last updated: September 24, 2012
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Réalité-EU is a UK-based policy group reportedly tied to the U.S. “Israel Lobby” that promotes aggressive European policies toward Iran and other extremist “threats” in the Middle East. The organization bills itself as “a resource centre for journalists, decision makers and analysts offering up-to-date analysis of issues pertaining to Iran's nuclear programme and support of terrorism.” It was previously affiliated with the group International Media Intelligence Analysis, which dissolved in April 2009.
The group’s preferred medium are “backgrounders,” which are posted to its website. These are overwhelmingly concerned with the activities of Iran and its allies. Subjects of interest include Iran’s human rights record, its relations with other countries, and its alleged nuclear weapons program. An August 2012 entry, for example, declared that the latest IAEA reports prove that “Iran has no intention to accede to the demands of the United Nations (UN) regarding its nuclear program. … It is not a good sign for those who hope and work for a peaceful resolution of the issue.” Another entry from February 2012 concluded that “Iran is gradually moving closer to a nuclear capability,” suggesting that the time for a “non-violent resolution” to the Iranian nuclear saga was “growing shorter by the minute.”
The Réalité-EU website also features a number of longer analytical and opinion pieces called “insights,” which cover much of the same ground as the backgrounders. In various entries, the group’s scholars call for sanctions on Iran, declare the unacceptability of a nuclear Iran, and raise alarms about Iran’s diplomatic and economic outreach in places like Latin America.
The organization lists nine “expert sources” on its website. The list includes Kuwaiti government adviser Sami Alfaraj, former U.S. disarmament official Mark Fitzpatrick, Colombian security consultant Roman Ortiz, and Lebanese-born writer George Chaya, as well as several European-based scholars, including Bruno Tetrais, Frédéric Encel, Claude Moniquet, Matthias Küntzel, Victor Mizin, Emanuelle Vesely, and Kate Henriques.
“Israel Lobby” Links
Réalité EU appears to be linked to the U.S. “Israel Lobby.” In 2010 and 2011, investigations by the progressive blogs LobeLog and Think Progress reported on evidence suggesting that Réalité-EU was linked with the U.S.-based Israel Project, a neoconservative-leaning, “pro-Israel” lobbying group led by AIPAC veteran Josh Block and “advised” by a host of legislators, including Sens. Joe Lieberman and Mark Kirk.
In July 2011, Think Progress discovered that Réalité-EU had received a $250,000 grant from the Marcus Foundation that was funneled through TIP. When queried by the blog’s reporters, a spokesperson for the supposedly London-based Réalité-EU turned out to be based in Washington and refused to say whether she worked out of the TIP office. A receptionist at TIP gave mixed responses to further queries.
Although both groups emphasize the alleged Iranian nuclear threat, TIP focuses more explicitly on Israel while, according to Think Progress, “Réalité-EU has never presented itself as a pro-Israel organization or publicly associated with pro-Israel organizations like TIP.” Former TIP president Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi has reportedly donated some $25,000 to the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies, whose scholars have advocated a number of hawkish U.S. policies toward Iran.
Earlier, in January 2011, LobeLog reported that the Réalité-EU domain name had been registered by Mizrahi under the auspices of TIP, and that the two groups seemed to share server space and even a voice mailbox. Although the organization’s website provided UK phone and fax numbers as of mid-2012, during his 2011 investigation journalist Eli Clifton could find no record of Réalité-EU being registered as a legal entity in the UK, where it is supposedly based. He concluded that “there is strikingly little evidence to suggest that Réalité has much of a connection to London or Europe, where it seeks to inform European policymakers and journalists about ‘developments in and around the Middle East which pose a threat to Europe and beyond.’” Clifton suggested that Réalité-EU’s undisclosed ties to TIP raise questions about “whose interests the organization is representing.”
As of the fall of 2012, Réalité-EU’s website no longer listed a contact address, although it did provide a UK phone number.
