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Pro-Ayatollahs Disinformation and
Manipulation Campaign by Washington Think Tankers


Pro-Ayatollahs Disinformation and Manipulation Campaign by Washington Think Tankers
Hassan Daioleslam
February 25, 2009

Foreword: The policy of United States on Iran over the past decade has been amalgamated with confusion and shortsightedness. This is not accidental. A key factor in shaping this policy has been a disinformation campaign by the pro-Iranian circles. A leading champion of this propaganda crusade is the Council for Foreign Relations (CFR) and Dr. Ray Takeyh. Dr. Takeyh is a senior fellow at CFR and has testified frequently at various congressional committees and has appeared in numerous media venues. Takeyh until early 2000s was an ardent opponent of engagement with Iran but surprisingly became a strong advocate of rapprochement policy. As a leading figure of the pro-Iranian regime circles in the US, Dr. Takeyh has systematically and with no accountability distorted the reality of the Iranian political situation. He has selectively changed the facts and fabricated new ones. Along with acquaintances and peers such as his wife Susan Maloney (who until a short while ago held the important position of Iran policy planner staff in the State Department) and Richard Haas the president of the CFR, has influenced the United States policy on Iran.

Suzanne Maloney

Iran: The Threat We Cannot Neglect: Part II (Kenneth R. Timmerman)

This article is not a crusade against one person. As the toll of this political disorientation has been heavy and will continue to be heavy, a detailed study of Takeyh’s standpoint is warranted. Through understanding Takeyh, we better understand pro-Iran campaigners in the United States. We have been very careful not to take quotes out of context. Nevertheless, we urge the readers to refer to the original articles and read them for themselves. The common trend of synchronized disinformation campaign is shockingly apparent.

In a recent article I wrote about NIAC (National Iranian American Council) and its front man Trita Parsi.

Ayatollahs' Lobby, Trita Parsi and NIAC in Washington Offering Human Rights as a Negotiating Item

Iran’s Oil Mafia Penetrating the US Political System

This organization, with strong connections to the inner circles of power in Tehran, and interest groups outside Iran has the specific role of lobbying the US Congress by utilizing unwary ordinary Iranian Americans concerned about their inborn land. But the pro-Iran’s campaign in the US has several other mediums. Parallel to NIAC, an army of “scholars” and “experts” have been assembled to disseminate seemingly ‘authoritative’ reports friendly to Tehran’s strategies and instrumental in solving Iranian regime’s predicament of the day. Due to the scholarly disguised nature of these opinions, they have been very effective in shaping and manipulating the United States policy on Iran.

Dr Takeyh’s writings are the prime example of pro-Iran cerebral advocacy. Through studying Takeyh’s works, we demonstrate how the pro-Iranian circles advance their campaign in the United States. The tactic for CFR and Dr. Takeyh is to fuel a permanent hope that the Iranian power structure is experiencing a self-transformation to a more pragmatic regime that will eventually accommodate international norms. For these pro-Tehran champions, whatever happens in Iran, there would be a pragmatic faction ready to have a deal with the U.S!

Some of the main points that these think tankers have tried hard to promote, in a nut shell, are: Iran’s foreign policy, has never been ideological and antagonistic; it has always been pragmatic! Iran does not present any threat to the United States security and the regional stability! All US has to do is to offer more carrots to the Iranian regime to have them behave in a friendlier manner! Iranian intervention in Iraq is peaceful and aims to bring democracy and stability to this country and hence it is in total convergence with American goals! On the nuclear issue, Iran is merely reacting to the US and Israeli threats.

