Diario Judío México - Iran is losing the information war.
It has been unmasked, unveiled, its iniquity laid bare.
No longer can Tehran claim moderation. Not after plotting terrorist attacks against the opposition in Europe. Not after arresting and torturing hundreds of protesters, who were tired of their money going to foreign wars and sheer thuggery. Not after creating environmental disasters within its own borders and in Iraq, so much so that even Iran’s Shi’a allies in Basra burned the Islamic Republic’s flag.’
Suppressing the voices of the opposition at home and abroad no longer works. Pro-Iran lobby groups such as NIAC are no longer in favor with the White House; opposition protests inside Iran have attracted international attention; Iran’s attack on Kurds in Iraq and its cruel execution of three tortured young Kurds brought international condemnation; even the fate of Ahwazis and other ignored non-Persians inside Iran has made it into the tweets and speeches of Secretary of State Pompeo, both in his official rebukes of the Iranian government and his outreach efforts to the Iranian communities in the United States.
He has likewise noted the assassinations of Ahwazi and Kurdish activists in Iraq and Europe in recent years, as well as throughout post-revolutionary history.
Whatever decisions made by European and US governments with regards to Iran’s handling of human rights abuses, economic decisions, and aggression in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Asia, and even Europe is no longer out of ignorance.
At the 2018 Iran Summit organized by a non-profit called United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), on the sidelines of the General Assembly gathering, Secretary Pompeo recited a long list of Iran-backed misdeeds, including terrorist attacks on US targets and those of our allies, around the world.
Take the time to read it.
Then, you too, will be fully informed at the extent of Iran’s operations around the world, the destructive effect of its policies on its own citizens and on innocent people in neighboring countries and far beyond.
No amount of media suppression of competing voices can prevail when the US administration has dedicated itself to exposing the lies that have been cultivated for decades. The nameless, faceless victims of Iranian aggression are becoming more than just numbers.
And they are angry.
A week ago, a number of people dressed as soldiers attacked Iran’s IRGC military parade, killing at least 29 people, including 12 IRGC members.
Iran accused Israel and the United States of supporting the operation. Islamic State and Ahwazi organizations claimed credit. Some even blamed the regime for attacking its own forces in a cynical move to gain sympathy internally, or with its neighboring allies. That move, however, is unlikely simply because there is no internal sympathy for the IRGC. ISIS released a video of alleged participants; however, further investigation established that Iranian authorities killed two of the attackers and arrested two others, who allegedly trained in Gulf States or with their support.
Iran has worked to discredit Ahwazi claim to the attack. The reasons for that are fairly straight forward. A planned attack on the regime forces – not against a throng of innocent civilians, but against a legitimate military target – would reveal the weakness of the regime and the extreme level of dissatisfaction in the peripheries, while drawing international attention to the hitherto obscure and marginalized cause.
The attack divided some of the mainstream opposition, many of which were reluctant to comment on the attack, much less to give credit to the Ahwazis, who have been long since portrayed as separatists by the regime and, to the extent they received any coverage at all, by the media. However, the failure of the opposition to back Ahwazi demands for basic protection of their rights and local culture may have contributed to driving the desperate activists to the decision to act without joining forces with the opposition. Furthermore, the leadership of the movement allegedly responsible for this attack has not issued demands for independence, but rather have consistently attacked the regime for its racial policies and discrimination against people who would likely otherwise have been satisfied with some level of autonomy within Iran.
There has been a heated argument within the ranks of Iran opponents as to which scenario benefited Iran the most.
There is no doubt that the regime would try to capitalize on free publicity regardless. However, it has expended so much political capital on being overall destructive, that despite its attempts, few people would feel try empathy for IRGC. At best, attributing attacks to the Ahwazi would raise concerns about the threat of sectarianism without an orderly transition to a different legitimate government. Without unity among the opposition, however, instability is almost guaranteed regardless, however, and few can deny that IRGC’s violence against civilians in peripheral regions and disproportionate targeting of activists, made them ripe mark for understandable expressions of outrage.
ISIS, a terrorist organization, would have been the best case scenario for the regime, because it would have at the very least justified an internal crackdown, and because the US made the combating of ISIS such a central tenet of its foreign policy in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and other countries where Iran is also active and in fact has actually been arming some of the worst adversaries to US interests. A victory for Iran in this case would look like US being forced into choosing the lesser of evils. However, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley did not buy that narrative, nor Iran’s gratuitous finger pointing in the US direction. She hinted at Iran’s suppression of opposition movements and advised the regime to look “closer to home”. She also reiterated that the US is not looking for regime change.
However, the Ahwazi National Resistance organizations vociferously denied ISIS’ involvement in the attack. That put Tehran in the awkward position of having to submit to someone else’s narrative for a change. For the first time, Tehran is losing control over its own propaganda. It was then left in a reactive mode. Despite continuing to blame the event on outside forces, the regime still went into a full on crack-down mode against the Ahwazis. Predictably, the regime sent out squads to attack, beat, and torture Ahwazi activists on the streets, resulting in a mass detainment of both those active in the resistance and by-standers. If there was any doubt, however, as to the real source of the attack, Iran sent out six missiles over Iraq into Syria in the direction of the Ahwazi perpetrators, who are allegedly operating there. IRGC referred to the group as “Takfiri terrorists”. This sort of extreme reaction betrays just how shaken the regime was by the attack. It also shows that the attack was well planned and likely coordinated with other forces – both Ahwazi groups operating outside the country, and potentially other Middle Eastern allies affected by Iran’s neo-imperialist aggression, such as some of the Syrian rebels.
