Has the U.S. Played a Role in Fomenting Unrest During Iran’s Election?


Following the announcement of victory for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over his main opponent Mir Hossein Mousavi in Iran’s presidential election on June 12, the country erupted in turmoil as supporters of Mousavi flocked to the streets to protest what they claimed was a fraudulent election, while state security and militia forces cracked down on dissenters, sometimes violently. Iran claimed that the unrest was being fueled by foreign interference, a charge reported but generally dismissed in Western media accounts. But there is ample reason to believe that the U.S. likely had a hand in fomenting the chaos that has since plagued the country many commentators have compared to the 1979 revolution that overthrew the Shah.

The role of the U.S. in overthrowing the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953 and installing the brutal regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi is by now well known. In his speech in Cairo last month, President Barack Obama even referenced the CIA-backed coup, acknowledging that “In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government.”[1]

The U.S. lost their principle ally in the Middle East, however, when the Shah was in turn overthrown as a result of the Islamic revolution that swept the country in 1979, resulting in the clerical regime that continues to this day under Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who took over the title from the leader of the revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

During the Reagan administration, the U.S. illegally sold arms to the Iranian regime even while supporting Saddam Hussein in Iraq’s devastating war against the Islamic Republic. And while neoconservatives in Washington had their eye on Iran as a target for regime change throughout the Clinton years, it wasn’t until George W. Bush came to be president that a strategy for bringing this about began in earnest. Whether the policy of regime change implemented under Bush has been quashed or continued by the administration of President Barack Obama remains to be seen, but what is incontrovertible is that the U.S. has a long and sordid history of interference in Iranian affairs.

The National Endowment for Democracy

One mechanism by which the U.S. interferes in the internal political affairs of other nations is the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a quasi-governmental agency with funding from both Congress and private individuals whose purpose is to support foreign organizations sympathetic to U.S. foreign policy goals.

NED’s website states that its creation in the early 1980s was “premised on the idea that American assistance on behalf of democracy efforts abroad would be good both for the U.S. and for those struggling around the world for freedom and self-government.”[2]

The idea behind NED was to create an organization to do overtly what the CIA had long been doing clandestinely, and the organization has developed its own history of foreign interference. “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA,” acknowledged Allen Weinstein, one of NED’s founders.[3]

In Nicaragua, for instance, the CIA provoked opposition activities in the hopes that it would prompt an “overreaction” from the Sandinista government. The NED was there, also, providing money to opposition groups while the CIA armed contra terrorists (using money from the sale of arms to Iran, incidentally).[4]

In the Bulgarian elections of 1990, NED spent over $1.5 million in an effort to defeat the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). When the effort failed and the BSP won, NED backed opposition groups that sowed chaos in the streets for months until the president and prime minister finally resigned. [5]

The NED was in Albania supporting the opposition to the communist government that was elected in 1991. Once again, turmoil in the streets led to the collapse of the government, forcing a new election in which the U.S.-backed Democratic Party won.[6]

Between 1990 and 1992, NED financed the Cuban-American National Foundation, an anti-Castro group out of Miami that in turn funded Luis Posada Carriles, a terrorist harbored by the U.S. who was responsible for the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976 that killed 73 people.[7]

NED was present in Mongolia helping to unite opposition parties under the National Democratic Union to defeat the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party that had won elections in 1992. With backing from NED, the NDU won in 1996 and U.S. media lauded the economic “shock-therapy” that the new pro-West government would implement. Under the new government, the National Security Agency (NSA) also set up shop with listening posts to spy on China. [8]

During the Clinton administration, NED was in Haiti working with the opposition to ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.[9]

And NED was in Venezuela financing the opposition to President Hugo Chavez, including groups involved in the attempted coup in 2002 that nearly succeeded in his overthrow.[10]

NED is also active in Iran, granting hundreds of thousands of dollars to Iranian groups. From 2005 to 2007, NED gave $345,000 to the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation (ABF).[11] The group claims “no political affiliation” on its website, but is named for the founder of the National Movement of the Iranian Resistance (NAMIR), an opposition group to the clerical regime founded in 1980. According to the group’s website, Boroumand was murdered by agents of the Iranian government in Paris, France, in 1991.[12] The website is registered to the Boroumand Foundation, listed at Suite 357, 3220 N ST., NW, Washington, D.C.[13]

Another recipient of NED grants is the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), which received $25,000 in 2002, $64,000 in 2005, and $107,000 in 2006. The 2002 grant was to carry out a “media training workshop” to train participants representing various civic groups in public relations. The 2005 money was given in part to “strengthen the capacity of civic organizations in Iran”, including by advising Iranian groups on “foreign donor relations.” The 2006 grant was similarly designed to “foster cooperation between Iranian NGOs and the international civil society community and to strengthen the institutional capacity of NGOs in Iran.”[14]

The group’s president is Dr. Trita Parsi, whose parents fled political repression in Iran when he was four. He studied for his Doctoral thesis at the Johns Hopkins’ School for Advanced International Studies under Professor Francis Fukuyama.[15]

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Jeremy R. Hammond

Jeremy R. Hammond is an award-winning political analyst, editor and publisher of Foreign Policy Journal, and author. His new book is Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Read the first chapter FREE at ObstacleToPeace.com! 

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  • Lex

    Wow, Jeremy. Thanks for putting all this together. Personally, i’d be quite surprised if the whole thing was called off by Obama…even if he thought about doing so. There’s simply too much bureaucratic momentum; furthermore, there are plenty of important people in the Democratic Party who surely like the idea of destabilizing Iran just fine.

  • Soran Kurdistani

    Mr. Jeremy, I think your suggestion are wrong and you are attemting to make CIA and USA Government as super power, you want to scare our people, and you want to impose your ideas on people that all changes are made with USA interference. you are totally wrong, and i do not think Iranian People are such stupid and such weak as you describe them. some times USA governemtn hires authors journalists and reaserchers to publish articles and books about USA power, and its capaibility in order to achieve its goals. Iranian People are well known for their civil upheaval, we as Iranian do not need Americans help, because well educated and we know what to do. in this writing you are trying to justify the mass killings, because the only reason regime justifies its brutal conduct with protesters is (betrayders of usa and uk). please keep it as it is, otherwise it will get worse, and such sympathies to the regime shows your hatered towards te Iranian people. America is as same as Iranian regime but in a different form and methods. So please do not advertise the ability of CIA, because we are not interested in it as Iranian people. and your second point : you are trying to say that Iranians are not such brave and pro-democracy and they have not got such power to fight the regime, you are advertising again for USA, to say that the America is backing them up otherwise they are caw is not it.
    we as Iranian could read every thing and understand sentences with several different interpretation.

    • Soran, you are right to say the Iranian people are not stupid and weak, but wrong to say I described them that way. I did not. I simply showed that U.S. interference in Iran is a documented fact and postulated that there is really no reason to believe that the U.S. effort to interfere ever stopped.

      How do you like it there in the United Kingdom?

  • ndk

    Absolutely meticulous and brilliant research! I’ve got to say, being on the receiving end of the media barrage here in the U.S., I can’t even imagine what the propaganda firehose was like in Iran.

    Our special ops forces are amazing. I think this is despicable behavior and likely to ruin Iran for generations, but if you want to protect Israel without overt force…

    What a difference between subterfuge and outright war. Germany and Japan become envies of the world, and South America is a basketcase.

  • Hi Jeremy, thanks so much for this. I feel ashamed to be an American. When I see the students out on the street, ‘for solidarity,’ and folks shouting they want a “free press,” I cringe. What was it Bob Dylam wrote? Masters of War? I cannot help but think that both the students and the government, not to mention the quislings, are only pawns in their game>

    Have you watched the complete video of the sermon/speech by the Supreme Leader?

  • Jimmy


    Your article rehashes old news about past US involvements which may or may not even be true. Thats past history though, we all know the Bush, Cheney, and the neocons have nettled into places they shouldn’t have. But we have a new President who has striken a new tone – admitted the errors of the past and vowed to change course. He is the first President ever to refer to Palestine. Still, the world is a changing and complicated place and sometimes the best US action is to not look the other way. Are you saying we should never interfere?

    More to the point:
    Are you trying to imply that these mass demonstrations against the gov’t in Iran this past week were completely fabricated events ultimately plotted by the US?

    If that is your motive, you have failed.

  • kathy, I haven’t seen it.

    Jimmy, that a strategy implemented under Bush of using propaganda and covert operations to destabilize Iran is pretty incontrovertible. As for Obama, I have yet to see evidence of him “changing course” on Iran policy other than what I said in the article, that he’s put the military option on the back burner. In answer to your question, I don’t know what you mean by “fabricated events”. They were very real events. What I suggested in the article is that the U.S., U.K., Israel, et al had a role (I focused on the U.S. role) in supporting opposition groups, broadcasting anti-regime propaganda, and engaging in covert operations, etc., all of which were likely employed to encourage Mousavi supporters to take to the streets.

  • chachi

    Is this the same Jeremy Hammond from Chicago who’s an activist and convicted felon?

