By Hussein Sharifi
There has been a great deal of talk and many threatening comments against Iran in recent months and this psychological warfare does not look like it is going to end soon. Both American and Israeli top officials have said directly and indirectly that if Iran does not submit to the will of the Europeans and discontinue uranium enrichment, then they will destroy Iranian atomic energy installations. Iranians in turn say that their nuclear program is peaceful and as a member of the I.A.E.A. they are entitled to benefit from nuclear energy. I recently visited Iran and had many opportunities to talk to people and visit some of these plants. I also had opportunity to talk to some members of military, the revolutionary guards as well as paramilitary Basij commanders who are members of my family or their acquaintances.
Although the axis of devil countries as they say in Iran (U.S., Britain, and Israel) talk tough, Iran as one of the members of axis of evil (as George Bush called Iran) talks tough as well. This is part of the psychological warfare that will go on for the coming months until a diplomatic or military solution can be found. Here I want to report some of the attitudes and views which I found common between Iranians in Iran and some expatriates. These are rarely published in Western media sources and there is a reason for that. The Western reporters who write and report on this subject are culturally biased on anything non-Western, especially Iranian, which challenges their habits and culture. Most of the non-Western reporters who live in the West or work for its media also think like the Western reporters since they have to follow their standard of reporting and include those biases. Apart from official interviews and official political statements gathered from talking to the authorities and people in charge in diplomatic languages, unofficial talk sometimes provides a great deal of information regarding the situation.
Since the Iranian nuclear energy program was reported in the Western media, George Bush continuously said that military attack is an option until he met Tony Blair, Prime Minister of Britain, when he changed course and said, "Attacking Iran is ridiculous." It was a big question for me and many others as to how he could change his position so quickly and so drastically. Before meeting Blair he repeatedly referred to Iranian "nuclear installations" , "nuclear technology", and "military options", but then he talked of "Iranian nuclear weapons" and that "attacking Iran is ridiculous". Many observers say that George Bush came to understand that with the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, he could not open another front with a big and powerful country such as Iran, a country with past history of impressive military defense against her attackers. That is why he changed his words to save face, in case that he failed to convince Iranians to abandon their program, he could then say that since Iran did not produce nuclear weapons and because her nuclear energy program is civilian it is thus legal and that is why military force was not used.
This autumn I met a group of old friends who have political and military positions in Iran and we had a long conversation. Iranians enjoy political conversation in social gatherings more than anything else and I was able to exploit this to investigate and probe their attitudes towards the nuclear energy program. I will only use their first name to protect their identity. It started first from Blair and Bush's discussion regarding the military option. Hussein, whom I have known for many years and who is a revolutionary guard commander and veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, started the conversation. He said that they had obtained the text of these two leader's conversation. Indeed it was Tony Blair who warned President Bush against attacking Iran or helping Israel to attack Iran. That was bad news for President Bush. My friend said, "He did not appear in the public for about two weeks. The analysis of his body language afterward showed him to be a nervous man." What Blair told Bush, according to Hussein, was as follows: During the rein of Queen Victoria, Prime Minister Gladstone told Her Highness that the sun in her empire shines for 22 hours. The Queen asks him, "Why not 24 hours?" Gladstone says, "Iran and Afghanistan are still not on the list of Her empire." The Queen frowns and orders him to add those countries to the list. The rest is history: Britain tried three times to invade Afghanistan and all three times they were defeated. In one battle only one wounded soldier out of a force of 16 thousand, is able to survive and relay the news of the defeat to his commanders. Gladstone then tells the Queen, "If the Afghans did that to your majesty's army, think what the Persians can do." Whether it was a joke Tony Blair told President Bush or if it was made by this revolutionary guard, this was the general spirit I found amongst Iranians.
"We know they have a plan," added Jamshid who has a political post in the Basij paramilitary organization, "We have many plans too. Every country has different plans for offense or defense of her country. A few months after the invasion of Iraq, George Bush, who was euphoric of his quick victory asked Donald Rumsfeld to devise a plan for attacking Iran. For this plan they needed the help of Iranians expatriates in the U.S.. We could get a great deal of intelligence regarding the American units and commanders, intensions, in addition to finding a lot about their structures and weaponries."
