Resistance, Referendum Only Viable Solution to Palestine Issue: Iran’s FM Zarif

February 18, 2020

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the only viable solution to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict lies in taking the path of resistance and a popular vote, rather than the US-devised Middle East proposal that seeks to bolster Israeli hold on occupied land at the expense of Palestinian rights.

Zarif made the remarks in an interview with khamenei.ir, the official website of Leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, published on Monday.

He stressed that the Palestine dispute cannot be resolved through a scheme that seeks to violate the Palestinian rights and expand unlawful settlements on occupied territory.

“As for Palestine, instead of giving in to the humiliation and the increasing and infinite pressures exerted by the US and the Zionist regime, there are two solutions that should be pursued simultaneously, not separately from one another. One is resistance and another is democracy and popular vote. If they put these two solutions in practice, the question of Palestine will be resolved,” he said.

Last year, the Islamic Republic submitted to the United Nations its proposal for the holding of a referendum on the issue of Palestine issue, as put forth by Ayatollah Khamenei, he noted.

“The solution for the issue of Palestine turns around the two pivots of democracy and resistance. The purpose of resistance is clear and the Palestinians are in fact resisting, but today all Palestinians should express their unanimous opposition to the “deal of the century.” The unity inside Palestine on the basis of resistance can help foil Zionist policies,” he said.

Zarif highlighted the role of democracy as another game changer in the issue of Palestine, saying the proponents of a fake democracy who consider the Zionist regime to be “the only democracy in the region” need to be prepared to embrace true democracy.

“What does true democracy mean? It means that all those who live in Palestine, who are the real owners of Palestine, but who have been displaced around the world should be able to determine and make decisions for their own future,” he pointed out.

US President Donald Trump released his self-proclaimed “deal of the century” during an event at the White House alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington on January 28.

The so-called ‘Vision for Peace’ bars Palestinian refugees from returning to their homeland, regards Jerusalem al-Quds as “Israel’s undivided capital” and allows the regime to annex West Bank settlements and the Jordan Valley.

Elsewhere in his comments, Zarif described the US initiative as the continuation of Washington’s interventionist policies regarding the question of occupied Palestine.

“One of the mistakes made in the past 30 years was that they [some Palestinian organizations] thought they would be able to revive the rights of the Palestinians through cooperating with the occupiers,” he said, adding that all Palestinian parties have realized the fallacy of this notion.

“We have always stressed that it is the Palestinians who have the right to choose and the Islamic Republic will accept whichever path the people of Palestine opt for. In other words, we accept that the Palestinians should make the final decision and their final decision should be respected by everyone.”

The top Iranian diplomat further emphasized that even the former Pahlavi regime had proposed a democratic solution for the Palestine issue and rejected the 1947 UN Palestine Partition Plan.

He also complained about the “passivity and degradation” of the Arabs in the face of the Americans and the Zionists.

In recent years, the Arab world has not only adopted “a passive outlook” towards Tel Aviv and Washington, but also allied with the pair against Palestine, Zarif said, noting that such an approach has led the Americans to the conclusion that they can unveil their plan for the Middle East.

Zarif pointed out that the Arab world has stooped to such a level of disgrace that the Americans think they can portray such a despicable plan as a means of upholding the rights of Palestinian people, whereas “on the basis of what Trump and [his son-in-law and adviser Jared] Kushner think and say, they are not at all concerned about anyone’s rights and they view this plan as a [real estate] project.”

“The Arab world is still insisting to purchase security from the US and the Zionist regime… instead of relying on themselves, their people and their Muslim neighbors. As for the Americans, they obviously welcome it due to the fact that they sell weapons to Saudi Arabia worth 67 billion dollars, and at the same time they purchase the dignity of Saudi Arabia.”

Zarif exclaimed that the Arab leaders do not even dare voice their opposition or adopt a position in support of Palestine, and they even go as far as thanking Trump for his skewed proposal.

The Palestinians need to realize that they cannot achieve their goal by giving in to US interventionism, he pointed out.