  • Chris

    At this moment, this is an extremely irresponsible and academically negligent article. America’s failed policies of the past are well known, and better stated elsewhere, but this article provides no current evidence for US involvement. FPJ, and of course Hammond, should feel genuinely ashamed for writing this rubbish.

  • chachi, No.

    Chris, which part do you think is “rubbish”? I sourced every assertion made in the article. The article simply provides relevant background and asks a reasonable question.

  • Hamid Irani

    US doesn’t have the capability to influence events in Iran, let alone fomenting anything. Iranians have been on their own against the clerical regime from day one. Even now the US is sacrificing human rights and democracy for its own short-sighted interests of dialogue with the mullahs. The US misses the big picture of the regime’s unending desire and attempt to dominate and spread its fundamentally anti-democratic and totalitarian so-called “Islamic” ideology throughout the region and the world. It is in the US best interests to support internal change in Iran BY not aiding or abetting the regime through legitimizing acts such as diplomatic relations, commercial ties, etc.
    Moral support of the Iranian people’s struggle is imperative for the US to erase its past behavior in Iran. Shun diplomatic ties, apply sanctions to commercial ties, expel regime representatives and do not recognize the regime as the legitimate political representative of the Iranian nation.
    The Iranian people and the PMOI do not need the US help in terms of money or direct assistance, Just ths US’s moral obligation to shun suppression and support human rights.
    From what I know the PMOI would welcome any government in Iran that would support democracy, disband the revolutionary guards, the basij, and Iran’s hated Ministry of Intelligence, and hold free elections under UN auspices.
    No US government has ever aided the PMOI and they never will. And this is all nonesense propaganda that is totally unsubstantiated and without a shred of proof or evidence. The PMOI is an independent Iranian force and highly active and clandestine in Iran. It does not need US support nor would it accept it as far as I know.
    So I think this rubbish is really threadbare smoke screen for legitimizing the current regime and facilitating shaking the bloodstained clenched fist of the mullahs.

  • Soran Kurdistani

    Dear. Jeremy:

    USA is not partial, of course they wanted to change the regime. if log in to USA state departement official website, the state department identified the points, they have disputes over with Iranian regime, 1-2-3 is about the nuclear and terrorist funding, last one i mean fourth one is about Human Right voilation. through that it shows that if Iran agrees to the first three point, USA does not care about Human right siatuation in. it means priority for usa is to stop iran gaining nuclear weapon and make sure that Israel is safe. i will tell you some thing, none of the middle easterns theocratic regimes supported usa forgien policies as much as Iranian regime. Iranian regime makes statements and incites palestinian and Iraqis to commit sucide, and that will justifies usa presence in Middle east. if it isnt because of Iran, do you really think Arab Countires will allow USA militrary presence on their soul. after the revolution and return of Khomaini, he made some statements, which state that they are importing the revolution to other countires, few month latter Shiiat In Suadi, UEA, Qatar, Kuiat, Iraq, Egypt and etc, uprised against theocratic sunni rulers, when that happened, usa government offered arab rulers an option, either allow usa militrary presence in your country other wise i will leave to Iran. Iranian Policies are in benefit of USA directly and indirectly, USA wants its national interest. so does not care how and who will prevail its national interest.

    i do not know if you monitered Mr obamas presidential campain, Dennis ross state that Obama Administration should deal with an otomic Iranian regime. what does that means?

    in a972 Hennry Kisinger state that, USA is not such stupid to democraticise middleast with all that natural resources, usa is a friend of theocratic states and rulers, she is not friend of Middleasterns people. Democracy is parralised by usa policies, because if there be real democracy usa will lose majority of its national interest. as it happened in palestain. people voted hamas, but usa refused, and also voting does not represent a democracy because all elections in middle east are rigged and planned in advance. look at Iraq, none of western medias mention human right abuse in Iraq, but when it comes to rigged election, all medias start publishing propagandas about the rule of usa and the democracy that established in Iraq. Look at the KRG.

    who supported Islamic revolution, USA, is not it, in order to wipe the communist movement in Iran, and they knew very well how to paralise communist and socialist movement in Iran, thereofore, suported Aytollah to overthrow Shah and eliminate socialist movement in Iran.

    Saddam used Chemical weapon against Kurds in 1988, usa stated it was used by the Iranian regime, but in 2003 they stated ohhhhhhhhhh, sorry at that we were wrong it was really used by saddam. Look at Turkey, 4000 Kurdish villages were destroyed by turkish government and with mass murder of their people neither USA not UN did take any step to prevent and condenm turkish government………….as you know, USA says,,,,we have no regular friend,,,,,we have no regular enemy,,,,,but we have regular interest……….through this phrase it is very easy to analys usa policies and it outlook toward democratisation of Middle east……

    Dear Jermy you are mentioning, Suymore article in your statement, that USA is funding Kurdish political party PJAK, but you have not mentioned that USA in order to give the regime a green light to negotiate designated PJAK in terrorist list, which is not based on legal principle but it is a political decision.

    bias articles are not popular and really if you want to help people to understand usa policies you have balance every thing, not being biased or over generalization.

    I do Live in UK, and currently it is like a prison for me, because my people are being killed in streets and i can not do any thing, i fled Iran, because of that brutality because i was tortued for two years in intelligence cells and prisons.

    However, ihistory will be reapet but in negative ways, 1953 cia coup, will not occure now, because at that time there was democratic elected government and that was not in interest of usa government, but now, it is theocratic and dictatore regime. if regime changes there will be real democracy and all iranian antion will live together in peace and safely, and it is not in interest of us government, therefore it will not happen.

  • Hamid, I agree with some of the goals you outline (rights, democracy, etc.), but disagree with the means by which you suggest to achieve them (isolating Iran, sanctions, etc). I notice you’re in France, where incidentally the PMOI has had a notable presence.

    BTW, for other readers, Hamid speaks of the PMOI. For those that don’t know, that is a.k.a. the MEK, designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.

    Soran, I agree with many of your points, but don’t know of any evidence that the U.S. supported the revolution against the Shah, or that it supports the Iranian regime today. As for your suggestion that I’m biased, I’m not sure in what way you’re saying this is so.

  • Chris

    The Iranian govt is currently pursuing a very cynical strategy of playing the nationalist card by blaming the current disturbances on foreign interference in order to divert attention away from bloodshed on the streets and international critcism.

    JH then wonders why writing an article that justifies this as probably based on a correct assumption, without providing evidence, is irresponsible? Unbelievable.

    Now a historically-based analysis of why the authorities think that this strategy will resonate with sections of the Iranian public would have been of potential value. Instead, you submitted to naked sensationalism and come up with rubbish such as: “there is ample reason to believe that the U.S. likely had a hand in fomenting the chaos”.

    You would have been wiser to point out that Obama has eliminated the money for supporting civil society in Iran from his budget request.

    I’ll say it again, irresponsible and very poor reporting.

  • Chris, your suggestion that I have justified the regime in any way, shape or form is simply false. Very irresponsible of you to say otherwise, and very poor reading of what I actually wrote.

  • RobbBlack

    Jeremy does NOTHING that links the CIA to Mousavi and his movement. One could agree that yes the U.S. has made attempts in the past and possibly even up to the election to influence internal Iranian politics. But he does nothing to specifically connect the dots between the U.S. and Mousavi and the Sea of Green movement.

    I won’t even start on his neo-luddite views of Twitter and other social media. Jeremy, wake up…it is the 21st century. Get with the program and stop being a stooge of the WWP.

  • Chris

    I didn’t say you justified the regime- I said that your analysis justifies the equally unevidenced and desperately politically motivated claims of the Iranian leadership.

    You could have written a piece purely on the history of US interference in Iran, marshalling the significant evidence you sourced. You could have even gone as far as suggesting why many in Iranians would thus believe stories of US involvement in the current crisis.

    You didn’t. You brazenly claimed it is very likely that “the US had a significant role to play in helping to bring about the recent turmoil in an effort to undermine the government of the Islamic Republic.”

    Your evidence…reports on twitter.

    This was the comment of a very prominent academic colleague who has provided some of the best analysis of the current crisis: “The jump from exaggerations on Twitter to covert US manipulation is ludicrous”

  • Dr Rusty Filero

    Mr. Hammond, Thank you for your excellent article. While the so called liberal press, The Nation, Mother Jones, Z-Net, Alternet, etc. and even my buddy Michael Moore parrot the mass disinformation campaign and will obviously loose their credibility, at the end of the day your analysis will make it to the next sunrise and many more sunrises to come. Best Wishes DRF.

  • IRI

    It is unfortunate, not to mention irresponsible, that you have chosen to cherry pick facts to spread conspiracy theories. The International Republican Institute, nor its sister organization the National Democratic Institute, foment revolution or regime change in the countries where we work. IRI and NDI support and strengthen democratic institutions through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.

  • ndk

    “The International Republican Institute, nor its sister organization the National Democratic Institute, foment revolution or regime change in the countries where we work.”

    Your refutation needs work — in multiple obvious ways. At least there is no “demoncracy” in the text this time. Is it really so hard for you to find capable people?

