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Obama’s Grand Delusion about Iran

A clearer, tougher policy is required — urgently.

by
'Reza Kahlili'

Bio

May 1, 2009 - 12:00 am

President Barack Obama’s recent video message to Iranians and their ruling mullahs for the Persian new year was both kind and heartfelt. Norouz, the Persian new year, has been celebrated by Iranians for almost 3,000 years. Norouz means new day and it represents two symbolic ancient concepts: end and rebirth — or end of evil and rebirth of good.

But the ruling mullahs in Iran are trying to usurp our Persian heritage and replace it with Arab/Islamic events. They have even tried to ban the new year celebration, calling it un-Islamic. If it were not for the courage and resistance of Iranians, our new year would have been replaced with an Islamic event just like the many other social changes since the Iranian Revolution.

Forcing Iranians to adhere to a strict Islamic dress code is the least of it. We have been subjected to amputation as the punishment for stealing, lashing for drinking, stoning for adultery, and execution by hanging from cranes for speaking against our rulers. Just days ago, Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammadi Gilani was awarded the highest judicial honor for his 30 years of service to the Islamic Republic. As the chief judge of the Revolutionary Courts, he ordered that demonstrators be killed and virgin girls be raped prior to execution so they could not go to heaven. He called the torture and killing of male and female opponents of the regime fair and just. All for no other reason than they violated the Islamic law as viewed by the mullahs.

President Obama’s comments may be well-intentioned, but like previous U.S. presidents, he ignores the ideology behind the mullahs’ regime. The mullahs’ view of Islam is based on Sharia, Islamic law that condemns as enemies of God all those who oppose them and all those who don’t believe in Allah. The mullahs believe in jihad or holy war for Islam, shahadat (martyrdom), and mahdaviat (the coming of the Shiites’ 12th imam to usher in Armageddon.) They believe that justice can only be served by killing the infidels and raising the flag of Islam worldwide.

These beliefs shape the mullahs’ jihadist policies. And therein lies the reason that U.S. presidents have not managed to succeed in negotiations with Tehran — either through secret or open channels — since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. President Jimmy Carter failed to negotiate the release of American hostages in Iran after the U.S Embassy in Tehran takeover. President Reagan failed to improve relations and failed to release American hostages held in Lebanon in exchange for arms. President George H. W. Bush failed in his secret negotiations with Hashemi Rafsanjani, going as far as recognizing him as the new leader of Iran. President Bill Clinton failed to improve relations when he met Iranian demands, removed sanctions, and apologized to the Iranian government for past U.S. behavior toward Iran. And President George W. Bush failed with his constant threats, which saw no follow-through.

The lesson of America’s failed carrot-and-stick foreign policy toward Iran is clear: Carrots don’t work; sticks work only if there is a follow-through.

The mullahs have backed down only once. Reagan had just about had it with the mullahs after his failed negotiations with them. Iran would not accept peace with Iraq and constantly threatened the flow of oil through the Persian Gulf. Reagan ordered attacks on the Iranian oil fields and naval units in the Persian Gulf. A top Revolutionary Guards commander told me, “A message has been sent by Reagan that if we do not accept peace [with Iraq] immediately, they will nuke us.” It was only then that Ayatollah Khomeini caved in and ended the Iran-Iraq war.

President Obama must be clear and concise with his policy toward Tehran. An Iran with nukes must never be allowed. The mullahs must abandon their enrichment activity and allow full International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections of all suspected sites. And they must stop supporting terrorism. Only then should they be welcomed by the world community.

If the mullahs continue to defy U.N. Security Council resolutions, there must be serious consequences. It could start with a naval blockade of Iran’s refined oil imports, which account for almost half of its domestic consumption. If that does not persuade them, then taking out the mullahs’ nuclear installations would be a better solution than facing a nuclear-armed Iran. Hesitation with Iran will only result in an inevitable nuclear confrontation with dire consequences, not only for Iranians but the region and the world.

The mullahs’ lobbyists in the U.S. have been trying hard to influence the Obama administration with their delusional picture of the leaders of Iran. The mullahs say a softer tone will earn their love and that their problems are not with America but with Israel.

