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Iran: Warnings Of U.S. "Cultural Assault" (KFC On The Menu)

Selfie sticks and holiday cheer in Tehran in December
Selfie sticks and holiday cheer in Tehran in December

Look no further than fried chicken for signs that American influence is returning to Iran in the wake of the deal to end sanctions in exchange for limits on the Iranian nuclear program.

That was the message from influential Republican Guards General Mohammad Hossein Sepehr, who cited the opening of a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Tehran amongst his warnings that "America wants to infiltrate our society, culture, clothes, food, conduct, distractions and the way we pray."

Never mind that the KFC branch in question may have been the one shut down in November, 24 hours after it opened, though it was never clear whether it was an actual franchise or a knock-off, which is anything but unusual in Iran. The KFC's owner had said his eatery was a "halal" version of the global food chain.

The Revolutionary Guards general insists that the West is waging a "cultural assault" on Islamic Iran and its values. It's been a longstanding leitmotif of Iranian public discourse that began with the 1979 revolution, and the message is back in force with a vengeance as Iran emerges from isolation following the international nuclear deal.

Sepehr's comments joined other such declarations in recent days, expressing hostility toward the United States and warning it to mind Iran's many limits.

Another Iranian general accused the United States of trying to "strike at" Qasem Soleimani, the Revolutionary Guards general running Iran's operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, though the report by the conservative Fars news agency did not clarify whether he was accusing Americans of plotting to kill him.

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Geopolitics

How A Drone Strike Inside Iran Exposes The Regime's Vulnerability — On All Fronts

It is still not clear what was the exact target of an attack by three armed drones Saturday night on an arms factory in central Iran. But it comes as Tehran authorities appear increasingly vulnerable to both its foreign and domestic enemies, with more attacks increasingly likely.

Screenshot of one of the Saturday drone attacks arms factory in Isfahan, central Iran

One of the Saturday drone attacks arms factory in Isfahan, central Iran

Screenshot
Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — It's the kind of incident that momentarily reveals the shadow wars that are part of the Middle East. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack by three armed drones Saturday night on an arms factory complex north of Isfahan in central Iran.

But the explosion was so strong that it set off a small earthquake. Iranian authorities have played down the damage, as we might expect, and claim to have shot down the drones.

Nevertheless, three armed drones reaching the center of Iran, buzzing right up to weapons factories, is anything but ordinary in light of recent events. Iran is at the crossroads of several crises: from the war in Ukraine where it's been supplying drones to Russia to its nuclear development arriving at the moment of truth; from regional wars of influence to the anti-government uprising of Iranian youth.

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That leaves us spoiled for choice when it comes to possible interpretations of this act of war against Iran, which likely is a precursor to plenty of others to follow.

Iranian authorities, in their comments, blame the United States and Israel for the aggression. These are the two usual suspects for Tehran, and it is not surprising that they are at the top of the list.

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