Beware of a false flag on the desperate path to Persia

The Invasion and occupation of Iraq, the Green Movement in Iran, the proxy war on Syria, the genocidal massacre of the Yemeni people, the now aborted resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, the Saudi purge spearheaded by Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman, the Israeli-Saudi rapprochement; all should be properly understood in containing Iran and paving the way for regime change against the Persian country. The recent Iran protests are no different. Although primarily of economic nature, the Trump administration and the obedient media have capitalised on the protests and tried to rebrand them according to Washington’s regime change agenda in order to justify Trump’s renunciation of the Iranian nuclear deal and keeping alive the sanctions regime. Just like so many of American foreign policy utterances in the Middle East, however, the endeavour did not pay off. The war hawks’ empty words of support for the Iranian people are not being bought by the rest of the world, not in the least by the Iranian people themselves. Thus, we need to be aware of the only thing that can still reverse the tied on the desperate path to Persia. As hinted by many official sources, a false flag is on the table.

American intervention in the petroleum-rich nation of Iran is of course nothing new. In the 1953 Operation Ajax, the CIA along with British intelligence orchestrated the overthrow of the democratically elected Prime Minister Muhammed Mossadegh, whose parliament had nationalised the country’s oil industry after the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now part of BP) refused to cooperate in Mossadegh’s endeavour to limit the British company’s control over Iran’s rich petroleum reserves. The CIA hired notorious mobsters to wreak havoc, stage pro-shah demonstrations and take over the streets of Tehran, after which Mossadegh and many of his supporters were arrested and Shah Muhammed Reza Pahlavi reconsolidated his dictatorial rule. The CIA and Mossad consequently helped to set up the feared SAVAK intelligence service, which cracked down on dissent by torturing and executing opponents of the regime.

The Iranians increasingly, and not without reason, saw the ruthless shah as an American puppet, resulting in a unified opposition of intellectual elites, leftists, workers, nationalists, centrists and the religious right that managed to paralyse the country. In early 1979, finally, a popular revolution unseated the monarchy and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini seized power. In subsequent months, Khomeini not only executed elements of the shah’s regime but cracked down on dissenting groups and people that initially supported the revolution, thereby consolidating his rule and installing an Islamist theocracy. Although he advertised himself as an uncompromising adversary of “the great Satan” that was the American government, recently declassified documents revealed a secret backchannel he had with the With House dating all the way back to 1963 throughout his exile in Europe into the Iranian Revolution, during which he assured President Carter that “you will see that we are not in any particular animosity with the Americans” and that “the oil flow will continue after the establishment of the Islamic Republic.”[1]

Additionally, FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds has revealed CIA foreknowledge of the infamous hostage crisis in which a group of students took over the US embassy in Tehran in the wake of the revolution and held 52 American diplomats and citizens in custody for 444 days. Described in the history books as a detrimental point in deteriorating Iranian-American relations which strengthened the prestige of the new theocratic government in Iran and indirectly led to the election of Ronald Reagan in the US, all high-level CIA personnel at the embassy were ordered to leave Iran several days before the hostage taking as recounted to Edmonds by a former CIA agent who was among those forewarned.[2] Just like was the case with Egypt’s Gamel Abdel Nasser, who consolidated his power and managed to outmanoeuvre the first Egyptian president and fellow Free Officer Muhammed Naguib with the help of the CIA in the early 1950s,[3] by way of trying to gain as much influence during a tangibly popular revolution American intelligence actually helped in the establishment of a new autocratic government ostensibly hostile to the West.

Khomeini - Alamy Stock
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in exile in Paris © Alamy Stock

