Pro-Ayatollahs Disinformation and Manipulation Campaign by Washington Think Tankers
Hassan Dai

Foreword: The policy of United States on Iran over the past decade has been amalgamated with confusion and shortsightedness. This is not accidental. A key factor in shaping this policy has been a disinformation campaign by the pro-Iranian circles. A leading champion of this propaganda crusade is  Dr. Ray Takeyh. a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who has testified frequently at various congressional committees and has appeared in numerous media venues. Takeyh until early 2000s was an ardent opponent of engagement with Iran but surprisingly became a strong advocate of rapprochement policy. As a leading figure of the pro-Iranian regime circles in the US, Dr. Takeyh has systematically and with no accountability distorted the reality of the Iranian political situation. He has selectively changed the facts and fabricated new ones. Along with acquaintances and peers such as his wife Susan Maloney (who until a short while ago held the important position of Iran policy planner staff in the State Department[1, 2]) and Richard Haas the president of the CFR, has influenced the United States policy on Iran.


This article is not a crusade against one person. As the toll of this political disorientation has been heavy and will continue to be heavy, a detailed study of Takeyh’s standpoint is warranted. Through understanding Takeyh, we better understand pro-Iran campaigners in the United States. We have been very careful not to take quotes out of context. Nevertheless, we urge the readers to refer to the original articles and read them for themselves. The common trend of synchronized disinformation campaign is shockingly apparent.  



In a recent article I wrote about NIAC (National Iranian American Council) and its front man Trita Parsi [3, 4]. This organization, with strong connections to the inner circles of power in Tehran, and interest groups outside Iran has the specific role of lobbying the US Congress by utilizing unwary ordinary Iranian Americans concerned about their inborn land. But the pro-Iran’s campaign in the US has several other mediums. Parallel to NIAC, an army of “scholars” and “experts” have been assembled to disseminate seemingly ‘authoritative’ reports friendly to Tehran’s strategies and instrumental in solving Iranian regime’s predicament of the day. Due to the scholarly disguised nature of these opinions, they have been very effective in shaping and manipulating the United States policy on Iran.

2000-2001: Takeyh was zealously against engagement with Mullahs

Prior to joining the pro-Iranian circles and CFR, Takeyh presented a totally different view of the Iranian regime. Even under Khatami’s rule and the peak of power of the reformist circles in Iran, Takeyh was adamantly against rapprochement based strategies towards Iran. He totally denied the concept of “moderates” in Tehran. In April 2000, in an article titled Pragmatic theocracy: A contradiction in terms?” ridiculing the pro engagement circles, Takeyh wrote:

“ … And this is where a strategy of accommodation falters. For no degree of internal liberalization is likely to alter this fundamental clash of interests. Khatemi may have discarded the Khomeini regime's intemperate rhetoric and inflammatory strategy, but he has remained loyal to its hegemonic aspirations. A more pragmatic Iran, then, is likely to offer the United States only slightly less of a challenge than its revolutionary opposition movement claiming that only a return to religious values can fulfill the masses' demands for economic and political regeneration.” [5]

2002: “This time, with public opinion in favor of reaching out to Washington, Iranian political groups of all complexion are loath to let the opportunity pass.”[9]

2005 (The radical fundamentalists gain power. Ahmadinejd is elected as the president): “Despite the election of a hard-line government in Iran, the time surprisingly might be ripe for a deal.” [12]

2007: “In Iran today the idea of negotiating with the United States as late as 1999, 2001, was a contentious issue. Now there is a consensus in Iran, across political spectrum, blessed by the supreme leader, that Iran is willing to negotiate with the United States.”[13]

1997-2004: Reform is concretely irreversible

“Like the world around it, Iran is still undergoing a profound transformation… Gradually, the government of God is being forced to cede to secular statecraft -- and to empower Iranians. In the process, Iran has begun contributing to the spread of public empowerment around the world.”[16]

Then, in 2001, Takeyh again asserted that the reformists are Iran’s last chance of survival:

“In fact, for Iran to avoid collapsing into civil strife it must adopt some basic secular tenets. Whatever direction the country takes, this much is at least evident: Khomeini failed to establish a durable Islamic polity in Iran, and the clerics are ruling on borrowed time.[21]


