A fascinating story is beginning to percolate among the international media of a high-level military defection from Iran to the United States.
According to both Iranian and Western news sources, retired Revolutionary Guard General and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Ali Reza Asgari disappeared in Turkey and is now “on his way” to the United States. This may mean “on his way” to U.S. handlers in Europe rather than actually to the U.S. some have acknowledged.
Iranian news sources imply that he has been abducted — while American, European, and Australian news sources are reporting that the general organized a well-planned defection in which he moved his family out of Iran before he disappeared.
Such a defection could be quite significant in better understanding the strengths and limitations of Iran’s nuclear and military interests. Most analysts who have begun to write about Asgari’s defection are focusing on what he can impart about Iran’s covert nuclear efforts.
I think that his value in understanding decision-making in Iran’s political system, the general intentions of Iran’s Supreme Leader, and a better understanding of the structure and activities of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Quds force probably outweighs what he can establish on real or illusory nuclear weapons programs.
Part of the reason why such a defection is so potentially important is that a key Iranian national security official such as this general could fill in a massive gap in American intelligence created when the CIA goofed and outed most of its “assets” inside Iran. After this mistake in electronic communications that allowed Iranian authorities to “roll up” America’s intelligence network inside Iran, we have essentially depended upon European, Israeli and Saudi intelligence capabilities.
This story is lurking out there — and not in the big press yet — but it is important. Let’s hope that those who debrief General Asgari and use the material generated do a better job than they did with Curveball.
— Steve Clemons