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General News    H3'ed 6/25/09

Iran Divided & the 'October Surprise'

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The ex-Israeli intelligence officer said the Iranians were especially thankful in 1985-86 when the Likud channel secured SCUD missiles from Poland so Iran could respond to SCUD attacks that Iraq had launched against Iranian cities.

"After that (transaction), I got access to the highest authorities"- in Iran, Ben-Menashe said, including a personal meeting with Mousavi at which Ben-Menashe said he learned that Mousavi knew the history of the Israeli-arranged shipments in the October Surprise deal of 1980.

Ben-Menashe quoted Mousavi as saying, "we did everything you guys wanted. We got rid of the Democrats. We did everything we could, but the Americans aren't delivering [and] they are dealing with the Iraqis."

In that account, the Iranian leadership in 1980 viewed its agreement to delay the release of the U.S. Embassy hostages not primarily as a favor to the Republicans, but to the Israelis who were considered the key for Iran to get the necessary military supplies for its war with Iraq.

Today, many of the same Iranian players are back at center stage in the election dispute, but it's unclear what the power struggle might mean for President Barack Obama's desire to negotiate agreements on Iran's nuclear program and on broader Middle East peace.

For instance, does the Mousavi-Rafsanjani-Karoubi contingent still have its more pragmatic view about the West? Does Khamenei still favor his more straightforward approach toward dealing with Washington?

Since Khamenei holds Ahmadinejad's political strings, one could conclude that the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad faction might be easier to deal with in a traditional diplomatic framework that seeks a direct solution and wants to avoid endless bickering. However, others might see the Mousavi-Rafsanjani-Karoubi faction as the more flexible negotiating partners.

Whatever the case, President Obama might want to get a better grasp on the complex history of U.S.-Iranian-Israeli relations before he charges off into that negotiating thicket.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.

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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 secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at
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