2000-2001: Takeyh was zealously against engagement with Mullahs
Prior to joining the pro-Iranian circles and CFR, Takeyh presented a totally different view of the Iranian regime. Even under Khatami’s rule and the peak of power of the reformist circles in Iran, Takeyh was adamantly against rapprochement based strategies towards Iran. He totally denied the concept of “moderates” in Tehran. In April 2000, in an article titled “Pragmatic theocracy: A contradiction in terms?” ridiculing the pro engagement circles, Takeyh wrote:

“ … And this is where a strategy of accommodation falters. For no degree of internal liberalization is likely to alter this fundamental clash of interests. Khatemi may have discarded the Khomeini regime's intemperate rhetoric and inflammatory strategy, but he has remained loyal to its hegemonic aspirations. A more pragmatic Iran, then, is likely to offer the United States only slightly less of a challenge than its revolutionary opposition movement claiming that only a return to religious values can fulfill the masses' demands for economic and political regeneration.”
(Takeyh, R., Pragmatic theocracy: A contradiction in terms? in National Interest. April 1, 2000.)

At that time, Takeyh was categorically against any carrots given to the Iranian regime. He advised the United States to maintain a harsh stance against the clerical rule which according to him “is relentlessly complotting against the United States”:

“If Washington wants Tehran to conform to international rules of conduct, it will have to maintain a robust regional presence and conduct a determined effort against Iran's terrorism and efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. … If the U.S. is not prepared to allow Iranian hegemony over much of the Middle East, U.S.-Iranian relations will continue to be marked by confrontation, even when both states appear to share certain interests. In essence, the Clinton-Albright approach — offering concessions as a means of generating dialogue — failed to appreciate that the U.S. and Iran simply have different plans for the region”.
(Takeyh, R., National Review, Nov. 5th, 2001.)

2002: Takeyh was Pro-war with Iraq
There is a perception that these pro-Iran circles are genuinely peace-loving scholars that are trying to avoid another war. Nothing could be farther from truth. The action item of the day for these scholars has always been coordination with Tehran’s wishes. Parallel to the efforts of Iran’s proxies such as Ahmad Chalaby in beating the drum of war, or Bob Ney’s charade of “freedom fries”, Takeyh and many other scholars advocated regime change in Iraq as a tradition of spreading freedom. At the onset of US conflict in Iraq in 2002, Takeyh wrote:

“Beginning with Thomas Jefferson’s call for "empire of liberties," American statesmen have long propounded a vision of a global civilization predicated on liberal democracy and market economics. …. In contrast to the European focus on the external behavior of states as opposed to their internal composition, American internationalists have long argued that the domestic character of a state is the most predictable barometer of its external conduct. U.S. President George W. Bush’s emphasis on regime change and the promotion of democracy as the primary mean s of ensuring American security, at the expense of deterrence, containment, and the balance of power, is well in keeping with that outlook.”
(Takeyh, R., A 'New' Security Agenda Revives Old Traditions, in Wall Street Journal Europe. October 9, 2002.)

Then, Takeyh started a new career with the pro-Iranian regime circles and experienced a sudden intellectual enlightenment that turned him to a resolute and tenacious advocate of engagement.

Best Time for a Deal
A common goal for the Iranian regime and the US business interests that support the pro-Iranian lobby, has always been to avoid harsh and coercive measures against the clerical rule. In order to justify this approach, they have publicized the idea that the regime in Tehran is at all times ready to talk and make a deal with the United States.

Regardless of the time, situation or who is in power in Iran, Takeyh and cohorts maintained that it is a unique time to deal with Iran. Followings are a few such sample declarations over the years.

2000 (Khatami’s presidency and peak of the power of reformists): “We get a better deal on all issues of concern, the holy trinity – weapons, terrorism, and Israel – from the reformers, who are more pragmatists than the hard-liners.”
(Takeyh, R., in Middle East Policy Council. December 12th, 2000.)

2002: “This time, with public opinion in favor of reaching out to Washington, Iranian political groups of all complexions are loath to let the opportunity pass.”
(Takeyh, R., in Financial Times. November 4, 2002.)

2004 (Defeat of reformers and rise of radical faction): “The recent demise of the reform movement has facilitated the ascendance of pragmatic conservatives willing to have a far-reaching dialogue with the United States. At a time when the challenge of Iran seems most acute, the prospect of Tehran accommodating Washington has never been greater.”
(Takeyh, R., in International Herald Tribune. August 24, 2004.)

