since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected Iran's president in June 2005 and began
using strong rhetoric against Israel, the neoconservatives and the Israel lobby
have been trying to provoke a war against Iran, or at the very least persuade
the United States and the international community to impose crippling sanctions
on Iran. Their efforts have been multi-pronged, ranging from spreading
exaggerations, half truths, and even outright lies about Iran's nuclear program,
to planting anti-Iran articles in the mainstream media, and pressuring the
Congress to pass tough Resolutions for sanctions against Iran. The campaign has
spread to cyberspace. Every popular Iranian website (such as
some bloggers who strongly advocate crippling sanctions and even war with Iran,
and support Israel's position.
not help the antiwar community in the U.S. and Europe that Iran's presidential
election of June 12 was rigged, and Ahmadinejad was re-elected fraudulently. The
demonstrations against the rigged election and the fact that at least 72
innocent demonstrators were killed generated considerable sympathy around the
world for Iran's democratic movement. The Israel lobby and the neocons have been
trying to harvest the anger among Iranians about the election to further
advocate crippling sanctions against Iran that are, however, opposed strenuously
by the leaders of Iran's democracy movement.
efforts for starting a war with Iran, or impose crippling sanctions on it, the
Israel lobby and the neocons have been aided by two groups of Iranian exiles:
the monarchists, and members and supporters of the Mojahedin-e Khalgh
Organization (MKO), listed by the State Department as a terrorist group. The
monarchists are a relic of the past. They resemble the exiled Cuban community in
South Florida, and even more closely the Russian Tsarists in Europe after the
October 1917 Revolution, and still fantasize about returning to power, but have
no base of support in Iran.
university student in Iran in the 1970s, I was an MKO supporter because it was
active against the Shah of Iran, and have followed it ever since. The MKO had
considerable support within Iran right after the 1979 Revolution. But, in June,
1981, it began a campaign of assassination that killed the moderate elements of
the Iranian government and brought to power the fundamentalist and reactionary
forces, who in turned executed thousands of MKO supporters.
was then forced into exile and moved its forces to Iraq at the height of
Iran-Iraq war. It collaborated with Saddam Hussein's regime against the Iranian
forces. The assassination campaign and the collaboration with the country's
archenemy destroyed MKO's base of support within Iran. It is now a spent force.
the U.S. considers the MKO a terrorist organization, it is its political arm,
National Council of Resistance (NCR), which carries out its political lobbying.
One aim of the NCR has always been to present the Iranians in the Diaspora as
strongly supportive of the MKO and its policy, imposing sanctions on Iran. But,
the reality is very different.
Iranian-American community numbers about a million and includes many highly
educated professionals - doctors, lawyers, scientists and academics, and owners
of successful businesses. Politically, it is divided into two groups.
One group - a very large majority - does not support sanctions or war. It does not, however, have access to means of mass communications. For a long time, its views were not heard publicly. In essence, it was "silent."
The second group - a very small but highly vocal minority - is made mostly of the monarchists and supporters and sympathizers of the MKO. It has considerable economic power, aided by many wealthy Iranian Jews that are strongly pro-monarchy and support Reza Pahlavi, the Shah's son and the monarchists' titular head.
group controls the means of mass communications in the community - radio, and
satellite TV - which it uses to broadcast Persian programs into Iran. It
supported George W. Bush ardently, and opposes any rapprochement between the
U.S. and Iran and, directly or indirectly, supports military attacks, or at the
very least crippling sanctions, against Iran. Reza Pahlavi himself has advocated
what he calls "selective sanctions."
first group finally found a voice, when the
National Iranian-American Council (NIAC) was formed in 2002. Led by its
charismatic, articulate, and well-informed leader, Dr. Trita Parsi, NIAC has
gradually become a strong voice of moderation, advocating diplomacy, rather than
sanctions and war, with Iran. NIAC also condemned strongly the violent crackdown
on the demonstrators in Iran after the June 12 election. The rise of the NIAC as
a moderate voice of reason has naturally worried the Israel lobby and the
neocons, and their allies in the Iranian community, namely, the monarchists and
the MKO. Thus, a campaign against it got underway.
the monarchist-controlled radio and satellite TV stations began to viciously
attack NIAC and Parsi. This started at least three years ago. Even Parsi's
public speeches were disrupted. For example, in February 2008 Amnesty
International - not NIAC - organized an event in Los Angeles in order to
establish better links with the Iranian community. Parsi was the featured
speaker. But a mob stormed the lecture hall in order to thwart the event.
the mob? The leaders were Hassan Daioleslam who is now being sued by NIAC and
Parsi for defamation, and a collaborator to whom I refer to as PM (I keep his
name confidential for now). Daioleslam has close links with the MKO. His brother
and sister are both members of the MKO. He and PM have posted joint articles on
the internet, attacking anyone who opposes sanctions and war with Iran.
In 2007 I
debated Daioleslam in a Voice of America TV program that is broadcast into Iran.
During the debate he attacked all those who advocate diplomacy with Iran. After
the program was over and we left the VOA studio together, I realized that he had
a bodyguard with him. As is well-known in the Iranian community, only
"important" figures among the monarchists and MKO are accompanied by
PM is a
former communist who supposedly leads a small organization that is ostensibly
active in the defense of human rights. But, the organization is essentially a
website with a PO Box address. Its most important task is attacking those who
oppose sanctions against Iran. For years PM has had close working relations with
Kenneth R. Timmerman, the man who has made a career of being anti-Iran.
Daniel Luban recently reported that in an e-mail to Timmerman, Daioleslam
had said that he considers Parsi to be "the weakest part of the Iranian web" and
that "destroying him will be the start of attacking the whole web" of what he
and MP call the Islamic Republic lobbyists. I believe it was PM who put
Daioleslam in contact with Timmerman.
Daioleslam began posting long articles on the internet, supposedly analyzing
articles written by those advocating diplomacy with Iran, in an attempt to
demonstrate that they are the Islamic Republic's lobbyists in the United States.
His articles were very well-researched, needing hundreds of hours of work.
However, he would take statements out of context, or arbitrarily interpret what
the article's authors had said, in order to prove his point.
know this, because he also did the same to an article of mine. In January 2006
co-authored an article with Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Laureate in
which we argued that if Iran becomes a democracy, then its nuclear program will
not be a concern, and that the Clinton administration did nothing to help Iran's
former reformist president Mohammad Khatami. Daioleslam claimed that we had said
that Khatami failed because the Clinton administration did not help him, which
is utter nonsense. Hence, his conclusion was that we were lobbyist for the
Islamic Republic or at least its reformist faction at that time.
that time, people in the Iranian community were wondering how Daioleslam, who
did not seem to hold any job, could afford spending huge amounts of time
researching his articles. How was he supporting himself, or who was supporting
him? The rife whisper was that he was being supported by the MKO, or its
political arm, the NCR.
interview with Persian radio in Los Angeles in 2007, Daioleslam attacked Parsi,
and again accused him of being a lobbyist for the Islamic Republic. It was that
interview that finally prompted the NIAC and Parsi to file a lawsuit against
Make no mistake. The campaign against NIAC and Parsi by the Israel lobby and the neocons, aided by Iranian monarchists and the MKO, is in fact a campaign to silence anyone and any group that opposes crippling sanctions and eventually war with Iran.
|About the author:
Muhammad Sahimi, professor of chemical engineering and materials science, and the NIOC professor of petroleum engineering at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, has published extensively on Iran's political developments and its nuclear program.
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