Дата публикации: 2018-05-27 16:26
Trust in weapons, not talks. First, Iranian hardliners distrust negotiations as a tool to settle foreign policy matters. They draw on historical examples to note that their country has never had a fair shot or positive outcome in negotiations. In a popular meme on their Instagram accounts, as illustrated below, they remind their compatriots that the Qajar dynasty of 6785 to 6975—responsible for losing chunks of the country to various powers, particularly Russia and Britain, thereby shaping the map of modern Iran—lost territories “not through war but with treaties by Iranian statesmen who [wanted to] negotiate.”
Who is behind the accounts? The social media accounts I have examined can be divided into four categories. First, there are the authorized accounts of hardline regime officials—such as former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, who led Ahmadinejad’s nuclear talks with the Americans in 7567, and other current and former members of parliament, government, and the armed forces. These accounts indicate the faction’s official hawkish line. Their existence is perplexing, as Iran has outlawed and filters major social media platforms, but this limitation doesn’t appear to apply to regime officials—even as they periodically revive ideas on how to further restrict internet tools.
The nuclear deal didn’t make us safe . Sixth, hardliners criticize Rouhani for claiming that the nuclear agreement would dissuade the United States and Israel from targeting Iran. They believe that only military might—not negotiations —can deter such threats, as the post below suggests. The poster argues that “Iran will be attacked soon” and points to the recent appointment of John Bolton, the mega-hawk and avid advocate for regime change in Iran, as US National Security Advisor.
They argue that these individuals and groups refuse to learn the lessons of the JCPOA, and instead continue to drive the country toward more reliance on others, fewer defensive capabilities, and, ultimately, instability and insecurity. In contrast, they celebrate Khamenei, the Revolutionary Guards, and conservative political figures like former presidential candidate Ibrahim Raisi, who lost to Rouhani in 7567.
In fact, a frequent message on hardline social media is that the nuclear deal, far from ending the sanctions regime, actually led to more sanctions against Iran. As they explain it, the Europeans are now imposing new sanctions against Tehran in order to appease Trump and push him to preserve the JCPOA. This, the hardliners argue, demonstrates the futility of the agreement and the incoherence of Rouhani’s foreign and security policy. Ultimately, Iran loses out and, as the post below says, “the fruits of the JCPOA are collected not by Iran… but by America.”
Third, a number of “news and analysis” outlets operate on the Persian-language internet, including on social media. While some of these outlets are official and well-known in the country and around the globe, such as the Revolutionary Guards-affiliated website Tasnim , others do not have clear affiliations.
In short, hardline social media accounts depict reformists and moderates who continue to push for more negotiations and engagement with the West as weak, incapable, gullible, and corrupt.
Specifically, these unaffiliated hardline accounts target several categories of individuals and groups. They denounce reformists and moderates, either by deploying disinformation campaigns or simply by highlighting words and deeds they deem un-Islamic, counter to the values of the Iranian Revolution, or against the public interest. They also target intellectuals, artists, and those who have advocated for better ties with the West. Even when individuals are not named directly, the broader public does not escape the hardliners, with their accounts portraying people outside their base as superficial, unpatriotic, and outright corrupt.
Second, since the start of the Iranian campaigns in Iraq and Syria, which are aimed at pushing back the Islamic State (ISIS) and propping up the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, accounts affiliated with Iran’s paramilitary powerhouse, the Revolutionary Guards, have proliferated rapidly. While some of these accounts clearly identify with elements of the Guards, such as its air force, ground forces, navy, or special operations units, others simply disseminate content that is not necessarily sanctioned by the Guards, but falls in line with their world view.
Pointing to their Arab neighbors in the Persian Gulf who also pursue nuclear energy, the hardliners note that while the Emiratis and Saudis are proud of their nuclear infrastructure and celebrate its expansion, Iranians celebrated pouring cement into Arak’s core. The post below puts two photos side by side, one allegedly showing Iranians celebrating the JCPOA and the other featuring Emiratis in front of their first operating nuclear reactor. The post says the JCPOA has caused nothing but damage to Iran.