Iran

Pompeo speaks

Featured image Bret Baier interviewed CIA Director Mike Pompeo yesterday afternoon for a segment of the FOX News Special Report. The interview was occasioned by the anniversary of 9/11. The questions were well informed and the answers were direct. Most striking to me was Pompeo’s contrast with his predecessor. Baier, for example, asked Pompeo whether the intelligence assessments supported the proposition that ISIS constituted a junior varsity terrorist organization consistent with the »

John Bolton on how to exit the Iranian nuclear deal

Featured image John Bolton says that in late July, Steve Bannon asked him to draw up a plan to exit the Iran nuclear deal. Although candidate Trump had repeatedly complained about the deal, President Trump, through two certifications to Congress, had twice declined to pull out of it. Moreover, according to Bolton, no option to remaining in the deal had been presented to Trump. Today, Bolton published his plan on NRO. The »

Rouhani: Iran Can Resume Nuclear Program In Hours

Featured image When the Iran nuclear deal was being debated, much attention was paid to the question whether Iran would cheat on the agreement. My position was that they likely would, but they certainly didn’t have to. Iran got what it wanted up front–relief from sanctions and something like $1 billion. Having gotten what they wanted, Iran’s rulers could simply walk away from the agreement at whatever time they chose. Iran’s President, »

McMaster makes it clear to all that he can’t work with Bannon

Featured image National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster was asked three times today by Chuck Todd whether he can work with Steve Bannon, President Trump’s chief strategist. Three times McMaster refused to say that he can. Each answer was more embarrassing than the last — to McMaster, to Bannon, and ultimately to their boss. You can read the details here. It is the job of every member of a president’s staff to work »

McMaster’s supporters push back

Featured image National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster came in or criticism after he fired three staff members, all of whom are strongly pro-Israel and forceful opponents of the Iran nuclear deal. I gave voice to some of that criticism here. McMaster’s supporters are pushing back. Among them, at least for the time being, is President Trump. Hugh Hewitt characterizes McMaster’s critics as “a tiny slice” of “the alt right” and a »

McMaster purges pro-Israel, anti-Iran deal Trump loyalists

Featured image National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has fired three staff members in recent weeks. The three are Ezra Cohen-Watnick, senior director for intelligence; Derek Harvey, the NSC’s top Middle East adviser; and Rich Higgins, director for strategic planning. All three were aligned with Steve Bannon. Michael Warren of the Weekly Standard discusses the purge here. Glenn Thrush and Peter Baker of the New York Times discuss it here. Neither the Standard »

What did Trump certify?

Featured image Did President Trump certify to Congress on Monday that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal? This is what virtually of all of the reporting on his action says he did. We wrote that, early in the day, National Security Council director H. R. McMaster indicated the administration would certify Iranian compliance. The next day we reported, per Eli Lake, that Trump had balked at providing certification and came close »

Report: Trump nearly killed the Iran deal

Featured image Eli Lake reports that President Trump came very close yesterday to not certifying Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal. Eli writes: On Monday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was supposed to certify Iranian compliance again. Talking points were sent to columnists. Senior administration officials briefed analysts on a conference call. The Treasury Department was set to announce new sanctions against a number of Iranians to soften the blow for the »

Trump administration to certify Iranian compliance with nuclear deal

Featured image The Iran nuclear deal requires that the administration certify (or decline to certify) to Congress every 90 days that Iran is in compliance and that the agreement is in the vital national security interest of the United States. The next certification is due today. Earlier in the day, National Security Council director H. R. McMaster indicated that the administration will so certify. McMaster added plenty of noise about how the »

The reason Russia wants us out of Syria is the reason we should stay

Featured image Over the weekend, a U.S. fighter jet downed a Syrian warplane after Bashir al-Assad’s troops attacked positions of U.S. backed forces fighting against ISIS. The confrontation took place near the one-time ISIS stronghold of Tabqa, not too far from Raqqa. Like the recent U.S. attack on a pro-Assad convoy in Southeastern Iraq, the downing of the Syrian jet should not be viewed as intervention intended to topple Assad, Rather, it »

Iran’s wider warning

Featured image Omri Ceren writes from The Israel Project to draw attention to the AP story “Iran calls missile attack a wider warning.”: Last week the Senate voted 98-2 to pass new Iran sanctions targeting 1st, Iran’s ballistic missile program and 2nd, the IRGC [a]. The Treasury Department had already been ramping up some measures against both: in February OFAC issued ballistic missile and IRGC designations, and in May it issued additional »

“Zeal for the deal” caused Obama to dismantle units targeting Iran terror financing

Featured image Susan Crabtree of the Washington Free Beacon reports on explosive testimony from David Asher, who served as an adviser to Gen. John Allen at the Defense and State Departments. Asher told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that, in the lead-up to and during nuclear negotiations with Iran, top officials across several key law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the Obama administration “systematically disbanded” law enforcement activities targeting the terrorism financing »

Times tips to Iran’s American network

Featured image On Thursday the Department of Justice announced the arrests of “New York man” Ali Kourani and “Michigan man” Samar El Debek as Hezbollah agents. They have been charged with providing material support to Hezbollah. They were on the prowl looking to do damage in the United States and elsewhere. Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim made the announcment: Today, we announce serious terrorism charges against two men who allegedly »

ISIS terrorists attack in Tehran

Featured image The Washington Post reports that gunmen stormed two major sites in Tehran today. They killed at least 12 people and wounded another 42 in gunfire and suicide blasts in parliament and at the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini (the Post calls this a “revered shrine”). ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks. According to the Post, this is the first serious terrorist attack in Iran. Past attacks have been confined to minor »

With a little help, the Times strikes again

Featured image It is hard to comprehend the casual malice of the New York Times toward the national security of the United States. Today, with a little help from “current and former intelligence officials,” the Times’s Matthew Rosenberg and Adam Goldman call out Michael D’Andrea, the CIA officer newly appointed to run the agency’s Iran operations. The Times explains its perfidy: The C.I.A. declined to comment on Mr. D’Andrea’s role, saying it »

Should the U.S. take decisive military action in south Syria?

Featured image Last week, U.S. planes attacked a pro-Assad convoy in southern Syria. The convoy had violated a restricted zone around a base where United States and British Special Forces train Syrian rebels to fight ISIS. I wrote about the attack here, noting that the area in question is of strategic importance to Assad, Syrian rebels, Iran, Russia, and the U.S., and hence a likely future battleground quite apart from the fight »

Fake reformer wins fake election

Featured image That’s the headline of Eli Lake’s story on the victory of Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani’s in this weekend’s election. Lake calls the election fake because the Iranian president lacks anything like the power we ordinarily associate with a president: As anyone who pays attention to Iran knows, the real power in the country resides with the unelected supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, and the security services, which operate more like rival »