The black letters against a blue background appearing at the top of this article spell out the word Baztab in Farsi. The word is written backwards, to draw the attention of Farsi-speakers to an extraordinary web site (accessible via gooya.com, click on News and then Baztab), the brainchild of Mohsen Rezai, former supreme commander of Islamic Iran’s fanatical Revolutionary Guards. DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence sources report that Rezai uses the site for two purposes:
To bring his political message to the millions of Iranians who have access to the Internet.
As a conduit for the real messages the Iranian leadership seeks to convey to Washington.
It’s a fascinating read – between the lines.
The web site’s sources in Iraq predict, for example, that America’s political and military situation there will only get worse, no matter what Washington thinks. It would not be surprising, the sources say, if the guerrilla war and Shiite insurgency escalated sharply toward late summer and up to the November presidential election. US forces could be looking at defeat, they warn, before going on to offer a glimmer of hope.
Should Washington be interested, Iran might be able to intervene on its behalf and help end the fighting. It all depends, of course, on the Bush administration’s willingness to strike a compromise over Iran’s nuclear program.
That was one of the web site’s open messages.
But DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence sources report that Rezai also embodies on the site messages hidden in a code he pre-arranged with US officials with whom he has been meeting for the past nine months. One meeting was held in Athens in the summer of 2003; several weeks ago, he met them again in Geneva with some new faces. The sessions in Greece and Switzerland went on for three to five days.
According to our sources, Rezai hammered home the news that he would ultimately replace Iranian president Mohammed Khatami and enjoyed backing of no less a personage than Hashemi Rafsanjani, supreme leader Ali Khamenei‘s closest adviser and arguably the most powerful figure in the country.
At the meetings and on his web site, Rezai stresses that Rafsanjani is keen not only on a political accommodation between Iran and the United States, but also on a direct understanding between the Khamenei regime and President George W. Bush’s Republican administration. DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Iranian sources report that, since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, Tehran has had a soft spot for the GOP. It is a fact that the American hostages seized in the US embassy after the revolution were not released to Jimmy Carter, the Democratic president, but only after the Republican Ronald Reagan was inaugurated on January 20, 1981.
The Bush administration, our sources say, is still pondering its response to all these feelers from Rezai and Rafsanjani.