Minutes after Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president in January 1981, the hostages were formerly released. Shortly thereafter, the Reagan administration secretly allowed the Israeli’s to supply American weapons to Tehran in the context of the Iran-Iraq war, which had kicked off a couple of months earlier when the Iraqi army invaded Iran. Later in the war, Israel again shipped weapons to Iran with the permission of senior American officials in a scandal that would become known as the Iran-Contra affair, whereby part of the profit was used to fund death squads collectively known as the Contra’s fighting the socialist Sandinista government of Nicaragua. From the moment Iran gained the upper hand in the war in the spring of 1982, however, Washington also began to provide intelligence to Iraq and facilitated the sale of American-made weapons through its allies to Saddam Hussein. Most notoriously, later Secretary of Defense but then envoy for President Reagan Donald Rumsfeld helped Saddam Hussein to build up his arsenal of deadly chemical and biological weapons all the while the CIA was aware Iraq was “almost daily” employing chemical agents against the Iranians. Without any remorse for the estimated million people that lost their lives in the war that ended in 1988, Washington thus simultaneously backed both Iran and Iraq because, according to a former State Department official, “we wanted to avoid victory by both sides.”[4]

Still, Iran had been under constant unilateral US sanctions, which were tightened in the 1990s under the Clinton administration. Meanwhile, neoconservative and Israeli-friendly politicians began to hype up the alleged Iran threat again in the lead up to the George W. Bush presidency, especially in such influential policy papers as the Clean Break report presented to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Project of a New American Century’s Rebuilding America’s defences. Following 9/11, President Bush then loyally included Iran, along with Iraq and North Korea, in the “axis of evil” that was allegedly sponsoring terrorism and seeking weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). While ensuing regional developments such as the Anglo-American invasion and occupation of Iraq starting in 2003, the Israeli bombings and invasion of Lebanon in 2006, the proxy war against Syria following the so-called Arab Spring and the relentless Saudi war against Yemen since 2015 all have multiple causes and follow more than one agenda, they are widely recognised as part of a regional US-Israeli-Saudi proxy war against Iran. Indeed, retired four-star general and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark disclosed in a 2007 interview that the Ministry of Defense had decided in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 to “take out seven countries in five years,” starting with Iraq, continuing with other countries like Syria, Lebanon and Libya that were indeed targeted next, “and finishing off [with] Iran.”[5]

A threatening sign above the US embassy during the hostage crisis © AP

Overall, mainly because of the unpopularity of the disastrous and despicable foreign policy of the West in the Middle East, Iran’s influence in the region has strengthened – not weakened. Even the years-long vigorous propaganda campaign concerning Iran’s supposed nuclear weapons program eventually fizzled. Despite Israeli and American politicians and media continuously claiming the contrary, the fact that Iran has not been building a nuclear bomb was not only confirmed repeatedly by the IAEA over the years, but by two National Intelligence Estimates of all 16 American intelligence agencies in 2007 and 2010 and even by leaked cables of Mossad in 2012.[6]  In fact, Iran’s religious leadership has always sincerely regarded WMDs as contrary to Islam, most clearly evidenced in Khomeini forbidding the Iranian military to retaliate in kind after Iraq’s continuous usage of chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers and civilians in the course of the Iran-Iraq war, as well as by a fatwa issued by his successor Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini against the acquisition, development and use of nuclear weapons.[7] Still, because Israel and its lobby in the US wanted to prevent the mere ability of Iran obtaining the technology with which a nuclear bomb can be made that could serve as a deterrent against Israel’s nuclear arsenal, the threat kept being pushed, and US, EU and UN Security Council nuclear-related sanctions remained intact. In order to relinquish these crippling sanctions, Iran agreed to limit its peaceful nuclear program with the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal – between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, Germany and the EU.

In a 2009 report of the Brookings Institute, one of Washington’s most influential think tanks, authored by analysts linked to multiple arms of the American foreign policy establishment such as the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), RAND Corporation, Israel, the State Department, the National Security Council and the CIA, the case was made to combine a number of ways to overthrow the Iranian government. The first option discussed in Which path to Persia? described the “persuasion” policy of the then incoming Obama administration that eventually led to the JCPOA, but revealed that a potential Iranian refusal of such an ostensibly generous offer could benefit “those who favor regime change or a military attack on Iran:”

“Inciting regime change in Iran would be greatly assisted by convincing the Iranian people that their government is so ideologically blinkered that it refuses to do what is best for the people and instead clings to a policy that could only bring ruin on the country. The ideal scenario in this case would be that the United States and the international community present a package of positive inducements so enticing that the Iranian citizenry would support the deal, only to have the regime reject it. In a similar vein […], the best way to minimize international opprobrium [condemnation] and maximize support (however, grudging or covert) is to strike only when there is a widespread conviction that the Iranians were given but then rejected a superb offer – one so good that only a regime determined to acquire nuclear weapons and acquire them for the wrong reasons would turn it down. Under those circumstances, the United States (or Israel) could portray its operations as taken in sorrow, not anger, and at least some in the international community would conclude that the Iranians ‘brought it on themselves’ by refusing a very good deal.”[8]