When I asked them what Iran would do if the U.S. was serious in attacking Iranian nuclear sites, Hussein said, "Then they open hell's gates towards themselves," and smiled. When I asked him to elaborate more, he continued, "In the papers there is always talk about air attacks on Iranian installations by Israel or the U.S. This type of psychological warfare is used to divert our attention. We know for a fact that no two Western wars are similar and we are sure that the Israelis would not risk an air attack. We know there are at least three possible scenarios of attacking these sites, including using their submarines in the Persian Gulf, commandos from the sea, or Mojahedin Khalgh trained in Israel and Azerbaijan to destroy the Bushehr nuclear power plant from the inside, but these are only plans. We have even more plans for how to confront them as well. This is a game of chess and we have practiced many different scenarios." Ali, another revolutionary guard, smiled and responded, "We have indicated directly and indirectly that with the first bullet shot at Iran, the map of the Middle East will be changed forever. Many American puppet regimes and dictators will fall and there will never be a government like what is now in Israel. The Apartheid system in Israel will be dismantled and a democratic government which embraces Jews, Christians, and Moslems equally will come to power. Millions of Palestinians will return home and millions of European and American migrants will return back from Palestine to their countries."
When I mentioned the immense firepower of the U.S. and the chemical, biological, and nuclear arsenal of Israel Hussein smiled and said, "We are ready, bring them on." Then after chuckling he said, "We have our sensors in place in the U.S., Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, and most Arab countries. We know ahead of the time when they are coming, and since Mr. Bush has given American democracy along with the preemptive strike as the right of everybody in the world, we are going to use it and use it effectively. We are present in most of the military briefings of the U.S. in Afghanistan and Iraq. As soon as we see that it is imminent we hit them and hit them hard. If U.S. commanders used a sledgehammer to break a walnut in Iraq, we will use two sledgehammers for a hazelnut everywhere in the Middle East! Whether the U.S. or Israel attacks us, we will consider it as Israeli attack since we know how much power they have over the U.S. political and decision-making system." When I asked why they would hold Israel responsible if the U.S. attacked unilaterally, he responded that the American policy in Middle East is designed and dictated by Jewish organizations such as the AIPAC (American Israeli Public Affairs Committee) which in turn gets its agenda and policy from Israel. "Don't you remember the role of three Jewish Musketeer's in Iraq invasion?" He meant Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, and Michael Ledeen. Ali added, "The U.S. political system is under heavy pressure from Zionist organizations. Look at the articles published in U.S. papers about Iran. Most of the authors are Zionists strongly affiliated with AIPAC. Most of these guys dream of an Israel which extends from the Nile to the Euphrates. This is dangerous ideology. We must stop this at some stage and this is the best time. Many Western immigrants in Israel are thinking and working toward it. Look at the Mayflower ship which brought a handful of Europeans to America, the American natives lost their identity and culture, and the rest is the history. We do not want this to happen to the Middle Eastern countries."
Jamshid said, "Since her inception by the Europeans, Israel has had four wars with her neighbors and in three of those wars she obtained more land. That is until 1979, the year the Islamic Republic was born in Iran, and since then she has not started any wars, since she knew she cannot, because Iran would definitely intervene. They want more land for all these Russian and other immigrants and that is why they put pressure on the U.S. to attack Iran."
I asked Jamshid what the possible response could be, he said very calmly, "If our peaceful nuclear installations are attacked, no doubt we will take out that chocolate factory in Dimona, and not only that one, but all other shops which sell that kind of chocolate in Israel!" He was referring to Israeli nuclear sites, and then continued, "We will make a big mess in Israel and leave it to the Europeans and the Americans to clean this mess up. Both the U.S. and Israel know that, and for that matter, if they are serious about their intention, they have to bomb not only the nuclear research centers, but all the Shahab-3 silos and to be safe many other military sites as well- and that means an all out war. We are ready for that. That is a hard job for them since finding and destroying these sites quickly is very hard," and laughed.
I asked them how they saw the war scenario. Ali said, "The possible war would be outside of Iranian borders. We have many theaters of operations including Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf and some Arab countries where U.S has troops there. We can increase the U.S. fatalities to a few dozen a day easily. In the case of Israel we are going to cause the immigration of 2-3 million European and Americans." When I asked for further explanation, he said, "Well if Iran is attacked we know who is responsible and that is when we decide that they should not live in our neighborhood." When I mentioned the Arrow anti-missiles Israelis have, he smiled. "Arrow anti-missiles are not accurate, and we know that for fact. They are working hard to improve it, but have not been successful so far. It is mainly a propaganda tool for the USraelis," stressing the last word with smile, before adding, "The Shahab-3 can easily take care of them. Their accuracy has been improved greatly. We have enough of them to spend more per target to increase the chance of hitting a target accurately, also do not forget we have satellite which looks at our target there and gives us real time information."
