Erfan Qaneeifard, Researcher or an Agent of Iranian Intelligence?


Erfan Qaneeifard with the Former Revolutionary Guard Commander, Mohsen Rezaei who is alleged to have had a role in the assassination of dissidents abroad including Dr. A. R. Ghassemlou

Qaneeifard makes a great effort to convince his audience that Dr. Abdul-Rahman Qasemlou, the Secretary General of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran, was not assassinated by the IRI’s terrorist squats, but he was killed as a result of an internal quarrel in his party

The Kurdish Globe
By Arvin Puyan-Toronto

Saturday, 18 September 2010, 12:02 EDT


Last year, while I was reading an article about the relation between the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) and the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government, I came across a very appealing sentence quoted from a Kurdish politician: “Iran offers us poisoned honey.” A recent major container overlapped with “poisoned honey” for Kurds is the biography of President Jalal Talabani.

This biography has apparently been compiled by Erfan Qaneeifard, an Iranian Kurdish researcher. To complete this work, Qaneeifard has managed to travel to 17 countries and conduct interviews with 450 prominent Iranian, Iraqi, and American politicians and state officials under different administrations.1 This giant research project was due to be published in 2009 in three volumes and in four languages simultaneously: Arabic, English, Farsi, and Kurdish. 2

The first two volumes of this work, which have been published in Persian, have generated a hot debated among Kurdish intellectual and politicians. While the author has devoted a small portion of his work to praise President Talabani, he has used selected portions of the information to paint an unpleasant picture of Talabani’s ally, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the whole Kurdish national movement in the last hundred years.

The purpose of this article is not to provide a critical review of Qaneeifard’s books or to justify the Kurdish movement as a coherent political trend without inadequacy. Instead, it intends to shed some light on a number of key events that the author has deliberately tried to falsify the reasons and the motivations that have pushed the author for this project. Examining those reasons is essential because this project meant to describe the history of the Kurdish people and their struggle for freedom from IRI’s standpoint and put Talabani’s signature on it.

Many intellectuals have found Qaneeifard’s remarks, on different aspects of the history of the Kurdish national movement, offensive and forged. Some fictitious remarks on historical events have fueled pressing discussions mainly revolving around the following questions: “Are Erfan Qaneeifard’s remarks valid?” “Who is this guy?” “Who has engineered and funded his project?”

In response to these questions, Erfan Qaneeifard claims that he is contributing new ideas to Kurdish history. He goes on to claim that he is an independent researcher and does not write history to please rulers. To rebut his claims, I would argue that most of what Qaneeifard has presented as “new ideas” are old and overused opinions expressed by different institutions of the IRI during the last 30 years. Regarding the degree of his independency, Qaneeifard is bluffing too. If you trace back his life history and intellectual footprints, it would take you to somewhere close to the doorsteps of some rulers: the IRI rulers and their Intelligence institutions. Before taking this direction, let’s touch on some false remarks he has made.

Forging stories
Qaneeifard sees the history of Kurdistan from the same lenses that the IRI perceive the history of Kurds. For example, regarding the Bloody Nowrouz of 1980, the 24-day civil war of Sanandaj, the capital city of the Kurdistan province, he blames Kurdish political parties for the atrocity committed by the central government’s forces. He denies any government presence in that 24-day war. 3 Moreover, in an article published on, a site close to Iran’s President Ahamadi-Nejad, Qaneeifard makes a great effort to convince his audience that Dr. Abdul-Rahman Qasemlou, the Secretary General of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran, was not assassinated by the IRI’s terrorist squats, but he was killed as a result of an internal quarrel in his party.4 In the same article, he states that Qasemlou, with the assistance of the Baath Party of Iraq, “eliminated” his preceding party leader Ahmad Towfiq-an allegation that has no basis at all. He also tries to paint a picture of the Kurdish movement in the region as an object created by the SAVAK of Iran, the Baath Party of Iraq, the KGB of the USSR, and the Mossad of Israel.

Furthermore, in a recent interview with “Lvin” magazine published in Suleimaniya, Qaneeifard stated that in 1945, the British sent the Late Mustafa Barzani to overthrow the Republic of Mahabad. This idea was also discussed in the same article posted on 5 Those who have read the history of the Mahabad Republic know that Barzani’s forces arrived in Mahabad several months prior to the creation of the Republic. In fact, without the contribution of Barzani, the creation of the Republic was unlikely. All above explanations have been created and repeatedly pronounced by IRI’s officials for three decades. Now Qaneeifard wants to sell them as “new ideas” to the public.

