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BBC: Two Weeks in January: America's secret engagement with Khomeini


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Some interesting stuff in here.  I've only read through about half of it so far.

 

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-36431160?ocid=socialflow_twitter

Two Weeks in January: America's secret engagement with Khomeini

 

On 27 January, 1979, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini - founder of Iran's Islamic Republic, the man who called the United States "the Great Satan" - sent a secret message to Washington.

 

From his home in exile outside Paris, the defiant leader of the Iranian revolution effectively offered the Carter administration a deal: Iranian military leaders listen to you, he said, but the Iranian people follow my orders.

 

If President Jimmy Carter could use his influence on the military to clear the way for his takeover, Khomeini suggested, he would calm the nation. Stability could be restored, America's interests and citizens in Iran would be protected.

 

At the time, the Iranian scene was chaotic. Protesters clashed with troops, shops were closed, public services suspended. Meanwhile, labour strikes had all but halted the flow of oil, jeopardising a vital Western interest.

 

Persuaded by Carter, Iran's autocratic ruler, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, known as the Shah, had finally departed on a "vacation" abroad, leaving behind an unpopular prime minister and a military in disarray - a force of 400,000 men with heavy dependence on American arms and advice.

 

Khomeini feared the nervous military: its royalist top brass hated him. Even more worrying, they were having daily meetings with a US Air Force General by the name of Robert E Huyser, whom President Carter had sent on a mysterious mission to Tehran.

 

The ayatollah was determined to return to Iran after 15 years in exile and make the Shah's "vacation" permanent. So he made a personal appeal.

In a first-person message, Khomeini told the White House not to panic at the prospect of losing a strategic ally of 37 years and assured them that he, too, would be a friend.

 

"You will see we are not in any particular animosity with the Americans," said Khomeini, pledging his Islamic Republic will be "a humanitarian one, which will benefit the cause of peace and tranquillity for all mankind".

 

Khomeini's message is part of a trove of newly declassified US government documents - diplomatic cables, policy memos, meeting records - that tell the largely unknown story of America's secret engagement with Khomeini, an enigmatic cleric who would soon inspire Islamic fundamentalism and anti-Americanism worldwide.

 

This story is a detailed account of how Khomeini brokered his return to Iran using a tone of deference and amenability towards the US that has never before been revealed.

 

The ayatollah's message was, in fact, the culmination of two weeks of direct talks between his de facto chief of staff and a representative of the US government in France - a quiet process that helped pave the way for Khomeini's safe return to Iran and rapid rise to power - and decades of high-stakes tension between Iran and America.

 

In the official Iranian narrative of the revolution, Khomeini bravely defied the United States and defeated "the Great Satan" in its desperate efforts to keep the Shah in power.

 

But the documents reveal that Khomeini was far more engaged with the US than either government has ever admitted. Far from defying America, the ayatollah courted the Carter administration, sending quiet signals that he wanted a dialogue and then portraying a potential Islamic Republic as amenable to US interests.

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it was rumored at the time, doesn't improve my opinion of Carter.

Outside looking in, but for me, it lessens my feelings of Carter from the little bit I do understand about his single term as president.

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This was the last in a long line of stupid things we did in Iran.   We made that bed ourselves over a quarter century of meddling and CIA shenanigans, and now it looks like we even asked Khomeni to tuck us in and fluff the pillow at the end.

 

Embarrassing. 

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