Opinion

Whatever the US election outcome, the Iranian regime won’t be saved

Whatever the US election outcome, the Iranian regime won’t be saved

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Joe Biden was vice president during the Obama administration. (Reuters)

Some scholars, policy analysts and politicians believe that, if Joe Biden were to win the US presidential election in November, US-Iranian relations would return to what they looked like during the Obama era and Tehran would again prosper economically and politically, strengthening the regime’s hold on power.
Their argument goes that Biden will rejoin the nuclear deal, sanctions against Iran will be lifted, billions of dollars will flow into Tehran’s treasury, and the pressure on the Iranian leaders will thus be removed. But it is not that easy. For many reasons, Iran’s golden era during the Obama administration will not come back, even if Biden is elected.
First of all, some of the sanctions passed by the Trump administration cannot simply be revoked by the next US president because they were passed by an overwhelming vote in Congress, with support from both sides of the aisle. Some of the most important sanctions imposed on the Iranian regime were passed via the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) of 2017. This is a key US sanctions law against Iran and it will continue to be a robust blow to Tehran. CAATSA targeted Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) for its terrorist activities and destabilizing behavior, and for being a national security threat to the US and its allies. Any individual or entity directly or indirectly linked to the IRGC or its affiliates was also sanctioned as a result of this important act.
The IRGC is the backbone of the clerical establishment in Iran. It controls significant sections of the country’s economic and ideological centers. In 2017, the Washington office of the opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran released a 175-page book entitled “The Rise of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Financial Empire,” in which it demonstrated that the IRGC controls more than half of Iran’s gross domestic product and owns several major economic powerhouses and religious endowments, such as Astan Quds Razavi in the northeastern city of Mashhad. The group also published another book in 2017 that reported on 15 terrorist training centers in Iran, where the IRGC provides ideological, military and tactical training to foreign recruits, who are later dispatched around the Middle East and beyond to carry out terrorist activities.
Some senior IRGC officials have a vital say in Tehran’s domestic and foreign policy and its support for proxy groups. The IRGC is also engaged in the domestic repression of protesters and dissidents, the suppression of the freedoms of speech, press and assembly, and the imprisonment of opponents. Many human rights and political activists, particularly those who are suffering under the iron rule of the IRGC and the ruling clerics, are in favor of the US sanctions.
The sanctioning of the IRGC is a powerful move and will continue to have severe consequences for Iran and its leaders, even if Biden does become president and returns to the nuclear deal. Every country, organization and individual that deals with Iran will have to be extremely cautious. Almost every major transaction with Iran is conducted, either directly or indirectly, through the IRGC due to the fact that it has the largest stake in Iran’s economy and political affairs. CAATSA will remain detrimental to Tehran’s potential trade with Western companies as it will make other nations hesitant to do business with Iran due to the potential repercussions from the US.

Many activists, particularly those who are suffering under the iron rule of the IRGC and the ruling clerics, are in favor of the US sanctions.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

Another reason that Iran won’t see a return to the days of the Obama era is that the regime is extremely unpopular at home. The disaffectedness of the population and the protests and demonstrations against the regime will not go away if Biden becomes president and rejoins the nuclear deal. Thousands of protesters have been killed by the IRGC in the last few years. According to a September report by Amnesty International, various branches of Iran’s government are involved in these abuses and crimes. The report stated: “Iran’s police, intelligence and security forces, and prison officials have committed, with the complicity of judges and prosecutors, a catalogue of shocking human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture and other ill-treatment, against those detained.”
Despite the regime’s deployment of brute force, the deep frustration and anti-regime anger shared by many in the country has remained intact and will most likely continue to rise.
So, even if Biden does become US president, the Iranian regime will still be doomed. Its leaders will continue to face unprecedented levels of pressure both domestically and regionally.

  • Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view

Twitter ties 130 accounts trying to disrupt first Trump-Biden debate to Iran

US President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in their first 2020 presidential campaign debate in Cleveland, Ohio, on Sept. 29, 2020. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo)
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Updated 01 October 2020

Twitter ties 130 accounts trying to disrupt first Trump-Biden debate to Iran

  • Says it was able to identify the threats based on information from the FBI

RIYADH: Twitter on Thursday said it has expunged more than a hundred accounts that tried to interfere with the public debate between US President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden on Tuesday night.

"Based on intel provided by the @FBI, last night we removed approximately 130 accounts that appeared to originate in Iran. They were attempting to disrupt the public conversation during the first 2020 US Presidential Debate," the American social networking service said in a statement.