Such biased and nonfactual comments have intensified the debate about Qaneeifard’s works in Kurdistan. Many intellectuals have speculated his identity, motivations, and sponsors. In a reaction to this discussion, Nechirvan Barzani, the former Prime Minister of Kurdistan, criticized President Talabani for signing Qaneeifard’s book and supporting his research project. 6 In response, Talabani announced, “Barzani is our national symbol.” He added, “Those who do not respect the Kurdish sacred symbols are agents of the aliens.7″ An interview conducted by “Rudaw” newspaper with the KRG’s representative in Tehran indicates that Talabani has called off his support for this project.8 This development has led me to speculate the background of this biographer.
Who is Qneeifard?
According to an article by Salah Sardary, a well-known political activist, Qaneeifard was born into a landowner family in the town of Mariwan in 1976, in the Kurdistan province of Iran. After the Iranian Revolution of 1979, when the Union of Peasants in the Mariwan region decided to distribute land among landless peasants, his family allied with the newly established Islamic government. Since the new regime and its agents were disliked in the region, Qaneeifard’s family felt unwelcomed and decided to leave their hometown.9 This development was probably a key contributing factor that shaped Qaneeifard’s hostile opinion on Kurdish political parties and the movement as a whole. Probably this life experience has caused him to hide a big portion of his career and colleagues.

Fictitious title, hidden institution, and concealed supervisors
As far as I have observed Qaneeifard’s activities, I am becoming more convinced that Qaneeifard has been trying to cover his education background and the institution he is researching for. There is very little reliable information about the rest of his life and education background. He has been introduced by the media as “Dr. Qaneeifard,” “researcher,” “expert on the Middle East,” linguist, historian, and so on during the last six years. However, in an interview with the Aknews Agency in Erbil, he said he is still working on his Ph.D.10

Though he recently has admitted that he is still working on his Ph.D., he has been addressed as “Dr. Qaneeifard” for many years and has made no attempts to correct the addressors. For example, in a 2009 interview with the Voice of America (Persian TV program), he was introduced and addressed as “Dr. Qaneeifard” three times in a time period of two minutes. 11 Instead of correcting the interviewer, he enjoyed the incorrect title.

It is not clear with which university Qaneeifard is affiliated, as he is not willing to identify the university at which he is studying. The Aknews Agency states that when he was asked about the university he was studying in, he refused to identify it.12 In addition, in the interview with Voice of America, he said he was studying at a university in Australia. Two minutes later, when he was asked who funded such a giant project, Qaneeifard replied “an American university.” 13 It is not clear why, if he is studying in Australia, an American university funds his project. If he is honest in his work, why does he not reveal the name of the institution he is working for?

Qaneeifard also added that two supervisors from that unknown institution will be overseeing his work. 14 While Qaneeifard has made such a statement, the Iran Book News Agency (IBNA) states that the book was edited by Dr. Kamal Fuad and its editing and correction took six months.15 Here I am a bit puzzled: If “Dr.”Qaneeifard has two supervisors, who is Dr. Kamal Fuad? What is his academic relation with Qaneeifard? If an American university has funded the publication of this book, why did it first appear at the Tehran international book fair? If the work was supervised under a non-Iranian institution, why was its first copy published in Farsi? How come Iranian websites advertise it enthusiastically? The IRI usually rewards progressive intellectuals with bullets; how come they treat Qaneeifard so generously? He must at least share some values with the IRI’s officials.

Shared honor with IRI
It is striking that, while Qaneeifard has tried to forge an academic title for himself and covered his personal and professional life, he has openly admitted that he considers working for the Iranian Intelligent Services (Etella’at) an “honor.” For example, in an interview with Aknews Agency, Qaneeifard said he was accused of being the second person in charge of Etella’at. In response to this allegation, he stated, “I wish a Kurd could succeed to hold such a position. It would be an honor to be given such a high status”. 16

The Iranian Intelligent Service is one of the most notorious institutions in the world. It has achieved a great reputation for torturing, raping, murdering, and launching terrorist operations against political dissidents and progressive writers in and outside of Iran. It should be very alarming to the public and academic circles to hear that Qaneeifard considers working with an institution whose mission it is to gun down intellectual individuals as an honor. This confession has provided me with more reason to be cynical concerning his work and motivation in undertaking such a project.
Who is behind this project?
It seems that the project has been carefully studied, planned, and implemented by a group of highly expert individuals on the Kurdish question. Qaneeifard has been carefully chosen as the main public figure of this plan, and he has gone through different stages and shown dissimilar faces to implement this project.

