A view from the Princeton University in New Jersey, the United States

Why Do Iranian Dissidents Ask Princeton To Fire Mousavian?

Sunday, 03/10/2024

Opinion -- When Princeton University hired Hossein Mousavian in 2009, I believed he had defected from the Iranian regime, relocated to the United States, and aimed to work against it.

The passage of time, however, proved that I was mistaken. His intention was to continue serving a regime that had afforded him ample opportunities, enabling him to exert influence over two major newspapers, rise from a street activist to Iran’s ambassador in Germany, and subsequently become a chief negotiator in nuclear talks with the West.

Throughout his career, Mousavian has demonstrated unwavering loyalty to the Islamic Republic. From his tenure as a member of the Resalat Daily editorial board and his leadership role at Tehran Times to his diplomatic endeavors in Europe as Iran's top diplomat, he has consistently upheld the regime's interests. Even upon relocating to the US, his advocacy for the controversial JCPOA nuclear deal and defense of Iran's nuclear program as peaceful persisted.

Mohammad Javad Zarif attests to Mousavian's commitment to the regime, having entrusted him with representation at various European events during Zarif's tenure at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Zarif lauds Mousavian's adept defense of the regime's positions, acknowledging his efforts in international forums across America and Europe.

However, Mousavian has crafted various narratives portraying himself as a regime critic. One such claim involves being listed as a target for internal assassination in the 1990s, an assertion lacking substantiation or evidence. Lists of assassination targets from the 1990s, provided by reputable sources, notably exclude Mousavian's name, indicating a discrepancy in his narrative. I have personally seen two lists for assassinations in the 1990s (one list provided to me by Saeed Hajjarian, a high-ranking security official) and Mousavian was not on those lists. The internal terror project in that period was planned to be carried out inside the country and not in Europe.

Princeton University academic Hossein Mousavian

Terror-oriented ideology and discourse

During the 1980s, the regime's ideological priorities differed from its current agenda. Anti-semitism, nuclear armament, and Shia imperialism were not prominent; instead, the focus was on the Iran-Iraq war, domestic stability through terror tactics, and ideological rivalries within Islamist factions. Amidst escalating tensions and internal dissent, internal targeted killings emerged as a pivotal tool to safeguard the regime's survival.

Islamist terrorism, characterized by fatwas and militant recruitment, was instrumentalized by the regime to suppress dissent and eliminate opposition voices. This was a time when the war with Iraq was not going well and numerous opposition figures abroad were plotting the regime’s overthrow. Survival of the clerical rulers was the top priority. Mousavian, along with his counterparts at Resalat, played a pivotal role in legitimizing and normalizing this terror narrative, perpetuating a culture of fear and coercion within Iranian society.

Ali Khamenei had the same feeling of fragility in his first years in office and began killing intellectuals and political dissidents in the 1990s. Resalat did the same job to promote and normalize terror in this decade even when Mousavian was out. It was in its DNA.

Mousavian played a key role in the covering up of the Mykonos terror attack and denying Iran's role in this terror attack: "Personally I had more than 300 meetings with the [people in] the [German] Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the judiciary, the German Parliament, the Chancellor's office and even with the heads of the German media to show that the [Iranian] government had no role in the event.”

According to Parviz Dastmalchi, who witnessed the assassinations, Abolghasem Mesbahi, known as 'Witness C,' one of the founders of the IRI’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security, testified in February 1997 under oath before the German court regarding the role of Hossein Mousavian in the assassination of Kurdish leaders at the Mykonos restaurant: "Mr. Mousavian has participated in most of the assassinations committed in Europe."

Terrorism, as exemplified by Mousavian's actions, is a grave matter not to be trivialized. His cavalier attitude towards terrorizing American authorities, as evidenced by his gleeful recollection of Bryan Hook's wife's distress, underscores the severity of his involvement in Iran's state-sponsored terrorism. Such callous disregard for human life is reprehensible and underscores the urgent need for accountability.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily the views of Iran International - The author signed a petition to oust Mousavian from his Princeton position.

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