John Kerry, architect of Iran Deal, claims he doesn’t know what’s happening in Iran

Seth J. Frantzman
Dec 31, 2017 · 3 min read


In shocking comments on Twitter on December 31 former US Secretary of State John Kerry claimed he knew “little” about what was happening in Iran after three days of protests across the country.

“With humility about how little we know about what’s happening inside Iran,” he wrote.

Speak for yourself Secretary Kerry. We know a lot about what is happening in Iran.

  • 200 people have been arrested in Tehran (Bloomberg)
  • Social media access has been restricted (CNN)
  • Protesters have called for overthrow of Ayatollah Khamenei (CNN, others)
  • Protesters have pulled down posters of the regime (video)
  • Two protesters have been killed (Reuters)
  • Protesters have been seen in dozens of towns and cities, on Sunday in Sanandaj and Kermanshah in western Iran and Chabahar, Ilam and Izeh (here’s a map below).
Map of towns and cities affected by protests
  • President Hassan Rouhani has said “People are absolutely free to criticize the government and protest but their protests should be in such a way as to improve the situation in the country and their life.”
  • Three Kurdish parties have put out statements supporting the demonstrations (see here, here and here)
  • A woman has taken off her headscarf as a protest (video)
  • People have chanted against Iran’s foreign wars and involvement in Syria and Lebanon (BBC Persian)
  • Buses have been set alight in Shahin Shahr (video)
  • Police vans have been overturned (video)
  • Protesters have taken to streets of Dorud after two were shot (video)
  • Instagram and Telegram access restricted (CNN)
  • Telegram has shut down amadnews (see tweet)

So when Secretary Kerry says he knows “little” it is because he has not taken time to learn what is happening in Iran. There is a huge amount of information online, including videos and testimony from people in Iran and people with knowledge about the country and its internal affairs. Is that because it challenges his role in the Iran Deal of 2015? Is it because it harms the narrative of the “moderates” and hardliners?

It’s extraordinary that a former US Secretary of State would feign such a lack of knowledge on what is happening in Iran. In 2007 Kerry spoke at Davos alongside former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami. He claimed at the time that the US had become an “international pariah…When we don’t live up to our own rhetoric and standards, we set a terrible message of duplicity and hypocrisy.” He suggested working with Iran on a “new security agreement for the Middle East.” (see minute 9:45 of video)

Kerry has had a long-time interest in trying to bring the US closer to the Iranian regime. For whatever reason he had a one track mind when it comes to Iran. Ignoring the protests in late December 2017 has nothing to do with not knowing what is going on, it is part of a long narrative on Iran.

Seth J. Frantzman

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Writer, photographer, historian. Interested in Middle East regional policy analysis, security studies, migration, globalization, counter-terrorism