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Domestic Deception on Israel Attack Becomes Iranian Officials’ Global Embarrassment

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Despite widespread coverage by numerous international media outlets of Israel’s recent operation and the subsequent destruction of Iran’s anti-aircraft system in Isfahan, the Iranian regime persists in its pattern of disseminating distorted narratives and contradictory messages to its domestic audience. In recent days, government officials and state media have been tirelessly working to downplay the intelligence and military blows endured by the regime. Their efforts are not aimed at deceiving external adversaries, who are well aware of the situation, but rather at misleading their domestic supporters.

On April 20, the regime’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, addressed the issue in an interview with NBC, stating, “What happened in Isfahan was the flight of two or three drones and quadcopters in a very limited space, which were immediately destroyed, and no one has taken responsibility for this. If the Israeli regime takes any action against my country and proves it to us, our response will be immediate, maximal, and regrettable.”

When pressed about the regime’s prior notification of its April 14th attack, the foreign minister was queried regarding any advance notice of the Isfahan incident. Amir-Abdollahian retorted, “The so-called attack involved the flight of two or three quadcopters, akin to toys used by our children in Iran, hardly warranting any formal notification.”

Alireza Erafi, the Friday prayer leader of the regime in Qom, stated during the Friday prayer sermon on April 19, “The Honest Vow Operation [referring to the regime’s attack on Israel on April 14] showed that our moral and cultural discourse requires missiles and defense. Those who thought that the discourse of missiles had ended, were making a mistake. No, the Islamic Revolution’s main discourse is about thought, knowledge, and divine wisdom. But this discourse is not sustainable without military capability and defensive power.”

Vahid Jalalzadeh, head of the Parliament’s National Security Commission, also sought to respond to the internal dissents within the regime and dispel their deep doubts about the regime’s attack on Israel. In an interview with state television on April 18, he stated, “Some ask, ‘Where was the surprise element in this?’ Didn’t you inform them beforehand that we would retaliate?’ But in my opinion, the surprise was not in announcing the timing of the attack and the punishment, but rather in the strategy and tactics that caught them off guard. It was a slap in the face to send a message and to tell them, you should reassess your evaluations of the deterrent capabilities of the Islamic Republic.”

Jalalzadeh added, “Even some Iranians, even officials of the Pahlavi government in some countries, I have seen in interviews, had said that they were proud that Iran had become so powerful that it could carry out such mind-boggling operations in the eyes of the world.”

However, on April 19, Mohammad Ali Shahim, the Friday Prayer Leader in Kuhchenar, expressed the regime’s concerns more explicitly, considering any expression of dissent and raising economic and social demands contrary to the regime’s interests. 

After the usual display of verbal bravado, Shahim asserted, “I know some are quick to raise issues about livelihoods. They talk about people going hungry, not having bread on their tables, and the soaring price of the dollar. Some strive to outpace the Imam [referring to the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei], while others lag behind. But what truly matters is standing alongside the Imam. If we falter, mark my words, we’ll suffer the consequences. It’s only a matter of time.”

The Iranian regime finds itself in a precarious situation. It grapples with a myriad of intractable political, economic, and social crises that fuel public outrage day by day. Meanwhile, it contends with dwindling morale among its security forces and allied proxies abroad, whose spirits wane with each military and intelligence setback in the region.

Ali Khamenei, who has sustained his regime for over three decades by exploiting global terrorism and capitalizing on Western appeasement, now faces a dilemma. His two pillars of survival, repression, and terrorism, are no longer complementing each other but rather conflicting.