Archival Institute Interviews Clare Lopez

Archival Institute Interviews Clare Lopez

Introduction to Clare Lopez

Clare M. Lopez is a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on Middle East, national defense, WMD, and counterterrorism issues. Specific areas of expertise include Islam and Iran. Lopez began her career as an operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), serving domestically and abroad for 20 years in a variety of assignments, and acquiring extensive expertise in counterintelligence, counternarcotics, and counterproliferation issues with a career regional focus on the former Soviet Union, Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans. She has served in or visited over two dozen nations worldwide, and speaks several languages, including Spanish, Bulgarian, French, German, and Russian, and currently is studying Farsi.

Now a private consultant, Lopez also serves as Vice President of the non-profit forum, The Intelligence Summit, and is a Professor at the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies (CI Centre), where she teaches courses on the Iranian Intelligence Services, and the expanding influence of Jihad and Sharia in Europe and the U.S. She is affiliated on a consultant basis with DoD contractors that provide clandestine operations training to military intelligence personnel. Lopez was Executive Director of the Iran Policy Committee, a Washington, DC think tank, from 2005-2006. She has served as a Senior Scientific Researcher at the Battelle Memorial Institute; a Senior Intelligence Analyst, Subject Matter Expert, and Program Manager at HawkEye Systems, LLC.; and previously produced Technical Threat Assessments for U.S. Embassies at the Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, where she worked as a Senior Intelligence Analyst for Chugach Systems Integration.

Lopez received a B.A. in Communications and French from Notre Dame College of Ohio (NDC) and an M.A. in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. She completed Marine Corps Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Quantico, Virginia before declining a commission in order to join the CIA. Lopez is a member of the Board of Directors for the Institute of World Affairs and also serves on the Advisory Board for the Intelligence Analysis and Research program and as an occasional guest lecturer at her undergraduate alma mater, NDC. She has been a Visiting Researcher at Georgetown University and a guest lecturer on terrorism, national defense, international relations, and Iran there, at the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA, and the National Defense Intelligence College in Washington, D.C. Lopez is a regular contributor to print and broadcast media on subjects related to Iran, Islam, counterterrorism, and the Middle East and is the co-author of two published books on Iran.


Interview with Clare Lopez (former CIA) in Washington, D.C. 

Well, Amal was a collection of militias, Shiite militias in Lebanon in the early 1980s and it is out of Amal that Hezbollah was formed.  The groups that formed Hezbollah came from Amal. When the Iranians decided that they would use the vector of the Shiite population already there in Southern Lebanon to form a base of operations for the expansion of Iran’s own revolution they went and made contact with the Amal militias and it is out the Amal militias that Hezbollah was formed.

In the early 1980s as Iran expanded its influence into Southern Lebanon where the Shiite population was located primarily they began to work with some of the preexisting militias there like Amal.  It was the IRGC, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp and specifically the overseas terrorist liaison element of the IRGC, which is called the “Quds Force,” which established a presence there in Lebanon together with operatives from Iran’s intelligence services called the MOIS or Ministry of Intelligence and Security.  So they moved into Southern Lebanon and they began to shape these militias under the control of the Quds Force. They trained them, they armed them, they funded them, and out of that corp grew Hezbollah.

Okay, well probably the first big attack that Hezbollah is known for most notoriously I guess you might say was the 1983 actually series of attacks.  In 1983 Hezbollah attacked of course the Marine Corp barracks. It also attacked the U.S. Embassy, it attacked the French forces which were there at the time.

There was a peacekeeping element in Lebanon at the time under the aegis of the United Nations. As you probably – not as you probably know, nobody knows anything, [chuckles].  Three, two, one, there was a United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon at the time.  This is the midst of the terrible Lebanese civil war that ran from about 1975 until the Syrians invaded and took over in 1990.  So this period of time of the early 1980s is right in the middle of that civil war period when militias were fighting all over Lebanon.

So there was a peacekeeping unit assigned from the United Nations onto the United Nations responsibility in Lebanon at the time.  And there were elements from the United States, from France, and from other allies present. The French had a military barracks there.  The United Nations had a Marine Corp presence in Beirut in a barracks where they stayed. So what happened is that this was almost Hezbollah’s entry unto the world stage of terrorism if you will.  They mounted this attack against our Marine Corp barracks. 

