Saturday, February 24, 2007

Sequel to "natural allies"

What do you think of this headline in Baztab (a conservative Iranain journal, turned against Ahmadinejad recently)

Mohsen Rezayee and the return of his Son from the US.

Who is Mohsen Rezayee? (here is a less flattering account.) Mohsen Rezayee (or Rezai) was the commander of the Revolutionary Guards during the Iran-Iraq war. (He is not a likeable or well-liked character. Dubious and scary he seems! He is alleged to be the founder of the Quds army that has been in the American spotlight lately, accused of providing armed training to Iraqi resistance) He was a candidate in the recent election but withdrew from the race in the very last minute.

His son Ahmad Rezayee was the center of controversy as he claimed refugee status in (of all places) the US of A! However, he has safely now RETURNED to Iran. According to his father, he was residing in Los Angeles to undego medical treatment! (And my sane and westernized brother cannot get a visitors visa because he is a young man and thus considered dangerous. Wish I had a fundamentalist or Wahabist dad!) So his father claims! (I find the link between THE TRAITOR MKO, Rezai's son (Ahmad) and the USA an intriguing one, but MKO is beyond contempt --sice Mersad operation, since spying on Iran, since calling Maryam rajavi, the president in Exile! duh!. Thus, MKO gets no space on this blog!)

But this is my find of the day:

In 1998, Ebrahim Nabavi interviewed Abbas Amir Entezam and published it in the Jameeh news paper (Society). Nabavi has recently republished this interview in his web site. (Please let me know if there is a translation of this available somewhere else.)

Amir Entezam has been under arrest in Iran for the past 26 years. He was released (or kicked out, as he puts it) from prison but he refused to accept his freedom, demanding a public trial and exoneration.

Stated charge: spying for Americans!

Reality: Nationalism, which has been vehemently opposed by the AMERICANS, since overthrow of Mosaddegh in the American led coup of 1953! See an older post, Disrupted Democracy.

For the first time, in this interview, Amir Entezam responded to the charge of spying. He firmly believes that he was a victim of American's plot against the nationalist movement in Iran.

Nabavi: Mr Amir Entezam, you have been imprisoned for years on charges of spying for foreigners. What was the court's verdict and how much of the responisibility lays on you?

Amir Entezam: A very appropriate question! I have been waiting for an opportunity in the past 19 years (1980-1999) to answer this question. As you know, in the interim government [of Bazargan] I was the deputy prime minister, government's spokesman, and the diplomatic correspndant between the government and all foreign embassies, including the US embassy. As we had the highest number of contracts with the USA (1200) I was in direct and frequent contact with Mr Sullivan [Naj's comment: do read his book Mission to Iran to see for yourself how it was the Americans who empowered the mullahs against the nationalists!] either directly or through his office staff.

Nabavi: what kind of meetings did you have?

Amir Entezam: Very official, in the prime minister's office and often in presence of other colleagues who worked in the political division, in my office. I reviewed the letters from foreign embassies and gave them to the prime minister. It was my responsibility to respond to those letters. After the Hostage taking in the US embassy those letters were used to incriminate me and the interim government on charges of spying. But those were legal and official correspondances between the governments of Iran and the US.

Navabi: anything other than those letters?

Amir Entezam: Absolutely none!

Nabavi: no meeting without governemntal approval.

Amir Entezam: None at all!

Nabavi: How about before revolution? You didn't have an official responsibility then.

Amir Entezam: Before revolution I was next to Bazargan. I was present as his translator in meetings that he has with Sullivan [the American embassador] or the German embassador. Sometimes Mr Sullivan was present, somethimes Mr Stemple [Chief political officer and the author of Inside Iranian Revolution] was there and I was their translator. There was another meeting where, Ayatollah Ardabili, Mr Bazargan, Mr Sullivan and I were present in Bijan Sahabi's house.

Nabavi: No private meetings?

Amir Entezam: none, they were all in presence of Mr Bazargan.

Nabavi: But Bazargan wasn't the prime minister of Iran at that time, yet.

Amir Entezam: At that time we still didn't know what kind of movement was taking place in Iran. We were plotical activists and we were trying to understand the roots of the movement.

Nabavi: you wanted to figure that out through Americans?

Amir Entezam: No, let me explain: we were seeking the perpective of the Russians, Germans and the Americans, and that we acheived through meetings of Mr Bazargan with their embassadors ...

Nabavi: You were meeting from the position of an alternative governemnt?

