Are these protests in Iran spontaneous, or are they the result of another regime change operation? This week on The Corbett Report, James explores the past, present and future of US and Israeli involvement in Iran, and the attempts to foment unrest in the country.
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Reports have just come out claiming that the United States and Israel have signed a secret deal to tackle the nuclear threat from Iran, so it looks like the deal isn’t so secret anymore. The far-reaching Memorandum of Understanding was signed on December 12th at the White House following intense talks between both nations and plans to set up four teams to handle various aspects of the Iranian threat. One team will focus on Iranian activity in Syria and Lebanon, another will deal with both diplomatic and intelligence activities to grapple with Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions, a third will tackle Iran’s ballistic missile program and the fourth will oversee preparations for any escalation by Iran or Hezbollah.
And then, just two days after that report broke, just three weeks after the plan itself was agreed, a wave of protests broke out across Iran. These protests, originating in discontent over the performance of the economy under the Rouhani government, soon morphed into rallies, riots and violence aimed against the Iranian republic itself.
Could these protests be the result of the US and Israeli plan to undermine Iran? If these were just two isolated data points, then connecting these dots would be a stretch. But when we put recent events into their proper perspective, there is no doubt that the US, Israel and their allies are actively supporting and fomenting regime change in Iran. And that’s why “We Need to Talk About the Iran Protests.”
This is The Corbett Report.
From the scattered and contextless news reporting of the mainstream media, it might appear that the protests happening right now are, in fact, a grassroots uprising against an unpopular and repressive regime. After all, this is what we are told by US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley.
NIKKI HALEY: Now the Iranian dictatorship is trying to do what it always does, which is to say that the protests were designed by Iran’s enemies. We all know that’s complete nonsense. The demonstrations are completely spontaneous. They are virtually in every city in Iran. This is the precise picture of a long-oppressed people rising up against their dictators.
And surely no one can make the case that the Iranian people do not have valid reason to be upset at their government.
After years of rising unemployment and inflation and dwindling hopes for a foreign investment boom, even Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is upset with the country’s economic outlook under President Hassan Rouhani. The government’s latest budget proposal, sent to parliament just weeks ago, has only made things worse, cutting an extremely popular cash transfer program instituted under previous President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that gave each Iranian a stipend of about $90 per month.
The videos of the earliest demonstrations in this wave of protest, scattered footage of a few dozen protesters in the northeastern city of Mashhad calling for economic relief, are in line with the “spontaneous” uprising being touted by the political puppets and their mainstream media mouthpieces. But those early protests soon descended into chaos, mayhem, violence and death.
Now, with dozens dead and hundreds arrested, the question has to be asked: have the initial, grassroots protests been hijacked by regime change agents?
The question is by no means outlandish. In June of 2017, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson admitted to Congress that the government is actively working with parties inside Iran to help foment regime change inside the country.
Rep. Ted Poe: I’d like to know what the policy is in the US toward Iran. Do we support the current regime? Do we support a philosophy of peaceful regime change?
Rex Tillerson: Our policy towards Iran is to push back on this hegemony, contain their ability to develop nuclear weapons and to work toward support of those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government. Those elements are there, certainly, as we know.
That same month, it was revealed that the CIA has created a new mission center to focus exclusively on gathering and analyzing intelligence about Iran.
Ramping the tension up even further, it was reported just this past week that the US has given the green light to Israel to assassinate Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, the overseas arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
All of this comes on the heels of repeated warnings by President Trump over the past year that the US was preparing operations against the Iranian government.
Michael Flynn: President Trump has severely criticized the various agreements reached between Iran and the Obama administration, as well as the United Nations as being weak and ineffective. Instead of being thankful to the United States for these agreements, Iran is now feeling emboldened. As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice. Thank you.
President Trump: It is far past time for the nations of the world to confront another reckless regime—one that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room. The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. It has turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos. The longest-suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are, in fact, its own people.
