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The Secret Dealings of Israel and Iran  -  Reza Firouzbakht   -  Dec 10, 2007

ImageWashington DC - NIAC President Trita Parsi published a book on Israeli-Iranian relations earlier this fall. "Treacherous Alliance - The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the US" (Yale University Press, 2007) is the first book in more than 20 years to directly address the nature of the relations between Iran and the Jewish state. Many questions have arisen regarding the relationship between NIAC and the Parsi's book, and in order to shed light on this subject NIAC Board Member Reza Firouzbakht has conducted a brief interview with Parsi.

Firouzbakht: Congratulations on the publication of your book. It has received a lot of attention and in your interviews with the media you are often introduced both as President of NIAC and author of "Treacherous Alliance." What, if any, is the relationship between the book and NIAC?

Parsi: Thank you Reza. The short answer is none. There is no relationship. The book is based on my personal research and my PhD dissertation at Johns Hopkins SAIS under Professor Francis Fukuyama. The book was written completely independently from NIAC. The conclusions are my own and they have no bearing on NIAC.

Firouzbakht: What do your readers find to be the most surprising finding of your book?

Parsi: Iran and Israel have gone through remarkable changes in the past few decades. They have gone from being secret allies in the 1960s and 1970s, to being hostile on the surface while still secretly dealing with each other in the 1980s, to becoming strategic rivals in the 1990s. But I think the most surprising element in the book is to see the tremendous continuity that exists in Israeli and Iranian foreign policy vis--vis each other. It's really quite remarkable. And then of course, many are surprised by the detailed accounts of the secret dealings that have taken place between all three countries throughout these periods. Many of the revelations in the book have never been made public before.

Firouzbakht: What breakthrough is required to establish a sustainable balance of power between Iran-Israel-US?

Parsi: First of all, it is important to note that a peaceful solution is possible, precisely because of the fact that the Israeli-Iranian rivalry has strategic roots. Had the conflict been driven by ideological factors, then it would have been a zero-sum game that inevitably would lead to the victory of one over the other. But since the conflict is strategic in nature, win-win solutions are possible and it is resolvable. In essence, all three states need to grant the others a minimum level of recognition in order for any sustainable solution to be found. The US must recognize that Iran is a regional powerhouse and that a stable Middle East cannot be achieved without Iran. Israel must recognize that its policy of a strategic edge - the idea that Israel must maintain military hegemony over the region to secure its existence - is unnecessarily putting itself on collision course with states like Iran that have regional leadership aspirations. It is difficult to imagine Iran - under any leadership - accepting to live under Israeli military hegemony. And of course, Iran must accept that the US is the world's sole superpower and that the existence of Israel is a fact in the region.

Getting to this point won't be easy, of course. And it will be impossible to reach it without a tremendous amount of diplomacy. Unfortunately, neither Iranian, Israeli nor American foreign policy is currently characterized by diplomacy.

Firouzbakht: How did you get access to the officials in all three countries?

Parsi: I had a lot of help from my professors at SAIS and from Professor R K Ramazani at University of Virginia, considered to be the Dean of Iranian foreign policy. Through their help, I managed to interview several dozen of high-level Iranian decision-makers. Immediately after my stay in Iran, I travelled to Israel. And there, it was quite easy. All I needed to do was to write officials and tell them that I just recently returned from Iran where I conducted numerous interviews with Iranian officials about Israel. That doesn't happen too often in Israel anymore so virtually all doors were open for me. And I think this is the key strength of the book - it is based on more than 130 interviews with Israeli, Iranian and American decision-makers, revealing important details of the state of their relationship that has never been revealed before.

Firouzbakht: Where can NIAC members learn more about the book and purchase it?

Parsi: They can purchase the book at and more information is available at the book's own website,

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