Javid, an Iran-Iraq war veteran calmly said, "There are many obstacles to the invasion of Iran. Iran is four times bigger than Iraq, so the number of soldiers has to be more accordingly. The U.S. does not have that many troops, even it were to bring in NATO and can double or triple the size of troops of what is has now in Iraq, there are still a lot of shortfalls. Iranian people have a very distinct culture and history which make them stand out as a solid nation. Two main elements which play important role in the defense of the country are nationalism and Shi'ism. These two are our real nuclear weapon. Both played an important role in the Iraq-Iran war. During the chaos of the revolution where there was no formal army to stand in front of hundreds of Iraqi tanks, ordinary people took up arms and stood in front of the Iraqis heavy army and stopped them for months. Young citizens took up grenades and threw themselves under the tanks and stopped Iraqi tanks. Saddam thought the war would take a few weeks, and although he was backed by Russia, Europe, U.S. and the Arab world, it took eight years and at the end he did not gain a meter of Iranian soil."
When I mentioned the superiority of U.S. military hardware, software, as well as their tactics he said, "Even if they could bring few thousand more soldiers and the best hardware they can not get to Tehran- conquering Iran is wishful thinking a corn-grower from Kansas might believe. First of all, in Iran people always fought against invaders and the army helped them. The U.S. can defeat the Iranian army, but not the Iranian people. There has never been any army in the world that could defeat a nation. Vietnam is the recent history lesson. On the basis of a military evaluation done by some western analysts and institutions, in any invasion of Iran 200,000 to 500,000 troops will be lost. Which country or countries are going to handle that amount of loss just for a problem which there is a diplomatic solution?" When I raised my eyebrow at his figures he got agitated and said, "Well, look, Saddam Hussein penetrated into Iran about 20-60 kilometers and lost about half a million men. Since the Americans have a better army and equipments, then they will have fewer casualties than Saddam. However, anybody who wants to get to Tehran which is a long way from the Iraqi border must pay more". Then he laughed and said, "Otherwise if they want to pay a friendly visit to us, then they are welcome!" He continued on, "Most Iranian cities are near a mountain or in a valley, and it is very easy for a few fighters to go to those mountains that overlook the cities and make hell for the invaders. That is why as a nation we had only two major defeats in the last 2,500 years: one by Greeks and one by Arab Moslem armies. Suppose that an imaginary army comes to Iran; to be successful that army has to get control of at least 10-12 major cities which have more than a million in population, since if any of these cities are ignored, then their mission is not accomplished and that city would quickly become the main point of resistance. Iraq had two cities and quickly was overcome by the invaders. Basra was mainly Shiite and Baghdad was partly Shiite and you know that the Shiite hate Saddam. The reason was that Saddam was a dictator, who did not have popular support, and many disliked him. Iraq had gone through two terrible wars and exhausted its resources physically and mentally. The government of Iran is not like Saddam's, it still has many supporters and even the opposition groups want to correct its shortcomings and not topple the regime. In case of such an invasion, it will inevitably back up the government. Iran came out of the war with Iraq quickly and now it produces his own armaments including airplanes, rockets, missiles, tanks, and heavy armor."
Ali interrupted, "Americans can not fight us. The reason is that the American army is basically a mercenary army. I mean it in the sense that it goes where there is money and economic interest for the U.S. It fights for money and not freedom or democracy. Why does it not go to any of these African countries which are governed by generals or dictators? Why does it not fight generals, Sheikhs, and dictators in the Middle-East? It is not an army of soldiers; it is army of military technicians. I mean they cannot fight face to face with their opponents. After their missiles and airplanes and bombers flatten a region, then they slowly and cautiously move in with full gear. Not only we have seen them on T.V., but we have also seen them and talked to them personally and studied them in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our soldiers go to defend their country with their heart and to bleed for their country, while U.S. soldiers get upset and worried when their nose bleeds, and complain for not having dry cleaning service. Some of our soldiers went on days and weeks with piece of dry bread and fought and died- can American soldiers do that? They are professional technicians; we are professional soldiers with martyrdom ideology. They have lost their moral in Iraq. They are not as patriotic as they are shown on television. Many of them are critical of the George Bush's war in Iraq, but have to keep quiet. They have to do their job and hope to stay alive and go back to their families and that is why I am sure they cannot come and conquer Iran. They can destroy Iran, even from Florida, but they can not conquer Iran."
Hussein intervened and added, "We can fight for decades- look what we did to the last three empires, be it Ottoman, Tsarist and later Soviet, or the British Empire. We had a border with all three of them and fought decades against them, but they failed badly and we are still on our feet while all three disintegrated to many countries.