Source

Zarif to Al-Ahed: Martyr Soleimani’s Assassination to Boost the Resistance’s Determination

By Mokhtar Haddad

Tehran – The Islamic Republic of Iran celebrates this year the 41st anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution. It has been more than four decades of resistance against the global arrogance. The sons of the blessed Islamic Revolution have foiled the US and Zionist schemes against peoples in the region, with Lieutenant General Martyr Qassem Soliemani being the most prominent symbol of this confrontation.

Zarif to Al-Ahed: Martyr Soleimani’s Assassination to Boost the Resistance’s Determination
Al-Ahed News Correspondent in Tehran Mokhtar Haddad while interviewing Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif – Sunday, February 9, 2020

Marking the occasion, which falls this year on the fortieth day on the martyrdom of Hajj Qassem Soleimani and his comrades, al-Ahed News website conducted an exclusive interview with Iranian Foreign Minister Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif who elaborated on the latest developments in the region.

In a question regarding the so-called ‘Deal of the Century’, whose architects are US President Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who insisted on announcing their plot, and specifically related to the Arab and Islamic official and popular reactions to announcing it, Zarif said he believes one dimension of what happened is related to both American and ‘Israeli’ elections.

“Both ‘Israeli’ Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump are in dire need of an electoral victory to remain in their posts,” Zarif said, adding that “perhaps each of them needs the victory of one another.”

Zarif went on to explain that “Trump needs Netanyahu to win in the elections, and the latter needs Trump to remain in power. This is why it was a good opportunity for them to support one another to fulfill their personal ambitions on the one hand and preserve their supporters at home on the other hand, in addition to supporting their allied.”

This is only one reason behind announcing the ‘Deal of the Century’ at this specific time, Zarif stressed.

The top Iranian diplomat, meanwhile, noted that the weak reaction of some Arab leaders reveal that the Americans have been lately aware that those Arab leaders, who set their destiny at the hands of the US and the Zionist entity, won’t dare and could never show any serious reaction had this very ridiculous agreement been announced.

“It is not only unrealistic, but also totally unrelated to politics,” Zarif told al-Ahed, adding that “Those leaders have neglected a legal and political project about the rights of an entire nation by announcing this plot, which is in fact a mere business trade that emphasizes the occupation’s ownership.”

This, Zarif went on to say, indicates that some Arab head of states have dangerous calculations regarding their ties with the US and the Zionist entity, which must be mended.

According to the Iranian foreign minister, the Arab world’s reaction was very clear. It was full of range and anger towards the US’ announcement of this plot. On the other hand, Zarif explained, this reaction revealed public frustration from some Arab head of states who accepted the ‘deal’ and agreed that the US be a mediator in the Palestinian cause.

One of the biggest mistakes committed by the Arab World since 1990 and since accepting the Oslo and Madrid agreements, is agreeing that the US be a mediator, Zarif said.

“The US has been aligned to a certain party on the Palestinian issue and has never been a mediator in solving this cause.”

Zarif told al-Ahed that the Palestinians today have reached a fact that the US is not a mediator in the Palestinian cause and is clearly aligned with certain party; it is indeed aligned with it vey extremely.

In response to al-Ahed’s question whether the Islamic Republic has been weakened by the martyrdom of Hajj Qassem Soleimani, in which it has lost one of its cards of power, which made pressurizing it and negotiating with it easier than before, Zarif said martyr Soleimani has represented Iran’s stance in the entire region.

He explained that assassinating Hajj Qassem Soleimani in this coward manner by the Americans is a big loss to the entire region and all those calling for peace in the world. However, Zarif stressed, after the martyrdom, we’ve witnessed what is going on in the region, namely in Iraq, Iran and some other countries.

“All eyes now are on the US destructive policy in the region,” Zarif stated, noting that “this must be used in strengthening the axis of resistance as per the Leader of the Revolution has said.

His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei stressed that this martyrdom will boost the determination of the Palestinians and the axis of resistance against the hostile and dangerous steps taken by the US in the region.

This also indicated the extent of the people’s valuation of those who sacrifice their souls for their sake.

Relatively, Zarif commented on the role of martyr Soleimani and his comrades on the track of the axis of resistance, stressing that they have always been inspirers.

“Their martyrdom has made clear that the path of altruism and martyrdom is the right path to confront the hegemony of the global arrogance.”

