familiar with the waters.

The Arab coalition’s Asiri acknowledged the difficulties of policing 2,700 km of coastline around Yemen.

“You cannot observe this length of coast even if you bring in all the navies of the world,” he said. “If we stop movement of those small boats, this will affect fishing by normal people.”

From September 2015 until March 2016, the French and Australian navies frequently intercepted weapons which officials said were most likely bound for the Houthis.

A U.S. defense official said Iranian weapons smuggling to the Houthis had continued apace since March last year, when the seizures stopped. The equipment included long-range ballistic missiles capable of reaching deep into Saudi Arabia.

“There is no plausible explanation for these weapons’ appearance other than outside assistance. We assess that assistance has likely come from Iran,” the U.S. official said.

Nic Jenzen-Jones, a military arms specialist and director of Armament Research Services, which has tracked Iranian equipment ending up in Yemen, also said quantities had increased.

“We have seen some more success in sea-based transfers over the last few months and I suspect the general uptick in the frequency of Iranian arms that we are documenting is partially a result of more successful deliveries by sea,” Jenzen-Jones said.

Evidence of more sophisticated equipment suspected of being used by the Houthis has emerged in recent attacks.

On Jan. 30, a Saudi frigate was attacked near the Houthi-controlled port of Hudaida, in an operation that Saudi official media blamed on the Houthis.

The U.S. Navy said an unmanned remote-controlled boat laden with explosives rammed the Saudi vessel in the first known strike by a “drone” attack boat, and the Houthis had likely used technology supplied by Iran.

In another development this month, a Yemeni government source told Reuters a coast guard boat was destroyed near Mokha by mines laid by the Houthis.

Jenzen-Jones said the quality of Iranian munitions had improved of late. “Recent transfers of arms and munitions have also included Iranian Ababil-series UAVs [drones], fitted with high explosive warheads and used by Houthis to engage high-value targets, such as radar and Patriot missile batteries.”

Anti-ship and man-portable missiles were also suspected to have been transferred, he said.

In addition to the weapons, Iranian and regional sources said Tehran was providing Afghan and Shiite Arab specialists to train Houthi units and act as logistical advisers. These included Afghans who had fought in Syria under Quds Force commanders.

Reuters has reported this same covert approach was used in Syria in 2014 before Iran took a more open role in that war.

Related:

Iran: The importance of Qasem Soleimani and Qods Force go well beyond the military — Is he ready to make his move?

March 22, 2017

Qasem Soleimani prepares to make his move.

The Qods Force is the elite unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps charged with exporting Iran’s revolution. In practical terms, this means terror sponsorship worldwide and support for insurgency and proxy groups in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Bahrain.

Normally, the leader of such a group would like to operate in the shadows and would studiously avoid the limelight. This has not been the case with Qods Force leader Qassem Soleimani, a man who has increasingly allows himself to be photographed with the frequency of a Hollywood starlet. Regional Arab leaders fear that Soleimani might be gearing up for a presidential run, taking his place as president (probably in 2021 after four more years of Hassan Rouhani) as the Iranian political pendulum swings back on schedule in favor of the security apparatus.

Perhaps the fatal mistake of the Obama administration—both during the tenure of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and continuing under her successor John Kerry—was the belief that meaningful political competition in Iran occurred only in the formal political sphere—the parliament, presidency, and perhaps the Office of the Supreme Leader. In reality, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and, more specifically, the Qods Force also wields significant political power.

Lest anyone inside Iran forget, earlier this month Soleimani began opining on Iran’s administration organization. According to the Mehr News Agency, the Qods Force leader argued that Iran’s “current system of administrative structure” was not conducive to Iran and, specifically, its “resistance economy” meeting its full potential.

That Soleimani not only speaks on such issues but that the state-controlled Iranian press also covers his talk suggests the importance of Soleimani and Qods Force go well beyond the military. He is not merely some random blowhard whose opinion is not worth covering.