Then Ali jumped in and said, "Our greatest advantage over the U.S. is that they do not have good intelligence on us. The reason is that during the Shah SAVAK was working independently of U.S. intelligent agencies and it fed its information to those agencies. That is why the revolution was successful, because up until the last minute SAVAK was reporting to the CIA that everything is alright and under control. With regard to their intelligence on the Middle East, since they rely upon the Israelis for most of their intelligence, and since the Israelis know how to alter the intelligence to their advantage, this makes it less accurate and reliable."
Javid, who has a job in ministry of information added, "We know more about the U.S. than some U.S. government agencies. After taking the U.S. embassy we hit a gold mine of intelligence on the U.S. Although the taking of embassy was bad for diplomacy, it was a great treasure trove for the Iranian intelligence agencies for decades and still is. We got to Uncle Sam's nervous system and we learned how it works. It is like mind reading someone for many decades. That is why all of the successive U.S. government policies toward Iran have failed and failed badly. We have beaten both American and Israeli intelligence operations many times. Look at very recent events, some of which are publicized."
Ali said, "Some of their intelligence comes from the Mojahedin Khalgh Organization. These people are considered traitors, since they are ready to spy for anyone who pays them. But the Americans also know that they are not too reliable. We have penetrated them very well. Some of the contributions go to the coffers of an ex-New York senator who was paid by Iranian money through the MKO. I know someone who once referred to the office of the MKO as our disinformation embassy in Washington D.C. We have fed them lots of useless information which takes time to separate from real information, and that is why the Americans are so slow to act on Iran. They are sort of paralyzed by misinformation."
Javid added, "We know that Israeli and U.S. intelligence are concentrating hard on Iranian minorities, because they have no military solution for this problem. They want to disintegrate Iran into a few countries like the Soviet Union and that is not going to happen. We know that some of the organizations work for the West and are in Iran. We just watch them and blow them apart at the right time."
Jamshid said, "We know that CIA operatives have come to some sort of agreement that if al-Qaida spares Israel they will ignore their activity in Pakistan as far as they work against Iran. We have seen some of their activity increased in recent weeks."
I inquired as to what they thought the outcome of the confrontation with America would be. Javid said, "The best option for the West is to accept Iran's peaceful nuclear program and let her finish the Bushehr nuclear power stations. In the long run they will definitely have no choice but to acknowledge this, because they know our program is peaceful. Americans know this better than anyone else, but they always have showed animosity towards the Islamic Republic since her inception. If they go on an adventure and target any of these installations they will commit a great mistake. First of all, Iranians learned a great lesson from Osirak and thus have made multiple centers with multiple copies, and with multiple organizations. Only God can destroy our installations and God is definitely on our side. Iran is a vast country with vast resources. If the attack happens, that will trigger the nuclear efforts of Iran. We will definitely go underground and speed up nuclear weapon production, since there will be no choice except to have them and have them soon. Right now we do not need nuclear weapons which are a liability rather than an asset, because we do not have hostile enemy which we cannot smash when we want to. The country has been able to stand on its feet for the last 2,500 years and will do so in the future. Look at the last war we had with Iraq, which by the way, was shortest war we had during the last 200 years."
Hussein said, "How is it that the United States and the IAEA help countries that have a military nuclear program like India, Pakistan, and Israel- countries that never signed the IAEA protocol and do not let the IAEA visit their nuclear sites. Why do they have to go and make so much noise about Iran which has let the IAEA visit everywhere they wanted to go and which has even signed the additional protocol? Why South Korea which produced weapon grade uranium did not even get a slap on the hand? This just shows U.S. hostility toward Iran over last 25 years."
Jamshid said, "The U.S. has tried every possible and imaginable method to halt our peaceful nuclear energy program. Do you remember the laptop computer that they claimed contained a secret Iranian weapons program? It was created in California and caused a lot of embarrassment for the U.S. intelligence community. Even the Europeans did not believe their story."
Hussein said, "You know better than us that Uncle Sam has a thick checkbook and is very generous when it comes to what they call national security. Look how they opposed Elbaradei's re-election as the head of the IAEA when he was presenting a relatively unbiased report on the Iranian nuclear program. Suddenly we found out that they stopped their opposition to his re-election, he got the Noble prize and then he started criticizing Iran and complaining about Iran. Is that accidental? He maintained his job and got a Noble prize and the Americans got what they wanted for the last three years."
