The Middle East is no stranger to infiltration
Throughout the wars of the 18th and 19th centuries Russian advancement in Iran hinged on powerful members of the Islamic clergy, including sheiks and the nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes, being used to infiltrate the Persian and Ottoman Empires on behalf of Russia. The situation has quite reversed when looking at the contemporary history of the Soviet and American wars in Afghanistan and other conflicts in the region. Stories of green on blue attacks show reversal especially among the religious community and tribal groups that come from long lines of oral histories recounting the old war stories passed down from generation to generation. In the famous tobacco boycott (1890-92) it turned out to be an Ottoman conspiracy using the two prominent Shia marjas, Afghani and Shirazi, to issue a fatwa, which is a religious ruling, against the use of tobacco against the British Empire in Iran. All Persians know the story. Over the course of the Islamic Republic’s history, Iran has become a master infiltrator of the US. It’s not just the Rules of Engagement in the contemporary conflicts of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, it’s also the extent to which infiltration has occurred.
Recent Media Targets
In terms of modern-day infiltration tactics, the media is often times targeted as a method of spreading the Islamic Republic’s narrative. According to a member of the #FreeIran2018 movement:
“Her name was Negar Mortazavi. She was member of NIAC and she had also approached the regime’s authorities to talk about possibility of returning Iran without being prosecuted in exchange for supporting the regime in VOA. According to Ahmad Batebi, Kianoosh [Sanjari] had resigned from VOA in 2013 because lobbyists of Iran’s Islamic Regime had well penetrated into the channel between 2009 and 2012. Many people resigned from VOA Persian. [Negar Mortazavi’s] ties with the regime and notorious NIAC was detected by FBI back in 2016. They fired her. She is now working for Iran International TV. Many of these pro-regime journalists have ended up in Iran International TV. They act like a gang group. When first one of them is being hired in any media, he or she invites others to join the media and make it as mouthpipe of the regime. …BBC Persian is also infected by such journalists but sadly because of being under control of UK government, such purges haven’t been possible. This is why BBC Persian is extremely against regime change in Iran.”
Both VOA and BBC have conducted a significant amount of damage control in attempts to repair their reputations but their bias has been spread from journalist to journalist becoming another oral history documenting the #IranProtestors battle for unbiased media.NIAC, mentioned above, is the National Iranian American Council in the US in 2002 shortly after the founder, Trita Parsi, started a similar pro-Iran lobby in Sweden in 1997 called, Iranians for International Cooperation (IIC). In February of 2018, Sweden’s Stockholm Chamber of Commerce hosted Mr. Seyyed R. Mohajer, Ambassador for the Islamic Republic of Iran in Sweden, he holds the title Deputy Minister, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance, and the Central Bank of Iran, Commercial Bank, Iran Export Guarantee Fund to “enhance bilateral business relations.” Prior to signing the nuclear deal, NIAC joined forces with another powerful lobby, USA Engage, representing private companies in the US. A number of other groups were created: CNAPI, Campaign for a New Policy on Iran” (CNAPI), Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), consulting firms like Atieh, politicians like former Ohio Republican Congressman, Bob Ney, have been accused of infiltrating Iranian influence in US policy.