Tehran’s Ruling Clerics Scramble for Survival

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As expected, the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad brought a briefcase full of denials to New York last month. When asked about providing training and weapons to militias in Iraq, he said, “Why would we want to do that?” Commenting on Iran’s long-term, clandestine nuclear program, he claimed, “all our nuclear activities have been completely peaceful and transparent.” Most viewers shook their heads in disbelief that he could utter such blatant lies from a Columbia University podium.

As the evidence continues to mount about Iran’s violent intervention in Iraq, export of terrorism and systematic lies to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Ahmadinejad and the Islamic fundamentalist regime are pushed further into a dark corner of global isolation.

In Iraq, proof of Iran’s imbedded terrorist network continues to grow. On September 20, U.S. troops seized a Qods Force commander Mahmoud Farhadi in northern Iraq and charged that he had been operating as an agent in Iraq for 10 years.

Captured during a raid at the Palace Hotel in Sulaimaniyah, Farhadi was posing as an Iranian businessman traveling as part of a trade delegation to Iraq. In truth, he is a Brigadier General in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp and active in Iraq as a commander of elite Qods Force operations for years.

In April 2003, the main Iranian opposition, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) revealed that Gen. Farhadi had been stationed in the Iraqi city of Karbala at the time, just as the Iranian regime was setting up its terrorist network in Iraq to take advantage of the chaos following the U.S.-led invasion. Farhadi had been commissioned to coordinate Tehran's proxy militant group known as the Badr Corps and oversee the Qods Force's penetration of Iraq when the war broke in March 2003. He entered Iraq and led his forces all the way to Baghdad at the time.

Farhadi was a major catch for coalition forces. The Iranian regime had hand picked him to lead its first clandestine operations in Iraq as he was one of its most experienced commanders, having served throughout the Iran-Iraq War and subsequently as one of the military’s top intelligence directors. Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the top commander of day-to-day operations in Iraq, called Farhadi a “significant” player who had been involved in supporting Iraqi militias with money, weapons and training.

Farhadi’s arrest is only the latest in the coalition forces’ efforts to capture Iranian military personnel in Iraq.

On October 7, 2007, the U.S. made another chilling announcement about the Qods Force's presence in Iraq. Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, said that Tehran’s ambassador to Baghdad, Hassan Kazemi-Qomi, was a member of the Qods Force. This is the Iranian official who sat down with U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker to discuss how Iran can help the U.S. bring security to Iraq.

Petraeus did not divulge the source of his information about Qomi, but in my column,Iran’s Terror War against the U.S. in Iraq, I revealed Qomi’s identity as "a senior Qods Force commander," based on intelligence from my MEK sources in Iran.

So much for Ahmadinejad’s denials that Tehran has infiltrated Iraq.

Sending a member of the Qods Force — the unit responsible for Iraq’s deadly roadside bombs and most of its terrorist forces — to the diplomacy table is quintessential Tehran behavior. With every denial of an Iranian presence in Iraq, Ahmadinejad smiled behind the knowledge that his IRGC cronies are directly supporting most of the terrorist violence.

Threats of more United Nations sanctions against Iran are also pressing the fundamentalist mullahs into a corner. After years of black-and-white evidence of outright lies and deception in the IAEA reports, Iran continues to claim that it is only interested in nuclear energy, not a nuclear bomb. But Western nations including the United States, France, Britain and Germany, are pressing for tougher action to halt Iran’s uranium enrichment cascades.

Pointing to Iran’s refusal to respond to the IAEA’s questions and its attempts to hide some of its biggest nuclear facilities, these countries wave the facts at Iran’s leaders and demand that they obey international law. Fed up with Iran’s bloody intervention in Iraq and refusal to halt nuclear enrichment, France’s new president has warned that Iran was baiting the world for military strikes.

The Iranian leadership should be reminded that it can no longer fool all of the people all of the time. We know that it is building IEDs and training Iraqi militias how to use them. We know it considers U.S.-Iran talks about Iraq a joke because it sends a terrorist to the table. And we know it has been pursuing a nuclear weapon for years in a desperate attempt to gain leverage in the region and pursue its hegemonic goals.

We also know that escalating civil unrest throughout Iran threatens the regime’s survival, and that the regime’s response is to try to eradicate the organized opposition, the MEK, and to crush the populace into submission through oppressive laws, arrests and an unprecedented number of public executions.

On Monday, October 8, 2007, Iranian students protesting against Ahmadinejad's visit to Tehran University clashed with security forces on campus and chanted "death to the dictator" ahead of scheduled speech of the regime's president. "Why only Columbia. We have questions too?" read banners held by the enraged students.

With threats advancing upon them from every side, Tehran’s ruling clerics are scrambling for survival. The United States should hit the mullahs where it hurts them the most: remove the politically-driven and ill-advised terror tag from the main Iranian opposition, the MEK as that label has acted a barrier to democratic change in Iran. Failure to do so, would help the Ayatollahs to get the bomb and turn Iraq into a sister Islamic Republic.

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Alireza Jafarzadeh is a FOX News Channel Foreign Affairs Analyst and the author of "The Iran Threat: President Ahmadinejad and the Coming Nuclear Crisis" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).

Jafarzadeh has revealed Iran's terrorist network in Iraq and its terror training camps since 2003. He first disclosed the existence of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility and the Arak heavy water facility in August 2002.

Prior to becoming a contributor for FOX, and until August 2003, Jafarzadeh acted for a dozen years as the chief congressional liaison and media spokesman for the U.S. representative office of Iran's parliament in exile, the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

Alireza Jafarzadeh, the deputy director of the Washington office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, is credited with exposing Iranian nuclear sites in Natanz and Arak in 2002, triggering International Atomic Energy Agency inspections. He is the author of "The Iran Threat" (Palgrave MacMillan: 2008). His email is Jafarzadeh@ncrius.org, and is on twitter @A_Jafarzadeh.