SOURCE: Trump Slams Iran at UN Speech
Colin Bray: Donald Trump made an ominous sounding statement to journalists following a meeting with top US military officials at the White House. He suggested the talks on Thursday, during which North Korea and Iran were discussed, were a prelude to a major event, but then declined to comment further.
Trump: …Could be the calm. The calm before the storm.
Reporter: What storm, Mr. President?
Trump: You’ll find out.
But perhaps this is just hot air, political bluster designed to throw the Iranians off balance. Maybe these comments and the sudden wave of violence in Iran are coincidental. Is there any reason to think that the US, Israel and their allies are actually operating in Iran?
To answer this question, we have to see the current unrest not as a spontaneous protest arising in an historical vacuum, but as the end result of a century of interference in Iranian politics.
The modern era of Iranian politics traces back not to last month, but to 1951, when then-President of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh, nationalized the Iranian oil industry, revoking concessions that had been made to the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (later rebranded as British Petroleum) half a century earlier. This enraged the British and put the Americans—embroiled in the Cold War and worried about Soviet influence in the region—on edge. Together they hatched a plan—dubbed “TPAJAX” and led by Kermit Roosevelt, Jr.—to topple the government and strengthen the rule of the US-friendly Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
The plan was comprised of four main components: The first was to begin a propaganda campaign portraying Mosaddegh as a communist; the second, to encourage the opposition to create disturbances; the third, to pressure the Shah to remove Mosaddegh from power and select a new prime minister; and fourth, to support Fazlollah Zahedi as Mosaddegh’s replacement.
With the propaganda campaign support for the opposition well underway, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf arrived in Iran on August 1st armed with large bags filled with millions of US dollars. Scwarzkopf met with Zahedi and the Shah to assure them of US support. Roosevelt also entered Iran secretly under the alias “James Lockbridge,” and on the same day met with the Shah to discuss the execution of Operation Ajax. The Shah was to issue a decree to dismiss Mosaddegh and replace him with Zahedi.
On August 15th, the commander of the Imperial Guards, accompanied with three truckloads of soldiers, arrived at Mosaddegh’s home to issue his dismissal. Mosaddegh’s guards overwhelmed the soldiers and called for the immediate arrest of Zahedi, who was being hidden by the US in its embassy compound. The Shah, upon hearing of the coup’s failure, fled to Baghdad, and the US began drawing up plans to pulls Zahedi and Roosevelt out of the country. Roosevelt, hoping to make use of the failed coup attempt, hired a large crowd at the cost of $50,000 to pose as communist tutor members and riot through the streets of Tehran, attacking mosques and statues of the Shah. Roosevelt also stepped up the propaganda campaign to link Mosaddegh with the rioting communists. In preparation for the second coup attempt, the CIA began bribing army and police officials. August 19th was the date set by the CIA for its next attempt to overthrow Mosaddegh.
On the morning of August 19th, the same mob hired two days earlier to pose as communist rioters entered the center of Tehran and began threatening and intimidating passers-by and drivers to display pictures of the Shah. The police, having already been paid off, failed to intervene. The mob, then armed with knives, clubs, chains and sticks, began marching on Mosaddegh’s house. The CIA had told the mob to do everything possible to ensure the mob gets as much attention as possible. Taking the advice rather literally, the mob had hired wrestlers, tumblers, jugglers and clowns.
Zahedi came out of hiding from the US embassy and drove to the state radio station to announce his takeover. The Shah’s imperial guards began attacking Mosaddegh’s house with artillery, Sherman tanks and bazookas. Mosaddegh had once again managed to escape over the back wall. The ensuing battle between the Imperial Guards, the hired mob and Mossadegh guards claimed over 300 lives. Among those killed were hired mob members who had been found with money still in their pockets given to them that very morning by CIA agents.
The same day, Zahedi declared himself Prime Minister, and the following day Mosaddegh surrendered himself to the Shah’s forces.
