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Spotlight on Iran Week Update October 23, 2011

Written by The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center

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This week top Iranian officials categorically denied claims made by the American administration that two Iranians working for their country were planning to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States, and that Iran was behind a plan to bomb the embassies of Israel and Saudi Arabia in Washington.

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The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center

“Hollywood propaganda scenario”: Iran’s reactions to exposure of its terrorist plot against the United States

Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi said that this was a new American plot against Iran designed to divert American public opinion from the internal problems of the United States and the domestic protest against the administration’s policy. He warned that even though Iran has no interest in a confrontation with the United States, it can react strongly in case one does occur.

Revolutionary Guards deputy chief Hossein Salami also rejected the claims made by the United States, saying they were “ridiculous and completely unfounded”. He noted that the American allegations against Iran were designed to generate differences of opinion among Muslims and divert international public opinion from the ongoing demise of the capitalist establishment.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad also rejected the allegations made by the United States. The allegations are meaningless, Khamenei said, predicting failure for what he termed the recurring attempts by Western leaders to spread fear against and isolate Iran and portray it as a state sponsor of terrorism. He warned that any action by the United States against Iran will be met with a strong reaction.

The Iranian media also rejected the American administration’s claims, portraying them as an imaginary, nonsensical scenario designed to serve the interests of the United States in its fight against Iran and divert domestic and global public opinion from the severe problems facing it. The Iranian media reported that the allegations were met with considerable skepticism even by experts and commentators in the United States.

The daily Keyhan defined the American allegations as a scenario designed to divert attention from the successful visit held by Supreme Leader Khamenei to Kermanshah Province this week. The intelligence services of the United States, Israel, and Britain are forced to mobilize all their resources to damage Iran’s status, given the increasing support for the country and its leader in the Arab world. Not a single writer of the “Hollywood scenario”, however, made an attempt to answer the question of Iran’s supposed gain from bombing the embassy of Saudi Arabia and assassinating the Saudi ambassador in Washington.

The daily Siyasat-e Rooz argued that the Hollywood scenario was designed to free the United States from the pressure brought about by its defeats and failures, and that after September 11 the United States also blamed other countries for the terrorist attacks it had planned itself.

The reformist press also denied the claims made by the United States against Iran, but also warned about their possible consequences. According to the daily Sharq, Iran had no reason to carry out operations against the Saudi ambassador or against the embassies of Israel and Saudi Arabia, and it had never assassinated civilians, let alone third-country nationals, on United States territory. Sharq said, however, that the new anti-Iran wave brought about by the American allegations ought to be taken seriously. Security, military, and political authorities in Iran and in the United States need to avoid creating any more tension between the two countries. A possible military conflict between them, according to Sharq, can have severe repercussions for the whole world.

Another escalation in Iranian media attack on Saudi Arabia

This week top officials in Saudi Arabia made harsh statements against Iran following the exposure of its plot to assassinate the ambassador of Saudi Arabia in Washington. The declarations further reinforced the anti-Saudi sentiment expressed of late by the Iranian press.

The conservative daily Siyasat-e Rooz argued that Saudi Arabia’s choice to side with the United States in its baseless allegations against Iran results from the concern of the Saudi regime over the developments in Bahrain and Yemen and its anger with Iran for morally supporting the people of Bahrain. Its regional status compromised by the popular uprisings in the region, Saudi Arabia is forced to cooperate with the United States in its psychological and propaganda war against Iran.

The daily Jomhuri-ye Eslami also discussed the internal and external crisis facing the Saudi authorities, arguing that the attempts made by the United States to generate a crisis between Iran and Saudi Arabia will not work because the Saudi regime, facing a crisis from within and from without, is currently unable to become involved in a propaganda war or military confrontation with Iran.

At the same time, the Iranian press once again accused Saudi Arabia of collaborating with the United States against the nations of the region and of suppressing its Shi’ite citizens. The daily Keyhan accused Saudi Arabia of being involved in the assassination of the leaders of several Islamic movements in the region and Iranian nuclear scientists, while Mehr News Agency strongly criticized Saudi Arabia’s policy of suppression and discrimination of its Shi’ite citizens.

The Alef website also lashed out against Saudi Arabia, warning that, if it comes to a point where the anger of the Iranian people with the hated Saudi regime is unleashed, the Iranian forces will cleanse the holy land of Hejaz of the dirty name of the Saudi regime.

Meanwhile, radical cleric Mehdi Ta’eb responded to the accusations against Iran by saying that if Iran wanted to, it could assassinate King Abdullah himself.

Does Supreme Leader’s trip increase likelihood of earthquake in Tehran?

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei held a several-day visit to Kermanshah Province, which prompted an Iranian blogger to express his concern that the Supreme Leader’s absence from Tehran may cause an earthquake in the capital. The blogger said last week that Khamenei’s presence in Tehran keeps the citizens safe from dangers and disasters. The government-affiliated Borna News website also expressed regret over the Supreme Leader’s absence from Tehran, saying that three days without Khamenei are equal to one hundred years of life.

