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Triangle of Treachery: New Book Investigates the Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel, and the U.S.



“A penetrating, provocative, and very timely study that deciphers how U.S. policy in the Middle East has been manipulated both by Iran and by Israel even as relations between these two oscillated between secret collusion and overt collision.”

—Zbigniew Brzezinski



Treacherous Alliance

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With talk of the Iranian nuclear threat heating up, tension between Iran and Israel is dangerously high, and the risk of a war involving the United States looms. Efforts to defuse those tensions have failed because the real roots of the hostility between Iran and Israel have eluded Washington policymakers. Few analysts have access to detailed knowledge of both Iran and Israel, and the political sensitivity of the issue has made the relationship between the two nations difficult to study. 


Trita Parsi, author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States, to be published October 1, 2007 by Yale University Press, has accomplished what no other scholar or journalist has. Through face-to-face interviews with 130 decision-makers in Iran, Israel, and the United States, Parsi has come to an unmatched understanding of the triangular relationship that so profoundly affects the Middle East and the world. No other book explains with such authority and in such detail the complex historical relationship between Iran and Israel, the roots of the current rivalry, and the implications for US policy and for Middle East peace. 


The conflict between Iran and Israel, Parsi argues, is generally viewed as an ideological one, and thus as unsolvable. Both Iran and Israel choose to frame their rivalry in this way, and each has its reasons for nurturing this view. But while Iranian and Israeli leaders do indeed hold conflicting worldviews, Parsi shows us that the most important sources of tension today are strategic and geopolitical, not ideological. Drawing on his extensive and candid personal interviews with key policy players in all three countries, Parsi gets beyond the ideological smokescreen to examine the forces feeding the growing conflict between Iran and Israel. First among those forces is a battle for hegemony in a region still reeling from the end of the Cold War and the vacuum created by the 1991 defeat of Iraq in the Persian Gulf War.


Drawing on the author’s unique access to documents and participants, the book describes the behind-the-scenes relations among the US, Israel, and Iran from 1948 through 2007.  Parsi examines the secret Israeli-Iranian alliance under the Shah, as well as Israel’s cooperation with Iran under Khomeini in defiance of the US. He explores the role of American neo-conservatives, who got the US involved in the Iran-Contra scandal at the height of Iran's anti-Israeli fervor, and who opposed contact with Iran 15 years later in spite of Tehran’s moderation.  He describes the explosive Israeli-Iranian rivalry of the 1990s that poisoned American and Iranian efforts to improve their bilateral relations, and warns of a coming clash under Presidents Bush and Ahmadinejad.


Among Parsi’s startling findings:

*In 2003, Iran offered to disarm Hezbollah, end support for Hamas, and indirectly recognize Israel. Congressman Bob Ney, then Chairman of the House Administration Committee, sent the 2003 proposal to Karl Rove, who promised he would deliver it to the President. The Bush Administration did not reply to the Iranian offer.


*The Israeli-Palestinian peace process is hostage to the geopolitical struggle for dominance between Iran and Israel. Achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians is not possible until the Iran-Israel rivalry is addressed.


*A nuclear Iran and the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah could both have been prevented had the Bush Administration opted for diplomacy.


*Israel has undermined US-Iran dialogue because it fears that diplomacy between Iran and America would hurt the Jewish State.


*Tehran has acted against the Israel-Palestinian peace process because it fears peace would leave it in prolonged isolation.


*Israel, in spite of its many threats, is unlikely to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.


*Ahmadinejad, in spite of his rhetoric, is unlikely to confront Israel directly.


Parsi explains how the tumultuous Israeli-Iranian relationship has negatively impacted US foreign policy initiatives in the region, and how the rivalry of recent years has become the key source of instability in the Middle East. Challenging conventional wisdom, the book argues that the first step towards securing US national interest in the Middle East is neither a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict nor the spread of democracy in the region, but rather a resolution to Iran and Israel’s hegemonic and nuclear rivalry.   