Zarif concluded his interview with al-Ahed News as saying that the martyrdom of Hajj Qassem Soleimani and his comrades was fruitful and that their blood is still alive. He also stressed that those who committed the crime of assassinating them will definitely be confined to the ash heap of history, which was clear in Trump’s misfire and tearing up the ‘Deal of the Century’ script by speakers of Islamic countries.

To read the Arabic version, click here

Zarif Calls Islamic Jihad Chief, Stresses Iran’s Unwavering Stance on Palestine

February 5, 2020

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamamd Javad Zarif told Ziad Nakhale, Secretary General of Islamic Jihad Palestinian resistance movement that the Islamic Republic is sticking to its stance to support the Palestinian people against the Zionist entity.

In a phone call with Nakhale on Wednesday Zarif said that the US’ so-called “Deal of the Century” poses real threat to the Palestinian cause and the rights of Palestinian people.

Zarif stressed Iran’s unwavering stance to support Palestinian people in order to regain all their rights, Palestine Today reported.

The top Iranian diplomat, meanwhile, urged Palestinian unity in a bid to “foil the ‘Deal of the Century’ that targets Palestine, Aqsa Mosque and Palestinian people’s historic rights.”

On his part, Nakhale thanked Zarif for the Iranian support, offering congratulations over the 41th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution victory.

“The Islamic Jihad will exert efforts in order to unite the position of the Palestinian factions towards the ‘Deal of the Century’,” Nakhale was quoted as saying by Palestine Today.

Source: Palestine Today

Iranian FM, Palestinian President Reiterate Stance on ‘Deal of Century’

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and President of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas voiced strong opposition to the so-called “deal of the century”, a US-initiated plan for Palestine.

  • February, 05, 2020 – 09:56

In a telephone conversation with Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday, Zarif reiterated the Islamic Republic’s opposition to the plan, stressing that Iran will keep supporting the Palestinian nation’s rights and formation of a sovereign Palestinian government with East al-Quds as its capital.

The top Iranian diplomat also hailed Abbas’ efforts to create national unity in Palestine, reaffirming that Tehran will continue to support the process of reconciliation among Palestinians.

For his part, the Palestinian president briefed Zarif on the stances adopted by Palestinian groups against the American plot and on the political movements to counter the plan proposed by US President Donald Trump.

Highlighting the efforts to ensure national unity in Palestine, Abbas said he will dispatch a delegation to Gaza to contribute to unity between Palestinian groups.

Last week, Trump unveiled his long-delayed Middle East plan, a proposal Palestinian leaders called a “conspiracy” that “will not pass”.

Following Trump’s announcement, Abbas said “a thousand no’s to the plan.

The American plan has sparked widespread international condemnation.

The deal of century ploy, fronted by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, had already been rejected by the Palestinians, who say the White House’s policies have been blatantly biased in favor of Israel.

مشعل لهنية: لو كنت مكانك لشاركت في عزاء سليماني

فلسطين الأخبار الأربعاء 22 كانون الثاني 2020

لتقى هنية ومشعل في الدوحة خلال الأيام الماضية أكثر من مرة (الأخبار)

ضمن الحملة المتواصلة على «حركة المقاومة الإسلامية» (حماس)، أشاعت مواقع «فتحاوية» وأخرى مدعومة من السعودية وجود خلاف بين قيادات الحركة، ولا سيما بين رئيس المكتب السياسي الأسبق خالد مشعل، والرئيس الحالي إسماعيل هنية، عنوانُه مشاركة الأخير في عزاء الشهيد الفريق قاسم سليماني في العاصمة الإيرانية طهران، وإلقاؤه كلمة هناك. تعقيباً على ذلك، يقول مصدر مقرّب من قيادة «حماس» إن مشعل «على عكس ما يروَّج تماماً، مقتنعٌ بأهمية زيارة وفد الحركة لطهران وتقديم التعزية باستشهاد سليماني»، وإنه داعم لـ«خطوات قيادة الحركة (الحالية) في هذا الاتجاه»، علماً بأن مشعل عضو في مجلس الشورى الحركي. ويضيف المصدر: «مشعل قال في اللقاءات الأخيرة إنه لا يَسَع الأخ أبو العبد (هنية) إلا أن يترأس بنفسه الوفد في هذه الزيارة، ولو كنت مكانه لفعلت ما فعل».