2004: CFR and Takeyh masked the rise of Ahmadinejad’s faction

In July 2004, the Council on Foreign Relations released its Task Force Report on Iran. This report urged rapprochement with the Iranian regime, basically the same policy that many such reports had already proposed for the previous seven years. What made this CFR report unique was its analysis of the Iranian power structure after the defeat of reformers in two consecutive elections in 2003 and 2004. In fact, the CFR report was released at a time, when many Iranian analysts qualified as a turning point in the life of the Islamic Republic. Alavi Tabar a prominent commentator in Iran declared:

We are actually at a turning point and something fundamental is happening which is the militarization of Iranian politics. The regime’s stance on nuclear issue, the affiliation of the new MPs and the positions taken by some of the regime’s leader regarding Iraq all are signs of the trend toward the control of power by a mafia kind complex which controls the Guards and the Bassijis.”[23]


The “Rouydad news” considered as the reformers’ news website, published a commentary and strongly warned that:

The incident of “Imam airport” was a clear indication on the new trend in the power structure. This trend was first demonstrated in the city councils elections and shows a total control of the” Guards”. During the parliamentary elections in 2004, the Guards and the Bassijis became very active and a majority of the new deputies came from these institutions and the security forces. The new head of the Iranian TV and Radio is also a former high ranking member of the Guards as it is the case for Ahmadinejad, the new mayor of Tehran. The Guards will pursue this strategy in the next presidential election of 2005 and their candidate is Ahmadinejad.” [24]

Shargh newspaper, wrote several editorials about the new emerging radical faction. For instance, it clearly reported that:  

“Abadgaran the victorious group in parliamentary election is dominated by these new fundamentalists and as a result, the traditional conservatives are marginalized.” [25]

While a large number of Iranian analysts, political scholars and intellectuals were warning the Iranians and the international community about the rise of this new faction and its dangerous internal and international implications, the CFR task force report not only did not mention anything about this apparent element, it surprisingly discovered an “ascending pragmatic faction” in Iran:


Iran is experiencing a gradual process of internal change that will slowly but surely produce a government more responsive toward its citizenswishes and more responsible in its approach to the international community.” (page13

Susan Maloney


Gary Sick, another affiliate of CFR, went even further and completely denied the victory of conservatives. In his interview with the Farsi language radio Farda he declared:

As the 2005 election was approaching, Takeyh and CFR, once again switched gears and took a completely opposite position. In the middle of Iran’s presidential elections and when it became apparent that Rafsanjani’s chances to win are low, in an article titled “The World Should Not Pin Its Hopes on Rafsanjani” in Financial Times he wrote:

.. in their euphoric embrace of Mr Rafsanjani, the Europeans neglect both Iran's recent history and its political peculiarities … Contrary to the popular images of Mr. Rafsanjani as the only politician who can transcend Iran's factionalized politics and produce results, his previous tenure as president was far from successful. [Here Takeyh reviews a long list of Rafsanjani’s past failures.] .... Moreover, the younger generation of conservatives, many of whom covet the presidency themselves, resent not just Mr. Rafsanjani's pragmatism but also his opportunism in terms of seeking yet another presidential term and thus denying them the opportunity…. In a strange twist, Mr Rafsanjani's candidacy has generated more optimism in western capitals than on Iran's street,”. [31]

…Although the assertive nationalists (new appellation for fascism) who have taken command of Iran's executive branch have dispensed with their predecessor's "dialogue of civilizations" rhetoric, and display a marked indifference to reestablishment of relations with America, they are loath to jeopardize the successful multilateral détente that was the singular achievement of the reformist era.

 The days when Iran sought to undermine established authority in the name of Islamic salvation are over. Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's disciples have long abandoned the mission of exporting the revolution, supplanting it with conventional measures of the national interest.

Despite the chorus of concern, Iran's new president has demonstrated no interest in substantially altering the contours of Iran's international policy - nor has the country's ultimate authority, the Supreme Leader. … But the notion that Iran's foreign policy is entering a new radical state is yet another misreading of the Islamic Republic and its many paradoxes.” [33]

I actually think at this particular point Ahmadinejad is probably the second most important actor in Iran, arguably the most important actor because the supreme leader doesn’t have the capability or will or desire to rein him in. He has consolidated his control over all the relevant ministries…..He is probably the most—strongest president Iran has had since the first two, three years of the Rafsanjani presidency between ‘89 to ‘92, ‘93. [37]

2007: Nationalist Pragmatists are coming!