    More remarkable yet, though, is that you came here to post a few utterly unsupported talking points in response to this meticulous research. I’d recommend either ignoring this work entirely, or dignifying it with evidence of similar caliber.

  • Chris, Let’s be clear about what you said: that I “justified” the Iranian govt blaming strife on foreign interference to divert attention from bloodshed.

    Secondly, I didn’t say it was “very likely”, I said it was “possible, even likely”. I stand by that. I would be surprised if the U.S. DIDN’T have a hand in helping to cause unrest in recent events. This is Standard Operating Procedure.

    You said my evidence is “reports on twitter”. That’s funny. Show me which of my 69 footnotes links to Twitter.


    IRI, what argument can you make that I “cherry picked” facts? If you think there are relevant facts I’ve omitted in order to deceive, let’s have them.

    Yes, I’ve put forth a theory here that would involve a conspiracy, hence a “conspiracy theory”. But a very plausible scenario, not some whacko delusion as the term so often has come to suggest.

    Last, are you denying that IRI supported groups involved in the coup attempt against Hugo Chavez in Venezuela (for instance)?

  • Chris

    Your piece made 3 or 4 assumptions that are so huge that they totally undermine some of your more admirable research on previous policies.

    1) You assume that all the newspaper reports (usually based on unknown sources) and statements by Iranian officials are true.

    2) You assume that the Obama admin’s policy in Iran has continued along exactly the same lines of the Bush admin- when the evidence so far indicates it has sought to reverse almost every aspect of it.

    You really think that the Bush admin would have refused to criticise the election or vocally associate itself with the protestors? Have you even watched the press conferences or read the statements?

    3) You assume that the US has contacts with the Mousavi based opposition (not MEK or Jondellah) and thus has the capability to cause the distruption you seem convinced it has.

    None of your 69 footnotes provide evidence for your central assertion- which is that the US is probably attempting to manipulate the current turmoil. You have gone to considerable effort in your research- but the central implication of your analysis is simply dangerous conjecture.

    It is an irresponsible piece because no where in it is there any contemplation of the very compelling reasons why the Obama administration would not pursue the strategy you claim.

  • Chris, in response to your points:

    1) False. I challenge you to quote me where I assume ANY (much less “all”) reports and statements by Iranian officials are true.

    2) False. I know of ZERO evidence of any policy reversal on Iran under Obama. Every indication is that the policy has remained the same. It’s just a more nuanced and public relations-friendlier version of it. If you know of any evidence to the contrary, you’re welcome to share it.

    3) False. Quote me where I made that assumption. I wrote how the U.S. works with opposition groups (PJAK, MEK, Jundullah, AFB, etc.). I never said anywhere in the article that the U.S. “has contacts with the Mousavi based opposition”. As for the bit about my sources not supporting the thesis, well, that’s just your opinion. My opinion is that’s nonsense. But you’re entitled to it. And if you think there are “compelling reasons” why Obama wouldn’t interfere in Iran’s foreign affairs, feel free to share them.

  • Jeremy, when I look at the amount of time you spend refuting these odious trolls, my admiration for your patience is tempered by the thought that the time taken could be spent doing more splendid, productive, informative work, like the article itself. My own blog being so tiny, I feel no duty at all to indulge trolls, government stooges and paid disinfo artists — I just spam all their comments at once.

  • Chris

    1) This article is essentially a list of newspaper articles which allege US interference in Iran. Many are based on ‘anonymous sources’ and others are simply drawn from Iranian sources.

    Central points to your analysis- that the US is fostering a ‘velvet revolution’ (fn 19), that the US is behind ‘Jondellah’ (fns 47 and 55) and that the US is involved in a cyber war (fn 56).

    All these footnotes are from Iran PressTV- which is Iranian state controlled media (did you even know that?)! You should see their coverage of the current crisis- it’s hillarious!

    This isn’t even really my beef- I too think US intelligence has probably been active in Iran during the Bush administration. I don’t think they were to the extent you seem to suggest but I thoroughly oppose the policy of supporting opposition groups and cover ops. That said, I have no doubt that Iranian intelligence has been active in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Palestine. It also has a record of executing dissidents in Europe and elsewhere.

    My main beef is that citing NED and Bush policies does not make the case for the Obama administration ordering covert manipulation of the iranian demonstrations. You don’t see able or willing to understand this…

    2). I don’t know many (in fact any) mainstream Iranian specialists who note anything like the complete continuity between Bush-Obama that you do. Certainly not Vali Nasr or Ray Takeyh- whose analysis you use to buttress your article. Nasr even works for Obama admin. Both Nasr and Takeyh spent most of the Bush admin writing op eds pleading for Bush to stop the threats and open the door for negotiations.

    Low and behold, that is what Obama has done.

    So how else is Obama different?

    1. He has reveresed the influence of Israel on US policy in Iran. Bush basically took the Likud line and accepted Israel’s version of the Iranian threat and that this would have to be dealt with before Israel moved on Palestinian issues (the so called ‘Iran first’ strategy). I have counted at least 3 or 4 public rebuffs from the Obama administration to Israel officials trying to maintain this line. Obama has made it clear that Israel must move on settlements and 2 state solution regardless of Iran.

    2. Obama has engaged with the Iranian people and the Iranian govt. Bush, in his video address, only spoke to the Iranian people and openly supported a velvet revolution.

    3. Almost all of the most influential officials in the Bush admin made it clear that they wanted to attack Iran (Cheney was desperate- still is.) Show me one member of the Obama admin with anything like this viewpoint?

    4. Bush gave billions to anti-regime groups (which you have documented). Obama has removed funding for Iranian groups from his budget.

    5. Obama has proposed cooperation in Afghanistan. Bush refused to deal with the Iranian govt. Do you even remember the McCain-Obama debates?

    6. Obama has kept his distance from the current crisis in Iran. There is no doubt that Bush would have 1) immediately called the election a fix 2) pledged his support for the demonstrators.

    Bottom line is that Obama has set the US on a course of engagement with iran which he says will not be disrupted by events Israel or the Iranian election. If you can’t see how that is a radical departure from the language coming out during the Bush admin then you are a lost cause.

    Bush’s policy = regime change, supporting opposition groups, pressure by invading neighbouring countries, no pressure on Israel and unflinching hostility.

    Obama policy= no regime change, withdrawing support for opposition groups, withdrawing from Iraq and seeking greater regional cooperation with iran, trying to establish settlement in Arab-Israel crisis to undercut Iran’s leverage on Palestinian issues, resisting Israeli pressure on Iran policy and unprecedented and open calls for engagement combined with tacit apoligies for mistakes made in the past.

    Not to mention the fact that the burden of proof lies on you. If you want to state that the Obama admin is pursuing covert ops in iran then you have to prove it. In this article, you have not even tried to.

    Now the US is not suddently going to drop its opposition to Iran’s Nuclear program or Iranian support for hamas etc. But come on- are we to suggest that there was not a massive change in Nixon’s Cold War policies because LBJ had also opposed communism and the occupation of E Europe?

    3)If you don’t think that the Obama admin has contacts with the Mousavi based opposition then why the hell are you writing an article that suggest the US is manipulating the an opposition based around Mousavi?

    Berkeley- if this is your attitude to analytical disagreement (or people who disagree with you in general) then I’m not surprised nobody reads your blog. The idea that the comments section exists simply for sychophants such as yourself to pour forth their gushing and unqualified praise shows a childlike understanding of academic dialogue. Grow up.

  • sycophants (sp.)

  • Chris

    In that case, I take it all back ;)

  • Al Magarulian


    You seem very optimistic. You seem to believe that there is some sort of US administration reset button that gets pressed whenever a new president steps into the White House. Obviously, this is not the case. Do you honestly believe that the CIA, for instance, isn’t doing the job they were asked to do? Do you think Panetta said, “Destabilizing foreign countries is mean! I don’t think the CIA should do it anymore. We need to change our image! Let’s open an orphange with the $400 million dollars we’ve been given by the government instead of fomenting dissent and conducting covert operations overseas”?

    You ask for Obama officials that actively want to attack Iran…go learn about Dennis Ross.

    You seem to believe that Obama “extending a hand” to Iran means something without any real action taken to make up for any of the myriad injustices the Iranian people have suffered to do US interference in that country. Every echelon of the Iranian government has said, for years now, that if the US changes its policies and actually presents a new approach to dealing with Iran, it will respond immediately.

    So, what’s this new approach the Obama administration has? Is it to reevaluate the billions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets or the ridiculous sanctions that have been in place for years, harming the Iranian people? Is it to say, once and for all, that threats of a military strike on Iran are finally “off the table”? Is it to admit that Iran has every single legal right to pursue a nuclear energy program and that absolutely zero evidence exists demonstrating that Iran has diverted its program to include weaponization? Has it been to stop the incessant and absurd rhetoric about Iran’s “existential threat” to Israel and its “aggressive” policies in the Middle East and finally noting that Iran has not threatened nor attacked any other countries in centuries and is constantly threatened by the US and Israel, two countries that can’t get enough of invasion and occupation?

