By Iqbal Jassat
The excitement generated in Israel by street protests in Iran, provides more than a hint that the Netanyahu regime hopes plots conceived between itself, the Trump administration and its new surrogate in Saudi Arabia, Mohamed bin Salman (MbS) will result in regime change.
Far-fetched wishful thinking? Or is their game plan neatly crafted and dependent on fueling widespread anarchy designed to collapse the Iranian government? One can imagine how frantic discussions, debates and more plots are being crafted in Israel’s war-room with hotlines to the White House and to Riyadh. The assembly of military, intelligence and anarchy gurus are probably pouring over maps and scripts to determine how best to escalate the demonstrations.
Top of their priority will be to draw on lessons learnt from their collective failed military adventures in Syria and Yemen, not only to prevent similar failure but also to ensure that Iran never ever recovers from the destabilization which they hope will smash the seat of Tehran’s revolutionary power.
The prize for the troika of leaders, MbS/Trump/Netanyahu, who have emerged as the most despised grouping of leaders, yet wielding power well beyond their limited tribal affiliations, will be to return Iran to pre-Islamic Revolution era. In other words back to the Pahlavi Dynasty. Such a change will in their opinion, wipe out Iran’s support for Palestinian resistance, and having removed it from regional power dynamics, will pave the way to destabilize Lebanon, swallow Yemen and Syria, and lead the Arab world to normalize ties with Israel with Jerusalem as its undivided capital.
While some may argue that to blame external actors for the protests is disingenuous and smacks of a conspiracy, it is well known that a “regime-change agenda” has been on the table ever since Trump’s election. Unfortunately, legitimate demands related to genuine socio-economic issues by an aggrieved population, have become enmeshed in controversy and virtually hijacked by what some analysts describe as anarchists.
Mike Pompeo, known as a hawk advocating Saudi and Israeli demands for military action against Iran’s nuclear plants, wrote before his appointment by Trump as CIA director that “Congress must act to change Iranian behavior, and, ultimately, the Iranian regime.” His anti-Iran stance has been entrenched by the appointment of Michael D’Andrea, a hard-nosed covert operations officer whose career in intelligence included overseeing the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, as head of the CIA’s Iran operations.
Back in June 2017, James M. Dorsey wrote in Huffington Post that the Trump administration was backing efforts “plotted by Saudi Arabia and the UAE to destabilize Iran; possibly topple its Islamic government; and force Qatar to fall into line with Gulf policies that target Iran, political Islam…”.
According to him, D’Andrea was reportedly involved in the use of torture in interrogations of suspected militants under George W. Bush. He was also involved in the ramping up of US drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen. But of course more alarming is the fact that he has been conducting covert operations alongside Israel’s notorious intelligence agency, Mossad. One of it has been his key role in targeting Imad Mugniyah, the operations chief of Hezbollah, who was assassinated in Damascus during 2008, in an operation carried out together with Mossad.
His appointment to this crucial CIA post, came during a time when many US officials including Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the National Security Council’s senior director for intelligence, were pushing for a US policy of regime change in Iran, noted the New York Times.
In making sense of how legitimate peaceful protests for economic reforms have turned into violent attacks on state institutions with slogans echoing Israeli sentiments such as an end to support for Gaza, Jerusalem and Hezbollah, leaked mails from the email account of the UAE ambassador in Washington, Yousef Al Otaiba, reveals a great deal: it showed the UAE looking at ways to influence Iran’s domestic situation.
Also alarming though not surprising is the revelation of the role of the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies. It has a notorious track record for playing a leading role against Iran’s nuclear deal which required the lifting of crippling international sanctions.
Funded by American neo-conservatives, including a close associate of Netanyahu, the gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson who funded Trump’s election campaign, the rightwing think-tank had a series of discussions with senior UAE officials to plot policies “to positively impact Iranian internal situation”. Al Otaiba’s leaked emails further reveal that among the list of policies were “political, economic, military, intelligence, and cyber tools,” and efforts to “contain and defeat Iranian aggression”.
Dorsey’s assessment unpacks cold hard facts which point to a calculated strategy to destabilize Iran leading to regime-change.
Numerous more Iran-watchers have arrived at a similar conclusion. Stephen Lendman, a Chicago-based senior political analyst, commenting on the fiasco hatched by Saudi Arabia to force Lebanon’s Prime Minister to resign, linked it to a US-backed plot to destabilize Lebanon and Iran.
“Part of what is behind it is a Saudi/Israeli plot to destabilize Lebanon and Iran, Washington likely involved, a true axis of evil’, said Lendman, warning that Riyadh may be shifting its troublemaking from Syria to Lebanon and Iran, “America and Israel seeking to weaken both countries, or something more sinister”.
A noted scholar and author of “The Hidden History of Zionism”, Ralph Schoenman, referring to a deal between the US and Israel reached during a secret meeting in Washington earlier in December 2017, has warned that Netanyahu, in conjunction with the Saudis, is plotting with the US to “create an escalating conflict with Iran”. The meeting in question was behind closed-doors led by US National Security Adviser HR McMaster and his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben-Shabbat. Israeli media reports that the two sides agreed on forming joint teams to confront Iran on “several fronts”.
To further contextualize the current situation, remarks made by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a House Foreign Affairs Committee in June 2017, do not conceal the Trump administration’s agenda of regime-change. He made it quite clear that US policy is to support “elements inside of Iran” that would lead to a “transition of that government”. Important to note that Tillerson’s policy position was announced weeks after President Hassan Rouhani’s re-election to another four-year term and local elections in which 71 percent of Iranian people participated.
Though these facts are in the public domain, that they are omitted in discussions on the current protest actions in Iran, does a huge disservice to a fair assessment of events unfolding there.
August 2018 will mark Iran’s 1953 coup d’etat whose aftershocks can still be felt around the globe. In a Radio Liberty report detailing this event, Frud Bezhan, explains the US role in toppling Iran’s first democratically elected government and its popular prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh. “The coup altered the geopolitical landscape in the Middle East, became a blueprint for a succession of covert US efforts to foster coups and destabilize governments in the ‘50s, and provided the Soviet Union with ideological ammunition during the Cold War.”
Mossadegh played a prominent role in Iran’s 1951 move to nationalize its oil industry, which according to Bezhan, had long been controlled by Britain. “The decision led to a worldwide boycott of Iranian oil intended to rein in Mossadegh’s government, but when that failed a secret plan was devised to oust him.”
Following the 1953 coup in Iran, the CIA orchestrated the Guatemalan coup a year later, failed to oust Syria’s president in 1957; and suffered a black eye backing the unsuccessful military invasion of Cuba in 1961, wrote Bezhan.
The history of US interventions in Iran since the coup continues to this day. The actors may have changed but the goal remains the same: regime-change by any means.
– Iqbal Jassat is an acclaimed writer, analyst and commentator and one of the founder members of Media Review Network. His analysis is featured regularly in mainstream and alternate media outlets around the world. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.