ClarionProject.org.'s Exclusive Interview with Saeed Ghasseminejad and Sara Akrami
Saeed Ghasseminejad graduated from the University of Tehran with Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Civil and Transport Engineering. He left Iran in 2008 and is now a Ph.D. student in Finance at Baruch College. He is the spokesman for Iranian Liberal Students and Graduates and the Director of the Iranian Center for Liberal Studies.
Sara Akrami left Iran for Canada six years ago at age 17. She is the founder and President of the Human Rights Association at York University-Canada. Click here to read ClarionProject.org’s interview with her about her campus activism against the Iranian regime.
Ryan Mauro: It is believed that Iran was behind the bombing of a bus carrying Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, killing 6. What is Iran trying to achieve by carrying out small attacks like this?
Ghasseminejad/Akrami: Many experts believe that the Islamic Republic of Iran and Hezbollah are behind the explosion. The Islamic Republic of Iran is a significant sponsor of terrorism and over its 33 years of existence, it has continually instigated violence and pursued indirect war through the use of terrorism in the Middle East, Africa and both North and South America.
The general reasons that the Iranian government plots these kinds of attacks are:
1) To undermine the process of peacemaking, not only in the Middle East but throughout the world,
2) To instigate other Islamic radicals into continuing jihad against non-Muslims or “infidels,” and
3) To promote anti-Semitism against Jewish people and Israeli citizens.
However, with this specific attack, they are trying to send the message that they have no limit in their terrorist activities and they are able to target Israelis, Americans and Europeans everywhere.
Ryan Mauro: The Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) isn’t just a military force but an economic one. Can you explain how the IRGC is controlling the Iranian economy?
Ghasseminejad/Akrami: The IRGC controls 30-40% of the Tehran Stock Exchange Market’s capital value. It owns Iran’s largest telecommunications company and it also receives all the important contracts from oil and gas industries. Recently, Iran’s new Oil Minister declared that a new wave of privatization is coming to the oil industry and he is willing to give the oil assets to his friends in the IRGC.
The IRGC is also very active in the construction industry and it has accumulated many important contracts from this industry over the past 10 years. The IRGC has control over various ports that are being used for smuggling of all forms of legal and illegal goods. In addition, the IRGC has a key role in drug trafficking, which is a profitable business in Iran.
Ryan Mauro: How much is the regime suffering from the latest sanctions targeting its oil exports?
Ghasseminejad/Akrami: Sanctions are definitely effective and they have occupied the minds of the Iranian regime officials. On one hand, the Iranian government is extremely concerned about people’s protests and even one of the high-ranking IRGC commanders declared that sanctions are part of the “enemy’s conspiracy” to increase protests throughout the country.
On the other hand, sanctions and the price increases of all sorts of goods, especially foods, have caused disputes among the regime officials. Recently, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei asked people to consume less. Due to sanctions, the currency has devaluated and Iran is facing problems in receiving its oil revenues.
Ryan Mauro: The Iranian economy is in much worse shape than it was in 2009 and the regime grows weaker over time. How come the Iranian people aren’t marching in the streets anymore?
Ghasseminejad/Akrami: Last week, people in Nishabour, which is a city in the east of Iran, came on the streets to protest against the distressed economic situation. The sanctions are not that effective because the Iranian government is still able to sell huge amounts of oil. Stronger sanctions will serve as a primary tool to precipitate the regime’s collapse.
Also, the international community should refuse to buy oil from Iran. This will make the government fragile. At this point, democratic states of the world should use this opportunity to help the Iranian people overthrow the terrorism-supporting, anti-Western, anti-Israel government of Iran that is in an overt war with its own people and in a covert war with its own people; an opportunity that the Obama Administration missed during the post-election protests.
In addition, the United States of America should support all Iranian opposition and pro-democracy groups, not just a specific group. Sanctions and supporting regime change are two major components that will result in the collapse of the regime.
Ryan Mauro: Iran has launched many terrorist plots since last summer but all of them, except for the Bulgaria bus bombing, have failed. What do you say to those that might say that this proves the regime isn’t much of a threat?
Ghasseminejad/Akrami: We suggest those who have doubts about the regime’s terrorism to look at recent attacks by the Qods Force, the external branch of the IRGC, in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years. All those failed plots have one aspect in common and that is the fact that high-ranking intelligence officials were not involved in them.
Now, imagine the time when the Iranian government achieves its dream of completing its so-called “peaceful nuclear program” or, what we call it, a nuclear bomb. The entire region will definitely be set on fire.
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org's National Security Analyst and a fellow with the Clarion Fund. He is the founder of WorldThreats.com and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.
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