    What’s the new approach? A cutesy video for Nouruz that repeated the same old tired lines that Bush used to say? When will Obama apologize to Iran for Iran Air Flight 655? Where’s his radical departure from previous policy?

  • Chris

    Al Magarulian,

    I fail to see what listing the injustices America has perpetrated against the Iranian nation achieves in reference to this debate. Clearly Iran’s grievances are valid, but equally clearly Obama cannot undo them.

    The point that you are spectacularly missing is that Obama has tentatively, but perceivably, established a process which could lead to the eventual normalisation of relations. This is in stark contrast to Bush, who was clumsily establishing a process towards military confrontation.

    1) If you think Obama is in a position to immediately return the assets you’re wrong. Even if he wanted, and I think he might, they are tied up in litigation of which Obama has no real ability to control.

    2) Your point about the CIA is understandable if, as I assume, you are Iranian. However, objectively, if you look at a president who channels money into regime change and encourages opponents of the regime. And then look at an admin which stops the funding and the support, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that a change of policy is occuring.

    Unlike in Iran, American elected politicians actually have the authority to change or modify their country’s foreign policies.

    3) It is grossly naive, also, to discount the ridiculously provocative and diplomatically suicidal policies of successive Iranian regimes in bringing about Iran’s international isolation. Much as it likes to blame the US (and now Britain)for all its ills…

    Let’s look, for example, at why the assets were frozen in the first place.

    4) Obama has never, as far as I know, stated that Iran has diverted its nuclear program towards weaponisation. Indeed, you say that rhetoric doesn’t matter and in the next breath start complaining about threatening rhetoric. Obama has abandoned Bush’s threats. Period.

    5) There is no scenario I can see which doesn’t involve the West eventually accepting that Iran will achieve the ability to enrich uranium for its nuclear program. Obama must realise this and hopes that engagement and easing of tensions (and thus increased transparancy) will makes this an easier realisation for the West. Regardless of whether Iran has the right to nuclear energy (it does), the prospect of Iranian nuclear enrichment provokes some anxities in the West (and indeed in the Arab world). I think the Iranian president bares considerable responsibility for increasing these anxities.

    6) Are you seriously blaming Obama for not being able to control the pronouncements of Israeli politicians? Absurd. I’d be more encouraged by the actions he’s taken to erode their influence on US policy in Iran.

    If I was Iranian I would be (conditioned to be) skeptical too- but the fact is that I’m not Iranian or American. I can only observe what I see as a genuine change of thinking in US policy in Iran. Can it make up for past mistakes, no. Can it immediately redress all grievances, no. Will it be subject to domestic pressures, yes. Has Obama shown a genuine interest in improving relations…I think the balance of evidence shows that he has.

    p.s. if you think Iran’s foreign policies have been conducive to peace in the Middle East, I would suggest you think again.

    p.p.s Yes, Ross comes from WINEAP (I have been to their offices and yes there are a lot of lunatics there). Does he set US policy, no. Also, I have it on good authority that he is genuinly supportive of Obama’s emphasis on engagement. I’d also like to see a quote stating his preference for attacking Iran.

    I can see a time when Obama will apologise for IA 655- the US has already apologised for Mossedeq 53. Can you see a time when Iran will apologise for the hostage crisis or redress the continued human rights abuses it perpetrates on its own people?

  • Al Magarulian


    “Tougher policies – either militarily or meaningful containment – will be easier to sell internationally and domestically if we have diplomatically tried to resolve our differences with Iran in a serious and credible fashion.”
    – from Ross’ just-released, “Myths, Illusions, and Peace – Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East,” co-written with WINEP fellow David Makovsky.

    …or this, from a May 24 NYT oped by former National Security Council staffers Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett:

    “Mr. Ross has long been an advocate of what he describes as an ‘engagement with pressure’ strategy toward Tehran, meaning that the United States should project a willingness to negotiate with Iran largely to elicit broader regional and international support for intensifying economic pressure on the Islamic Republic.

    In conversations with Mr. Ross before Mr. Obama’s election, we asked him if he really believed that engage-with-pressure would bring concessions from Iran. He forthrightly acknowledged that this was unlikely. Why, then, was he advocating a diplomatic course that, in his judgment, would probably fail?

    Because, he told us, if Iran continued to expand its nuclear fuel program, at some point in the next couple of years President Bush’s successor would need to order military strikes against Iranian nuclear targets. Citing past “diplomacy” would be necessary for that president to claim any military action was legitimate.

    Iranian officials are fully aware of Mr. Ross’s views — and are increasingly suspicious that he is determined that the Obama administration make, as one senior Iranian diplomat said to us, “an offer we can’t accept,” simply to gain international support for coercive action.

    Understandably, given that much of Mr. Obama’s national security team doesn’t share his vision of rapprochement with Iran, America’s overall policy is incoherent.”

    The United States has never apologized for its role in the 1953 overthrow of Mossadegh. Albright admitted US involvement and Obama recognized the same in his Cairo speech, but no apology has ever been given.

    I certainly hope that your optimism winds up being mroe accurate than my admitted cynicism. But, so far, I just hear a bunch of pretty words from Obama and don’t see much change in posture.

  • Chris,

    Re: fn 19, I simply stated that Iran had made the claim. That is a fact.

    Re: fn 47 adn 55. Fn 47 is from a Pakistani website. Press TV only carried the story from Pakistan Daily. It’s a Pakistani source, not an Iranian source, making the claim. You’re right to treat Fn 55 with skepticism. I certainly do. More to the point, you are cherry picking these two footnotes in an attempt to dismiss the charge that the U.S. supports these groups. You’re constructing a strawman that I’m relying totally on Iranian sources. This is patently absurd. You’re ignoring fn 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, and 46.

    As for policy between Bush and Obama administrations, I’ve established a pattern of behavior. It goes back well before Bush. This is SOP for USG.

    On Obama shifts in policy: 1) Incorrect. This “Iran first” concept didn’t exist during the Bush admin, it was a Netanyahu original. 2) Incorrect. This is a change in tactics, not policy. 3) Incorrect. Obama keeps the military “option” “on the table”, same as Bush did. 4) Source? 5) Bush also had cooperation from Iran on Afghanistan. Nothing new there. 6) Again, change in tactics, not overall goal. The goal is still regime change. Again, I’ve seen no evidence whatsoever that that has changed.

    The article doesn’t attempt to prove Obama is purusing covet ops in Iran. It makes the point that it’s “possible, even likely” that this is still occurring. It fits a pattern of behavior on the part of USG.

    I didn’t say I don’t think Obama has contacts with Mousavi opposition. I just said I didn’t say that in the article, which you falsely said I did.

  • It’s nice to see that there are still some journalists like you and Paul Craig Roberts ( http://www.vdare.com/roberts/090621_iran.htm ) in U.S., who do not follow the mainstream and it’s established picture of what’s going on around the world …

    Thanks Mr. Hammond !

  • D Frank Robinson

    IF the USG has a covert operation to spark a counter-revolution in Iran it appears to be running out of steam. The crowds did not crack the nerve of the security forces.

    If there is another phase in this op it may have included something like assassinating Mousavi – or faking an attempted assassination – to provoke a bigger uprising. I am skeptical that the USG has the assets to carry out an ops like in Iran that or they would have done it over the weekend. Therefore, I think the op failed – if there was one – and I agree it is likely their has been one, but it either underestimated the autonomy of the Iranian people or the USG simply blew it or BOTH.

    Jeremy, thanks for your journalism.

  • D Frank Robinson

    Corrected: I am skeptical that the USG has the assets to carry out an ops like that in Iran or they would have done it over the weekend. Therefore, I think the op failed – if there was one – and I agree it is likely there has been one, but it either underestimated the autonomy of the Iranian people or the USG simply blew it or BOTH. I doubt Obama plug the plug on the ops.

    Jeremy, thanks for your journalism.

  • DJF

    For those who say Obama has a different policy in area then Bush they just have to look at how closely Obama follows Bush policy in Iraq and Afghanistan

    In Iraq Obama wants to reduce troops to 50,000, this is what Bush wanted to do ever since the invasion of Iraq

    In Afghanistan Obama wants to “surge” US troops which is also what Bush wanted to do but could not until the surge was winding down in Iraq do to a lack of troops.

    Yet some want to pretend that Obama’s actions will be in any meaningful way different from Bush in Iran. Obama talks different from Bush but talk is cheap

  • The article asserts that “The role of the U.S. in overthrowing the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953 and installing the brutal regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi is by now well known”, and Soran Kurdistani similarly remarks “…1953 cia coup, will not occure now, because at that time there was democratic elected government and that was not in interest of usa government…”.

    There is a fundamental mistake here. Mossadegh was NOT democratically elected Prime Minister, by then. Even leaving aside the fact that Prime Minister was not a democratically elected position anyway, the fact is that he had lost democratic power when his parliamentary position broke up. Only, he refused to go, dismissed parliament unconstitutionally, and started ruling without any democratic basis. The coup that overthrew him was a two bad guys/no good guys thing.

