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Viewing cable 09BAKU695, IRAN POLITICS: TEHRAN UNIVERSITYSCHOLAR STRESSES

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09BAKU695 2009-09-02 11:11 2010-12-29 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baku
VZCZCXRO6814
RR RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKB #0695/01 2451109
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 021109Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY BAKU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1674
INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 0145
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BAKU 000695

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/28/2019
TAGS: PGOV SNAR KISL AJ IR
SUBJECT: IRAN POLITICS: TEHRAN UNIVERSITYSCHOLAR STRESSES
POLITICAL ROLE OF MESBAH-YAZDI, SAYS IRAN UNDERGOING
"HISTORIC TRANSFORMATION"

Classified By: Political/Economic Counselor Rob Garverick, Reason 1.4 (
B and D)

Summary
--------

1. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX, told Baku Iran watcher that the latter is "more
powerful than Ahmadinejad," and played a key role in the
Iranian election fraud and other regime activities. He
described Mesbah-Yazdi's political ideology as profoundly
anti-democratic, and argued that his behind-the-scenes
influence is underestimated by many foreign observers. The
scholar argued that Iran is currently going through a
historic psychological and political transformation, and
asserted that this process is continuing. He delineated
three "critical phases" in this evolving transformation,
which he claimed crosses age and class barriers. He
portrayed Khameini as caught in this political maelstrom
between a rock (Rafsanjani) and a hard place (Mesbah-Yazdi's
circle), and searching for room to maneuver. He also
stressed the "effective" use by the opposition of the
internet and international media in getting their message
out. The scholar also commented on Iranian drug addiction
problems, noting the widespread and cheap availability of
opiates and other addictive drugs. End Summary.

2. XXXXXXXXXXXX

Focus on Mesbah-Yazdi
---------------------

3. XXXXXXXXXXXX, said that for several years he has
been researching the life, ideology, and political activities
of Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi, on whom he now considers himself
an expert.XXXXXXXXXXXX .

4. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXXsaid that Mesbah-Yazdi likes to work behind
the scenes, and as a result his significance in current
Iranian politics (XXXXXXXXXXXX) is widely underestimated. Kaymars said that,
like Khomeini, Mesbah-Yazdi sometimes cites Plato, and
notably The Republic (as interpreted by him) as a
"philosophical" guide. According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, Mesbah-Yazdi is
deeply "anti-liberal democratic," regarding liberal democracy
and its trappings as a charade leading to a wrongly-guided
state based on selfishness, immorality, and diversion from
morally and politically "right" paths.XXXXXXXXXXXX asserted that
Mesbah-Yazdi has been quietly expanding his influence with
Revolutionary Guard and Basij figures for years, and was the
single most important player in the election fraud, and also
played a key role in many other regime pre- and post-
election actions. "You can't understand what's been going on
in Iran without understanding (the beliefs and activities of)
Mesbah-Yazdi," he claimed.

"Iran is Being Transformed"
--------------------------

5. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX contended that an historic transformation is
currently going on in Iran, unifying wide ranges of classes
and ages. He described the transformation as a process with
three "critical phases." Phase One, immediately after the
election, was characterized by shock, anger, and "people

BAKU 00000695 002 OF 003


sobbing in the streets." He explained that before the
election, many Iranians had argued that there was at least
some democracy in the system, and that if left alone the
regime would by itself evolve into a more democratic and
liberal state. Even system opponents and self-declared
skeptics felt that evolutionary change within the system was
possible. According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, the blatantly stolen
election and the cynical, repressive aftermath were "blows to
the face" that largely demolished this view.

6. (C) Kaymars called Ayatollah Khameini's June 19 sermon
"the second transformational point." He asserted that after
Khameini's public anointment of Ahmedinejad, and references
to his "divinely inspired" election victory, "Tehran
exploded." He compared public reaction in the days after the
election to the 1999 Tehran student demonstrations (in which
he also participated). He explained that in 1999, "we hoped
(in vain) for South Tehranis to join us," but in June and
July 2009 "South Tehranis were everywhere."

7. (C) In contrast to 1999, he continued, for many days
"everybody" protested and/or shouted slogans from the
rooftops: &North Tehranis, South Tehranis, students,
bazaaris, were chanting death to Khameini, death to the
dictator, we are unified,8 and other protest slogans. "A
lot of people were in the streets (in the days after the
sermon), and a lot of shooting occurred," he said. XXXXXXXXXXXX"

8. (C) According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, "Phase Three" began with
Rafsanjani's re-galvanizing sermon on July 17, and is
currently ongoing. "Don't be misled by the current calm
surface," he warned, "a lot of political activity is
happening." XXXXXXXXXXXX. He nonetheless acknowledged
Rafsanjani's "cleverness" and strength of personality, and
said he remains important in the near term for intra-regime
political maneuvering, and for "funneling money" to support
the opposition.

Khameini "Not Close to Ahmadinejad"
-----------------------------------

9. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX observed that Supreme Leader Khameini is not
personally close to Ahmadinejad, or even strongly in favor of
him, but is caught between the "rock" of Rafsanjani/Moussavi
and the "hard place" of Mesbah-Yazdi, Ahmadinejad, and their
Revolutionary Guard allies. He claimed that Khameini has
limited political maneuverability, and is primarily focused
on protecting his and his son Mojtaba's future. He asserted
that opposition efforts are underway to split Khameini from
the Mebah-Yazdi group, and scapegoat the latter for legal and
human rights abuses.

Opposition Use of Foreign Media and the Internet
--------------------------------------------- --

10. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX asserted that most Iranians are repulsed and
embarrassed by the show trials, and despite nagging
historical "default" suspicion of Britain, "no one believes
that foreign countries were behind the protests." He said
that Iranians have no confidence in domestic media, and
claimed that Mousavi and his allies are effectively using
foreign media and the internet to propagandize and get their
word out. He said that, "even in villages, at least one
person in every family is internet-literate," and claimed
that Iranians have become adept at successfully playing "hide
and seek" with the authorities," and are becoming more so."
He added that BBC and VOA are widely watched, and are also
playing "a very important role" in delivering and spreading
opposition-based and other information.


BAKU 00000695 003 OF 003


Narcotics and Drug Addiction
----------------------------

11. (SBU)XXXXXXXXXXXX related that at three AM in Tehran
University dorms, "you can't buy sweets, but can buy all
kinds of narcotics," including heroin. One dose of
heroin-based &Iranian Crack8 costs one dollar. In addition
to the widespread availability of cheap opiate derivatives,
he noted that the addictive, &high8 producing pain-killer
Tramadol (AKA &Zydol8) is very popular and can be purchased
without a prescription at any pharmacy, at the price of ten
pills for 50 cents.

Obama/U.S. "Very Popular" in Iran
---------------------------------

12. (SBU) According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, Iranians like President
Obama very much, and appreciate his outreach efforts. "He's
the only politician I've ever liked," he said. In general,
the U.S. was and is very popular among Iranians, he noted.
LU