It is a warm summer evening in London and I am sitting outside, talking politics with friends while snaking on delicious Iranian salted pistachios and literally mouth-watering lavashak (Iranian dried fruit roll ups).
Iran is on the brink and our discussions about whose fault it is and what must be done, get as hot as the home-delivered Sosis Bandari (specialty sausages from south of Iran) sandwiches we munch into.
With all the high emotions of a passionate Iranian and in a voice packed with disappointment and disgust, my friend says: “this is what we get for burning the American flag and chanting death to America”.
His equally irate wife adds: “…and-what are we doing, spending money in Syria when our own people are struggling with basic necessities of life”.
They point out that the President Rouhani- who was to bring hope to the Iranians- is now nothing but a sitting lame duck.
Only days later, the Guardian, covering the sporadic protests about high-inflation and water shortages in Iran, reports on the same sentiments being expressed in the streets of Tehran.
Then bang! Mr Trump’s all-capital tweet on Iran pops up on his tweeter, for all his 53.2 million followers and the rest of the world to see and read.
Can you see what is happening? It’s Cambridge Analytica scenario all over again.
President Trump, a man of no convictions what so ever, has access to our minds and inner thoughts.
The fact is that we regularly leave digital footprints of our ideas and beliefs on the Internet, which are carefully recorded and regularly harvested for commercial and political purposes.
This is how President Trump gets away with his crazy tweets- he knows there are enough people out there who think the same thing and therefore would support what is being said.
He made his Iran tweet knowing that he would be giving credence to an existing idea that Iran had largely itself to blame for its current predicament.
His aim was to strengthen the belief among many Iranians that their lives would be so much better if only their leaders knew their place in the world and talked sweetly to the US- an idea spread by many foreign-funded media outlets with access to audiences inside and outside of Iran.
But is it true?
Let’s look at what happened in the past when Iran supported the American invasion of Afghanistan, proposed normalizing its relationship with the US, and even offered to rein back its support for Hezbollah and Hamas.
The year was 2003 and the then President of the US, George Bush, called Iran part of the “axis of evil”. Hardly a fair way of rewarding Iran for good behavior, is it?
So no, it is not the American flag burning that has got us here. It is the deliberate American policies, designed to appease Israel and weaken Iran, that are largely responsible for the current misery of the Iranians.
But most reports on Iran lack context, limiting the opportunity for people to form informed opinions. The situation is likely to get worse as newspapers come under tighter financial squeeze.
Recently, I almost choked on my Iranian tea with laughter when I read The Independent’s claim that their newly planned websites in Farsi, Turkish, Arabic and Urdu, owned and operated by the Saudis, would bring “ free-thinking” and “independent news” to the Middle East.
But this is no laughing matter. Biased media outlets are a true threat to democracy.
President Trump thrives on uninformed opinions and the way they are often promoted in the mainstream media in the form of plain reporting without any analysis.
The war mongering US and Israel want us to believe the Iranian rulers are apocalyptic madmen bent on annihilation of Israel and the rest of the world.
This is simply not true.
Iran has many reasons for being distrustful of the West- the orchestrated 1953 coup to topple the only democratically elected Prime Minister, Mossadegh, and the 1993 shooting down of a civil airliner, killing 290 people, are some of those reasons- but the most painful and lingering memory has to be the support the US gave to the dictator-turned-invader, Saddam Hussein, during a bloody 8-year war with Iran.
The Iranians lost as many people in that war as the UK did during the Second World War.
The negotiated solution, in the form of the Iran Deal, was the best way of improving relations between Iran and the West.
Breaking the Iran Deal is bringing the Iranian economy to its knees, causing misery for ordinary Iranians and strengthening the hardliners inside Iran.
Before President Trump fires another thoughtless tweet about Iran, and before some Iranians turn their backs on Rouhani, let’s remember what happened when Bush branded Khatami as “evil” and failed to support the moderates: the world got Ahmadinejad. Need I say more?
The way to resist Trump and his toxic style of politics is by demanding better quality news and by supporting adequate funding for the media so they can get on with their main job of properly informing people on important issues rather than chasing useless click baits.