The U.S. - Iranian Rollercoaster Relationship Since 1953
A Frontline Warrior's Assessment
Colonel Wes Martin
October 13, 2020

For the past century, Western Europe has displayed an amazing ability to implement the worst possible decisions on the Middle East. In 1953 the United States became part of this problem through Operation Ajax, a joint British MI6 - American CIA venture resulting in the removal of Mohammad Mosaddegh as Iranian Prime Minister. Mosaddegh's offense to the West was the nationalization of his country's oil industry.

Why President Eisenhower approved this overthrow escapes hindsight logic. No other American president was ever inaugurated with his experience of the consequence of oppressed countries led by brutal dictators. Entering office at the height of McCarthyism and the beginning years of the Big Red Scare, Ike accepted the British claim that Mosaddegh was leaning to the Russians. The truth was Mosaddegh opposed fifty years of oil extraction from his country by foreign investors who claimed fifty-one percent of the ownership.

The world did not know about the U.S. connection until lead American operative Kermit Roosevelt Jr. released his book Countercoup in 1979. The timing could not have been worse for President Teddy Roosevelt's grandson to boast about his role in Mosaddegh's removal from power. Placing Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in total power where he would oversee the execution of thousands of dissidents was bad enough; Roosevelt's boasting about it at the height of national discontent was not the way to win hearts and influence the minds of Iranian citizens.

The result was a roller-coaster relationship between the United States and Iran. Like a roller-coaster, emplacement of a U.S.-friendly dictator took the relationship to a high point where the ride would begin. Then came the trip through time which is still on-going. The rises and drops, the twists and turns, have all been part of a downward trajectory which consists of four distinct periods: Indifference (1953 - 1978), Awakening (1979 - 1992), Appeasement (1993 - 2016), and Aggressive Accountability (2017 - Present).

The results of the November 2020 U.S. elections will determine whether accountability continues or another phase begins.


Following the Second World War, western economies were continually becoming stronger. In the 1950s, the main international concern of the United States was Soviet aggression. Truman had already handled the Berlin Blockade, Europe was recovering, and the Korean War was finishing. Overall Eisenhower had eight smooth years.

As long as the oil kept flowing from Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait; Western Europe and the United States paid little interest to the region. Iran appeared to be secure. Its neighbor Iraq, declared a republic in 1958, was under the control of military strongmen Brigadier General Abd al-Karim Qasim, followed by the Arif brothers from 1963 until 1968. Being ignored by the west were the seeds of discontent within both countries, which would produce serious consequences for the world's next generation.

After Eisenhower came Kennedy's thousand-day term, which was internationally dominated the Berlin Wall Crisis, Bay of Pigs, and catching up with the Russians in outer space. Johnson's Administration was bogged down in the Vietnam War and civil unrest at home.

American leaders and its own intelligence community failed to realize increasing problems within Iran. Especially in the 1960s, multiple dissident movements within Iran were developing. The two movements having the most impact to this day were religious fundamentalism led by Islamic Shia Cleric Ruhollah Khomeini and the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MeK).

The governments of Iran, Western Europe, and America failed to see that the Shah's 1963 crackdown against growing discontent had set the country on a course where there was no going back. A simple history lesson from Czarist Russia's 1905 brutal suppression of the anti-government movement should have been heeded.

Continuing to increase his stature as the main threat against the Iranian government, Khomeini was condemned to death by the Shah. The execution was prevented by a sudden Shia cleric meeting in Najaf, Iraq where Khomeini was elevated to Ayatollah. In turn, Shah Pahlavi was left with the options of executing an Ayatollah or exiling Khomeini from Iran. Out of country did not mean Khomeini was no longer undermining the Shah. Khomeini continued leading his rebellion from Paris.

The second movement, the MeK, translated to English as People's Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI) formed in September 1965. In 1966, the MeK adopted a set of philosophies that would put them at odds with both the ruling government and rising Islamic fundamentalists. The MeK announced belief in equality between those in power and those not, between men and women, and among various religions and races. Going further, they believed the clergy should not have total control over interpretation of the Quran, nor should the clerics have total control over their congregations.

These philosophies would cast the MeK into fighting successive enemies. MeK adversaries to this day, especially within U.S. State Department, claim those three philosophies reflect the influence of Marx and Lenin. To this, especially to State Department and when testifying before Congress, I have continually pointed out those three philosophies are more reflective of Jefferson and Madison.