Inside Iran, this means that Soleimani continues to be a rising force. Outside Iran, the message should be clear: Any diplomat—in Washington, in Brussels, or elsewhere—who believes they can strike effective deals with Iranian diplomats while ignoring the Qods Force and the levers of power it controls is profoundly ignorant of how the Islamic Republic operates. Ordinary politicians and cabinet officials do not hold sway over the Revolutionary Guards; if anything it is the opposite.

Alas, this means nothing good for current diplomacy, no matter what the narrative put out by Ben Rhodes, the political operative whom President Obama placed on the national security council, says: The Revolutionary Guard not only controls Iranian-sponsored terror but also most aspects of Iran’s nuclear program. To negotiate an accord with Iran’s foreign ministry and trust the Revolutionary Guards will comply is about as effective as a foreign diplomat negotiating a nuclear accord with the Washington, DC, city council and hoping the Pentagon will fall into place.

https://www.commentarymagazine.com/foreign-policy/middle-east/iran/qods-force-speaks-on-iran-governance/

Iran Tests New Missiles

March 6, 2017

Fox News

Iran test-fired a pair of ballistic missiles this weekend into the Gulf of Oman — with one missile destroying a floating barge approximately 155 miles away, two U.S. officials with knowledge of the launch told Fox News.

The launches of the Fateh-110 short-range ballistic missiles were the first tests of the missile in two years, one official said. It was not immediately clear if this was the first successful test at sea — raising concerns for the U.S. Navy, which operates warships in the area.

Image may contain: 2 people, outdoor

Fatah A-110 short range ballistic missile

Iran’s test came amid a worldwide focus on North Korea’s own test-launches of ballistic missiles.

SOUTH KOREA: NORTH KOREA FIRES FOUR BANNED BALLISTIC MISSILES

According to one official, Iran launched the two short-range ballistic missiles from Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps bases in Bandar-e-Jask, in southeastern Iran. The first missile was fired on Saturday, but missed its target, though it landed “in the vicinity,” one official said. A day later, Iran made another attempt and was successful.

The Iranian Fateh-110 Mod 3 has a new “active seeker,” helping the missile locate ships at sea, according to one official.

“It’s a concern based on the range and that one of the missiles worked,” said one official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to disclose the launch.

Two years ago, Iranian cruise missiles destroyed a large barge designed to look like an American aircraft carrier. Iranian state-television broadcast the images publicly at the time.

The new Iranian short-range ballistic missile launches come a week after Iran successfully test-fired Russian surface-to-air missiles, part of the S-300 air defense system Russia sent to Iran recently.

According to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Iran has conducted as many as 14 ballistic missile launches since the landmark nuclear agreement in July 2015.

A senior U.S. military official told Fox News that Iran had made great advances in its ballistic missile program over the past decade.

Late last month, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford said Iran’s behavior had not changed since the White House put the Islamic Republic “on notice” following Iran’s successful intermediate-range ballistic missile test-launch in late January.

Lucas Tomlinson is the Pentagon and State Department producer for Fox News Channel. You can follow him on Twitter: @LucasFoxNews

Includes video:

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/03/06/iran-launched-2-ballistic-missiles-us-officials-say.html

 

Dangerous confrontations between US and Iranian navies have increased 50% this year despite the nuclear deal, officials say –New world order?

August 27, 2016
  • Defense officials say there were 30 dangerous incidents in total in 2015
  • In the first six months of this year there were 26 incidents, officials added
  • That is despite the nuclear deal which was hailed as a ‘new era’ of relations
  • There were four dangerous incidents in the last week alone which led to warning shots and flares being fired at Iranian boats 

The number of dangerous confrontations between Iranian and US navies has increased by 50 per cent compared to last year, defense officials said.

In total there were 30 dangerous incidents recorded between the two navies in the Persian Gulf in the whole of 2015, according to the Navy’s 5th fleet.

That is compared to 26 in the first half of this year, and four that took place in the last week alone.

