Al-Qaeda And Iran? A Historical Deja Vu – OpEd


The means by which a modern empire such as the United States seeks to achieve its goals are often immersed in hypocrisy. Wars by deceit are, in fact, second nature to US government, with its history replete with numerous examples, including the sinking of U.S.S. Maine in Havana Harbor in 1898 that was instantly pinned on the Spanish “enemy” without any proof, or the infamous Gulf of Tonkin incident or, more recently, the “pretextual” invasion of Iraq, under the twin justification of an Iraqi WMD and also links to Al-Qaeda, both lame excuses for war.

Clearly, contrary to what Hegel and Marx wrote, major historical events tend to appear more than twice, although Marx is fairly on the mark that first they appear as a tragedy and subsequently as a (tragic) comedy. This is certainly the case with the new anti-Iran allegations that accompany the US’s release of tens of thousands of new documents from the “Bin Laden file,” although the CIA website supposedly releasing them continues to be plagued with “technical problems” and the said files are, in fact, as of this moment yet to be publicly released several days after their announcement.

But, thanks to the freedom of information act, a couple of right wing US outfits have supposedly managed to get hold of the crucial files — that depict a cozy Iran-Al Qaeda relationship. Chief among them is a typed Arabic text attributed to Al-Qaeda that has been used by the US media to hurl new accusations of terrorism against Iran at a crucial time when following Trump’s decertification of the Iran nuclear file the US Congress is working overtime to slap Iran with more punishing sanctions. The Al-Qaeda text goes into some details about occasional tensions with Iran as well as their supposed synergy vis-a-vis US power in the region, i.e., as a common enemy.

There is, of course, no way to ascertain the authenticity of this document and prove or disprove that it may have been fabricated in order to demonize Iran as part of a sophisticated public relations ploy. The timing of its release and the absence of corroboration by the US government, whose website is somehow malfunctioning, allows the matter to proceed as a fact for public and policy consumptions while keeping the government off the hook. But, given the facts that it takes several months to acquire anything of significance through the freedom of information act and the US has only very recently decided to release the above-mentioned documents, the question is what is behind the coordinated move with the two hawkish outfits that have released that text?

Inevitably, all this raises another important question: are we witnessing a historical deja vu, that is, the repetition of the Iraq invasion that, lest we forget, was rationalized by a forged UK document, adopted at face value by the US government at the time, falsely claiming that Saddam Hussain was in bed with the Al-Qaeda terrorists. Some US scholars, Laurie Mylroie, the author of Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein’s Unfinished War, were given free reign in the US media to spread the big lie under the veneer of scholastic research, and subsequently rewarded with well-paid academic positions, never to recant subsequently for their dutiful functions as accessories to a great historical war crime.

But, the uncritical embrace of the new “Bin Laden files” by a large portion of the mainstream US media clearly indicates that they have learned precious little from the past history and are quite apt to repeat the past mistake, that is, to allow themselves be manipulated by a new barrage of Iranophobic propaganda. Never mind the historical anomalies that might contradict them, such as the fact that Iran fully cooperated with the fall of Al-Qaeda-linked Taliban in 2001 and that is a matter of undisputed historical record, or the barely mentioned fact that Iran imprisoned a number of Al-Qaeda agents who fled to Iran, showing that Iran and Al-Qaeda were at cross-purposes and not in harmony.

Besides, as of this date the Saudi sponsors of Al-Qaeda continue to evade the US radar, for all the known reasons pertaining to US-Saudi strategic partnership. Indeed, what explains the fact that Saudi Arabia is not on the list of Muslim countries banned by Donald Trump, despite the fact that nearly all the 9/11 perpetrators were of Saudi origins? The right-wing Foundation for the Defense of Demoracies, presently fanning the flames of Iranophobia by its timely recourse to the “Bin Laden files” has, as expected, never been bothered by such known hypocrisies and ‘anomalies’ in US’s foreign policy.

In conclusion, while our final verdict on this matter must await the fixing of CIA’s website so that the much-talked about declassified files finally come to public limelight, nonetheless given the stated reasons cited above, there are plenty of reasons to be suspicious of yet another foul play that could, conceivably, be part of a more sinister jingoistic war plan, thus confirming our cynicism of a historical deja vu.

Kaveh L. Afrasiabi

Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, Ph.D. is an Iranian-American political scientist and author specializing in Iran’s foreign and nuclear affairs, and author of several books.

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