 

"We identified these accounts quickly, removed them from Twitter, and shared full details with our peers, as standard. They had very low engagement and did not make an impact on the public conversation. Our capacity and speed continue to grow, and we'll remain vigilant," it said.

"As standard, the accounts and their content will be published in full once our investigation is complete. We’re providing this notice to keep people updated in real time about our actions. We wish to thank the @FBI for their assistance," Twitter said.

Iran and China are suspected of trying to interfere in the forthcoming US election to help Biden win, while Russia is said to have continued supporting Trump.

 

Weighing in, Twitter users took sides, with some slamming Iran and others blaming the social networking site for favoring the US president.

 

"Those activities against the American people were directed by (Iranian supreme leader) Ali Khamenei who has multiple accounts on Twitter. Perhaps Khamenei shouldn't have Twitter accounts to promote his malicious activities," tweeted Sam Kermani. @CTGR8

"Iran must be a lot worse then China, Russia, lots of other country's and even a ton of organizations in the United States with not getting caught doing that sort of stuff," added @mike10dude.

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Alfredo Montanez (@Deadpool650) said Twitter should also "remove Trump's tweets when he posts fake information about voting information and Covid19 instead of just putting a label on it."

"Thank you. Would you mind banning the account of our biggest threat to democracy, Donald Trump?" chimed in Helen Armstrong (@HelenArmstrong5). 

 


YouTube cancels Myanmar military-run channels, pulls videos

Updated 05 March 2021

YouTube cancels Myanmar military-run channels, pulls videos

  • The company said it was monitoring the situation for any content that might violate its rules
  • YouTube said it had terminated around 20 channels and removed over 160 videos in the past couple months

BANGKOK: YouTube has removed five channels run by Myanmar’s military for violating its community guidelines and terms of service.
The company said Friday that it terminated channels of broadcasters Myawaddy Media, MRTV, WD Online Broadcasting, MWD Variety and MWD Myanmar. The decision follows a Feb. 1 military coup that ousted the country’s elected government, provoking massive public protests.
“We have terminated a number of channels and removed several videos from YouTube in accordance with our community guidelines and applicable laws,” YouTube said in an emailed statement.
The company said it was monitoring the situation for any content that might violate its rules.
YouTube said it had terminated around 20 channels and removed over 160 videos in the past couple months for violating its policies regarding hate speech and harassment, spam and deceptive practices, violent or graphic content policy and violations of its terms of service.
In December, it pulled 34 channels as part of an investigation into content uploaded in a coordinated influence campaign. That campaign uploaded content about elections in Myanmar, regional conflicts and news related to the US, China and Malaysia, the company said.
The decision by YouTube followed Facebook’s earlier announcement that it had removed all Myanmar military-linked pages from its site and from Instagram, which it also owns.


Daily Mail owner snaps up New Scientist magazine for $97.8 million

Updated 03 March 2021

Daily Mail owner snaps up New Scientist magazine for $97.8 million

  • The purchase comes soon after the British firm agreed to sell its EdTech business, Hobsons

The owner of Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper acquired science and technology magazine New Scientist for $97.80 million in cash, as it looks to build out its subscriptions and digital offerings.
Daily Mail and General Trust said on Wednesday its consumer media division bought the publication from a consortium of investors led by New Scientist owner Bernard Gray.
“New Scientist is a world-renowned publication loved by its readers ... We are very much looking forward to supporting their exciting plans to grow as the go-to publication for anyone interested in the scientific world around us,” DMGT Chairman Jonathan Harmsworth said.
The purchase comes soon after the British firm agreed to sell its EdTech business, Hobsons, in an effort to narrow its focus on a handful of businesses.
New Scientist, founded in 1956, is expected to post an operating profit of about 7 million pounds in 2021, with revenue likely to exceed 20 million pounds, DMGT said.
The publication has a weekly circulation of about 120,000, of which just over half are based in the UK, and gets about 75 percent of its revenue from subscriptions.


