A US lawfare blog has published an analysis of Iranian influence strategies centered on campaigns targeting US elections. As the report explains:
February 19, 2021 In the past few years, Iran has become increasingly sophisticated and active in online communities targeting the American public. And its brazen tactics leading up to the election could mark a shift in the country’s influence strategy toward the United States. According to the public record, this is the first time that Iranian actors have engaged in an election interference campaign targeting the United States utilizing stolen voter information in influence operations.
However, the report goes on to note that these Iranian campaigns targeting US elections are aimed at promoting Iran’s broad interests as opposed to securing a particular result:
But to the extent that Iran targets U.S. audiences in sustained disinformation campaigns, it still typically aims to broadly promote Iranian interests—such as denigrating sanctions against the country and bolstering their moral standing compared to the U.S.—rather than attempting to induce a specific result in American domestic affairs. More importantly, Iran is almost certainly expending far more of its resources on its geopolitical sphere of influence in the Middle East and North Africa.
To prove this point, the analysis lists a series of exposures of inauthentic news outlets, which concealed their ties to Iran, and which appropriated news from legitimate sites in order to help them look authentic. These were aimed to spread stories that uplift Iranian culture and the Iranian regime and generally denigrate Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States. It also points to Iranian outlets aimed at Middle Eastern audience and to media presence in other countries.
Read the entire report here.
Recent Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) coverage of Iranian influence operations has included:
- A January 2021 report on Iranian linked individuals who planted dozens of fake articles in Arabic media outlets, as part of a disinformation campaign promoting “pro-Iranian” narratives.
- A January 2021 reportthat according to the FBI, Iranian “cyber actors” were most likely behind the creation of a website that contained death threats aimed at US election officials.
- A January 2021 report on the charging of an Iranian US resident who was posing as a “neutral and objective expert on Iran” while actually being paid by Iran to spread Iranian propaganda.
- A March 2021 report Twitter has removed more Iranian accounts linked to interference in the US elections