”If you sell arms to the Ayatollah, don’t expect a pardon from the President of the United States.”
Governor Dukakis, US Presidential Candidate
Iraq’s Foreign Minister had a first round of talks with Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar this morning.
Tariq Aziz immediately took a hard-line and demanded direct negotiations with Iran as proof that it is sincere in wanting peace. Iraqi officials fear that Tehran is merely seeking a truce to regroup their forces.
”We believe the first step for constructive work is face-to-face negotiations between the two parties under the auspices of the U.N. Secretary General,” Tariq Aziz, told reporters.
”If the Iranians do not accept this, it means they are not sincere about peace,” Aziz added.
Iran lodged another formal protest with the Security Council over the Iraqi attacks today and again accused Baghdad of using chemical weapons in violation of the 1925 Geneva Convention.
Rev. Jesse Jackson seeks direct talks about Hostages
Jackson said today that he was trying to arrange a meeting with the Foreign Minister of Iran to open discussions on the release of American hostages in Lebanon.
According to American officials, nine American hostages are being held by Islamic fundamentalists, funded and controlled by Tehran. The allegation was confirmed today by none else than Richard W. Murphy, the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs.
Murphy told Congress that American officials believed that Iran controlled the fate of the hostages.
”Jesse Jackson is not going to be used as any type of channel by the U.S. Government. He is free to talk to whomever he wants, and so are the Iranians,” a State Department official said.
”We generally discourage private individuals from trying to conduct foreign policy. It usually does not work, and it sometimes complicates things,” another State Department official told reporters.
(NB. ON October 5, we will learn from a former President of Iran, Mr. Bani Sadr, that Bush had actually sent a private citizen to discuss the release of the hostages with top Iranian officials.)
”We do not know any of the facts about this matter,” James B. Steinberg, deputy issues director for the Dukakis campaign, said.
”As a matter of general policy, Governor Dukakis has said that he does not favour private citizens independently conducting foreign policy,” Steinberg added.
The Secretary General said he had raised with Velayati the issue of Western hostages. He did not however disclose the Iranian diplomat’s response.
”This is a question on which one has to be very discreet,” Mr. Perez de Cuellar said. ”I raised it very, very specifically.”
The race to the White House
Most observers of US politics believe that foreign policy should help George Bush in this election campaign. Bush is currently trailing Dukakis by about 10 points. But all also agree that there is a danger for Bush regarding his dealings with Iran.
The Machiavelli styled attempt to trade US arms for Americans hostages still reminds people of the most ignominious episode of the Reagan years. The Vice President’s refusal to discuss his part in it may not help his cause.
Middle East News
Today, Jordan had cancelled a $1.3 billion development plan in West Bank. For the first time in two decades, Israeli diplomats arrive in Moscow.
Back to the Present (2008)
Last Monday, former CIA bob Baer gave an interview on BBC regarding his view on the threat of a nuclear armed Iran. As a side comment, Baer mentioned that Tehran was behind the bombings of the Israeli embassy (92), and the AMIA Jewish centre (94) in Buenos Aires, as well as the bombing of the Al-Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia (96).
I pointed out to him that the FBI never found evidence that Iran was involved in the bombing of the Israel embassy in Buenos Aires.
In late 1997 Bernazzani was in charge of the FBI’s office of Hezbollah operations. He would later head the New Orleans FBI office. Bernazzani was sent to Buenos Aires to lead a team of FBI specialists helping Argentine investigators to crack the AMIA bombing case.
Bernazzani stated that he had found no evidence linking Tehran to the bombing. An Iranian defector, named Mesbahi, had reported to several Law Authorities that Tehran was behind these bombings as well as the destruction of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie.
According to Bernazzani, Mesbahi had been discredited among US analysts because “he had lost his access to high-level Iranian officials well before the 1994 bombing and was poor, even broke.”
The reply from Baer was rather direct. “Why should the truth matter? We can’t change the regime in Tehran anyhow. They’re more likely to change the regime in Washington. [Let us prepare for another] October surprise.”
NOTES AND REFERENCES