That 1953 coup casts a long shadow over Iranian politics in the modern era. The chain of events that foreign intervention set off led ultimately to the 1979 revolution, when the Iranian people, fed up with a Shah who was seen as an American puppet and who used his secret police to suppress political dissent, overthrew the government and instituted the Islamic Republic. As newly declassified documents reveal, however, even Ayatollah Khomeini, the self-proclaimed enemy of the American empire, was careful to keep an open channel of communication with the American government, extending from his first contact with “The Great Satan” in November 1963 (when he assured President Kennedy he was “not opposed to American interests in Iran”) to the midst of the revolution itself (when he assured President Carter that “You will see we are not in any particular animosity with the Americans” and insisted “The oil flow will continue after the establishment of the Islamic Republic”).
According to the sources of FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, who experienced the revolution directly as a resident of Iran, even the infamous hostage-taking itself was a pre-arranged bit of political theater, designed to play into the anger of the Iranian people at American intervention even as it spared key American personnel from that wrath.
Sibel Edmonds: Fourteen, fifteen years ago, through one of the legal firms that I worked with during my case, I got to know this private part-time investigator the firm had hired. Now this man used to work for the CIA. He was an agent and he spent years in Iran during the Shah’s regime. He introduced himself and he actually spoke Farsi, and I speak Farsi. I said, “Wow! How did you learn?” He said. “Well, I lived in Iran. I worked for the State Department / the agency,” and his cover was [that he was] the radio announcer for the English-language radio in Iran broadcast from the embassy. That’s one of the common covers there.
And he said, “You know the hostage-taking?” That infamous scene that whenever the US mainstream media talk about Iran, guess what they always like to show? They like to show these bearded men going there and taking over the US embassy and they’re taking these poor Americans as hostage. Barbarics, you know. I think that is the most famous scene that has been played billions of times by the US media. Because of their masters wanting that scene being like this thing. You say “Iran,” and the first thing people visualize is that hostage-taking. “Those barbaric animals!” you know?
Well, he was there and he said, five or six days before the hostage taking, “we” (the State Department/CIA special staff members) were given a notice by cable to immediately leave Iran and go. And they gave us options: Greece, Turkey, Tunisia, etc. “Have some vacation time, beach time,” you know? “And then don’t come back to the United States until we got our next assignment for whatever country.” So he said, “I packed immediately.” It was like, “Immediate! Now! You’re leaving Iran.”
All the embassy people who were connected to CIA, anybody high level, were given notice to immediately leave Iran five days before that hostage-taking. So the only ones left there were some administrative people. None of them were CIA, they got all the key staff and they got them out of the country, okay, and they left those poor patsies there to suffer—the administrative people—so that hostage-taking incident would take place.
Now you and I would say therefore it was some sort of a pre-arranged incident. They got heads up that the regime, using rebels, were going to take over the embassy. They were given timelines so that they could take the important steps [to get] the real bad guys, CIA people, out of the country okay, and then leave a few poor Americans in there to go through the staged events.
So you are looking at a false flag. You are looking at a staged event.
But as much as those historical events have shaped the Iranian psyche and the Iranian body politic, the modern era of intervention against Iran began nearly two decades ago in secret planning meetings taking place in the bowels of the pentagon.
General Wesley Clark: About 10 days after 9/11 I went through the Pentagon and I saw Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy secretary Wolfowitz. I went downstairs just to say hello to some of the people on the Joint Staff who used to work for me, and one of the generals called me and he said, “Sir, you’ve got to come in. You’ve got to come in and talk to me a second.”
I said, “Well, you’re too busy.”
He said, “No, no.” He says, “We’ve made the decision. We’re going to war with Iraq.” This was on or about the 20th of September.
I said, “We’re going to war with Iraq. Why?”
He said, “I don’t know.”
