Bursting the State Department’s Iran Fantasy Bubble
by Professor Rabbi Daniel M. Zucker
Codex-Politics, International Analyst Network, June 26, 2008.
Cultural exchanges between peoples is a good way to break down the barriers that are so easily erected in the wake of the distrust and misunderstanding that result when alien cultures like those of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States of America collide, as they have done for the last twenty-nine years. Surely that is the reasoning behind the current contemplation within the halls of the Department of State to open an interest section in Tehran, similar to the one it has in Havana since 1977, an idea reported by Fred Hiatt of The Washington Post on Monday, June 23, 2008. Commenting on this idea while in Berlin, Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice is reported by Reuters to have said: “The United States has been for some time trying to reach out to the Iranian people in various ways.” Dr. Rice stated that currently Iranians could travel to Dubai to get U.S. visas, but acknowledged it might not be convenient for them to do so. Explaining that she favored cultural exchanges such as visits by artists and athletes, she said: “We want more Iranians visiting the U.S.; we are determined to find ways to reach out to the Iranian people.”
If the reason for opening an interests section in Tehran is to reach out to the Iranian people, Dr. Rice and her colleagues in Foggy Bottom have been breathing too much of the local vapors down there. They seem to have forgotten that in a totalitarian state like the Islamic Republic of Iran, not just anyone is permitted to apply for a visa to visit the USA or the West. Every applicant for a visa is first screened and vetted by the dreaded Ministry of Intelligence and Security, aka VEVAK, as it is known in Farsi. Far from being a free option for artists and athletes to meet their counterparts in the West, any candidate for such an exchange program is not only screened for loyalty to the Islamic state, but also trained to provide propaganda and collect intelligence for the regime. Condi and company: just how much easier do you want to make it for Iran to place its agents in this country? Wake up and realize that the Tehran regime will use every opportunity that it is given to work for the eventual demise of this country. Don’t open the door to the candy story for the agents of the mullahs.
If on the other hand, as Fred Hiatt mentioned in his WP article, the intention of such an “Interest Section” is to establish a toehold in Iran to further the collection of information and data vital to U.S. interests and to possibly establish contacts with dissidents in Iran, then the idea has value and is worthy of serious consideration, although it is very questionable whether the Khamenei regime will agree to the presence of the “Great Satan” on the holy soil of Iran as well as to give it the opportunity to reestablish its infamous “den of spies” in Tehran.
However, if Condi and the State Department really want to reach out to the Iranian people in contradistinction to the regime of the ayatollahs, then there is a much simpler and effective way to do that. All that Condi and her Foreign Service fellows need to do in order to reach the ears and hearts of the people of Iran is to reverse the perverse politically-motivated decision made by the Clinton-Albright administration in 1997 to placate the mullahs by placing the oldest, best organized, most popular Iranian resistance organization, the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI), on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. This week, the UK Parliament, following the decision of its highest court, after a seven-year legal battle and extensive review of all the evidence—both public and classified—conclusively reversed its policy, and removed the MEK and its umbrella political alliance, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), from its Proscribed Organizations list. Dissident Iranians around the world have been celebrating this momentous positive decision.
Condi and company: if you want to reach out to the people of Iran, de-list the MEK and NCRI. Not only will you have the ears and hearts of the people of Iran on our side, but you will be telling the ayatollahs and their IRGC thugs that we finally take the threat of Iranian state terrorism seriously and are prepared to really help the Iranian people to rid themselves of the evils of the tyrannical theocratic mullah regime of Khameini, Ahmadinejad and their henchmen. And best yet, for the American taxpayer the financial cost of such a move is zero!
Professor Rabbi Daniel M. Zucker is founder and Chairman of the Board of Americans for Democracy in the Middle-East, a grassroots organization dedicated to teaching government officials and the public of the dangers posed by Islamic fundamentalism and the need to establish genuine democratic institutions in the Middle-East as an antidote to the venom of such fundamentalism. The organization’s web site is www.ADME.ws.
 Fred Hiatt, “Toehold in Tehran?”, The Washington Post, p. A15, June 23, 2008, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/22/AR2008062201548.html.
 “Rice says wants to reach out to Iranian people”, Reuters, June 23, 2008, http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSN2328577720080623?virtualBrandChannel=10112.
 Fred Hiatt, op. cit.
 “PMOI Off UK Terror List, EU Told: Now Do the Same”, Middle East Times, June 24, 2008, http://www.metimes.com/Editorial/2008/06/24/pmoi_off_uk_terror_list_eu_told_now_do_the_same/3965/.
 IRGC=Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps; in Farsi: Sepah-e Pasdaran.