Interview with Elise Auerbach

Interview with Elise Auerbach

Introduction to Elise Auerbach

Elise Auerbach is the Iran country specialist for Amnesty International USA (AIUSA). Since 1995 she has been an active member of AIUSA’s Middle East Coordination Group, which monitors the work done by Amnesty International USA in the Middle East. Earning her Ph.D. from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, Elise produces content focused on Iran used by Amnesty International activists and the public, a spokesperson for AIUSA on Iran, and having given many interviews to various outlets about Iran she works with Amnesty International staff and volunteers as well as partner organizations to organize events such as press conferences, rallies, and seminars, as well as to plan and carry out campaigns and other actions. She has worked on numerous asylum and refugee cases from Iran. She is currently the acting chair of the Amnesty International USA Country Specialist Refugee Casework Committee which oversees all the work done by AIUSA on behalf of asylum seekers and those contesting removal based on the provisions of CAT. 

Interview with Elise Auerbach |  Amnesty International in Chicago 

Okay.  Well, I have always been fascinated by the near East and my academic field was ancient near east.  So I went to graduate school at the University of Chicago and I was in the department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.  I got my Ph.D., uh, from that department and I actually studied, ya’ know, the ancient near east. I studied archaeology and I, I worked in several countries in the Middle East.  I worked in Turkey. I worked in Syria. I worked in Jordan. I worked in Israel. And all that time, um, ya’ know, Iran was, was closed off to Americans pretty much. Some of my professors, um, both in college and graduate school had actually worked in Iran, and, uh, but, ya’ know, Iran was – it was just not possible for Americans to do any kind of research in Iran when I was in graduate school, when I was in college and graduate school.  

So Iran always seemed like this fascinating, mysterious place.  And so, ya’ know, very inaccessible and, um, I’d always been curious about it.  I mean, I certainly studied Iranian history and Iranian archaeology, Iranian culture.  I’ve always loved Iranian film and Iranian literature and the Persian language and at the same time that I had been fascinated – I have this fascination with the near east, um, I also got involved with Amnesty International when I was a, ya’ know, graduate student at the University of Chicago.  I joined a group that was a combination local and student group, at the University of Chicago in the late 80’s. And actually at the time, um, my human rights interests were more, um, I was really very upset and horrified by our government’s involvement in human rights violations in Central America.  For instance, in Guatemala and El Salvador. Then I think it, it – for it was, um, the fact that our, ya’ know, the U.S. government was basically paying for, these horrible, ya’ know abuses by the Guatemalan and El Salvadoran military against their own people and so that’s why I got involved with Amnesty because I wanted to help do something about it.  And so I was involved with the student group for a while and then, ya’ know, as time went on, I wanted to become more involved, more active in Amnesty. 

Interview with Dr. Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones | History of Ancient Persia

Interview with Dr. Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones | History of Ancient Persia

Introduction to Dr. Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones

Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones is a senior lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Edinburgh and a specialist in the history and culture of ancient Iran, Greece, and Egypt. His research focuses on the history, culture, and society of Achaemenid Iran and of ancient Greek perceptions of Persia. Llewellyn-Jones’s interests reach into the royal court, monarchy and the Great King, royal women, the ancient Persian body, and the role of dress in Persian culture.

He received his Ph.D. and MA from the University of Wales and his BA from the University of Hull. His current research focuses on the image of the body of the Great King of Persia in Greek and Near Eastern sources, and on the role and semiotics of dress in the Persian Empire.

He has co-authored a volume entitled, Ctesias’ History of Persia: Tales of the Orient (2010) as well as a publication named King and Court in Ancient Persia (2013), a study of Persian court society and the role of the monarchy in ancient Near Eastern cultures.

Excerpt from Interview with Dr. Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones at the University of Edinburgh

Okay yep let’s do it.

Okay so just do a – okay so I’ll just do a general kind of chronological span of it.

This way?

Okay that’s alright.  Okay fine.

So the first Persian Empire was the biggest world empire the world had ever seen before the conquest of Alexander of Macedon.  To put in to kind of global perspective today it radiated from the center of Iran, so around the Fars area in Southwest Iran and it radiates right the way out to span an area which goes from the deserts of Libya, in North Africa, right away across to the borders of Pakistan and India.  From the bottom of the Nile in Ethiopia right he way up to Southern Russia. The biggest landmass empire the world had ever seen to that date. So this in itself is remarkable. It supersedes any vision of empire that the world had seen before that date; the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Assyrians.  These are all small fry compared with what the Persians put together as their world empire.

The remarkable thing is it runs harmoniously and effectively for around about 250 years.  Essentially from about 559 B.C.E. when we think that Cyrus the great, Kourosh, had the impetus to go from Central Iran first of all conquering Babylonia and Asia Minor right the way down to the time when Darius the III is defeated by Alexander of Macedon.