So I came back to see him a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, “Are we still going to war with Iraq?” And he said, “Oh, it’s worse than that.” He reached over on his desk, he picked up a piece of paper and he said, “I just got this down from upstairs,” meaning the Secretary of Defense’s office, “today.” And he said, “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and finishing off with Iran.
The invasion of Iraq began in 2003, and by 2007 Seymour Hersh was reporting in the pages of The New Yorker that the Pentagon, living up to the plan revealed by Clark, had begun “The Redirection,” an attempt to refocus attention away from the escalating quagmire in Iraq and toward the neocons’ next target: Iran. This “redirection” involved the US allying with Sunni forces in the region—including radical Wahabi Sunnis and even Al Qaeda-affiliated groups—to sow chaos throughout the Middle East and to undermine the Iranian government and its regional allies.
That same year, globalist insider and CFR member Gary Hart wrote a warning to the Iranian government about the US government’s ability to use a false flag event to start a war. In Hart’s warning, entitled “Unsolicited Advice to the Government of Iran,” he cites the United States history of using staged and provocateured events as a pretense for attacking their enemies, citing the Gulf of Tonkin, USS Maine, and Pearl Harbor as historical precedents.
Predictably, Hart was never confronted on these statements by the mainstream media, but when confronted by independent citizen reporters at We Are Change, he admitted that he was warning of a possible false flag attack that was being planned at the highest levels of the US government to justify a bombing strike on Iran.
Reporter: Sir, was this not an outright threat, veiled in doublespeak that the United States could stage an event to go to war with Iran?
Gary Hart: No.
Reporter: No? Then what…?
Hart: Well, what I was tongue-in-cheek saying was that we have an administration in Washington that is dying for a reason to bomb Iran. And so, in a mock blog letter to the Iranian government—not the president, but the Iranian government—I just simply said “Unless you people want to be bombed, you better be careful about cross-border incursions.” And I think I explicitly said, “Keep the Republican Guard or the Revolutionary Guard—or whatever it’s called—away from the Iraqi border.
I was trying to communicate to the American people what our own government was trying to plan, and that was to find a reason for bombing Iran. And I was simply saying, in effect, to the American people through this mock letter, “Be very careful about this administration creating a USS Maine incident or a Gulf of Tonkin incident that would justify bombing Iran,” that’s all.
In 2008, Seymour Hersh revealed a plan drawn up by Dick Cheney to build fake Iranian PT boats and to dress US troops as Iranians in order to attack American ships, thus tricking the public into believing that the Iranians had attacked America.
Seymour Hersh: One of the items was…There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was, “Why don’t we build—we in our shipyard—build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats, put Navy SEALS on them with a lot of arms, and the next time one of our boats goes through the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up. Might cost a dozen lives. And it was rejected because you can’t have Americans killing Americans. But that’s the kind of stuff we were talking about.
At the same time, Israel and the US launched a cartoonish Iraqi WMD-like propaganda campaign to convince the world that Iran was developing a nuclear weapons program. And just like Saddam’s “weapons of mass destruction,” the “Iranian nuclear threat” was a deliberate fabrication.
Not only did the IAEA repeatedly confirm that there is no evidence Iran diverted any nuclear material into any military program, but the US intelligence community itself concluded in its own national intelligence estimate in 2011 that Iran was not trying to build a nuclear bomb. Incredibly, even Mossad contradicted its own Prime Minister by confirming in leaked cables that Iran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons.” And, to the surprise of absolutely no one, it was later revealed that the CIA had been running an operation to plant evidence of nuclear weapons involvement on Iran.
But perhaps the greatest irony of all is that there actually is an ongoing terror threat in the Persian Gulf. But that threat does not come from Iran. It is targeted at Iran.
Take Stuxnet, for example. One of the most sophisticated and malicious computer worms ever devised, Stuxnet was discovered in 2010 and was quickly found to be designed specifically to sabotage the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz. It has since been revealed that Stuxnet was only one part of a much larger cyberattack against Iran, jointly launched by the US and Israel and dubbed “NITRO ZEUS.”
