Tuesday, January 2

Mr Trump, Iran is not Selma, Alabama circa 1960s

(For readers who don't know the significance of Selma for the American civil rights movement, here's some background.)  

Dear President Trump -- I don't like being the bearer of bad news, but just because young people in foreign countries are marching in the streets, waving signs, and shouting 'We shall overcome,' this does not not necessarily mean they are protesting for causes dear to American hearts -- liberty, justice for all, civil rights, etc.  The protests can mean quite the opposite. Take, for example, the mass street protests that began December 28 in Iran:
However, it may actually turn out that the protests are driven by Iran’s hardliners and Islamic conservatives, who are challenging the presidency of Rouhani, who is considered a “moderate”politician in the Islamic Republic.
The Iranian city of Mashhad is one of the places where the protests initially started.  [Ahmed Al-Burai, a lecturer at Aydin University in Istanbul] explained that it is actually a “stronghold of Rouhani’s major competitor” at the last presidential elections, Ebrahim Raisi. 
Raisi is the son-in-law of the Mashhad Friday prayer leader and Grand Imam of Imam Reza shrine, Ahmad Alamolhoda.
The politician also enjoys the support of the Iranian conservative circles. He advocates gender segregation and even sees sanctions imposed against Iran as a sort of opportunity. Notably, fighting corruption and creating jobs were his major election promises during the last presidential campaign.
In the meantime, the US seems to pay no attention to the real situation on the ground. On Monday, US Vice President Mike Pence promised full support to the Iranian protesters by saying, “We must not and we will not let them down.”
The quotes are from RT's Jan 1 report "Trump's support will not be welcomed by Iranian protesters", which begins by pointing out the obvious, which is that many Iranians -- including many of the protesters -- positively hate the United States. In fact, so widespread is the hatred that Rouhani was probably not talking through his turban when he claimed that "foreign provocations" are a factor in the protests -- although he admitted what is also obvious, which is that "domestic problems" are also in play in the protests.  

(Ali Shamkhani, deputy head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, went even further by fingering the Usual Suspects -- U.S., U.K, and Al Saud -- as instigators of the Iranian protests, and pointed out:
“Based on our analysis, almost 27 percent of the new [social media] hashtags directed against Iran have been generated by the Saudi government” ...
Now it would be exaggeration to say that American intelligence agencies and think tanks couldn't correctly analyze the doings in so much as a foreign chicken coop. There are some very knowledgeable American and foreigners working for the U.S. government who are skilled analysts of foreign affairs. 

The caveat is that their hard work is often ignored by factions in Congress and the American Administration, which are usually so busy squabbling about each others' agendas that finally no one can untangle what is actually happening in the situations under analysis. 

Upshot: The U.S. wades blindfolded into situations in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world, making a mess that it then tries to 'fix,' which makes a bigger mess.

I emphasize that in the Middle East the U.S. generally doesn't wade in alone; it's works in tandem with NATO members, notably U.K. and/or France, and allies in the Arab oil countries, and with Israel sometimes bringing up the rear but more often complaining that nobody is listening to their advice.

The most annoying part for Americans, at least those Americans who have some idea of what is actually going on, is that despite the group effort, it's invariably the United States that is left holding the bag when the messes turn into crises.

Some will argue that U.S. defense policymakers are very clear about what is really going on in Iran but that even if the political hand behind the current protests is Iranian Islamic hardliners, the optics of the protests fit well with American propaganda against Tehran's regime.

I'd reply to such people by asking what century they believe this is.

The weaponization of street protests by foreign powers is so well known in this era -- recently one American analyst sarcastically referred to the tactic as "renta rallies" -- that the smart move for an American administration is to completely distance itself from even a hint of involvement in foreign protest rallies.  

But that would mean getting a handle on factions in Congress which are infamously known as instigators of phony democracy revolutions to install U.S. puppets in power. In the Herculean task I would wish President Trump, and any American president, the very best of luck and a tripled security detail.


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