Kayleigh McEnany signs on as Fox News contributor

Updated 02 March 2021

Kayleigh McEnany signs on as Fox News contributor

  • McEnany, former President Donald Trump’s final press secretary, didn’t speak about her new role
  • While at the White House, McEnany frequently appeared on Fox News programs for interviews

NEW YORK: As widely anticipated, Fox News said Tuesday that it had signed former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany as a contributor to offer commentary on various network programs.
McEnany, former President Donald Trump’s final press secretary, didn’t speak about her new role during an interview with Fox’s Harris Faulkner that aired Tuesday.
It was reported in January that McEnany had disclosed to the US Office of Government Ethics while still in office that she would work for Fox after leaving the White House. Fox said at the time that it had been in discussions with McEnany but had paused them.
Before working for Trump, McEnany was a commentator at CNN.
While at the White House, McEnany frequently appeared on Fox News programs for interviews.
She said Tuesday that her biggest regret at the White House was not being able to hold a briefing outlining all the accomplishments of the Trump administration.
“But after Jan. 6, it just was not tenable,” she said.
She said that “everyone in the administration was horrified” by the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, led by a mob of Trump supporters, but she insisted that it did not represent the former president’s backers.
Asked if she believed Trump bore any responsibility for the riot, she said, “No, I don’t.”
Trump was impeached by the House on a charge of incitement of insurrection over the insurrection but acquitted by the House. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell voted to acquit Trump, citing the fact that the former president was out of office by the time the Senate trial began, but McConnell said Trump was “practically and morally responsible for provoking” the riot.


OSN celebrates International Women’s Day with all-female line-up

Updated 02 March 2021

OSN celebrates International Women’s Day with all-female line-up

  • New channel offers tailored content ‘to engage with women of the region’

DUBAI: In celebration of International Women’s Day, entertainment network OSN is planning to launch its first-ever content lineup dedicated to women in the region.

The OSN Woman content will be launched on March 8 and will be available as a standalone channel through any OSN box, as we well as on-demand and on the OSN streaming app.

“OSN Woman was born from the desire to provide women of the region with a tailored content offering. This is the start of a new chapter for OSN, as we launch new content offering that caters to the needs of women of the region and engages with them in a truly relevant way,” Rolla Karam, interim chief content officer at OSN, told Arab News.

Rolla Karam, interim chief content officer at OSN

Fashion, health, parenting, relationships and reality topics will feature in the new channel.

The content, which has been chosen by female programming specialists at OSN, includes “Framing Britney Spears,” “A Perfect 14,” which explores the world of plus size modeling; and “Public Figure,” which looks at the psychological effect of social media use on influencers.

The campaign to promote OSN Woman is also created by an all-women team led by director Danielle Arden and Nayla Chacra, regional executive content producer at production company Prodigious.

“This is the outcome of serious efforts led by talented women at OSN, who invested all their knowledge and understanding of the region in coming up with this unique line-up,” said Karam.


Twitter labels to combat COVID-19 vaccine misinformation

Updated 02 March 2021

Twitter labels to combat COVID-19 vaccine misinformation

  • 2,400 accounts suspended, 11.5m challenged since platform launched new measures

DUBAI: Social networking giant Twitter is ramping up efforts to remove harmful and misleading information circulating online about coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines.

As the vaccine roll out gains speed, conversations about inoculation have been increasing on social media platforms.

And to help combat false claims and scaremongering about vaccines, Twitter has been applying labels to tweets that may contain misleading information about the COVID-19 jabs.

Labels will appear next to suspect content and may link to either the curated content tab, the official public health information, or the Twitter rules page.

Initially, Twitter’s team will apply labels to misleading content. Those assessments will be used to then inform the platform’s automated tools to identify and label similar content.

In addition to labels, Twitter will be introducing a strike system that will determine when further enforcement is necessary.

Repeated violations of the COVID-19 policy will be enforced on the basis of the number of strikes an account has accrued for infringing Twitter’s policies. Two and three strikes will result in a 12-hour account lock, four strikes a seven-day lock, and permanent suspension for five or more.

Twitter’s help center said that content could be labeled or removed if it advanced a claim of fact expressed in definitive terms, was demonstrably false or misleading based on widely available authoritative sources, or was likely to impact public safety or cause serious harm.

In December, Twitter shared updates on its work to protect the public conversation surrounding the virus outbreak. Since introducing its COVID-19 guidance, the platform has permanently suspended 2,400 accounts and challenged 11.5 million accounts worldwide.

The company has also launched a dedicated COVID-19 search prompt feature. When the term COVID-19 is searched on the platform, credible and authoritative content appears at the top of the search results. This has now been expanded to more than 80 countries and is currently available in 29 languages.

In some countries, the prompts also include an additional button that links to information specific to the COVID-19 vaccine.