Monday, 1 January 2018

Eseential reading on the crisis in Iran

Iran - Early U.S. Support For Rioters Hints At A Larger Plan


31 December, 2017


In Iran - Regime Change Agents Hijack Economic Protests we looked at the developing U.S.-Israeli operation to instigate a revolt in Iran. What follows are a few more background points and a view on the developments since. A color revolution or revolt in Iran have only little chances of success. But even as the fail they can be used as pretext for additional sanctions and other anti-Iranian measures. The current incidents are thus only one part of a much larger plan.


The "western" democracies are used to distinguish political parties as left or right with fixed combinations of economic and cultural policies. The "left" is seen as preferring a social economy that benefits the larger population and as cultural liberal or progressive. The right is seen as cultural conservative with a preference for a free market economy that favors the richer segments of a nation.
The political camps in Iran are different.


The simplified version: The conservatives, or "principalists", are cultural conservative but favor economic programs that benefit the poor. Their support base are the rural people as well as the poorer segments of the city dwellers. The last Iranian president near to them was Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. One of his major policies was the implementation of cash payments to the needy as replacement of general and expensive subsidies on oil products and foodstuff. The current Iranian president Hassan Rouhani is a member of the "reformist" camp. His support base are the merchants and the richer parts of the society. He is culturally (relative) progressive but his economic polices are neoliberal. The new budget he introduced for the next year cuts back on the subsidies for the poor Ahmedinejad had introduced. It will increase prices for fuel and basic food stuff up to 30-40%.
The protests on December 28 and 29 were about these and other economic issues. Such protests have regularly occurred in Iran throughout the decades. But the current ones were soon hijacked by small groups which chanted slogans against the Iranian system and against the strong Iranian engagement in Syria and Palestine. These are not majority positions of the 80 million inhabitants of Iran:

According to the poll, 67.9% say Iran should increase backing for anti-IS groups, up from 59.8% a year ago. Meanwhile, a majority of 64.9% backs the deployment of Iranian military personnel to Syria to help the regime of Bashar al-Assad, up slightly from 62.7% a year ago.

The small groups that hijacked the protests against Rouhani's economic polices were heavily promoted by the usual suspects of U.S. influence operations. Avaaz, the RAND cooperationHuman Rights Watch and others immediately jumped onto the bandwagon. (True to form HRW's Ken Roth used a picture of a pro-government rally to illustrate the much smaller anti-government protests.) The smaller groups that hijacked and publicized the demonstration seem well coordinated. But they are far from a genuine movement or even a majority.
On the morning of December 30 large demonstrations in support of the Iranian republic were taking place in several cities. In Tehran several thousand people took part.
The self described "Iran junkie" of the Brookings Center for Middle East Policy, Suzanne Maloney, interpreted these as counter-demonstrations to the small gatherings the night before:
Suzanne Maloney‏ @MaloneySuzanne - 12:40 PM - 30 Dec 2017
The Islamic Republic has a well-oiled machine for mobilizing pro-regime rallies (Rouhani himself headlined one in 1999 after student protests.) What's interesting is that it was deployed almost immediately this time.


The "Iran junkie" and "expert" did not know that yearly pro-government demonstrations are held in Iran on each 9th of Dey (Iranian calender) since 2009 and are planned well in advance. They commemorate the defeat of the CIA color revolution attempt in 2009. That attempt had followed the reelection of the president Ahmedinejad. It had used the richer segment of the Iranian society in north Tehran as its stooges. It is not yet clear what social strata, if any, this attempt is using.


In June 2009 Brookings Institute published a manual on how to overthrow the Iranian government or to take control of the country. "Iran junkie" Maloney was one of the authors. WHICH PATH TO PERSIA? - Options for a New American Strategy toward Iran (pdf) came in four parts:
  • Part I - Dissuading Tehran: The Diplomatic options.
  • Part II - Disarming Tehran: The Military options
  • Part III - Toppling Tehran: Regime Change
  • Part IV - Deterring Tehran: Containment
Part III includes:
  • Chapter 6: The Velvet revolution: supporting a Popular Uprising
  • Chapter 7: Inspiring an insurgency: supporting Iranian Minority and opposition Groups
  • Chapter 8: The coup: supporting a Military Move against the regime

The velvet "color revolution" failed in 2009 when the "green movement" could not convince the Iranian people that it was more than a foreign supported attempt to overthrow their republic.


What we currently see in Iran is a combination of chapter 6 and 7 of the Brookings plan. Behind a somewhat popular movement that protests against the neo-liberal economic policies of the Rohani government a militant movement, as seen last night (below), is implementing an escalation strategy that could lead to a civil war. We have already seen a similar combination in Libya and at the beginning of the attack on Syria. (Tony Cartalucci at the Land Destroyer Report has written extensively on the Brookings paper as a "handbook for overthrowing nations".)


