Thursday, August 27, 2009

Iran’s Regime Chooses A Terrorist Who Has killed Americans as Defense Minister; Still Want to Engage Them, President Obama?

By Barry Rubin

It is beyond belief: Iran’s government has named a wanted terrorist, Ahmad Vahidi, as its defense minister. Parliament has enthusastically endorsed him. 

And even that’s not all: Vahidi ran the Qods force in the 1980s and 1990s, making him responsible for liaison between Iran and foreign terrorist groups, you know, the people to whom a nuclear device might be given, exploded somewhere, and then Iran can disclaim responsibility.

And there’s more: he was also involved in the June 25, 2006, car bombing attack on the Khobar Towers which killed 19 American soldiers and a Saudi civilian. More than 400 were wounded.

Even the European Union has him on their “no-talk” list.

Can you imagine all the terrorist operations he ordered and planned that we don’t know about?

So please forgive me if I use capital letters:


This is the man who would have control over Iran’s nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

And the United States has said…. And the Western reaction is….

I can’t hear you!

Right, that’s precisely the problem, and neither can Tehran.

But let's consider this development for a moment. In all other countries, the defense minister's job is to run the armed forces. He has to decide what weapons to buy, how to use resources, and how to conduct operations of regular soldiers.

In contrast, in Iran, the "military" forces being used are terrorists. Therefore, a background in terrorism is the best credential for defense minister. Terrorism is the projection of military force by Iran, to destroy its foes, expand its influence, spread revolution, and subordinate other countries to its will (and perhaps even rule).

Institutionally, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the extremely radical and highly ideological parallel force to the regular military, is the base of power for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. To a large extent, it has become the ruler of Iran, that is with the permission of the leading figure, Spiritual Guide Ali Khamenei. Therefore, being a high-level IRGC operative is the best credential for being defense minister.

On July 18, 1994, the Jewish community center building in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was attacked. Eighty-five people were killed, over 240 were wounded.

After an extensive investigation, the Argentinian government concluded in its October 2006 report that this attack was ordered by Iran’s government and carried out by Lebanese Hizballah. Vahidi was one of five Iranian officials mentioned by name as having planned the attack. One of his tasks was to coordinate with Hizballah on the operation.  Interpol put him on its wanted list.

(A side note: You can often read in Western media and even European government statements that Hizballah is never involved in terrorist attacks outside Lebanon. Indeed, President Barack Obama’s advisor on terrorism, John Brennan, portrays Hizballah as a moderate group. Remember this the next time you hear that nonsense. There is increasing eagerness in top British circles for engaging Hizballah, too. Soon Hizballah will enter into the Lebanese government and both Europe and probably the U.S. government will have some dealings with that terrorist group.)

One might think that the United States and its European allies would declare that they refuse to meet with any Iranian government official, allow any investment, block any trade, try to stop Iran from participating in any international event as long as it was openly and directly involved in terrorism.

I'm not talking about some type of crackpot or irresponsible response but rather the reaction which calm, responsible, seasoned policymakers and diplomats should make under the circumstances.

Note that since the Obama administration began talking about engagement with Iran, the regime has become more and more extremist. It is true that the U.S. government is increasingly coming to the conclusion that engagement with Iran is a waste of time, but this is a very slow process and the conclusion seems based more on the idea that Iran won't respond than to observing the steady radicalization of an already extremist regime.

Instead, the Western governments should be calculating that things are going to get a lot worse. Ahmadinejad has achieved a much higher level of control than before, the supreme guide is behind him, his IRGC allies are filling dozens of high posts, the election was stolen, the opposition (even within the ruling establishment) repressed, and show trials are being held.

Does this not signify that the regime is becoming bolder, less concerned about the costs, totally indifferent to restraining voices? From the pure standpoint of political analysis, alarm bells should be going off, strategies altered.

Beyond this, where is the shock and outrage? For the Iranian regime knows precisely what it is doing. Iran’s government is “sticking it” to the West, “dissing” America and Europe, and you can find your own word for it. This is a test to how far they can go in terms of open aggression and threats. Such is the challenge not being met.

The Iranian regime might as well run up the skull-and-crossbones flag (the traditional flag of pirates) on the mast, put a parrot on their shoulders, and begin each sentence with, "Arghh!". In fact that’s precisely what they’re doing, in twenty-first century, Islamist terms.

Lest you think this article is strident, not at all. It’s the facts and events which have become so far out, Western media and government reactions so out-of-phase.

To see the wanted poster for Vahidi, go here

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.