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Iran-backed militias smuggling weapons to Russia: ‘Whatever is anti-US makes us happy’

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Iran nuclear weapons program

According to a report from the Guardian, Iranian-backed militias in Iraq are helping to arm Russia in its invasion of Ukraine. The militias are smuggling weapons into Russia, according to the report.

The report cited members of the Iranian-backed militias as well as regional intelligence services familiar with the matter. RPGs, anti-tank missiles, and Brazilian-designed rocket launcher systems are among the weapons being smuggled.

Iranian authorities also donated one of their Bavar 373 missile systems, a source who helped organize the transfer told the Guardian. “RPGs and anti-tank missiles belonging to the Hashd al-Shaabi Shia militia group were transported from Iraq to Iran on March 26 where they were collected by Russian authorities who then shipped them to Russia by sea, a commander of the militia branch that controls the crossing told the British daily.”

Hashd al-Shaabi also dismantled Brazilian-designed Astros II rocket launcher systems on April 1 for shipment to Russian forces. “We don’t care where the heavy weapons go [because we don’t need them at the moment],” one Hashd al-Shaabi source told The Guardian. “Whatever is anti-US makes us happy.”

Times of Israel reports:

The reported weapons transfers represent the latest progression in Russia’s relations with Iran as Moscow finds itself increasingly isolated and struggling to keep up on the battlefield as Western sanctions continue to pile up.

The smugglings also risk hampering US support for the Iraqi government and army, which have hosted American troops since 2003.

US officials said that Russia has also been leaning on China to send its own military aid for use in the Ukraine invasion, according to The Guardian.

Ukraine has also accused Georgia of helping Russia receive sanctioned military equipment.

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Middle East

Iranian Americans and exiles increase pressure on Biden to end negotiations with Iran

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Iran

As the world rallies around the women’s rights movement protesting the Islamic regime following the death of 22-year-old Iranian woman Mahsa Amini, the pressure on Biden to cease nuclear negotiations intensifies.

“Iranian Americans have held rallies in Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and many other places in the U.S., chanting for the downfall of Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, while calling on the international community to help” writes the Foreign Desk.

During a Sunday rally at the Los Angeles Federal building in Westwood, many young and old attendees spoke to the Foreign Desk and explained their reasons for being against a nuclear agreement while speaking on condition of anonymity:

While many Iranians have been vocal on social media and are attending solidarity protests, most are still fearful of retribution against their friends and family in Iran and requested that their actual names not be used in writing this piece. 

Some Iranian Americans stated that negotiations with Iranian officials would “legitimize the regime and their actions.” Other rallygoers explained that by negotiating with Iran’s regime and removing the economic sanctions, the regime could “build a nuclear bomb against Israel and the U.S..” Instead, they argued that the President should “do more” to punish the Islamic regime and “target its leadership.”

Young Iranian immigrants at the rally argued that instead of removing economic sanctions as stipulated in the nuclear negotiations, the President should actually “put more economic sanctions on the regime,” and that by placing harsher sanctions on the regime, their friends, family members, and the whole country would suffer, but it would significantly “hurt the regime.” 

When asked if they were confident that President Biden would stop negotiations with the regime, many believed that the administration would continue their talks, no matter how big the outcry.

The Foreign Desk  explains that the Iranian regime continues to crack down on protesters without relent. However, the State Department has again confirmed its intention to pursue a nuclear agreement with Iran’s regime.

“We are doing everything we can not only to support the human rights and the aspirations for greater freedom of the Iranian people, but also to hold accountable those within the Iranian system that are responsible for violence against the Iranian people,” said U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price. “When it comes to Iran, though, there would be no greater challenge to the U.S., to our partners, and to the broader international system than an Iran with a nuclear weapon,” said Price.

Price acknowledged that while a deal is not guaranteed to come together, he stated that America has been “sincere and steadfast” in negotiating a potential return to the nuclear agreement but reiterated that the U.S. is “not willing to bend.”

Many experts are comparing the President’s decision to negotiate with the regime amid the crackdowns to President Obama’s actions during the 2009 Green Revolution, where Iranian citizens took to the streets to protest the rigged presidential election results.

Iranian leaders like exiled Prince Reza Pahlavi stated that a nuclear agreement with Iran would be “worse” than the one signed in 2015.

“The Iranian regime has the capability, the technology, and the material to fabricate a bomb,” Pahlavi said. According to the Prince, the failure of the original Iran nuclear agreement would result in “the regime becoming even more radical.”

“Repeating the same mistake with hindsight is even worse than the first one,” he added.

Lawmakers in the House and Senate have called on the administration to cancel nuclear negotiations with Iran and enact a maximum pressure campaign against the regime just like the former Trump administration did. Members of Congress from both political sides have vowed that they will not vote to lift sanctions from Iran or officially finalize a nuclear agreement should one come through.

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