  • Mossadegh was elected by the Majlis, the Iranian Parliament.

  • Jack

    Jeremy you are up against the Hasbara
    From The Times July 28, 2006
    Israel backed by army of cyber-soldiers
    From Yonit Farago in Jerusalem

    WHILE Israel fights Hezbollah with tanks and aircraft, its supporters are campaigning on the internet.

    Israel’s Government has thrown its weight behind efforts by supporters to counter what it believes to be negative bias and a tide of pro-Arab propaganda. The Foreign Ministry has ordered trainee diplomats to track websites and chatrooms so that networks of US and European groups with hundreds of thousands of Jewish activists can place supportive messages.

    In the past week nearly 5,000 members of the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) have downloaded special “megaphone” software that alerts them to anti-Israeli chatrooms or internet polls to enable them to post contrary viewpoints. A student team in Jerusalem combs the web in a host of different languages to flag the sites so that those who have signed up can influence an opinion survey or the course of a debate.

    Jonny Cline, of the international student group, said that Jewish students and youth groups with their understanding of the web environment were ideally placed to present another side to the debate.

    “We’re saying to these people that if Israel is being bashed, don’t ignore it, change it,” Mr Cline said. “A poll like CNN’s takes just a few seconds to vote in, but if thousands take part the outcome will be changed. What’s vital is that the international face of the conflict is balanced.”

  • Derek W. C.

    Well written article. Please don’t forget why the UK were mentioned by the Supreme Leader of Iran. The UK and the USA are trying to grandstand the international community and particularly their domestic audiences through the international media, also. They are trying to dictate the basis for international law, particularly through organizations like the UN.

    I would not pay to much heed to Chris. He refused to read all your citations and does not have much knowledge of basic operations of the CIA and some basic history.

    If it’s any help I think he’s an Australian. You can usually tell who they are by their entrenched ignorance and myopic small-mindedness. I fear for the other Australians who must surely be ruled by them.

  • Jeremy R. Hammond wrote “Mossadegh was elected by the Majlis, the Iranian Parliament”, ostensibly rebutting my comment.

    So he was, on an earlier occasion. He was then dismissed by it, as I already pointed out (this went back and forth a bit). By the time he was overthrown he was not democratically elected, and it is perpetuating a myth to claim that he was.

    • Actually, it was the Shah that to dismiss him, but he refused to abdicate, saying only the Parliament could do so. When Mossadegh announced the attempted coup against him by the Shah, the Shah fled the country to Rome. A street demonstration broke out afterward, in support of Mossadegh and opposition to the Shah, and the CIA had agent provacateurs in the crowd pretending to be Tudeh members, throwing rocks and trying to undermine the rally, the Tudeh party, and by extension, Mossadegh. The CIA also paid people to march in the streets in opposition to Mossadegh. Among other propaganda they issued was that the Shah’s order to dismiss Mossadegh had been carried out and that Fazlolah Zahedi was now the new Prime Minister. In the end, the CIA’s efforts to destabilize the Mossadegh’s government worked. The CIA-backed mob marched on Mossadegh’s house. A bloody battle ensued, and in the end Mossadegh abdicated, while the CIA brought the Shah back and then trained his SAVAK secret police force to deal with dissenters and the political opposition.

      I guess that’s what you meant by saying Mossadegh was dismissed by the Parliament.

  • RobbBlack wrote, “Jeremy does NOTHING that links the CIA to Mousavi and his movement.” That’s right, I don’t. Nor do I claim that the CIA is linked to Mousavi. So the point of the comment???

    As for his comment that I have “neo-luddite views of Twitter and other social media”, I challenge RobbBlack to quote a single statement I made that even remotely suggests I’m opposed to new media technology. Really, some of you people need to actually READ before trying to respond, because remarks like this are just asinine.

  • ChrisE


    I too was very disappointed by the appointment of Ross. However, he does not set policy and I have it on good authority that he is backing engagement.


    We clearly have different viewpoints and have both set out positions.

    1) Netanyahu opposes Obama’s policy in Iran whilst previously he sang the praises of Bush’s? That speaks volumes.

    2) So I’m expected to believe that Obama wants negotiations with the Iranian govt in order to destabalise Iran and affect regime change (as per Bush). Evidence?

    3) Where is the evidence of Obama’s sabre rattling? Clearly there is a change in tone re-threats here.

    4) I need to provide sources for things Obama hasn’t said?

    5) Obama is trying to bring Iran into a long term policy of regional cooperation in Afghanistan. Frankly, he needs to. This means joint govt-govt conferences, summits etc. Please provide me evidence that Bush pursued any similar official initiatives (rather than the very covert and limited cooperation that occured in 2001-2 when Iran was happy to see the Taliban defeated). We are talking political initiative here- not tactical (military or intelligence)

    6) the goal is regime change but you provide no evidence (and freely admit that none exists) that the Obama administration is pursuing it. Fine, what an excellent piece of journalism.

    Bottom line is that there is no new information in this article. I don’t subscribe to the position that there is a ‘standing operating procedure’ which has established a continous trajectory for US regime change in Iran for ever more. Clearly, you think that this assumption is an effective substitute for actually gathering evidence (or even rumours).

    You have obviously gone too far down the road to admit that there may be a new policy in Iran. However, within academia ( not journalism), the vast majority believe that Obama is pursuing a different strategy of normalisation- which Bush plainly did not do (and McCain explicitly said he would not do). You are the one who is isolated here.

    Derek W.C,

    Firstly, you are an arrogant and racist bigot (actually surprised your comments have not been deleted by moderators…probabaly speaks volumes). Nor am I Australian- not that nationality should influence any argument. Your deranged ramblings were, however, ample evidence of an impoverished mind. The fact that idiots like Derek oppose my point of view is actually intellectually gratifying and hugely reassuring. Never nice to be on the same side as bigots in any debate…

    • Chris,

      1) Netanyahu and Obama clearly came to an understanding on policy towards Iran in their meeting in Washington. Netanyahu backed down from demanding that there be “linkage” between the Iran issue and progress on a two-state solution, and Obama announced a deadline for progress in “diplomacy” (so-called) with Iran.

      2) Yes. I’ve written about it elsewhere. Search my articles at FPJ on Iran and you’ll find them.

      3) Where did I say Obama was “sabre rattling”? Yes, clearly there is a change in tone. A change in tone does not translate into a change in policy. The goal is the same. Only the strategy has changed.

      4) I didn’t ask you “to provide sources for things Obama hasn’t said”. I asked you to source your assertion that Obama had cut funding for Iranian opposition groups. In fact, USA Today reported that Obama was continuing funding through USAID.

      5) Obama wants Iran’s cooperation on Afghanistan. So did Bush, and he got it. I don’t know what more there is to say.

      6) Nowhere did I say that there is no evidence that the Obama administration is pursuing regime change.

      “Bottom line is that there is no new information in this article.” Yes. It’s a background piece.

      You may not “subscribe to the position” that there’s a SOP, but that remains a fact of history. I cited examples, just a tiny tip of the iceberg.

      I’m perfectly willing to accept the possibility that there may be a new policy on Iran. It’s just that so far, I’ve seen no evidence that that is the case.

      Finally, I don’t know what you’re trying to insinuate by saying that the fact I didn’t delete a bigoted comment (and, yes, it is a bigoted comment I also find repulsive) “probably speaks volumes”. I invite you to just come out and say whatever it is you’re trying to imply. Really, please do. Let’s hear it.

  • Chris

    1) Obama has not established a deadline for negotiations. In fact , he has resisted Israeli pressure to do so. I really don’t know what more to say than find me a source (cause I have no idea where you get your information from).

    Here is the text of the Obama-Netanyahu press conference:

    Q Mr. President, you spoke at length, as did the Prime Minister, about Iran’s nuclear program. Your program of engagement, policy of engagement, how long is that going to last? Is there a deadline?

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, I don’t want to set an artificial deadline. I think it’s important to recognize that Iran is in the midst of its own elections. As I think all of you, since you’re all political reporters, are familiar with, election time is not always the best time to get business done.

    Their elections will be completed in June, and we are hopeful that, at that point, there is going to be a serious process of engagement, first through the P5-plus-one process that’s already in place, potentially through additional direct talks between the United States and Iran.

    Plus, Obama very publicly gave the cold shoulder to Gabi Ashkenazi, the Israeli army chief of staff, who had travelled to the US to warn against Iran’s alleged nuclear threat.

    2) Not much I can say to that.

    3) An end in making threats means an end to an overtly threatening posture. That’s a change in policy. That is, unless you can find evidence of non public threats or covert ops. The whole point of me entering this discussion is that you can’t.

