US launches 'distorted' anti-Iran campaign to foment unrest

US launches 'distorted' anti-Iran campaign to foment unrest
Speeches and online communications are among the many components of the campaign, which is supported Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton.
3 min read
22 July, 2018
The campaign was allegedly launched by the Trump administeration [Getty]
A new campaign - designed to foment unrest and pressure Iran into conforming to Washington's demands - has been launched by President Donald Trump's administration, US officials have told Reuters.

Speeches and online communications are among the many components of the campaign, which is supported Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton.

It aims at painting Iranian leaders in a harsh light, at times using information that is exaggerated or contradicts other official pronouncements, including comments by previous administrations, Reuters reported.

A number of posts critical of Tehran have been posted to the State Department's Farsi-language Twitter account and its ShareAmerica website over the last month.

Iran features on four of top five items on the website's "Countering Violent Extremism".

Pompeo himself also weighed in, tweeting a series of graphics headlined: "Protests in Iran are growing", "Iranian people deserve respect for their human rights", and "Iran's revolutionary guard gets rich while Iranian families struggle" - all of which were translated to Farsi to reach a wider Iranian audience.

"Let me be clear, we are not seeking regime change. We are seeking changes in the Iranian government’s behaviour," a State Department official said in response to questions from Reuters.

"We know we are driving Iran to make some hard choices. Either they can change their ways or find it increasingly difficult to engage in their malign activities," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"And we believe we are offering a very positive vision for what we could achieve and what the Iranian people could have."

But some of the information being disseminated has been branded by the officials as incomplete or outright distorted.

In a 21 May speech in Washington, Pompeo claimed Iranian leaders refused to spend on their people funds freed by the nuclear weapons deal, using it instead for proxy wars and corruption in the region. 

But this stands in contrast to a testimony delivered to a US Senate Committee by US Defence Intelligence Agency director, Robert Ashley, who said social and economic expenditures remained Tehran's near-term priority despite some spending on security forces.

Pompeo also accused "Iran-sponsored Shia militia groups and terrorists" of infiltrating Iraqi security forces and jeopardising Iraq's sovereignty throughout the period of the nuclear agreement despite the force's contribution to the liberation of IS-held territories across Iraq.

The State Department official acknowledged that the militias, known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces, are by law part of Iraq's security forces and played a role in countering Islamic State in 2014.

But the large-scale campaign has been dismissed by a senior Iranian official who insisted the US efforts "will fail again".

On Saturday, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said negotiations with the United States are "useless" because Washington does not abide by agreements.

"As I have previously said, we cannot trust in the words of the United States and even in their signature, so negotiations with the United States are useless," Khamenei told a gathering of Iranian diplomats in Tehran. 

"The idea that problems can be resolved through negotiations or relations with the United States is a major error," he added.

Having withdrawn from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, Washington is determined to isolate Iran and pile on economic pressure with a full reimposition of sanctions, starting in August.

"The US seeks the return of the situation and their status before the (1979 Islamic) revolution in Iran," said Khamenei. 

"They are against the nuclear potential and the power of its (Iran's) enrichment, and its presence in the region."

Iran was a close ally of the US up until the Islamic Revolution in 1979.