Reza Kahlili, author of the award-winning book "A Time to Betray," served in CIA Directorate of Operations, as a spy in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, counterterrorism expert; currently serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, an advisory board to Congress and the advisory board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI). He regularly appears in national and international media as an expert on Iran and counterterrorism inMore ↓Less ↑
A secret message from Secretary of State John Kerry was delivered to Iran’s Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani that said the United States would support his possible presidential candidacy, according to a source affiliated with the supreme leader’s office.
The source, who remains anonymous for security reasons and who has provided valuable information before, said that on May 3, Kerry’s letter was delivered via the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh to Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, who arranged through the Saudi Embassy in Tehran to present the message to Rafsanjani.
The message said both the Saudi kingdom and the White House would support Rafsanjani in the June 14 elections and that, the source said, Rafsanjani showed the message to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who agreed that Rafsanjani should announce his candidacy.
The message said that both Washington and Riyadh understood Iran’s political landscape and economic situation, the source said, and that they believe that mistaken policies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad both nationally and internationally have taken Iran further away from better international relations. They believe that with Rafsanjani as president, those problems, including the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, could soon be resolved.
Rafsanjani, who portrays himself as a moderate, announced his candidacy just before the May 11 registration deadline, which drew harsh reaction from hard liners in Iran who requested that authorities bar him from next month’s vote.
The source added that the approval of Rafsanjani’s candidacy by the Guardian Council will mean that Khamenei is on board and will use Rafsanjani not only to help turn out those voters who believe Rafsanjani offers an anti-regime candidacy but also to start another merry-go-around with the U.S. to buy more time for its nuclear bomb program. The Guardian Council is set to announce the list of approved candidates next week.
The outreach to Rafsanjani goes back to what led to the Iran-Contra Affair in the 1980s in which a direct channel of communication was established with Rafsanjani, who was then the speaker of the parliament. Rafsanjani had promised the American administration that once Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic Revolution, died, then relations between the two countries could improve.
That outreach, as reported before, continued under President George H.W. Bush. At that time Khomeini was dead, and the American administration believed that Rafsanjani, who had become president, could then deliver on what he had promised – normalization of relations – only to find out that the promises were hollow.
Rafsanjani then played a role again in the 2009 elections in a power grab by supporting Mir Hossein Mousavi against Ahmadinejad. Mousavi actually won the popular vote, but on orders from the supreme leader, the election was fraudulently given to Ahmadinejad. That touched off days of rioting in which thousands were arrested and many imprisoned or executed and led to the Green Movement, which angered the clerical establishment.
As reported exclusively on WND on Oct. 4 and in The Washington Times on Oct. 30, a three-person delegation of the Obama administration met secretly in Doha, Qatar, on Oct. 1 with Ali Akbar Velayati, the former Iranian foreign minister and current close adviser to the supreme leader who is also running as a candidate for the presidency next month. Other U.S. and Iranian officials also participated in several similar meetings, which took place from 2009 to 2012 in Turkey, Georgia and Thailand to discuss Iran’s nuclear program as well as regional issues.
The source added that the White House would rather Rafsanjani win than Velayati but has contacts with both. However, he said, to hope that either will change the regime’s policies is delusional because not only are ultimate decisions made by the supreme leader, but that both candidates (and for that matter all those who run for elected office) only serve the interest of the regime and “these games are only to buy time for the system to survive and continue with its evil plans.”
Another source within the Revolutionary Guards intelligence unit, who provided information on Ahmadinejad’s recent arrest and the presence of an audiotape proving fraud in the 2009 elections, informed WND that if Ahmadinejad’s hand-picked candidate to succeed him, close confidant and top adviser Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, was rejected in his attempt to get on the ballot, Ahmadinejad would retaliate. He would not only reveal the tape, causing a major headache for the regime, but also would immediately fire several of his ministers in an effort to disrupt the operation of the government and delay the elections. The sources said that if that did not work, he would resign to further pressure Khamenei before the elections.