EXCLUSIVE: Incredible but True: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Approached Israel — Asking for Messages to be Passed to Washington

In 2006, we can reveal exclusively, a serious approach for a secret dialogue with America — using Israel as an intermediary — was made by highly placed Iranians.

Flag of the IRGC

Flag of the IRGC

In fact, according to a source personally involved in the contacts, they were initiated by senior officers in the IRGC — the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The approach was made to an Israeli businessman who, earlier in his career, had been an Israeli diplomat.

The message from Iran, in essence, was this: “Help us to defuse tensions and establish contact with the Bush Administration.” The Iranians said they were prepared to talk with American counterparts about all issues relevant to the two sides: Iraq and Afghanistan (where the U.S. was still prosecuting two wars), the Iranian proxies (Hezbollah) in Lebanon, and even Iran’s nuclear program.

This was around the time when Iran, according to CIA analysts, had frozen its nuclear work — apparently out of fear that America, having invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, might invade Iran next.

The Israeli who received the approach — which clearly originated with the Revolutionary Guards and thus seemed to be authorized by Iran’s Supreme Leader — referred it to the most senior levels of Israel’s government in Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, after closely held consultations with senior advisors, decided not to respond.

President George W. Bush had publicly labeled Iran as part of an “Axis of Evil,” and Olmert had the impression that the Bush-Cheney Administration had no interest in starting a dialogue. Israel, simply by passing along a message that originated with the IRGC, might even anger the Americans.

The IRGC was known by American officials to be responsible for the deaths of many U.S. soldiers in Iraq, mostly by planting bombs along roads and training Iraqis to do so.

In addition, there was no reason to assume that such contacts would redound to Israel’s benefit.

(Even now, years later, Israeli strategists are far from confident that a rapprochement between the Obama Administration and the Islamic Republic of Iran would be a good thing for Israel.)

This attempt at communication, which led nowhere, underlines a strong belief in the Middle East that is rarely voiced aloud: the perception that if you want to reach and influence the United States government, the most influential channel to use is Israel.

Even among its bitter enemies, Israel enjoys the image that it highly influential in Washington, and if a high-level Israeli asks the American president to do something — even pursue a back channel with foes in Iran — it shall come to pass.

In reality, when the U.S. and Iran held a series of secret contacts this year — in the months leading up to the interim nuclear accord in Geneva last month — they did not need Israel’s help at all.  And some Israeli officials complain that Obama was not quick to inform Israel, as the conversations with the Iranians continued.

James Rosen of Fox News has exposed U.S. talks with Iran in 2011, reporting that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton authorized lies to keep the links secret; and reminded his viewers that talks this year became more serious.

There are no rumblings or indications that Israel had any role in arranging the talks in 2011 or in 2013. In fact, the sequence of events in 2006 suggests that Israel would refuse — if approached by Iran — to broker any contacts with the United States.

There is a strategic danger that Israel will have to consider, however. As Prime Minister Netanyahu’s disagreement with the Obama Administration about the interim deal with Iran is red hot and in the open, that may well weaken Israel’s omnipotent image as the most powerful broker in Washington.

That would reduce the remarkable clout that the tiny State of Israel has, in almost every corner of the world. Israel has used that tremendous asset to acquire benefits such as arms deals, Mossad espionage stations, and immensely useful intelligence cooperation in countering and tracking Arab (and Iranian) activities.

December 3, 2013

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