Mainstream Media False Flag
When protests in the US grow in number and extend across the country, the US officials’ conspiracy theorists accused Russia, China, and Iran of interference with Black Lives Matter protest same as mainstream media coverage. Although these charges are partially denied by top US social media owners, the US election problems raised and the same countries_ Russia, China and Iran are again were accused of interference again. This systematic conspiracy theory, not only mocks American citizens as fools who are puttying in foreign hands and fails to take into account the true sense of justice which is also evident in their protests, but also works as a false flag to hide US and NATO psychological warfare against their adversaries.
The usage of so-called psychological operation by US and NATO which is directly referred to as 5th generation warfare is no secret. Not only the mainstream media, as a unit of the western PSYOP, does not mention it in its coverage but the objective is to blame other countries’ public diplomacy by labeling the conducts of their citizens as governmental misconduct. The main goal of western psychological warfare is to brainwash the citizens of the adversaries.
US rhetoric shows the other aspect of spreading disinformation in mainstream media by changing the meaning of concepts. For example, not only the RAND Corporation, a think tank close to the US department of defense, acknowledges to the US PSYOP in Afghanistan in its assessment but it reveals the double standard used in a technical texture when the author of the U.S. Military Information Operations in Afghanistan claimed:
The most-notable shortcoming (in US PSYOP) has been the inability to effectively counter the Taliban propaganda campaign against U.S. and NATO forces on the theme of civilian casualties, both domestically and internationally, Nonetheless, it should be stressed that this Taliban propaganda success does not translate into widespread popular support for the Taliban movement.
The author claimed that civilian casualties by US led invasion to Afghanistan, was Taliban propaganda even though it did not benefit Taliban. This self-defeating claim ignores the reality of civilian casualties in the US led invasion where as statistics shows NATO and its allies killed more civilians than terrorist groups such as Taliban did in Afghanistan. This is a fact-based reality and its coverage should be the main duty of any media in war, not propaganda that’s promoted by Taliban.
Traps of US Influence Operation against Iran
Iran faces a huge psychological warfare from US and its NATO allies. These operations include three major categories; Official, semi-official, and covert operations.
Official PSYOP of NATO axis consists of state-run social media accounts, and sponsored news agencies. These elements are commanders of NATO’s troll factories who function as part of a covert PSYOP. They forge disinformation in a bid to create misleading scenarios and fake news as soldiers who are present on the ground. The social media account of US department of state, a.k. a USA darfarsi, is one of the examples of US official PSYOP operations against the Islamic Republic of Iran. For instance, USA darfarsi, recently shared a post containing aggressive content depicting the Iranian policy in dealing with the disabled and accusing Iran of being negligent as to the lives of the disabled and making their lives a misery when it comes to social and economic aspects as well as their activities in sports, entertainment, etc. USA darfarsi attempts to show the U.S. in a positive light and present Iran as a failure for the Iranian audience. So, it refers to the A.D.A. (the Americans with Disabilities Act) that had become law in 1990 and considers it a great advantage for US in dealing with the disables as opposed to the failure of Iran to take any effective measure in that regard. Obviously, the US department of States’ Persian instagram account made no reference to the CNN report in 2015 showing contrary result in the law. The report asserted the disabled Americans’ employment rate decreased from 50 percent in 1991, to 41 percent in 2015.
State sponsored news agencies, for example, BBC in Persian, are like factories producing misleading information, disinformation campaigns and fake news to target Iranian people. As mentioned above, the common strategy of NATO PSYOP against Iran is to humiliate Iranian government in the eyes of Iranian citizens. One of the most relevant controversial coverage took place at the outset of the Corona virus outbreak in Iran when the deputy of health minister contracted the virus. BBC Persian interpreted this issue as a disaster in crisis management and directed it to the Iranian officials but after a while when Boris Johnson, the prime minister of UK, was infected, BBC Persian analysts referred to him as a champion trying to combat COVID – 19. This double standard in the coverage of two identical instances in Iran and the Western countries is a common scenario which has been around for quite some and interestingly is sponsored by state sponsored media of such.
The semi – official part of the US PSYOP project on Iran contained the anti-establishmentarianist’s mouthpiece in social media and satellite TV channels. Secretary Pompeo as a top US foreign policy figure held many meetings with the Iranian so – called oppositions and promoted their PSYOP projects. Take Masih Alinejad as an example, one of the famous figures opposing the establishment in the Iranian political sphere. She was funded 305,000 $ by the U.S. government to spread hatred against her own nation. The scenes she presented paints Iran as a country of a woman crying which is a familiar depiction of Iran in Hollywood whereas it is clear now that these videos are not different from any fiction. The U.S. State Department allows Alinejad to donate US green cards for those who produce such fictional videos from Iran, some of those who reject her offer share this information. So, I’d like to refer to this kind of PSYOP as semi – officials and the fact that the US government uses anti-establishment Iranians who abandon their country to ruin the International image of Iran primarily among the Iranians living inside the country.
