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Cablegate: Alleged Iranian Snsc Debate On Saudi, Usg Issues

VZCZCXRO8152
OO RUEHDE
DE RUEHKB #0915/01 3290926
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 250926Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY BAKU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2071
INFO RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH IMMEDIATE 0038
RUEHYN/AMEMBASSY SANAA IMMEDIATE 0011
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHDE/IRAN RPO DUBAI IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BAKU 000915

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/22/2029
TAGS: PGOV PREL INRA SA YM AJ IR
SUBJECT: ALLEGED IRANIAN SNSC DEBATE ON SAUDI, USG ISSUES

REF: BAKU 909

Classified By: ACTING POL/ECON COUNSELOR SHANNON ROSS, FOR REASONS 1.4
(B) and (D)

Rising Saudi Tensions
----------------------

1. (S) On November 23, Baku Iran watcher held a follow-up
meeting with the Baku-based Iranian contact who provided the
information related reftel. At the meeting source provided
additional information concerning the alleged content of a
November meeting of the Iranian Supreme National Security
Council (SNSC), recent alleged bilateral incidents adding
fuel to the fire, and other issues supposedly flowing out of
a November 10 meeting of the Iranian Supreme National
Security Council (SNSC). Source reported that approximately
80 Iranians on a pilgrimage to Mecca were detained in Saudi
Arabia o/a November 20. The source said he did not know the
reason for the detention, but speculated that these were
indeed simply pilgrims, possibly with some kind of technical
documentation problems. He claimed that, as of November 24,
the Saudis have not deported, charged, or released the
detained Iranian "pilgrims." He claimed that that Tehran is
furious, but is attempting to resolve the issue quietly via
negotiation. He cited a XXXXXXXXXXXX working in the Haj Office in
Tehran as his source for much of this information, but said
it was confirmed by others.

Alleged Rock Throwing at Saudi Embassy
--------------------------------------

2. (S) As an example of concrete evidence backing his reftel
reporting, source related that on the afternoon of November
22 a crowd of about 200 Iranians, demonstrated in front of
the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and pelted it with stones. He
said that this incident has also not yet been reported in the
Iranian media, but may be later that day or the next. Note:
A google check after this interview did not turn up any
reports concerning this event; however an Embassy Baku FSN
subsequently related that Iranian government-run Press TV ran
a story on the Saudi Embassy incident on the night of
November 23, including some footage of students denouncing
alleged Saudi killing of Yemeni Sh'ia End Note.

Saudi UNGA Vote Angers Tehran
-----------------------------

3. (C) Source added that on November 20 Saudi Arabia voted
in favor of a UNGA Human Rights resolution critical of Iran.
He noted that this was the first time it has done so (in
previous years Saudi Arabia either abstained, or voted
"absent" on such resolutions), and claimed (citing
conversations with inside-the-beltway type Iranians) that the
Saudi vote was received with "shock and anger" by some in
Tehran.

More on Recent SNSC Deliberations
----------------------------------

4. (S) Source reiterated reftel claim that stepped-up
confrontation with Saudi Arabia was discussed at a meeting of
the Supreme Security Council of Iran on November 10. He
repeated that one option discussed at the meeting (attended
by President Ahmedinejad, Speaker Larijani, and about fifteen
others) was an Iranian "student seizure" of the Saudi
Embassy, but claimed that this option was put on hold for
now, due to strong opposition from some SNSC members,
including Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani.

5. (S) He related that some in favor of the deploying the
Embassy student occupation option argued that such an
incident would help galvanize youth support for the regime.
Apropos of this suggestion, source related that Ali Larijani
observed sarcastically (either during or after the meeting,
this was not clear) that "one experience occupying a foreign
embassy is enough - in fact we have not yet extricated
ourselves from the last (such) experience."

6. (S) Source again discussed the supposed "USG needs a war"
policy memorandum and discussion referenced reftel, which
allegedly called on preparation for American and/or Israeli
attacks and a stepped-up anti-America media campaign. He
said that recently announced military training exercises to
defend nuclear sites flows directly from this document,
adding that less-publicized Persian gulf naval exercises are
also pending and flow from the November 10 meeting, as does
an instruction to prepare options for attacking sites in
Israel. He said that the decision document was strongly
backed by Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the Chairman of the Security
Committee of the Milli Majlis. He described Boroujerdi as a
former Marxist activist (known to him personally as such
during their student days) who remains dogmatically
anti-capitalist and anti-American, and who regards Western
compromise overtures as "imperialistic tricks." Baku
contact said that Boroujerdi attends all SNSC meetings, and
is regarded by some (and portrays himself) as an expert on
understanding the U.S. and its goals.

7. (S/NF) FYI. The Baku contact provided more detailed
information on the alleged source of his information on
recent SNSC deliberations, as well as certain operational
facts about the Council. This sensitive information will be
provided septel. End FYI.

CIS Watch Group in Foreign Ministry
-----------------------------------

8. (S) Source noted that the SNSC sometimes turns to a
strategic unit headed by former Ambassador to Azerbaijan Ahad
Gazayi for expert advice on Russia and CIS issues (although
Gazayi does not attend SNSC meetings). He explained that
Gazayi, whom he has known since student days, now heads a CIS
coordination center or think tank within the Foreign
Ministry, which has branches in several Iranian Embassies in
CIS countries. He said that Gazayi travels frequently to CIS
countries, and at least once a month to Baku, where the main
branch office of his CIS analysis group is situated. He
remarked that Gazayi comes from a respected family in
Ardebil, and is personally courteous and rather liberal.

Information on Baku Source
--------------------------

9. (S) Baku Iran watcher has known this contact for over a
year. He was very helpful in networking with Iranians in
Iran after the election fiasco, including a figure connected
to the Rafsanjani clique. He also assisted a local Baku NGO
in organizing a successful tri-nation conference on Iranian
women's issues held in Istanbul last November, recruiting
many of the Iranian participants (some prominent). He was
formerly a journalist and magazine editor XXXXXXXXXXXX, and was
imprisoned for a year followed by judicial exile for his
cultural nationalism (although he considers himself 100
percent Iranian, and is no separatist or autonomist). As a
student he was Marxist anti-Shah organizer, though he says he
no longer believes in Marxism. Some of his contacts in his
disparate network result from these three experiences, e.g. a
Rafsanjani circle contact who was a prominent figure in the
National Religious (Melli Mazhabi) group was in prison with
him.

Comment
-------

10. (S) Baku contact identified the purported main source
for the alleged SNSC deliberation information. Specific data
on this and other sensitive details concerning supposed SNSC
operational practices will be conveyed septel. What can be
said in this cable is that the purported original source of
most of the above information is credibly in a position to
have access to the information provided. However, while our
strong impression is that the Baku contact genuinely believes
his information is accurate, Iran we cannot yet assess the
credibility of the information itself, or that the purported
original source of the information is indeed the real one.
End Comment.
LU

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