Revealed: Iran’s Khomeini had secret dealings with US in 1979

KhomeiniNewly declassified files show that Ayatollah Khomeini, who led Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, had a secret channel of communication with the United States, and even sent a personal letter to US President Jimmy Carter. On January 16, 1979, after nearly a year of street clashes and protests against his leadership, the king of Iran, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, fled the country for the US. His decision to leave was strongly influenced by his American advisors, who feared that Iran was heading toward a catastrophic civil war. The Shah’s departure did little to calm tensions in the country. Protesters —many of them armed— engaged in daily street battles with members of the police and the military, who remained loyal to Pahlavi. Meanwhile, a national strike had brought the Iranian oil sector to a standstill, thereby threatening to bring about a global energy crisis. Moreover, the country was home to thousands of American military advisors and the Iranian military was almost exclusively funded and supplied by Washington. The Carter administration worried that the weaponry and technical knowledge might fall into the hands of a new, pro-Soviet government in Tehran.

It was in that tense and highly unpredictable context that the White House opened a secret channel of communication with Ayatollah Khomeini. Newly declassified US government documents show that these secret contacts began on January 15, 1979, just days before Khomeini returned to Iran from France, where he had been living in exile. The files have been accessed by the BBC’s Persian service, and allegedly contain “diplomatic cables, policy memos, meeting records” and other documents. They show that the first meeting between US government officials and Khomeini’s team took place in Neauphle-le-Château, a small village located a few miles west of Paris. It was led by Warren Zimmermann, a political secretary at the US embassy in Paris, and Ebrahim Yazdi, an Iranian-American physician who was Khomeini’s chief of staff in France. Through these secret meetings, Washington signaled to Khomeini on January 18 that American advisors in Tehran would not oppose a discussion about changing the Iranian constitution in order to abolish the monarchy and turn the country into a republic.

Khomeini letterNine days later, on January 27, Dr. Yazdi gave Zimmerman a letter written by Khomeini and addressed to President Carter. The letter, which addressed Carter in the first person, was cabled to the Department of State from the US embassy in Paris and, according to the BBC, reached the US president. In the letter, Khomeini promises to protect “America’s interests and citizens in Iran” if Washington pressured the Iranian military to stand aside and allow him and his advisers to return to Iran. Khomeini’s fear was that the royalist Iranian military would not allow a new government to take hold in Tehran. But the exiled cleric was aware of America’s influence in Iranian military circles, which at the time were effectively under the command of General Robert Huyser, Deputy Commander of US Forces in Europe, who had been dispatched to Tehran by President Carter. Before answering Khomeini’s letter, the White House sent a draft response to the embassy in Tehran for input and advice. But Khomeini did not wait for Washington’s response. On February 1, he returned to Iran, where he was greeted by millions of people in the streets and welcomed as the next leader of the country. Meanwhile, Washington had already instructed General Huyser to rule out the so-called “option C”, namely a military coup carried out by the Iranian armed forces.

The documents unearthed by the BBC show that, despite their apparent recalcitrance, the US government and Ayatollah Khomeini were far more engaged with each other than has generally been assumed. The revelations would appear to especially affect the official narrative of the Islamic Republic, which claims that Khomeini managed to take command of the Islamic Revolution despite frantic attempts by Washington to stop him. Perhaps not surprisingly, Tehran has dismissed the BBC’s revelations, calling the documents “fake” and denouncing what it described as “hostility from the British”. The Department of State has refused comment on the BBC’s revelations.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 06 June 2016 | Permalink

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CIA declassifies 1978 Camp David Accord files

Sadat, Carter and BeginBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
The United States Central Intelligence Agency has declassified 1,400 pages of intelligence files relating to the Camp David Accords, the historic peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, which was signed in 1978. The treaty, the first between Israel and an Arab country, was signed on September 17, following thirteen days of high-level negotiations between Egypt and Isarel at the Camp David presidential retreat in the US state of Maryland. The two signatories were Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. The high-level summit was hosted by US President Jimmy Carter. All three heads of state were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize later that year, which they shared for helping bring about the first peace treaty between an Arab nation and Israel. The 250 previously classified documents on the Accords, which were released by the CIA earlier this week, date from January 1977 to March 1979. They include comprehensive political assessments and personality profiles of President Sadat, Prime Minister Begin, and other key personalities participating at the summit, which were given to President Carter to read before the meeting. One of the documents refers to a meeting between Carter and CIA analysts at the Agency’s headquarters in August 1978, during which the American President was coached about how to negotiate with the two Middle Eastern leaders. Or, as the document puts it, Carter was “steeped in the personalities of Begin and Sadat”. The papers also include declassified transcripts of meetings of the US National Security Council, in which the Accords were discussed. Read more of this post

Canada’s ambassador in Iran was ‘CIA asset’ in 1970s

Ken Taylor

Ken Taylor

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Canada’s former ambassador to Iran has admitted that he and the embassy’s head of security secretly worked for the CIA in the late 1970s. Ambassador Ken Taylor and Canadian fellow-diplomat Jim Edward became the CIA’s “most valuable asset[s]” in Iran, following the November 4, 1979, seizure of the US embassy in Tehran by student groups allied to the Islamic Revolution. The revelation was made public last weekend in a new book entitled Our Man in Tehran, by Trent University historian Robert Wright,  which examines intelligence aspects of the Iranian Revolution. In it, Dr. Wright says that ambassador Taylor became “the de facto CIA station chief” in the Iranian capital, after he and Edward accepted an American request to do so, which was communicated personally to Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark by US President Jimmy Carter. Until he left the country, on January 27, 1980, Taylor and Edward provided the US with “aggressive intelligence” and an operations base for CIA agents, authorized the CIA’s use of false Canadian travel documents, and helped the Agency plan an “armed incursion” into Iran. Read more of this post

Ex-President Carter says US knew about 2002 Venezuela coup

Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Former US President Jimmy Carter has said that the US was aware of plans for a 2002 military-civilian coup against the government of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez, and that it may have even provided assistance to the coup plotters. In an interview to Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, published yesterday, Carter said there was “no doubt that in 2002 the United States had at the very least full knowledge about the coup, and could even have been directly involved”. The coup attempt took place on April 11, 2002, when President Chávez was illegally detained by the coup plotters, who also dissolved the Venezuelan National Assembly and the Supreme Court, and voided the country’s Constitution. But the move ended in failure 47 hours later, after key sectors of the military and parts of the anti-government opposition refused to side with the coup leaders. Read more of this post

Comment: Carter confirms IDF broke June 2008 truce

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On December 29, I explained the fact –well-known within Israel– that it was the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), not Hamas, which broke the June 2008 truce brokered by Egypt. Specifically, I mentioned the November 4, 2008, illegal incursion into Gaza by a sizeable IDF team, reportedly to take out a “strip tunnel intended for terror attack”, which unilaterally broke the truce. Israel has offered no proof for its justification of the incursion, either domestically or internationally. The Israeli press has long recognized that it was after this unilateral breaking of the ceasefire by the IDF that “[t]he fragile five-month truce began to unravel”. On November 13, Ha’aretz noted that it was in response to this action that Hamas forces resumed their rocket fire against Israeli settlements. It has now come to my attention that a January 8, 2009, article in The Washington Post by former US President Jimmy Carter has also pointed out this fact. Read more of this post