First stage: Six years ago he appeared to be a nonpartisan supporter of the Kurdish Movement. He translated a few literary works of a few Kurdish intellectuals who had close political ties with Talabani. In his writings, he also admired Qazi Mohammad, the president of the Republic of Mahabad in 1946. Therefore, many Kurdish media and websites published his work and enthusiastically conducted interviews with him. I think this approach was a planned move to mislead Kurdish intellectuals and politicians to win their support. With this opportunistic approach, Qaneeifard succeeded in deceiving many, including prominent Kurdish politicians.

Second stage: It was during this period that he contacted the Kurdistan Regional Government’s representatives in Tehran and convinced them to support his project. According to “Rudaw,” a Kurdish publication in Erbil, Nazem Omar, the KRG’s representative, was the key in building a bridge between Qaneeifard and Kurdish politicians. 17 It seems that it was this person who connected Qaneeifard with prominent Kurdish politicians who eventually led him to meet 450 more Iranian or Iraqi and American politicians and government officials.

Third stage: In 2009, after completing his research project, a drastic change in Qaneeifard’s opinion regarding the Kurdish Movement was observed. These developments stimulated my curiosity to try to examine his agenda.

Hidden agendas
The main objective of this project was not about writing President Talabani’s biography. The engineers of this plan decided to involve Talabani to pursue other hidden agendas. They calculated that involving Talabani would serve them in many different ways.
1) They knew that Talabani and his party, the PUK, would build a bridge between Qaneeifard and Kurdish and American officials. This target was hit perfectly. In an interview with the Voice of America, Qaneeifard expressed his gratitude to the PUK for their assistance in this regard. 18

2) They have also calculated that giving credit to Talabani and trying to discredit Barzani in a book that has Talabani’s endorsement would create a sense of hostility between the PUK and PDK. This is what the IRI has always strived for.

3) The engineers of this project were also aware that the approval of Talabani would provide a great reputation for a book that has been narrated from IRI’s political standpoint.

4) Since the book has been written from IRI’s perspective, it would justify 30 years of brutality and discrimination by the regime against Iranian Kurds.

5) In addition to the above objectives, this project had another more important goal. This sort of extensive research provides a great deal of information and ideas for the Iranian security and political strategists to lay out more effective plans for the future in the region. Having such information about different aspects of the Kurdish political history would put the IRI’s policy makers in a much better position to intervene in Kurdistan and manipulate groups and individuals against each other.

Qaneeifard should be known as he is
To make a long story short, under the pretext of documenting Talabani’s memoirs and biography, the IRI has successfully launched a research project to collect valuable information about the struggle of Kurdish people for their own interest and to fabricate the history of Kurdistan from their own perspective. Qaneeifard was employed to mislead Talabani and win his approval of a false document. Along this process, Qaneeifard has concealed his real identity and demonstrated different faces at different stage of his life. He has lied regarding his academic title and misinformed the public about the institution he has been working for. Moreover, while he has claimed he is not writing history to please rulers, he insists that he would consider a membership in the Iranian Intelligent Services an honor. Given all above endeavors to mislead the public–and since we have discovered that he expresses his wish to serve an atrocious institution–he should not be trusted anywhere in the public or within the independent academic circles.

1) Erfan Qaneeifard- Jalal Talabani – VOA (1) (visited September 1, 2010)
2) Ibid.

3) Erfan Qaneeifard- Jalal Talabani – VOA (3) (visited September 1, 2010)
4) Qaneeifard, Erfan. “The Democrat Party from the Dream of Nationalism to the Reality of Defeat.” (visited August 28, 2010)
5) Ibid.
6) Shwan, Mohamed. “Nachirevan Barzani for Awena,” Awena. No 238, p4 (August 24, 2010)
7) Hawler Newspaper. No 846, 15 August 2010
8) Salah, Ali Hama. “When Distrusted Hand Intervened, We Stopped the Project,” Rudaw. No 127, p2 (August 23, 2010)
9) Salah Sardary. “Qaneeifard, the Trained Agent of the Islamic Republic,” (visited September 1, 2010).
10) I have no Ph.D.; and I have not insulted anyone. (Visited, August 28, 2010)
11) Erfan Qaneeifard- Jalal Talabani – VOA (1)
12) I have no Ph.D.; ?.
13) Erfan Qaneeifard- Jalal Talabani – VOA (3)
14) Ibid.
15) Iran Books News Agency. “Jalal Talabani’s Biography and Memoirs in Tehran International Book Fair,” (visited August 29, 2010)
16) I have no Ph.D. ?
17) Salah, Ali Hama. “When Distrusted Hand Intervened, We Stopped the Project,” Rudaw, No 127, P2 (August 23, 2010)
18) Erfan Qaneeifard- Jalal Talabani – VOA (1)

Source: Kurdish Globe

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