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|Posted: Sat Oct 15, 2005 1:44 pm Post subject: SENSATIONAL REVELATIONS by Amir Taheri
by Amir Taheri
October 6, 2005
Reviewed by Amir Taheri, Special to Gulf News
This volume mainly deals with the KGB's operations in the Middle East.
The young girl is beautiful, and the Shah, receiving Iranian students during a visit to Paris, cannot but notice her.
The man who heads the office for Iranian students abroad pushes the girl forward, and sings her praises to pin the Shah down in front of her.
Love at first sight? Perhaps, not. But a few months later the student girl with a charming smile, marries the Shah, in a One Thousand and One ceremony, to become Empress Farah Pahlavi.
What neither the Shah nor Farah knew at the time was that their "chance encounter" had been carefully planned by the Soviet secret service, the KGB, through one of their "assets", an Iranian diplomat named Jahangir Tafazoli, who headed the Iranian students' office at the time.
The reason the KGB wanted Farah as a bride for the Shah was that one of her "close relatives", recruited by the KGB while a student in Paris, had claimed that the future Empress had "strong Communist sympathies".
This is one of the sensational revelations contained in The Mitrokhin Archive II. The book is based on KGB documents stolen by Vasili Mitrokhin, a Soviet intelligence analyst who defected to the British in 1992.
For more than 30 years Mitrokhin had the task of classifying KGB documents. After a few years, however, he formed a habit of keeping copies for himself, hiding them in his dacha near Moscow.
The first volume of the Mitrokhin Archive, described by the CIA as "the biggest ever hoard of secret documents from the USSR", was published a decade ago and dealt with KGB activities in the West.
It caused a sensation by exposing a large number of KGB agents, including high officials and fashionable intellectuals in Europe and North America.
This second volume deals with the KGB's operations in the Third World, especially the Middle East, and also contains plenty of revelations.
We learn that Wadi Haddad, the iconic figure of Palestinian resistance, had been on the KGB payroll almost from the beginning and would carry no operations without Moscow's green-light.
Haddad's recruitment was so important that Yuri Andropov, the KGB chief, personally wrote to Leonid Brezhnev, the Soviet leader, to give the news.
The KGB also recruited a brother of President Hafez Al Assad of Syria, giving him the codename of "Munzer", along with Sami Sharaf, one of Egyptian President Jamal Abdul Nasser's closest aides.
Another valuable "asset" was Hani Al Hassan, a Palestinian leader whom Yasser Arafat regarded as his "most trustworthy colleague". A full-time KGB agent, codenamed "Gidar", was planted next to Hassan.
The KGB's biggest successes were in Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. In most cases, would-be agents were tempted by money and women.
Some Communist leaders, like Syria's Khalid Bakdash and Nureddin Kianuri of the Iranian Tudeh (Masses) Party, were on the regular KGB payroll.
One fascinating part of the book deals with Iraq's deposed despot Saddam Hussain. Initially, Saddam was backed by the British. He, however, adored Joseph Stalin, the Soviet dictator, and tried to imitate his life.
That enabled the KGB to woo Saddam away from the British. One man who played a key role in all this was Yevgeny Primakov, the KGB's longest-serving agent in the Arab world.
The book contains too many revelations to be mentioned in a review. But its real value lies in two facts.
The first is that the documents show that by the mid-1970s the USSR had won the part of the Cold War being waged in the "developing world". Of the Arab countries only Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman and Morocco had managed to remain "clean" of KGB penetration at the highest levels.
The tide began to turn against the Soviets thanks to one man: Egypt's President Anwar Sadat who decided to switch to the American camp at a time that the Soviet side seemed to be winning.
Sadat's switch triggered a movement that didn't stop, even when his closest regional ally, the Shah, was overthrown by a coalition of Islamists and KGB-financed Communists.
The second fact to note is the contempt that senior Soviet leaders, especially Andrei Gromyko, Foreign Minister for 25 years, had for the developing nations. To Gromyko only one power mattered: the United States.
