An Iranian-born Pentagon aide, who was revealed to be part of a Tehran-backed influence operation, also sought to undermine the leading group resisting Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to a new report delivered to President Biden. Despite this bombshell revelation, Ariane Tabatabai has managed to retain her security clearance and position as chief of staff to the Pentagon’s assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict.
— James Marcello (@JamesMarcello6) November 13, 2023
Tabatabai and founding members of the Iran Experts Initiative were involved in a “covert campaign” to smear the nation’s leading opposition group, known as the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), according to a recent report endorsed by former vice presidential national security adviser Lincoln Bloomfield and written by a University of Baltimore professor.
The report, delivered to Biden, emphasizes the alleged espionage effort by Tabatabai and her associates. It also highlights the endorsement of the findings by a former member of the European Parliament, Alejo Vidal-Quadras Roca, who was recently targeted in an attack in Madrid, which the report suggests may have been linked to the Iranian regime.
Tabatabai and other academics corresponded with the head of a think tank tied to Iran’s Foreign Ministry, advocating for the Obama administration to sign the nuclear deal with Tehran. The report argues that this initiative aimed to discredit the opinions of the regime’s democratic opponents and discourage a shift in the U.S. government toward a realistic regime change policy in Iran.
In her role as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies, Tabatabai reportedly sought to reiterate the Iranian regime’s narrative and downplay signs of discontent and reform efforts within Iran. The report quotes her as saying, “If you go back to 2009, and then later in 2012, and then 2017 and 2018, people have been predicting that the Islamic Republic will collapse.”
Tabatabai briefly worked at the start of the Biden administration for then-Iran special envoy Robert Malley, who is currently under FBI investigation for alleged mishandling of classified information. This problematic association has raised concerns about the extent of both individuals’ ties to Tehran.
Despite calls from Republican lawmakers, including House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer and Sen. Roger Wicker, for the revocation of Tabatabai’s security clearance and an investigation into her regime ties, the Defense Department has stood by her hiring, citing “appropriate laws and policies” and regular security clearance reviews.
The report raises serious questions about Tabatabai’s loyalty to the United States and her influence within the Pentagon. It underscores the importance of safeguarding against foreign interference and the need for thorough scrutiny of individuals in sensitive national security positions.