وكان موقع «إندبندنت عربية»، المموّل سعودياً، نقل عن مصدر وصفه بأنه في قيادة «حماس» أن مشعل وَصَف تصرّف هنية بأنه «خطأ استراتيجي»، وقال إنه «كان يكفي أن ترسل الحركة وفداً متواضعاً لمثل هذا الحدث، خاصة أن هنية تعهّد للمصريين بعدم زيارة طهران» قبل خروجه من القاهرة. وأضاف المصدر نفسه، بحسب الموقع، أن أوساطاً في الحركة رأت أن «تصرفّ هنية ومَن حوله أحرج حماس في عدد من المحافل المهمة، خاصة مصر والأردن والسعودية، وكان على القيادة أن تفكّر ملياً قبل الهرولة إلى جنازة سليماني». لكن المصدر المقرّب من قيادة الحركة ذكر، في حديث إلى «الأخبار»، أن مشعل قدّم بنفسه التعزية بسليماني عبر اتصالات هاتفية مع وزير الخارجية الإيراني محمد جواد ظريف، والأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصر الله، ونائب سليماني الذي عُيّن خلفاً له العميد إسماعيل قاآني، في أعقاب الاغتيال مباشرة، لافتاً في الوقت نفسه إلى لقاءات متواصلة بين هنية ومشعل في الدوحة.

كان هناك إجماع في «حماس»، ولا سيما لدى العسكر، على خطوة هنية

وعلمت «الأخبار» أنه منذ إعلان مراسم التشييع، كان التوجّه في غزة، ولا سيما لدى قيادة الذراع العسكرية للحركة، «كتائب القسام»، هو ضرورة أن يترأس هنية الوفد الذاهب إلى طهران للتعزية، فضلاً عن إجماع باقي أعضاء المكتب السياسي في القطاع على ذلك. وإلى جانب الحديث عن خلاف «حمساوي» في هذا الشأن، روّجت المواقع القريبة من «فتح»، ولا سيما من القيادي المفصول من الحركة محمد دحلان، أن حركات سلفية هدّدت بتنفيذ عمليات في غزة جرّاء مشاركة «حماس» في التشييع، وأن أجهزة الأمن التابعة للحركة بدأت حملة ضدّ تلك الحركات، وهو ما يردّ عليه المصدر بالقول إن «متابعة ملفّ المنحرفين فكرياً متواصل بغضّ النظر عن هذه الإشاعات».
في غضون ذلك، قال نائب رئيس الحركة في غزة، خليل الحية، إن «حماس لا تقبل بديلاً من مصر لإدارة القضايا الوطنية الفلسطينية»، لكنه أقرّ، خلال لقاء مع الإعلاميين في غزة أمس، بأن «مصر اتخذت موقفاً من زيارتنا إلى إيران»، مستدركاً بأن «المصريين عقلانيون وتجاوزنا الأمر معهم… لا علاقة لأزمة الغاز المصري (والبضاعة) بزيارة هنية، بل هي لأسباب وحسابات تجارية بحتة». وأضاف: «نختلف ونتفق مع مصر، والسياسة تتطلّب ذلك، ونحن نعمل على ترميم العلاقات مع كلّ الدول والكيانات». ووسط أنباء عن طلب هنية من الرياض المشاركة في التعزية بوفاة الأمير بندر بن عبد العزيز الذي توفي أمس، تتواصل الانتقادات الفصائلية والشعبية لمشاركته في عزاء سلطان عمان الراحل قابوس بن سعيد، خاصة أن الأخير استقبل رئيس حكومة العدو، بنيامين نتنياهو، قبل مدة قصيرة. لكن مسؤولين في الحركة دافعوا عن المشاركة بوصفها ضمن خطة العلاقات العامة التي يعملون عليها. وسبق لطاهر النونو، وهو المستشار الإعلامي لهنية، أن أكد قبل يومين أن جولة الأخير «تسير كما تمّ الإعداد لها في شأن الأهداف التي رصدناها، وهي حشد الدعم السياسي لقضيتنا، وتعزيز صمود شعبنا، والالتفاف حول القدس». ونفى النونو «أيّ توتر مع الأشقاء في مصر، لأن العلاقة معها محورية، ووصلت إلى حالة من الاستقرار والتعاون والتنسيق في الملفات كافة… علاقة الحركة مع أيّ دولة لا تتمّ على حساب أو ضدّ أيّ دولة أخرى».

