February 22, 2007


Iranian official offers glimpse from within: A desire for U.S. ally (Christiane Amanpour, 2/22/07, CNN)

As I sat down recently with a senior Iranian government official, he urgently waved a column by Thomas Friedman of The New York Times in my face, one about how the United States and Iran need to engage each other.

''Natural allies,'' this official said.

It was a surprising choice of words considering the barbs Washington and Tehran have been trading of late.

"We are not after conflict. We are not after crisis. We are not after war," said this official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "But we don't know whether the same is true in the U.S. or not. If the same is true on the U.S. side, the first step must be to end this vicious cycle that can lead to dangerous action -- war."

He confided that what he was telling me was not shared by all in the Iranian government, but it was endorsed so high up in the religious leadership that he felt confident spelling out the rationale.

"This view is not off the streets. It's not the reformist view and it's not even the view of the whole government," he replied.

But he insisted he was describing the thinking at the highest levels of the religious leadership -- the center of decision-making power in Iran.

I asked whether he meant Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself.

"Yes," he said.

It'll be a formal alliance by early next decade.

Tehran falling into a US psy-ops trap (Mahan Abedin , 2/23/07, Asia Times)

With backgrounds in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (the IRGC, the Islamic Republic's large and competent ideological army), Ahmadinejad and his supporters believe the Islamic Republic is unconquerable; with its ability to project power well beyond its actual size and resources rooted in its "undeterrable" nature.

It is very important to understand the origins and intricacies of this mindset. People like Ahmadinejad and Kachouyan developed their political consciousness not on the turbulent streets of the Iranian revolution but in the revolutionary decade of the 1980s, and especially in the front lines of the Iran-Iraq War. The belief that Iran faced much of the Western and Eastern worlds during the war is widely shared in the population, but it is especially intense in the networks linked to the second-generation revolutionaries.

From their perspective, the Islamic Republic ensured its long-term stability by facing much of the world with modest means and with iron will as its only real strategic asset (against an enemy that enjoyed the unqualified support of much of the Arab and Western worlds). They believe that the culture of sacrifice born out of eight years of war, and the unique nationalist-Islamic political heritage it has spawned, will ensure the survival of the Islamic Republic against all odds.

Furthermore, the very distinct features of the Islamic Republic (a political system that effortlessly combines democratic and theocratic ideas and institutions) and the intense loyalty it inspires among a substantial section of the Iranian population (as well as a considerable number of non-Iranians) enables the regime to face its only serious security threat, namely the United States.

Which is why their repudiation by the clerics at the top and the voters at the bottom of society will be so devastating.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 22, 2007 7:53 AM

The clerics have had 18 years (since the end of the war) to renounce the IRGC. They have not done so. Indeed, they build their own private armies to protect them from the IRGC, while at the same time exploiting the Guards. Unless there is going to be a Night of Long Knives in Iran, the IRGC isn't going away, and probably won't be devastated by clerical meddling. Rather, they might just surge to a coup (after all, they have the guns and the psychotics on their side).

Posted by: jim hamlen at February 22, 2007 10:58 AM

Relying on Ms. Amanpour and Mr. Friedman for evidence that the US and Iran are natural allies is--how should I say this?--daft.

Posted by: Anthony Perez-Miller at February 22, 2007 11:18 AM

Yes, you don't rely on the reporters but the reported upon.

Posted by: oj at February 22, 2007 12:54 PM

AP-M an excellent example of the art of British understatement.

Posted by: erp at February 22, 2007 2:18 PM