The Secret Dealings of Israel and Iran
This site is part of the NEAR
& MIDDLE EAST (NAHER & MITTLERER OSTEN)
- Reza Firouzbakht
Dec 10, 2007
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
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-à-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
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.
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 amazon.com
and more information is available at the book's own website, www.treacherousalliance.com.
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