The blogger’s remarks were strongly criticized by elements affiliated with the reformist opposition. The blogger Mehdi Khazali, who in recent years has strongly criticized several top regime officials and was even arrested for it, strongly condemned Khamenei’s follower and accused him of spreading superstitions. Khazali called on the authorities to block the blog and take action against those who toy with the religious beliefs of the Iranian people. The Supreme Leader is not immune to error and does not keep Iran’s citizens safe from disasters, Khazali wrote.

Former reformist Majles member Akbar A’lami also criticized the blogger’s remarks, saying they are yet another example of the policy of spreading superstitions and the personality cult of Iran’s leaders. A’lami wondered how one could believe that the Supreme Leader, known by his followers as the religious jurisprudent of all the world’s Muslims, wards off dangers and disasters only from Tehran.

The attribution of superhuman qualities to the Supreme Leader is yet another example of his glorification, a tendency that has grown stronger this past year. This was evident, for example, in the documentary film “The Reappearance [of the Twelfth Imam] is Eminent”, which claimed that Ali Khamenei is Seyyed Khorasani, who in Shi’ite tradition will lead the community of believers before the return of the Vanished Imam.

Why did Angelina Jolie cause a stir in Iran’s movie industry?

Film director Farajollah Salahshoor stirred a controversy this week by comparing Iran’s film industry to a brothel. Salahshoor expressed his opinion following a report according to which film producer Ali Sartipi is in negotiations to hire Hollywood film star Angelina Jolie for a new Iranian movie.

In response to possible invitation of Jolie to Iran, Salahshoor, who mostly directs films and TV series of Islamic religious character, announced that the Iranian cinema is a “brothel” that needs to bring in “an international whore” to keep working. The Iranian movie industry, according to Salahshoor, is ruled by Zionist companies, and is part of the Hollywood movie industry rather than the Islamic republic.

Salahshoor’s strong remarks prompted equally strong reactions from the local movie industry. Five film actresses released a condemnation, saying they were saddened by the “hateful and ugly” remarks. The chairman of the film actors association said that Salahshoor’s remarks show disrespect for Iranian film actresses and will be brought up in the association’s next meeting.

“Hollywood propaganda screenplay”: Iran’s reactions to exposure of its terrorist plot against the United States

This week top Iranian officials categorically denied claims made by the American administration that two Iranians working for their country were planning to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States, and that Iran was behind a plot to bomb the embassies of Israel and Saudi Arabia in Washington.

Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi said that this was a new American plot against Iran designed to divert American public opinion from the internal problems of the United States and the domestic protest against the administration’s policy. He noted that Iran and Saudi Arabia enjoy good relations, and that the differences of opinion between them have to do with international, rather than bilateral issues. He warned that even though Iran has no interest in a confrontation with the United States, it can react strongly in case one does occur. He added that eventually Washington will have to apologize for the false accusations it made against Iran (IRNA, October 12).

Revolutionary Guards deputy chief Hossein Salami also rejected the claims made by the United States, saying they were “ridiculous and completely unfounded”. It is the failure of the American foreign policy that prompted the United States to try and divert international public opinion from the ongoing demise of the capitalist establishment and the domestic protest in the United States by bringing up ridiculous charges aimed to generate differences of opinion among Muslims (IRNA, October 13).

In an interview to the Iranian Diplomacy website, Majles Foreign Policy and National Security Committee member Mostafa Kavakebian named five factors that led to the accusations made by the United States against Iran: generating differences of opinion and internal debates in Iran; diverting public opinion from the problems facing the American administration as a result of the uprisings in the Arab world; creating differences of opinion between Iran and its neighbors (as well as European countries) by fanning concerns against Islam, Shi’a, and Iran; ending Israel’s current isolation; and diverting American public opinion from the internal protest to foreign affairs.

Kavakebian pointed out that, on one hand, the Americans claim they are interested in establishing a direct line of negotiations with Iran, while on the other they are making serious allegations against Iran. According to Kavakebian, such contradiction in the American conduct vis-à-vis Iran reflects the uncertainty prevailing in the United States on how to contend with Iran (Iranian Diplomacy, October 12).

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad also rejected the allegations made by the United States. In a speech given during a visit to Kermanshah Province, Khamenei said that the allegations are meaningless, predicting failure for what he termed the recurring attempts by Western leaders to spread fear against and isolate Iran and portray it as a state sponsor of terrorism. He warned that any action by the United States against Iran will be met with a strong reaction.

The Iranian media also rejected the American administration’s claims, portraying them as an imaginary, nonsensical scenario designed to serve the interests of the United States in its fight against Iran and divert domestic and global public opinion away from the severe problems facing it. The Iranian media reported that the allegations were met with considerable skepticism even by experts and commentators in the United States.

