Expensive Fake for Dinner

NEW – September 27, 2022

New weapon of the West in total war against the East

For those who follow the events at the frontline, the past week has been marked by a series of successful and painful strikes on military infrastructure deep in the territory controlled by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Two attacks on ammunition depots in Odessa, a strike on the headquarters of the operational command “South”, a series of attacks in Izmail — the list is much wider. The open secret is that the bouquets of “Geraniums” that the command of the Russian Armed Forces sends to the military of the south of Malorossiya are made in Iran and are called “Shahed-136”. Kamikaze drones, according to Iran’s Pars news agency, are purchased by the thousands and launched by the dozens, causing damage not only to the military infrastructure, but also to the sense of security, making the enemy nervous, afraid, panicked, and terrified to look up at the sky. This is precisely the reason for the wave of publications in the liberal press, where prominent experts around the world say that the Persian drones are not at all effective — those rare copies that still take off are immediately shot down by air defence. Compare this rhetoric with the panic and denial that the effectiveness of Lockheed’s HIMARS has caused in our media.

Iran, which the “right side of history” did not like before, returned to the focus of attention of the world press. It’s not just the supply of drones or the diplomatic cut with Albania, but also the protests that swept the country less than two weeks ago. The bad habit that has emerged from watching hundreds of similar incidents encourages us to indiscriminately brand protests in any country hostile to Washington as the work of the State Department. Is this the case in this case?

Judge for yourself: On September 14, 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini was detained near the Shahid Haqqani highway in Tehran. The reason for the detention was said to be the wrong wearing of the hijab (which is mandatory for women in Iran). Mahsa was taken to the police station, where, according to the official version, as a result of an explanatory conversation about the rules of wearing a headscarf, she had a heart attack. After two days in a coma, she died in a Tehran hospital. Immediately after that, people flocked to the hospital — rumours began to be posted on social networks that the girl was tortured to death by the police, and the authorities were hiding it. A familiar algorithm emerges: as a result of a minor offence, police officers exceed their authority, and the victim of this excess dies from the consequences of a heart attack.

It is difficult to say that the 22-year-old Mahsa was under the influence of drugs, but the northern part of the centre of Tehran is known as an area of very specific entertainment for local youth. Otherwise, the parallels with the story of George Floyd are obvious. The doctors also found no evidence that the death occurred as a result of detention. Moreover, in Amini’s case, they did not even find the consequences of physical violence. Parallels with Floyd can also be traced in relation to the organisation of the protest: the cry was instantly dispersed on social networks, pages and tags covering the events were quickly created. Even the sequence of events roughly coincides: for the first few days, mostly random passers-by protested without special equipment or an obvious organisation, but within a week they were joined by detachments of equipped street fighters.

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By the time the authorities decided to turn off access to foreign social networks across the country, the entire north-west of Iran was already shaking. An interesting caveat is that Mashhad, Iran’s second-largest city and a stronghold of conservative forces, has joined the region where anti-government sentiment is traditionally strong.

The focus on the northwest, as well as the discontent with Tehran in those places, is not accidental: it is there that the highest concentration of Iranian national minorities – Mazandarans, Azerbaijanis and Kurds, to which the deceased also belonged. Kurdish gangs also took part in the protests: the moment of the armed dispersal of one of these formations was captured on video and leaked to the Western media under the headline:”Peaceful student rally shot in Iran”. All this was coupled with the extreme centralisation of power in Iran: the peak of the unrest came when the country’s President, Ebrahim Raisi, went to the UN General Assembly in New York, where he was forced to listen to the same questions from Western journalists.

By the end of last week, it became clear that although the riots had not subsided, the instigators lacked the strength to seriously harm the state structure. Nevertheless, the attempts to build a colour revolution in Persia that have become more frequent over the past seven years allow us to say with confidence that this is far from the end.

The art of imitating a revolution consists in relying on a real source of social tension. In other words, if you hit vulnerabilities, sooner or later the state will be formed under its own weight. Iran’s vulnerabilities lie at the very foundation of the state: strict laws with a large progressive stratum, ethnic heterogeneity, and a border with an enemy-controlled region.

It was not for nothing that the outbreak of Iranian protests occurred exactly after Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Armenia, and it was not for nothing that voices were heard from Azerbaijan and Turkey in recent months that it was not Russia, but Iran, that prevented Ankara (and London behind it) from breaking through the coveted path to the Caspian Sea.