By May of 1972, two MeKs existed, with the preponderance of power favoring the Marxists. The two elements spent as much time fighting each other as they did engaging the Shah‘s regime. Meanwhile, one imprisoned MeK member not executed by the government enforcers, but rather remaining captive until the final days of the Shah's rule, was a young Massoud Rajavi. Inside prison he built an organizational structure and a large membership anchored on original MeK concepts and independent of Marxist influence.

Today, any action conducted by either the MeK or the Marxist MeK is viewed as a MeK action with no discrepancy to which organization did it. For the United States, this is especially true concerning the deaths of three American officers: the June 1975 dual killing of COL Paul Shaffer and Lieutenant Colonel John Turner, and the following month's killing of Lieutenant Colonel Lewis Hawkins. The fact that in August of 1975 the Shah's police arrested two people for the killings of Shaffer and Turner who stated they were part of the "Islamic Marxist group," and a member of the Marxist MeK would later claim to have killed Hawkins, State Department has continually blamed the MeK.

In November of 1976, the strength of the Marxist MeK was shaken when they lost a major gun battle with Iranian police. Weakened, but not broken, both MeK organizations continued to be actively involved in 1978 and 1979 uprisings against the Shah.

In January of 1979, ten days before Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran from exile in Paris, Rajavi was released from prison. As he worked to rebuild the MeK, most of the subordinate leadership he selected also came from Qasr Prison. The Marxist element abandoned any claim to the MeK name and renamed themselves "Paykar" (Struggle).

Despite growing unrest in Iran, and the rise of the Baath Party in Iraq, western concern in the 1960 and 70s remained elsewhere. The only major focus Middle-East would receive was in the Mediterranean region, more specifically Nasser's nationalist movement in Egypt, access to the Suez Canal, and Israeli-Arab tensions culminating in the Six Day and Yom Kippur Wars.

America's interest in Iran did not change with Nixon. His focus was getting out of Vietnam, building a relationship with China, and Watergate. Even the alleged oil shortage of the early 1970s was proven not caused by Middle-East countries, but by the major oil corporations (a.k.a. "The Seven Sisters") trying to increase wealth by creating a scare.


The absence of bad news does not reflect everything is fine. American war hero Lieutenant General Hal Moore coined the phrase, "There is nothing going wrong, except there is nothing going wrong."

Iran did not become a serious American concern until the arrival of Jimmy Carter into the White House in January of 1977. Winston Churchill once said "The Americans can always be counted on doing the right thing, after they have tried everything else." Saying this of Jimmy Carter would be giving him too much credit. Rather than becoming part of the solution, Carter generally found a way to become and continually remain the source of the problem.

Aside from the Camp David Peace Accord between Egypt's Anwar Sadat and Israel's Menachem Begin, President Carter's Middle-East Policy was much like his entire foreign policy: a series of contradictions and failures. In example, Carter's major response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was to deny American participation in the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics. The only thing that achieved was preventing Americans from winning their hard-earned medals in favor of participating Soviet athletes.

When Carter would make an unpopular international policy statement, offering support to their American ally, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, and later Helmut Kohl would publicly state "I support President Carter." Yielding to pressure, President Carter would then come out claiming, "That is not what I meant to say." As an officer assigned to Berlin Brigade at Checkpoint Alpha on the East-West German border, I worked on a continual basis with British soldiers and West German officials. I was continually subject to the venting of my counterparts concerning their disgust of my president and how he was embarrassing the heads of their governments.

Carter's inconsistent and poorly thought out behavior toward Iran was no better. His personal and televised praise of the Shah, at a joint dinner, was immediately followed inside Iran by a revolutionary surge. The release of Kermit Roosevelt's book further inflamed the Iranian people.

Instead of standing behind the Shah and offering firm support, only a sanctuary in Sadat's Egypt was worked out. With this came a temporary democratic government in Iran, the return of Khomeini to Tehran, and the beginning of today's long-term hostility between the United States and Iran.

On November 3, 1979, Khomeini gave a fiery lecture to university students in Tehran, resulting in 400 of them storming and taking over the American embassy. This take-over caught the rest of Iran and the world by surprise. Hope for a moderate Iran was vaporizing, as evidenced by the same-day resignation of Premier Bazargan. Banisadr stayed on for the time being as President, but it was obvious his attempts to bring order out of this chaos were not going to succeed.

As in the words of Shakespeare, "Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war," Khomeini was able to seize upon this event to take the world stage and raise the fever all across Iran. His followers had successfully attacked the center of United States presence in Iran and now held American hostages. Khomeini used that excitement to bring wrath on his adversaries, real and perceived. To Khomeini, any person or group who did not share his fundamentalist beliefs were enemies of the revolution. This included western governments, the Iraqi government then under the control of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, and within Iran, the MeK and communists.