Then there is the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, or “MEK,” a US State Department-designated terrorist organization that has been responsible for bombings, attempted plane hijackings, political assassinations, and indiscriminate killings of men, women and children in their attempt to overthrow the government of Iran. Naturally, it is openly supported by Rudy Giuliani, Joe Lieberman, Newt Gingrich and a bevy of other politicians who are able to flaunt America’s laws against supporting terrorists because the MEK, being against Iran, are the right kind of terrorists.
Then there are the assassinations of Iranian scientists that were confirmed to have been the work of Mossad.
And the recent Israeli bombing in Syria that was done based on a poorly sourced BBC report that indicated that there may be an Iranian military base near Damascus.
Time and again, the US, Israel and their willing regional ally, the Saudis, have attacked, threatened, provoked and staged events to draw Iran into war. And time and again, these attacks and provocations go utterly unreported in the mainstream press while politicians on both sides of the phony left/right divide allude to nameless transgressions of the Iranians.
It is only in this context that we can possibly hope to come to an understanding of the events taking place in Iran today.
Let’s be clear: This is not to say that the government of Hassan Rouhani is above reproach. This is not to say that the mullahs are brave defenders of freedom and liberty. This is not to say that the actions of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are always and forever wholesome and virtuous. This is not to say that the Iranian people are all happy with their government and that any and all unrest is only the work of outside forces.
These are the strawman arguments by which defenders of this renewed push for regime change in Iran try to shift the focus and muddy the waters. The point is that any and all decisions about what happens in Iran should be the work of the Iranian people. If Iraq and Libya and Syria have taught us anything, it is that the “humanitarian intervention” rallying cry is a sham, a false pretense used to whip up public support for the next regime change operation.
They cried crocodile tears over the poor, beleaguered people of Libya, but once the love bombs had been dropped and the country was torn apart, not another moment was spent worrying about the country. Today, there are open slave markets operating outside Tripoli, but not one word of remorse from the warmongers whose military intervention brought that about.
They cried crocodile tears over the poor, repressed people of Syria, and then proceeded to fund, arm, train and equip a terrorist insurgency that eventually morphed into ISIS under the careful tutelage of these humanitarian warhawks.
And now, the very same people who have been calling for the deaths of untold scores of Iranians are now pretending to care about the Iranian people.
Bill Kristol: I think the root cause of this, Stephanie, is that the Iranian people don’t have freedom and they would like freedom. I mean, you can get upset about the very minimal sanctions President Trump put on the IRGC. His policies have not fundamentally affected anything, and if companies don’t want to help the IRGC, the ruling regime in Iran, that’s fine with me. Let’s be more respectful of the Iranian people’s desire for freedom.
Trita Parsi: With all due respect, Bill, you’ve been arguing to bomb Iran for so long, so I don’t know if you’re really respecting the Iranian people. You’ve been advocating killing Iranians, so I don’t think you or the Trump administration have the credibility to now say that you care for the Iranian people.
Stephanie Ruhle: Hold on. Hold on.
Kristol: It’s not about me! It’s not about me! It’s about the Iranian people. Do you stand with the Iranian people against the regime?
Parsi: Of course I do.
Kristol: We’re in agreement, then.
Parsi: That’s exactly what I’m advocating. I’m in favor of making sure that they actually move towards a more democratic situation without killing them.
No, this is not about the plight of the poor Iranian people. This is about achieving a key American/Israeli/Saudi geopolitical objective.
As the dust settles on this wave of protests, it is most likely that the Iranian government will not be toppled. The opposition is unorganized, unarmed, and not drawing the masses of crowds that we have seen in previous “color revolutions.” But this is an ominous sign of things to come as the recent American/Israeli agreement on Iran comes to light.
The only question is whether the people of the world are going to fall for yet another regime change operation.