Too bad for the war haws, Iran did accept the deal, however unfair it was. Moreover, the IAEA, the nuclear watchdog that is the only agency that is actually charged by the agreement to verify Iran’s compliance to it, has endlessly maintained that Iran is indeed in compliance.[9] In fact, the US is arguably the only party that violates “the spirit of the deal” as non-nuclear separate American sanctions remain in place and Trump has been trying to get other countries to stop doing business with Iran. All other signatories of the deal, however, have tirelessly reaffirmed their commitment to it.[10]

Last meeting between American and Iranian diplomatic teams before signing - public domain
American and Iranian diplomatic delegates shortly before JCPOA signing. Public domain

As the Trump administration is clearly looking for a fight with Iran, it must resort to other actions. Which path to Persia? weighs several very disturbing ones, such as a full-scale invasion, a targeted air strike campaign and trying to trigger regime change, either by covertly supporting ethnic groups and/or formerly US-designated terrorist organisation MEK, or by a full-blown military coup. Ideally, several of these options should be combined to succeed in overthrowing the Iranian government, the authors claim. At the same time, they recognise that either of these actions are not going to be accepted easily by the international community, let alone the Iranian people. In order to “garner greater international support, galvinize U.S. domestic support, and/or provide a legal justification for an invasion,” the Brookings Institute therefore argues that “it would be best to wait for an Iranian provocation.” But since the authors acknowledge that Iran “has never willingly provoked an American military response,” they hint that provoking Iran into a provocation – the most helpful of which would be “a Tehran-sponsored 9/11” – might be the only workable method to justify American aggression:[11]

“Although the Iranians typically have been careful to avoid crossing American red lines, they certainly could miscalculate, and it is entirely possible that their retaliation for U.S. regime activities would appear to Americans as having crossed just such a threshold. For example, if Iran retaliated with a major terrorist attack that killed large numbers of people or a terrorist attack involving WMDs – especially on U.S. soil – Washington might decide that invasion was the only way to deal with such a dangerous Iranian regime. Indeed, for this same reason, efforts to promote regime change in Iran might be intended by the U.S. government as deliberate provocations to try to goad the Iranians into an excessive response that might then justify an American invasion.”[12]

Provoking Iran covertly to provoke an overt action that would then be used as a casus belli to start a war – in other words, staging a false flag event – is mentioned by other insiders as an option that is on the table. One of them is Patrick Clawson, director of research at the Washington Institute of Near East Policy (WINEP), a principal pro-Israel think tank set up in 1985 by leading members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) whose board of advisors include the likes of former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, George Shultz and Condoleezza Rice, former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, former Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle and ex-CIA director James Woolsey. Speaking at a policy forum on “how to build US-Israeli coordination on preventing an Iranian nuclear breakout” in 2012, he blatantly suggested killing Iranian marines to provoke an overt response:

“We could step up the pressure. I mean look people, Iranian submarines periodically go down; some day one of them might not come up who would know why? We can do a variety of things if we wish to increase the pressure. We are in the game of using covert means against the Iranians. We could get nastier.”[13]

Because “it is very hard for me to see how the United States could get us to go to war with Iran,” Clawson continued, he asked his audience to take in mind “the traditional way of [how] America gets to war,” such as the explosion of the USS Maine that kickstarted the Spanish-American War, the sinking of the Lusitania by the Germans and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour which respectively brought the US into the First and Second World War and the Gulf of Tonkin incident that escalated the Vietnam War. As I detailed in an article published last summer, these events were all to some extent orchestrated false flag incidents that were designed to bring the US into war.