In a recent New York Times column, Roger Cohen defended the mullahs against claims that they are a messianic apocalyptic cult. He said the regime is “the same ‘messianic apocalyptic cult’ that has survived 30 years, ushered the country from the penury of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war … cooperated with America on Afghanistan before being consigned to ‘the axis of evil,’ and kept its country at peace in the 21st century.”

Apparently, Mr. Cohen has been living in a cave for the past 30 years, during which the Iranian regime was busy with the bombing of the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, the torture and killing of American hostages such as CIA agent William Buckley in 1985, the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988, and the bombings of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994 and the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996. Other atrocities include:

  • the massacre of as many as 30,000 political prisoners in 1988
  • the stabbing and mutilation in France of Shahpour Bakhtiar in 1991 — the last prime minister under the shah — and the ensuing release of a French hostage by Hezbollah in exchange for the French turning a blind eye to the killing
  • the Mafia-style assassination of the Kurdish opposition leaders in Germany in 1992 (Mykonos Trial)
  • the serial killings of Iranian dissident intellectuals in 1998
  • the 1998 stabbing and mutilation of the leader of Iran’s National Party and his wife (Dariush and Parvaneh Forouhar) while tied to the chair in their home facing Mecca
  • the killing of the students in their uprising of July 1999
  • the 2003 rape, torture, and killing of Zahra Kazemi, an Iranian/Canadian reporter in Tehran
  • and the recent imprisonment of Roxana Saberi , a U.S. journalist on trumped-up charges of espionage.
  • some of the highest-ranking Iranian authorities are currently either on Interpol’s most-wanted list or have arrest warrants issued for them by several courts around the world for their terrorist activities.

Mr. Cohen also claimed after a short visit to Iran that life was not that bad for the Iranian Jews under the Islamic rule of the mullahs. I guess Mr. Cohen did not get the chance to talk with the Jews who were blindfolded and taken in front of an execution squad and told they were going to die unless they signed a confession letter admitting they spied for Israel. He probably didn’t have the opportunity to talk to those Jews who, out of fear, converted to Islam but still had their passports confiscated every time they came back from a trip outside of Iran and had to put up with hair-raising questioning sessions in the Revolutionary Courts about their travels.

Mr. Cohen, a short visit to Iran does not make you an expert. I have lived it and seen it. I was a member of the Revolutionary Guards and chose to spy for America, thus putting my life and the lives of my family on the line to help America see the truth about the mullahs and the true aspirations of the great people of Iran.

It’s time to learn from past mistakes and understand the seriousness of the situation. A nuclear-capable Iran will create uncertainty, havoc, and total imbalance in world order. If one thinks the proliferation of arms by Iran to Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Iraqi militants, the Taliban, Sudan’s radical regime, and many terrorist groups around the world is a problem now, wait until dirty bombs show up everywhere.

The mullahs will sit at the negotiating table and shake hands, but as they have done for the past 30 years, they will sting you in the end just like a scorpion, for it is their nature to help Islam conquer the world. The Quran is their best guidance: deceive your enemies until such time as you are powerful enough to destroy them.

“Today Iran, with the grace of God, is controlling the entire nuclear fuel cycle,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on state television of the nuclear fuel facility in Isfahan, which is capable of producing 10 tons of nuclear fuel annually. Once fully operational, it could produce sufficient plutonium for two nuclear weapons a year.

Iranian officials have also announced an increase in the number of centrifuges at Iran’s uranium enrichment facility in Natanz (7,000, up from 6,000) and indicated their progress in testing a more advanced type of centrifuge.

It is estimated that Iran currently possesses over 26 kilograms of U-235 in its stockpile of low-enriched uranium and produces close to two kilograms more a month. The amount needed for a first-generation atomic bomb is 21.6 kilograms, and the time needed for the conversion of low-enriched uranium to weapons grade uranium is estimated to be two to six months. This is while the Revolutionary Guards, with the help of North Korea, are working on long-range ballistic missiles in tests that are concealed by its space project. As long as America continues to step back from its red line, both Iran and North Korea will take a more offensive posture in their policies.

Learn the lessons of history, Mr. President. If you don’t, the world is in peril.

Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the author of the award winning book, A Time to Betray. He serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and the advisory board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI).
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