Defense officials say there were 30 dangerous confrontations between the US and Iranian navies in 2015, compared to 26 in the first six months of 2016 (pictured, the USS Nitze fires flares at two Iranian vessels earlier this week) 

Defense officials say there were 30 dangerous confrontations between the US and Iranian navies in 2015, compared to 26 in the first six months of 2016 (pictured, the USS Nitze fires flares at two Iranian vessels earlier this week)

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Officials say the figures are on course to increase by more than 50 per cent before the end of the year, despite the nuclear deal (pictured, an Iranian boat approaches the Nitze)

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3760606/Dangerous-confrontations-Iranian-navies-increased-50-cent-year-despite-nuclear-deal-officials-say.html#ixzz4IZDb91Mw
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Speaking anonymously to Fox News, the official said: ‘We are on pace to exceed last year’s numbers by more than fifty per cent.’

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The is despite the signing of the Iranian nuclear deal that President Obama and other world leaders vowed would usher in a ‘new era’ of relations with Iran.

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As part of that deal, Tehran was handed a $1.7billion payment, including $400,000 in cash flown into the country by plane.

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Overall encounters with the Iranian navy, which most consists of fast patrol boats, has also increased, officials added.

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On Wednesday the USS Squall was forced to fire three warning shots at Iranian vessels, less than 24 hours the USS Nitze was ‘harassed’ in an ‘unsafe manner’.

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The incident involving the USS Squall was just one of three separate confrontations involving American and Iranian ships in a single day, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said.

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Meanwhile the USS Nitze was passing through international waters in the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway between Iran and the United Arab Emirates, when it was confronted on Tuesday.

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Four of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) vessels ‘harassed’ the Nitze, a U.S. defense official said.

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The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday that two of the Iranian vessels came within 300 yards of the USS Nitze in an incident that was ‘unsafe and unprofessional.’

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There were four dangerous incidents in the last week alone including one in which the USS Squall (pictured) was forced to fire three warning shots at Iranian patrol vessels
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There were four dangerous incidents in the last week alone including one in which the USS Squall (pictured) was forced to fire three warning shots at Iranian patrol vessels
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Defense officials say there were 30 dangerous confrontations between the US and Iranian navies in 2015, compared to 26 in the first six months of 2016 (pictured, the USS Nitze fires flares at two Iranian vessels earlier this week)

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3760606/Dangerous-confrontations-Iranian-navies-increased-50-cent-year-despite-nuclear-deal-officials-say.html#ixzz4IZFOUrrX
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There were four dangerous incidents in the last week alone including one in which the USS Squall (pictured) was forced to fire three warning shots at Iranian patrol vessels

There were four dangerous incidents in the last week alone including one in which the USS Squall (pictured) was forced to fire three warning shots at Iranian patrol vessels

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Navy officials said four Iranian revolutionary Guard vessels approached the Nitze (pictured) at high speed and behaved in an 'unsafe and unprofessional' manner

Navy officials said four Iranian revolutionary Guard vessels approached the Nitze (pictured) at high speed and behaved in an ‘unsafe and unprofessional’ manner

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Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3760606/Dangerous-confrontations-Iranian-navies-increased-50-cent-year-despite-nuclear-deal-officials-say.html#ixzz4IZFOUrrX
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The vessels harassed the destroyer by ‘conducting a high speed intercept and closing within a short distance of USS Nitze, despite repeated warnings,’ the official said.

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IRGC, the Islamic Republic’s praetorian guard, is suspicious of U.S. military activity near Iran’s borders and appears to be sticking to a familiar posture in the Gulf that predates last year’s nuclear accord.

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Iranian commanders put out a statement on Thursday, saying the navy will continue to warn and confront any vessels that stray into its waters.

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General Hosein Dehghan told the semi-official Tasnim news agency that ‘if any foreign vessel enters our waters, we warn them, and if it’s an invasion, we confront.’

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He added that Iranian boats patrol to monitor traffic and foreign vessels.

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The United States and other countries are concerned about Iran’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, its ballistic missile program, and its backing for Shiite militias that have abused civilians in Iraq.

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The U.S. defense official said that in Tuesday’s incident, the USS Nitze tried to communicate with the Iranian vessels 12 times, but received no response.

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It also fired 10 flares in the direction of two of the Iranian vessels.

