In 2009, I had a website on women’s rights in Iran which had received an international award for empowering women and family. When post-election unrest occurred in Iran, US administration imposed fresh sanctions on Iran and because of that American server providers stopped giving services to Iranain websites and deleted all of them without any prior notice.
Not only my website, but also many Iranian news agencies and news websites were removed by one order. Regardless of illegitimacy of US sanctions, they have always targeted the people and the abovementioned example was directly attacking media and freedom of speech.
At that time, Washigton was hopeful it can exploit the unrest in Iran to sow more discord and turn people against the system by putting pressure on them through imposing sanctions. The course of time has proved that the strategy has been futile; yet the White House has long insisted on same policy.
During Trump administration, he designated the IRGC as a terrorist group and imposed further sanction on Iran and one consequence of that was seizure of .com domains of websites belonging to a news agency close to the IRGC. And while American Democrats had insisted that Donald Trump has been an exception and not representative of the American Way, same policies are being repeated by Biden administration as he has not stopped Maximum Pressure campaign of sanctions either.
This week, the Americans resorted to the same policy and banned a series of websites of news networks and agencies of Iran and Yemen. This time, again, .com domains of Press TV, Al Alam, Almasirah, etc. were removed and US Treasury targeted freedom of speech and media simply to silence any narrative that is against that of the United States.
To dig the reasons behind such actions by Washington one needs to have a deeper and broader look at the situation of the US. After the WWII and Cold War US turned into a hegemony who was leading the western world and affecting global issues. Yet, at least since the beginning of the century US has been increasingly facing its own decline.
The old hegemony was dealing with a new concept: Endless Wars. A concept reflecting how weak the US has become. Even the proxy wars they – to be more precise, the Democrats – have been pursuing for last two decades in the Middle East blew back at least in Syria and Iraq and they failed to achieve their objectives in the region.
US dominance in West Asia has been challenged by the Islamic Republic of Iran who refuses to accept this hegemonic dominance. Unlike almost any other countries in the region, Iran has tried hard to survive the plots in this volatile region and to revive its historical and geographical power.
Failure of Maximum Pressure sanctions which by admittance of American officials has nothing more left to be imposed, defeat in Syria and failure to topple its democratically-elected President Bashar Assad, failure to stop Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities, missile capabilities and at the top of all, its regional influence witness how US has lost its challenges against Iran.
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Therefore, with its hegemony declined and its enemies – mainly China, Russia and Iran – rising, Washington has shifted from politics and military agendas to economy and technology in hope for surviving its other forms of power in the world. In recent years, Americans have focused on preventing China’s role and share in 5G technology, forcing Europeans to stop cooperating technologically with the Red Dragon. For Iran, the scenario seems to be on the level of war of narratives.
After suffering defeat on the battlefield, US has realized that its narrative which has been shaped by mainstream media is not as successful as before and increasing number of people across the world are buying alternative narratives and do not believe whatever mainstream media dictate to them. That’s why US is trying to seize the momentum in cyber space and depict a power over the internet.
However, the truth is that closing social networks of anyone against the mainstream narrative in countries like Iran, China, Russia or western Aasian countries and seizing domains of such websites rather than showing a power, signals Washington’s lack of power in countering its rivals in the real world and having no other choice but to throw a fist at them on the cyber space.
The writer is PhD candidate in North American Studies
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