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[casi] Pentagon wantsTehran 'regime change'

The US administration has gone completely off the rails. Possibly they are
all criminally insane.   The US has left a mess in Afghanistan, plans on
doing the same in Iraq, and is starting up on Turkey and Iran. Somehow these
men must be stopped.     pg, nyc,3604,962611,00.html

Pentagon sets sights on a new Tehran regime

UK and state department reject blunt approach

Julian Borger in Washington and Dan De Luce in Tehran
Saturday May 24, 2003
The Guardian

The Pentagon has proposed a policy of regime change in Iran, after reports
that al-Qaida leaders are coordinating terrorist attacks from Iran.
But the plan is opposed by the US state department and the British
government, officials in Washington said yesterday.

The Pentagon plan would involve overt means, such as anti-government
broadcasts transmitted to Iran, and covert means, possibly including support
for the Iraq-based armed opposition movement Mojahedin Khalq (MEK), even
though it is designated a terrorist group by the state department.

The state department and Britain have objected to the plan, saying that it
would backfire, undermining the moderates around President Mohamed Khatami.

"A lot is going on on both sides of the Atlantic to take another look at
Iran policy," an official said.

The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, has been to Tehran several times and
believes that British and European engagement in Iran has paid dividends in
moderating Tehran's behaviour towards the west.

But the policy of engagement is likely to come under US pressure in the next
few weeks, after the US allegations about al-Qaida and Iran's nuclear
weapons programme.

The issue was to be debated at a meeting of President Bush's top national
security advisers in the White House on Thursday, according to an official
in Washington.

But the meeting was postponed pending Tehran's response to American
allegation that it is harbouring a Qaida cell.

Members of the Bush administration have been quoted in the US press as
saying that recent terrorist bombings in Saudi Arabia were coordinated by
the cell in Iran and that communications about the attack were traced back
to the country.

"There's no question but that there have been and are today senior al-Qaida
leaders in Iran, and they are busy," the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld,
said this week.

Among the Qaida leaders alleged to be in Iran is Saif al-Adel, from Egypt.

The Iranian government has denied sheltering al-Qaida, and claims to have
deported about 500 al-Qaida suspects in the past two years to other Islamic

Iranian officials are also reported to have told UN officials that it had
al-Qaida suspects in custody.

Washington is sceptical and is waiting to see if Tehran hands over the
suspects before deciding its policy.

Britain is pushing for a coordinated US-European policy towards Tehran.

"We have said very clearly to the Iranian government that harbouring
al-Qaida would be entirely unacceptable," the prime minister, Tony Blair,
said on Thursday.

"I hope very much that if they are indeed harbouring al-Qaida operatives,
that they yield them up."

Iran has repeatedly denied the accusation and called on Washington to share
its evidence.

Saeed Pourazizi, an adviser to President Khatami, said on Thursday that Iran
had a clear policy of fighting al-Qaida, and accused Washington of pursuing
a long-term strategy to put pressure on the government.

"[Al-Qaida] is a terrorist group threatening Iran's interests, its extremist
interpretation of Islam contradicts the Islamic democracy Iran is trying to
promote," he said.

"There is no commonality of anything between us."

But analysts say hardline elements of Iran's leadership may see al-Qaida as
a useful ally against a common foe, the United States, a view not shared by
the reformists allied with President Khatami.

Flynt Leverett, a former middle east specialist in President Bush's national
security council, said the move towards regime change as a basis for Iran
policy was built on a false assumption.

"It's built on the belief that Tehran is a house of cards waiting to be
pushed over and if the US is smart enough, it could push the house of cards
over, and I think this is not a very prudent way to proceed."

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