The Iran Embassy hostage situation, a presidency marked by continual incompetence, American inflation in the double digits, and an upcoming election against the "Great Communicator" Ronald Reagan had Carter on the political ropes.

Carter needed a spectacular event to carry him into the second term. The failed rescue of the Embassy hostages in Tehran was not it. Major Wade Ishimoto, a personal friend and member of the Delta Force under Colonel Charles Beckwith, was on the assault team.

The disaster could not have been more complete even if it was planned to be so. President Carter wanted all branches of the U.S. military involved. As later proven by the Seal Team 6 assault on Osama bin Laden deep in Pakistan, the U.S. Navy had all the resources necessary to do the Iran Embassy rescue operation. During the planning phase, an intelligence operative inside Tehran claimed storming the Embassy would be "a piece of cake." What this intelligence operative in a northern Iranian city, nor any other planners, considered was southern Iran terrain and dust storms.

This mission also violated two principles I developed in combat. The first is "Look to the possible point of perception." This is to look for indications and warnings that something may not be right or have the potential to compromise your mission. The second principle is "Leave yourself an option." When something does go wrong, you have an alternative course of action that will still lead you to mission success.

If left to the Navy alone, the mission should have completely commenced from the Persian Gulf. There should have been no linking up of multiple U.S. armed forces on a remote patch of Iranian desert. If ground fighters other than Seals were needed, Navy commanders had immediate access to Marines.

The United States was already developing a working relationship with Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein. Apparently Operations Security (OPSEC) was the only reason the assault was not launched from Iraq, which would have cut off hundreds of air miles to Tehran. As the event turned out, OPSEC was compromised with an Iranian fuel delivery tanker that just happened to be coming down the road and a U.S. Navy helicopter crashing into a U.S. Air Force plane at the desert landing site.

From the beginning, Wade did not believe the mission could be successful. But as a major, he did not have the deciding vote. That was President Carter's. Within Carter's inner circle, only Secretary of State Cy Vance opposed the operation, adamantly warning against certainty of failure and aftermath consequences.

Carter had already lost the faith of the U.S. military, his most important European allies, and the majority of American voters. He needed a stunning military success to convince the world and his nation that he was a great leader. Instead, Carter got a disaster which only endangered the fifty-three hostages in Tehran and cost eight American lives within the assault team. Colonel Beckwith's necessity to immediately exit resulted in the bodies being left behind in the aircraft wreckage inferno and subsequently placed on display for Iranian propaganda.

President Reagan offered a sign of hope through firmness in dealing with Iran. Never fearing Carter, but greatly fearing Reagan, Khomeini released the hostages before Reagan had time to leave the inauguration platform in January of 1981.

The Iran-Iraq War lasted from September 1980 through August of 1988, almost all of Reagan's term in office. Applying the "enemy of my enemy is my friend" concept, the United States was supporting Iraq's Saddam Hussein.

It seemed like the U.S. had developed a firm foreign policy toward Iran - until Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North's Iran-Contra Affair. This scandal consisted of selling weapons to Iran with hopes of appeasing Khomeini, which might help secure the release of American hostages held by Hezbollah in Lebanon. The money from the sales would be funneled to Contra rebels fighting the social government of Nicaragua. None of this was approved by Congress.

From 1989 to 1993, former Central Intelligence Agency Director and then-President George H.W. Bush appears to have been the most knowledgeable and skilled in how to deal with Iran. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, the Bush Administration organized a grand coalition of nations. These nations included several from the Middle-East, but not Iran. Once Saddam's forces were removed from Kuwait, and blown apart throughout Iraq, Bush stopped offensive operations. Bush understood the importance of maintaining the balance of Middle-East power between Iran and Iraq.


From 1992 through 2016, the U.S. - Iran roller coaster was more optical illusion than a reality. The best description of this relationship is a circus ride done in darkness with the use of selected illumination, the manipulation of balance, and wind. There is never a shortage of wind among politicians. Even though the ride is going in the same downward direction, at various speeds, to the passengers on the ride the appearance of ups and downs can be achieved.

The Iranian government never has changed its determination to dominate the Middle-East, destroy Israel, export terrorism, and expand its domain of religious extremism. Sitting in the front seats of this roller-coaster, the Administrations of Clinton, Bush 43, and Obama never got it.

All three of those U.S. Administrations thought they were achieving success. All three presidents in a row did was to receive, and pass on to the American people, selected illumination and manipulation of balance. Adding to the problem, these twenty four years of being taken for a ride has produced an entire generation of State Department bureaucrats (Deep State) who fail to understand the concept of Plato's Cave. They still think shadows on the walls are the real deals.

