Reza Kahlili may have scooped the New York Times about a secret meeting in Doha, Qatar between Obama representatives and those of Iran’s Supreme Leader seeking a temporary halt in uranium enrichment.
Kahlili in a World Net Daily report issued October 4th noted the back channel discussions confirmed by his sources, “October Surprise? Obama secret Iran deal cut”:
Iran could announce a temporary halt to uranium enrichment before next month’s U.S. election in a move to save Barack Obama’s presidency, a source affiliated with high Iranian officials said today.
The source, who remains anonymous for security reasons, said a three-person delegation of the Obama administration led by a woman engaged in secret negotiations with a representative of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The delegation urged the Iranian leader to announce a halt to enrichment, even if temporary, before the Nov. 6th election, promising removal of some sanctions.
The source said the delegation warned that a Mitt Romney presidency would change the U.S. relationship with Iran regarding its nuclear program.
The U.S. representatives reminded the Iranians that President Obama has stood in front of Israel, preventing the Jewish state from attacking Iran over its illicit nuclear arms policy.
The Oct. 1st meeting, which took place in Doha, Qatar, was coordinated by the Qatar monarchy, whose members attended at the request of the Obama administration.
Ali Akbar Velayati, the former Iranian Foreign Minister and current close adviser to the Supreme Leader on international affairs, secretly traveled to Qatar for the meeting. Velayati is wanted by Argentina for the Jewish community center bombing in Buenos Aires in 1994 that killed 85 people.
More substance behind a possible Obama October surprise deal for a temporary halt in Iran’s nuclear enrichment program was implied in a coincidental New York Times report by David Sanger on a new plan floated by the Supreme Leader, “Iran Offers Plan, Dismissed by U.S., on Nuclear Crisis”:
With harsh economic sanctions contributing to the first major protests in Iran in three years, Iranian officials have begun to describe what they call a “nine-step plan” to defuse the nuclear crisis with the West by gradually suspending the production of the uranium that would be easiest for them to convert into a nuclear weapon.
But the plan requires so many concessions by the West, starting with the dismantling of all the sanctions that are blocking oil sales and setting off the collapse of the Iranian currency, that American officials have dismissed it as unworkable. Nonetheless, Iranian officials used their visit to the United Nations last week to attempt to drum up support, indicating that the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is finally feeling the pressure.
“Within the intelligence community, I think it’s fair to say that there is split opinion about whether the upper level of the regime is getting seriously worried,” one senior intelligence official said when asked why the Iranians appeared to be backing away from their earlier stand that nothing would stop them from producing more medium-enriched uranium, which can be turned into bomb fuel in a matter of months.
“He’s erratic, and we’ve seen him walk up to the edge of deals before and walk away,” the official said, referring to Ayatollah Khamenei.
The Iranian plan is based on a proposal made to European officials in July. It essentially calls for a step-by-step dismantling of the sanctions while the Iranians end work at one of two sites where they are enriching what is known as “20 percent uranium.” Only when the Iranians reach step No. 9 — after all the sanctions are gone and badly depressed oil revenues have begun to flow again — would there be a “suspension” of the medium-enriched uranium production at the deep underground site called Fordow.
Obama administration officials say the deal is intended to generate headlines, but would not guarantee that Iran cannot produce a weapon. “The way they have structured it, you can move the fuel around, and it stays inside the country,” a senior Obama administration official said. “They could restart the program in a nanosecond. They don’t have to answer any questions from the inspectors” about evidence that they conducted research on nuclear weapons technology, but nonetheless would insist on a statement from the agency that all issues have been resolved.
The scenario discussed here of an October surprise, meaning a back channel deal between the Obama Administration and the Supreme Leader, bespeaks of a dual strategy by the Obama Administration to shore up the Jewish vote, especially in Florida, and isolate Israeli PM Netanyahu’s demands for fixing red lines on Iran’s enrichment program.