Last June the Wall Street Journal reported that the CIA had set up a special operation cell for such attacks on Iran:
The Central Intelligence Agency has established an organization focused exclusively on gathering and analyzing intelligence about Iran, reflecting the Trump administration’s decision to make that country a higher priority target for American spies, according to U.S. officials.
The Iran Mission Center will bring together analysts, operations personnel and specialists from across the CIA to bring to bear the range of the agency’s capabilities, including covert action.
Head of the new office is one of the most ruthless CIA officers:
To lead the new group, Mr. Pompeo picked a veteran intelligence officer, Michael D’Andrea, who recently oversaw the agency’s program of lethal drone strikes and has been credited by many of his peers for successes against al Qaeda in the U.S.’s long campaign against the terrorist group.
...
Mr. D’Andrea, a former director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, is known among peers as a demanding but effective manager, and a convert to Islam who works long hours. Some
 U.S. officials have expressed concern over what they perceive as his aggressive stance toward Iran.
D'Andrea is the CIA guy who "dropped the ball" when he could have prevented 9/11. He was intimately involved in the CIA's torture program and drone murder campaign in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is suspected to be the brain behind the U.S. cooperation with extremist Wahhabis in Libya, Iraq and Syria.
Yesterday morning a Sunni terror group blew up a pipeline in south-west Iran near the Iraqi border:
Ansar al Furqan states that “a major oil pipeline was blown up in Omidiyeh region of occupied Ahvaz, Iran.” The group added that it had established a new unit, the Ahwaz Martyrs Brigade. The area of Ahvaz has historically had a large Arab population. However, it is unclear if this purported brigade is comprised of Iranian Arabs or Baluchis, as most of its members are thought to be Baluch. The jihadists say the “operation was conducted to inflict losses on the economyof criminal Iranian regime.”
According to the U.S. military Combating Terrorism Center, Ansar al-Fruqan has grown out of the defeated Jundallah terrorist group which had killed hundreds of Iranian officials and civilians. Jundallah was a Baluch jihadi insurgency fighting for a "Free Baluchistan" in the area of south-west Pakistan and south-east Iran. Its leader was killed in 2010 and it has since split and evolved into Ansar al-Furqan and other groups. Some of these are under foreign influence. Mark Perry reported in 2012:
A series of CIA memos describes how Israeli Mossad agents posed as American spies to recruit members of the terrorist organization Jundallah to fight their covert war against Iran.
Mossad agents hired Jundallah terrorists to kill nuclear experts in Iran. It should not be a surprise then that a Jundallah follow-up group is now attacking Iranian economic infrastructure in the very same moment that the Mossad and the CIA coordinate another campaign to overthrow the Iranian government. This clearly points to a wider and well organized plan.

Last night groups of 20 to 50 young men appeared in some 20 cities and towns of Iran and started to vandalize (vid) the streets. They took down street demarcations and billboards, smashed windows and set fire to trashcans. Short videos of tens of incidents appeared on various Twitter accounts. The descriptions were often very exaggerated.


The "protesters burn government offices in the Ahvaz Province" video only shows the burning of a trashcan in front of a building. The only noise in the "police using live rounds on protesters" video are from the smashing of windows of an office container. A video promoted as "3 people were killed in police shooting of Lorestan" shows a small but loud group. Two people are carried away but it is unclear who they are or what, if anything, happened to them. No shooting is heard and no police can be seen. In other videos police is responding to stone throwing and vandalizing rioters.

The groups, their appearance in some 20 cities and what they did was clearly coordinated. Media promoters aggregate their videos for a larger public. The Iranian government asked the message application Telegram, widely used in Iran, to take down a channel that urged demonstrators to throw Molotov cocktails at official buildings. The head of the Telegramservice agreed that such calls are against its Terms of Services and took the channel down. New channels with similar messages immediately sprang up. The Iranian government will have to completely block Telegram or infiltrate those Telegram channels to disrupt such coordination of militant activities.

Those U.S. politicians who had called to "bomb, bomb, bomb" Iran (John McCain) or had threatened to wage war against it (Hillary Clinton) issued statements in support of the "Iranian people"- i.e. the rioters in the streets. These are the same people who suffocate the Iranian people by pushing sanction round after sanction round onto them - hypocrites. Donald Trump and his State Department issued statements in support of the 'peaceful protesters' who vandalized their cities throughout the country and demanded that "the regime respect their basic human rights." The professed concerns for the Iranian people are nonsense. A recently leaked memo advised U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson:
... that the U.S. should use human rights as a club against its adversaries, like Iran, China and North Korea, while giving a pass to repressive allies like the Philippines, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
The official U.S. uttering comes very early and is detrimental to any real movement in Iran. It obviously exposes these protests as U.S. supported and thereby kills off their chance to win a wider base in Iran.

Why is the U.S. doing this?

The plan may well be not to immediately overthrow the Iranian government, but to instigate a sharp reaction by the Iranian government against the militant operations in its country.
Suzanne Maloney‏ @MaloneySuzanne - 5:51 AM - 31 Dec 2017
And here's the thing: whatever the USG does or doesn't say about these protests, the reality is (as @POTUS tweeted) that the world is watching what happens in Iran. How Tehran responds to the current protests will shape its relationship w/the world, just as it did in 2009.
That reaction can then be used to implement wider and stricter sanctions against Iran especially from Europe. These would be another building block of a larger plan to suffocate the country and as an additional step on a larger escalation ladder.


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