The exile of the regime or the man from Tehran in America?
When thinking about the Iranian regime, Americans are likely imagining the fiery speeches of former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad call whether Israel is “wiped off the map” or Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei bragging that the phrase “Death to America” originated in Iran. These belligerent statements are alarming. Yet they are less of a concern than the shrewd statements of an intelligent man strategically placed to sound like a friend.
Enter former Iranian regime official Seyed Hossein Mousavian.
Since 2009, Mousavian, an Iranian national educated in the West, has lived in the United States, work as a specialist in Middle East security and nuclear policy at Princeton University. Officially, Mousavian is a mere academic, his decades-long career as an Iranian official a victim of “hardliners” who no longer liked his moderate approach.
Still, it is a spun fantasy for those willing to accept such fiction. His claimed moderation and subsequent purge, insofar as they are real, are without substance. Its real role in America is to serve Tehran’s interests. Particularly now, when there is greater awareness of the domestic political interference of totalitarian regimes, this is intolerable.
Mousavian’s presence at Princeton is the subject of important quantities of controversial in last months. Unsurprisingly, this is especially true in the Princeton community, where it is hotly discussed in the pages of various school media. But most of the facts about Mousavian are undisputed.
Mousavian’s career began at Tehran timean English-language newspaper which, according to to respected Iranian scholar Ray Takeyh, is “a newspaper closely linked to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs”, while simultaneously serving in several government posts.
From 1990 to 1997, Mousavian then served as Iran’s ambassador to Germany. During his tenure, four Iranian dissidents, mostly Kurds, were assassinated. Mousavian dismissed the charges against an Iranian intelligence officer and his accomplice as “a joke”. The individuals in question were nonetheless doomedeven if dissident Iranians to accuse Mousavian of “ongoing interference for the regime”. After sentencing, Mousavian declared defiantly that “if European nations continued to treat Iran the same way America and Israel have done, then those European nations would be treated the same way by Iran”, a terrorist threat hardly veiled. Mousavian was later a senior official at the Center for Strategic Research, an Iranian regime think tank that previously housed Hassan Rouhani, President of Iran from 2013 to 2021. Working for the regime has been his life’s work.
The nature of his departure from Iran is controversial. Mousavian claims to be an “exile” due to his feud with “extremists” in the regime, including Ahmadinejad, who were opposed to the “moderate” faction led by former President Seyyed Mohammad Khatami, who appointed Mousavian nuclear negotiator. Mousavian claimed that the IRGC had accused him of false “espionage” charges because of his moderate positions. But like Kasra Aarabi, a specialist in Shiite extremism, pointed out“While Mousavian was sentenced to two years in prison for ‘undermining national security’ in Iran, he was remarkably allowed to travel to the United States before being imprisoned.”
Is it possible that the Obama administration made it easy for him to come to the United States to serve as an unofficial Iranian ambassador? He certainly acted like one. The Obama administration searched many times its advice in view of the 2015 Iran agreement.
Evidence abounds that Mousavian always remained loyal to the regime. In 2016, former Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif mentioned that Mousavian “has continued and continues to work hard for the system [of the Islamic Republic]and that he “believes in and is completely tied to the system of the Islamic Republic and Iran.”
Mousavian’s behavior and his voluminous public statements confirm this.
A common thread runs through Mousavian’s public reflections: they are moderate in tone, academic in style, portray the Iranian regime positively, and support the regime’s goals. They also frequently contain subtle threats of violence, a technique he used when he was ambassador to Germany.
In a interview during negotiations for the 2015 Iran deal, Mousavian claimed that Iran was “one of the most stable countries in the region”, ignoring the regime’s crushing of the Green Movement in 2009, which killed at least 100; the student movement of 1999; and the massive resources of the state devoted to the oppression of its own citizens.
When Congress raised concerns about the Iran deal in 2015, Mousavian maligned in the Washington Post that Congress could “play a saboteur role”, ignoring Congress’s role in shaping policy in the United States, and threatening that any attempt to frustrate the deal would lead to radicalism in Iran. Obviously, Mousavian did not learn to appreciate the institutions of democracy while living in the United States.
Mousavian is also a fan of the late Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, who was killed by a US drone strike in Iraq in early 2020. Mousavian attended Suleimani’s funeral, and he also publicly blamed the United States for Iran shot down Ukrainian flight PS752, which killed 176 people, and uncritically mentioned cries of revenge at Suleimani’s funeral.
Writing in late 2020 after Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump, Mousavian decried Israeli efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear program and encouraged Biden to re-enter the Iran deal and ignore Iran’s conventional weapons in future negotiations. He also said that anti-American sentiment in Iran would be “difficult to contain”.
More recently, Mousavian gave an interview in Farsi, in which he was delighted Explain that the wife of former U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook “(P) can’t sleep, she’s crying and shaking, she told Brian, ‘They’re going to kill you,’ since Hook was a partner in the death of Haj Qasem [Suleimani]that’s how much they were shaking. ““According to reports, Hook is facing credible death threats of the Iranian regime. Mousavian’s flimsy excuse is that he was simply crying that tensions had reached the point where violence was being discussed. The more cautious observation is that he reiterates veiled threats against Hook, particularly regarding Suleimani.
Mousavian’s compassion does not extend to Princeton students who have been wronged by the regime. Xiyue Wang, a Chinese American who moved to Iran to study regional history, was detained and tortured by the regime for 40 months on false charges. Mousavian did nothing to intervene. It’s Hook who conducted secret negotiations to free Wang. Wang has a close relationship with Hook, and unsurprisingly, is not a fan of Mousavian.
The conclusion is clear: Mousavian is not an “academic” in the proper sense of the word, but a regime official who has been given a sinecure to act as a purveyor of disinformation and an advocate for the regime in the United States. United.
The United States severed official diplomatic relations with Iran in 1980 because it was a violent theocracy that did not want to accept diplomatic standards, announcing its presence to the world in U.S. Embassy staff held hostage. Admitting Mousavian to the United States appears to be an overly clever attempt by the Obama administration to create an informal Iranian ambassador. If the Biden administration wants to renew formal diplomatic relations with Iran, it is within its power. But Congress should put an end to this charade. Especially since there is are fears that this farce will be repeated with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Congress does not have the power to expel Mousavian, but it should investigate how Mousavian obtained his visa and expose any deception that led to this unofficial ambassador taking his post with so little scrutiny. This will have the dual effect of highlighting the situation with Mousavian and showing how Congress can address issues like this in the future.