    4) You can read Timmerman’s disgust at the end of funding for opposition groups here: http://www.newsmax.com/timmerman/Obama_Democracy_Iran/2009/06/19/227155.html

    Some important information regarding the USAToday story:

    a) It is not confirmed and nor do you know what the money may be spent on.
    b) Regardless, it will NOT be used to fund Iranian opposition groups. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said, “Let’s be clear: The United States does not fund any movement, faction or political party in Iran”
    c) Even if true, a $15 million boost for the entire Near Eastern Regional Democracy Initiative (of which Iran is just a part) is token. In 2006 Congress approved $66 million just for Iran (but again, most when on Radio Farda/RFE or was returned- very little made it to Iranian groups).

    I don’t see how you think this token gesture, even if true, could be desribed as a genuine effort to change the regime.

    5) So you’re saying that one off covert intelligence sharing for very limited objectives is the same as a high level political/diplomatic initiative which draws Iran into a long term regional framework and possibly even the use of its facilities? Again, an isolated opinion but I appreciate you sticking to your guns.

    6) Then please provide sources from post January 2009.

    Simply saying something is ‘fact of history’ doesn’t win an argument. You could drive a truck through your SOP thesis- which, as I said, reduces US policy to be on a continous trajectory towards regime change for the rest of history.

    On your last point, I apologise and retract any insinuation that this is a bigotted site. It is an obviously biased one, but that is all (and we all have our own bias). I was initially surprised that such comments are allowed- but at least it stands to simply ridicule/discredit Derek publicly.

    I think I will now probably bow out of what has been an interesting and useful debate. I regret the tone of my first two posts, but considered the insinuation (without proof) that America was meddling in the current unrest highly irresponsible. I’m afraid I still feel that way. However, I also repeat my belief that the failed policies of the Bush admin (and before) deserve to be chronicled. You do a good job of doing so here.


    • Chris,

      1) You left out where Obama said: “My expectation would be that if we can begin discussions soon, shortly after the Iranian elections, we should have a fairly good sense by the end of the year as to whether they are moving in the right direction and whether the parties involved are making progress and that there’s a good faith effort to resolve differences. That doesn’t mean every issue would be resolved by that point, but it does mean that we’ll probably be able to gauge and do a reassessment by the end of the year of this approach….

      “The important thing is to make sure that there is a clear timetable of — at which point we say these talks don’t seem to be making any serious progress. It hasn’t been tried before so we don’t want to prejudge that, but as I said, by the end of the year I think we should have some sense as to whether or not these discussions are starting to yield significant benefits, whether we’re starting to see serious movement on the part of the Iranians.”

      3) I disagree on your interpretation of what constitutes policy as opposed to a strategy that is part of that policy. The Obama administration is using different tactics, but the policy remains the same. It still insists that Iran suspend enrichment, and that is the still the basis of the proposed talks.

      4) Timmerman is executive director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, a recipient of NED funding. He also wrote BEFORE the election that there was talk of a color revolution, and he said that money from NED “appears to have made it into the hands of pro-Mousavi groups”.


      a, b) The USA Today story clearly states the money will fund Iranian dissident groups, so I don’t know why you’re denying that:

      “The Obama administration is moving forward with plans to fund groups that support Iranian dissidents, records and interviews show, continuing a program that became controversial when it was expanded by President Bush.”

      c) Also, you’re wrong on where the $66 million went. In fact, the money that was CUT from the funding was money earmarked for VOA/Radio Farda. We don’t know how much made its way to opposition groups, but that part of the budget was not cut.

      You say you don’t see how support for dissident groups “could be described as a genuine effort to change the regime.” Well, sure, taken alone. The U.S. also had a policy of regime change in Iraq. Part of the policy included funding dissident groups. I documented other cases in my article. Just a tiny sampling, the tip of the iceberg.

      d) I don’t know where you’re getting this idea about the level of cooperation Obama wants with Iran on Afghanistan. What I’ve seen proposed wouldn’t be much different than the cooperation Bush sought. The use of Iran’s facilities? By the U.S.? Source, please?

      6) What post?

      So, just to be clear, you deny that the U.S. has repeatedly sought regime change in other countries, and in many cases succeeded, including through interference in elections? Do you want more examples than the ones already listed? I’ll give you a whole book. Read “Killing Hope” by William Blum. Or “Legacy of Ashes” by Tim Wiener.

      This kind of activity is SOP. I’ll say it again: That’s a fact of history.

      It’s very possible that the U.S. interefered in Iran. I fail to see how acknowledging that very plausible scenario is “highly irresponsible”. I think it’s highly irresponsible that journalists with more resources than I haven’t investigated that question. I simply don’t have the resources to do so properly, but it’s a good question and it deserves investigation. All I did with my article was raise the question and bring the topic to the table for discussion and investigation. Nothing more.



    John Chuckman

    A recent article called “Ahmadinejad Won, Get Over It” by Flynt and Hillary Leverett is not the only source with serious credentials offering reasonable, non-sensational explanations for events around Iran’s presidential election.

    Kaveh Afrasiabi, a scholar who once taught at Tehran University and is the author of several books, says many of the same things.

    Close analysis of the election results gives absolutely no objective basis for making charges of a rigged election. Mousavi’s expected win – expected, that is, by the Western press and by Mousavi himself – never had any basis in fact.

    Afrasiabi also tells us that Ahmadinejad is extremely popular with the poor in Iran, a very large constituency, and he tells us further that Ahmadinejad spent a great deal of time traveling through the country during his first term listening to them. Ahmadinejad is himself a man of fairly humble origins with a good deal of genuine sympathy for the poor.

    Of course, the public in the West has been treated to a barrage of propaganda about Ahmadinejad, conditioned by countless disingenuous stories and editorials to regard him as the essence of evil, ready to stir up trouble at a moment’s notice. These perceptions, too, have no basis in fact.

    Ahmadinejad is a highly educated man, ready and willing to communicate with leaders in the West, although given to poking fun at some of the shibboleths we hold to. His office as president is not a powerful one in an Iran where power is divided amongst several groups, just as it is in the United States. He has no war-making power.

    Even his infamous statement about Israel – mistranslated consistently to make it sound terrible – was nothing more than the same kind of statement made by the CIA in its secret study predicting the peaceful end of today’s Israel in twenty years or the statement by Libya’s leader, Gaddafi, saying Israel would be drowned in a sea of Arabs. Unpleasant undoubtedly for some, the statement was neither criminal nor threatening when properly understood.

    The post-election troubles in Iran definitely reflect the interference of security services from at least the United States and Britain. We have several serious pieces of evidence.

    First, Iran discovered and arrested just recently a group with sophisticated bomb equipment from Britain. They were caught red-handed, although our press has chosen to be pretty much silent on the matter. Of course, we all recall the arrest of a group of fifteen British sailors a couple of years ago, an event treated in our press as the snatching of innocents on the high seas when in fact they were on a secret mission in disputed waters claimed by Iran.

    Robert Fisk recently wrote an excellent piece about photocopies of what purported to be a confidential official government report to the head of state, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, regarding the election results. It attributed a ridiculously small share of the vote to Ahmadinejad and was somehow being waved by Mousavi’s followers all over the streets. It seems clearly invented as a provocation, much in the fashion of the famous “yellow cake” document before America’s invasion of Iraq.

    We know that Bush committed several hundred million dollars towards a program creating instability in Iran and that Obama has never renounced the operation.

    Iran, surrounded by threatening enemies and the daily recipient of dire threats from Israel and the United States, has absolutely no history of aggression: it has started no conflicts in its entire modern era, but naturally enough it becomes concerned about its security when threatened by nuclear-armed states.

    Such threats from the United States are not regarded idly by anyone, coming as they do, from a nation occupying two nations of Western and Central Asia, a nation whose invasions have caused upwards of a million deaths and sent at least two million into exile as refugees.

    It is a nation moreover that definitely threatened, behind the scenes, to use nuclear weapons against Afghanistan immediately after 9/11, helping end that threat being one of the main reasons for Britain’s joining the pointless invasion in the first place.

    In assessing the genuine threats in the world, please remember what we all too often forget: the United States is the only nation ever actually to use nuclear weapons, twice, on civilians. It also came close to using them again in the early 1950s hysteria over communism – twice, once against China and once in a pre-emptive strike at the Soviet Union – and again later considered using them in Vietnam.

    As for the other regular source of threats against, Israel, it is a nation which has attacked every neighbor that it has at one time or another. In the last two years alone, it has killed more people in Lebanon and Gaza than the number who perished in 9/11. It is also a secret nuclear power, having broken every rule and international law to obtain and assist in proliferating nuclear weapons.

    Of course, there are many middle class people in Iran who would like a change of government. Such yearnings are no secret and exist everywhere in the world where liberal government is missing, including millions of Americans under years of George Bush and his motivating demon, Dick Cheney.

    But saying that is not the same thing as saying that a majority of Iran’s people want a change in government or that the election was a fraud.

    And remember, too, Iran had a democratic government more than half a century ago, that of Mohammed Mosaddeq, but it was overthrown in 1953 and the bloody Shah installed in its place by the very same governments now meddling in Iran, the United States and Britain.

