TOWARDS AN OCTOBER SURPRISE? – 10/10/1988

[Diary of a Vengeance Foretold] Part 100

OCTOBER 10 1988

“Any hostage news is bad news in a political sense. There’s so much cynicism about the way that the Government works, just having it in the papers will make people think it’s an attempt to manipulate the situation for political gain.”

Republican strategist with close ties to the White House, Operation Autumn Leaves [1]

Hafez Dalkamoni and Ahmed Abassi travel to Frankfurt. They are under round the clock surveillance by the BKA. Their activity remains suspicious but legal. It is not clear why they came to Frankfurt.

dalkamouni

Excitement and Apprehension over the Hostage Release

Upon hearing the release of a hostage last week, the White House was initially gripped with happiness. But the news also carries political risks for Vice President Bush as it could remind the voters of the disaster of the Iran Contra operation during wich weapons were sold by the US to Tehran and the profits were used to fund rebels and political opponents in Nicaragua.

“Obviously, if you could get the hostages out in some clean, decent way, with no hint of an under-the-table deal, that would be good news for the President and for the Bush camp,” said William Quandt, a former State Department official and Middle East expert.

‘The problem is that any hint that you’ve done another Iran-contra kind of deal could be devastating. I suspect the White House is terribly sensitive about any charge that they’re trying to plan their own October surprise to help Bush by getting the hostages out,” Quandt said.

“Even if they are doing something like that, they don’t want to be accused of it, because it could backfire. Playing politics with the hostages would look very bad.”

Much Confusion

Days before the release of Mithileshwar Singh, an Indian national who holds resident status in the United States, both Syrian and Iranian officials passed information suggesting one or more American hostages would be freed soon. But the lines of communication appear to work poorly.

“The Syrians believed they were getting [American Professor] Steen. This proves that communication with the hostage-takers is not so clear and easy,” said an anonimous diplomat with close ties to Iran and Syria.

A Pretty Thin Line

Marlin Fitzwater, the President’s spokesman, was asked by reporters to describe the difference between talks and negotiations. ”That’s a pretty fine line,” Fitzwater replied. It would appear that the President and his Vice President do not share the same understanding on this issue.

“Obviously we could not do any negotiating with them Iranian officials, unless and until the hostages are released,” Reagan said last Thursday.

“It is not quite correct to say that we have a no-negotiations policy. We will talk to anyone, any group, any country about the safety and well-being of American citizens,” VP Bush stated recently.

NOTES AND REFERENCES

  1. Operation Autumn Leaves

GULF TALKS STALL OVER A WATERWAY  – October 9, 1988

Syria and Iran Alerted U.S. to Hostage Release – October 9, 1988

AN EMPTINESS IN THE OVAL OFFICE – October 9, 1988

Hostage Situation Has Both Campaigns Uneasy – October 10, 1988

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