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The encounter occurred in international waters in the strait, a vitally important choke point with Iran to its north and the United Arab Emirates to the south

‘Unsafe and unprofessional’ 

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3760606/Dangerous-confrontations-Iranian-navies-increased-50-cent-year-despite-nuclear-deal-officials-say.html#ixzz4IZErXySS
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The encounter occurred in international waters in the strait, a vitally important choke point with Iran to its north and the United Arab Emirates to the south

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‘The Iranian high rate of closure… created a dangerous, harassing situation that could have led to further escalation, including additional defensive measures by Nitze,’ the official said.

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USS Nitze had to change course in order to distance itself from the Iranian vessels, the official said, adding that the incident could have led to a diplomatic protest, but the United States does not have diplomatic relations with Iran.

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The encounter occurred in international waters in the strait, a vitally important choke point with Iran to its north and the United Arab Emirates to the south.

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This was not the first maritime scare between the United States and Iran.

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In January, 10 U.S. sailors aboard two patrol craft were detained by the IRGC when they inadvertently entered Iranian territorial waters.

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They were released the next day after being held for about 15 hours.

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The Gulf separates Iran from its regional rival Saudi Arabia and a U.S. naval base in Bahrain.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3760606/Dangerous-confrontations-Iranian-navies-increased-50-cent-year-despite-nuclear-deal-officials-say.html#ixzz4IZE41OO1
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The encounter occurred in international waters in the strait, a vitally important choke point with Iran to its north and the United Arab Emirates to the south 

The encounter occurred in international waters in the strait, a vitally important choke point with Iran to its north and the United Arab Emirates to the south

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3760606/Dangerous-confrontations-Iranian-navies-increased-50-cent-year-despite-nuclear-deal-officials-say.html#ixzz4IZEHE8FT
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Related:

Defense official: Iran confrontations with US Navy up 50 percent this year

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/08/26/defense-official-iran-confrontations-with-us-navy-up-50-percent-this-year.html

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  (USS Nitze encounter with Iranian boats)

  (USS Nitze encounter with Iranian boats)

© Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Website/AFP/File | A picture released by the news website and public relations arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards shows US sailors being apprehended by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on January 13, 2016

 

Shots Fired in Persian Gulf; Iran Warns Encroaching U.S. Ships Will be ‘Severely Punished’

August 26, 2016
By Patrick Goodenough | August 26, 2016 |
Cyclone-class coastal patrol ships deployed in the U.S. Fifth Fleet area of responsibility.  Pictured here from March 2015, USS Hurricane (PC-3), USS Typhoon (PC-5) and USS Chinook (PC-9) underway.  (Photo: U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Charles Oki)

(CNSNews.com) – Iran’s defense minister vowed Thursday that any U.S. or other warships that enter Iranian waters would be “severely punished,” as the Pentagon confirmed that a U.S. patrol vessel had fired warning shots after being approached by an Iranian attack boat in an “unsafe” manner.

“It is a natural and routine program of the border patrol to do surveillance in the southern waters and to collect intelligence on foreign ships’ operations,” the Mehr news agency quoted Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan as telling reporters in Isfahan.

Whether American or otherwise, he said, “any destroyer of any sort would be severely punished if they are found to encroach our waters in Persian Gulf.”

In the latest in a series of incidents in the area, an Iranian vessel approached two U.S. Navy ships Thursday, prompting crew on the USS Squall – a Cyclone-class patrol coastal ship forward deployed to the U.S. Fifth Fleet in Bahrain – to fire three warning shots.

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USS Squall

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said he believed the shots were fired “into the water.”

“The Iranian craft, as I understand it, left at that point.”

The U.S. vessels had initially taken other steps aimed at de-escalating the situation, including the firing of flares.

“They felt the need to take an additional step to try and de-escalate the situation, and that was, again, to fire the warning shots,” Cook said.

“The onus here is on the Iranians to conduct themselves in a safe and professional manner, like navies all over the world do.”

In an earlier incident Thursday, four Iranian vessels approached the destroyerUSS Nitze in the Strait of Hormuz in what the Pentagon described as “an unsafe and unprofessional manner.”

“Our ships were in international waters,” said Cook. “Our sailors were conducting themselves professionally as they are trained to do. And we did not see the same from the Iranian boats on the other side.”