Another part of the NATO PSYOP against Iran is what I call the covert operations. These kinds of activities are contained of troll factories, bot-centered operations and so-called strategic communication in social media to manipulate Iranian public opinion. The evidence shows SCL Group, from which infamous Cambridge Analytic company stems from, was involved in operations against Iran, Syria, and Lebanon in favor of the white house. On the other hand, Troll factories and social bots are engaged in social media manipulations like MEK trolls, Israeli troll factories in 8200 special units and Hasbara users. Other opponents of Iran are trying to promote anti – Iran contents in social media for internal users as well as the international audience. The main goal of the NATO PSYOP is to create a community of fake Iranians reflecting their lack of trust in the Iranian sovereignty and political system on behalf of the real Iranian citizens as well as international community.
What Exactly US Led PSYOP Does During an Operation
The conduct of a psychological operation by US and NATO is not far from the aforementioned triple division (i.e. official, semi – official, and covert operations). These three elements of the U.S. led PSYOP create a cycle together. All operations, from content production to promotion and delivery of the massages to the targeted audience are being conducted in this cycle. To show how this cycle works, it is important to know what role each of these elements play.
The official part monitors Iran-related negative contents of all sorts spreading in social media as well as news items. Especially the ones that troll factories find to be against Iran’s interest. Ultimately, the semi – official side of US led PSYOP theorizes and customizes the content for Iranian audience and then sends it to other Iranian political and social spheres to paint Iran as a failure state. The cycle will be completed when the covert division spreading the rumor in the first place promotes the new, verified, and customized content and turns it into a disinformation campaign by forging new fake contents.
As a case study, we can look at the most recent campaign which occurred in the time of Corona virus. The numbers, cases and statistics are very important and complicated when it comes to Coronavirus. The estimation of exact number of the infected cases in all developed countries are a big problem and even officials admit this problem and the lack of accuracy in their statistics. In Britain BBC called them “inexact science”. Nevertheless, BBC Persian which is considered to be the state-sponsored media and official part of US & NATO led PSYOP recently released a report from an unknown source claiming Iran’s death toll is far more than what ministry of health reports every day while the World Health Organization’s fact-checking mechanisms have not found concrete proof that Iran has been covering up the severity of the coronavirus crisis, WHO’s director-general Tedros Adhanom said on CNBC. The rumor was initially backed by MEK troll factory, the so-called People’s Mojahedin Organization, an infamous terrorist group which has been accused of trolling activities aimed to spread hatred and disinformation in social media multiple times. From the beginning of Corona virus crisis the cult reported nonsense statistics and incorrect numbers. The interesting point is that the numbers in the report that BBC Persian published was close to MEK fake numbers. Thus, the covert element has promoted an unprecedented fake content for many audiences from the very beginning and then by repeating it again and again the covert division of US & NATO led PSYOP, eliminated the cognitive resistance of audience which happened for people against queerness contents. In other words, trolling activities of US led PSYOP accustoming disinformation contents for audience to pretend the official part claims as trustworthy information.
The above-mentioned semi – official division expending the subject of disinformation campaign. For instance, in this case, organizations that are anti establishment call themselves National Iranian Congress (NIC) connecting this alleged concealed data with the religious essence of the Iranian state. This campaign will extend itself by adding anti-religious content and proceed with its fake argument with regard to the Iranian political system and making it look as if it can’t be trusted. The cycle will be complete when troll factory promotes the old content but this time not as rumor instead of facts which is verified by official sources.
What the U.S. Seeks
By considering such campaigns, we can see how steadfast the U.S. is in terms of continuing its regime Change policy. All of the minor and major US led PSYOP in any era is pursuing the elimination of Iran’s political system at any cost. We can also see some specified aims reinforcing the main goal:
First, regional hatred: The most dangerous part of the US led PSYOP is hate spreading in a regional scale. The convergence occurred in the region is known as “Axis of Resistance” which is the top target of US led PSYOP. An invisible thread binding people together in the Middle East caused great damage to the US hegemony in the region so US led PSYOP primarily trys to dismantle this convergence by spreading hatred among the people of the region.