Demonstrators in streets of Tehran - AP
Demonstrators in Tehran during current protests © AP

In 2007 already, CFR member Gary Hart likewise cited the USS Maine and the Gulf of Tonkin assaults to warn Iran in a mock advisory letter that it should be wary of “the justification [the Bush administration] is seeking to attack your country.” Specifically, he advised Iran to keep its forces “far away from the Iraqi border,” hinting that the US could attempt to engineer a provocative incident there.[14] Hart was not new to such blunt wording. A day after 9/11, he proclaimed that George W. Bush could “use this disaster to carry out […] a new world order.”[15] When confronted by citizen reporters of We Are Change to comment on these statements, Hart was forced to elaborate:

“Well, what I was tongue-in-cheek saying was that we have an administration in Washington that is dying for a reason to bomb Iran. […] I was trying to communicate to the American people what our own government was trying to plan, and that was to find a reason for bombing Iran. And I was simply saying – in effect, to the American people through this mock letter – ‘be careful about this administration creating a USS Maine incident or a Gulf of Tonkin incident that would justify bombing Iran,’ that’s all.[16]

A year later, Seymour Hersh, a famous investigative journalist with extensive contacts familiar with the deep state dealings of the American government, exposed an idea that was considered during a meeting in Vice President Dick Cheney’s office whereby navy seals would be dressed up as Iranians, put them on fake Iranian speedboats, and shoot at them with the intention to draw Iran into war:

“There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was why don’t we build – we in our shipyard – build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up. Might cost some lives. And it was rejected because you can’t have Americans killing Americans. That’s the kind of – that’s the level of stuff we’re talking about. Provocation.”[17]

The Iranian protests in and of themselves, which are primarily of economic nature and not phenomenal in number, will not cause a political revolution as hoped for by the Trump administration.[18] It is undeniable, however, that the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia are doing everything in their power to thwart Iran in a well-coordinated fashion. Multiple high-level officials from both the Israeli and Saudi government have confirmed secret cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Israel with the express intention of curbing Iranian influence in the region in spite of the absence of official bilateral relations.[19] Former CIA director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta even recently called for the two sides to establish a joint military operation centre along with the US.[20] Meanwhile, the CIA created a special unit that would exclusively focus on Iran in June,[21] and just before year’s end the US and Israel agreed on joint strategies to target Iran during a secret meeting in late December.[22] Finally, Mossad chief Yossi Cohen exclaimed in the midst of the Iranian protests that “we have eyes and ears, even inside Iran.”[23] Given all of this, and given the rich history of foreign intervention in Iran, Iranian government accusations stating that foreign agents from these three countries are politicising the protests and inciting violence should not be dismissed out of hand.[24] As history is riddled with false flags that triggered wars that could otherwise not be sold to the public, and as selling war with Iran is a tough sell, it is plausible that the covert background dealings between the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel involve a more sinister plot. In other words, beware of a false flag on the desperate path to Persia!


[1] Mat Morrison, “Khomeini’s secret dialogue with ‘the great Satan’,” BBC Persian, 02.06.2016,

[2] James Corbett, “Sibel Edmonds onf the Khomeini/America connection,” interview with FBI wisthleblower Sibel Edmonds, Corbett Report, 18.06.2016,

[3] Cameron Evers, “How the CIA set the stage for Egyptian strongmen to last,” War Is Boring, 25.11.2015,

[4] Seymour Hersh, “U.S. secretly gave aid to Iraq early in its war against Iran,” New York Times, 26.01.1992,; Julian Borger, “Rumsfeld ‘offered help to Saddam’,” Guardian, 31.12.2002,

[5] Amy Goodman, “Gen. Wesley Clark weighs presidential bid: ‘I think about it every day’,” interview with Wesley Clark, Daily Show, Democracy Now, 02.03.2007,

[6] James Risen and Mark Mazzetti, “U.S. agencies see no move by Iran to build a bomb,” New York Times, 24.02.2012,; Will Jordan and Rahul Radharkrishan, “Mossad contradicted Netanyahu on Iran nuclear programme,” Al-Jazeera, 23.02.2015,; “IAEA chief declares lack of diversion in Iran’s declared nuclear material,” Press TV, 02.03.2015,

[7] Gareth Porter, “When the ayatollah said no to nukes,” Foreign Policy, 16.10.2014,; Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, “An Iran option the US prefers to ignore,” Asia Times, 17.03.2006,

[8] Kenneth M. Pollack, et al., Which path to Persia? Option for a new American strategy toward Iran (The Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute, analysis paper no. 20, June 2009), 39, available at

[9] Iran twice did exceed the negotiated 130-ton limit on heavy water by less then one ton each time, but quickly corrected the minor violations when they were pointed out. As it has been in full compliance for the rest of the deal, these excesses are hardly relevant.