فيدوات متعلقة

Iran: “Assassinations will make us stronger” – Hamas leader at Soleimani funeral
Palestinians in Gaza pay tribute to slain Iranian commander
Hamas Leader Yahya Sinwar: If Not for Iran’s Support, We Would Not Have Our Missile Capabilities

مقالات متعلقة

Iran Ukraine Crash – A Propaganda Wet Dream

By David Macilwain

Source

Iran Ukraine Crash 65aba

[Author’s note: I started writing this before the unexpected Iranian missile strikes on Ain al Asad base, and the “accompanying” tragic plane crash in Iran, but finish it with my latest thoughts on the path forward]

When we look back over events in the Middle East over the last six months, with the benefit of hindsight based on the latest developments, it appears that the assassination of Qasem Soleimani is actually the culmination of those events, in the minds of the men who planned this brutal, callous and cowardly attack on the “Hero of the Resistance”.

Those men – and women – who collaborated on this conspiracy intended to provoke Iran into taking military action against the US or its local allies where all else had failed, and now appear satisfied with the result – in their fundamental ignorance and Imperial hubris. Some seem to even imagine that Iran’s leaders and people will feel satisfied that they have hit back with a few missiles, and may now be prepared to agree to a cessation of hostilities – though this is hard to believe, and such people probably deserve the rude awakening that is yet to come.

Mohammed Javad Zarif, the consummate diplomat, and remaining lucid even under such extreme circumstances nevertheless made it clear; the carefully targeted missile strikes simply delivered a message – that no more drone missions or military activities would be possible from those US bases. The rest of the message was for the US and its coalition partners to leave the region. President Rouhani put it less diplomatically, and without Zarif’s humour; the US will leave the region and “its feet will be cut off – as Soleimani’s hands were cut off”, never to return.

Outside the Western establishment and media bubble, where Trump’s “response” to Iran’s effective ultimatum is discussed, it is tempting – and common – to dismiss the insanely provocative and grossly illegal behavior of the US government as “stupid” or as “Trump acting impulsively”. This misses the point, in my view, which is less appealing and seriously frightening – that the killing of Qasem Soleimani was a calculated and well-planned move by several members of the US coalition that was fully intended to provoke a final showdown with Iran, regardless of consequences in terms of death and destruction in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

And far from stepping back from war – as the West constantly pretends to favor – the collaborators in this infernal scheme are now doubling down on their crime. It may be unwise to make this claim against the country in which one lives – but there can be no beating about the bush following a statement from the Australian government leaders. Putting this first into necessary context, there remain some 300 Australian soldiers based at camp Taji just north of Baghdad, who like the US contingent have been asked to leave by the Iraqi government. They are a token but indispensable partner of the US coalition, much as John Howard was a token partner – with Bush and Blair – of the 2003 invasion, but like the Government, will do whatever the US does.

The original, and dubious, pretext for US deployment to Iraq in 1991 was again cited as applying to the current presence, though not even the Americans could believe that has any validity. It is abundantly clear that the US is not protecting any US citizens from attack other than those who are legitimate enemy targets in Iraq. Australian forces are on even shakier ground, claiming to be at the invitation of the US to assist in fighting Da’esh – an excuse cited again by Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne in an interview on the ABC’s AM program. And it is this interview and the Morrison government’s statements following a meeting of the National Security Committee which constitute “exhibit One” in the evidence that Australia is now a collaborator with those driving for war on Iran.

Despite some suggestions that the Government might reconsider its decision, taken last July but not “confirmed” till late August, to join the US and UK in a so-called “International Maritime Security Mission” in the Persian Gulf, Foreign Minister Payne and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds are neither canceling nor delaying the deployment of HMS Toowoomba to the Straits of Hormuz – which coincidentally will leave from Perth on Monday 13th January. Their apparent determination to send the warship straight into the likely line of fire also comes despite the ongoing detention of British-Australian academic Kylie Moore Gilbert in Tehran, who went on hunger strike on Christmas Eve, by coincidence.

