By Joseph Puder
Monday, September 24, 2007
Alireza Jafarzadeh, president of the Washington- based Strategic Policy Consulting Inc. and spokesperson for the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), was the guest of the Middle East Forum at Philadelphia’s Cozen O’Connor law offices last Wednesday over lunch. Bob Guzzardi, Esq. chairman of the Middle East Forum introduced Mr. Jafarzadeh. Jafarzadeh used his visit with the Middle East Forum to promote his new book, The Iran Threat: President Ahmadinejad and the Coming Nuclear Crisis.
The best policy option for the U.S., according to Jafarzadeh, is to support the MEK (Mujahedin -e Khalq), currently listed by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization. Jafarzadeh said that all other options including an economic boycott of Iran, support for minority groups within Iran, and military action are only ancillary to supporting MEK.
Bombing Iran, Jafarzadeh claimed, will not help and, at best, would delay the nuclear program. In focusing on Iraq, Jafarzadeh said, “Nuri al-Maliki, the current Prime Minister must be removed, and Shiite militias disarmed.” He accused Maliki of being an agent of Iran and emphasized Iran’s decisive voice in the Maliki government. He asserted that, “Ministerial appointments in the Maliki government get approval from Tehran.”
America’s and the free world’s best hopes for Iran, he said, are with the younger generation and women. Being born into a climate of oppression, the young people and women in particular are rebelling and demanding freedom.
Jafarzadeh stressed the futility of any talks held between U.S. officials and their Iranian counterparts. “Talks with the Iranian officials exposes the U.S. weakness and encourages Iranian aggression,” Jafarzadeh asserted.
Jafarzadeh, an active Iranian dissident became more widely recognized in 2002 when he revealed the existence of clandestine nuclear facilities in Iran. When he originally sounded the alarm, Jafarzadeh noted, “it did not seem real to many people at the time, now people are realizing how serious the situation is.”
Referring to Iraq, Jafarzadeh said that Iran is waging a proxy war against the U.S. forces in Iraq and that General David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, admitted as much in their testimony before Congress. Jafarzadeh asked rhetorically why it took so long?
Jafarzadeh charged that the Iranian regime dominated everything in Iraq, and that it has delivered the Improvised Explosive Devise (IED) bombs to Iraqis in order to kill Americans.
These bombs, according to Jafarzadeh, are built in the suburbs of Tehran and shipped to Iraq. He added that Iran is training the militias and providing them arms and assistance to the tune of $70 million a month. Moreover, Jafarzadeh said that Iran has 32,000 agents in Iraq, and that key Iraqis in local and provincial governments take their orders from Tehran. The same is true, he said, with regard to the Defense Ministry and police.
Iran’s goal is to establish an Islamic Shiite State in Iraq according to Jafarzadeh. He pointed out that immediately after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, three million Iranians crossed the border into Iraq to visit the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala. And, he quoted a member of the Iraqi National Assembly, Jamal al-Din (a Shiite cleric), as openly claiming that, “Iran already controls the Iraqi government.”
Iran’s extremism, coupled with its possession of a nuclear bomb, would be “a nightmare scenario” Jafarzadeh emphasized. The Iranian regime, he added, “believes in global Islamic rule,” and a nuclear bomb would give it the leverage and “help it to consolidate power.”
Ahmadinejad has pushed for this nuclear program with the backing of the Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guards. The nuclear program itself is under the control of the Revolutionary Guards, who are in turn loyal to Ahmadinejad. The Revolutionary Guards, Jafarzadeh said, have carried out the R&D on the nuclear weapons.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has not interviewed the Revolutionary Guards on the nuclear weapons situation, Jafarzadeh asserted, adding that the IAEA failed to inspect a number of underground facilities that the Iranian opposition revealed to them. Jafarzadeh claimed that the Iranian nuclear program has not been slowed down, and that progress is being made with plutonium in Nantaz.
Addressing actions the U.S. must take, Jafarzadeh said that Washington must demand that the Iraqi government “purge the Iranian elements.” Iran, Jafarzadeh said, created such entities as the Badr Brigades, and other such militias and they should be disbanded and disarmed. “The U.S.,” Jafarzadeh said, “needs to empower the more moderate voices in Iraq since they are a majority.” He stressed that the majority of Shias in Iraq are not radical, and that the moderate voices get killed.
Jafarzadeh brought up the Iranian opposition in the context of Iraq and pointed out that they have pressured the Sunni groups to stop fighting the Americans and Iraqis. He went on to say that the Iranian opposition groups (NCRI) have been fighting the Ayatollahs in Tehran and Qum for more than 27 years.
“Sitting with Iranian government officials sends the wrong message to moderates in Iran and weakens their voice,” Jafarzadeh said. The U.S. must be firm with Iran’s agents in Iraq and with Iran itself, and the Mujahedin -e Khalq (MEK) opposition group should be supported by the U.S. instead of it being on the terrorist list of the State Department. Saddam Hussein had supported the MEK for over twenty years and used them during the Iran-Iraq war. The group is heavily armed (took tanks and artillery left in Saddam’s arsenal) and is strong enough to confront Iranian troops.
