Is she a spy? Is she secretly helping the Iranians? Are the Iranians sending her their talking points? Who exactly is Ariane Tabatabai, the chief of staff to the Assistant Secretary of Defense?
Sen. Dan Sullivan, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, joined 30 other Senate Republican colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin demanding a full accounting of actions taken by a senior Pentagon official who has close links to the Iranian government.
Just two weeks ago the Biden Administration negotiated the release of five American prisoners, and the deal included billions of dollars to the officially designated terror state with a military that has been responsible for the killing and wounding of thousands of Americans.
Tabatabai, the chief of staff to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict, is being reported as having been engaged in an Iranian government-linked initiative to bolster the Iranian government’s image and reinforce Tehran’s national security views. It’s all detailed in an article at Semafor.com.
Leaked emails show Tabatabai looking to the Iranian government for input on her speaking engagements and offering to consult with the Iranian government on a congressional briefing that she was invited to give. In other words, Tehran was coaching her, at her request.
The senators called it “unconscionable” that Tabatabai has a sensitive national defense-related position and they called for the immediate suspension of her security clearance.
“Iran continues to threaten U.S. military personnel in the Middle East and remains intent on assassinating American citizens here in the United States. Given these facts, we find it simply unconscionable that a senior Department official would continue to hold a sensitive position despite her alleged participation in an Iranian government information operation,” the Senators wrote. “While we note that Assistant Secretary of Defense for SOLIC Christopher Maier, who is Ms. Tabatabai’s current supervisor, testified before the House on Thursday that the Department is ‘actively looking into whether all law and policy was properly followed in granting my chief of staff top secret special compartmented information,’ we urge you to suspend Ms. Tabatabai’s security clearance immediately pending further review, as the State Department did with her former supervisor, Robert Malley.”
According to her official biography, Tabatabai was a Middle East Fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund of the U.S. and an adjunct senior research scholar at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs .
She is also a Truman national security fellow and a Council on Foreign Relations term member. She was an associate political scientist at the RAND Corporation, the director of curriculum and a visiting assistant professor of security studies at the Georgetown University Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, and an international civilian consultant for NATO.
Tabatabai was a post-doctoral fellow in the International Security Program and a Stanton nuclear security fellow in the International Security Program and the Project on Managing the Atom at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs where she was also an associate.
She is the author of “No Conquest, No Defeat — Iran’s National Security Strategy” (Oxford University Press) and the co-author of “Triple Axis: Iran’s Relations With Russia and China (I.B.Tauris).”
She has published widely in academic, policy, and mainstream outlets, including International Security, the Journal of Strategic Studies, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, and Foreign Policy. Tabatabai holds a Ph.D. in war studies from King’s College London and is a native French and Persian speaker.