2004: “For the first time in more than 20 years, the United States has the opportunity to deal with rational, pragmatic interlocutors who, by virtue of their standing in the government, are in a position to negotiate. It is an opportunity that should not be squandered.”
(Takeyh, R., in Washington Quarterly. Autumn 2004.)

2005 (The radical fundamentalists gain power. Ahmadinejd is elected as the president): “Despite the election of a hard-line government in Iran, the time surprisingly might be ripe for a deal.”
(Feinstein, L. and R. Takeyh, in The Baltimore Sun. September 26, 2005.)

2007: “In Iran today the idea of negotiating with the United States as late as 1999, 2001, was a contentious issue. Now there is a consensus in Iran, across political spectrum, blessed by the supreme leader, that Iran is willing to negotiate with the United States.”
(Takeyh, R., in a speech. February 22, 2007.)

It is interesting to see how under very different situations, and cast of characters in power in Iran, Takeyh manages to arrive at the same conclusion. In order to justify these declarations, Takeyh and other pro-ayatollahs analysts have continuously misrepresented the realities of power structure in Iran. To convince the decision makes in the US to engage Iran and avoid harsh policies against the ayatollahs, Ray Takeyh and friends had to ascertain that a pragmatic faction in Tehran controls the situation. To do so, these scholars have demonstrated a very creative imagination.

Let’s focus on the last ten years and examine the events in Iran and the corresponding proclamations of CFR and Takeyh.

1997-2004: Reform is concretely irreversible
The victory of Mohammad Khatami in the presidential election of 1997, created an ideal political environment for the American business interests to embark on a new aggressive lobby against the economic sanctions imposed on Iran. The anti-sanctions drive was initiated by the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC). In early 1997, the USA*Engage, NFTC’s lobbying arm, officially started its activities.

Armed with such an impressive armada, the pro-engagement circles tried to represent the reformer’s victory as rock solid and irreversible, hence a unique opportunity for the United States to change its policy toward Iran.

Robin Wright wrote:

“The (2000 parliamentary) election may also have marked the onset of recovery — a revolution’s third and final phase”.
(Wright, R., The Last Great Revolution. The Journal of The International Institute)

“The impact of political change in Iran could be sweeping for the more than 50 nations of the Islamic world.”
(Wright, R., Iran Now a Hotbed of Islamic Reforms, in Los Angeles Times. December 29, 2000.)

“Like the world around it, Iran is still undergoing a profound transformation… Gradually, the government of God is being forced to cede to secular statecraft -- and to empower Iranians. In the process, Iran has begun contributing to the spread of public empowerment around the world.”

Wright, R., Iran's New Revolution, in Foreign Affairs, January/February 2000.

Suzanne Maloney was also very clear on the irreversibility of the reform movement:

“For the foreseeable future, then, the Islamic Republic will continue to be buffeted by the forces of divisiveness and unresolved questions of authority. Nonetheless, the February elections provide powerful evidence that the system is evolving in an irreversibly democratic fashion.”
(Maloney, S., in Middle East Policy. June 2000.)

Takeyh was even more affirmative, He wrote:

“The next institution that is likely to fall in the hands of the reformers is the judiciary… The anticipated reform of the court system will further diminish the conservatives' power base…In the coming decade it is likely that the position of the leader will undergo transformations as its absolutism is widely challenged within both clerical and secular circles.”
(Takeyh, R., in Middle East Policy Journal. November 2000.)

“Despite sporadic setbacks, Khatami and his reform supporters are forging new paths and transforming politics into a meaningful representative practice ... A politicized middle class, restive youth and an emboldened civil society make the recession of conservative power inevitable.”
(Takeyh, R., in Middle East Policy Journal. 11.2000 Number 4.)

Takeyh, like Robin Wright was asserting that the reform movement is the Iranian regime’s last chance of survival.

“Should the hardliners succeed in completely obstructing reform, Iran may not see a revolution similar to the 1979 mass uprising, but rather a state that increasingly resembles the Soviet Union of the 1970s.”
(Takeyh, R., Iran in the Axis of Evil, in Updates from AIJAC. February 15, 2001.)