One should always be wary of coincidences, in time or space, as is illustrated by another such coincidence this week on the Iraqi battlefield.

At first and second glance the crash of Ukraine air flight PS 752 looked highly suspect, happening only hours after Iran’s ballistic missile volleys into Iraq, but reportedly crashing due to some technical fault. It also seemed impossible – as maintained by authorities till now – that a sophisticated Iranian missile battery could somehow “mistake” a civilian airliner flying up and away from Tehran for an incoming missile, plane or drone, even in the heightened tensions following the successful Iranian attack on US bases in Iraq.  How can it be explained that the plane that was hit – targeted – just happened to involve key members of the Western coalition, Canada and Ukraine, in some sort of echo of MH17? The remarkable appearance of Bellingcat amongst the wreckage, with an unverified video showing a missile hitting the plane seemed to confirm growing suspicions this was really another MH17 style provocation – until the Iranian government “admitted” a missile was responsible just 48 hours later.

At the time of writing nothing is certain except ‘cui bono’.  The same Western powers who cooperated to start this war on Iran by killing Hashd al Shabi soldiers at the key Islamic State border crossing near Al Qaim, and then assassinating Soleimani as he came to Baghdad following their funerals, are now the “beneficiaries” of the Ukraine air disaster. The sympathy for Soleimani expressed by millions of Iranians, Iraqis, Syrians and others around the world, and support for the fight of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard against the Imperial barbarian invaders has now been turned on its head, at least in the Western media and amongst NATO leaders.

Overnight the IRGC has become – in the Western public mind – exactly what the US and Israel were claiming it was – as the reason to assassinate its leader, thanks to the actions of one allegedly “panicked” missile battery operator. It is a propaganda wet dream for Bellingcat and associates, who are now just a little too self-satisfied with a turn of events that supposedly took them by surprise – like the early riser who managed to film the missile hitting the plane – something that eluded the many stunned onlookers in Donbass when MH17 was shot from the sky.

Already those agents are stirring up protests, in Iraq and in Tehran, while failing to report the worldwide protests against war on Iran. They even seem to have forgotten what happened just a month ago, when Jeremy Corbyn’s threat to lead the UK away from America’s endless wars saw him wiped from the political map; this weekend he is leading anti-war protests in London, while the Five Eyes get into gear for this “war of choice”.

Western media excited about ‘new Iran revolution’, but polls tell a different story about protests

Sharmine Narwani

Sharmine Narwani is a commentator and analyst of Middle East geopolitics. She is a former senior associate at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University and has a master’s degree in International Relations from Columbia University. Sharmine has written commentary for a wide array of publications, including Al Akhbar English, the New York Times, the Guardian, Asia Times Online, Salon.com, USA Today, the Huffington Post, Al Jazeera English, BRICS Post and others. You can follow her on Twitter at @snarwani

Western media excited about ‘new Iran revolution’, but polls tell a different story about protests

Reuters/WANA/Nazanin Tabatabaee

Data from two foreign polls tell a very different story about protests in Iran. The economy is tough, but a majority of Iranians back their government’s security initiatives and reject domestic upheaval.

On November 15, angry Iranians began pouring onto the streets to protest sudden news of a 50% fuel price hike. A day later, peaceful demonstrations had largely dissipatd, replaced instead by much smaller crowds of rioters who burned banks, gas stations, buses and other public and private property. Within no time, security forces hit the streets to snuff out the violence and arrest rioters, during which an unconfirmed number of people on both sides died.

Western commentators tried in vain to squeeze some juice out of the short-lived protests. “Iranian protesters strike at the heart of the regime’s legitimacy,” declared Suzanne Maloney of the Brookings Institution. France 24 asked the question, is this “a new Iranian revolution?” And the LA Times slammed Iran’s “brutal crackdown” against its people.

They grasped for a geopolitical angle too: protests in neighboring Lebanon and Iraq that were based almost entirely on popular domestic discontent against corrupt and negligent governments, began to be cast as a regional insurrection against Iranian influence.

