Background Briefing: January 6, 2020


Trump Has the Opposition Inside Iran Rallying Around the Flag

We  begin with the massive funeral processions across Iran today for General Suleimani at which the Supreme Leader wept over his coffin and vowed to avenge the death of the martyred leader of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards at the hands of President Trump.  A specialist in U.S.-Iran relations, Hussein Banai, an Iranian/American scholar and Professor of International Studies at Indiana University and author of “The Narrative Trap: U.S.- Iranian Relations Since 1979”, joins us to discuss the extent to which the Iranian regime has set a rhetorical trap for itself in promising to avenge Suleimani’s death as a necessary act to restore national pride. We will assess what actions might be taken by the regime after Suleimani is buried on Tuesday in his home town of Kerman and how much Trump’s bloodthirsty threat to destroy Iranian cultural sites has galvanized the Iranian people, including opponents of the regime who only recently were brutally put down by the very Quds Force Suleimani led. Now that Trump has lowered the United States to the level of the Taliban’s barbaric destruction of the giant Buddhas at the Bamyan world heritage site, we will analyze what might reverse the U.S. escalation from economic warfare against Iran towards greater use of overwhelming military force.


The Possibility of a Retaliatory Cyberattack from Iran

Then we  speak with a cyber-security and Internet security expert and digital rights researcher, Amir Rashidi, who has been banished from Iran since 2009 but fears that Trump has undermined efforts by the Iranian opposition now that Iranians across a broad spectrum are rallying around the flag. We will discuss the initial use of cyber-warfare against Iran by the U.S. and Israel with the Stuxnet attack on Iran’s nuclear program, and recent cyber-attacks by Iranians against major American banks and a dam in New York State.


A Proportional Response from Iran Coming Later Rather than Sooner?

Then finally we  examine the long low-level war with Iran since the 1979 hostage takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran which is now out in the open, and discuss the failure of diplomacy with Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat Professor of Peace and Development at the University of Maryland. He served as an Advisor to the Iraq Study Group and has an article at Foreign Policy, “The U.S. Public Sill Doesn’t Want a War With Iran” and joins us to discuss what he expects will be a proportional response from Iran which could happen later rather than sooner.