Iranian citizen as well as citizens of other countries in the Axis of Resistance, face this grave psychological operation when they see themselves at their most vulnerable position and suffer psychological trauma. Human disaster and emotional breakdown of a nation not only didn’t stop these kinds of psychological operations but also amplified them and expended its domain. When people of the world shared their deepest sympathies to Beirut blast and the victims, psychological operators, troll factory and hatred spreaders experienced a hectic working day. While Beirut blast was trending in social media and people in Iran were gathering money and aids for their brothers and sisters in Lebanon, Tavana think tank self-proclaimed and identified as Iranian civil society, is officially funded by US department of state as a semi – official part of US led PSYOP, started a hatred campaign towards the Iranian audience to plant seeds of animosity between the people of Iran and the Lebanese.
Figure 1- An Instagram post by tavana that promotes a fake account spreading hatred in regional scale
The tweet contains two parts: A twitter post which is produced by a fake account with no identity check in Persian: “Supreme leader of the Islamic republic assured Hezbollah in a tweet that I’ll make Iranians pay for the compensation of Beirut port” and tavana commented on Instagram in Persian: “No comment… Sometimes a sentence with a sense of humor tells us as much as one hundred articles.” In this case, tavana, killing two birds with one stone, first attempted to spread hatred by showing the Islamic Republic of Iran’s aids to Lebanon (a very common act in case of a crisis) and by stealing money from their own citizens and prioritizing Lebanese over Iranians which is a common strategy for regional hatred; And secondly, by promoting a fake account using its own credit for using it in other aspects of PSYOP.
Secondly, promoting violation: Peaceful protests are the main goals in this kind of psychological warfare. Making such protest to spark unrest and riot by promoting violation is not a new tactic in the US led PSYOP. For instance, Amadnews, which is a channel on Telegram is greatly known for disinformation campaigns, spreading hatred, and playing a dangerous role in Iran 2017 riot which at first initiated in a very peaceful and calm manner. Amadnews as initial source of unrest, encourages peaceful protesters to engage in violence and specifically post an instruction to use Molotov cocktail against security guards, police and public buildings. Although these activities were carried out, Paul Durov, Telegram founder and CEO, banned this channel but this media continued working under a new name for a long until its founder was arrested by IRGC intelligence service.
Such activities, will be promoted by field agents, usually from MEK terrorist network in the country, who are trained to inflict damage, cause riot and chaos and also increase the number of casualties. Thus, the battlefield is not only on the minds of people, but it also is on the streets of Iran so we can call it a hybrid warfare.
This kind of PSYOP, alongside its side effects and mortal damages, should be considered as a much more dangerous act against a nation. The goal in this operation is not just a matter of violence and its physical damage, but to dismantle all kinds of civil protests which cause destructive effects on the relation between government and citizens:
Government and officials will obviously pay less attention to the people likely to cause unrest because they see the foreign malicious activities as the masterminds behind all unrests. Distinguishing discontent of its own citizens as opposed to foreign meddling in social aspects is not an easy job to do. Citizens also may lose their hopes because they think the fact is that all protests and social activities will be tied to western countries and will be considered as a foreign meddling in public opinion. Therefore, they realize that there is no peaceful way to show their discontent to government.
Third. Humiliation strategy: Another permanent side of US led PSYOP is focused on hopes and identities of Iranian citizens. If a person loses its confidence, she will face a miserable life, and if a nation loses confidence in its ability to build a better future, no matter where the reasons lie, the creativity and motivation of that person will fade away and this is the case with the whole nation as well. The Americans promote this kind of warfare by humiliating Iran’s prosperities and progress while at the same time, putting more emphasis on the failures.
US reaction against Iran’s first military satellite is a good instance for this kind of PSYOP. Immediately, Iranophobia became their agenda again as Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of US, stated that a successful launch means Iran “has the ability once again to threaten their neighbors, our allies. And we want to make sure that they can never threaten the United States. So we watch that very carefully.”
After a while US face a dilemma: Although Iranophobia could work in international atmosphere but it will undermine the humiliation strategy within the Iranian nation, because for an efficient Iranophobia operation, US officials must confess Iran’s great victory in dealing with the crippling sanctions and maximum pressure campaign, so they started to change some tactics.
In tweeter, General John W. Raymond, Commander of US Space Force, called Noor satellite “a tumbling webcam in space” which is “unlikely providing intel”. Nevertheless, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards released images of US base in Bahrain through Iranian Satellite, Noor. At that point, US officials tried to turn a blind eye to the matter and not commented more on that. A military expert on the condition of anonymity commented in social media mocking the images and saying these are the edited ones. He said it on Iran International, a news agency in Persian which is funded by UK and KSA and it is also semi – official part of US led PSYOP.
All in all, US PSYOP policy against the Islamic Republic is certain. It brings physical and emotional damage to the Iranian people. This warfare is in place consistently while the U.S. attempts to blame other countries for interfering in its internal affairs. The boundaries of ethics are so limited in this warfare. Therefore, the countries opposing the U.S. must bear in mind that there is no such thing as just war in the battles of minds.