Iran protests and murky America and Iran ties: Social media stifled
Noriko Watanabe and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Protests in Iran are nothing new. The same concerns the ambivalence of America and the European Union. Therefore, the latest protests in Iran – triggered by rising food prices – also fuse naturally with individuals who oppose the theocratic state and political cronyism.
However, it is disconcerting to note the role of several social media groups in silencing “the voice of the voiceless” who face the wrath of the state apparatus. Hence, reports that several social media groups – including Facebook and Instagram – are blocking information beggars belief.
America and Iran have a curious relationship. It appears that America and Iran are persistently at loggerheads with declarations in Iran of “death to America” and other anti-America slogans. Likewise, leaders in America lambast Iran for being anti-democratic and supporting regional instability. However, it isn’t so simple. Therefore, social media groups linked to America in assisting in the stifling of anti-government forces in Iran are following a similar pattern.
The Investigative Project on Terrorism reports (Potkin Azarmehr), “Iran’s brave protesters have taken into the streets again, but they don’t just risk bullets, imprisonment, torture and execution from the Islamic Republic’s repressive forces. They are also being ignored by the Western mainstream media. Worse still, Facebook and Instagram have been removing footage of their protests as well as blocking hashtags relating to the protests that can generate and attract larger engagements.”
Concerning geopolitics America and Iran have a murky past despite the outpouring of mutual hatred and trade sanctions that hurt ordinary Iranian citizens. For example, the Iran-Contra affair during the reign of Ayatollah Khomeini highlights that even during mass executions – the execution of political prisoners is ongoing in Iran – both nations abided by unscrupulous deals.
Iran helped America during the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. This concerns Iran providing intelligence to America during the invasion to oust Saddam Hussein. After all, the Iran-Iraq war provided a wealth of information – and led to murky sales by America and Israel to assist Iran (suggestions being that Israel hoped to prolong the Iran-Iraq war – similar to President Joe Biden funding Ukraine to a higher level to prolong the war with the Russian Federation). Equally, when America entered Afghanistan to oust the Taliban, the government of Iran assisted by notifying the Northern Alliance (supported by Iran, India, and the Russian Federation) to help America on the ground.
During the Barack Obama administration, the political elites – along with the mass media in America -treated the mass protests in Egypt and Iran differently. Hence, Hosni Mubarak was thrown under the American bus despite being loyal to America. However, the Obama administration was timid in response to mass protests in Iran.
Also, when ISIS (Islamic State – IS) emerged, America and Iran avoided military clashes in Iraq and Syria (America and Turkey opposed Iran’s support of the government of Syria). Indeed, military coordination between America and Iran in fighting against ISIS emerged when this Islamist sectarian group threatened Iraq. Therefore, the upshot of America’s misdeeds against Iraq is that Iran is firmly entrenched in the body politic of this nation.
If viewed from the above geopolitical natural linkages between America and Iran: – the latest misdeeds of Facebook and Instagram (along with other social media groups) in stifling the flow of anti-Iran government forces don’t seem so shocking.
Turning back to ongoing protests in Iran. Then brave Iranians are standing up for different reasons. For example, some Iranians are protesting concerning the cost of living, lack of employment opportunities, and other social problems.
ABC reports, “The unrest started after the government cut subsidies on essential food items such as cooking oil, eggs and milk last Wednesday. For example, the price of cooking increased more than 400% overnight.”
However, other protesters are more political. Hence, slogans including “Down with Khamenei, Down with the dictator” and “We don’t want mullah’s ruling” can be heard in many cities in Iran.
Ironically, while Western social media groups are stifling news concerning anti-Iranian government protests by blocking information, the government of Iran is curtailing the flow of information. Iran is already a media-controlled nation where internal discontent is crushed.
The Guardian reports, “In the first signs of discontent over price rises, Iranian media last week reported disrupted internet services, an apparent attempt to stop the use of social media to organize rallies and disseminate videos.”
Potkin Azarmehr reports (Investigative Project on Terrorism) – concerning Facebook and Instagram – “People risking their freedom, and even their lives, to speak out against their government are being silenced on the world’s largest social media platforms. Meanwhile, the people responsible for their oppression still are free to foment hatred.”
Hence, from murky geopolitical deals between America and Iran to social media groups related to America that are crushing the “voices of the voiceless:” – the usual pattern continues where the people of Iran stand alone against the tyranny of the state apparatus.
Only when Iran is weakened to an extreme internally whereby discontent overthrows the ruling elites – or if Iran crosses a line opposed by America – will the political elites in Washington and the European Union take action.
Iranians have stood alone for decades – despite some politicians outside of Iran condemning the tyranny of this nation. Therefore, elite social media groups – along with the relative silence of America, the European Union, and Japan – are following a familiar history of not only “looking the other way”but assisting in the status quo of power dynamics in Iran.
Potkin Azarmehr on twitter @potkazar
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