  • Mostafa

    We saw two FBI s officers who had interviews with CNN just few days back which very clearly admitted that they have their agents and spies in Iran and are active despite officially they cant come to Iran in answering to the question of the host, And Obama said the protestors that we support you and keep going on your fight,just one month before the election Obama supports Iranians nuclear program in Cairo where there has been too much protests against the present government, and suddenly the motto of CHANGE is getting back to Bush ‘s policies, How come do we say that there is no involvement of US in the recent protests, I v been seeing the protests closely and you could easily realize how the mottos were organized and how people were inviting the street crossers to join them, US, Britain , Italy, Germany were involved during the crises, how funny the opposition leader (Mousavi)is suggesting Ahmadinejad that each candidate to takes his fan and supporters out in a separate area in Tehran and see who has more supporters and then changing the result as per the figures,
    Mousavi is just saying there has been fraud with bringing no proof or evidences or even complaining to the Guardian Council,Most of you are out of Iran and just seeing the BBC,CNN,FOX NEWS, and …..but we are here in Tehran and see what s going on, how some abusers are attacking to the shops and ordinary people and killing the innocents people, Who is Iran ‘s biggest Enemy? You very well know and why US is supporting it just like Iraq during imposed war against Iran after the revolution. So please please think twice

    • Got a link? This assertion (re: FBI spies in Iran) isn’t credible. The FBI is a law enforcement, not an intelligence/spy agency. That aside, if you’ve got information from Iran you’d like to share, please do so (either here in the comments, or email me privately).

  • Jeremy R. Hammond wrote “Actually, it was the Shah that to dismiss him [Mossadegh], but he refused to abdicate [sic], saying only the Parliament could do so. When Mossadegh announced the attempted coup against him by the Shah… I guess that’s what you meant by saying Mossadegh was dismissed by the Parliament.”

    If you wish to make that quibble, no doubt from unfamiliarity with the Westminster System of parliamentary government, then by the same reasoning he never had been democratically elected in the first place, even indirectly by the parliament, but only ever appointed by the Shah.

    For the benefit of other readers, here is how it works. Parliament is elected democratically. Within that, someone emerges who can obtain a working majority, and approaches the Head of State to say so; this happened to Mossadegh. The latter then appoints him to be Head of Government (Prime Minister) and nominees from his team to other ministerial positions. As, when and if he can no longer command that working majority, the Head of State dismisses him; this happened to Mossadegh. At that point another may emerge with a working majority and the process repeats, or not, and the Head of State dismisses that parliament and calls for further elections to get a new one. Formally, only he can do this.

    Mossadegh was lying in his claim that only the parliament could dismiss him. In any case, it was in no position to issue any statement calling for his dismissal, over and above its removal of his working majority, because he had promptly, unlawfully, unconstitutionally and undemocratically dismissed it by force majeure, although only the Head of State had the proper authority to do so, in the circumstances outlined above, and had not in fact done so.

    Mossadegh was properly and duly dismissed by the parliament, through the same formal and indirect channels by which he had come to power – but instead of going he made himself a dictator. The only failing in the counter-coup was not that it went through improper channels (given that proper channels had been suppressed) but that, instead of reinstating proper channels and getting democracy going again the Shah became a dictator himself. There is clearly a pattern here of perpetuating a myth in favour of Mossadegh, but it was a situation with no good guys.

    • Mossadegh was elected by the Majlis. I fail to see how any logic I employed could lead one to another conclusion.

      You say under the Westminster System, the head of state could legally dismiss the Prime Minister. Did Iran have a Westminster System of parliamentary government? Not according to this Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westminster_system. Perhaps there’s been an omission there.

      He was elected by the Parliament. He resigned, but was then reappointed by the Shah (hypocritically accepting the Shah’s dismissal of Ahmad Qavam while later protesting the Shah’s power to do this). The Majlis then tacitly confirmed that reappointment by granting Mossadegh emergency powers. Under pressure from the U.S., the Shah then tried to dismiss him. I question your assertion that this was legal. It was not the Parliament that attempted to dismiss him, but the Shah. To say it was the Majlis that dismissed him is simply false.

  • Jeremy R. Hammond wrote “Mossadegh was elected by the Majlis. I fail to see how any logic I employed could lead one to another conclusion.”

    As a matter of historical fact, that was not the case, except in the indirect manner I outlined. It is not your logic that is at fault here, but the selective omission of historical facts.

    “Did Iran have a Westminster System of parliamentary government? Not according to this Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westminster_system“.

    The wikipedia list is not exhaustive. Iran then had a system on that general model. In the relevant aspects, it was set up as I described. You may find it more helpful to refer to http://www.worldstatesmen.org/Iran_const_1906.doc which was in effect at the time, linked from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iranian_Constitution_of_1906 (particularly note articles 4.46 and 4.67, read together, which support the idea that the approach was broadly a Westminster System in the relevant respects).

    “The Majlis then tacitly confirmed that reappointment by granting Mossadegh emergency powers. Under pressure from the U.S., the Shah then tried to dismiss him. I question your assertion that this was legal. It was not the Parliament that attempted to dismiss him, but the Shah. To say it was the Majlis that dismissed him is simply false.”

    This is itself false, not simply but by omission: the omission of the facts I described earlier, that he lost his working majority in the Majlis before the Shah dismissed him on the occasion when he refused to go, and that that was how the system was supposed to work. Compare and contrast this with the Whitlam dismissal crisis here in Australia, if you like.

  • Chris


    I haven’t got a time to go into yet another lengthy point by point rebuttal but I wish to draw attention to something I have just been sent by Richard Sale (Middle East Times Intelligence Correspondent).

    “President Obama cancelled any covert action operations against Iran soon
    after he came to office, but Farsi anti-regime propaganda programs are
    still ongoing.”

    So basically money remains for Radio Farda. A good use of money, maybe not. A policy of regime change…clearly not. Ending covert ops not a change in policy…give me a break.

    By all means continue, however, to insist that those who doubt that current policy in Iran is regime change via covert of operations are ‘denying facts of history’. Clearly most of the eminent specialists of the region (on both sides of the political divide) are in need of your re-education. I would suggest, however, that you don’t admit to not having enough time or resources to answer your own question before you try and convince anyone.

    Sensible journalism requires more than reductionist arguments or unevidenced conjecture. This is especially the case when people’s lives are being lost and the people killing them are essentially using similar arguments (I don’t for a second think you trying to justify the Iranian govt). However, you only need to look at Mostafa’s comments to see why this article is irresponsible.

    It is pretty ironic if Mostafa thinks that his govt is not feeding him much more biased and manipulated information than he alleges we are only reading in the West!

    • I’d like to know what evidence Sale knows of that Obama “cancelled any covert action operations against Iran soon after he came to office”. It’s possible that’s the case. But his remark that anti-regime propaganda operations continue clearly reflects a policy of regime change.

      As for your “give me a break” remark, when did I ever say ending covert ops would not reflect a change in policy? I said the rhetoric about diplomacy isn’t evidence of a change of policy, and the U.S. position demanding Iran end enrichment is precisely the same as it was under Bush.

      Also, when did I ever say that those who doubt current U.S. policy is regime change via covert are “denying facts of history”. What I said was a fact of history is that the U.S. has a long history of employing such means as I’ve outlined to implement policies of regime change.

      You’re rather fond of these strawman arguments.

      Why would you suggest I not admit to not having time and resources? I don’t have time and resources. Should I pretend otherwise? I run FPJ in my spare time. It doesn’t pay the bills. I do the best I can with what I have, but what I have is limited. My goal with this article was to do what I can to help lay out some relevant background and bring the possibility to the table for discussion. I’ve accomplished that goal (and you are evidence of that).

      I disagree with your opinion that it’s “irresponsible” to point out these facts of history and based on this clear modus operandi theorize the possibility of U.S. involvement in this case.

      I presume you mean “Mousavi”. Not “Mostafa”.

      The bottom line is that you dismiss the possibility and I do not. You’re entitled to your opinion. I’m entitled to mine. You want to make suggestions to me; I have one for you. Try to refrain from telling people voicing their opinions is “irresponsible”. It’s what people do in a free society.

  • chris

    I would say that the most of Iran’s state run media runs anti-US/UK propaganda. Are we to now believe that this is part of a coherent strategy to bring down Western governments? You cannot tell the difference between public diplomacy (even misguided PD) and regime change? The US broadcasts foreign language programs all over the world- is it policy to bring down all these govt?!!

    Would the US, in an ideal world, prefer Iran to not be ruled as it is now. Sure. The reality is that the US admin doesn’t think it can change the regime using TV broadcasting!! It may think it can try and draw the attention of iranians to possible injustices and may even challenge some of the negative portrayals of America inside Iran. It probably won’t achieve this either with TV broadcasts. But it may think it is worth a try. This, and not regime change, is the more plausible aim.

    You also fail to contemplate that changing policy in Iran faces enormous resistance from sections inside America and Israel. It is very probable that Obama is throwing a token gesture towards the right as a tactic to undermine opposition to his overall policy of engagement.

    You have indeed accomplished your goal of promoting debate. But I simply don’t think that was your only goal.

