Reflections on the Existing Concerns about US Infiltration into Post-JCPOA Iran

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Hossein Kebriaeezadeh
Expert on Middle East Issues

The warnings issued by the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei about infiltration of Iran by enemies started right after negotiations over Iran's nuclear program reached a final conclusion. Addressing commanders of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in September 2015, he talked about the risk of the West’s political and cultural infiltration and described it as being more important than the economic aspect of the infiltration. This warning came as the nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), focuses on three major fields, namely, the nuclear industry, economic sanctions against Iran and security issues. Therefore, the reason behind such concerns should be sought in Iran's ideological system as well as the effect that the United States’ cultural presence in the Iranian society can have.

Certainly, part of these concerns is related to unfavorable track records that the United States has in interaction with the Islamic Revolution in Iran. This issue has caused the wall of distrust, which has been created between the two countries during the past four decades, to be as high and wide as it could be during four centuries. Various layers and dimensions of this distrust have been also reflected in the nine requirements that the Leader added to the nine obligations that the Iranian parliament had annexed to JCPOA through an enactment on October 13, 2015, under the general title of the “Islamic Republic of Iran's Proportionate and Reciprocal Measures for the Implementation of JCPOA,” and were also reflected through the ten considerations on JCPOA, which were passed in the 634th session of the Supreme National Security Council on August 10, 2015.

This distrust has its roots in the history of Iran's revolution and some of its causes include such cases as the overthrow of the national government of Iran's former prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddeq, during the 1950s; blocking 20 billion dollars of Iran's assets in the early years of the Iranian revolution by the United States; plotting the Nojeh coup d’état; supporting such antirevolutionary groups as the Komala and Democrat groups in Iran's Kordestan region and the Arab Peoples group in Khuzestan province; supporting the unrest in Iranian city of Gonbad Kavous; providing arms support to dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein to attack Iran in the 1980s; attacking Iran's oil platforms and ships in the Persian Gulf during eight years of Iraq’s imposed war on Iran; shooting down Iran's passenger plane over the Persian Gulf; playing role in the unrest which was aimed at ‘soft overthrow’ of the Islamic establishment in 2009; and imposing tough sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran over its nuclear program. All these instances have formed a negative mentality toward Washington among the Iranian nation and officials, which cannot be mended simply through resolution of the nuclear issue.

Of course, conclusion of the nuclear case can be a good beginning for building trust between the two sides. In doing so, such measures as accepting and trusting the International Atomic Energy Agency’s moderate report by officials at the White House and recent closure of the so-called PMD case with regard to Iran's nuclear program can be useful and open new doors in the long run.

Apart from the issues of history and political psychology related to the elites, an important issue with regard to the infiltration pertains to political sociology of Iran, which is related to accountability of the ruling system before the revolutionary classes of the Iranian society that have suffered serious loss of life and property as a result of measures taken by the United States during the past four decades. For this part of the Iranian society, which has been always ready for any sacrifice in order to ensure establishment of the Islamic government, the presence of the United States in the Iranian society can be of ideological significance and, as such, very painful. Let’s not forget that fighting the United States as an anti-colonialistic concept, plays a pivotal role in the value system of Iran.

Therefore, since any political system needs legitimacy processes in order to be able to perform such functions as mobilization of the masses, distribution of resources, decision-making and accountability, infiltration with the aforesaid specifications will reduce symbolic capabilities of a political system, especially with regard to such important processes as the mobilization of the masses and political sociability.

Presence of the US-based McDonald fast food restaurants in Iran, rumors of which hit the headlines in the past months, could be considered as a sign of weakening revolutionary values in the face of Western liberalism because the brand is a pure American symbol. Therefore, even inauguration of a knockoff branch of the KFC restaurants was not tolerated, so that presence of American symbols in Iran would not pose a threat to models and ideas formed after the revolution. Every political system has the right to be concerned about its value system, and this order, which is used as a criterion for judgment by people and elites about goals, strategies and national interests, will have an immediate effect on orientations of people and the elites alike. If attention is not paid to this issue, the structure of the society will gradually change as a result of the weakening of its value system and redistribution of values will be costly and difficult for Iran.

On the whole, since presence of the United States is closely related to the nature and functions of Iran's political system under present atmosphere in the Iranian society, Iran’s measure to have a controlled system of political and cultural relations in place may not be considered a hostile measure, if due attention is paid to coordinate the domestic system as well as negative mental constructs and different ideologies of the two actors.

Key Words: US, Infiltration, Post-JCPOA, Iran, Existing Concerns, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Mental Constructs, Different Ideologies, Kebriaeezadeh

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