The Clinton Administration, like most of America, had bought into Iranian government deception that President Mohammad Khatami was a moderate. Iran had learned to improve its image.

The Clinton buy-in with refusal to admit and expose the truth was best reflected in the Khobar Towers bombing. When F.B.I. Director Louie Freeh presented the evidence that Iran was behind the attack to National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, Berger's immediate response was "Who else knows about this?" sites." Berger tried to suppress the information. Although appointed F.B.I. Director by President Clinton, Louie Freeh's dedication to his country and the truth was then, and to this day, beyond reproach. Director Freeh refused to cover up the facts than Iran orchestrated the attack and murdered nineteen service members. It really came as no surprise that Sandy Berger's lack of ethics would later result in his conviction for stealing classified documents from the National Achieves.

Since leaving office, President Clinton has admitted that his biggest mistake was not committing U.S. resources to stop the genocide in Rwanda. The source of this shortfall was then U.N. Ambassador Madeline Albright. As recorded by Major General Roméo Dallaire in his book Shake Hands with the Devil, every time he continually requested critical support as U.N. Ground Forces commander, Albright, as a member of the U.N. Security Council, would stall declaring more information was needed before committing. An average of ten thousand people a day were being butchered, and Albright constantly needed more information. The support never came.

As Secretary of State, Albright was no better in dealing with Iran. Rather than stand up to the Regime still oppressing its people in the wake of the 1988 mass executions, Albright was determined to develop a peaceful working relationship. As part of the appeasement, she declared the Regime's primary opposition, the MeK, to be a State-Department-declared foreign terrorist organization (FTO). Her wrongful justification were the murders of Turner, Shaffer, and Hawkins conducted a generation earlier. As previously mentioned, these murders were done by now defunct Marxist MeK.

For some illogical reason, Bush 43 and his administration responded to the 9-11 attacks by making Iraq the first priority. His intent on riding into the geographic center of the Middle-East to defeat radical Islam made about as much sense as Custer leading 250 men into a 5,000-strong Sioux and Cheyenne encampment.

To help justify the venture, while Army Colonel John Campbell was left to lead one brigade into Afghanistan in pursuit of bin Laden, the Bush administration reverse engineered an intelligence and media campaign to justify this unwarranted invasion of Iraq. Being at the Pentagon during this time, I got to personally witness the manipulated information going up on the screen for the Army Chief of Staff's morning brief. It was the same manipulated information that Secretary of State Colin Powell presented to the United Nations.

This effort was supported by Iranian agent and financial opportunist Ahmed Chalabi delivering to the State Department, Central Intelligence Agency, and Defense Intelligence Agency volumes of misinformation. Chalabi was a con-artist, and his previous near collapsing of Jordanian economy by his Petra Bank Ponzi scheme should have been a warning to the Bush Administration. However, Chalabi was giving the Administration what they wanted.

Chalabi was even selected to be the U.S. representative in Tehran. His mission was to ensure the planned invasion of Iraq was acceptable to Iran. How ironic! The United States government was asking an Iranian agent to seek the ayatollah's approval for disposing of Iran's long-term enemy, which is what Chalabi was manipulating the U.S. government to do in the first place. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei must have enjoyed that conversation. Now-deceased Ayatollah Khomeini once stated, "The road to Jerusalem goes through Karbala." Removal of Saddam Hussein's Iraqi government was critical in establishing that road.

As U.S.-led forces commenced military operations, the Iranian government commenced the political takeover of Iraq. Meanwhile, Iran did everything possible to undermine and support the killing of Coalition forces. As the senior anti-terrorism officer for all coalition forces in Iraq from 2003 - 2004, I continually experienced the work of Iran. Iran was providing funding and intelligence to adversary groups determined to kill Americans and other Coalition members. An active al Qaeda member once described to me the equipment his team was receiving from Iran. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" adage certainly applied to the fundamentalist Shias of Iran in overcoming their differences with the radical Sunnis of al Qaeda.

In that same antiterrorism role, I had identified the growing Iranian influence in the Shia provinces of southern Iraq. Like connecting the dots from Kut, to Diwaniya, to Najaf, to Karbala, to Hilla revealed the shape of what I commenced calling "The Iranian Wedge." Iran already had under its control the most southern provinces. This wedge shaped region in south-central Iraq was now under contention. Both a tribal chief of the Diwaniya region and the police chief of Najaf told me of their opposition to Iran. Both would be assassinated by Iranian loyalists within months of our discussions.

