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The Nafisi letter
Is Rasool Nafisi advising the NeoCons?


October 15, 2006

I am still attempting to understand what the central point of Rasool Nafisi's "The Khomeini Letter" exactly is. His references to “this most critical issue” goes back and forth from the focus of “western media attention” on the nuclear reference in Khomeini’s letter recently published by Rafsanjani, on to trying to establish the differences of opinions within the ruling class in Iran and ending with an almost regretful mention of the “delay” this may all cause in “Washington’s ability to influence Iran’s internal debates”. That last part made me look again to make sure it wasn’t Azar Nafisi who wrote it instead of Rasool.

For starters, perhaps it would have helped if Mr. Nafisi had attempted a better translation of the section of the letter his first part of the article is focused on. The actual text attributed to Mohsen Rezaei (Former head of the Revolutionary Corps) in Farsi reads:

Rasool Nafisi does a decent job of translating the text, except for dropping a small sentence and changing one key word that could change the meaning or at least the context it was included. Most would translate the text as:

"We will have no victories over the next five years. It is possible that we may gain the ability to conduct effective strikes or counter-attacks by utilizing the tools we will collect over these five years and at the end of 1371 (1992), if we have 350 brigades of infantry, 2500 tanks, 3000 canons, 300 fighter jets, 300 helicopters and the ability to produce a significant amount of laser and atomic weapons which will be the necessary tools of war by then, it could be said that with blessing of god we could have offensive operations.”

Nafisi drops the sentence about “by end of 1992” and then uses “nowadays” instead of “by then” in describing what Rezaei saw in 1988 as the necessities of an upcoming future war, making it something they saw necessary at the time to obtain.
This small but significant difference plays very nicely into the hands of those who are desperately attempting to prove an intention to build military capabilities for Iran’s nuclear program. After all, if the top IRI leaders were discussing obtaining nuclear weapons as items that “are nowadays among the necessities of modern warfare” in 1988, then they must have continuously pursued that goal to this day.

Of course, the “western media” that are supposedly so focused on that sentence are missing the greater threat so clearly demonstrated in those lines and that refers to the obvious campaign to obtain “laser weapons” as well. Yes, I am being sarcastic as I think including lasers next to atomic is a good demonstration of the nature of the conversation that must’ve taken place; making everything far more dangerous, bigger and uglier than necessary to make a point.

I am not suggesting Nafisi changes the text to make that point, but by not carefully translating the text, he contributes to establishing a tale as fact. Something most respected intellectuals should be extra cautious of.

The rest of the piece is further confusing. Is the author sincerely trying to make “Washington” be better aware of the conditions in Iran in order to “influence” it more rapidly and effectively? Otherwise, why bother? By now everyone knows those in charge of the White House don’t really care a whole lot about facts or the truth. They will change the information to suit their agenda as has been demonstrated aptly since September of 2001 and whether they really understand what the actual “internal debates” in Iran is, not many would assume that they even care.

If it is in fact this foreign influence that is sought by such reasoning, then author is correct in misrepresenting that first quote and then offering yet another piece in paving the way to justify another illegal and immoral foreign influence of the west in our home region.

For all of our sakes, let us hope that is not the case. Comment

Pedram Moallemian is a Canadian-Iranian activist, writer and blogger currently based in California. A former political prisoner of the current Iranian government, he blogs at and his first book on 1979 Iranian revolution will be published soon.


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