Saturday, October 07, 2006

Has Washington found its Iranian Chalabi?

* Laura in mojo:
"Has Washington found its Iranian Chalabi?
Enter Fakhravar, who is more inclined to say exactly what the hawks want to hear. He told me that Iran’s president wants to wipe Israel off the map, and that “any movement or any action whatsoever” by the United States would “help or enhance the people to rise up.” All the student movement in Iran needed to overthrow the regime, he said, was “a little bit of coordination, organization, and training.”

A virtual unknown both inside and outside Iran when he arrived in the United States in May, Fakhravar has in the months since then ascended to prominence at a dizzying clip. By midsummer he was rushing from testifying on Capitol Hill one moment to an Iran opposition gathering at the White House the next, meeting regularly with policymakers and influential advisers, chatting with the former Shah’s son on his cell phone, and generally being touted as the young, idealistic face of the movement to overthrow the mullahs.

But Fakhravar may be a false messiah. In interviews with more than a dozen Iranian opposition figures, some of them former political prisoners, a different picture emerged—one of an opportunist being pushed to the fore by Iran hawks, a reputed jailhouse snitch who was locked up for nonpolitical offenses but reinvented himself as a student activist and political prisoner once behind bars. Fakhravar and his supporters vehemently deny such allegations, saying that the attacks are motivated by petty jealousy and a vendetta by Fakhravar’s enemies on the Iranian left.

For those like Perle who want the United States to eschew diplomacy in favor of backing regime change, Fakhravar is an essential link in the argument for confrontation with Iran. Rather than reminding Americans of Chalabi, who is now known to have orchestrated much of the Bush administration’s bad wmd intelligence, they’d like to summon memories of the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan sought to embolden and unify dissidents in the Soviet Union. But by choosing Fakhravar, they may have inadvertently accomplished the opposite, exposing the ruptures in the pro-democracy movement and throwing into question the notion that America’s problems with Tehran will be solved by a saffron revolution.
I met Fakhravar recently in an office lent to him by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a small Washington think tank that promotes U.S. intervention to support reform in the Middle East... But there was also an air of anxiety about him, a kind of Talented Mr. Ripley quality, as if he were struggling to perform a role..."


Kathleen said...

So did Fakrahvrar just deposit $2 mil in the bank? Didn't we see this coming in another thread here?

lukery said...

Kath - i think that was ghorba