Eagerly awaited by scholars and policymakers, Treacherous Alliance is the first book in twenty years to provide authoritative analysis based upon extensive original research on the impact of Israeli-Iranian relations on US foreign policy. Coming at a time when the risk for a military conflict between the US/Israel and Iran is at its highest, the book offers a new understanding of the failed policies of the past and new ground on which to build US Middle East policy and perhaps a path to peace.  


For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact Liz Pelton, 410-467-0989,



Treacherous Alliance

The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States

By Trita Parsi

By Yale University Press

$28.00 hardcover, 384 pages



About the Author


Trita Parsi was born in Iran and grew up in Sweden. He earned a Master's Degree in International Relations at Uppsala University, a second Master's Degree in Economics at Stockholm School of Economics, and a PhD in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University SAIS.


Dr. Parsi's articles on Middle East affairs have been published in The Financial Times, Jane's Intelligence Review, The Globalist, The Jerusalem Post, The Forward, BitterLemons, and The Daily Star. He is a frequent commentator on US-Iranian relations and Middle Eastern affairs, and has appeared on BBC World News, PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, CNN (Wolf Blitzer's Situation Room, Anderson Cooper 360°), CNN International (Your World Today), Al Jazeera, C-Span, NPR, MSNBC, Voice of America, and British Channel 4.


He has served as an advisor to Congressman Bob Ney on Middle East issues and is a co-founder and current President of the National Iranian American Council (, a non-partisan, non-profit organization promoting Iranian-American participation in American civic life.


Dr. Parsi has also worked for the Swedish Permanent Mission to the UN in New York, where he served in the Security Council handling the affairs of Afghanistan, Iraq, Tajikistan, and Western Sahara, and on the General Assembly's Third Committee addressing human rights in Iran, Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Iraq.




Advance Praise for

Treacherous Alliance


“In Treacherous Alliance, Trita Parsi makes a persuasive case that since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran has consistently used ideology to achieve hardheaded national interest objectives, rather than sacrifice national interest on the altar of extremist ideological goals. This is an extremely important point to bear in mind as Iran's relations with US and Israel deteriorate and the prospect of yet another Persian Gulf conflict looms. This work, based on extensive interviews with decision makers in three countries, contributes both to our historical understanding and our current policy debate.”

—Francis Fukuyama, author of America at the Crossroads



“Academics, policy-makers and media pundits remain fascinated by the ‘nature’ of terrorism and the impending threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. The superheated rhetoric of leaders in Iran and Israel has only accelerated the possibility of confrontation between the two countries, while the cumulative effect of the media echo chamber has added to the clamour of war drums and sabre-rattling inside the Washington Beltway. Out of this cacophony emerges a book with the clarity and insight that so often elude U.S. policy-makers. Treacherous Alliance is a deft account of the back-channel relationship between the three countries from Israel's inception in 1948 through the present.”

—Khody Akhavi, Inter Press Service (IPS)



“A brilliant interpretation of one of today’s most enigmatic conflicts. In a sober and original analysis, Dr. Parsi unearths the true nature of the tension in the triangle Iran-Israel-USA as a manipulation by all parties—especially the Israelis and the Iranians—of ideological differences to conceal what can be a solvable strategic dispute. This is a study about the manipulation of ideology and religion in the struggle for mastery in the Middle East.”

—Shlomo Ben-Ami, Israel’s former foreign minister and author of Scars of War, Wounds of Peace: The Israeli-Arab Tragedy



“Trita Parsi has written an outstanding book, filled with fascinating detail and trenchant analysis. Treacherous Alliance discusses Iran and Israel in dispassionate and smart ways, which is rarely done in the United States.”

—John Mearsheimer, University of Chicago 



“This is an important piece of work. It is original and fills a much needed gap in the literature. For anyone working in this field it would be essential.”

Gary Sick, Columbia University


“This book is outstanding and important.”

—Nikki Keddie, author of Modern Iran: Roots and Results of Revolution


Yale University Press

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New Haven, CT 06520-9040

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