ALSO ON RT.COMIran has quashed ‘extensive & very dangerous conspiracy’ perpetrated by foreign enemies, Khamenei saysAnd despite the fact that the internet in Iran was disabled for nearly a week, unverified videos and reports curiously made their way outside to Twitter accounts of Iran critics, alleging that protestors were calling for the death of the Supreme Leader, railing against Iran’s interventions in the region and calling for a fall of the “regime.

Clearly, the initial protests were genuine – a fact that even the Iranian government admitted immediately. Reducing petrol subsidies on the cheapest fuel in the region has been an issue on Iran’s political agenda for years, one that became more urgent after the US exited the Iran nuclear deal last year and began to tighten the sanctions screws on Iran again.

To try and understand Iranian reactions in the past twelve days, let’s look at two opinion polls conducted jointly by the University of Maryland’s Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM) and Toronto-based IranPolls in the immediate aftermath of the 2017/2018 protests/riots – and in May, August and October 2019, when the US “maximum pressure” campaign was in full gear.

What leaps out immediately from the earlier 2018 poll is that Iranians were frustrated with a stagnant economy – and 86% of them specifically opposed a hike in the price of gasoline, the main impetus for protests this November.

Ironically, this month’s gasoline price hike was meant to generate upward of $2.25 billion earmarked for distribution to Iran’s 18 million most hard-hit families. In effect, the government was softening the fuel subsidy reduction with payouts to the country’s neediest citizens.

The 2018 poll also lists respondents’ single biggest woes, ranging from unemployment (40%), inflation and high cost of living (13%), low incomes (7%),financial corruption and embezzlement (6%), injustice (1.4%), lack of civil liberties (0.3%), among others.

These numbers suggest the 2018 protests were overwhelmingly in response to domestic economic conditions– and not over Iran’s foreign policy initiatives or “widespread repression” that was heavily promoted by western media and politicians at the time.

The same Suzanne Maloney quoted above on this month’s protests, insisted in a 2018 Washington Post article:“The people aren’t just demonstrating for better working conditions or pay, but insisting on wholesale rejection of the system itself.”

In fact, in the 2018 poll, only 16% of Iranians agreed with the statement “Iran’s political system needs to undergo fundamental change,” with a whopping 77% disagreeing.

ALSO ON RT.COMIranian protesters should be angry at the regime in Washington, not Tehran

 

Like protests this month in Iran, the 2017-18 demonstrations also morphed into small but violent riots, and Iranian security forces hit the streets to stop the chaos. But in the aftermath of those events – and despite endless foreign headlines about the “brutality” of the security reaction – Iranians overwhelmingly sided with their government’s treatment of rioters.

Sixty-three percent of those polled in 2018 said the police used an appropriate amount of force, and another 11% said they used “too little force.” Overall, 85% of Iranians agreed that “the government should be more forceful to stop rioters who use violence or damage property.”

This Iranian reaction must be understood in context of Iran’s very insecure neighborhood, region-wide terrorism often backed by hostile states and a relentless escalation against Iranian interests after Donald Trump became US president. His “maximum pressure” campaign has only worsened matters, and Iranians consider themselves in a state of war with the United States – on constant guard against subversion, sabotage, espionage, eavesdropping, propaganda, border infiltration, etc.

Earlier this decade, the US military declared the internet an “operational domain”of war, and cyber warfare has already been widely acknowledged as the future battle frontier in conflicts. Iran was one of the early victims of this new warfare, when the suspected US/Israeli Stuxnet virus disrupted its nuclear program.

The US military has set up war rooms of servicemen dedicated to manipulating social media and advancing US propaganda interests. The British army has launched a “social media warfare” division, its initial focus, the Middle East. Israel has been at the online propaganda game forever, and the Saudis have recently invested heavily in influencing discourse on social media.

It should therefore come as no surprise that the Iranian government shut down the internet during this crisis. Expect this to become the new normal in US adversary states when chaos looms and foreign information operations are suspected.

The western media themes of corruption, violent repression, popular rejection of the Islamic Republic and its regional alliances have been consistent since the 2009 protests that followed contentious elections in Iran. They flared up briefly in early 2011, when western states were eager for an “Iranian Spring” to join the Arab Spring, and became popular narratives during 2017-18 protests when social media platforms adopted them widely.

