Ari Fleischer, who promoted the Iraq War while serving as press secretary under President George W. Bush, is back with more sweeping ideas on how to reach peace. This time in Iran. His suggestion: to destabilize the nation.
“Fascinating changes underway inside of Iran, no one can predict where they’re going to go,” Fleischer told Fox News on Monday, speaking about the recent anti-government protests in the Islamic republic. “But the more unstable we can help Iran to become, the better it is to actually secure peace if we can get rid of that theological regime one day, or if the Iranian people can get rid of it themselves.”
Serving as Bush’s press secretary, Fleischer became one of the leading public faces of the administration’s push for the Iraq War, claiming that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and that regime change was the only way out of the international crisis.
The WMD claim turned out to be false, and even Bush himself later regarded the “intelligence failure” on Iraq as “the biggest regret” of his presidency. The invasion, dubbed Operation Iraqi Freedom, led to the deaths of about 4,500 US troops and more than 400,000 Iraqis, and the ensuing turmoil in Iraq helped the rise of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).
Fleischer’s regime-change ideas echo earlier remarks made by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who also spoke in favor of propping up anti-government activities in Iran. The US “will support the long-ignored voices of the Iranian people,” Pompeo said Sunday, as he was announcing the launch of the Farsi-language TV channel targeting the Iranian public.
The protests, which occured in Iran in late June, were relatively minor and were mostly caused by economic issues. The main instigators of the rallies in Tehran were merchants upset over the weakness of the Iranian economy and the devaluation of the national currency, the rial. The disturbances in southwestern Iran were sparked by problems with water supply and sewage. Unemployment and food prices were also cited as reasons for public unrest.
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The protests were, nevertheless, seen by hawks in the US and Israel as a chance to bolster anti-government sentiment in Iran. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the rallies held over the lack of drinkable water as an opportunity to commend the Iranians for “showing courage” in standing up against the government.
The US had successfully carried out regime change in Iran in 1953. In what was dubbed ‘Operation Ajax,’ the CIA, working together with the British, toppled democratically-elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. The coup consolidated the rule of a pro-Western monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. However, growing anti-shah sentiment later led to the success of the 1979 revolution, which installed the current Islamic regime.
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