Réalité EU gained widespread attention in mid-2007 when it published a “backgrounder” entitled “Ahmadinejad in His Own Words,” a compilation of inflammatory and outrageous statements made by the Iranian president. Reposted on a number of rightist websites like TownHall.com, the backgrounder cited quotes from Ahmadinejad including: "We don't shy away from declaring that Islam is ready to rule the world”; "Our revolution's main mission is to pave the way for the reappearance of the Twelfth Imam, the Mahdi"; “Soon Islam will become the dominating force in the world, occupying first place in the number of followers amongst all other religions”; and “Is there a craft more beautiful, more sublime, more divine, than the craft of giving yourself to martyrdom and becoming holy? Do not doubt, Allah will prevail, and Islam will conquer mountain tops of the entire world.”
According to the document, Réalité EU complied the quotations to pressure the European Parliament ahead of a conference on Iran: “In light of the conference on Iran taking place in the European Parliament on Wednesday July 4 2007 the following quotes by The Islamic Republic of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may be of interest,” it read. It bid readers to visit Réalité EU’s website for “further information about Iran’s well documented human rights abuses, its role as a major state sponsor of terrorism and its defiant stance on the international community’s insistence that the nation suspends its uranium enrichment program.”
On May 9, 2007, Réalité EU organized a conference in Vienna called “Who’s Fueling Who?” in response to a planned Austria-Iran natural gas deal. Matthias Küntzel presented a paper entitled “Has Austria Accepted the Mullah’s Bomb?” in which he expressed outrage over the deal and concern over the consequences. “Austria seems to have fallen prey to the illusion that a nuclear Iran would have no impact on Europe. But there could be no bigger mistake. An Iran with nuclear weapons would be a nightmare not only for Israel, but also for Europe itself,” Küntzel wrote. “If Iran were to develop nuclear weapons, the whole of the Middle East would go nuclear too."
Küntzel added, “The specific danger presented by the Iranian bomb, however, stems from the unique ideological atmosphere in which it would come into being: a mixture of death-wish and weapons-grade uranium, of Holocaust denial and High-Tech, of fantasies of world domination and missile research, of Shiite messianism and plutonium. There are other dictatorships in the world. But in Iran the fantasy-worlds of antisemitism and a sense of religious mission are combined with technological megalomania and the physics of mass destruction. Today, we again face a danger that first appeared on the horizon 70 years ago: the danger of a kind of ‘Adolf Hitler’ with nuclear weapons.”
Also in May 2007, Claude Moniquet presented an analysis to a meeting at the London House of Commons entitled “Iranian Sponsored Terrorism in Europe.” In it, he asked whether there is “any real threat of a wave of terrorist attacks sponsored by Iran, in Europe or in the United States, if a military operation is decided to solve the problem of the Iranian nuclear program?” The answer, he concluded, is yes.
According to the Associated Press: "‘We have serious signals that something is under preparation in Europe,’ Moniquet said, though he did not present any evidence to the meeting. ‘Iranian intelligence is working extremely hard to prepare its people and to prepare actions.’ … Iran appeared to be preparing to target ‘British citizens on the streets of London, just as they kill British soldiers in the south of Iraq,’ Moniquet said.”
In October 2007, Réalité EU published a feature analysis from Peter Zimmerman, a professor of science and security studies at King’s College London who previously served as the chief scientist of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Titled “Change Tack on Iran,” the piece highlighted the many ways by which Tehran had stifled investigation into its nuclear fuels program, though it cautioned against abandoning the diplomatic track. Zimmerman concluded: “American hawks and neocons are reputedly putting pressure on the Bush administration to talk tougher and to plan military strikes. While the military option must remain on the horizon, it would be an error to make the threat explicit right now. The advances in Iran’s nuclear programme mean that vigorous diplomacy backed by credible sanctions must aim at removing the completed centrifuges. This will buy some time, and sometimes delay is equivalent to denial, especially if it allows time for the Islamic Republic to abandon its nuclear programme and its hostility to its neighbours.”