FEATURE: Bush administration strengths the regime they oppose

Meddling aggressively in Iran

Covert action to undermine the Tehran regime has already been under way intermittently for the past decade. Until now, however, the CIA has operated without a finding (authorisation for covert action) by using proxies. Pakistan and Israel, for example, provide weapons and money to insurgent groups in southeast and northwest Iran, where the Baluch and Kurdish ethnic minorities, both Sunni Muslim, have long fought against the repression of Shia-dominated Persian regimes.

The presidential finding [in April] was necessary to permit accelerated non-lethal activities by US agencies. Besides expanded propaganda broadcasts, a media disinformation campaign and the use of US and European-based Iranian exiles to promote political dissent, the programme focuses on economic warfare, especially currency rate manipulation and the disruption of Iran’s international banking and trade.

Although the finding was nominally secret, it did not stay secret for long after it was reported to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, as required by law.

On a recent visit to Tehran, everyone was talking about it, and both conservatives and reformers agreed that it came at an unusually damaging moment of genuine opportunity for cooperation with the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan. Senior officials in the foreign ministry, the National Security Council, the office of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and pro-government think tanks all said that stability in Iraq and Afghanistan is in Iran’s interest. Cooperation with the US is possible, they said, but only in return for a gradual accommodation between Washington and Tehran, starting with a complete cessation of covert and overt regime change policies.

“The United States is like a fox caught in a trap in Iraq,” said Amir Mohiebian, editor of the conservative daily Reselaat. “Why should we free the fox so he can eat us? Of course, if the US changes its policy, there is scope for cooperation.” [complete article]

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