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GOP lawmakers introduce bill pushing back on Biden’s Iran policy



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Members of the Republican Study Committee Caucus on Wednesday, joined by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, announced the introduction of a bill to push back against the Biden administration with regards to Iran, especially sanctions.

“In the first 100 days, President [Joe] Biden has exhibited a troubling pattern. He’s talked a big game while returning to the same Obama-era weakness that emboldened our adversaries and made American families less safe,” said Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, the group’s chair, at the RSC press conference unveiling the Maximum Pressure Act in front of the U.S. Capitol. “His foreign policy seems to be defined by the approach of ‘speak loudly and carry a twig,’ which is in stark contrast to the tree limb that [Pompeo] and President [Donald] Trump carried on a daily basis.”

“And we are seeing Biden’s weak approach take root with regards to Iran,” the Indiana Republican added. The reason, he said, for why the RSC was gathered for the noontime conference on Wednesday, is “to communicate to the Biden administration that we will fight to maintain sanctions on Iran and show our adversaries that if Joe Biden temporarily lifts sanctions, we will reimpose them later.”

The Maximum Pressure Act, in the words of Banks, does three things. Firstly, it shows that Congress “is not bound to agreements by the president that purports to speak on our behalf”. Secondly, it “modifies the Trump administration’s maximum pressure strategy until Iran meets the 12 demands laid out by [Pompeo] in May of 2018,” which Banks said “Biden’s State Department refused to say that they support.” And thirdly, it “expands the existing bipartisan Iran sanctions mandated by Congress.”

The legislation—which has 83 cosponsors for the bill as of Wednesday, according to the Indiana congressman—is “the toughest sanctions bill ever introduced in Congress on Iran,” he said.

Saying he’s “proud” of the bill, Pompeo, who was consulted on it, said “it talks about things that need to be done for Iran to rejoin the community of nations and says ‘If you don’t do that, sanctions are going to […] remain in place.’ This is what Congress quintessentially has the responsibility to do.”

Former President Trump’s secretary of state, hoping for the bill to become a bipartisan one in the Democrat-controlled House, went on to say that “this isn’t about Republicans, or conservatives, or Democrats; this is about the security of America.”

Behnam Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who focuses on Iranian security and political issues, told on Wednesday that the “legislation signals that many members of Congress do not think the talks in Vienna, as well as the more conciliatory and pale green light approach taken by the Biden administration towards Iran will bear fruit,” referencing the ongoing talks between the U.S., Iran, and a host of other countries in Vienna over the 2015 Iran nuclear deal—or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—that Trump withdrew the U.S. from, to much scrutiny from Western allies.

“The Trump administration’s 12 points was not a departure from long-standing U.S. goals or national strategy towards the Islamic Republic,” he said, then arguing that the Obama administration turned “a blind eye to Iran’s regional threat networks and permitting domestic enrichment, which enabled and sustained the fatally flawed JCPOA, represented the departure in U.S. policy.”

“Any attempt to restore the importance of those 12 points, as well as integrate human rights for a critical ’13th point’ should therefore be seen as a restoration of long-standing U.S. policy aims towards Tehran.”

Also saying “it is unclear if this bill will become law,” Taleblu added that “the message it sends, coupled with a flurry of other bills, bipartisan letters, and statements is clear. The U.S. Congress believes in a more comprehensive pressure policy to impede Iran’s revenues, call out its human rights abuses, and change its behavior. Attempts to resurrect the JCPOA will do none of that.”

“I would consider this legislation to be the beginnings of a more cohesive Congressional ‘ground-game’ on Iran led by the RSC,” the FDD senior fellow continued. “The range of diverse sanctions options discussed in the bill should serve as a reminder that the U.S. has more room to grow its peaceful pressure policy, rather than trade it away for limited concessions at the negotiating table.”

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @DouglasPBraff.

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Facebook, Instagram Employees ‘Censor or Delete’ Protests against Iran



Iran President Rouhani

Former and current Facebook and Instagram employees are shedding light onto the “fact checkers” that are censoring vital content such as protests against Iran. “According to a report by BBC Persian, these employees admitted that at all levels of the company, the Iran regime’s influence has infiltrated, leaving biased and pro-regime content monitors to restrict, censor or delete posts about the current protests in Iran” reports The Foreign Desk.

Similar to censorship at the companies in the United States and elsewhere, the behavior is its own political movement. “The actions by these Iranian employees to remove images of the demonstrations in Iran and associated hashtags helps reinforce the Islamic Republic’s argument that the protests are not so widespread.”

According to one of the former employees who had his identity hidden for security purposes, told the BBC Persian in an interview from Germany, that the workers travel back and forth between Europe and Iran. “About 90 percent” of the decision making on censorship is done by these “fact checkers.”

“These are individuals who single-handedly take posts down. According to the source, employees are not allowed to have their personal cellular devices with them at their workstations, so these individuals go to the break room to report a post from their personal phones and then come back to their workstations and address the ‘complaint’ they just created.”


The Foreign Desk adds:

In 2019 TELUS International became the third-party company contracted with Instagram and Facebook to become their fact checkers and address complaints from users reporting posts for violent, hateful, or threatening material. 

A second source, a former TELUS employee, said approximately 400-500 Iranians work at the company in Germany, a country that is known to have diplomatic and bilateral relations with the Islamic Republic. 

The Islamic Republic has learned from the Green Revolution of 2009 to infiltrate Western social media outlets and their parent companies to control the narrative and prevent the international community from siding with anti-regime demonstrators.

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