Makan to Star in New Anti-Iran Film, Iranium

[cross-posted to Tikun Olam]

Elsewhere at, Elias Sajjaid writes a pointed critique of infighting in the Green Movement and activities by erstwhile Green supporters destined to discredit it.  One incident he focusses on is the recent “Green” audience with Israeli president Shimon Peres, featuring Caspian Makan, and facilitated by  Israeli-Iranian Meir Javedanfar.

Makan has gone even farther in his efforts to curry favor with the pro-Israel neocon crowd as you’ll read below:

Eli Clifton writes that Clarion Fund‘s new anti-Iran film is to be called (quite creatively) Iranium. I wrote about it a few weeks ago when news of it first surfaced. But now the Aish HaTorah-affiliated Clarion has a website for the film which reveals some interesting and damaging information. A review of the Interviewee page shows many of the usual pro-Israel Islamophobic neocon suspects like James Woolsey, Rachel Ehrenfeld, and Bernard Lewis. There is the requisite retired U.S. general.

Clarion lays out the purpose of the film clearly:

“‘The film will present a wide array of options to combat the threat and will target influential U.S. interest groups and policy makers. After viewing the film, the general public will be able to understand the critical nature of the threats and encourage a movement aimed at preventing the further advancement of the Iranian regime and its nuclear arsenal.'”

The italicized phrase clearly delineates the goal of the producers as rolling back Iran, which could easily be construed as regime change.  This is no surprise since it is a popular theme among Jewish neocons and their allies.  It is important when the Republican Jewish Coalition begins pimping this film come the fall election campaign, spending
millions of dollars on screenings at synagogues and ads in the Jewish Forward, etc. that anyone who considers writing a word about it know that there is a radical military-interventionist message inherent in this film.  And this message is heavily endorsed by Israel’s current right-wing government, which would like nothing more than to see the
U.S. either attack Iran or allow Israel to do so on its behalf.

Anyone who has followed Clarion’s previous propaganda ventures, Obsession and Third Jihad, will know that their M.O. is to co-opt a “native” to denounce “radical Islam” in the case of those two films, and Iran in the case of this one.  In the former case, it was rightist Republican Arizona cardiologist Zuhdi Jasser, who performed the requisite role of Muslim-bashing.

For Iranium, they have recruited a new “star” of the Green protest movement, Caspian Makan.  If you read his press clippings from publications as august as the Guardian, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this guy was Moussavi and Karroubi’s right-hand man.  Makan claims to have been Neda Soltan’s fiance (not true) and claims to have been with her in her final moments after being fatally shot during the June riots in Teheran (also untrue).  Makan will tell anyone who will listen of the terrible hardships he has suffered both as a heroic partisan of the Green movement and as a refugee who fled on an arduous trek through Kurdish Iran to Turkey and then to exile in Canada.

Last month, this impostor even got an audience (no doubt thanks to his connections with the Clarion folks–what a great coup for their film!) with Israeli President Shimon Peres.  Apparently, the president’s handlers didn’t do their due diligence on this fellow–or else they did and they found him too much of a hasbara gold mine to pass up.  You can read the propaganda clearly articulated in the Jerusalem Post’s dutiful patriotic stengography.

Iason Athanasiadis, has written the definitive expose of Makan, pointing out his tenuous relationship with facts and the truth.  Indeed, Athanasiadis published Makan’s first interview after he escaped from Iran.  As such, this journalist should be accorded some respect in light of his disavowal of the so-called Iranian dissident hero.

It is interesting that when Makan first arrived in the west he was Neda Soltan’s fiance.  Here is how he described her last day in the Guardian interview:

“On the day of her death, Caspian was out with his camera in another part of the city. ‘I was taking pictures of the protests and the protesters that day. It was hard to take pictures as the security guards were beating up protesters. I used my mobile’s camera when I couldn’t use my big camera. It was six to seven in the evening when I started seeing people get shot and injured. I thought of Neda a lot. I was very worried for her. I wanted to call her but the mobile phone system had been disconnected and I couldn’t contact her at all. I didn’t sleep that night. The terrible scenes were going through my head. I was sitting in front of my computer, looking at the photos I had taken. Around six in the morning my mobile rang. It was Neda’s number. But it wasn’t her. It was her sister. She said, ‘Caspian, Neda is gone!’ I didn’t understand what she meant. I couldn’t believe what she was telling me.'”

And here is his description of his imprisonment following her death. Note how it sounds like it comes right from the pages of a Victorian romantic novel:

“‘They told me they were taking me to Evin prison. They took me to a prison cell. Neda’s grave number was 32. The grave next to that was number 34, my cell’s number. I didn’t want to come back after they took me. I wanted them to kill me as well.'”

There was one small problem with all of this.  It wasn’t true, as described by the Turkey-based reporter:

“Makan launched into an account of Neda’s final days that was tragic and compelling. Unfortunately, it was also full of lies. The way he told it, Neda — a very politicized young woman — begged him to sally forward into the streets with his camera and document events. He dutifully did so, snapping extraordinary images of Revolutionary Guardsmen hanging off helicopters, mercilessly shooting into the demonstrators.