Then, in 2001, Takeyh again asserted that the reformists are Iran’s last chance of survival:

“In fact, for Iran to avoid collapsing into civil strife it must adopt some basic secular tenets. Whatever direction the country takes, this much is at least evident: Khomeini failed to establish a durable Islamic polity in Iran, and the clerics are ruling on borrowed time."
(Takeyh, R., in The National Interest, AIJAC. No. 63, Spring 2001.)

Takeyh emphasized the unique opportunity for the US to engage the Iranian regime and warned that if the reform movement is defeated, the US should adopt a new policy:

“ I think, should there be – and I don't anticipate that – there's sort of a conservative backlash and takeover of power in Iran, U.S. policy toward Iran is going to be measurably altered, and if it's not altered, that's malpractice.”
(Takeyh, R., in Middle East policy council. December 12th, 2000.)

2004: CFR and Takeyh masked the rise of Ahmadinejad’s faction
In July 2004, the Council on Foreign Relations released its Task Force Report on Iran. This report urged rapprochement with the Iranian regime, basically the same policy that many such reports had already proposed for the previous seven years. What made this CFR report unique was its analysis of the Iranian power structure after the defeat of reformers in two consecutive elections in 2003 and 2004. In fact, the CFR report was released at a time, when many Iranian analysts qualified as a turning point in the life of the Islamic Republic. Alavi Tabar a prominent commentator in Iran declared:

“We are actually at a turning point and something fundamental is happening which is the militarization of Iranian politics. The regime’s stance on nuclear issue, the affiliation of the new MPs and the positions taken by some of the regime’s leader regarding Iraq all are signs of the trend toward the control of power by a mafia kind complex which controls the Guards and the Basijis.”
(Alavi-Tabar, in Rouydad. May 1st, 2004.)

The “Rouydad news” considered as the reformers’ news website, published a commentary and strongly warned that:

“ The incident of “Imam airport” was a clear indication on the new trend in the power structure. This trend was first demonstrated in the city councils elections and shows a total control of the” Guards”. During the parliamentary elections in 2004, the Guards and the Basijis became very active and a majority of the new deputies came from these institutions and the security forces. The new head of the Iranian TV and Radio is also a former high ranking member of the Guards as it is the case for Ahmadinejad, the new mayor of Tehran. The Guards will pursue this strategy in the next presidential election of 2005 and their candidate is Ahmadinejad.”
(in Rouydad. May 10th, 2004.)

Shargh newspaper, wrote several editorials about the new emerging radical faction. For instance, it clearly reported that:

“Abadgaran the victorious group in parliamentary election is dominated by these new fundamentalists and as a result, the traditional conservatives are marginalized.”
(in Shargh. April 9, 2004.)

While a large number of Iranian analysts, political scholars and intellectuals were warning the Iranians and the international community about the rise of this new faction and its dangerous internal and international implications, the CFR task force report not only did not mention anything about this apparent element, it surprisingly discovered an “ascending pragmatic faction” in Iran:

“Iran is experiencing a gradual process of internal change that will slowly but surely produce a government more responsive toward its citizens’ wishes and more responsible in its approach to the international community.” (page13)

“ …. the pragmatists who appear to be ascendant in Tehran.” (page19)

“…. Some conservatives appear to favor a ‘China model’ of reform that maintains political orthodoxy while encouraging market reforms and tolerating expanding civil liberties.” (page 15)
(Iran: Time for a New Approach. Report of an Independent Task Force Sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Robert M. Gates, Co-Chairs, Suzanne Maloney, Project Director)

Iran: Time for a New Approach

Mr. and Mrs.Takeyh (Susan Maloney) and friends magically discovered a new ascending “pragmatic” faction completely unknown to the Iranian observers inside the country. In 2004 and 2005, Takeyh and his colleagues wrote numerous articles to institute that such pragmatic faction is indeed in command. In an extraordinary article Takeyh brought together all of his untrue conjunctures. This article, jam-packed with fabrications and a clear example of manipulation, was uniquely designed to mislead the US public and decision makers and mask the rise of Ahmadinejad faction.

