by Zafar Bangash (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 38, No. 6, Sha'ban, 1430)
Post-election demonstrations in Tehran were used by the West as part of a carefully orchestrated plan to destabilize Iran with the ultimate aim of bringing down the Islamic government. Whether the organizers of opposition rallies were aware of this Western plot or not is a different issue. In fact, some of the rally organizers may have genuinely believed that they were struggling for what they perceived to be their right but the underlying cause of the West’s plan needs analyzing.
The West, led by the US, Britain and Zionist Israel had two primary objectives. The first was to provoke the security forces to react in a manner that would feed into the cycle of violence. The second was to see whether any cracks would appear in the ranks of the security forces if the killings continued that would become a self-perpetuating cycle and ultimately spiral out of control.
The security forces, contrary to the West’s expectations, acted with great restraint and successfully handled the situation. They did not react to the rioters’ provocations that would feed into the violence. The fact that they did not carry guns in subduing them despite the latter indulging in violence—burning buses, buildings, banks and setting fire to garbage on highways and major streets in Tehran—frustrated the first objective. After allowing several days of rallies to enable opposition supporters to vent their anger, in subsequent attempts to hold rallies, the security forces isolated them by breaking them into smaller pockets and diverting them into side streets. This made it easier to handle the more troublesome rioters and agents provocateurs among them that were responsible for burning more than 700 buildings including many banks. What electoral or “democratic” cause was served by setting fire to buses?
Had such behaviour been displayed by people the West disliked, one can imagine the headlines that would be splashed in the Western media: ‘Violent mob burns buses and buildings’; ‘Primitive savages indulge in arson and looting’; or ‘Sore losers cannot take defeat gracefully’. But when such unruly behaviour is displayed by people the West supports, then they are projected as victims of heavy-handed security forces. The sophisticated handling of the situation by the authorities frustrated the West’s first objective. The opportunity for the second—to create cracks in the ranks of the security forces—did not arise. Further, it was wishful thinking on the West’s part to imagine such a scenario. While it does not care who is in power in Iran as long as there is turmoil, the West would definitely draw appropriate lessons from this experience and try something more sinister in the future. The Islamic leadership in Tehran must similarly guard against the openings the West sought to exploit and to prevent their recurrence.
There is ample evidence of the West’s, especially US meddling in Iran’s internal affairs. There are not only some 30 US-funded satellite television stations beaming propaganda into Iran, in May 2007, then President George Bush had signed an executive order authorizing $400 million for a destabilization campaign against Iran. Since becoming president, Barack Obama has neither denied its existence nor said the program has been terminated. When asked by journalist Josh Rushing of Al Jazeera’s “Fault Line” program (June 24), if the US had “intelligence operatives on the ground in Iran,” former US National Security AdvisorBrent Scowcroft replied, “Of course we do.” That such a senior figure and quintessential insider would confirm US involvement lays to rest any lingering doubts about America’s involvement. Seymour Hersh, journalist for the New Yorker magazine had reported in July 2008 “the scale and the scope of the operations in Iran, which involve the Central Intelligence Agency and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), have now been significantly expanded.” One saw evidence of this in the one week riots in Tehran in mid-June. John Bolton, former US ambassador to the UN, who gained notoriety for his rightwing views, has also confirmed in several interviews that the US is involved in destabilization efforts in Iran. He went so far as to state that if such covert action failed, military action might be taken. Bolton belongs to the group commonly referred to as the Israel lobby in Washington.
The US is not alone in this campaign. The British, both at the official level as well as their media, have been equally involved in instigating trouble in Iran. In addition to Iranian employees at the British embassy in Tehran instigating demonstrators, the BBC broadcasts a daily Persian language program into Iran. It costs $25 million per year. Why would the BBC that receives funding for its operations from the British foreign office and is therefore, considered a wing of its foreign policy, be so keen to broadcast into Iran in Farsi? It is interesting to note that demonstrators in Tehran held signs in English, language hardly spoken by anyone in Iran. Clearly, these signs were for the benefit of outsiders, especially the Western media that wanted to show to their audience in Europe and North America that people in Iran were upset. That the demonstrators represented a tiny minority of Iran’s 70 million people was seldom mentioned. That would have upset their plans for destabilization.
Although the rallies and riots have ended, the West’s campaign against Iran has not subsided. There are almost daily reports about some aspect or another of the West trying to breathe life into the corpse of the riots. Editors at Western media outlets must be tearing their hair out at the lack of action by Iranian demonstrators and must also feel frustrated that US, British and Zionist agents have failed in their plans. The Islamic government has won another round in the endless war by the West but it would be premature to assume that the West has give up.
Vigilance is the best policy in dealing with the West.