When Israel/Neocons Favored Iran

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Exclusive: The modern history of U.S.-Israeli-Iranian relations dates back 35 years to a time of political intrigue when Israel’s Likud leaders and the Reagan administration’s neocons secretly worked to arm Iran’s radical regime, an inconvenient truth given today’s anti-Iran hysteria, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

After the July 14 agreement between six world powers and Iran to tightly constrain its nuclear program, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the U.S. Congress to overturn the deal and ratchet up the confrontation with Iran, which he calls an “existential threat” to Israel.

As part of Israel’s campaign to derail the agreement, Iran is portrayed as a reckless “rogue” regime with the madness dating back to 1979 when the Iranian revolution ousted the Shah of Iran and the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was overrun with scores of diplomatic personnel taken hostage and 52 of them held for 444 days.

Former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a leading neocon and proponent of the Iraq War. (Defense Department photo)

Former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a leading neocon and proponent of the Iraq War. (Defense Department photo)

But the lost history from that era included the fact that Israel’s Likud government of Menachem Begin moved quickly to reestablish secret ties with the “rogue” regime of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and became an important source for covert arms supplies to Iran after Iraq invaded Iran in September 1980.

It was not until the early 1990s — after the eight-year war with Iran-Iraq War was over and Iran’s budget for weapons purchases was depleted — when Israel began transforming Iran into its principal regional enemy. Similarly, American neoconservatives inside the Reagan administration sought to put U.S. policy in sync with Israel’s pro-Iranian tilt in 1981, but the neocons shifted — along with Israel — to transform Iran into a psychotic enemy during the 1990s.

I discovered documents at the Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, California, revealing that on July 21, 1981, just six months after Iran freed 52 Americans hostages at the same moment as President Reagan was being sworn in on Jan. 20, 1981, senior Reagan administration officials secretly endorsed third-party weapons sales to Iran.

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