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How Saudi Arabia refused to allow mullahs to deceive the Iranian public

Amir Taheri documented a conversation between then-crown prince King Abdullah and Akbar Rafsanjani, who had plans to manipulate Iranians

Published: Updated:

A former editor-in-chief of the daily Iranian newspaper recently revealed a telling conversation between the late Saudi King Abdullah and former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on how Iran conspired to influence the Iranian general public.

In an op-ed published on Asharq al-Awsat, Editor-in-Chief of Kayhan newspaper from 1972 to 1979 Amir Taheri documented the conversation that ran between the two leaders that revealed how Iran planned to film a group of Iranians – suggested at no larger than 1000 persons – during Hajj demonstrating in favor of the mullas in order for it to be televised later in Iran.

“We’ll have people there to pray, say for half an hour or an hour, won’t give the news to any newspaper, the footage will be shown only in Iran. No loudspeakers,” Rafsanjani is quoted as saying.

Old tactics renewed

In recent days, Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Jawad Zarif toured a number of Latin American countries and reported that the Islamic Republic was now the leader of a new bloc of revolutionary powers.

“It didn’t matter that Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela didn’t have even two farthings to rub against each other. The Tehran Foreign Ministry’s Economic Director-General, a certain Mr. Haqbin, had the temerity to declare Zarif ‘a gift to mankind’ for ‘having created a new framework for global prosperity,’” Taheri wrote.

The Iranian veteran journalist warned the new tactics employed by the current regime mirrored the Iranian revolution’s early days.

Taheri’s point was that Tehran became the “master illusionist” in attempts to sway public opinion in their favor. He referenced how for two decades, Iran had tried to become a full member of the so-called Shanghai Group, an alliance led by Russia and China but that every year, its application is politely set aside. Despite all that, Iran would declare “great diplomatic victory” because of a promise to examine the application the following year.

“This year, President Hassan Rowhani, a disciple of Rasfanjani, tried the same trick aimed at deceiving the Saudis presumably with Khamenei’s consent. This time, however, the technique didn’t work,” Taheri concluded in his article.