Washington DC (GPA) – The same neoconservative warmongering media outlets that peddled Russiagate for the past year now urge the US to interfere in Iran’s domestic politics. Unfortunately for them, sanctions are impeding their ability to do so.
Outlets like the New York Times and Reuters are scrambling to instigate yet another war. These media companies — once again — lace subtle narratives about human rights and civil liberties to trigger public sympathy.
The media is truly salivating at the thought of a fresh and direct US war against Iran.
Iranians Should be Free to Protest Without Fear of External Manipulation
Sanctions are part and parcel of Washington’s strategy to erode and subjugate any nation that does not comply and bow to their will.
Venezuela, North Korea, Iraq, Cuba, Russia, Syria, Yemen — the list goes on. Sanctions conveniently allow the United States to crush economic competition internationally and chip away at morale within enemy states.
Nowhere is this currently more evident than Iran where the United States and their allies have imposed sanctions in some way or another for nearly 40 years. International actors know that sanctions do little to force submission. They know well that the people most impacted by sanctions are average citizens within the country.
And that’s precisely the point.
When the most recent round of protests erupted in Iran, President Rouhani validated their grievances and supported their right to protest. In any country crippled by sanctions, economic conditions such as employment and prices of essential goods are not ideal.
Wages in Iran are much lower than that of the United States. However, cost of living is also much lower. At the same time, Iran has a relatively robust social system that subsidizes fuel, education, and housing. UNICEF calls the Islamic Republic’s healthcare system “excellent” for meeting the needs of citizens at all income levels.
This may seem ridiculous to the average reader who believes everything the media tells them about Tehran, but the Iranian people are not afraid to demonstrate their political concerns and take to the streets. That is their business and their right.
Like any nation, the Iranian people deserve the right to protest without fear that outside actors could take advantage of their situation. Their grievances are really no one’s business besides their own.
They’ve watched what happened in Syria and Libya.
US Sanctions Undermining Washington’s Ability to Meddle in Iran
A common theme throughout the western media before any US or NATO intervention is always conditional concern over human rights.
Reuters, a multinational media outlet based in Canada and the United Kingdom, comes off as bland to most readers. By offering painfully objective — yet very selective and dubious — reporting, Reuters can portray themselves as a source of “just the facts.”
For this reason, Reuters had no problem publishing Reza Pahlavi’s perspective on the matter.
That’s right: the last heir to the Iranian monarchy and son of the US-backed puppet Mohammad Reza Pahlavi aka the Shah. The Iranian Revolution overthrew the Pahlavi monarchy in February of 1979. His son, referred to by Reuters as “the crown prince,” currently lives in exile in Washington DC.
What was Pahlavi’s perspective?
That sanctions are prohibiting US government actors from meddling in Iranian affairs. Of course, the interview conducted by Reuters portrays his take a little more eloquently to avoid making any direct threat:
“The Trump administration should encourage US technology companies to provide communication services to Iranians as they protest their country’s clerical rulers. … We need more than lip service. We need to see concrete actions, this has to be immediate.”
Reuters also points out that Washington has worked directly with tech companies in the past to undermine the Iranian government. Why not do it again?
“There is a precedent for this type of US intervention. In 2009, amid mass protests over a disputed election, an Obama administration official asked Twitter executives to delay scheduled maintenance so Iranians could continue to use the service to communicate,” their report states.
Anyone who watched events in Syria and Libya took place should know precisely what role the US expects tech companies to play in the matter: highlight a small demographic of protestors that best benefits the west’s objectives.
It is still unclear whether or not the few radical protesters that began rioting and calling for a return to the monarchy were and are directly coordinating with Washington, but it indeed wouldn’t be shocking. (More on that later.)
In most cases, western media blatantly ignored the massive protests in Iran where marchers demonstrated their support for Iran’s current revolutionary government. In other cases, such as Reuters, outlets labeled the demonstrations as “staged.”
Although Iranians may have grievances with specific conditions, they still support the current government and its general ideology — especially when the west starts throwing hints of US-backed regime change around.
US Media Outlets Peddling ‘Russiagate’ Scramble to Meddle in Iran
Several media outlets have peddled Trump’s supposed collusion with Russia since his election in 2016. (Funny how accused ties to Russia seem to be more critical than his continuation of violent US policy.)
Prominent outlets peddling the Russiagate conspiracy include, of course, The New York Times. Not only is this narrative destructive to domestic political discourse, but it also can’t possibly get more hypocritical.
Perfectly aligning with exiled Pahlavi, NYT also worried that sanctions are undermining Washington’s ability to meddle in Iran.
“In countries where they are otherwise banned, messaging apps that encrypt conversations often use the Google App Engine to conceal their activity within Google’s traffic. But Google believes that it is not allowed to offer its Google App Engine in Iran because of the sanctions. That makes it tough to offer Iranians apps like Signal, which is commonly used in other countries to protect internet communications from surveillance,” their report states.
NYT’s piece also highlights a quote from Collin Anderson: cybersecurity expert publishing a report on Iran soon. Anderson says that Google has “chosen” to adhere to the “strictest letter of the law” when it comes to sanctions.
The fact that a United States cybersecurity expert can encourage Iranians to undermine government surveillance while spying on American citizens is beyond hypocritical. There isn’t a word that adequately expresses that level of irony.
Apparently, tech companies should know that they get a pass on sanctions due to their value as propaganda tools.
In fact, the Reuters piece goes on to highlight that the United States should help tech companies work around sanctions in a heading titled “exemptions to sanctions.”
US-Backed Regime Change and Selective Outrage Over Human Rights
It can’t get any more obvious than western media’s selective outrage over human rights and access to media.
Outlets routinely use this narrative as justification for intervention around the globe. Most notably: Libya and Syria. They constantly point fingers at Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, and Yemen’s resistance.
It’s hard not to contrast the atmosphere concerning Iran with the media’s failure to even acknowledge atrocities in Yemen. Saudi Arabia — a US ally — initiated a media blackout shortly after launching their war against Yemen in March of 2015.
Riyadh has made it nearly impossible for journalists to enter Yemen — especially areas under their bombs. Airports remain closed to commercial travel and Saudi-backed troops restrict access from their make-shift capital in Aden.
Moving back to Iran: Tehran insists that the violent actors participating in the protests do, in fact, have direct links to the United States and NATO. Security forces say the rioters received training from the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO). MKO leaders recently met with US senators and diplomats in Albania.
Tehran also says some of the rioters also include takfiri extremists similar to Deash (ISIS). Mobilizing takfiri groups to put stress on enemy governments is always part of Washington’s destabilization strategy.
As for now, Iranian security forces have things under control and are currently weighing how to prosecute violent actors.
One thing is certain: Washington never passes up an opportunity to capitalize on their enemy’s weak spots. After their loss in Syria, Iran has moved into the spot of enemy #1. (Along with North Korea, of course.)
Founder and editor of Geopolitics Alert, Randi Nord is a US-based geopolitical analyst and content strategist. She covers US imperialism with a special focus on Yemen, Iran, and Lebanon. Born in Detroit, Michigan, she started learning about the media’s pivotal role in selling “humanitarian” interventions as a teenager during the aftermath of 9/11 and Iraq war. Randi Nord has lived in the Empire’s neoliberal tropical paradise (Kingdom of Hawai’i) and Lebanon. She frequently participates in the UN Human Rights Council as a guest of NGOs speaking about Yemen.