Did Obama ignore plea for help from Iranian opposition in 2009?
posted at 10:25 am on February 28, 2012 by Ed Morrissey
Lost in the debate over whether the US should use military force to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons is the opportunity that arguably arose nearly three years ago to make the entire debate moot. When the mullahcracy that seeks the nukes in order to attack Israel rigged their presidential election even more clumsily than usual in order to return Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to office, Iranians poured out into the streets in protest for months. Curiously, Barack Obama made no public overtures for weeks to the opposition, and the White House at one point even confirmed the results of the rigged election. Later, when the opportunity passed, Obama and the White House insisted that the Iranian opposition never asked for help from the US.
Today, the Washington Examiner reports that the leaders of the Green Revolution did indeed ask Obama and the West to help them push out the mullahcracy:
Documents obtained by The Washington Examiner suggest the Obama administration missed at least one major opportunity to help opposition groups in Iran that has not previously been reported. In November 2009, leaders of the Green party, which had staged a revolt on the streets of Tehran in June of that year, sent a long memo through channels to the Obama administration that some analysts said was a clear call for help.
“So now, at this pivotal point in time, it is up to the countries of the free world to make up their mind,” states the opposition memo dated Nov. 30, 2009. “Will they continue on the track of wishful thinking and push every decision to the future until it is too late, or will they reward the brave people of Iran and simultaneously advance the Western interests and world peace.”
The eight-page memo describes the current regime under Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as a “brutal, apocalyptic theocratic dictatorship.”
The memo warns that Iran “with its apocalyptic constitution will never give up the atomic bomb, nor will it give up its terror network, because it needs these instruments to maintain its power and enhance its own economic and financial wealth.”
The administration claimed in 2009 that the Green party in Iran did not want American help. And the State Department repeated that this week. “Most leaders in the Green movement made clear they did not desire financial or other support from the United States,” a State Department senior official said. “As an organic movement, it was concerned that taking outside support would discredit it in the eyes of the Iranian people. We respect that and do not provide financial assistance to any political movement, party or faction in Iran.”
Michael Ledeen provides the context of the communication, which was prompted by back-channel contacts in Europe through Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer to the Greens in Iran:
They decided to try to secretly contact the Greens, and I have learned from persons with first-hand knowledge of the events that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received help from an old friend and Senate colleague, Senator Chuck Schumer. The New York senator knew a person — a distinguished Iranian-American with no history of political involvement, and with a reputation for impeccable honesty and morality — who had a way to contact the Green leaders.
According to a person familiar with the details of the process, Schumer’s acquaintance was asked to pass two questions to the Green leaders on behalf of the administration: The Greens were given to understand that the questions came from the secretary of state. The questions were: “What should we do? What should we NOT do?”
They were good questions, and they were passed through at least two persons, both known to me, one in the United States, the other in Europe. The person in Europe is well known and admired by the Greens, who now faced a very delicate problem. It was one of Obama’s problems in reverse: if any exchange between the Greens and the administration leaked out, the consequences might be very grave. On the other hand, it would not do to ignore such questions from such a source.
The reply is in the form of a lengthy memorandum, dated November 30, 2009.
The date of the reply suggests that the White House was too late in even asking the question. By November 2009, the Iranian mullahs and the Revolutionary Guard had forcefully put down the Green Revolution, changing the character of the regime from a veneer of theocracy into a full-fledged military tyranny. Even at the late date, though, the US could have demonstrated some leadership in backing the popular uprising and organizing pressure against the mullahs, especially in Europe, where that approach might have found more support than increasing sanctions. In any case, Ledeen makes clear that the Obama administration didn’t respond at all to the desperate plea from the Greens, who must have been nonplussed to find the Obama administration preferring to deal with the mullahs:
Of course, there is a scandal here. A terrible policy scandal. The Obama administration didn’t do — and still hasn’t done — anything to help the opposition in Iran. The Green Movement’s top leaders have been held in solitary confinement for more than a year. Thousands of dissidents, journalists, bloggers, and normal citizens have been imprisoned, tortured, and executed, and the dreadful repression continues apace, as does the terror war against us and our soldiers on the battlefield. The president has still not called for an end to the monstrous theocratic tyranny. Instead, he has catered to the needs of the evil regime, at the cost of American lives, our national security, and his personal legacy.
He should have listened to the Greens in 2009 when they asked rhetorically: “Will (the countries of the West) continue on the track of wishful thinking and push every decision to the future until it is too late?”
So far, he has done just that, and thereby become an accomplice to evil.
Obama had no hesitation in demanding the ouster of nominal ally Hosni Mubarak just eight days after protests erupted in Egypt. He still hasn’t demanded the ouster of the mullahs of Iran.