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While there may be no lost love in between Iran and the United States of America; more so since President Donald Trump moved to the White House – thus ushering the era of hyper neoconservatism, to have a US Secretary of State profess regime change as a mean to cancel out a political threat on a public forum somewhat broke that proverbial glass ceiling.
Only this July a belligerent Mike Pompeo told the world how Trump’s America would sow unrest in Iran to finally disappear what has been a thorn in the ‘Establishment’’s thigh: the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Sovereign on its land Iran’s greatest sin … from a western perspective, always has been its claim to political and territorial independence. The idea that Washington would object to Iran’s system of governance on the basis it does not fit its democratic paradigm is not only ludicrous but intellectually fallacious.
Readers will recall that before Iranians took it upon themselves to enact their right to political self-determination – something the US claims to be a champion of, they laid at the mercy of the Shah, an absolute despot who squandered Iran’s wealth to his benefit and that of his political allies.
America has entertained too many friendships with autocrats and self-professed war criminals for anyone to remain under the illusion that its agenda is anything but pecuniary.
Washington’s distaste of Iran is rooted in Tehran’s commitment to stand free and independent against the call of unfettered neo-imperialism.
To put it more plainly Iran disturbs America’s established world order by the principle it exercises, represents, and encourages others to enact: freedom of choice.
Speaking at a press conference Mike Pompeo announced that the US Broadcasting Board of Governors is taking steps to circumvent internet censorship in Iran, and creating a round-the-clock Farsi channel across television, radio, digital and social media formats, “so that ordinary Iranians inside Iran and around the globe will know that America stands with them.”
To which he added:
“To our Iranian American and Iranian friends,” Mr Pompeo said, “tonight I tell you that the Trump administration dreams the same dreams for the people of Iran as you do, and through our labours and God’s providence, that day will come true.”
If anything Pompeo made clear that Washington was intent on using whichever measures it deemed suitable to achieve its goals: regime change in Iran. If we consider that the US already played such games in countries such as Libya, Iraq, and Syria … to only name a few, one can easily imagine just what length the US will go to to score victory against its most defiant self-appointed enemy.
For the sake of accuracy, and to offer real context to this article I must insist that if not for America’s insistence to threaten Iran’s sovereign integrity the two nations could quite easily resume all diplomatic and political ties. Tehran’s ire is tied to Washington’s illegal claim on world politics and America’s exceptionalism.
Although Pompeo was blunt when declaring Trump’s administration’s intention towards Iran and how it will push for unrest within Iran’s borders, he only enounced one mean of pressure: the media, leaving out America’s most insidious plan: deception through social manipulation.
Alongside its media campaign, the US is also working on disrupting Iran’s socio-political fabric by directly targeting NGOs – turning such organisations into organisational asymmetrical weapons of war.
A report by Professor Vladimir Prav for SouthFront defines such agenda as follow:
“It entails two sets of activities. The first is establishing the pressure from above, in the form of planting “agents of influence” into the government and into associated organizations dealing with analysis and information dissemination, and pressure from below by creating a range of legal and shadowy societal and organization organizations to influence public opinion, organize mass protests, and coordinate anti-government activities.”
America is doing just that and few are paying attention.
I give you Thomas Kaplan, the founder and president of Panthera, an organisation “devoted exclusively to the conservation of the world’s wild cats,” or so its front page reads.
While Panthera may indeed be instrumental in saving big cats, it also doubles as a convenient cover for less ‘holistic’ activities … spying being one of them.
To begin with, and to offer context to the above statement, readers will be interested to know that Kaplan is also one of the main financial supporters of UANI (United against Nuclear Iran), an organisation that has long petitioned for a series of punishing sanctions against Tehran. A close ally of Israel and Washington’s most fervent neocons, Kaplan has also closely worked with David Petraeus, a former CIA chief and Sheldon Adelson, the financier of America’s embassy move to Jerusalem.
Under Panthera’s umbrella Kaplan pushed his acolyte: George Schaller to work in Iran. Acting the devoted environmentalist Schaller traveled throughout Iran in collaboration with the Persian Wildlife Heritage, gathering along the way sensitive informations and photographs.
Alerted to the potential security breach Iran’s authorities proceeded to the arrest of several Panthera’s employees, among whom Kavous Seyed-Emami, who committed suicide soon after his arrest.
But let’s look closer still as some may argue that the above is circumstantial.
Panthera’s president, Fred Launay doubles as a close relation of no other than Iran’s most devoted enemy: Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ), himself a ‘special’ friend of US President Donald Trump.
Back in February 2018 following a meeting in between President Trump and MBZ the White House issued the following statement:
“The president thanked the Crown Prince for his leadership in highlighting ways all Gulf Cooperation Council states can better counter Iranian destabilising activities and defeat terrorists and extremists.”
One can deduct from the above that both the US and the UAE have an interest in seeing Iran lose its footing.
Launay, not content of his position at Panthera, moonlights as MBS’s head of the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund.
It is rather clear that Panthera’s immediate interests in Iran exist far beyond their desire to protect endangered species. To use NGOs as convenient cover to promote shadowy political agendas are nothing out of the ordinary … after all such tactics have given way to the expression: coloured revolutions.
The risk here remains that of manipulation. If it is unlikely America will succeed in destabilising Iran by playing up the NGO card, it can still do quite a lot of damage as far as public opinion goes by presenting Tehran as a vindictive power.
Trump’s belligerent stand against Turkey over the detention of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government accuses of being involved in an attempted coup in 2016 only emphasises such point.
One can only hope that the experience of the past few years will serve enough of a warning for the public to see beyond smoke and mirror.
Catherine Shakdam is a senior researcher at Al Bayan Centre (Iraq), and a PhD candidate.