The invasion created another dilemma. We had inherited responsibility for the MeK's National Liberation Army (NLA). In 1986, Saddam offered a series of bases where they could monitor the Iranian government, work their operatives inside Iran, have a military staging area, operate a radio communications network, and be a beacon of hope to the people in Iran hoping to survive until a better government could take control. For the next seventeen years, the MeK operated several bases in Iraq and did conduct military operations against the Iranian government. Up to the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the MeK grew in size and capability.

When the Coalition forces arrived on the ground, a relationship of cooperation immediately developed between U.S. Forces and the MeK. The MeK accepted consolidation of their ranks into the one camp of Ashraf. Of the 10,000 members, approximately 3,700 accepted the move, with the remainder leaving the organization.

This was a first in the history of the world: an invading force inherits control of a military organization within the defeated country which is adversarial to a third country. In 2004, in exchange of surrendering their military weapons and renouncing terrorism, all MeK members at Ashraf were awarded Protected Person status under the Fourth Geneva Convention. The U.S. government promised permanent protection until the MeK was safely relocated out of Iraq, which excluded sending them to Iran. The NLA ceased to exist.

In late 2005 I returned to Iraq to serve as Operations Chief, Task Force 134 (Detention Operations), followed by Base Commander of Camp Ashraf. By that time Iran dominated the wedge region, was tightening it control of the Iraqi government, and was now pushing its influence and agenda well north of Baghdad.

In August of 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became president of Iran, ending all facades of moderation coming from Tehran. The next eight years the world watched Ahmadinejad's inflaming rhetoric toward the west and especially the United States. While the Bush Administration was still trying to appease Iran, the U.S. intelligence community backed off from its early claims that Ahmadinejad was part of the student takeover of the U.S. Embassy in 1979. He was a college student in Tehran when Khomeini spoke, and credible witnesses identified Ahmadinejad as an active participant.

Ahmadinejad never missed a chance to verbally attack the United States, including coming to the United Nations Headquarters in New York City for his annual rants. These displays were not meant to influence the outside world, but to be shown inside Iran as to how their President is standing up to the "Great Satan" on its own soil.

Ultimately, Bush 43 did accomplish two things, both to the benefit of Iran. The first was the melt-down of the Middle-East, which Iran is thoroughly exploiting. The second was violating the long-held Pentagon understanding of never disrupting the fine balance of power between Iraq and Iran. During the entire Iran-Iraq War, neither country could gain much territory against the other. Within a matter of weeks, the Bush Administration did for Iran what it could not do for itself.

When the Middle-East situation seemed like it could not get worse, Barack Obama was elected president and the age of appeasement to Iran got another boost. Having entered office with limited legislative experience, no chief executive experience (such as would come from being a governor), no military experience, but an outstanding ability to speak from a teleprompter, President Obama did not miss many chances to get it wrong.

He entered the White House campaigning for redistribution of wealth. What the world got was redistribution of power. Khamenei picked up some of the power and Putin picked up a lot. The only saving grace the U.S. military had for the time being was Bush 43's final Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, stayed on for the early Obama years. Gates was still putting the military back together from the disastrous tenure of Donald Rumsfeld.

Shortly after Obama was inaugurated, he had a golden opportunity to help the Iranian people and stabilize the Middle East. Khomeini's declaring Ahmadinejad victor in the 2009 Iranian elections resulted in the "Green Revolution." My sources inside and outside Iran advised that a show of support from the United States and Western Europe would have sent the Revolution into a government take-down. The Obama Administration sat quiet as the demonstrations were brutally suppressed.

As mentioned, Bush 43 getting the U.S. into Iraq destroyed the balance of Middle-East power. Obama's pull-out of U.S. troops in Iraq completely turned the Baghdad government over to Iran. The northern axis of influence now went without interruption from Iran to Syria and Lebanon. The southern axis was left to the Saudis to develop. Eventually that axis will likely become Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Israel will favor the southern axis.

In October of 2011, the F.B.I. busted Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) for plotting to kill the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the U.S. while he was having dinner in a Washington D.C. restaurant. To this, State Department released two comments. First was the call for "increased diplomatic isolation" of Iran. The second, almost contradictory, comment was a call to determine how far up into the Iranian government this plot had been approved.

Such a plot never would have proceeded without the approval of Quds Force Commander Major General Qassim Soleimani and Ayatollah Khamenei. At the time of the news disclosure and these comments, Louie Freeh and I were together in Brussels to speak at the European Parliament. Louie asked me, "What does increased diplomatic isolation mean?" I responded, "Too many people at State Department spent their college days watching Animal House. They are calling for double secret probation."

