Alireza Jafarzadeh is president of Strategy Policy Consulting, Inc. and a foreign affairs analyst for FOX News Channel. He served as a US spokesman for the National Coalition of Resistance of Iran and his articles have been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. In his new book, The Iranian Threat: President Ahmadinejad and the Coming Nuclear Crisis (Palgrave MacMillan), Mr. Jafarzadeh brings to light Iran's latest efforts to hide its nuclear facilities as well as the regime's covert operations inside Iraq. He traces Ahmadinejad's history of torturing political prisoners, his pedigree as the protegé of Iran's radical mullahs, and his zealous, longstanding quest to make Iran a nuclear power. Mr. Jafarzadeh addressed the Middle East Forum on his book on September 12, 2007. The following is a report on his briefing that appeared in The Bulletin.
Iranian Opposition Leader Speaks At Middle East Forum
by Joseph Puder
September 19, 2007
Alireza Jafarzadeh, president of Washington-based Strategic Policy Consulting and spokesperson for the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), was the guest of the Middle East Forum at Philadelphia's Cozen O'Connor law offices last Wednesday over lunch. Bob Guzzardi, chairman of the Middle East Forum, introduced Jafarzadeh, who used his visit with the Middle East Forum to promote his new book, The Iran Threat: President Ahmadinejad and the Coming Nuclear Crisis.
The best policy option for the U.S., according to Jafarzadeh, is to support the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), currently listed by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization. Jafarzadeh said that all other options - including an economic boycott of Iran, support for minority groups within Iran and military action - are only ancillary to supporting MEK.
Bombing Iran, Jafarzadeh claimed, will not help and, at best, would delay the nuclear program. In focusing on Iraq, Jafarzadeh said, "Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, must be removed and Shiite militias disarmed." He accused Maliki of being an agent of Iran and emphasized Iran's decisive voice in the Maliki government. He asserted that "ministerial appointments in the Maliki government get approval from Tehran."
America's and the free world's best hopes for Iran, he said, are with the younger generation and women. Being born into a climate of oppression, the young people - and women in particular - are rebelling and demanding freedom.
Jafarzadeh stressed the futility of any talks held between U.S. officials and their Iranian counterparts. "Talks with the Iranian officials exposes the U.S. weakness and encourages Iranian aggression," Jafarzadeh asserted.
Jafarzadeh, an active Iranian dissident, became more widely recognized in 2002 when he revealed the existence of clandestine nuclear facilities in Iran. When he originally sounded the alarm, Jafarzadeh noted, "it did not seem real to many people at the time. Now people are realizing how serious the situation is."
Jafarzadeh said that Iran is waging a proxy war against the U.S. forces in Iraq and that Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, admitted as much in their testimony before Congress. Jafarzadeh asked rhetorically why it took so long.
Jafarzadeh charged that the Iranian regime dominated everything in Iraq and that it has delivered improvised explosive devise (IED) bombs to Iraqis in order to kill Americans.
These bombs, according to Jafarzadeh, are built in the suburbs of Tehran and shipped to Iraq. He added that Iran is training the militias and providing them arms and assistance to the tune of $70 million a month. Moreover, Jafarzadeh said that Iran has 32,000 agents in Iraq and that key Iraqis in local and provincial governments take their orders from Tehran. The same is true, he said, with regard to the defense ministry and police.
Iran's goal, according to Jafarzadeh, is to establish an Islamic Shiite state in Iraq. He pointed out that immediately after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, three million Iranians crossed the border into Iraq to visit the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala. He quoted a member of the Iraqi National Assembly, Jamal al-Din (a Shiite cleric) as openly claiming that "Iran already controls the Iraqi government."
Iran's extremism, coupled with its possession of a nuclear bomb, would be "a nightmare scenario" Jafarzadeh emphasized. The Iranian regime, he added, "believes in global Islamic rule," and a nuclear bomb would give it the leverage and "help it to consolidate power."
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has pushed for this nuclear program with the backing of the Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guards. The nuclear program itself is under the control of the Revolutionary Guards, who are loyal to Ahmadinejad. The Revolutionary Guards, Jafarzadeh said, have carried out the R&D on the nuclear weapons.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has not interviewed the Revolutionary Guards on the nuclear weapons situation, Jafarzadeh asserted, adding that the IAEA failed to inspect a number of underground facilities that the Iranian opposition revealed to them. Jafarzadeh claimed that the Iranian nuclear program has not been slowed down and that progress is being made with plutonium in Nantaz.
Addressing actions the U.S. must take, Jafarzadeh said that Washington must demand that the Iraqi government "purge the Iranian elements." Iran, Jafarzadeh said, created such entities as the Badr Brigades and other such militias, which should be disbanded and disarmed. "The U.S.," Jafarzadeh said, "needs to empower the more moderate voices in Iraq, since they are a majority."
Jafarzadeh pointed out that Iranian opposition, which has been fighting the ayatollahs in Tehran and Qum for more than 27 years, has pressured the Sunni groups to stop fighting Americans and Iraqis.
"Sitting with Iranian government officials sends the wrong message to moderates in Iran and weakens their voice," Jafarzadeh said. "The U.S. must be firm with Iran's agents in Iraq and with Iran itself, and the MEK opposition group should be supported by the U.S. instead of it being on the terrorist list of the State Department. Saddam Hussein had supported the MEK for over 20 years and used them during the Iran-Iraq war. The group is heavily armed (it took tanks and artillery left in Saddam's arsenal) and is strong enough to confront Iranian troops.
"Iran is vulnerable internally," Jafarzadeh claimed, citing the more than 5,000 anti-government demonstrations in Iran last year. Demonstrators burned Ahmadinejad's photo right in front of him, in spite of the mass executions faced by opposition members since 1988.
In ending his 30-minute presentation, Jafarzadeh said, "There is no need to invade Iran or use military action, and the U.S. need not go on with fruitless negotiations with the Iranians. The people of Iran are ready for change." The U.S. banned the MEK and labeled it a terrorist organization as a gesture to Iranian President Muhammad Khatami, who was perceived in the West as a "moderate." It is high time, Jafarzadeh said, that the U.S. ends its ban on the MEK and begins supporting it openly.