Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi – the Shia cleric handpicked by Ayatollah Khamenei, who won a landslide election in June – has nominated candidates for Cabinet appointments which one opposition groups calls “a 19-member list of assassins, terrorists, and thieves handpicked from Khamenei’s Office.”

Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), said the “Cabinet of the henchman of the 1988 massacre” is an “embodiment of four decades of mullahs’ religious dictatorship and terrorism, whose primary mission is to confront the people’s uprising, and to plunder the national wealth, step up terrorism and warmongering and expand the unpatriotic nuclear and ballistic missiles programs.”

Some of the nominations include IRGC Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi, former commander of the terrorist Quds Force; Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, an aide to Qassem Soleimani; and IRGC Brig. Gen. Ezatollah Zarghami, who was involved in the U.S. Embassy hostage takeover in Tehran.

Raisi’s “conservative” list confirms a worrying direction for dissenters in Iran. Nicknamed the “Butcher of Tehran” for his responsibility in the mass executions of dissidents in 1988, Raisi was sanctioned by the United States in 2019.  

“The 60-year-old Raisi is seen as the optimal enforcer who will seek to crush dissent at home with more aggression over the border,” Foreign Policy’s Michael Hirsh wrote.

Another priority of Raisi’s will be to wrest Iran from the years of damage wrought by “maximum pressure” campaign from U.S. President Donald Trump’s sanctions. Trump pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iranian nuclear deal that former U.S. President Barack Obama was instrumental in organizing in 2015.

Since President Joe Biden took office, the U.S. has been galloping toward a revival of the nuclear deal in exchange for easing of sanctions which have devastated Iran. The country is experiencing inflation, blackouts, water shortages, protests and a desperately ailing economy. 

Raisi also appears to have his eyes set on rapprochement with Saudi Arabia. Relations between the Kingdom and Israel had thawed significantly under the Trump administration while Saudi Arabia and Iran were at odds. Raisi indicated that the main priority of his foreign policy is “to improve relations with neighboring countries.”

“I extend my hand of friendship and brotherhood to all the countries of the region, particularly to the neighbors,” he said.

This could be specifically designed to drive a wedge between the growing alliance with Riyadh and Jerusalem. 

One world leader has long understood and predicted the trajectory – and the threat – of the Iranian regime for decades: Benjamin Netanyahu. 

The former Israeli prime minister understood that Khamenei is motivated by his fanatical – and genocidal – eschatology that seeks to destroy Israel, the United States and all unbelievers in a quest to establish a global Islamic kingdom and the coming of the Mahdi. It is the mission of these Islamists to hasten the coming of their savior by destroying Judeo-Christian civilization.

In his upcoming book, “Enemies and Allies: An Unforgettable Journey inside the Fast-Moving & Immensely Turbulent Modern Middle East,” Joel C. Rosenberg publishes an exclusive and insightful interview that he had with Netanyahu back in 2007 about the Iranian threat.

Netanyahu’s responses reveal why Israel’s longest serving prime minister took such a hardline stance on Iran, even okaying secret strikes on military targets, nuclear sites and the regime’s  proxy groups in Syria and Lebanon. He was also prime minister when the Mossad launched a raid of a nuclear archive and retuned with classified material that stunned the world.

Here are some excerpts from that illuminating conversation:

“I think the West misunderstood, and still misunderstands, the threat of [Iran’s brand of] Islam,” Netanyahu told me. “It is a fanatic, messianic ideology that seeks to have an apocalyptic battle for world supremacy with the West. It seeks to correct what it sees—what its disciples see—as an accident of history, where the West has risen and Islam had declined. The correction is supposed to be done by the resurrection of an Islamic empire and the acquisition of nuclear weapons and the use of nuclear weapons, if necessary, to obliterate Islam’s enemies and to subjugate the rest.

“This is a pathological ideology, much like Naziism was,” Netanyahu continued. “And it poses a threat, in my judgment, in many ways bigger than Naziism—because Hitler embarked on a world conflict and then sought to achieve nuclear weapons. Whereas, as the leading radical Islamic regime, Iran is seeking to first acquire nuclear weapons and then embark on a world conflict. And that is what is not yet understood in the West; and certainly, if it’s understood, it’s not acted upon.”

“How should the West deal with such a regime?” I asked.

For starters, Netanyahu told me, it is incredibly dangerous “to think that these people are normal” or that Iran’s leaders “conform to the conceptions of deterrents and careful calculation of cost and benefit” and would respond positively to normal international diplomacy.

“You’ve already seen what the Sunni stream [of radical Islamism] does, which is to smash into buildings in Manhattan with collective suicide, to smash into the Pentagon with collective suicide,” he said. “There is no reason to believe that the militant Shiites, once they have atomic weapons, will not be suicidal. They say openly that they intend to remove Israel, the ‘Little Satan.’ But remember that their goal is to get the United States, the ‘Big Satan.’ . . . And to have such a regime that believes in apocalyptic Armageddon with the West—in which millions will die on both sides, but the Muslim millions go to a Muslim heaven with all the trappings—to have that crazy ideology in charge of a country that is developing atomic weapons, is unbelievably dangerous and it should stop. Everything else is secondary to this.”

“Can you negotiate with, or even successfully deter, someone who believes that it is his God-given mission to eliminate millions of people?” I pressed.

“No, it’s very hard to rely on deterrents,” Netanyahu explained. “It is not the same as Soviet Russia. It is not the same as China or India or any one of the nuclear powers today [that] think in terms of cost and benefit. In the case of an extreme religious cult that has no such calculations, you could, in fact, face a suicidal regime. Therefore, you cannot rely on deterrents. You should work on prevention—that is, preventing them from acquiring the weapons of mass death.”

Rosenberg also asked Netanyahu how much time the West has to stop Iran. 

You may not like his answer. 

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“Enemies and Allies” will be released on Sept. 7. Rosenberg announced the release of the book – and why he wrote it – at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in June, during an interview with former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – also heavily featured in the book.

You can pre-order ENEMIES AND ALLIES, here.

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