In Iranian politics, few loom larger that Hashemi Rafsanjani. Yet for whom does he work—really?
As chairman of the Assembly of Experts, he oversees the selection, monitoring and dismissal of Iran’s Supreme Leader. As Chair of the Expediency Council, he mediates legislative conflicts. As President of Iran from 1989-1997, he created a power base dating back to his study of theology with Ayatollah Khomeini. But that was then; what about now?
To grasp his role in this “election” requires a reflection on whose interests are best served by crises in the region. Serial crises are essential to sustain the plausibility of the much-touted Clash of Civilizations as a means to justify a “global war on terrorism.” When Mahmoud Ahmadenijad won out over Rafsanjani in a 2005 bid for the presidency, the result was a spokesperson with little political power but a high-profile platform.
In today’s media-saturated politics, candidates are akin to brands. Soon after their release in the market, each is identified with a message. Ahmadenijad was quickly branded the world’s most famous anti-Semite and Holocaust denier. As the academics say: Cui bono—who benefits? Which nation gained most from that branding? Iran? Or Israel?
For an enclave dependent for support on branding itself the unwitting victim of a hostile, anti-Semitic world, who better to freshen up that brand? If so, what role does Rafsanjani play in a nation whose leaders have long collaborated with Israel in duplicitous operations?
Those operations, too numerous to describe, include the Israeli-enabled, presidency-discrediting Iran-Contra affair that Ronald Reagan denied and then was forced to admit. That clumsy arms-for-hostages exchange aided Iran in its war with Iraq, then a U.S. ally, and resulted in 11 federal convictions for Reagan-era officials. All were pardoned.
What role does Rafsanjani play in the casting for a real life drama that, if events continue on course, is poised to discredit another U.S. president? What we know is this. Ahmadinejad charged the Grey Eminence and his family with massive corruption, including racketeering, embezzlement and money laundering. That appears accurate. The Rafsanjani clan emerged wealthy beyond measure, including one son who is allegedly a billionaire in a nation long plagued with the ravages of poverty and false piety.
We also know that Rafsanjani, a billionaire also known as “the shark,” financed the campaign of opposition candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi. As Prime Minister, Mousavi was Tehran’s go-between for Iran-Contra. He also reportedly served as Iran’s middleman for the October 1983 bombing in Beirut that killed 241 Marines.
The question remains: for whom was he a middleman—really? For the bombing, was he the go-between with Hezbollah terrorists blamed for the attack? That may well be true. Yet former Mossad case officer Victor Ostrovsky insists that Israeli intelligence had a complete description of the truck used in that attack—and chose not to alert their ally.
That mass murder prompted the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the region, leaving the Middle East vulnerable to political manipulation by whatever nation proved most adept at the craft. Cui bono? Did Iran benefit from that bombing? Lebanon? Or Israel?
Any conclusions must remain conjectural until more is known about the role played by Israel and pro-Israelis in fixing the intelligence that induced the U.S. to invade Iraq. And may yet induce an attack on Iran aided by a well-timed crisis that may deter the direct negotiations that Washington proposed—and Tel Aviv opposed.
Readers of Guilt By Association know that analysis pivots off a person identified as “John Doe.” He encountered the Grey Eminence two decades ago while profiling the transnational criminal syndicate chronicled there. Rafsanjani was then selling an office building in Manhattan built by the Shah of Iran.
The top floors were occupied by arbitrageur Ivan Boesky, Michael Milken’s co-conspirator in securities frauds for which both were convicted. Boesky spent two years in Iran for purposes that remain obscure. Doe negotiated the sale with Pincus Green, the partner of Marc Rich who was then illegally trading oil with Iran—when Rafsanjani was president.
Rich’s defense team was led by Nixon White House counsel Leonard Garment and Lewis Libby who then worked in the Pentagon for Paul Wolfowitz in the G.H.W. Bush era. All four men are Ashkenazim. For G.W. Bush, Libby emerged as Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney when Wolfowitz, as Deputy Secretary of Defense, became a lead advocate for invading Iraq in response to the mass murder of 911.
In May 2007, Libby was found guilty on four federal charges for his attempts to obscure the fixing of intelligence that induced the invasion in pursuit of the expansionist goals for Greater Israel. The neoconservatives who advanced that agenda have since confirmed that their primary target was—and remains—Iran.
History is best understood in hindsight. Yet where, as here, behavior patterns repeat over multiple decades, Americans who continue to put their faith in false friends may find themselves repeating past tragedies. To avoid future calamities, Iranians had best grasp that neither this election—nor the Grey Eminence—may be what they seem.