Amir Entezam: yes; as aleternative government. At that time I was not the issue. In November 1978, we had a meeting with members of the American Human Rights commission in the office of Dr. Tabandeh. If you recall, during Shah's regime the Human rights committees were established in Iran. Mr Bazargan asked me to represent him in that meeting. Other participants included Dr Lahidji, Hassan Nazih, Dr Haj-seyed-Javadi and Mr Banafti [never heard this one]. From American side, Richard Cattom, Richard Falk [perhaps the author of this article?] and a third person, whose name I don't recall, were present.I was assigned to participate in future human rights cooperations with the US. All our communications were public, well documented, and all memos were in the Prime minister's office. they were the dialogue between official Iranian representative and Official American representatives, not meeting of a spy with the US givernment.

Nabavi: The Bazargan governemnt itself is accused of relationship with American government.

Amir Entezam: We were representatives of a legal government. Governemnts cannot be accused of spying on themselves! They can establish relations with any governemnt they wish.

Nabavi: Don't you think American embassy influenced your prosecution?

Amir Entezam: Yes. I am certian that American embassy and the CIA had conspired to kick the Nationalists out of the political scene in Iran. The interim govenment and I ended up being accused of being the link between America and Iran!

Nabavi: This accusation came from Americans?

Amir Entezam: The evidence for this was fabricated by Americans and left in the embassy. When the Embassy was occupied, they predicted this. So, they took advantage of the naivitee of the Islamic republicans, and used those evidences to defame the nationalists and me, personally.

Nabavi: Do you have a proof for what you say?

Amir Entezam: My proof is in the kind of accusations made against me. One of those is about the telecommunication devices that I had given Americans. This story was presented in my defense procedure.

Nabavi: What was it?

Amir Entezam: In March 1979, I was in the prime minister's office. At that time, I slept three nights a week there and I was usually awake late, responding to daily events countrywide. At 11 pm, Sullivan and Stemple came to my office, with a letter addressed to the prime minister. The letter was about the kidnapping of an American guard of the Gulf Co. (Sherkat-e Khalij), and stealing his passport and a telephone set! They asked the Prime minister to release the individual. I was instructed by Bazargan to do all it takes to secure his release and return of the passport and the telephone set. [Details of the un willingness of Mahdavi Kani to cooperate, reaching out for help to other security forces, and finally relasing the individual, his telephone and passport, after a few hours]

Nabavi: why didn't Mr Mahdavi Kani help?

Amir Entezam: I don't know. He said he had no power. Perhaps one day he will respond!

Nabavi: Then?

Amir Entezam: Next morning, Sullivan and Stemple came to my office and delivered a letter that like any diplomatic letter started with "Dear Mr Entezan, Deputy Prime Minister of Iran". This Dear was later on used as an indication of my ties to the Americans. The other accusation was that I had given "all of the c ountry's telecommunication system to Americans". But all that I did was to return one telephone set, that was taken from the Gulf Co. that belonged to Americans themselves.

Nabavi: We digressed; you said that Americans conspired against you and other nationalist characters?

Amir Entezam: True. This goes back to a political theory. In brief, the industrial world, led by the US, took advantage of Iranians' discontent after the 1953 Coup. In other words, they identified the populist movement, positioned themselves at the center of that movement [i.e. the American hostage crisis unnecessarily became a center-piece of the Iranian revolution], and then diverted its direction. This conspiracy started first against the Nationalists. CIA fabricated documents about them and left them in the American embassy, but destroyed all documents pertinent to American relations to Shah regime and others.

Nabavi: so you are suggesting that americans guessed that Iranians will occupy the embassy? Can you prove this theory?

Amir Entezam: Yes I can. I have presented my proof to the court, and I can do it today too. The court didn't accept them because it was ignorant about the global issues.

Nabavi: How can you prove that Americans knew their embassy would be occuppied?

Amir Entezam: I have written a 1000-page book, and am safe keeping it outside of Iran. There you can see my proofs. Keep in mind that the American embassy was occupied three times, not once. First 25 December, 1978, this is Christmas and it was the armed leftists who occupied the embassy, but they were released by teh aid of the Iranian governemnt. The Second time was on the St Valentine day (Feb 14) when the leftists shot fires onto the embassy. I have documents that Americans had emotionally provoked the leftists [cherikhaye Fadaye] to stage that attack. In so doing, Americans took advantage of the youths desire to save the country. Even in relation to the last Hostage Crisis in November 1979, I can refer you to a speech by John Kelly, the secratary of foreign affairs of the time, where he stated that America politically benefitted from the hostage-taking event in Iran. this requires a thorough discussion.

But what does Amir Entezam Think about Americans?

America is an imperialist, capitalist and a poweful country. But this is not a reason to cut ties with the US. This is against our national interest. In the past 19 years [1979-1998], we have been paying a multiple of the price to buy the American parts to be used in the 60-billion-dollars defense industries set up based on American producst. We need smart, honest and patriotic politicians who can protect our interest while dealing with Americans. Don't forget that during the cold war, USA and the USSR were pointing their missiles at eachother, but they talked. It was the American diplomacy that defied the Russians, not their weapons. ...

