The Tasnim News Agency has, in an opinion piece, weighed in on US attempts to overthrow the Iranian government. The highlights of the article follow.
The speech by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative American think tank, which was his first remarks on Washington’s foreign policy on Iran, was described as a speech focusing on toppling the Iranian government. However, the policy of seeking regime change in Iran is not a new strategy by the US, and has always been on the agenda of different US administrations, but failed all the time.
In the Algeria Accords and following the seizure of the US embassy in Tehran, Washington promised not to interfere in Iran’s affairs. Nevertheless, evidence shows that the White House has always put on its agenda efforts to bring about a regime change in Iran through soft and hard approaches.
At certain points in time, this issue has been pursued via a hard military approach, and at other times through a soft overthrow strategy under the guise of democracy and human rights programs.
After the conclusion of the Iran nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the US Congress and officials have believed that one of the objectives of the deal is to bring about a soft change in Iran’s power and domestic policy and to transmute the nature of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s system. The opponents of the nuclear agreement such as US President Donald Trump are against the JCPOA because they are of the conviction that the agreement is not strong enough to effect such a change, and, hence, demand tougher approaches be used to achieve the objective.
In fact, attempts by the White House to attain that goal are not limited to the era following the conclusion of the nuclear deal. We can say the plan to contain and manage Iran is a policy which has always been on the US agenda since the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and millions of dollars have been spent on it, so far.
Kenneth Katzman, a senior analyst on Iran issues at the US Congressional Research Service, has, in the numerous reports he has written recently about Iran, mentioned the budget that Washington has allocated to different Congress-approved programs aimed at bringing about a soft regime change in Iran.
In his last report dubbed “Iran: Politics, Human Rights, and US Policy,” he explains that the US Congress and different US administrations have ratified spending packages in order to bring about fundamental changes in Iran through the “promotion of democracy.”
In a table titled the “Iran Democracy Promotion Funding,” Katzman has mentioned the funds earmarked by different American institutions to bring about regime change in Iran. The table is as follows:
|Fiscal Year (FY)||Funds Allocated|
|2004||Foreign operations appropriation (P.L. 108-199) earmarked $1.5 million for “educational, humanitarian and non-governmental organizations and individuals inside Iran to support the advancement of democracy and human rights in Iran.” The State Department Bureau of Democracy and Labor (DRL) gave $1 million to a unit of Yale University, and $500,000 to National Endowment for Democracy.|
|2005||$3 million from FY2005 foreign aid appropriation (P.L. 108-447) for democracy promotion. Priority areas: political party development, media, labor rights, civil society promotion, and human rights.|
|2006||$11.15 million for democracy promotion from regular FY2006 foreign aid appropriation (P.L. 109-102). $4.15 million administered by DRL and $7 million for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.|
|2006 + Supportive Program||Total of $66.1 million (of $75 million requested) from FY2006 supplemental (P.L. 109-234): $20 million for democracy promotion; $5 million for public diplomacy directed at the Iranian population; $5 million for cultural exchanges; and $36.1 million for Voice of America-TV and “Radio Farda” (RFE/RL) broadcasting. Broadcasting funds are provided through the Broadcasting Board of Governors.|
|2007||FY2007 continuing resolution provided $6.55 million for Iran (and Syria) to be administered through DRL. $3.04 million was used for Iran. No funds were requested.|
|2008||$60 million (of $75 million requested) is contained in Consolidated Appropriation (H.R. 2764, P.L. 110-161), of which, according to the conference report, $21.6 million is ESF for prodemocracy programs, including nonviolent efforts to oppose Iran’s meddling in other countries. $7.9 million is from a “Democracy Fund” for use by DRL. The appropriation also fully funded additional $33.6 million requested for Iran broadcasting: $20 million for VOA Persian service; $8.1 million for Radio Farda (RFE/RL); and $5.5 million for exchanges with Iran.|
|2009||Request was for $65 million in ESF “to support the aspirations of the Iranian people for a democratic and open society by promoting civil society, civic participation, media freedom, and freedom of information.” H.R. 1105 (P.L. 111-8) provides $25 million for democracy promotion programs in the region, including in Iran.|
|2010||$40 million requested and used for Near East Regional Democracy programming. Programs to promote human rights, civil society, and public diplomacy in Iran constitute a significant use of these region-wide funds.|
|2011||$40 million requested and will be used for Near East Regional Democracy programs. Programming for Iran with these funds to be similar to FY2010.|
|2012||$35 million for Near East Regional Democracy (NERD), and Iran-related use similar to FY2010 and FY2011.|
|2013||$30 million for NERD, with Iran use similar to prior two fiscal years. About $583,000 was obligated for Iran democracy promotion.|
|2014||$30 million for NERD. About $1 million was obligated for Iran democracy promotion.|
|2015||$30 million for NERD. About $675,000 was obligated for Iran democracy promotion|
|2016||$32 million for NERD, About $900,000 was obligated for Iran democracy promotion.|
|2017||$30 million for NERD, with Iran use likely similar to prior years.|
|2018||$15 million requested, with Iran use likely similar to prior years.|
(Sources: Information provided by US State Department and reviewed by Department’s Iran Office, February 1, 2010; State Department Congressional Budget Justifications; USAID Explorer database.)
Of course, the funding earmarked by the US to bring about changes in power equations in Iran must be much higher than what mentioned in the table above because the institutions tasked with running the regime change programs are, in fact, sponsored by other organizations as well.
Moreover, the table does not mention the budget covertly allocated by different US administrations to schemes aimed at creating unrest in Iran. Such funds are usually not mentioned in annual financial statements.
As a case in point, renowned American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh revealed in a report that the US Congress, back in 2008, gave the thumbs up to $400 million in funds requested by the administration of former US President George W. Bush to advance a secret program aimed at fueling sectarian-religious tension and bringing about a soft regime change in Iran. Bush had put forward the request in a highly confidential document dubbed the “Presidential Finding.” Naturally, the figure is not mentioned in the United States’ annual budget.
Another point is that most funds and programs allocated to regime change in Iran and mentioned by Katzman may initially seem like plans only aimed at promoting democracy, advancing human rights, and reinforcing civil institutions and NGOs. Nevertheless, a closer look at how those programs are supposed to be implemented in Iran and other countries will unmask the truth.
The so-called “Democracy Promotion” programs are, in fact, schemes launched by some “soft power” organization in the US and, as they claim, are aimed at boosting democratic institutions across the globe. They include the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), The National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the National Democratic Institute, etc.
Most of these institutions announce that they aim to contribute to humanitarian projects and the promotion of democracy. However, the programs pursued by these institutions and ostensibly aimed at promoting democracy have objectives which are direct opposite to the announced goals. Some international analysts believe the programs are, in fact, schemes aimed at bringing changes in the political systems of different countries through a soft and non-violent approach.
Accordingly, there is a lot of documented evidence that American institutions have launched programs to bring about a regime change in Iran through a soft approach.
For instance, the NED has held workshops in Dubai in recent years through one of its affiliates dubbed the International Republican Institute, teaching how to overthrow the Iranian ruling system.
Also, former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had requested $75 million in funding from Congress to launch a propaganda and media war against Iran and help dissidents inside the country.