“The reality is that the postwar situation in Iraq and the massive projection of U.S. power along Iran’s [border] have strengthened the position of a cadre of pragmatic conservatives seeking practical solutions to Iran’s increasingly dire predicaments. Under the banner of “new thinking,” this group seeks to restructure Iran’s domestic priorities and international relations.”
(Takeyh, R. and N. Gvosdev, Pragmatism in the Midst of Iranian Turmoil, in The Washington Quarterly Autumn 2004.)

“Such dire circumstances have facilitated the rise of a pragmatic wing among Iranian conservatives, sometimes known as the new Right. If the reformers are comparable to Gorbachev, the pragmatic conservatives resemble China’s Deng Xiaoping: they recognize the need for pragmatic policy adjustments to secure the survival of their regime. Specifically, the “China model” is perceived to include economic reform accompanied by some degree of social liberalization and a pragmatic foreign policy.”
(Takeyh, R. and N. Gvosdev, Pragmatism in the Midst of Iranian Turmoil, in The Washington Quarterly Autumn 2004.)

 “This clerical cadre of pragmatic conservatives is grouped around influential former Iranian president Rafsanjani and the outgoing parliamentary speaker Mehdi Karrubi … The pragmatic conservatives first found a home and a base within the political party Khedmatgozaran-e Sazandegi (Servants of Construction) that was set up in 199..” Ever since the closing years of the Rafsanjani administration (1989–1997), this faction has dominated key regime institutions such as the Expediency Council, which is responsible for mediating conflicts between the Majlis and the Guardian Council and for setting economic policy.”
(Takeyh, R. and N. Gvosdev, Pragmatism in the Midst of Iranian Turmoil, in The Washington Quarterly Autumn 2004.)

“After most reformist candidates were disqualified from the 2004 elections, it has been the pragmatic grouping Abadgaran Iran-e-Islami, that has emerged as the leading faction within the new Majlis… indicating that the pragmatists have a comfortable base within the new legislature. Moreover, a leading figure of the new Right, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Hassan Rouhani, is the presumptive front-runner to succeed Khatami as president when the latter steps down in 2005.”
(Takeyh, R. and N. Gvosdev, Pragmatism in the Midst of Iranian Turmoil, in The Washington Quarterly Autumn 2004.)

This article was little more than a manipulation tactic. Even a cursory study of the Iranian press as well as the events in Iran would have pointed out the erroneous claims in the article. The course of events in 2005 proved the complete fallacy of Takeyh’s assertions.  There was no relation between Rafsanjani and Karroubi. The new parliament, by no means could be presented as a pragmatist assembly. The “Abadgaran” was never a pragmatic group and contrary to Takeyh’s claim, the new right, bared no resemblance to Deng Xiaoping. They represent the most radical and fascist part of the regime.
Only one year later, Takeyh argued completely differently and called the new parliament a radical assembly which was against Rafsanjani. (in The Boston Globe. June 23, 2005.)

Takeyh’s cohort, David L. Phillips from CFR also discovered that the defeat of reformers created a new occasion that never existed before:

“ At least the recent election results will break the log jam; (the eviction of reformers) Tehran will be represented by one unified government that is hopefully more pragmatic and more committed to fulfilling Iran's international obligations.”
(Phillips, D., Pragmatism Needed in US-Iran Relations, in The Boston Globe. March 7, 2004.)

Gary Sick, another affiliate of CFR, went even further and completely denied the victory of conservatives. In his interview with the Farsi language radio Farda he declared:

“The fact that some well-known reformists are no longer in the parliament doesn’t mean that the new assembly is conservative. There are many independents and many reformers with the conservative pasts who are present in the new assembly.”
(Sick, G., Interview with Radio Farda. 18.2.2004.)

Takeyh and his colleagues were so certain about the ascendance of this pragmatic faction that they advised the U.S. administration to be prepared for a deal in 2005:

The U.S. should be prepared to take the first steps after the May 2005 Iranian election…. Rafsanjani’s cohorts would find intermediaries in either a second-term Bush administration or a Kerry administration who believe that promoting America’s interests and America’s values require engagement with Iran rather than confrontation.
(Takeyh, R. and N. Gvosdev, Pragmatism in the Midst of Iranian Turmoil, in The Washington Quarterly Autumn 2004.)