I think there is a great lesson in this, for all those who think American's pressure on Ian will lead to democracy and promotion of human rights, national interest and peace within Iran!

(please don't hesitate to send me comments regarding spelling of names, dates--as they were converted from Persian months, and other pertinent information. Your other comments are as usual welcome.)

Here's a more recent interview with Amir Entezam.


Sophia said...

That's a very interesting post. I should return later to reread it carefully, probably monday since I am on family duty this WE, and link to it on my blog.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting Naj!

Re. Entezam. Fishy IMO! A little bit of research has shown his name too closely associated with the Ziocons and other neocon outfit like this one where it is proclaimed: "We believe in the principle of self-ownership. With regard to economic and political questions we hold radical-libertarian views. We are pro-capitalist and believe that any form of socialism creates poverty. Our position is clearly pro-American and pro-Israeli. We resist left-wing and right-wing freedom enemies.

Other weird stuff below:

And something else that is fishy is his upcoming book that he says will "appear in good time". Hmmm! Sounds like there is a plan in the works somewhere … That is a bit too ‘neocon’ IMO.

Would you like him to come to power? No, don't answer. I can't make head or tail of all that. You are better equipped than I to do so. I just have this very nasty feeling that the Neocons & the Israel Lobby (Michael Ledeen, Perle, etc.) may be too closely involved with this gentleman. I may be wrong. I look forward to reading more on this. Tangled webs indeed!

Anonymous said...

I guess Iran is multi-layered like every other country struggling on many layers with its various skeletons in the closet. America has its continuing policy of aboriginal genocide and it's history of slavery plus a constructed war against drugs which, in my opinion, is a continuation of its race war against peoples of colour.
Canada, although outwardly is pro-actively involved in treaty negotiation, is still continuing it's colonial policies against the 6 nations and other aborigonal territories across the Country. Yes , perhaps we look a little better along-side the US, however we both carry the imperialist disease and are pursuing our conquest internationally at great cost of life and stooping to the lowest of lows with unbridled deceit,violence and a taste for genocide.
Iran seems to have many conflicting interpretations of her own history. Many interpretations seem dependent on the nature of the relationship with the other. loss and gain usually figure into things . Also their is the internal power struggl of conflicting ideologies sharing of power with a varying scale of justice and human rights. Iran has its own battles and struggle to evolve as a nation. Unfortunately the US perverted Irans early attempts to create its popular, Nationalist democratic gov't when it orchestrated the 1953 overthrow of Mosseedeq and inserted its puppet in place. THE shah handed Iran to the Americans using suppression, torture and eliminated any threat to American regional interests. In my understanding the rise of the people to replace the Shah created the vacuum which brought the Ayotolla Khomeni to power.
What I have taken from this article is that the CIA orchestrated even this new power base and also set up his new prime minister and aids for execution. Have I understood this sequence, although very basic, somewhat correctly?
Once again Iran's history is confusing as anothers and has different story lines.
Really Naj there is a lack of knowledge, way to much ignorance fueling the demonization of Iran.

Anonymous said...

[...] way too much ignorance fueling the demonization of Iran.

Agreed! When such demonization comes from non-Iranians.

The problem is when "demonization" comes from Iranians themselves (either from opposition within or in the diaspora). Can we then say that that is due to 'ignorance'? I am not so sure. And what are non-Iranians to think?

It is indeed multilayered ... and confusing.

Naj said...

Hi all,

furgaia, regarding fishiness of Amir Entezam:
He is under arrest by the IRI, on charges of Pro-Americanism! As you noted yourself, his case lends well to the anti-Iranian camp to wave as a flag of "oh look how horrible Iranians are". He becomes a part of that "diasporic, dissident" narraive that you earlier mentioned.

If this man had zionist ties, he would not be staying in Iran, risking his life. "That" is why his book will appear in the right time. He perhaps has negotiated the price over his head.

Do I want him to come to power? I don't want any one person to come to power. I want people to choose individuals who care about Iran.

Fma7, I agree with all you say. Yes every nation has its baggage to carry, and Iranian gvernments of past and present OWE a lot to the people of Iran. And yes, Amir Entezam is very explicit in stating that the revolution was derailed by Americans and handed over to Khomeini (he acknowledges his party's mistakes in that process as well). Read his resent article that I have linked to in my post. But in Iran, it is a common belief that the revolution of 1979 was a foreign conspiracy!

Furgaia, I think fma has answered on my behalf about the motivations of the diasporic memoirs! And I have talked about them elsewhere in this blog. One has to read "Reading Lolita", but one also has to read "Women and Veil" to understand the women issues, for instance, in Iran.

