A Third Option for Iran
WUSA 9, February 19, 2007
Andrea Roane: Iraqi troops have reopened several crossings along the Iranian border. Iraq closed its border with both Iran and Syria for three days in an effort to stop the shipment of weapons to insurgent groups. The US and other coalition allies claim that Iraqi militants receive aid and supplies from Iran, including parts for roadside bombs. Iran denies any role in trafficking weapons. Alireza Jafarzadeh writes all about the Iran Threat in his new book called The Iran Threat, and he is back here with us now. Good to have you here with us.
Alireza Jafarzadeh: Itís a great pleasure, Andrea.
Andrea Roane: On your last visit with us you were talking about the United States should maybe focus, if not more attention, at least as much attention on helping the dissidents in Iran trying to topple the government there. How vigorous, how aggressive are the dissidents in Iran? Are there enough of them for the US to work with?
Alireza Jafarzadeh: There are certainly enough of them. They are certainly very committed and very dedicated to overthrowing the Iranian regime, especially the younger generation of Iran. Two-thirds of the Iranian population is below the age of thirty, especially women who are in the forefront of the struggle against the ayatollahs, both inside Iran and outside of the country. Just last year, around this time, was the anniversary of the International Womenís Day. Women got into a major park in Tehran, and demonstrated against the Iranian regime, calling for the overthrow of the ayatollahs. There were some four thousand anti-government demonstrations in Iran in the past one year. There is an organized opposition that has networks both inside Iran, known as the MEK, but also has a parliament in exile outside of the country in France, known as the National Council of Resistance of Iran, headed by a woman, her name is Maryam Rajavi, calling for a democratic Iran, for a pluralistic Iran, for a separation of church and state, or mosque and state if you will, and they want to establish peace in the region, and I think this is something that needs to be explored. The United States, the European countries need to focus on the future of Iran, which belongs to this opposition, to the younger generation, rather than thinking of how to deal with the ruling clerics, whether itís Ahmadinejad or the Supreme Leader Khomeini.
Andrea Roane: Why do you think weíre not following that course?
Alireza Jafarzadeh: Well, I think thatís a question that needs to be posed to the State Department, but if you want my view, I think the State Department still believe that they can have a chance of opening up dialogue with the Iranian regime, they can get something done with negotiations; maybe they think they can convince the Iranian regime to abandon its terrorism in Iraq, to abandon its nuclear weapons program, and I think theyíre wrong. Many members of Congress, from both sides of the aisle are now increasingly vocal against the Iranian regime, telling the United States that they need to shift policy from pinning hopes on the ayatollahs, to pinning hopes and reaching out to the Iranian people and the Iranian opposition.
Andrea Roane: But Iran seems to fear that there is more US involvement; the government of Ahmadinejad is blaming the United States for getting in, supporting dissidents, being responsible for the bombing in Iran that was two weeks ago?
Alireza Jafarzadeh: Well, there is no indication whatsoever that there was any outside involvement in that bombing.
Andrea Roane: Theyíre talking about bombs showing US serial numbers as the United States was saying the same thing was happening in Iran.
Alireza Jafarzadeh: Well, exactly, but the opposite side, which is true, that in the case of Iraq, that the bombs that are actually killing American troops, British troops, that are penetrating heavy armor, are actually coming from Iran. It is the Iranian regime in some of the most secure areas. I know where those bombs are being built; in the district near Tehran calling Lavizan, there is this industry called Satar Industry, run by Iranian Revolutionary Guards under the control of the most elite unit within the Iranian Revolutionary Guards known as the Qods force that produces these very advanced, sophisticated bombs. These are bombs that cannot be built in bicycle shops. So itís the government, itís the Supreme Leader that has total control, and they send these bombs to Iraq to target specifically the American troops.
Andrea Roane: When you come back weíll have you talk more about who is actually in control, who is Ahmadinejad, and who is, maybe, pulling his strings as well.
Alireza Jafarzadeh: We should definitely talk about that.
Andrea Roane: Itís good to have you back.
Alireza Jafarzadeh: Yes, thank you.