    No, I meant Mostafa. A recent contributor on this page who clearly buys the unsubstantiated claims of his govt that the US, Britain , Italy and Germany are organising the unrest in Iran. The Iranian authorities clearly do this to play the nationalist card and justify their increasingly repressive crack down on the protestors. Now if we are insisting on SOPs, Iranian authorities attacking dissent by linking it to foreign interference is the dictionary definition of a SOP.

    There is responsible journalism and there is irresponsible journalism. One can be applauded and the other can be criticised (depending on your point of view). I don’t think notions of freedom have anything to do with this observation and I don’t deny your right to your own conjecture. Personally, however, I favour sober analysis and hard facts when interpreting current events.

    • If Iran broadcasted anti-US propaganda into the United States, yes you could probably make a safe bet that it was part of a larger strategy to affect regime change.

      I really don’t know what you find so ridiculous or implausible about my saying U.S. policy towards Iran is one of regime change. I should think that’s hardly a controversial observation. As you said, “Would the US, in an ideal world, prefer Iran to not be ruled as it is now. Sure.” Well, there you have it.

      I should hope the administration recognizes broadcasting propaganda by itself won’t bring about regime change. It would be a shame if we had another administration as out of touch as the “we’ll be greeted with flowers” neocon crowd. I don’t the Obama’s team is that stupid or naive.

      I agree completely with your point about Iran’s SOP. I’d only add that while we should be extremely skeptical of such claims, neither should we dismiss the possibility that they may actually be correct. After all, as I’ve shown (with sober analysis and hard facts), they would have been correct to do so on many counts in the past.

  • chris

    There is an obvious difference between desiring regime change and trying to affect it.

    There is an equally obvious difference between deploying propaganda/public diplomacy and actively and realistically pursuing regime change.

    I find it ironic that ‘probably’ ‘possibly’ and ‘safe bets’ are all fine when ascribing US interference.in Iran. Would you accept a similar standard of proof from the US in relation to Iran’s ambitions to develop nuclear weapons? I certainly wouldn’t.

    I do not dismiss entirely such claims. I remain so skeptical, however, that I would have to see serious and compelling evidence before I entertained writing an article that states it is ‘possibly, even likely, true’. If I did see proof it would be irresponsible for me NOT to write an article about it.

    • Well, hopefully by writing this article and bringing people’s attention to the U.S. role and it’s SOP for dealing with regimes consider unfriendly to perceived U.S. interests, more people will discuss it and investigate it and we’ll be able to answer the question one way or the other. That’s the whole point, Chris.

  • V. Bidar

    I am a student living in Tehran.
    I took part in most of protest.
    Nobody, No man, No country made me to this. I did it because I am not satisfied with our government. I did it because I am sure the result of election is not true, it dramatically ended in fraud.
    Every time we show our opposition by demonstration or other kinds of peaceful protest the religious governors say that USA and UK are behind these protests. I am sad about it. I am angry of these lies. Because I am one of the people and I know that we protest by ourselves. No one triggers us. No theory and no political analysis is needed to discover the truth. The truth is that a high percent of Iranians hate the current establishment governing over the country.
    Please understand our situation.

    • V. Bidar, nowhere in my article did I suggest that the U.S. made you and other Iranians protest. What I the U.S. likely did, if it was involved, was help spread propaganda about the “fraudulent” elections (there’s still no hard evidence of this), and possibly run covert ops such as sending agent provactateurs in which the legitimate protesters to stir up trouble and provoke a violent response from security services. These kinds of activities would be right out of the U.S. playbook.

      There’s been a tendency not only among the mainstream, but also among bloggers, to dismiss this possibility. My article was merely a response to that, intended merely to say that it’s entirely plausible this might have occurred.

  • Curiously, my full reply has been removed. As I suspected this might happen, I kept a copy. Here it is again, on the off chance it will survive this time:-

    Jeremy R. Hammond wrote “Mossadegh was elected by the Majlis. I fail to see how any logic I employed could lead one to another conclusion.”

    As a matter of historical fact, that was not the case, except in the indirect manner I outlined. It is not your logic that is at fault here, but the selective omission of historical facts.

    “Did Iran have a Westminster System of parliamentary government? Not according to this Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westminster_system“.

    The wikipedia list is not exhaustive. Iran then had a system on that general model. In the relevant aspects, it was set up as I described. You may find it more helpful to refer to http://www.worldstatesmen.org/Iran_const_1906.doc which was in effect at the time, linked from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iranian_Constitution_of_1906 (particularly note articles 4.46 and 4.67, read together, which support the idea that the approach was broadly a Westminster System in the relevant respects).

    “The Majlis then tacitly confirmed that reappointment by granting Mossadegh emergency powers. Under pressure from the U.S., the Shah then tried to dismiss him. I question your assertion that this was legal. It was not the Parliament that attempted to dismiss him, but the Shah. To say it was the Majlis that dismissed him is simply false.”

    This is itself false, not simply but by omission: the omission of the facts I described earlier, that he lost his working majority in the Majlis before the Shah dismissed him on the occasion when he refused to go, and that that was how the system was supposed to work. Compare and contrast this with the Whitlam dismissal crisis here in Australia, if you like.

    • Your responses were automatically marked as spam, probably because of having 3 links. Good you kept a copy.

      Please source your claim that Mossadegh was legally dismissed by the Majlis BEFORE the Shah issued his order of dismissal.

  • Jewel

    Seriously….you should read this from someone who’s actually BEEN TO IRAN and researched/knows its people and history!!!

    Elementary info on Iran: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/08/iran-archaeology/del-giudice-text

    Elementary evidence of fraud:

    Let’s hope Mousavi provides you with the rest.

    Fortunately we as Iranians don’t need foreign intervention to tell us what’s good for us. We have quite a bit more intelligence and capability than that, thank you very much.

  • shame on you does not mind

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  • Asghar

    I’m an electronics engineer in Tehran,
    26 years old.

    I’m sure there was no effective fraud in election.
    Also I participated in most of protests. Real Protests against the regime in Iran are not more than 3 millions but also are less. There was some strikes during the days after the election, especially the 30 Tir strike and trying to blackout the country in that time (July,21) by using high power devices such as iron at 21 o’clock. It was possible in Iran (at middle of summer) if at least 3 millions of people was doing this job. Although there was a lot advertisements for it during 2weeks before 30 Tir, But no type of blackout happened!!

    As I searched and fund out the green revolution is going on. But the certain fact is that Ahmadinejad is the real winner of the election with no effective fraud. the fraud (if there has been existed) can not be more than 1.5 million votes.

  • thomas

    WOW…..What an article…..especially in this time of two paragraph news stories !!!

    Jason Ditz @ antiwar.com… E.G. Thank You Very much for this comprehensive piece.. Also thank you for the ability to comment,,,,,,,, It keeps things HONEST..

  • I think that U.S did it. Nobody can play a role in an democratical election!

  • hey i don,t know so many facts but if miss rice(condi)asked congress for more money on top of 10 million dollers to spend it on the scolers and studends of iran,think why would they spend so much money on other nation obevious for their intrests which is obviously to safe isriel.people look the history of usa of interfering with other countries elections.usa would never listen untill she also disintregrate like ussr.

  • Habib

    I am interested to know wether Mr. Hammond thinks that the recent events in Iran with the death of Grand Ayotallah Montaziri and the resurgence of mass protests against the regime would lead him to re-evaluate his analysis on the Iranian crisis. I am also interested to know what he thinks the position of the left should be on the Iranian Crisis now.

    • I am interested to know wether Mr. Hammond thinks that the recent events in Iran with the death of Grand Ayotallah Montaziri and the resurgence of mass protests against the regime would lead him to re-evaluate his analysis on the Iranian crisis.

      I don’t know that “mass protests” is accurate. The answer is “no”. I don’t see any reason why recent events with the death of Montazeri should cause me to reevaluate my analysis. If you think there is a reason it should, I welcome you to explain it.

      I am also interested to know what he thinks the position of the left should be on the Iranian Crisis now.

      I find it interesting you specifically ask about “the position of the left”. What, should the position of “the left” be different than the position of “the right”? I don’t understand or relate to the assumption here, so I’ll ignore that and just speak to what I think the position of Americans should be: I think Americans should respect Iranian sovereignty and their right to self-determination and not interfere in Iranian affairs.

  • Pres-Obama back-peddling on statement and promises such as ‘peace talks’ with Iran tell a story of many US-Gov foreign policies concerning Iran that go back at least to 1953 when the Iran-Gov was first overthrown (CIA-AJAX).

    Geo. Bush and US-Congress passing funding for the overthrow of the Iran-gov is at least suspicious. That the covert “Nat’l Endowment for Democracy” was involved agai) covertly (see the attempted overthrow of Hugo Chavez of Venezuela) leaves little to the imagination.

    At best this is similar to US-TV drama and replay of 9-11 (Chile in Sept 11, 1973), the only surprise is Pres-Obama going back on essentially all of his canvassing statement and promises.

  • Thanx, this answered a question! x

  • Jacky

    zionist lies, propaganda, warmongering have been the technique of the zionist regime since 1948. GO IRAN!

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