This November, those narratives sprung to the surface again. So let’s examine what Iranians thought about these claims in October when CISSM/IranPolls published their latest, extremely timely survey.

Iran’s regional military activities

Sixty-one percent of Iranians support retaining military personnel in Syria to contain extremist militants that could threaten Iran’s security and interests. Polls taken since March 2016 confirm the consistency of this view inside Iran, with a steady two-thirds (66%) of respondents supporting an increase in Iran’s regional role.

Asked what would happen if Iran conceded to US demands and ended the US-sanctioned Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) activities in Syria and Iraq, 60% of Iranians thought it would make Washington demand more concessions – only 11% thought it would make the US more accommodating.

Moreover, the October 2019 report says negative attitudes toward the United States have never been higher in CISSM/IranPoll’s 13 years of conducting these surveys in Iran. A hefty 86% of Iranians do not favor the US, and those who say their view of the US is very unfavorable has skyrocketed from 52% in 2015 to 73% today.

They could care less that Washington has sanctioned the IRGC and its elite Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani, who is the most popular national figure of those polled, with eight in ten Iranians viewing him favorably. If anything, a hefty 81% of Iranians said the IRGC’s Mideast activities has made Iran “more secure.

As for the IRGC’s role in Iran’s domestic economy – a favorite subject of western foes who cast the military group as a malign and corrupt instrument of the state – today 63% of Iranians believe the IRGC should be involved “in construction projects and other economic matters,” as well as continuing their security role. In times of crisis, they’re viewed as a vital institution: the IRGC and Iranian military scored top points with the public (89% and 90% respectively) for assisting the population during crippling floods last Spring, which displaced half a million Iranians.

Economy and corruption

Seventy percent of Iranians view their economy as “bad” today, a figure that has stayed surprisingly consistent over the past 18 months, despite the imposition of US sanctions last year. The majority blame domestic mismanagement and corruption for their economic woes, but a rising number also blame US sanctions, which is possibly why 70% of Iranians prefer aiming for national self-sufficiency over increasing foreign trade.

Asked about the “impact (of sanctions) on the lives of ordinary people,” 83% of Iranians agreed there was a negative impact on their lives. Oddly, since the US exited the JCPOA, economic pessimism has dropped from 64% in 2018 to 54% last month-mainly, the poll argues, because Iranians feel the US can’t realistically pressure Iran much further with sanctions. Accordingly, 55% of Iranians blame domestic economic mismanagement and corruption for Iran’s poor economy versus 38% who blame foreign sanctions and pressure.

The blame for much of this mismanagement and corruption is pinned on the administration of President Hassan Rouhani, whose favorability numbers dropped under 50% for the first time, to reach 42% this August. Fifty-four percent of Iranians think his government isn’t trying much to fight corruption.

In contrast, 73% believe the Iranian judiciary is much more engaged in fighting economic corruption, up 12% since May.

On the economic front, it appears that Iranians have largely been disappointed by the promises and vision of this administration, which could benefit its Principlist opponents in upcoming parliamentary elections. The fuel tax hike two weeks ago was a necessary evil and a brave move by Rouhani, despite the mismanagement of its public rollout. Unfortunately, Iranians, who have railed against subsidy removals for years, are unlikely to be forgiving anytime soon.

On the political front, Iranians appear to be largely in lockstep with their government’s foreign policy and military initiatives, viewing the IRGC’s activities – domestic and regional – very favorably, and supporting Iran’s involvement in neighboring Iraq and Syria, both for security reasons against terrorism and because they believe in an active regional role for Iran. In terms of support for their leaders, a majority of Iranians view favorably the IRGC’s Soleimani (82%), followed by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (67%) and Judiciary Head Ebrahim Raisi (64%), which covers an unexpectedly broad spectrum of political viewpoints in the country.

In light of these numbers, it is fair to say that there is no “second revolution” on Iran’s horizon, nor any kind of significant rupture between government and populace on a whole host of key political, economic and security issues. Foreign commentators can spin events in Iran all they want, but so far Iranians have chosen security and stability over upheaval every time.

*Poll numbers in this article have been rounded up or down to the nearest unit.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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