All other nations, and more especially the "Third World" ones, were pawns in a global chess played between Washington and Moscow. As a result Soviet policy in the Third World, including the creation and management of dozens of Communist parties, was left to the KGB.
The KGB played a rough game, using every dirty trick imaginable.
Some of the KGB's dirty tricks had more tragic consequences. False information planted in Damascus persuaded the Baath regime to execute upwards of 200 officers.
And in Iraq, Saddam Hussain killed an unknown number of people partly because of fake KGB information identifying them as British or American agents.
In all this the CIA, despite a budget 100 times higher than the KGB's, was worse than useless. The British secret service, known as SIS, however, is cited with admiration by Mitrokhin.
While the KGB was busy with dirty tricks in post-revolution Tehran, the British were busy recruiting Vladimir Kuzishkin ,the KGB's own head in the Iranian capital!
Oh, by the way, Farah soon disappointed the KGB by turning out to be "a passionate royalist". Mitrokhin's documents show that Farah's supposed pro-Communist sympathies in Paris had been nothing but juvenile aberrations.
Iranian author Amir Taheri was the editor-in-chief of Kayhan, one of the most prominent newspapers under the Shah. He now lives in exile in Europe and is a member of Benador Associates.
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Who Is Amir Taheri?
Amir Taheri was born in Iran and educated in Tehran, London and Paris.
From 1984 to 1987 he was editor-in-chief of Jeune Afrique, the French weekly specialising in Africa.
Between 1980 and 1984 he was Middle East editor for the London Sunday Times. He also wrote for the daily Times and contributed to The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, and the Daily Mail among other leading British publications.
Between 1972 and 1979 he was executive editor-in-chief of Kayhan, Iran's main daily newspaper.
He has been a columnist for the pan-Arab daily Asharq Alawsat and its sister daily Arab News since 1987.
Taheri has been a contributor to the International Herald Tribune since 1980. He has also written for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Newsday, and The Washington Post.
Between 1989 and 1995 Taheri was editorial writer for the German daily Die Welt. He has also written for other publications including Der Spiegel, Die Zeit and Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung in Germany, La Repubblica in Italy, L'Express, Politique Internationale and Le Nouvel Observateur in France, and El Mundo in Spain.
Currently he is a contributor to the German weekly Focus.
Taheri has published nine books some of which have been translated into 20 languages.
In 1988 Publishers' Weekly in New York chose his study of Islamist terrorism, "Holy Terror", as one of The Best Books of The Year. Another of his books "The Cauldron: The Middle East Behind The Headlines" has been used as a textbook in various colleges in Britain and Canada.
Taheri was member of the Board of Trustees of the Institute for International Political and Economic Studies (IIPES) from 1975 to 1980 and member of the Executive Board of the International Press Institute (IPI) from 1984 to 1992.
He is winner of several journalistic prizes.
Taheri is a commentator for CNN and is frequently interviewed by other media including the BBC and the RFI. He has written several TV documentaries dealing with various issues of the Muslim world.
He has interviewed many world leaders including Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and Clinton, King Faisal, Mikhail Gorbachev, President Sadat, Chou En-lai, Indira Gandhi, Chancellor Helmut Kohl etc.
Recent articles by Amir Taheri
IRAQ: CERTAINTIES AND DOUBTS Arab News October 15, 2005
DESPITE THEIR DIFFERENCES, MOST IRAQIS SPEAK IN ONE VOICE Gulf News 12/10/2005
AN ADVENTURE THAT CAN BACKFIRE Arab News October 8, 2005
SENSATIONAL REVELATIONS Gulf News 29/9/2005
TWO IRAQI CAMPS Jerusalem Post Sep. 29, 2005
EU SHOULD JUDGE TURKEY ON ITS MERITS Gulf News October 5, 2005
IN THE RED ZONE: A JOURNEY INTO THE SOUL OF IRAQ Asharq Al-Awsat October 3, 2005
ARE ARABS ANTI-AMERICAN? New York Post September 30, 2005
FLIGHT OF CAPITAL IS A WAKE-UP CALL FOR IRAN TO CHANGE ITS POLICIES Gulf News September 28, 2005
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