Senior adviser worked on secret Iranian government propaganda campaign.
In 2016, Ariane Tabatabai co-wrote an article arguing that the United States should ally with Iran against ISIS. The Iranian immigrant suggested the United States Air Force could “provide air cover for Iranian-backed militia” and “the US and Iran can share intelligence on targets”. Finally she warned that “excluding Iran, the region’s major Shia state, from the international coalition built to fight ISIS worsens the regional sectarian conflict, ultimately playing into ISIS’ hands.”
Tabatabai’s bio now describes her as the Chief of Staff to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict. Up from a Senior Advisor last year. The ASD(SO/LIC) office advises the Secretary of Defense on counterterrorism and it’s hard to think of a better place for a woman accused of being an Iran regime apologist to find herself in.
Almost as good as her former role representing the United States in the Iran negotiations.
In 2021, when the State Department had brought in Tabatabai as a senior adviser to the Office of the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, a congressional letter urged that her security clearance be pulled. The letter stated that Tabatabai “has echoed Iranian regime talking points and has made excuses for Iran’s oppressive government.
“Why would we hire someone… who has access and security clearance to some of the most sensitive and important issues there [and] who obviously has had a relationship with the administration in Iran?” Rep. Van Drew asked.
Biden’s State Department Spokesman Ned Price claimed that she “was thoroughly vetted and investigated before being granted the position. Any suggestion of security-related concerns about Dr. Tabatabai are baseless and illegitimate.” He fumed that, “we will not sit idly by as our employees—dedicated public servants—face personal smears and slander.”
Now a Semafor article by former Wall Street Journal chief correspondent Jay Solomon based on materials gathered by Iran International’s dissident media channel has revealed emails showing Tabatabai’s participation in a secret Iranian government to influence the United States.
In 2014, a year before Tabatabai began working as a NATO consultant, she joined an initiative by the Iranian Foreign Ministry to mobilize “Iranians who have established affiliations with the leading international think-tanks and academic institutions, mainly in Europe and the US.”
Tabatabai, along with Dina Esfandiary, her co-author on the proposal to have the United States ally with Iran, who is currently a senior Middle East advisor to George Soros’ Crisis Group, allegedly became members of the “core group” of Iran’s influence operation.
Before Tabatabai testified about the Iran Deal in Congress, she allegedly checked in with the head of an Iranian Foreign Ministry think tank. “I am scheduled to go to the Congress to give a talk about the nuclear program. I will bother you in the coming days,” she wrote.
In 2015, while Tabatabai was consulting for NATO, serving as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Kennedy’s Atom/International Security Program and teaching at Georgetown University, the Iranian government was bragging about her propaganda. Emails containing her articles were circulated from the Iranian Foreign Ministry operation all the way to Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
Ariane Tabatabai personally forwarded her propaganda articles, including one claiming that Iran really needs nuclear energy and doesn’t intend to use it as a weapon.
In one leaked message, Tabatabai emailed her handler her article, co-written again with Esfandiary, titled, “Meeting Iran’s nuclear fuel supply needs”. “Our goal was to show what is said in the West – that Iran does not need more than 1500 centrifuges – is wrong, and that Iran should not be expected to reduce the number of its centrifuges,” she allegedly told her handler.
Her handler then forwarded the email to Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif.
Before the Biden administration brought Tabatabai on board to negotiate with the Iranians, she was actually providing propaganda to bolster the nuclear arguments of Iran’s negotiators.
It’s unknown when Ariane Tabatabai stopped working with Iran’s government. Or if she ever did. The exact degree of entanglement is unclear, but Tabatabai asked for permission from her handlers before visiting or meeting foreigners which implies that she was working for Iran.
When Saudi Prince Turki al Faisal proposed having her visit Saudi Arabia, Tabatabai emailed her handler asking, “I would like to know your opinion; would you be interested in this?”
This is the language of an agent acting on behalf of an enemy nation and raises legal questions.
In 2018, she became a senior fellow at the liberal Center for a New American Security whose members typically staff incoming Democrat administrations. That same year she also joined RAND which acts as the think tank for the military. At that point it was virtually certain that the next Democrat administration would bring her into the State Department and on defense issues.
In 2021, Robert Malley, Biden’s Iran special envoy, currently under investigation for mishandling classified documents, who had turned over the negotiations to Iran lobbyists, brought Tabatabai into the negotiating team where she spent over a year before leaving over an undisclosed issue.
There were multiple red flags about her even before the release of the emails.
Iranian dissidents had repeatedly warned about her ties to the regime. And even her own article on Iran’s “counterterrorism” in which she claims that Iran is actually fighting against terrorists, draws on “several years of fieldwork in Iran, interviews with current and former officials”.
But the Biden administration chose to ignore those warnings and it has refused to address the emails, replying that it won’t comment on “purported leaked Iranian government documents.”
Even in the face of serious evidence that the State Department and the Department of Defense are employing an enemy government agent, the Biden administration is not backing down.
The speed with which Tabatabai, who had been living in Iran during the Ahmadinejad 2009 election, has been able to fully penetrate the highest echelons of our national defense in a little over a decade is a testament to the national security collapse within a disloyal bureaucracy.
Under the Obama administration allegiance to the Iran Deal came to matter more than allegiance to the United States. Anyone willing to argue, as Tabatabai was, that Iran was eager to make a deal and could be trusted to keep to its terms had a smooth glide path into the liberal defense establishment that was busy sidelining the ‘hawks’ skeptical of Iran’s intentions.
Churning out articles like “Why Regime Change in Iran Wouldn’t Work” and “Don’t Fear the Hard-Liners” didn’t make Ariane Tabatabai look like an Iranian government propagandist, but like an Obama administration propagandist. Even while the Obama administration was covertly investigating its political opponents for ties to Israel and Russia, it had so thoroughly blurred the lines that Iranian propagandists couldn’t be told apart from administration figures.
Robert Malley was the prototype of figures like Ariane Tabatabai and others who are not merely anti-American in the traditional leftist fashion, but appear to have outright foreign allegiances. The Left, like most extremist movements, is no longer capable of making such distinctions. And neither is a government whose foreign policy ranks are being populated by Iran Deal advocates.
Tabatabai’s elevation to Chief of Staff to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict show how deep the rot is in the Department of Defense. The DOD, entrusted with defending the nation, has allowed itself to be suborned into ignoring national security and its allegiances in order to do the bidding of the Biden administration.
Not just politics, but the most fundamental kind of national security, requires urgently cleaning house in the Pentagon. It’s either that or hand over control over our government to our enemies.
EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.