Iranian Media Narrative Perspectives on the US and Global Competition: A Media Ecology & Strategic Analysis (MESA) Group Report

August 2019 No Comments

Iranian Media Narrative Perspectives on the US and Global Competition: A Media Ecology & Strategic Analysis (MESA) Group Report

Authors | Editors: Cooley, S. (Oklahoma State University); Hinck, R. (Monmouth College); Kitsch, S. (Monmouth College); Cooley, A. (Oklahoma State University)

Executive Summary

The following highlights Iranian perspectives on: geopolitical dynamics in the Middle East, the US, the global order, and the role of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the region coming from Iranian news media intended for domestic audiences. The study analyzed 134 Iranian news articles across four native Iranian news media publications from 2014 to present.

Key Points from Iranian Media

Iran is a regional power, center of the axis of resistance in the Shia Crescent, and a legitimate center of Islamic authority. Iran, and the regional power bloc it represents, is battle-tested against the US.

  • Iranian rhetoric forcefully commits to the protection of its borders and airspace, its regional interests, and the Shia Crescent in general; claims the nation does not seek escalation and is a victim of US-backed hostilities.
  • Iran, as a pillar of the axis of resistance against the US, is being isolated due to an attempted systematic destruction of the Shia Crescent across the Middle East.
  • The strength and unity of the Shia Crescent, the ability to demonstrate the injustices of the Western-led order, and showcasing Iran as an exemplar in Qur’anic modernity are critical to successful global competition and creating a balanced multi-polar world order.

Presenting the US as anti-Iranian, untrustworthy, and self-interested to the point of recklessness to international community is the principle strategy Iranian media conveys to its population in order to delegitimize US claims against Iran as an aggressive international actor.

  • The US is shown as attempting to destroy the Shia Crescent and Iranian regional influence through: wars in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, disingenuous monetary deals offered to Palestinians in exchange for the suppression of their political will, US-led militarization of Arab states, strategic backing of Arab-Israeli alliances against Iranian interests, suppression of the political will of Bahrainis, and the demonization of Hezbollah.
  • The US government is shown as accelerating conflict potentials; hawkish officials are shown as attempting to drive the US toward conflict in order to salvage victory amid failed US policies in the region.
  • The US is shown as in violation of international law and flaunting international consensus via a number of positions taken by the US government relating to: actions in Syria, the Paris climate agreement, Israeli settlements in the Golan Heights, the US embassy in Jerusalem, the treatment of Canada and Mexico concerning NAFTA, the economic trade war with China, and the Iranian nuclear deal.
  • Iran is shown as a source of political convenience for the US and Israel; a supposed enemy to be victimized at any time in order to further their own political agendas and fracture any possibility of regional unity.

Iran media shows the US as determined to coalesce together an international faction against Iran substantial enough to force a negotiation of arms reduction and regional influence capabilities in deterioration of the Shia Crescent.

  • This is seen as a non-negotiable position from the Iranian perspective, particularly given the violations of the US government over the past years.
  • There is hope that significant numbers of states within the international community will side with Iran in the face of US aggression, and thus render US unilateral actions tolerable.

Iran sees itself as capable of withstanding conflict with the US.

  • US pressures will rally Iranian people in support of the regime as it has for the past 40 years.
  • US lacks the political will and ability to absorb the financial burden that war with Iran would entail. Syria provides evidence of the resistance’s ability to defeat US coalitions.
  • Regional destruction caused to US allies and assets, as well as global escalation potential, make war illogical.

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