“Really?” I asked. “That’s funny, I never heard even a claim of helicopter-mounted snipers.”

“Yes, yes,” Makan assured me. “I would show you the evidence but the Islamic Republic confiscated all my archives.”

With Neda dead, Makan started giving interviews to international television channels, achieving the kind of international media profile he had always sought…Clutching a lock of Neda’s hair and a few pictures he snapped of her during their two-month acquaintance, he began a morbid international tour.”

His blurb at the Uranium site calls him “her close friend.”  This is closer to the truth of the matter:

“Not only was Makan not Neda’s fiance when she died, they were not even romantically linked anymore. Neda left him after a row they had and Caspian was allegedly seeing another girl, with whom he was spotted attending one of the post-election protest marches..”

Similarly, Athanasiadis notes that when he had first met Makan some years ago, the latter had claimed to be a photographer but none of the photographers the former queried who would know of his work had ever heard of him.  I note the Uranium site calls Makan “an Iranian documentary filmmaker.”  Dare we ask to see any of his “documentaries?” Is there even one?

The journalist describes Makan’s harrowing tale of privation during his trek to freedom, but then notes that the smugglers who took their lives in their hands to carry him to safety couldn’t stand the sight of him.  Apparently, he had the nerve to complain about the quality of the accommodations they provided him on his journey!

If the alleged Iranian dissident had a reason for leaving Iran it doesn’t appear to be the one he claims.  Rather, he had gone from being a regime-favored landscape photographer to being out of favor:

“As a landscape photographer, he had always depended on the Islamic Republic for commissions (the Ministry of Culture block-bought all 3,000 prints of his book of landscapes from the Caspian Sea, one of the regime’s method for rewarding docile artists). Now, he was out of favor and the Ministry of Culture did not return his calls. So Makan escaped to Turkey.”

Makan may have a burning passion, but it is not for Iranian democracy.  Rather it appears to be a passion for the good life and the fruits of success possible in the west:

“Makan’s Narcissus complex is clear from the photographs of himself that he posts on Facebook, wearing elaborate suits and ties, driving a Mercedes, or Karate Kid-like in martial arts poses…

Now, in interviews conducted inside gleaming TV studios, he looks smug as a bug in a rug in his brand new suit. Neda must be spinning in her grave.”

So much for Iranium’s token Iranian.  I’d say that, in a play on the film’s title that, rather than Iran being radioactive, their Iranian hero is.  It’s somehow fitting that Clarion has turned to a charlatan for affirmation of their anti-Iranian views, since those behind this film are charlatans as well, albeit political ones.

It’s also worth noting that the anti-Muslim right seems to have a special need to embrace such quisling frauds.  Aish HaTorah, with which Clarion is closely affiliated, has adopted another alleged Muslim convert to Judaism, a former druggie calling himself “Mark” (not his original name) Halawa.  I called him the Manchurian Muslim in the post I wrote about him

Another was Walid Shoebat, the pseudonym of a Palestinian who claimed to be a Muslim-born PLO terrorist who turned against terror, the PLO, and became a Christian evangelical.  Only problem, he was none of the things he claimed to be.

There is also another interesting character appearing in the film. Harold Rhode is a former colleague of Doug Feith and protegé of Bernard Lewis and Richard Perle.  He worked with Feith and Perle via the infamous Pentagon Office of Net Assessment, where he was responsible for plotting U.S. military strategy in the lead-up to the Iraq war.

He reaffirmed in an interview with the Jerusalem Post the standard lies of Cheney and other neocon warriors that Saddam was in bed with Al Qaeda and thought this was a more effective argument for war than Iraqi WMD (he at least was right on one of those counts).  Here is a sampling of Rhode’s sharp analysis of the Saddam-Al Qaeda connection and by extension all of Islam:

“He [Saddam] was clearly involved with these bastards, with al-Qaida and all sorts of other fundamentalists who are out to destroy the West.

Why should Saddam, a secular Sunni, get involved with al-Qaida? What was his motivation?

Let’s say say that everybody here is helping everybody else. I help you in ways that are good for you, and you help me in ways that are good for me. I have a money system that can transfer things; you use it. I need weapons transferred to someone that you have connections with. I’m not your leader, you’re not my leader. It’s mutual. They’re all on the same side here… Look, there were times the KGB and the CIA were on the same side and there are times right now that this country [Israel] and Saudi Arabia are on the same side – that’s until the day Iran is taken care of and then that will end.

If he’s secular, why did he write “Allahu akhbar” in his own blood on the flag, why did he supposedly have a Koran written in his blood? Why? I don’t know what secular means. Secular is a nice Western word. The best way you can put that in Arabic is la diniyah. La means no and diniyah is the law. That means you don’t fear God, you don’t fear judgment day. That means you can kill me or I can kill you and I’m not afraid of what God will say.”

I’m ashamed to say that this is a man once employed by the U.S. government as an expert on Islam and the Muslim world.  The fact that he’s starring in a new Clarion fund propaganda extravaganza doesn’t surprise me.  But that he was sitting in a Pentagon office charting U.S. war policy speaks volumes about our utter failure there during the Bush years.

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