The Asr-e Iran website discussed the lack of reason in the allegations brought up by the United States:

1. Iran had nothing to gain by assassinating the ambassador of Saudi Arabia in Washington, and either way such an assassination would have no effect since there is no shortage of princes from the Saudi royal family to replace the ambassador after his elimination.

2. It would be pointless for Iran to attack the embassies of Israel and Saudi Arabia, and Iran has no reason to resort to such a measure.

3. Even if Iran wanted to hit the Israeli and Saudi embassies and assassinate the Saudi ambassador, it had no reason to do so, of all places, in the United States, where its operative capabilities are limited. It could carry out such operations in more accessible places, such as Africa.

4. If Iran was planning an operation like that, it would not have released the two Americans arrested on espionage charges. It would have kept them as bargaining chips for the release of the Revolutionary Guards member who allegedly operated on United States soil.

The website argued that those who have the most to gain from the allegations against Iran are the American administration, which is facing a serious economic crisis and a mass protest movement, and Saudi Arabia, which is also dealing with a domestic instability problem. Asr-e Iran also noted that the arrest of an Iranian national in the United States on charges of planning terrorist attacks may be the American response to the arrest of the three American citizens on charges of espionage in Iran. From the Saudi perspective, the allegations leveled by the United States can be seen as a warning that Iran shouldn’t interfere on behalf of the protesting Shi’ites in the eastern part of the kingdom.

The website warned about the possibility that behind the American allegations is a well-organized plan to mobilize domestic and global public opinion for further measures against Iran. Even though the claims are false, the website said, there are those who may be tempted to believe them, just as many people believed the claims made by the United States prior to the attack on Iraq, according to which Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destructions in his possession (Asr-e Iran, October 12).

The daily Keyhan defined the American allegations as a scenario designed to divert attention from the successful visit held by Supreme Leader Khamenei to Kermanshah Province. An editorial published last week said that, on the eve of the visit, some in the Western world wondered how the relationship between the Supreme Leader and his people can be so deep at a time of widespread confrontations between leaders and their citizens everywhere in the world. It is the fear in the Western world of Iran’s power and the firm position of its leader that forced the Americans to drop their propaganda bomb.

The United States and Israel are concerned that, not only is the Islamic revolution in Iran impossible to isolate and contain, it is also spreading across the entire region. The intelligence services of the United States, Israel, and Britain are forced to mobilize all their resources to damage Iran’s status, given the increasing support for the country and its leader in the Arab world. Not a single writer of the “Hollywood scenario”, however, made an attempt to answer the question of Iran’s supposed gain from bombing the embassy of Saudi Arabia and assassinating the Saudi ambassador in Washington (Keyhan, October 13).

The daily Siyasat-e Rooz argued that after September 11 the United States also blamed other countries for the terrorist attacks it had planned itself. Now the Americans have come out with the new scenario against Iran, which will likely be made into a new Hollywood movie to be shown across the globe.

The Americans are facing numerous problems: demonstrations in over one thousand cities across the nation, and the Islamic uprisings in the Arab world, which had a severe impact on America’s status in the world and in the region in particular. In light of the failures suffered by the United States, it now seeks to free itself from the pressures resulting from its defeats, and the latest scenario about Iran’s plan to assassinate the Saudi ambassador was designed with that sole purpose in mind. For 32 years the United States has been trying to topple, undermine, boycott, and even launch a military attack against the Islamic regime in Iran, but today it is the United States that is in the midst of a dissolution process (Siyasat-e Rooz, October 13).

The reformist press also denied the claims made by the United States against Iran, but also warned about their possible consequences. According to the daily Sharq, Iran had no reason to carry out operations against the Saudi ambassador or against the embassies of Israel and Saudi Arabia, and it had never assassinated civilians, let alone third-country nationals, on United States territory. Sharq said, however, that the new anti-Iran wave brought about by the American allegations ought to be taken seriously. Security, military, and political authorities in Iran and in the United States need to seriously consider the possible consequences of a new conflict between the two countries and avoid creating any more tension between them. A possible military conflict between them, according to Sharq, can have severe repercussions for the whole world (Sharq, October 13).

The reformist daily E’temad also warned about the possible repercussions of the latest affair. An editorial titled “The security trap of the United States and us” said that the United States needs another excuse to convince world public opinion about the threat posed by Iran. The currently-existing conditions call for national unity, diplomatic wisdom, and diplomacy based on defusing tension with the Islamic and Arab countries. Only in such a way can Iran reclaim the status it enjoyed on the international scene during the reformist administration (E’temad, October 13).

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The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center opened in 2001. It is part of the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center (IICC) , an NGO dedicated to the memory of the fallen of the Israeli Intelligence Community and it is located near Gelilot , north of Tel Aviv. It is headed by (Col. Ret.) Dr. Reuven Erlich .

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