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Setting the record straight on Jason Reza Jorjani’s “The Coming Persian War”
by Hossein Khorram
I briefly met Jason Reza Jorjani at the Asian Ball during the inaugural festivities on January 20, 2017. He was cordial and seemed reasonable, but as with many people one meets briefly at social functions, I knew nothing about him, his writings or his political activities.
He has since written a piece on his blog entitled, “The Coming Persian War” which contains some strange allegations concerning AMCD’s advisor, Dr. Walid Phares, who was also at the Asian ball that night and met Jorjani briefly after he shook his hand. Dr. Phares is a well-respected Middle East scholar who has written many books on the region and on Iran in particular. He has had no formal meeting the Jorjani as is implied in his article. I was there. Dr. Phares shook hundreds of hands at several balls throughout the evening.
Jorjani writes, “I met Walid Phares and discussed Iran policy with him. Later on, I wrote him a very substantive letter warning the Trump Administration not to go down the Pro-Saudi path that it has since chosen to pursue with respect to regime change in Iran.”
Dr. Phares did not have any meeting with Jorjani beyond this brief encounter, while he was greeting many other participants in the Asian Ball. He did not give Jorjani his contact information and has not received any letter from him.
Jorjani writes, “That Trump and Tillerson intend to pursue a war with this outcome was made clear in statements that Walid Phares volunteered to Fox News on October 13th during a preview and preliminary analysis of the President’s “Arabian Gulf” speech.
“When asked about the nature of the new Iran policy that the President was about to announce, Phares explained, ‘The Pasdaran, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, will be under the focus of [i.e. in the crosshairs of] our allies, and speaking of our allies, remember the President went to Riyadh. He met with 50 Arab and Muslim leaders. This is way different from what was the situation in the ‘90s. He has a much larger coalition. Even if the Europeans are going to be criticizing his position, he has a much larger bloc in the region to work with.’ The Fox News anchor fails to ask Phares why he is jumping all the way back to the 1990s rather than drawing a contrast with Obama’s Iran policy. What does a ‘larger coalition’ of Arab nations have to do with ‘the situation in the ‘90s’?
“Phares is referring to the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the coalition of Arab nations that George H. W. Bush formed to demolish Iraq. Saudi Arabia was the backbone of this coalition, as it will be the linchpin of the ‘much larger bloc’ of Sunni Arab states that Trump will lead in a war that shatters and devastates Iran. On Phares’ revealing analogy, the Revolutionary Guard’s forward positions in the Shiite crescent are akin to the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. The difference is that the entirely predictable reaction of the Islamic Republic of Iran to being bombarded by Saudi-based missiles and air force jets is going to be a massive retaliation against Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-Arab sheikhdoms in the Persian Gulf, which will require American and allied Arab forces to put boots on the ground in Iran (at least in support for ethnic separatists and other terrorists) whereas Bush Senior’s coalition never marched to Baghdad. It is also predictable that, if attacked, the Islamic Republic will use Hezbollah to unleash asymmetrical warfare inside the United States on a scale that makes 9/11 look like a firecracker. Certainly, at that point, Congress will be intimidated into authorizing a full-scale American occupation of Iran.”
Jorjani quoted Dr. Phares simply pointed out the newly forming Arab coalition along with Israel to contain Iranian expansion and counter jihadism within the Sunni world. It is quite the stretch for Jorjani to jump from that to all out warfare ending with a US occupation of Iran. Besides, Dr. Phares has published several books over three decades, including on Iran, the Middle East and terrorism. His literature is widely read and praised by experts. But that is not the only imaginative leap in this strange piece. He also claims he was introduced to Dr. Phares by Michael Bagley and that Bagley along a mysterious Mr. X were behind a convoluted plan to elevate Jorjani as head of the “alt-right.”
According to Mr. Bagley, he met Jorjani one time about two years ago and never mentioned Phares to him, at least in the way described. Jorjani, however, claims Bagley introduced him to Dr. Phares in the following extremely strange passage.
“I met with Michael months before the 2016 Presidential Election, again after Trump’s victory (which I was not surprised to see), as well as in the early days of the new administration. He would see President Trump on a regular basis, and he introduced me to others with even more access, including Walid Phares, who Michael described as the shadow Secretary of State. He said that Rex Tillerson was just supposed to be a front man, and that when I spoke to Walid I should assume that I am essentially speaking directly to President Trump.”[emphasis mine]
This is very odd. It goes without saying that Secretary Tillerson is the Secretary of State, period. Dr. Phares is a private citizen and has no secret access to President Trump.
The piece goes on to describe a strange series of events in which several shadowy individuals were supposed to set up Mr Jorjani as some sort of standard bearer for the alt-right by forming a corporation which would then subsume several other far-right organizations. I have no way to gage the accuracy of any of that, except the statement of Michael Bagley which is clearly at odds with Jorjani’s assertions.
Among Jorjani’s many odd claims is that “those of us in the Iranian opposition participating in private White House discussions regarding regime change had to fill out a form stating that we are Muslim.” As a prominent member of the Iranian opposition, I have visited the White House and have never seen such a form and I seriously doubt it exists. To my knowledge, Jorjani has never had any high level discussions with anyone at the White House.
In conclusion I wish to make very plain that Dr. Phares is a scholar, political centrist and foreign policy analyst with no ties whatsoever to the alt-right political movement, or the alt-left for that matter. He advises members of Congress and the European Parliament who are in the political center. It is unfortunate that Mr. Jorjani is trying to link himself to Dr. Phares to make himself seem as if he has access to the administration which he plainly does not have. I do respect Mr. Jorjani and wish him well. This post was meant simply to set the record straight on the fact as I know them.
First published at AMCD.
Hossein Khorram is a an Iranian-American businessman and Republican activist who has appeared many times on Voice of America and Iranian American media promoting democracy and the rule of law in Iran. He is a member of the board of AMCD.