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Viewing cable 07IRANRPODUBAI18, IRAN ESCALATING TENSIONS TO DISTRACT FROM DOMESTIC WOES?

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07IRANRPODUBAI18 2007-04-02 11:11 2010-12-10 21:09 SECRET Iran RPO Dubai
VZCZCXRO1580
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK
DE RUEHDIR #0018 0921130
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 021130Z APR 07
FM IRAN RPO DUBAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0084
INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHDIR/IRAN RPO DUBAI PRIORITY 0077
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHDE/AMCONSUL DUBAI PRIORITY 0079
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 0048
RUEHAD/USDAO ABU DHABI TC
Monday, 02 April 2007, 11:30
S E C R E T IRAN RPO DUBAI 000018 
SIPDIS 
SIPDIS 
NEA/IR; LONDON FOR GAYLE; PARIS FOR WALLER; BERLIN FOR PAETZOLD; 
BAKU FOR HAUGEN 
EO 12958 DECL:  4/2/2017 
TAGS PGOV, ECON, MARR, IR 
SUBJECT: IRAN ESCALATING TENSIONS TO DISTRACT FROM DOMESTIC WOES? 
CLASSIFIED BY: Jillian Burns, Director, Iran Regional Presence Office - Dubai, Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (d)
1.(S) Summary. A long-time contact believes it is in the current Iranian government’s interest to start a military skirmish with the West to allow the government to exert far greater control over civil society, distract attention from economic woes, and silence Expediency Council head Rafsanjani. He believed the government was using the stand-off with the UK over the detained British sailors for this purpose. He also claimed that the Iranian government was restricting the spectrum of political views within policymaking circles. Many sides seem increasingly nervous about the danger of an accident sparking escalation. End summary
2.(S) A long-time contactXXXXXXXXXXXX claimed that it is in the current Iranian government’s interest to fuel a military confrontation with the West. A view shared by a number of IRPO interlocutors, he said that such a confrontation would allow the Iranian government to control civil society to the extent seen immediately following the 1979 revolution. A military row would also distract domestic focus away from current economic difficulties and unite the people, said the businessman. Furthermore, such a clash would silence criticism from Expediency Council head Rafsanjani.
3.(S) Along these lines, the contact saw the March 23 detention of the British sailors/marines as a deliberate attempt to push the West into greater conflict. He also believed the Iranians sought out British for this operation as a less risky stand-in for Americans, fearing a harsher reaction from the US.
4.(S) The contact also thought that breadth of viewpoints available to policymakers in Iran was constricting. For instance, he claimed that the type of political analyst who could understand the implication of an offer from Secretary Rice to sit at the negotiation table with Iranians has been sidelined in recent months. XXXXXXXXXXXX
5.(S) Comment. The idea that hardliners in Iran are seeking greater tensions to silence critics, unite the population, and divert attention away from economic and civil society concerns has been reported to IRPoffs by other contacts. While it is difficult to discern the truth of the claim, it certainly appears Iran is using its seizure of the British sailors to prove its “toughness,” after facing repeated “humiliations” on the international political front. On the other hand, it is likely that Iranians thought targeting British rather than Americans would temper the reaction. In any case, many seem increasingly nervous that a blunder on any side could accidentally spark a quick military escalation.
BURNS