How Iran Works with Organized Crime to Eliminate Its Enemies

On December 12, the Islamic Republic executed a dissident expatriate journalist named Ruhollah Zam. Apparently Zam, who was living in Belgium, was lured by a comely young woman to Iraq, where Iranian agents kidnapped him and brought him to his homeland against his will. Tehran has used such schemes more than once to dispose of its enemies, along with carrying out assassinations on foreign soil. Michael Segall describes recent revelations about the ayatollahs’ methods:

A series of articles published recently in the Turkish, British, and American media indicate that Iranian intelligence is making effective use of major international crime organizations and drug cartels in several countries to advance its goals, notably capturing dissidents in the diaspora. These organizations have affiliates in other countries, for example Romania, a country where a senior Iranian judge was recently assassinated during a mysterious trip.

One such organization has become the long arm of Iranian intelligence. It is run by Naji Sharifi Zindashti, born in Oroumieh, Iran, and the son of a [Kurdish] Peshmerga fighter. Zindashti was detained in Evin prison after a conviction for drug trafficking at the age of twenty. He escaped from prison and lived in Turkey for many years. Zindashti had contacts with Turkish politicians in President Erdogan’s AKP party. . . . He was mysteriously released from prison in 2010 after his arrest in 2007 in Turkey for possession of 75 kilograms of heroin.

Zindashti was also wanted in Greece in 2014 after the discovery of the largest shipment of heroin in European history. After the two-ton shipment was uncovered on a freighter, a series of mysterious murders also took place in various countries.

It should be noted that over the years, even as Iran has carried out assassinations in European countries, these Western nations have maintained trade relations with it, while ignoring repeated human-rights violations in Iran and global terrorist operations outside it. Even now, despite the sanctions imposed on the Iranian Intelligence Ministry, the European Union’s primary interest is to continue the economic ties with Iran.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: European Union, Human Rights, Iran, Terrorism

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy