Accompanying the covert war between Iran and the west is a sideline industry consisting of all manner of spies, exiles, and others with mixed motives regarding this confrontation. There are supposed Iranian dissidents who’ve escaped, made their way to the west, and been taken into the bosom of the neocon political and media world. One of these is Amir Abbas Fakhravar. To hear him tell it, he escaped from an Iranian jail with the help of Richard Perle, who whisked him off to America where he became the darling of the Cheney neocon apparatus. To hear former jailed Iranian reformers tell it, he was a jailhouse snitch for the regime.
His primary message was promoting regime change, which is why he was so valuable to the hawks seeking to promote war against Iran. While in this country he made common cause with hawks like Michael Ledeen, did interviews with neocon media outlets like the National Review, The Telegraph, and New York Sun, and affiliated with some of the more extreme monarchists among the Iranian exile community. Presidents come and go, and with Barack Obama in power Fakhravar has had to recalibrate his political message. He still favors regime change, but no longer advocates war (at least not publicly) to achieve this goal. In an interview with Israeli TV during his first visit to that country, he said that the current round of draconian sanctions were his most favored approach, and not a military strike.
He made sure to tell his Israeli interviewer how much Iranians love Israel, even offered the audience a hearty Shabbat Shalom, and practically blew kisses their way. You could practically hear all the Israeli Jewish mothers sighing and hoping their daughters might meet such a nice boy to bring home to mamma. Fakhravar told the newscaster that the current regime governing Iran “is not Iranian.” Undoubtedly, this refers to a weird theory some in the opposition may have attempting to prove the ayatollahs are foreign alien elements imposed on Iran “through invasion.” We’ve seen this tactic of smearing “radical aliens” like Saul Alinksy used in the Republican primary campaign as well. This, unfortunately, is the level of delusion to which some like Fakhravar sink while taking their credulous Israeli viewers along with them.
Who arranged for his Israeli visit? A slightly mysterious Israeli company, Laurus, founded by former members of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office specializing in national security. In other words, these are former Israeli security operatives now freelancing for themselves based on their prior contacts in the security apparatus. All of which means that there are security interests in Israel eager to exploit Fakhravar for their purposes. In the past in the U.S. those purposes included promoting regime change. Today, in Israel those purposes are precisely the opposite, at least as far as his Israeli patrons are concerned. He’s pimping for sanctions. So the question is who’s paying his way? I’d guess that it must be elements within the Mossad who are opposed to an Israeli attack. The other question is are the views he’s peddling to the Israeli media sincere or is he talking entirely differently to those he’s briefing in Israel behind closed doors? Frankly, I wouldn’t trust him as far as I can throw him.
Laura Rozen, back in the days when she was writing challenging reporting for Mother Jones about U.S. policy toward Iran, published an expose about him calling him the “Iranian Chalabi.” All I can say to Israel is caveat emptor. I don’t know what this guy is doing in Israel right now, but whatever it is he’s a fraud and any Israeli, even ones seeking to avert war, are being suckered either knowingly or unknowingly.
Last month, Yossi Melman wrote (this article strangely is no longer directly available on the Haaretz site, but is still accessible through Google cache) in Haaretz that Fakhravar’s December trip to Israel was cancelled because a former IDF officer now living in New York warned security associates he knew in Israel of the Iranian’s dubious past. The next thing I knew he was interviewed on Israeli TV last night.