State Department finally acknowledged that Iran was advancing its nuclear weapons development program when MeK exposed the covert operation to the world. Instead of condemning the regime, President Obama's and Secretary of State Clinton's solution was to negotiate. For a promise from Iran to cease the nuclear development operations, the Obama agreed to ease sanctions and release $140 billion (plus) in frozen assets.

Lifting of the sanctions was a political victory for Iran. Tehran proved its ability to once again out-negotiate Washington. The $140 billion windfall allowed Iran to provide more funding and weapons to the civil wars in Syria and Yemen, as well as further export terrorism to other countries. The nuclear weapons research has not stopped in Iran any more than it stopped in North Korea following its nuclear weapons negotiations with the President Clinton Administration.

Iran's ballistic missiles can now reach Israel, Egypt, Libya, and Western Europe. Over two hundred missiles controlled by the IRGC have been fired into Saudi Arabia. When IRGC's ongoing nuclear program matures, Iranian missiles will become a far greater threat.

After finishing my Iraq, Pentagon, and South Korea tours of duty, I retired in 2010. I immediately commenced working to resolve unfinished business, starting with the broken promises the United States government made to the MeK who were still trapped in Iraq.

A year earlier Secretary Clinton had revoked the U.S. granted Protected Person Status on the MeK residents trapped at Camp Ashraf and turned their security over to the Iraq government. Later they were piece-meal moved to Camp Liberty. Between the two camps, the MeK residents had suffered three Iraqi Army ground assaults at Ashraf, including the September 1, 2013 massacre, and four rocket attacks at Camp Liberty. 141 MeK residents were killed and hundreds maimed. After each attack Clinton's State Department either defended Maliki or claimed the Iraq government was not involved despite video footage to the contrary.

Following the 2013 Ashraf Massacre by a U.S. trained Iraq Special Weapons and Tactic team Secretary Clinton requested that Maliki order an internal investigation. My public response was, "This equates to asking Al Capone to investigate the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre." The only non-MeK investigation of the Massacre, including survivor interviews, that was ever accomplished was by myself during later trips to Albania.

On the upside, in 2012 the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled against State Department in a Writ of Mandamus case concerning the MeK's status as a terrorist organization. Despite an earlier federal court ruling, State continued to ignore compliance with Congressionally mandated open status review. In the Mandamus hearing, claiming the MeK still had potential attack ability, Justice Department Attorney Robert Loeb stated Camp Ashraf had never been searched for weapons. From the front viewing row another former Ashraf Commander, Brigadier General (Retired) Dave Phillips, and I suddenly turned to each other. Simultaneously we both pointed to ourselves and lip spoke, "What did I do?" When we looked forward again, we realized we had caught one of the presiding judge's attention. To further catch the Appeals Court's attention, two days later the MeK posted a very large advertisement in the Washington Times with our testimonials that Loeb had provided false information. Not having evidence that could withstand expert analysis, State dropped the terrorist designation.

Also in 2012 the government of Albania agreed to accept the MeK residents. A slow incremented process began bringing less than 200 residents at a time into the Tirana. In January of 2014, Governor Tom Ridge, Senator Robert Torricelli, and I visited the residents who thus far had made it to Albania. Also included on the trip was a port-of-call with now former Prime Minister Sali Berisha. The biggest mistake Berisha said he made as Prime Minster was not taking all the residents at once. He further stated that was his desire. By name he identified Hillary Clinton as being in opposition to his plan because she did not want to upset Iran and jeopardize the on-going nuclear weapons negotiations.

Part of my on-going efforts for MeK justice involved electronic publication of a weekly update. The hundreds of recipients were active and retired U.S. and foreign government dignitaries, including members of Congress, Canadian and European Parliaments. Deputy U.S. National Security Advisor and later Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken was a recipient, as was former U.N. Ambassador and future National Security Advisor John Bolton.

Two excerpts from these weekly bulletins describe the Obama Administration Middle-East and Iranian foreign policy better than I ever could by a different narrative:

April 28, 2013
In the early days of U.S. involvement in Iraq, one of our adversaries used a donkey cart to move a multiple rocket launcher into position. He then failed to unhook the donkey from the cart before setting the launcher. It took about sixty seconds for all rockets to ignite. As each rocket took off, the donkey jumped in every direction imaginable. That included 360 degrees as well as up and down. …Witnessing State Department actions in the Middle East, I cannot help but see the similarity with that rocket attack and U.S. foreign policy. Example: Having agreed to support Syrian fighters (after Al Qaeda and other foreign fighters have set themselves up in Syria as they did in Libya), State Department continually re-enforces and praises the corrupt Maliki government, while Iranian cargo planes fly over Maliki's airspace to re-enforce Assad's regime. Meanwhile, State Department condemns the Iranian government and its nuclear weapons program while tying the hands of the Regime's primary opposition. State fails to realize Maliki, Assad, and Khamenei are all tied together. It doesn't get better anywhere else in the region. At least the donkey knew what it wanted to do. It was smart enough to realize that it had to change the relationship with the source(s) of its problem. Unfortunately, State Department bureaucrats fail to operate with equal wisdom and are determined to keep reloading, continue shooting in all directions possible, …the good news is the donkey did live and did not cause a lot of damage.