The Strait of Hormuz lies between Iran and Oman, less than 30 miles wide at its narrowest point. It is one of the world’s most crucial waterways, a transit channel for about one-fifth of the world’s crude oil, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

The Iranian regime has periodically threatened to close the chokepoint, and challenges the U.S. Navy’s right to patrol or hold military exercises there.

Cook said the Pentagon hopes Iranian harassment of U.S. Navy ships in the area does not continue, “because it serves no purpose other than to raise tensions in an important part of the world.”

He said U.S. Navy personnel “will continue to take the steps that they need to, to protect themselves, their ships and our interests in the region.”

“Our ships are operating as they have for years in that part of the world, in international waters, and will continue to do so,” Cook said.

Last January the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Navy detained 10 U.S. Navy sailors in the northern Persian Gulf for about 14 hours, after U.S. Central Command said their two small patrol boats had inadvertently entered Iran’s territorial waters.

They were allowed to leave after Secretary of State John Kerry contacted his Iranian counterpart and nuclear talks interlocutor, Javad Zarif.

Kerry thanked Iran for ensuring a swift resolution of the incident, but the Iranians did not pass up the opportunity to use it for propaganda purposes.

State media repeatedly showed images of the sailors’ detention at gunpoint, along with video clips showing a sailor apologizing for entering Iranian waters, another one apparently in tears, and a female crew member with her head covered by a scarf.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the incident an “act of God” and awarded medals to the IRGC Navy sailors involved.

At the State Department Thursday, spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said she had no information to share on whether Kerry or other officials have raised with the Iranians the latest incidents in the Gulf.

“I just don’t have any calls or engagements to read out as of right now,” she said in response to questions. “I have nothing to announce.”

http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/patrick-goodenough/shots-fired-persian-gulf-iran-warns-encroaching-us-ships-will-be

Related:

  (USS Nitze encounter with Iranian boats)

  (USS Nitze encounter with Iranian boats)

© Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Website/AFP/File | A picture released by the news website and public relations arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards shows US sailors being apprehended by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on January 13, 2016

Navy Images Show Iranian Boats in Incident Involving Top U.S. General

July 14, 2016

Iranian boats approached Navy warships with Gen. Joe Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, aboard as they passed through the Strait of Hormuz

One of the five military vessels from Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps that approached a U.S. warship hosting one of America's top generals on a day trip through the Strait of Hormuz on July 11.
One of the five military vessels from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps that approached a U.S. warship hosting one of America’s top generals on a day trip through the Strait of Hormuz on July 11. PHOTO: US NAVY/REUTERS
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AMMAN, Jordan—The U.S. military has released photos of Iranian boats that approached two Navy warships Monday as they transited through the Strait of Hormuz with a special passenger aboard: Gen. Joe Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command, which oversees all U.S. forces in the Middle East.

The images, which aren’t typically released by the military, were captured by U.S. Navy personnel aboard the amphibious ship USS New Orleans and the destroyer USS Stout on Monday during a series of “interactions” between those two ships and smaller patrol boats operated by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC.

The images show two small patrol boats akin to a civilian speed boat, and a larger boat known as a Houdong fast attack craft. Each are typical of the kind of craft the IRGC uses in the region, sometimes to harass American and other ships transiting through the strait.

U.S. officials said Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps sent boats to approach the USS New Orleans and USS Stout as Gen. Votel rode aboard the New Orleans. PHOTO: US NAVY/REUTERS

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Iranian officials in a report in state media confirmed that speedboats operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps navy “escorted” the U.S. warships through the strait, defending the incident as longstanding practice. The news account, on the website of the semiofficial FARS news agency, also warned that the small but heavily armed boats could destroy the American vessels.

“Monitoring foreign vessels in regions where the IRGC Navy conducts its missions is not a new thing and it is always done on a routine basis and round the clock,” Gen. Alireza Tangsiri, the lieutenant commander of the IRGC navy, said in the report. He emphasized that the IRGC Navy is assigned to monitor foreign vessels, especially those operated by “the enemies of the Islamic Revolution and the Great Satan, the U.S.”