“Iran is vulnerable internally,” Jafarzadeh claimed, citing the more than 5000 anti-government demonstrations in Iran last year. Demonstrators burned Ahmadinejad’s photo right in front of him, in spite of the mass executions faced by opposition members since 1988.
In ending his 30-minute presentation Jafarzadeh said, “There is no need to invade Iran or use military action and the U.S. need not go on with fruitless negotiations with the Iranians. The people of Iran are ready for change.” The U.S. banned the MEK and labeled it a terrorist organization as a gesture to Iranian president Muhammad Khatami (1997-2005), who was perceived in the West as a “moderate.” It is high time, Jafarzadeh said, the U.S. ends its ban on the MEK and begins supporting it openly.
The main base from which he operates is called Ramadan which has four tactical bases along the 1,200 kilometers border with Iraq. Zafar is located in the western city of Karmanshah overseeing the entire Quds Forces’ operations in the eastern and central Iraq.
Local sources confirmed that a delegation from Iran was in Iraqi Kurdistan presumably for signing a few contracts with the Kurdish officials to facilitate cross border trading between the two neighbors.
The Iranian Ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Kazemi- Qomi on Saturday rushed in to clean up Farhadi’s tracks to the Quds Force and Zafar Base by saying, “They [U.S. forces] have arrested the deputy governor of Karmanshah province who was on an official visit to Kurdistan for promoting regional commercial ties.”
No matter what the mullahs claim, Farhadi is one of the most important commanders of the Quds Force in Iraq.
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is poised to deliver a defiant address to the United Nations general assembly this week amid a storm of opposition to his visit to New York and growing international alarm over his country’s nuclear ambitions.
On the eve of his departure from Tehran, the Iranian military yesterday showed off a new long-range ballistic missile called the Ghadr – Farsi for ‘power’.
In a speech marking the event, Ahmadinejad shrugged off US and regional concerns about Iran’s more assertive role, saying: ‘Iran is an influential power in the region and the world should know that this power has always served peace, stability, brotherhood and justice.’
But with the Iranian leader expected to arrive in New York on Sunday for the annual meeting of the 192-member assembly, diplomats said that his visit was likely to raise the temperature yet again in the debate surrounding international moves to curb Iran’s nuclear enrichment programme.
Members of the UN security council have been informally consulting on the possibility of a new and tougher resolution in the wake of Iran’s refusal to abandon its ambitions to produce enriched uranium. Last week, the French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, warned the Iranians that if diplomatic efforts failed to dissuade Iran from becoming a nuclear power, war was a possibility.
Speaking to The Observer, the British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, played down that prospect, and interpreted Kouchner’s remarks as a move to convey to Iran ‘the depth of feelings’ about ‘the dangers of setting off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East’.
Miliband insisted that Britain and its EU allies were ’100 per cent committed to a diplomatic solution. But when asked whether he thought the issue ‘will be solved by diplomatic means’, he stopped short of saying yes. He replied instead: ‘I think it can be solved by diplomatic means.’
Ahmadinejad’s visit has already sparked bitter opposition in New York. He has been forced to cancel plans to ‘pay respects to the American nation’ at the Ground Zero site of the 11 September terror attack on the World Trade Centre, amid protests from relatives of some of the victims.
On Monday, Columbia University is scheduled to play host to Ahmadinejad for a question-and-answer session with students and faculty – despite calls from leading political figures, including a number of US presidential candidates, for the school to cancel the event.
The university’s president, Lee Bollinger, has said he will introduce the event with a ‘series of sharp challenges’ to Ahmadinejad on issues ranging from his ‘denial of the Holocaust’ and his ‘call for the destruction of the State of Israel’ to Iranian nuclear ambitions.
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BAGHDAD (AFP) — Iran is smuggling advanced weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, into Iraq to be used by extremists against American troops, the US military charged on Sunday.
US military spokesman Rear Admiral Mark Fox told reporters in Baghdad that Iran was shifting sophisticated arms such as “RPG-29s, explosively-formed penetrators (EFPs), 240 mm rockets and Misagh-1 surface-to-air missiles” across its borders into Iraq.
An EFP is a feared roadside bomb which when it explodes emits a white-hot slug of molten copper that can cut through the armoured skins of US military vehicles. Fox reiterated that Iranian national Mahmudi Farhadi, detained on Thursday in the northern province of Sulaimaniyah, is one of the kingpins in the bomb smuggling operations.
“He is a member of the Ramazan Corps, the Quds Force department responsible for all operations in Iraq,” Fox said.
“We are fulfilling our professional responsibility to detain those individuals who are smuggling these illegal weapons into Iraq,” he added.
Iran insists that Farhadi is a civilian official on a visit to Iraq as part of a trade delegation.
On Saturday, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who says Farhadi is a known businessman and not a bomb smuggler, wrote a stern letter to top US officials in Iraq to demand that he be released. US military spokesman Major Winfield Danielson told AFP on Sunday that Farhadi was still being interrogated.
“We are questioning the individual regarding his knowledge of, and involvement in, the transportation of improvised explosive devices and EFPs from Iran into Iraq, and his role in facilitating travel and training in Iran for Iraqi insurgents,” he said.
“We have not yet determined if charges will be filed.”
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