Although Western media paid little heed to the original event, much less delve into the analysis of the conflict, which includes the history of Iran’s annexation of “Al Ahwaz” or “Arabistan”, an oil-rich small Gulf state-lke emirate populated largely by Arabs, decades before the Islamic Revolution, and the oppression of the local population both under the Shah, and significantly more so under the ayatollahs, this was far from the only such action. In the recent couple of years, the Ahwazi resistance blew up an oil pipeline, participated in riots against the IRGC and Basiji militias, and also held a number of peaceful rallies demanding basic rights. Moreover, a week after the attack on the military parade, an armed group, possibly Baluchis, attacked the IRGC near the Pakistan border, killing a number of members. This time, Iran took care to suppress information about the attack – but a Syrian outlet reported this event. Baluchis are a Sunni nation residing in parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, as well as parts of the Arabian peninsula, known as “Baluchistan”, an area that has become known as a smugglers’ paradise, and for its high crime rate.
Baluchis, although taking pride in their own language and cultural traditions, lack a state. They have in the past been backed by Saudi Arabia against Iran-backed Shi’a groups in the region. According to sources, Baluchis (or Baloch people), originated in Syria, descending from Hazrat Ameer Hamza, the uncle of Mohammed, and have eventually fled from the Sistan region and scattered elsewhere. However, the Baluchi language points to the origin in the east or the Southeast of the Caspian region, as it is one of the Western Iranian languages. Centuries of violent intertribal conflict prevented the creation of an independent nation-state.
In more recent times, the Baluchis have been torn by many small secessionist movements, none strong enough to succeed independently, but all contributing to the deteriorating stability and security in the area. Many of the leading movements are opposed both to the existing Baluchi governance structures and to Pakistan’s national government. Baluchi leadership residing in the US has been involved in advocating for the rights of that nation, which makes up approximately 2% of Iranian population, and which likewise has been disproportionally targeted in crackdown, discriminated, oppressed, and abused. And in August. members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party attacked the IRGC contingent near Bana in the West of Iran, killing four. Clashes with the Iranian Kurds are nothing new for Iran, and the particular attack resulted in a counteroffensive against the KDP party offices and a refugee camp in Iraq, including air strikes which killed a number of people and resulted in international condemnation. There is likewise nothing new about occasional border attacks near Pakistan. However, the timing of these attacks on IRGC, in rapid succession raise questions about possible coordination, or at the very least, of inspiration by these distinct nations all of which have ax to grind with the Islamic Republic’s oppressive regime.
Though the US press has been mired in the blow-by-blow analysis of domestic troubles, and little follow up reporting has been done with regards to these developments, the fact that IRGC is coming under a series of offensives from uncontrollable forces is a net positive for the United States and her regional allies. Anything that weakens the IRGC, weakens the regime and gives teeth to the US-imposed sanctions. IF these attacks continue unabated, Iran will have to divert additional resources into fighting the problem. Furthermore, the reports of these attacks, though suppressed internally, leak out through other sources, and it is getting increasingly difficult to shut down vehicles for the delivery of this information to the outside world.
Information warfare once was Iran’s most important weapon against the West – as well as dissent. Iran has succeeded in developing aggressive and successful lobby groups in US and Europe, thrusting a charm offensive at governing bodies, and monopolizing the press. Traditionally, it has blamed the triumvirate of the usual suspects for anything that went wrong – Israel, the United States, and especially in more recent years, Saudi Arabia. However, these stories no longer sell. Today’s attack did not aim for Jerusalem, Washington, or Riyadh. It was aimed at Syria, and the fact that 6 missiles were needed to send a message rather than a small squad of local goons shows that Iran is weaker than the image it likes to project through the sheer number of well-armed proxies it keeps in place around the Middle East, and that the resistance movement is growing in numbers, strength, experience, and coordination. While any number of state actors may be backing the Ahwazi resistance, the fact that they are now operating outside Iranian borders is reason enough for Tehran to be concerned about the collapse of both its narrative and the vision of its hegemonic ambitions coming to fruition anytime soon. Iran is also admitting a tacit defeat – even if any of the above countries were actually supportive of the attack, Iran is too cautious and too frightened to launch missiles against even Saudi Arabia, much less Israel or the United States.
The ball is now in the court of Iran’s opponents. Will they continue to ignore the dissatisfaction of Iran’s diverse population, now that it is no longer in the guise of quiet desperation? Or will they join forces with those who are courageously resisting Iran’s dominance, despite its well trained forces and advanced weaponry, because Iran’s dominance has had such a disastrous effect on the region and the world? The answer is clear: the countries which wish to see Iran’s regime weakened and defeated need to put all effort in having IRGC, Hezbullah, and other Iran forces and proxies flee from the region and slink back into oblivion where they belong. So long as they can operate freely wherever, Iran will ignore sanctions and take impunity as a sign of tacit approval. To weaken the regime, its plans and ventures in the Middle East must collapse. Ahwazis, and their counterparts among other non-Persian nations have the right idea.
And Iran’s spin can no longer keep the rest of the world from hearing and seeing the obvious:
That the Emperor, in fact, is naked.