It runs so well because the empire, maintained at its heart in Central Iran, employs Satraps, so governors, to rule in different parts of the empire.  So there’s a central core government constantly in touch with the Satraps who are ruling in the name of the king. The Persians allow indigenous languages to flourish, indigenous cultures to flourish, and in fact what’s remarkable about the Achaemenids is that they draw constantly on all of these different traditions.

When you look at, say, Achaemenid art and architecture you will see that there is a blend of Mesopotamian, Egyptian styles, but put together in such a way as there is always something distinctly Persian about it.  I think this is part of the genius of what the Achaemenids were all about: Maintaining this vast empire but always being aware of the centrality of their own position; who they were as a people.

Now the empire expands and retracts, expands and retracts over these 250 years.  We see, first of all, – so we see first of all Cyrus establishing the empire. One of the big things he does is move his forces north, to the north of Iran, around the Hamadan area where he conquers the tribes of the Medes.  Then he moves, with this sphere of influence of the Medes once had, into Northern Iraq, into Anatolia, and this is where our Greek sources start talking about Cyrus. We have the fall of Sardis, the great city of Sardis, in the western part of Anatolia. 

Abbas Attar | Eyewitness Account of 1979 Islamic Revolution

Abbas Attar | Eyewitness Account of 1979 Islamic Revolution

Introducing Abbas Attar

The powerful testimony of Abbas Attar shows his personal account of conflicts witnessed and photographed of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the Islamicization of the regions of the Middle East and North Africa, and other conflicts involving religion, terrorism, revolution, and war. He is an Iranian photographer known for his photojournalism in Biafra, Vietnam and South Africa in the 1970s, and for his extensive essays on religions in later years. His most recent projects focus on the following religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism.

. . .

Interview with Abbas Attar

{Excerpt} Whoa, two cameras, you know bao chi, you know bao chi means in Vietnamese means journalist.  So this is in Vietnam this is the first thing we learned you know that if the Viet Cong took you say, raise your hand and say, “Bao chi,” means journalist you know.  So when I see two cameras pointed at me you know I’m tempted to say, “Bao chi.”

Well as you know I’m working on God.  I’ve been working on God for 35 years and done religions one after the other.  Of course after Iran I did Islam and after Islam I did Christianity, Paganism, Buddhism, I’ve just finished Hinduism.  

The first would be the last.  So I’m just started to work on Judaism and the concept is the same as the others.  You know basically I’ve traveled to countries you know and the photographs they come back, I edit, I write and that’s it.  You know photography is a simple business.

Allah O Akbar is the book I did on Islam on the resurgence of Islam.  I started in 1987 and it went onto 1993. Why? Because having covered the Iranian Revolution for two years and being really involved and not only involved but sometimes concerned I could see that the wave of religious passion raised by the Iranian Revolution this wave was not going to stop at the borders of Iran; it was obvious…

Interview with Alex Vatanka (Middle East Institute)

Interview with Alex Vatanka (Middle East Institute)

Introducing Alex Vantanka

He is an Adjunct  Scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington D.C. and as well as the U.S.-based Senior Middle East Analyst at HIS Jane’s. He currently lectures as a Senior Fellow in Middle East Studies at the U.S. Air Force Special Operations School (USAFSOS) at Hurlburt Field. Between 2001 and 2006, Vatanka served as the senior political analyst at Jane’s in London, where he mainly covered political developments in the Middle East. From 2006 to 2010, he became the managing editor of Jane’s Washington based Islamic Affairs Analyst and joined the Middle East Institute as a scholar.

Vatanka holds a BA in Political Science (Sheffield University) and MA in International Relations (Essex University) as well as a specialization in Middle Eastern affairs with particular focus on Iran. His forthcoming book entitled, Iran and Pakistan: Security, Diplomacy, and American Influence and is set to be published in June 2015.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Interview with Alex Vatanka (Middle East Institute) | Washington D.C. | 7 October 2014

So I was born in the Iranian year of 1354, which is equivalent to 1975, in the Iranian capital of Tehran and it turned out to be four years before the big revolution of 1979 that changed so much in my life and the lives of millions of other Iranians.  I lived in Iran ’til about early of 1986 and that’s when my parents decided that the Iran-Iraq War that was raging on at that time wasn’t gonna end anytime soon and they made a decision to send me away. And I ended up growing up in a small town in the West Coast of Jutland in Denmark, and from then I moved on to England and from then I moved on to the United States where I’ve lived for about a decade now.

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