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Catherine Perez-Shakdam

Implicit dangers: How the IRGC weaponizes Zionism to divide and rule

2022 IRGC army exercise in Aras region - From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

In this most curious and convoluted age of ours, where tweets and trolls hold sway over the collective consciousness, a narrative most insidious and cunning has begun to unfurl its tendrils, deftly weaving a web of discord between Jewish and Iranian communities. It is, dare I say, the work of the IRGC, those masters of the dark arts of psychological operations, employing their craft with a deftness that would make Machiavelli himself blush.

The crux of this melodrama, lies in the proposition of the balkanization of Iran following the potential downfall of its current regime – a narrative as reductive as it is dangerous. To suggest that the panacea to the region’s ills lies in the surgical dissection of a nation is to engage in a folly most egregious. It’s akin to attempting to cure the headache by beheading the patient.

In this complex and multifaceted narrative of Iran’s struggle for change, one must turn a discerning eye to the Kurds, a group whose tapestry of aspirations has been rather too simplistically portrayed. Indeed, there exists a thread within the Kurdish narrative that speaks of a state of their own, a longing for autonomy. Yet, to conflate this sentiment with the broader desires of Kurdish-Iranians is to indulge in a dramatic oversimplification most unbecoming.

The Kurdish-Iranians, a proud and integral part of Iran’s rich cultural mosaic, have historically been cast in the role of unwilling secessionists by the regime’s machinations. This portrayal, it must be noted, is a grievous mischaracterization. Far from desiring to sever ties with their homeland, these Kurdish-Iranians, hailing from diverse quarters of their storied land, are fervent in their wish to preserve Iran’s territorial integrity. Their struggle, often painted in the monochrome hues of separatism, is in reality a vibrant tapestry of patriotic fervor aimed at liberating their land from the clutches of the Mullahs’ nefarious influence.

For decades, the regime has wielded the specter of secession like a theatrical prop, using it to justify its villainous campaigns against the Kurds. This narrative, while convenient for the theocratic scriptwriters, does a grave disservice to the Kurdish-Iranians. Their aspirations are not for fragmentation but for inclusion in a free and unified Iran; a nation freed from the tyrannical grip of those who have long oppressed them under the guise of national unity.

Thus, when the drums of change beat in Iran, and the people, weary of the regime’s oppressive theatrics, raise their voices for freedom, let us not misinterpret this chorus as a call for the nation’s dismemberment. Rather, let us understand it as a resounding symphony for emancipation from tyranny, sung by a people united in their diversity and steadfast in their commitment to the integrity of their beloved homeland.

The narrative of balkanization plays into the hands of the very regime it purports to undermine. It’s a bit like offering a lifeline to a drowning man, only to realize it’s attached to an anchor. The regime has long used “secessionism” as a convenient plot device to justify its authoritarian narrative, its brutality masquerading as a necessary act to preserve national unity.

Furthermore, the antisemitic undercurrents that have bubbled up in response to these calls for balkanization bear the unmistakable hallmark of the regime’s propaganda. The rhetoric, laced with invective and thinly-veiled threats, is as subtle as a sledgehammer and just as destructive. In this rather unseemly tableau, one witnesses the emergence of wannabe influencers, masquerading themselves as “Zionists.” This masquerade, however, is nothing short of a Machiavellian ruse – a calculated performance designed to provoke rebuttals tainted with vicious antisemitism. Such a strategy is not just divisive; it is diabolically crafted to fray the very fabric of unity among communities whose true adversary is singular and unmistakable: the Iranian regime.

These self-proclaimed “Zionists,” through their clamor for balkanization, unwittingly (or perhaps wittingly) play into the hands of the regime. By fostering an environment where antisemitic retorts become the norm, they contribute to a narrative that serves only to divide those who should stand united. Their rhetoric does not liberate but ensnares; it does not enlighten but obfuscates the true nature of the struggle against the regime.

In this treacherous landscape, a word of caution is imperative for all. Engaging in the defence of either party, based purely on respective loyalties and passions, inadvertently empowers the regime. Such actions, though perhaps well-intentioned, only fan the flames of division, playing right into the hands of those who seek to maintain their tyrannical hold on power.

We would all be better served by allowing this fire of divisiveness to burn itself out. The strength of our collective resolve is far greater when united than when fragmented by misguided allegiances and inflammatory rhetoric. Let us not be distracted or divided by the provocations of those who, knowingly or not, serve the regime’s agenda.

It is in our unity that our true power lies. Together, unencumbered by the divisive tactics of the regime and its unwitting accomplices, we stand a far better chance of achieving the freedom and change so desperately sought by all who suffer under its rule. Let us focus our energies not on the baited traps set to divide us, but on the common goal of toppling a regime that oppresses us all. Together, we remain stronger.

The Iranian regime, ever the puppeteer, finds in these dynamics a convenient distraction – a sideshow that diverts attention from its own tyrannical rule. It is a classic tale of divide and conquer, with the regime sitting back and watching as communities turn against each other, their energies consumed by infighting rather than focused on the true oppressor.

In this landscape of manipulated narratives and engineered discord, it is imperative for all who seek the downfall of the Iranian regime to recognize these ploys for what they are. The battle is not between Jew and Iranian, Kurd and Persian, Sunni and Shia; it is, and must always be, between the oppressors and the oppressed, between those who yearn for freedom and those who would deny it. Let us not be fooled by the charades of those who would divide us, for our strength lies in our unity, our victory in our solidarity.

About the Author
Catherine Perez-Shakdam - Director Forward Strategy and Research Fellow at the American Centre for Levant Studies. Catherine is a former Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society and consultant for the UNSC on Yemen, as well an expert on Iran, Terror and Islamic radicalisation. A prominent political analyst and commentator, she has spoken at length on the Islamic Republic of Iran, calling on the UK to proscribe the IRGC as a terrorist organisation. Raised in a secular Jewish family in France, Catherine found herself at the very heart of the Islamic world following her marriage to a Muslim from Yemen. Her experience in the Middle East and subsequent work as a political analyst gave her a very particular, if not a rare viewpoint - especially in how one can lose one' sense of identity when confronted with systemic antisemitism. Determined to share her experience and perspective on those issues which unfortunately plague us -- Islamic radicalism, Terror and Antisemitism Catherine also will speak of a world, which often sits out of our reach for a lack of access.
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