As the 2005 election was approaching, Takeyh and CFR, once again switched gears and took a completely opposite position. In the middle of Iran’s presidential elections and when it became apparent that Rafsanjani’s chances to win are low, in an article titled “The World Should Not Pin Its Hopes on Rafsanjani” in Financial Times he wrote:

“.. in their euphoric embrace of Mr. Rafsanjani, the Europeans neglect both Iran's recent history and its political peculiarities … Contrary to the popular images of Mr. Rafsanjani as the only politician who can transcend Iran's factionalized politics and produce results, his previous tenure as president was far from successful. [Here Takeyh reviews a long list of Rafsanjani’s past failures.] .... Moreover, the younger generation of conservatives, many of whom covet the presidency themselves, resent not just Mr. Rafsanjani's pragmatism but also his opportunism in terms of seeking yet another presidential term and thus denying them the opportunity…. In a strange twist, Mr. Rafsanjani's candidacy has generated more optimism in western capitals than on Iran's street,”.
(Takeyh, R., The World Should Not Pin Its Hopes on Rafsanjani, in Financial Times. May 25, 2005.)

It is hard to believe that Takeyh so easily forgot the advice he was giving to the US government to be ready for a deal with Rafsanjani’s cohorts in 2005. Once again, in an article for Boston Globe on June 23rd, 2005 he asserted that even in the future there would be no chance for Rafsanjani:

“ However, the facade of elections conceals the remarkable changes that Iran has undergone in the past few years. In a gradual yet relentless manner, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has consolidated his power over the theocracy.…. The February 2004 parliamentary elections that witnessed the triumph of many of these conservatives essentially completed Khamenei's political hegemony….. the future of Iran belongs not to the aging mullahs who were present at the creation of the revolution, but to Khamenei and his youthful, reactionary loyalists.”
(Takeyh, R., The Triumph of Absolute Rule, in The Boston Globe. June 23, 2005.)

2005- Ahmadinejad’s foreign policy is pragmatist
After Ahmadinejad won presidential elections in Iran, once again, Takeyh and friends changed tones. Takyeh wrote an extraordinary article in which he tried to camouflage Ahmadinejad’s threat which was already felt around the world. He wrote in Christian Science Monitor: “Why Iran isn't a global threat”

“…Although the assertive nationalists (new appellation for fascism) who have taken command of Iran's executive branch have dispensed with their predecessor's "dialogue of civilizations" rhetoric, and display a marked indifference to reestablishment of relations with America, they are loath to jeopardize the successful multilateral détente that was the singular achievement of the reformist era.

The days when Iran sought to undermine established authority in the name of Islamic salvation are over. Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's disciples have long abandoned the mission of exporting the revolution, supplanting it with conventional measures of the national interest.

Despite the chorus of concern, Iran's new president has demonstrated no interest in substantially altering the contours of Iran's international policy - nor has the country's ultimate authority, the Supreme Leader. … But the notion that Iran's foreign policy is entering a new radical state is yet another misreading of the Islamic Republic and its many paradoxes.”
(Takeyh, R., Why Iran isn't a global threat, in Christian Science Monitor. Sep. 29th, 2005.)

Do not lose hope; Rafsanjani could come back to power
Only a few months prior to this, in an attempt to advocate US engagement with Ahmadinejad, Tekeyh had predicted a new irreversible era in the Iranian politics:

“Irrespective of the verdict of the presidential contest, the future of Iran belongs not to the aging mullahs who were present at the creation of the revolution, but to Khamenei and his youthful, reactionary loyalists.”
(Takeyh, R., The Triumph of Absolute Rule, in The Boston Globe. June 23, 2005.)

But after the world’s negative reaction to Ahmadinejad’s behavior, Takeyh changed his position again. As if his duty is to sustain a permanent window of hope for the West, he discovered a new solution: Rafsanjani or reformers will come back again. In his testimony before the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee on November 15, 2005 he declared.