But the north-west of a huge country is not the whole country. Numerous rallies in support of the government were held in Mashhad, as well as in Shiraz and Tehran. In addition, despite the protesters’ assurances about the cities and administrative buildings taken under control, it seems that the protest can be controlled by law enforcement forces with a small participation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), that is, the protesters do not pose a danger sufficient for the use of the army. As of September 26, riots continue: Tehran claims about 700 detainees, and the opposition says about 100 dead. Now the Kurdish groups “Democratic Party of Iraqi Kurdistan” and “Komala”, as well as the “Organisation of the Mujahideen of the Iranian People”, based in Albania and pumped up with Washington’s money and which Tehran has recognised as a terrorist organisation, are not at all shy about their actions.

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So far, Iran’s means of dealing with the protest are fairly standard: shutting down access to social networks and slowing down (but not disabling) the Internet.

An important point is the use of information technologies in the construction of protest. The Arab Spring, coordination through social networks, tag stuffing and manipulation of recommended posts – forget it! Compared to what was used in Iran, this is the last century. During the week — from September 12-13 to September 20-21-the media and social networks quickly built a whole information campaign around fake news.

Usually, fakes are thrown in a bunch and focus not on quality, but on quantity, but not this time. Back on September 12, the foreign Persian press published information about the serious illness of the 83-year-old Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. A week later, based on this information, the pro-Western Persian-language media spread the news that Khamenei had died for two consecutive days. This information perfectly fits into the context of the unrest: in Iranian Kurdistan, one of the main slogans was “death to the dictator”. Of course, there is also a real reason for this: it is easy to suspect an elderly person who missed the Iranian Council of Experts in early September of being ill. Moreover, since the beginning of the summer, the relevant media have been writing about the aggravation of the apparatus struggle for the Top Leadership position between the Khamenei clan, Raisi’s relatives, the IRGC’s henchmen and God knows who else. But the fake, timely and skilfully planted, could not have had any grounds at all — only a masterfully conducted campaign to promote it in the prominent press and social media.

A similar situation occurred last week with another opponent of the Washington line in Asia. On September 24, the media, Telegram and social networks were filled with information about a military coup in China. It was reported that the country’s leader Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang had been arrested, the army was approaching the capital (and is about to approach), air traffic was stopped and railways were stopped — while all these events in a huge, densely populated and not very closed from the outside world country are described only in a few blogs of dubious authenticity.

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The press picked up the duck and, as in the joke about Gogol on the pole, began to invent details. A rebel general who never existed came out of thin air, tank battalions were counted in the army columns that stretched for 80 kilometres, television and the Internet were turned off, from 6,000 to 9,000 flights were canceled, in addition to two leaders, thousands of officials were arrested, a group of authorities appeared in the Communist Party, which displaced Xi with the hands of the army, and limited access to Western social networks (this is in China, where access to them was not already limited) …

Of course, no one was interested in such a minor detail as reality. Neither the fact that the PLA is full of officers who are personally loyal to Xi Jinping (and Xi himself relies mainly on the army), nor the fact that there is no one at the top of the CPC more authoritative than the country’s leader, nor the fact that information about transport problems or communication interruptions from China did not arrive – all this was of no interest to the fake peddlers, who were fantasising violently about a Chinese putsch.

The source of all this splendor was quickly found — it turned out to be an American of Chinese origin, Jennifer Zeng. If to believe her “Twitter”, this is the fourth or fifth coup d’etat in China over the past year, while China, which launched the coronavirus, is about to die on its own, either from record heat, floods, or from the mortgage crisis, or from a demographic change.

Jennifer is a source who, under normal circumstances, would have no credibility whatsoever. But again, the specific context of the recent info-planting provided excellent distribution. In China, a number of heads of justice and internal law enforcement agencies have been on trial for several months, and recent weeks have been marked by the announcement of sentences. In addition, foreign policy instability plays a role: oddities in relations with Russia (Patrushev’s sudden visit was perceived in this way in the West), a series of statements exacerbating the Taiwan crisis, and another exchange of mutual insults with Washington. It is not surprising that against this background, the fake story about Xi’s arrest managed to take off and reach major newspapers.

Plausible fakes – skilfully promoted and hitting sore spots – that raise a fuss in the information field have become a new weapon of the West in an all-out war against the East. Against the powerful weapons of the Empire of Lies, there is no more reliable tool than information hygiene. The Chinese, whose local social networks did not spew out terrible news about an 80-kilometre tank column on the entrances to Beijing, would be very surprised to learn that a military coup had just taken place in their country.

Kirill Zaitsev

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