Follow us on social

Shutterstock_1612428910-scaled

Why do Some Iranians in the Diaspora Support a War Against Iran?

Individuals outside Iran who are advocating for an aggressive intervention or a war against Iran are primarily driven by their own ideological convictions, rather than by genuine care for the wellbeing of the people of Iran.

Analysis | Middle East

In the recent days since the killing of General Qassem Soleimani, an excess of information has been spread about how Iranians living in the diaspora feel about this pivotal event. The aftermath of his killing has made a military escalation between Iran and the United States more likely than before. It is no surprise that a wide variety of opinions on the killing and the possibility of war can be found among the over 80 million Iranians living in Iran, and among the estimated 2-4 million Iranians living outside the country. However, the killing of Soleimani has united Iranians who showed up in large numbers at funeral processions in numerous Iranian cities, despite some Iranians living outside Iran dismissing them as having been forced to attend by the Iranian government. Moreover, parts of the social media sphere have created an alternative narrative that leaves the impression that a majority of Iranians living outside Iran support American interventionism.

On Twitter, it might appear to the untrained eye that there is a consensus among Iranians living in the diaspora (especially in the U.S and Germany) about the need for some sort of military intervention by the United States to remove the current Iranian leadership. Short videos have been circulating on Twitter showing Iranians in the diaspora stating their joy over the killing of Soleimani, claiming to speak for all Iranians. These clips are retweeted by conservative commentators like Dinesh D’Souza (who has 1.4 million followers and just so happens to be a convicted felon pardoned by Trump) and viewed by millions of people, who may be left with the impression that the killing of the second-in-command of a sovereign nation was a justified act and that the Iranian people unvaryingly welcomed the assassination of Soleimani.

The goals and motivations of those who post videos commenting on Soleimani’s death or the rising tensions in the Middle East are rarely questioned. The possibility that many of these Iranians may be weaponizing their personal traumas to justify their positions is lost to most observers. The long history of violent crackdowns on Iranian protestors by Iran’s leadership must be condemned, but it does not change the fact that Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) and “Maximum pressure” approach is responsible for the current state of affairs. The fact that some pundits selectively seek out Iranians who fervently oppose the Iranian leadership, all while neglecting to provide any context, is seldom noted. Indeed, Iranians who are willing to parrot talking points in defense of President Trump’s actions are often given large platforms by conservative commentators who are known Trump apologists. These Iranians’ words are positioned as authentic and gain credibility because they are disseminated by “influencers” with large followings on Twitter. This situation promotes a distorted narrative that posits that most Iranians are not only happy about the killing of Soleimani, but would also welcome further American violations of Iranian’s national autonomy.

It's difficult to survey all Iranians living outside Iran so the assumption that the majority of them hope that Soleimani’s killing will catalyze a larger military intervention that would bring about regime change isn't necessarily based on actual evidence. That said, polling does show that Iranian-Americans do not support heavy-handed American intervention, because they seemingly understand that U.S interference in domestic Iranian affairs does not end well — for Iranians. What is lost to most neutral observers of Iran is that many disaporic Iranian supporters of American intervention are motivated by self-interest, rather than by a genuine concern for the welfare of all Iranians. For example, many Iranians who support the killing of Soleimani yearn for a return of the monarchy in Iran. Although the Pahlavi monarchy enjoys little meaningful support among the majority of Iranians, members and supporters of the family make their existence known on social media, where their presence feels larger than life.

It is understandable that many Iranians who have suffered at the hands of the current Iranian regime oppose the theocratic state. But this is not reason enough to speak for an entire country, denying the agency and voices of its millions of diverse inhabitants. It is therefore crucial to recognize that individuals outside Iran who are advocating for an aggressive intervention or a war against Iran are primarily driven by their own ideological convictions, rather than by genuine care for the wellbeing of the people of Iran. We should allow Iranians to speak for themselves, rather than assume they can be spoken for by self-appointed representatives with questionable motives.

Attempts by governments and individuals to steer public opinion are certainly not a new phenomenon. But with technology dominating the 21st century, the pace at which the narrative can be distorted is mind-boggling. We have reached a point in which it has become virtually impossible to distinguish genuine expressions of concern by Iranians from voices that are pushing for an escalation of the conflict to further their own ideological interests, without consideration for the 80 million Iranians who deserve to be heard on their own terms.

Analysis | Middle East
Yes, we can reconcile absurd Russian & Ukrainian peace plans

Review News and Aynur Mammadov via Shutterstock.com

Yes, we can reconcile absurd Russian & Ukrainian peace plans

Europe

The international community has before it two official proposals — Ukrainian and Russian — for a peace settlement to end the war in Ukraine. Both as they stand, and in present circumstances, are absurd. Diplomats and analysts should however give thought to whether they could nonetheless in the future provide the starting point for negotiations leading to an eventual compromise.

The Ukrainian government’s Ten-Point “peace plan” demands complete withdrawal of Russian forces from all the Ukrainian territory that Russia has occupied since 2014 as a precondition for holding talks at all. Presumably those talks would then deal with other Ukrainian points, including war crimes trials for the Russian leadership, and Russian compensation for the damage caused by the Russian invasion.

keep readingShow less
Putin and Kim in Pyongyang, making it 'strategic'

Russia's President Vladimir Putin meets with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un upon his arrival in Pyongyang, North Korea June 19, 2024. Sputnik/Gavriil Grigorov/Pool via REUTERS

Putin and Kim in Pyongyang, making it 'strategic'

Asia-Pacific

Russian President Vladimir Putin is currently in Pyongyang for a summit with the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, marking their second visit in just nine months and Putin’s first trip to North Korea in 24 years.

Not just symbolic, the summit is anticipated to bring noteworthy advancements in Russia-North Korea strategic cooperation.

keep readingShow less
Top Dems sign off on biggest weapons sale to Israel to date

Ranking Member Gregory Meeks (D-NY) speaks during a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hosts a roundtable with families of Americans held hostage by Hamas since October 7, 2023. (Photo by Allison Bailey/NurPhoto)NO USE FRANCE

Top Dems sign off on biggest weapons sale to Israel to date

QiOSK

The Washington Post this morning has reported that the top Democrats on the Armed Services Committees — Rep. Gregory Meeks (N.Y.), and Senator Ben Cardin (Md.) — have finally given their nod on the biggest arms sale to Israel since Oct. 7.

In fact, after holding it up for months they gave their approval "weeks ago." Now Congress will be formally notified.

keep readingShow less

Israel-Gaza Crisis

Latest