The demonizing system pays better, though! Shirin Ebadi's memoir, however, falls in the "literature embargo" category.

Yes Iran's history is even confusing for Iranians. And understanding of Iran suffers a serious lack of access to translated texts and exposition of cultural continuity and influence. Unfortunately, most Iranians who are doing cultural work abroad, do it in an academic framework, and suffer elitisitis as far as representation of cultural spheres in Iran is concerned :)

Naj said...


I followed up the links you suggested. I don't see anything neoconservative or zionist about amir Entezam.

Other wierd stuff?

You have to consider that Iranians are really not anti-Israel (unless Israel does something against Iran), and during Shah's regime, on the surface, they were good friends! (I think under the surface, Israel conspired against Iran)

Keep in mind that neoconservatives and monarchist Iranian dissidents have common interests, so don't be surprised by Zionist sympathies among Iranians. Especially after the revolution, the anti-Islam/Arab sentiments in a lot of Iranians were exacerbated. Many Iranians prefer to have remained zoroasterians and they resent the "primitive Arabs" conquering the Persian empire! What you se in those "wierd" sites is a resonance of those sentiments!

That said, Iranians will not raise arms against people whom they dislike or snub! They just snub them out!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Naj for those insights.

What I found confusing was the fact that those sites that I linked to appeared to be neoconservative and they were sort of 'endorsing' Entezam. It was more a question of 'guilt by association' if you will. I found such 'endorsement' kind of alarming for what it says about the way Iran might be going should Entezam somehow come to power. But as you say, things are much more complex than that. Point taken.

As for having good relations with Israel, I have no qualms with that. I do make a distinction between Israel and the Ziocons/Neocons/Likudnic Lobby. There are Israelis even (Daniel Levy, for example) who do not agree with those people's 'the-World-is-my-oyster' view. Those are the ones that I am worried about.

Anonymous said...

The story of Mr. Amir Entezam and the Islamic Revolution of Iran are complicated to say the least. However I would like to interject my comments here hoping to clarify a few things.

Historically speaking from the beginning of the Constitutional Movement till the 1978 revolution Iran has witnessed bitter differences between intellectual led forces and ulema led forces.

I think it is very clear to all non-biased observers that the ulema or clerics (not very accurate term) have had an overwhelming popular grass roots support. Just look at Iraq and Lebanon where the Shiite ulema are involved in various manners of socio-political life and struggle for liberation.

The ulema never fully trusted the westernized intellectuals in leading a truly anti colonialist / imperialist struggle and form a geniunely independent government free of colonial interference and influence.

The intellectuals never considered the ulema as worthy of dialogue of equals and considered them backward and reactionary and considered them sub humans.

This hostility showed itself all across contemporary Iranian political life and the 1978 revolution was no exception.

What the nationalist, socialist, and other non-religous political figures and forces failed to appreciate and understand was the overwhelming influence and clout of Ayatollah Khomeini and the degree of respect and devotion he enjoyed amongst the masses and how he single handedly managed to lead the masses in one of the most organized, peaceful revolutions against a monarch backed by foreign powers. (Just to make sure that I clearly state the facts: the monarch and his state apparatus used overwhelming violence against unarmed demonstrators for 1 year with full knowledge and backing of the americans, british and israelis.)

There were various political figures, parties, organizations, religous and secular that formed the broad coalition that toppled the monarchy, however one can not refute the absolute overwhelming power of the ulema and their role in mobilizing the masses and confronting the American / Israeli backed regime of the Shah.

The miscalculation of the nationalists, marxists and other secular forces was that they saw themselves as the leaders of the revolution and the primary voice of the revolution and therefore sought a disproportionate share of the political power and tried to marginalize the ulema and Ayatollah Khomeini would have none of that.

The nationalists (jebheye meli, radical party, jonbesh, nehzate azadi and ....) really miscalculated badly and never fully understood the depth of the moral and political influence of Ayatollah Khomeini's message and they continued to underestimate the ulema way after the victory of the revolution.

The islamic revolutionaries were very nervous about american and israeli schemes of assassinations, coups, and ...... and because they never really trusted the nationalists they were looking for all sorta signs to confirm their suspicions.

When the shah was allowed into the US and the students stormed the embassy it was common knowledge by then that the embassy was involved in coups and other plots to overthrow the revolution and what the students found there proved to be of enormous importance in terms of intelligence operations and methods and the way the information was used to marginalize the nationalist forces.

Having said all the above, I really think that ultimately the ulema and the nationalist intellectuals and forces have to reach an accommodation in order for Iranian polity to have a semblance of normalcy and be able to move forward in a harmonious manner.