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July 21, 2015

The Last Time Iran Negotiated in Vienna, Kurdish Leaders Died

Major news media outlets offered extensive coverage of U.S.-led nuclear negotiations over Iran's purported nuclear program leading to a signed "deal" on July 14, 2015. Yet, references to an earlier Iranian "negotiation" almost 26 years to that date and in the very same city were largely overlooked.

While the ultimate result of the nuclear talks lies in the future, Iran made its modus operandi clear on July 13, 1989. That's when agents of the Islamic Republic murdered three Kurdish government officials with whom they were meeting in the Austrian capital.

Writing at Commentary magazine’s Contentions blog ("Iran and the Murder in Vienna," July 13, 2015), American Enterprise Institute scholar Michael Rubin notes that summer "was a time of hope." Many "Iran watchers" predicted a more moderate Islamic Republic following the recent death of the regime’s founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei and the forthcoming ascension of the supposed "moderate" and "pragmatist" Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to the Iranian presidency. After the devastation wrought by the eight-year long Iran-Iraq War, "most Western diplomats," Rubin observes, "assessed that the Islamic Republic would focus on rebuilding itself" and turn away from the mass-murder, hostage-taking, and torture that had characterized the regime's actions since its founding in 1979.

The futility of such hopes were made apparent when Iranian negotiators assassinated their three Kurdish counterparts. The latter were the head of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDPI) in Iran, Abdol-Rahman Gassemlou; the KDPI representative in Europe; and an interpreter. The echoes of gunfire in the Viennese apartment building brought police to the scene—whereupon they promptly released the Iranian delegation of Iranian Kordestan Governor Mostafa Ajoudi, Amir Bozorgian, and Mohammad Ja'fari Sahraroudi. The trio went free under the condition that they make themselves available for further questioning.

Instead the delegation broke its word and returned to Iran. For his work in killing those deemed enemies by the theocratic regime, Sahraroudi was promoted to head of intelligence for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp's elite Quds [Jerusalem] Force—listed by the United States as a terrorist organization.

As Rubin notes: "The promotion — as well as the senior level of the Iranian delegation — showed that the assassination was no rogue operation. It was not locally conceived, but rather likely was directed from the top."

Near the top of the regime at the time was the then-head of the Supreme National Security Council, Hassan Rouhani. Rouhani, often described in Western media as a "moderate" or "pragmatist”—words with different meanings—was elected president of the Islamic Republic in 2013. This after he was first vetted and approved by Tehran's Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who had succeeded Khomeini.

Subsequent investigation by Austrian officials concluded that the shooting of the Kurdish officials was a planned hit, not a parlay gone awry and warrants were issued for the arrest of the three members of the Iranian delegation. Tehran, having already completed its objective in the negotiations, refused to extradite the trio.

The more things change the more they may well remain the same. This July 18, Khamenei gave a speech in which he promised the Iranian people that the nuclear agreement would not change Iranian policy towards "the arrogant U.S. government" or the regime's support for international terrorist groups and Shiite militias whose documented atrocities are fueling ISIS recruitment:

"The Islamic Republic of Iran will not give up support of its friends in the region--the oppressed people of Palestine, of Yemen, the Syrian and Iraqi governments, the oppressed people of Bahrain and sincere resistance fighters [such as U.S.-listed terror groups Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Hamas] in Lebanon and Palestine."

Such global aggression is in keeping with Khamenei’s 26-year rule. It was July 18, 1994 when Hezbollah—in league with its Iranian sponsors—bombed the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) building in Argentina, killing 85. Alberto Nisman, the Argentinean prosecutor investigating the crime and who reportedly had proof of involvement between Iran and Argentina, was found dead in mysterious circumstances on Jan. 18, 2015.

By the manner in which the mullahs celebrate anniversaries, we may have a glimpse into their future behavior.
For more on Iran's assassination of Kurdish officials in Vienna, Michael Rubin's article can be found here.—Sean Durns

Posted by ER at July 21, 2015 05:04 PM

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