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Ambassador Bloomfield: the West’s misunderstandings about Iran

NCRI – Ambassador Lincoln P. Bloomfield Jr. gave an interview to the ‘Alliance for Public Awareness – Iranian Communities in Europe’, on the side-lines of the Free Iran rally on July 9 in Paris, in which he spoke about the fundamental misunderstandings by successive U.S. officials of both the Iranian regime and the Iranian Resistance.

Ambassador Bloomfield was U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs from 2001-2005, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs (1992-1993), Deputy Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs (1991-1992), and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (1988-1989).

The U.S., he said, was “illiterate” about the significance of June 20, 1981 when the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK) tried to uphold a “glorious outpouring of democracy,” and Khomeini’s theocrats “shot their way to power.” From the failure to appreciate the true meaning of this event have flowed a number of other misperceptions that are only now being corrected – although “the work goes on” to dispel “a global influence operation” by the regime’s Intelligence Ministry (MOIS).

For about two and a half years after the revolution, the PMOI used the little political openness that existed to spread their message and garner support. On June 20, 1981, a peaceful demonstration by half-a-million PMOI supporters in Tehran was turned into a bloodbath on the orders of Khomeini, and the PMOI were forced to go underground and begin a Resistance campaign to expose and unseat the Khomeini regime.

On the one hand, the US does not understand that the regime’s illegitimacy makes it behave in certain ways, and that factional fighting is best understood as a contest about how to maintain “one man’s religious dictatorship,” or velayat-e faqih, rather than about how to reform it. As such, President Obama’s hope that the nuclear deal would lead to détente with a moderating government was misplaced. The regime has not only “cheated” on the nuclear deal known as the JCPOA, but its domestic and international behaviour has worsened.

On the other hand, the US, like other Western countries, has approached the PMOI or MEK as a “diplomatic commodity,” restrictions upon its work for democracy traded with the Iranian regime in hopes of concessions. Referring to the eight-year investigation undertaken by the French which could find no evidence of terrorism, only resistance, Ambassador Bloomfield also spoke about his own research journey into the nature of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), of which the PMOI or MEK is a major part.

He described his growing realisation of “a global influence operation” by the regime’s Intelligence Ministry which had distorted the historical facts. Ambassador Bloomfield said that, caring so much about his government, it was important to him that “they have the right facts,” and his challenges to the Administration to prove his analysis incorrect have met with silence.

Speaking of his initial scepticism when he first heard the NCRI’s president-elect, Maryam Rajavi, describe the regime as “weak,” Ambassador Bloomfield referred to her “sharp political sense” in observing an Iranian government “split about how best to keep power for the regime.” It was the “paranoia” of illegitimacy which drove the factional debate and thus demonstrated the underlying weakness of the regime.

Regime change would not come from the outside, but from the Iranian people flowing with the global tide of those insisting that government should serve the people, he said. The West had to confront a regime which undermined it with terror, and “atone” for its ill-informed treatment of the Iranian Resistance.