Phil had some smart things to say last night about Joe Lieberman's call for the bombing of Iran. He watced Joe on Face the Nation and I didn't -- but over the weekend I did read this article in The New York Observer (also available here), and I've lost any naive hope I had that some miracle (the anger of the generals, Condi's influence over Bush) might have moved the idea of attacking Iran onto the back burner.
The article is about Alireza Jafarzadeh -- who really does seem to be the new Chalabi (and yeah, I know this is not news to some people):
Consider the scenario: A Middle Eastern nation is in the Bush administration's sights; an expatriate opposition figure of dubious provenance emerges and becomes prominent in Washington and across conservative media; this opposition figurehead claims to be in possession of sensational intelligence which indicates that the leadership of his native land is hell-bent on destruction and that immediate action is needed.
Stop me, as the Smiths once sang, if you think you've heard this one before.
The nation in this instance is not Iraq but Iran. And Alireza Jafarzadeh, a man who is intimately linked with the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (M.E.K.), is -- at least in the minds of skeptics -- playing a role akin to that performed by Ahmed Chalabi in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.
...Mr. Jafarzadeh’s prominence -- his claims have been cited publicly by President Bush -- is peculiar, to say the least, given that the group with which he is so closely linked has long been listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department.
He ceased to represent the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in the U.S. when its Washington office was forced to close in 2003. The closure took place because, in the eyes of the State Department, the NCRI was -- and is -- merely a front for the M.E.K.
...The solution [to the Iran problem], he suggested, lay in the U.S. permitting the opposition -- by which he clearly meant the M.E.K. -- to be "unshackled". Perhaps mindful of the U.S. experience in Iraq, Mr. Jafarzadeh insisted that America would not need to "put boots on the ground." ...
Yeah, Lieberman's not calling for boots on the ground either (although, unlike Jafarzadeh, he doesn't seem to be expressly calling for regime change in Iran -- yet).
The rest of what Jafarzadeh says has a familiar ring:
Instead he suggested ... that [the U.S.] could set off a chain of events that would ultimately bring the Iranian regime crashing down.
The U.S., he said, "should rely on the tremendous potential inside Iran." ....
Yup, that again.
Googling Jafarzadeh produces this Right Web profile of the Iran Policy Committee, which lobbies for MEK in Congress and with which Jafarzadeh works closely:
...on January 5, 2007, IPC held a press conference at the National Press Club at which it claimed to provide convincing evidence of Tehran's role in fomenting violence in Iraq. Under the headline "New Intelligence Points to Iran Destabilizing Iraq," the conference showcased the work of Alireza Jafarzadeh, president of Strategic Policy Consulting and a FoxNews analyst, who claimed to have "specific intelligence" revealing the covert activities of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards' Qods Force in Iraq. According to a press release on the IPC website: "Jafarzadeh, author of The Iran Threat: President Ahmadinejad and the Coming Nuclear Crisis, said intelligence he has received 'suggests a sharp increase in Iran's sponsorship of terrorism and sectarian violence, especially in the past few months. The Qods Force secretly trains, finances, and arms an extensive network in Iraq ... '”
Yup, these guys are a key source for all the talk you're hearing about Iranian links to Iraqi insurgents. Sound familiar?
Here's a fun echo -- Salon, September 5, 2002:
A key element of Perle's regime-changing plan is that it will be a tidy little war, since Hussein's empire is "a house of cards," as Perle recently told a PBS interviewer.
Now, here's that Right Web profile:
[Paul E.] Vallely [of the Iran Policy Center] described the Iranian regime as a "house of cards" (Anti-war.com, February 11, 2005).
Yup, it's Groundhog Day. I'm really amazed Lieberman isn't openly hanging out with these people, or openly calling for regime change. But it will happen.