However, the economic pressures building up from sanctions and other market factors coupled with protests by an alliance of labor unions and the merchant classes in Tehran and other major cities is not lost on Iran's Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guards, despite their bravado. In a WSJ report, "Iran Currency Woes Spark Rare Strike“one of the protest chants was "we do not want nuclear energy".
One New York Iran Expert, Roozbeh Mirebrahimi was quoted in the same WSJ article saying, "it's now about bread and butter in Iran, not just democracy and free speech, so it makes it much tougher for the regime to control the anger".
In our Iconoclast post, "Kahlili: Iranian Currency Plummets while Massive Protests Call for Regime Change", we focused on the protest dynamics and an update by Kahlili of his plan for regime change. This was discussed at length in our NER interview with him. We emphasized that the protests were as much about hunger as it was the collapse of the rial, Iran's currency. Kahlili’s prediction about large spread protests leading to regime change was captured in a WSJ article comment from an Iranian blogger, "given the regime's weak economic spot, any movement on our part could deliver a big blow." In the opinion of another source that could only happen if students poured into the streets, an act that triggered the failed Green Movement massive protests that followed the fraudulent June 2009 Iranian Presidential election.
Neither Bush nor Obama had made any substantive investment in fostering regime change in Iran. Hopefully Romney might refer to that initiative in his major Foreign Policy address at Virginia Military Institute on October 8th and in the final Presidential debate October 22nd on Foreign Policy.
The October 5th Wall Street Journal further reported on a possible softening of the red lines demands by Israeli PM Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Lieberman. This was in reaction to the tightening screws of the financial sanctions, fall in the value of the rial and significant drop in oil revenue, “Israel Alters Calculus on Tehran Due to Unrest”.
An Israeli official commented:
Everything has changed" since the outbreak of the demonstrations on Wednesday. You can't say now that the sanctions are having no impact at all. It is self-evident.
The WSJ noted:
On Thursday, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, known as a hard-liner on national security, said that Iran was seeing the first buds of a "Persian Spring," and that Israel has an interest in lobbying the international community to encourage regime change by bolstering internal opposition groups.
Last week, before the unrest broke out, Mr. Lieberman predicted the spread of Arab Spring like unrest in Iran.
"I have no doubt that the Iranian regime is approaching a critical moment,'' he said in an interview on Thursday with Israel Army Radio.”The big question is what will come first: the development of a nuclear weapon, or the Persian Spring…We have to be ready for both options.''
Israeli PM Netanyahu has announced his intention to campaign for re-election in February 2013, perhaps in furtherance of perfecting a possible military response. That is if current sanctions don’t result in Iran stopping nuclear enrichment and or crossing the red lines he graphically portrayed in his UN General Assembly address.
These Israeli comments also raise the question of whether it may have been perfecting its own means of assisting regime change in Iran. I'm reminded of a reaction from a knowledgeable source in Jerusalem about whether Israel was doing something along those lines. He angrily said, "Don’t ask that question ". I took that to mean that Israel may have given some green light to developing below the radar screen technical efforts to assist in regime change, especially on us of secure communications links for opposition groups. Given Israel's Farsi speaking Iranian Jewish population, Kol Israel's Farsi language radio service is beamed by satellite to Iran which many Iranians listen to. They also listen to Rita Jahanforuz, a Farsi speaking Iranian- born Israeli pop singer who is popular in Iran -see here. I have to believe that something could be developed to complement the scenario to assist the restive Iranian population in perfecting regime change. Israel is a satellite communications ‘super power’ with coverage across major markets in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Couple that with Israel’s cyber warfare and its Farsi language capabilities and it could provide the means to satisfy many of the technical communications requirements laid out in Kahlili’s regime change plan.
Reza Kahlili’s October surprise is a classic Persian chess gambit to confuse the real intentions of the Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guards in their inexorable progress towards achieving a nuclear weapons capability. Those Bazaar market protests this week in Tehran followed by further protests by unions and students might result in the ‘big blow’ to crack open the hated Islamic regime in Iran.