When I inquired about the Holocaust and recent remarks by president Ahmadinejad, Jamshid interrupted me and said, "The Western media were very quick to misquote him and make a big propaganda campaign which is still going on daily in the Western media after so many weeks. Anyway, I personally do not deny the Holocaust, but I deny the exaggeration of the Holocaust. It did not include only Jews, but those who were Polish, communist, Russian, homosexual, and many others. It might be 600 or 6,000, and perhaps 60,000 but not 6 million. Let me give you an example. During the Iran and Iraq war both sides amassed about 1 million people in front of each others along the Iranian border and millions of mines were implanted in between. They shot and sent hell fire, bombarded each other by airplane, artillery, tanks, RPGs day and night for about eight years. Many Iranians were killed under torture and executed by the Iraqis and many were killed by mines and chemical weapons and still the total number killed was about 800,000 to one million from both sides. The Second World War was only six years. It is said that Jews were taken into prisons, then sent to forced labor camps, tagged, organized and sent to gas chambers where they were then burned and buried and it was all done secretly. To do that in an organized way, that is, to have a list of them, arrest them, imprison them, take off their clothes and jewelry, record them, line them up, gas them, and then burn them takes a lot of time. It was not like a battleground where you throw a grenade or fire artillery and kill hundreds, it was done probably at most a few hundred at time in gas chambers, and that takes a hell lot of more time than six years."
Ali interrupted and said, "The number of Israelis killed in 2005 by Palestinians are about 1,000, while the Palestinians killed by the government of Israel is 3 times more, about 3,000- why don't the people ever hear about these figures, aren't they human? What you hear in the West is just about the Israelis and not the Palestinians. That shows the extent of free press in the Western world. It is selective reporting."
Hussein said, "Just remember that the Western media is owned, controlled, and managed by Jews and you shouldn't expect anything else but this kind of propaganda. Western propaganda aside, we have been more tolerant to Jews than any other nations, just look at the Old and New Testament and see how much Persians and their kings are praised in this book, look at how the Iranian Jews and the Iranian government were helping Israel before and after independence. Iran has the second biggest Jewish population in the Middle East after Israel and there are two seats for the Jews in the Iranian parliament. Now they are calling for the destruction of the Islamic Republic. The Jews and Israelis owe us so much and still they are so ungrateful."
Jamshid said, "Well, the amount of hatred Christian societies showed toward Jews is a fact and you can see it in history books. Even today many Jews keep a low profile in the Western and Christian societies and do not declare their faith. That is why none of the Western governments wanted and could have a Jewish state in their neighborhood. Moslems had lived with Jews in Palestine for centuries and at the beginning they did not mind it, but as the Jews got more violent and captured more Arab land and killed and sent more Arabs to refugee camps they got angry. The problem between Arabs and Jews is not religious, as it is between the Jews and the Christian West. The struggle between Arabs and Jews is for land. In other words it is a political rather than religious one. That is the same for us as well. But Jews in the West who control the media mix these two and public opinion in the West thinks that we dislike Jews because of their religion, rather than our land."
I decided to switch gears and asked why Iran does not want to accept the proposal to enrich their uranium in Russia. Ali said, "It is like I say you can have my car under the condition that the keys are always in my hand and that when you want it I will give it to you. What guarantees are there that they don't use this as political leverage on in their relations with us? We have some share in the Eurodif Uranium enrichment company of France, but they refuse to sell us uranium. We should not trust the Russians, or any Western countries for that matter. They have always stabbed us in the back and there is no reason they will not do so this time. We should enrich uranium in our own land. Look, the Russian were supposed to complete the Bushehr power plant by 2000, but they kept postponing it because of pressure from the West. They are still working on it and I am sure that until they get more concessions from Iran or the United States, they will postpone it even more."
I asked about the possibility of United Nations sanctions against Iran and how it might force Iran to abandon uranium enrichment. Hussein said, "That is to our benefit. First of all, the nation will back up the government and that is what we want. Aren't we under sanctions now? Haven't we been under sanction for the last 25 years? Sanctions against Iran, which has money, is no problem. Even if the Russians back up the United Nations sanctions, they do so out of their own interest. They want to sell us the things that are under sanctions at higher prices. If they support the sanctions, that is because they want to break it and then profit from it. So sanctions are not going to break our will, it will strengthen it."
My talks ended without any clear resolution and without any conclusion. I found Iranians still revolutionary and idealist exactly like some of my Jewish friends in the United States who want all Palestinians or Arabs dead. I hope George Bush knows what he is getting lower and middle class Americans into, since rich people, like himself, will never go to this kind of battlefield.
About the author:
Hussein Sharifi, is a retired military officer who served in Iranian Imperial Army and Islamic republic army and now resides in the United States.
... Payvand News - 1/23/06 ... --