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Iran

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."

Iran was characterized by President George W. Bush in his January 29, 2002, State of the Union address as one corner in the axis of evil which also included Iraq and North Korea. [1]

"States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world," Bush stated. "By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States."

Regime Change in Iran

History

Iran is no stranger to U.S. meddling and threats and double-dealing, however they did not always see America as being subversive to their needs. At the end of WWII, Iranians were tiring of the British completely controlling their oil supply and subugating workers to a miserable degree. With all the self-determination talk at the end of the war and America's reputation for freedom, Iran looked to the U.S. as an example of self-reliance.

The Iranians eventually elected Mohammad Mossadegh over the United States administration's puppet Mohammad Reza Shah. Mossadegh's first move was to nationalize the oil reserves in the country, effectively driving the British out. This frightened Western powers who, overwhelmed with paranoia, thought the Iranians were going to be dominated by Soviet influence. Although there seems to be little reason the U.S. could not have had diplomatic ties with the newly self-determinate people of Iran, they went ahead and pulled off a coup that upset Mossadegh from power within a year of his election. [2]

The military aid and US trained military personnel supplied around this period (1950-1975) was high at $1.4125bn and 10,807, with only Greece ($2.8bn, 14,144), South Korea ($6.5bn, 32,479) and South Vietnam ($16.5bn, 35,788) receiving more.

The Shah was reinstalled and he reigned for twenty-five years with the assistance of the wealthy, mighty U.S. and of his secret police, who employed torture on an administrative basis, having been trained by the CIA.

This was the first CIA coup of a democratically elected government and would serve as the blueprint for further nations seeking to chart a path of economic independence.

When Khomeni came into power in 1979, principally because of the terrible neglect by the Shah of his people, the U.S. began aiding their neighbor, Iraq, with weapons and encouraging war between the two. Both sides were aided during this eight year bloodbath and chemical soup with weapons from Western powers, however never enough to allow a decisive victor. When Saddam Hussein's army got too large and the instability in the Gulf created by this war was no longer beneficial, the U.S. shot down an Iranian passenger plane killing all 290 people aboard. Although this is not the official reason for the downing of the plane, Iran took it as a message to consider alternatives to the Iran-Iraq War. Many hundred thousands on both sides, and Kurdish, lost their lives during this war.

Iran backed a number of foreign paramilitary organizations during the 1980s and 1990s, which operated as proxies. Among them was the Supreme Council for Revolution in Iran and the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain.

Note: Source unknown.

U.S. State Dept To Splurge on Persian Media: Iran-Syria Operations Group

On February 15, 2006, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asked Congress "to provide $75 million in emergency funding to step up pressure on the Iranian government." If granted, the request would increase to $85 million the 2006 budget "to promote political change inside Iran," up from $3.5 million last year. $50 million would be used to "significantly increase Farsi broadcasts into Iran, mainly satellite television broadcasting by the federal government and broadcasts of the U.S.-funded Radio Farda." Another $5 million "will be aimed at reaching the Iranian public through the Internet and building independent Farsi television and radio stations." $15 million "would go to Iranian labor groups, human rights activists and other groups, generally via ... groups such as the National Endowment for Democracy," Ewen MacAskill and Julian Borger reported February 16, 2006, in The Guardian (UK).

National Endowment for Democracy funding

According to the National Endowment for Democracy's online Democracy Projects Database the following Iranian groups have received grants from the NED since 1990:

The 2003 Bam Earthquake

On January 1, 2004, the Associated Press reported that there had been a slight shift in policy:

"The Bush administration is easing restrictions on exports and private assistance to Iran in response to the country's devastating earthquake... Blanket licenses are being issued to permit American firms and individuals to transfer funds to Iran to be used in relief and reconstruction programs, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control announced. For a 90-day period that began last Saturday, Americans are being allowed to contribute to private organizations - but not to suspected financiers of terrorism - under the program. Currently it is illegal to transfer funds to Iran because of sanctions on Tehran, dating to 1979. The result is individual licenses for exceptions to the rule have been required, and that can be a time-consuming process, a senior U.S. official said. Under the shift, additional licenses will be issued to enable the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to export to Iran items needed for the management of the relief effort, the State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said. These include such usually controlled items as transportation equipment, satellite telephones and radio and personal computing systems, Ereli said in a statement. Donations of humanitarian relief items such as food, certain medicines, clothing and tents do not require a license." [3]

The January 1, 2004, Sydney Morning Herald reported that "The move, the latest in series of US outreach efforts to its longtime foe, will allow US employees of US NGOs to travel to Iran and spend US currency there without special permission from Washington, the officials said. ... In addition, the decision is expected to include a temporary waiver on a requirement for a licence for NGOs to bring medicine and certain medical equipment into Iran, the officials said. ... Under current regulations, overseen by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), such actions are now illegal without federal approval and punishable by hefty fines."

Current rules "allow US NGOs to operate in Iran only if they are they are engaged in 'certain humanitarian activities in and around Iraq', according to OFAC." [4]

"Officials have said the death toll from one of the worst disasters of recent decades may climb to 50,000 and most rescue teams have already abandoned the search for survivors."*mdash;Independent (UK), January 1, 2004.

Related SourceWatch Resources

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Articles & Commentary

2003

2004

  • "Survivors pulled alive from Bam quake zone," Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), January 1, 2004.
  • James Astill and David Pallister, "Plea for Bam rescuers not to fly home," Guardian Unlimited (UK), January 1, 2004: "Rescue teams now leaving Bam were implored to stay by the Red Crescent's senior official in the city yesterday, because he believes up to 1,000 people could still be buried alive. ... In a rebuke to the United Nations' strategy of redirecting resources to relief work, Jalil Tabatabaei said last night: 'These [UN] officials think everyone is dead because they have no experience [of earthquakes]. On my calculations, I am sure 1,000 trapped people are still alive; we will find many people over the next six days. The rescue teams have to keep going with all technical capabilities for at least 10 days after the earthquake.'"
  • "Eleven more survivors pulled from rubble in Iran," ABC News (Australia), January 1, 2004.
  • "Aftershocks strike fear into Iran quake survivors," ABC News (Australia), January 1, 2004.
  • Angus McDowall, "US rescue team in Iran becomes the new face of detente," Independent (UK), January 1, 2004: "Unlike the other camps in the international compound at Bam, no flag flutters above the United States base. Instead a modest Stars and Stripes is attached primly to the roof of a tent. ... Swarms of journalists milled about but a distinctly apolitical spin is being put on a seminal moment: the first US government presence in Iran since Shah Reza Pahlavi was toppled in favour of Ayatollah Khomeini 25 years ago."
  • "US eases Iran sanctions," ABC News (Australia), January 1, 2004.
  • James Astill, "Small US hospital makes big impact on Iran," Guardian Unlimited (UK), January 2, 2004.
  • Steven R. Weisman, "Iran Turns Down American Offer of Relief Mission," New York Times, January 3, 2004: "Iran has rebuffed an offer from the United States to send a delegation led by Senator Elizabeth Dole to assist in the distribution of relief supplies to earthquake victims in Bam, the Bush administration said Friday. ... Administration officials said Tehran cited the overwhelming difficulties facing relief workers in the ancient city of Bam in southeastern Iran as the reason it could not accommodate the American offer now. The officials did not rule out the possibility of a future visit, however."
  • "We can't prove Iran-Sept 11 link: CIA," Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), July 19, 2004: "About eight hijackers passed through Iran before the September 11 attacks on the United States, but Washington has no evidence that Tehran sanctioned the strikes, the acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency said."

2005

2006

2007