This week, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is making his annual visit to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly. This time, Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's foreign minister and former head of its Atomic Energy Organization, will accompany him, despite being under U.S. and European Union travel bans for his role in Iran's human rights violations and its illegal nuclear weapons program.
Their presence in the United States makes a mockery of the international sanctions regime that the Obama administration has so skillfully constructed.
As Ahmadinejad testifies before the UN, his government continues to provide money, intelligence, cyber experts to shut down dissident communications, and reportedly even detachments of snipers to prop up Bashar Assad's regime as it guns down democratic protesters in Syria.
Ahmadinejad ascended to Iran's presidency through the country's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, arguably the world's most deadly terrorist organization. Through the IRGC, Tehran has waged a low-intensity war on the United States for over 30 years. In 1983, Iranian proxy Hezbollah bombed a Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 U.S. servicemen. In 1996, a group with Iranian ties bombed the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 U.S. airmen. Throughout the 1990s, and perhaps leading up to 9/11, Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah's terrorist mastermind, worked as Iran's liaison with al Qaeda providing training on mass casualty attacks.
Today, Iran continues to support terrorist groups ranging from Hezbollah to the Palestinian Sunni groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as well as Shiite militias in Iraq, and lately even its erstwhile enemies the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The Revolutionary Guards control the economy of an oil-rich nation, travel abroad on diplomatic passports, and hide their operatives in Iranian embassies all over the world. The Guards also enjoy full representation at the UN, OPEC and other international bodies. Sanctioned Guards commander Rostam Qasemi currently serves as OPEC's president, and will be attending the organization's meetings in Vienna.