November 14, 2015
The United States Government is long past due to admit that its foreign policy in the Middle-East is a total failure. Had Bush 43 not toppled Saddam Hussein, the fine balance of power between Iraq and Iran would not have been destroyed in favor of the Shia fundamentalists. Had Obama not accepted and supported the corrupt administration of Nouri al-Maliki, who in turn was conducting a genocide campaign against the Sunni population of Iraq, ISIS would have been defeated on the road to Mosel and would never have taken control of al-Anbar Province and northern Iraq. Using his own words and phrases, while President Obama has been "leading from behind" and drawing red lines with disappearing ink, a "JV" or junior varsity team who the United States still has "not developed a strategy, yet" to defeat, has far exceeded the standards of being "a manageable problem."

Aggressive Accountability

Never since the inauguration of Ronald Reagan has a president entered office as feared by the Iranian Regime as Donald Trump. Not unnoticed by the Regime was that in 2016 three members of Trump's inner circle were his personal attorney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, and John Bolton. All three were strong defenders of the National Council of the Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and the MeK.

Trump's suspending of U.S. involvement in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a.k.a. the Nuclear Weapons Deal, was justified. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani boasts about fooling the Clinton Administration with an earlier version of the Nuclear Weapons Deal.

President Trump's April 2019 decision to formally identify the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) had been long overdue. The loudest endorsement of President Trump's correct decision concerning the IRGC designation comes from the unprecedented silence of Congress. For once, no one argued.

Just prior to the IRGC designation, the Department of Defense confirmed 608 deaths were directly attributed to actions of the IRGC. In addition to its own direct operations, from the very beginning of Coalition entry into Iraq, the IRGC was providing Iraqi militias such as Sadr's Mahdi Army and the Hakim's Badr Corps with weapons and explosive devices. Intelligence gathered from studying the effectiveness of attacks against coalition forces was being used by the IRGC and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) to determine more lethal ways to destroy American up-armored vehicles.

Terrorism by proxy is a trademark of the IRGC. Hezbollah was organized and funded by the IRGC to undermine the Lebanese government and to threaten the existence of Israel. The 1983 Beirut Bombings resulted in 241 Americans and 58 French peacekeepers killed.

When Assad was in jeopardy of being overthrown by civil war in 2011, Hezbollah was ordered to turn north and enter Syria, where they were joined by units of the IRGC being transported through Iraq.

On January 2, 2020, President Trump dealt a serious blow to the Iranian Regime. For decades, Quds Force Commander Major General Qassim Soleimani had been travelling the Middle East reinforcing Iranian interests, coordinating Iranian troops and material support, and providing instructions for future hostile operations.

Soleimani came to Baghdad on Jan. 2 to provide supervisory guidance and direction for future attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq and to address actions against Iraqi citizens protesting on the streets against Iran's influence in their country. The on-going youth demonstrations in the Shia provinces of Iraq were directed against Iran's meddling in their country.

For decades, Soleimani was able to move throughout the Middle-East with immunity from accountability. The last thing this leader of a now-declared terrorist organization expected when he arrived at Baghdad airport was a drone strike.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, an Iranian Shia ally, now claims Soleimani led the fight that removed the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) from his country. What Mahdi fails to admit is Soleimani held back his forces while ISIL exercised massive genocide against Sunnis trapped in captured territory. Once ISIL was pushed back by a combination of Iraqi and international forces, Soleimani's Shia militias took control of the "liberated" towns and villages. A second genocide commenced with the claim that survivors must have been ISIL sympathizers.

Into the Future

Fear enforced by brutality will be the standard as long as the fundamentalists remain in power. Iran has been severely weakened by the Trump sanctions and the growing unrest of its own citizens. The death of Soleimani further destabilizes Iran's power and serves as evidence that even the most brutal oppressors are neither invincible nor secure.

