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AUGUST 2020

U.S. Releases Country Reports On Terrorism 2019: Almost Entirely Focused On Iran

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U.S. Releases Country Reports On Terrorism 2019: Almost Entirely Focused On Iran

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On June 24th, the US Department of State issued its “Country Reports on Terrorism 2019.”

Several things were underlined as the greatest successes of 2019:

  1. Along with the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, the United States completed the destruction of the so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria in March. Russia, the Syrian Arab Army, Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units and Iran aren’t mentioned as the primary parties who objectively deserve credit for the “defeat” of ISIS.
  2. In October, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi died following a U.S. military raid on his compound in Syria. He was immediately replaced by another leader and the “defeated” ISIS continues its activities.
  3. In April, the Secretary of State designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including its Qods Force, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization – the first time part of a foreign government has been so designated. And in response, Iran designate US Central Command as a terrorist organization, and all it did was exacerbate relations between Washington and Tehran further.
  4. In September, President Trump ordered the most significant update of U.S. terrorism designation authorities since the aftermath of 9/11. And throughout the year, a number of governments in the Western Hemisphere and Europe announced the terrorist designations of Hezbollah.

In most countries, there are attempts to counter any and all activities by Iran, alleged or actual. This is what the report outlines for Iran:

“Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1984, Iran continued its terrorist-related activity in 2019, including support for Hizballah, Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, and various terrorist groups in Syria, Iraq, and throughout the Middle East.

Iran used the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) to provide support to terrorist organizations, provide cover for associated covert operations, and create instability in the region.

Iran has acknowledged the involvement of the IRGC-QF in the Iraq and Syria conflicts, and the IRGC-QF is Iran’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad.  In April 2019, the Secretary of State designated the IRGC, including the Qods Force, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).  Iran also used regional proxy forces to provide deniability, in an attempt to shield it from accountability for its aggressive policies.”

A State Sponsor of Terrorism designation means that a set of sanctions is imposed including:

  1. A ban on arms-related exports and sales;
  2. Controls over exports of dual-use items, requiring 30-day Congressional notification for goods or services that could significantly enhance the terrorist-list country’s military capability or ability to support terrorism;
  3. Prohibitions on economic assistance; and
  4. Imposition of miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.

There are currently 4 countries on the list: Iran, Syria, Sudan and North Korea.

The general antagonism against Iran stems from the fact that it heavily opposes Israel and its activities, and specifically its ambitions of annexing ever more of the West Bank and Palestine.

“In 2019, Iran provided support to Hamas and other designated Palestinian terrorist groups, including Palestine Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.  These Palestinian terrorist groups were behind numerous deadly attacks originating in Gaza and the West Bank, including attacks against Israeli civilians in the Sinai Peninsula.”

The report also alleged that Iran is refusing to bring senior al-Qaeda members residing in the country, and refuses to publicly identify members of the terrorist group that it has in its custody.

“Iran has allowed AQ facilitators to operate a core facilitation pipeline through Iran since at least 2009, enabling AQ to move funds and fighters to South Asia and Syria.”

Finally, it allegedly constantly carries out “terrorist plots” all over Europe to eliminate dissidents.

“As in past years, the Iranian government continued supporting terrorist plots to attack Iranian dissidents in several countries in continental Europe.  In recent years, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Albania have all either arrested or expelled Iranian government officials implicated in various terrorist plots in their respective territories.  Denmark similarly recalled its ambassador from Tehran after learning of an Iran-backed plot to assassinate an Iranian dissident in its country.”

When it comes to Turkey, all of its activities are praised by the US – it continued to fight against terrorist organizations both inside and outside of its borders.

“Turkey is a member of the UN, NATO, the CT Committee for the CoE, and the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, and it co-chairs, with Kuwait and the Netherlands, the Defeat-ISIS FTF Working Group.  Turkey hosted two meetings of the FTF Working Group in Ankara during the year.  Turkey regularly participates in GCTF meetings and initiatives.  Turkey also contributes to the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law, a GCTF-inspired institution, and provides expert support to assist training for judges and prosecutors handling terrorism cases.  Turkey participates in OSCE expert meetings on the Prevention of Violent Extremism and Radicalization that Lead to Terrorism organized by the OSCE Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the OSCE Secretariat.

Turkey has bilateral security cooperation agreements with more than 70 countries.  The TNP contributes to CT capacity-building programs of partner countries and offers specialized international law enforcement training in a variety of sectors, including CT.”

Notably, the report presents the situation in northeastern Syria in a way that the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces are unmentioned, such as the example below, regarding a terror incident in October 2019:

“In October, during Turkey’s military Operation Peace Spring into Syria against the People’s Protection Units (YPG), 13 civilians in Turkey were killed by cross-border shelling from Syria; the Turkish government attributed these to the YPG, which Turkey considers the Syrian arm of the PKK, a designated FTO.”

It is widely known and admitted that the YPG is the core of the SDF, it is no secret.

The entire section on Turkey praises the country’s success against PKK/YPG, as well as in fighting ISIS, but fails to mention that the PKK/YPG are actually US allies in the face of SDF.

Any support for the Turkish-backed militants in northwestern Syria is also not included. This relates to the “moderate opposition” that, purely due to accident, shares many “terrorist-like” qualities and is mostly comprised of members of actual terrorist organizations.

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