U.S. officials said that on Monday, the IRGC sent a total of five boats, including a fast attack craft and four of the smaller patrol boats to approach the New Orleans and the Stout, as Gen. Votel rode aboard the New Orleans. It was unclear if the IRGC knew initially of Gen. Votel’s visit to the ship.

The U.S. has cited Tehran’s aggressive maneuvering on the seas as a potential danger. The military contends that American warships had about 300 such interactions with Iranian vessels in 2015, according to information provided by Cmdr. Bill Urban, a spokesman for the Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Manama, Bahrain.

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While most of those incidents are considered safe and didn’t rise to the level of harassment, Cmdr. Urban said other encounters are more problematic, including times when Iranian vessels jet in front of American warships, approach them directly at high rates of speed, or even if they train their weaponry at the American ships.

The U.S. said the encounter Monday didn’t technically fall into the problematic category. Still, Gen. Votel said it is important that Iran and the IRGC better follow the rules of the sea and avoid risky conduct.

Write to Gordon Lubold at Gordon.Lubold@wsj.com

http://www.wsj.com/articles/navy-images-show-iranian-boats-in-incident-involving-top-u-s-general-1468349473

Iranian commander: Missiles ready for the ‘annihilation’ of Israel — Boasts that Iran has 100,000 missiles in Lebanon alone readied for the “annihilation” of Israel

July 9, 2016

“There is fertile ground — with the grace of God — for the annihilation, the wiping out and the collapse of the Zionist regime.” — Missiles throughout the Islamic world are ready to strike Israel

Hossein Salami is deputy head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is under the command of the country’s Supreme Leader.

Hossein Salami

 

The deputy commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard said the country has over 100,000 missiles in Lebanon alone readied for the “annihilation” of Israel.

Speaking before Friday prayers on Iran’s state-run IRIB TV, Hossein Salami also said that Iran has “tens of thousands” of additional missiles that are ready to wipe the “accursed black dot” of Israel off the map, according to a translation from the Farsi by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

Salami is deputy head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is under the command of the country’s Supreme Leader.

“Today, more than ever, there is fertile ground — with the grace of God — for the annihilation, the wiping out and the collapse of the Zionist regime,” Salami said, according to the MEMRI translation. “In Lebanon alone, over 100,000 missiles are ready to be launched. If there is a will, if it serves [our] interests, and if the Zionist regime repeats its past mistakes due to its miscalculations, these missiles will pierce through space, and will strike at the heart of the Zionist regime. They will prepare the ground for its great collapse in the new era.”

Stockpiles of long range ballistic missiles are in underground caves in Iran

He also boasted that “tens of thousands of other high-precision, long-range missiles, with the necessary destructive capabilities, have been placed in various places throughout the Islamic world. “

“They are just waiting for the command, so that when the trigger is pulled, the accursed black dot will be wiped off the geopolitical map of the world, once and for all,” he said, referring to Israel.
Salami’s remarks came as Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) released its annual report that Iranian efforts to illegally procure technology, especially in the nuclear area, had continued at a “high level” in 2015.

A separate report by a German domestic intelligence agency said that counter-espionage officials had spotted 141 procurements attempts in one German state in the last year.

Martin Schaefer, a spokesman for Germany’s Foreign Ministry, said that Germany and its partners would work to enforce the agreement signed in Vienna last July meant to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

“We are already talking to our partners in New York and elsewhere, and we won’t hesitate to discuss this with Tehran,” he said.

Iran missile launch as reported by Fars News on March 9, 2016. Via Reuters

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Reuters contributed to this report.

http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Iranian-commander-Missiles-ready-for-the-annihilation-of-Israel-459859

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 (Thomas Pickering was also Chairman of the Investigation into the death of four Americans at Benghazi on September 11, 2012 –along with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen — Hillary Clinton was never questioned during that investigation…) (Pickering also serves on the Board of Advisors to the notorious National Iranian American Council — NIAC – widely viewed as a lobbying front for the Iranian regime)

Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, recently vowed to destroy the Bahraini government 

US Navy sailors kneeling before their Iranian captors in the Persian Gulf, January 13, 2016. AFP photo