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Cables Hold Clues to U.S.-Iran Mysteries

By       Message Robert Parry     Permalink
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Haig's written report contained no other details about the "green light," and Haig declined my subsequent requests for an interview about the Talking Points. But the paper represented the first documented corroboration of Iran's long-held belief that the United States had encouraged Iraq's 1980 invasion.

In 1980, President Carter termed those Iranian charges of U.S. complicity "patently false." Later, he mentioned Iraq's invasion only briefly in his presidential memoir, in the context of an unexpected mid-September hostage initiative from a Khomeini in-law, Sadeq Tabatabai.

"Exploratory conversations [in Germany] were quite encouraging," President Carter wrote about that approach, but he added: "As fate would have it, the Iraqis chose the day of [Tabatabai's] scheduled arrival in Iran, September 22, to invade Iran and to bomb the Tehran airport. Typically, the Iranians accused me of planning and supporting the invasion."

The Iraqi invasion did make Iran more desperate to get U.S. spare parts for its air and ground forces. Yet the Carter administration continued to demand that the American hostages be freed before military shipments could resume. The Republicans around Ronald Reagan were more accommodating to Iran, apparently beginning during Campaign 1980.

Secret FBI wiretaps revealed that an Iranian banker, the late Cyrus Hashemi, who supposedly was helping President Carter on the hostage talks, actually was assisting Republicans with arms shipments to Iran and with money transfers in fall 1980.

Hashemi's older brother, Jamshid, testified in the early 1990s that the Iran arms shipments, via Israel, resulted from secret meetings in Madrid between Reagan's campaign director, William J. Casey, and one of Khomeini's emissaries, a hard-line Islamic mullah named Mehdi Karrubi. (Today, Karrubi -- now considered a "reformer" -- is a leader of Iran's political opposition which lodged strong objections to the uranium-swap proposal in 2009.)

Whatever the full truth about the 1980 back-channel maneuvers -- known as the October Surprise mystery -- there's no doubt that the Reagan administration did arrange for secret shipments of sophisticated U.S. missiles and other weapons to Iran during the 1980s. When disclosed in 1986, those deals became the center of the Iran-Contra scandal.

It was also discovered in the late 1980s that the Reagan administration had been secretly providing military support to Iraq as well.

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The Iran-Iraq War raged on for more than eight years, killing and maiming an estimated one million people. The economic dislocations also set the stage for Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 over a dispute regarding Iraq's war debt.

The subsequent U.S.-led military campaign to oust Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991 placed U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, infuriating Islamists such as Saudi Osama bin Laden, who vowed to drive American forces out of Islamic lands by attacking U.S. military and civilian targets.

That led to the 9/11 terror attacks and to George W. Bush's invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and of Iraq in 2003.

The new cables from WikiLeaks indicate that the Obama administration now has taken its place in a long line of U.S. governments trying its hand at complicated -- and often misguided -- strategies for power and influence in the oil-rich Middle East.

This article cross-posted from Consortium News

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at It's also available at

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