Terry Keenan: Well, when it comes to Iraq, is Iran the number one enemy? My next guest says, yes. Alireza Jafarzadeh is the president of Strategic Policy Consulting and he is also a FOX News Foreign Affairs Analyst and welcome. Good to have you with us.
Alireza Jafarzadeh: Thank you very much, Terry.
Terry Keenan: You know we just heard congressman Nadler saying Iran isn’t the biggest impediment to the outcome in Iraq. You disagree, right?”
Alireza Jafarzadeh: I certainly do. I think Iran has all the cards in its hand. They have been working very hard in the past year and a half. There are some ten thousand clerics; Iraqi clerics who are on the regular payroll of Iran, thousands of others are being constantly paid by Iran. Some thirty media outlets, Iraqi media outlets –including radio, television, and newspapers– are being funded by Iran. Hundreds of mosques and religious centers have been built by Iran and they’ve appointed pro-Iran clerics, some of whom have lived in Iran for some twenty five years, fomenting violence and anti-Americanism and building support for the extremists, and the Iranian brand of government they want to see there, so clearly Iran is a threat both in the short term and also in the strategic, longer term.
Terry Keenan: If the Iranians are holding all the cards here, we certainly have been looking at their hand as you mentioned for the last twenty-five years, shouldn’t we have anticipated this outcome?
Alireza Jafarzadeh: Well that’s a very good question, Terry. I think this should’ve been anticipated. It was very obvious that Iran is going to emerge as the big bully in the region. Iran is definitely the bigger country. Iran’s population is three times as big as Iraq’s and four times bigger country than Iraq is. The biggest border of Iraq is with Iran, some 900 miles. Three quarters of the Iraqi population live within a hundred mile distance from the Iranian boarder. The majority of the populations are Shiites and Iran has had this desire for many years to establish an Islamic republic there, in Iraq. The whole Iran-Iraq war, for eight years was all about that as far as Iran was concerned. So, I think that should’ve been taken into serious consideration.
Terry Keenan: What happened to those millions of young Iranians that were going to push for democracy, there was a lot of focus on that until the last couple of years once we moved into Iraq.
Alireza Jafarzadeh: Well, I think you’ve touched on a very very important issue. Those young Iranians are there and they are, even more vocal, more active. Just last week the Iranian regime’s president was speaking before the students where he was heckled by the students. They called him a liar, they called for change in the regime and there are thousands of the Iranian opposition figures who are now in Iraq calling for regime change in Iran and I think that is one place the US should really focus. They are the weak point, the Achilles heal of the Iranian regime is its own opposition. The students and the opposition groups and that’s where the US and I think the Iraqi government need to focus if they want to counter Iran’s threat.
Terry Keenan: How does the US respond to this threat in a non-aggressive way through diplomacy? Is it possible?
Alireza Jafarzadeh: Well, certainly you have to go through that channel; definitely I think first president Bush spoke today, warning Iran and Syria against their meddling. I think that needs to be stepped up and that needs to be backed up with other statements from other officials to send a very strong signal to Iran that they need to stop they’re meddling. And also the very porous border between Iran and Iraq needs to be sealed off completely. Those agents of Iran who have been arrested need to be brought to justice to be tried and also the diplomatic representation of Iran, Their embassies need to be shut down unless Iran cleans its act.
Terry Keenan: Alright, a long laundry list for us thanks for joining us.
Alireza Jafarzadeh: Always a pleasure, Terry.