For decades, the Iranian government has avoided judicial accountability as the No. 1 nation-state sponsor of international terrorism. This partially should end on November 27, 2020 in Antwerp, when Belgium's criminal court commences proceedings against senior Iranian diplomat, Assadollah Assadi.

In June 2018, as third secretary in the Iranian Embassy in Vienna, Assadi delivered over half a kilo of Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP) to Iranian sleeper agents in Luxembourg. TATP is a high explosive used in bombs, suicide attacks, and improvised explosive devices.

The target was a major international gathering near Paris, in support of the NCRI. The plot was averted just a few hours before being implemented when two of the bombers were arrested in Brussels on the morning of June 30, 2018 as they were on their way to the French capital. The explosive device detonated while a Belgian police robot was trying to defuse it.

Whenever their power is threatened by internal overthrow, the regime resorts to two measures. The first is brutal oppression of the Iranian citizens, including imprisonment and mass execution; the second is committing a terrorist attack against the Iranian government's perceived enemies, attempting to create nationalistic support against a foreign threat.

Attacking the Paris rally was a bold plan. Led by National Council of Resistance to Iran (NCRI) President-elect Maryam Rajavi, the event hosted tens of thousands of Resistance supporters. An added bonus for Khamenei would be the potential killing of the rally's international attendees, including Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Louie Freeh, and former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Also as an attendee, I have already provided my statement to the court.

What Khamenei, Rouhani, and Assadi failed to take into account was European law enforcement efficiency. The detection of the explosive device by Belgian police immediately activated criminal justice agencies throughout the continent. German police apprehended Assadi during his automobile flight as he was nearing the Austrian border. Assadi attempted to claim diplomatic immunity, in vain, because his immunity did not extend to Germany, where he claimed being on vacation.

Because American sanctions have been denying Iran the money to fund as many hostile foreign operations as Khomeini desires, the financial burden has been placed directly on Iranian citizens. Without warning, the government doubled the price of fuel last November. Mass demonstrations filled the streets in all parts of the country; but, once again, protests were suppressed by Iranian police and the IRGC exercising extreme brutality.

To Iran's west, the situation has been going no better for Khamenei. For months, citizens of Iraq and Lebanon have been in the streets, demanding their governments come out from under the control of Iran. Meanwhile, the patience of Iranian citizens has been stretched due to their nation's wealth and youth being spent to support conflicts in other Middle-East countries.

In December 2019, Khamenei loyalists in Iraq launched rockets at bases housing U.S. military personnel. American counter-fire left several Iranian militia members dead. Crying anger over their losses, loyalist militias stormed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

The assault was massive, poorly executed, and counter-productive. Only the lobby of the embassy was breached. Because U.S. Marines did not shoot anyone for causing only property damage, militia pretense for further outrage was denied. Meanwhile, the Iraqi government was left with the embarrassment of explaining how thousands of militia members got past Iraqi military responsible for protecting the Green Zone.

This is when Quds Force Commander Major General Soleimani was flown into Baghdad and to his death. The Iranian government walked into a series of traps, each time carrying their own cheese.

In response to Soleimani's death, the IRGC fired fifteen missiles at U.S.-occupied bases in Iraq. Almost one-third of the missiles malfunctioned, reflecting both technological and maintenance problems with Iran's arsenal. None of the missiles resulted in loss of American lives. Instead the missile attack had a reverse negative effect. The IRGC was so rattled by the potential of another American response, they mistook a commercial jetliner flying outbound from Tehran's airport for an incoming U.S. rocket.

For the next three days the Iranian government attempted to cover up this blunder until international evidence forced an admission of fault by Khamenei. The streets filled once again with Iranian citizens. This time they were angry over the downing of the commercial jetliner and government lies that followed. In response and further evidencing his weakening power, Khamenei ordered arrests of the IRGC members responsible for the tragedy.

Thirteen months earlier, the revelation of truth would not have happened. In December of 2018, Iranian media claimed IRGC General Ghodratollah Mansouri accidentally shot himself in the head while cleaning a gun. It is inconceivable that a seasoned warrior like Mansouri could die in such a manner. Suicides and executions are accomplished with bullets to the head. Either scenario reflects negative undercurrents within the regime.

Days of blind acceptance are gone. Khamenei is not just struggling to save his regime. He is struggling to save himself and his subordinates. He knows when his regime collapses, as it will, there will be massive arrests and trials for all who victimized the people.

Any government that has to maintain power through murder and incarcerated torture has no legitimacy. Just as the Nuremburg Trials took place seventy-five years ago, Khamenei knows Tehran Trials are in the future. He knows the most he can do is prolong the inevitable. At the present, that does not look promising.


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©2021 Wes Martin