[10] Stephen M. Walt, “The case against the Iranian nuclear deal is one big lie,” Foreign Policy, 11.09.2017,; Alex Ward, “Trump says Iran is violating the nuclear deal. It isn’t,” Vox, 07.08.2017,; “Iran nuclear deal: Trump to extend sanctions waiver – reports,” BBC, 12.01.2018,

[11] Pollack, et al., Which path to Persia?, 65-6.

[12] Pollack, et al., Which path to Persia?, 150.

[13] Geoffrey Ingersoll land Michael B. Kelley, “Lobbyist says Israel could create a ‘false flag’ to start a war with Iran,” Business Insider, 26.09.2012,

[14] Gary Hart, “Unsolicited advice to the government of Iran,” Huffington Post, 26.09.2007,

[15] Youtube, “Gary Hart exposes the NEW WORLD ORDER plan of Sr. & W. Bush,” channel of NOCFRCANDIDATES08, 07.01.2008,

[16] Youtube, “Gary Hart warns of new false flag – WeAreChange,” channel of WeAreChange, 29.04.2008, 7m00- 9m30,

[17] Faiz Shakir, “To provoke war, Cheney considered proposal to dress up navy seals as Iranians and shoot at them,” Think Progress, 31.07.2008,

[18] Muhammed Sahimi, “Iran’s people do not need U.S. crocodile tears,” Truth Dig, 09.01.2018,; Pepe Escobar, “Why there won’t be a revolution in Iran,” Asia Times, 03.01.2018,

[19] “Swiss newspaper reveals: secret military cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Israel,” Middle East Monitor, 08.01.2018,; Jeffrey Heller and Stephen Kalin, “Israeli minister reveals covert contacts with Saudi Arabia,” Reuters, 19.11.2017,; “Israeli military chief backs cooperation against Iran in rare Saudi interview,” Middle East Eye, 16.11.2017,

[20] Yonah Jeremy Bob, “CIA director Pompeo: Saudis working with Israel to fight terror,” Jerusalem Post, 03.12.2017,

[21] Julie Manchester, “CIA creates unit to focus on Iran,” Hill, 03.06.2017,

[22] Tyler Durden, “US and Israel reach ‘secret plan’ to counter Iran,” Zero Hedge, 28.12.2017,

[23] David Rosenberg, “Mossad: we have eyes and ears in Iran,” Arutz Sheva, 09.01.2018,

[24] “Iran prosecutor blames CIA, Israeli, Saudi for protests,” Al-Jazeera, 04.01.2018,; “Iran says two protesters killed during demonstrations were targeted by foreign agents,” Daily Sabah, 31.12.2017,



  1. Goed kompleet stuk, bas.
    Met de basis in Incirlick en Quatar op losse schroeven, en de vliegvelden in kurdsyrie, is de timing voor de US optimaal. En Iran kan die bezwaarlijk aanvallen.


    1. Het kan inderdaad op verschillende manieren gebeuren, op veel verschillende plaatsen. Het hoeft zelfs niet op militair vlak zijn, het kan ook een cyberaanval zijn.


  2. Bas, goede analyse hoor. Ik vraag me alleen af wat de rol van Rusland en China is in dit verhaal. Waar staan zij? En zitten er nog poppetjes achter de poppetjes?


    1. Danku! Goede vraag. Ik denk dat zij inschatten dat de Amerikanen er niet in zullen slagen om het Iraanse regime in de kortste keren omver te werpen. In tegenstelling to Syrë bijvoorbeeld, waar Rusland banden onderhoudt met de Koerden om hun kaarten gelijk te verdelen, zien ze een machtswissel niet snel gebeuren denk ik. Daarbij houden ze een grote false flag, kan ook een cyberaanval zijn, niet in rekening denk ik. Wat denk jij?


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