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Johns Hopkins Professor Mouthpiece for Iranian Regime Propaganda

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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (Photo: Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty Images)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (Photo: Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty Images)

An assistant professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) is a mouthpiece for Iranian regime propaganda, spouting the regime line that the terrorism committed by its proxies is a response to American “imperialism.”

Professor Narges Bajoghli, who by her own admission spent significant time with the Iranian regime’s propaganda apparatus, is taking to prestigious publications like Foreign Policy to depict the regime as the victim of U.S. bullying and ignorance.

In her article, The Hidden Sources of Iranian Strength, Bajoghli characterizes the theocracy and its proxies as nationalists struggling against Western domination, rather than what they really are: Shiite jihadists pursuing–as the Iranian constitution says—” the establishment of a universal government” and “the downfall of all” adversaries they view as incompatible with their version of Islam.

Bajoghli criticizes U.S. policymakers as ignorant of what the regime and its proxies are really about—”a political quest for sovereignty, rather than an otherworldly quest for religious rule.”

To the professor, “What actually binds these groups together is not an adherence to specific theological doctrine” but a rejection of Western imperialism.

“In the 40 years since the revolution, the Islamic Republic has supported groups that are actively engaged in struggles against foreign occupation, whether in Lebanon, Iraq, or the occupied Palestinian territories,” she writes.

Even Iran’s support for the barbaric Assad dictatorship of Syria is a a response to Western imperialism and manipulation, she says, speaking as if nothing Iran does is motivated by imperialism and manipulation.

In other words, according to Bajoghli, Iran’s terror proxies are really freedom fighters.

If you’re thinking, “It sounds like she’s just repeating lines fed to her by the Iranian regime and Hezbollah,” you’re right.

Bajoghli said on Twitter that she “talked w various high-ranking IRGC [Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps] for this.”

In her article, she recalls spending a decade “with cultural producers in Iran’s preeminent military force, the IRGC.”

Speaking about her own credibility, Bajoghli boasts of the amount of time she spent talking to pro-Hezbollah and pro-regime filmmakers from Lebanon and Iraq who came to Iran when she was there, with some even being allowed to use the Revolutionary Guards’ editing studios.

She also met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in October of 2015.

Bajoghli essentially says that what separates her from the ignorant American policymakers is that they don’t listen to Iranian regime propaganda like she does. If only they listened to the regime’s messaging more, they’d see how much the West is at fault.

“When one pays close attention to the discourse of these groups, from their official statements to their media output, the emphasis is on sovereignty and the fight against imperialism. Of course the symbolism of Islam as a cultural and political identity is also present, but it is not the driving force,” she writes.

Bajoghli seems to think that having pride in one’s history and claiming to be fighting in self-defense against imperialism is proof that the Iranian regime is not out to spread the Islamic Revolution to the world.

Yet, a fundamental pillar of the Islamist worldview is that the Muslim world will be in perpetual conflict with the ill-intentioned, imperialistic non-Muslim world until theocratic sharia law is victorious globally.

In short, the jihadist embrace of nationalistic causes is not at odds with Islamism—it’s an expression of it.

Apparently unaware of the irony of her statement, she tweeted:

“The media arms of these groups, which disseminate material in Arabic and Kurdish (in a variety of local dialects), do not have the massive budget of Saudi or Emirati media operations. Yet, just like their military tactics, these groups created an effective asymmetrical comms op.”

Yes, Professor Bajoghli, the Iranian regime’s propaganda arm is so effective that they’ve gotten you to repeat their lines to Western audiences they normally wouldn’t reach.

 

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Ryan Mauro and Justen Charters

Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org's Shillman Fellow, national security analyst and the director of Clarion Intelligence Network. Mauro is also an adjunct professor of counter-terrorism. He is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. Justen Charters is a research analyst with the Clarion Intelligence Network.