“In Iran, however, politics is a shifting landscape. It is not inconceivable that the reformers may stage yet another comeback and reclaim the parliament in the next election. Nor can it be ruled out that Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani or one of his pragmatic protégés will assume the office of the presidency yet again.
There are already signs that the clerical system is re-balancing itself and seeking to restraint its impetuous new president. Mahmoud Ahamdinejad’s inexperience and ideological stridency has cost Iran dearly… In an unprecedented move, the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has empowered Rafsanjani to “supervise” the workings of the office of the presidency, particularly in the realm of foreign affairs. How this latest attempt to curb Ahmadinejad will work in actual reality is hard to tell, but there does appear a determination by the leadership of the state to check his excesses and impose limits on his expansive ideological vision.”
(Takyeh, R.)

2006- a new powerful faction: Realists
A few months later, Takeyh, one more time, changes position and finds a new faction. Now, the “Realists” are the new windows of hope for the West. In his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on September 19, 2006, Takeyh said:

“The debates are no longer between the pragmatists such as Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani and the more austere reactionary clerics… The current divide in the theocratic regime is between those who press for a revolutionary foreign policy and more tempered realists emphasizing Persian nationalism. This delineation is best exemplified by examining the worldviews of Ahmadinejad and the current head of the Supreme National Security Council, Ali Larijani.

Realists: President Ahmadinejad’s rhetorical fulminations and presence on the international stage should not obscure the fact that he is not in complete command of Iran’s foreign relations. One of the most important actors in Iran today is the powerful Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Ali Larijani. As the leader of a new generation of realists that evolved in the intelligence community in the 1990s, this cohort’s has predominant influence over the direction of Iran’s international relations. Through their presence in key institutions, links with traditional clerical community and intimate ties to the Supreme Leader, the realists chart the course of Iran’s foreign policy”.
(Takeyh, R., Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. September 19, 2006.)

Only 6 weeks later, Takeyh changed his position one more time. For more than a year he had been arguing that the Iranian leadership and the Supreme Leader are checking Ahmadinejad’s power and as a result, the new “realists” charted Iran’s foreign policy. Now he admits that the Supreme Leader cannot or does not want to control Ahmadinejad. On November 11, 2006, in a roundtable with Pollack, he declared:
I actually think at this particular point Ahmadinejad is probably the second most important factor in Iran, arguably the most important actor because the supreme leader doesn’t have the capability or will or desire to rein him in. He has consolidated his control over all the relevant ministries…..He is probably the most—strongest president Iran has had since the first two, three years of the Rafsanjani presidency between ‘89 to ‘92, ‘93.
(Takeyh and Pollack roundtable at CFR. November 1st, 2006.)

2007: Nationalist Pragmatists are coming!
In yet another stretch of imagination, in Newsweek on Feb.26, 2007, Takeyh announced to the world that the true power holders in Iran are internationally well-behaved pragmatist nationalists:

“This emerging group looks askance at the strident rhetoric of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Its members tend to stress Iranian nationalism over Islamic identity, and pragmatism over ideology. …. Over the past two years, members of this pragmatic faction have risen to influence within the highest ranks of government, the intelligence community and the military…. these men are trying to wrest control of Iran's international relations from the most militant old-guard mullahs.”
(Takeyh, R., in Newsweek Feb.26, 2007.)


As we have seen through a sample collection of Takeyh’s writings and proclamations, he has constantly insisted that the Iranian regime has always been ready to reach out to Washington. Regardless of who has been in power in Iran, Takeyh has claimed that pragmatists are in control of the foreign policy. The policy recommendation, based on such imagination stretching declarations is clear:

“The United States would do better to shelve its containment strategy and embark on a policy of unconditional dialogue and sanctions relief.”
(Takeyh, R. and V. Nasr, in Washington Post. Februray 8, 2007.)

The same advice is naturally offered in the nuclear confrontation with Tehran’s ayatollahs:

“U.S. Can Only Stop Iranian Nuclear Program by Offering Broad Concessions. ”
(Takeyh, R., interview with CFR. April 13, 2006.)

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