In yet another stretch of imagination, in Newsweek on Feb.26, 2007, Takeyh announced to the world that the true power holders in Iran are internationally well-behaved pragmatist nationalists:


“This emerging group looks askance at the strident rhetoric of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Its members tend to stress Iranian nationalism over Islamic identity, and pragmatism over ideology. …. Over the past two years, members of this pragmatic faction have risen to influence within the highest ranks of government, the intelligence community and the military…. these men are trying to wrest control of Iran's international relations from the most militant old-guard mullahs.”[38]


1.         http://www.brook.edu/scholars/smaloney.htm.

2.         KennethTimmerman, Iran: The Threat We Cannot Neglect: Part II: http://www.frontpagemag.com/articles/readarticle.asp?ID=18932&p=1.

3.         Daioleslam, H., Ayatollahs’ Lobby In Washington Offering Human Rights As A Negotiating Item: http://www.globalpolitician.com/articledes.asp?ID=3130&cid=2&sid=4.

4.         Daioleslam, H., Iran’s Oil Mafia: http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=27787.

5.         Takeyh, R., Pragmatic theocracy: A contradiction in terms? in National Interest. April 1, 2000.

6.         Takeyh, R., National Review, Nov. 5th, 2001.

7.         Takeyh, R., A 'New' Security Agenda Revives Old Traditions, in Wall Street Journal Europe. October 9, 2002.

8.         Takeyh, R., in Middle East Policy Council. December 12th, 2000.

9.         Takeyh, R., in Financial Times. November 4, 2002.

10.       Takeyh, R., in International Herald Tribune. August 24, 2004.

11.       Takeyh, R., in Washington Quarterly. Autumn 2004.

12.       Feinstein, L. and R. Takeyh, in The Baltimore Sun. September 26, 2005.

13.       Takeyh, R., in a speech. February 22, 2007.

14.       Wright, R., The Last Great Revolution. The Journal of The International Institute (http://www.umich.edu/~iinet/journal/vol8no1/Wright.htm).

15.       Wright, R., Iran Now a Hotbed of Islamic Reforms, in Los Angeles Times. December 29, 2000.

16.       Wright, R., Iran's New Revolution, in Foreign Affairs (http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20000101faessay10/robin-wright/iran-s-new-revolution.html). January/February 2000.

17.       Maloney, S., in Middle East Policy. June 2000.

18.       Takeyh, R., in Middle East Policy Journal. November 2000.

19.       Takeyh, R., in Middle East Policy Journal. 11.2000 Number 4.

20.       Takeyh, R., Iran in the Axis of Evil, in Updates from AIJAC. February 15, 2001.

21.       Takeyh, R., in The National Interest, AIJAC. No. 63, Spring 2001.

22.       Takeyh, R., in Middle East policy council. December 12th, 2000.

23.       Alavi-Tabar, in Rouydad. May 1st, 2004.

24.       in Rouydad. May 10th, 2004.

25.       in Shargh. April 9, 2004.

26.       Iran:Time for a New Approach. Report of an Independent Task Force Sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Robert M. Gates,

Co-Chairs, Suzanne Maloney, Project Director, http://www.cfr.org/content/publications/attachments/Iran_TF.pdf.

27.       Takeyh, R. and N. Gvosdev, Pragmatism in the Midst of Iranian Turmoil, in The Washington Quarterly (http://www.twq.com/04autumn/docs/04autumn_takeyh-gvosdev.pdf). Autumn 2004.

28.       in The Boston Globe. June 23, 2005.

29.       Phillips, D., Pragmatism Needed in US-Iran Relations, in The Boston Globe. March 7, 2004.

30.       Sick, G., Interview with Radio Farda. 18.2.2004.

31.       Takeyh, R., The World Should Not Pin Its Hopes on Rafsanjani, in Financial Times. May 25, 2005.

32.       Takeyh, R., The Triumph of Absolute Rule, in The Boston Globe. June 23, 2005.

33.       Takeyh, R., Why Iran isn't a global threat, in Christian science Monitor. Sep. 29th, 2005.

34.       Takeyh, R., The Triumph of Absolute Rule, in The Boston Globe. June 23, 2005.

35.       Takyeh, R., http://hsgac.senate.gov/_files/111505Takeyh.pdf.

36.       Takeyh, R., Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. September 19, 2006.

37.       Takeyh and Pollack roundtable at CFR. November 1st, 2006.

38.       Takeyh, R., in http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17202829/site/newsweek/. Feb.26, 2007.

39.       Takeyh, R. and V. Nasr, in Washington Post. Februray 8, 2007.

40.       Takeyh, R., interview with CFR. April 13, 2006.


Source: www.iranianlobby.com

Iranian lobby 2005  ©