|Iran opposes US
By Bill Samii
interest in Iranian domestic politics has
increased recently. The State Department is
looking for democratic organizations or activists
to support, and Congress is considering
legislation relating to Iran. Iranian opposition
groups, meanwhile, are soliciting US support.
Tehran does not see these developments in a
positive light and claims that the US has always
opposed Iranians' democratic efforts.
Pursuant to a US$3 million Congressional
appropriation, the US State Department is
soliciting proposals from "educational
institutions, humanitarian groups,
non-governmental organizations and individuals
inside Iran to support the advancement of
democracy and human rights", USA Today reported on
April 11, citing the State Department's Bureau of
Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. According to
the report, the US government already spends
approximately $15 million per year on
Persian-language broadcasting to Iran.
Iranian ambassador to the United Nations,
Mohammad Javad Zarif, denounced the US effort as a
violation of the Algiers Accords (which prohibit
interference in Iranian internal affairs) and
hinted at referring the US to an international
State Department spokesman
Richard Boucher said on April 11 that "none of the
activities that are mentioned in the announcement
or the [USA Today] article are inconsistent with
our commitments to the Algiers Accords", according
to the State Department website. "Supporting
democracy and human rights around the world is
something the United States does everywhere,"
Boucher said. "It's not an attempt to decide
somebody else's internal affairs."
state radio commented on April 12 that Washington
already supported "isolated and rejected groups or
elements" but that this only led to embarrassment
for the US or these groups. It added that not only
had US efforts to cause "anarchy and domestic
unrest" in Iran over the past 20 years failed, but
they had in fact caused "increased public anger
and hatred against America". The commentary
concluded, "It seems that the American officials
have thrown themselves in a fatal abyss by
financing opposition Iranian groups."
Foggy Bottom is not the only place where
people are thinking about Iran. Iran is of great
interest on Capitol Hill, too.
congressmen - Bob Filner (Democrat, California)
and Tom Tancredo (Republican, Colorado) - chaired
a April 6 Capitol Hill meeting of a think-tank
called the Iran Policy Committee, US Newswire
reported. Filner described the meeting as an
effort by the Iran Human Rights and Democracy
Caucus of the House of Representatives to learn
more about Iran and to consider ways to confront
it. Tancredo called for an end to the State
Department's designation of the Mujahideen Khalq
Organization (MKO) as a terrorist group.
Radio Farda reported that the Middle East
sub-committee of the US House of Representatives
discussed legislation relating to Iran on April 13
in Washington, DC. The Iran Freedom Support Act
(HR 282) defines its purpose as, "To hold the
current regime in Iran accountable for its
threatening behavior and to support a transition
to democracy in Iran." The legislation calls on
the White House to support pro-democracy forces
that oppose the Iranian regime.
legislation is supported by 140 members of the
House of Representatives and is stricter in some
ways than the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act of 1996.
The bill called for mandatory sanctions for those
who helped Iran's pursuit of weapons of mass
destruction, Radio Farda reported. The legislation
also said that independent expatriate Iranian
broadcasters should receive funding, and it called
for assistance to pro-democracy forces and groups
in the country.
The full International
Relations Committee now would consider the
legislation, Radio Farda reported, and if it is
adopted the entire House will debate it.
Opponents of the Iranian regime - under
the umbrella of the National Convention for a
Democratic Secular Republic in Iran - met in
Washington on April 14 to demand US support for
their activities. MKO leader Mariam Rajavi
addressed the event via a video link from France.
She is not allowed to enter the US because the MKO
is a terrorist organization. Rajavi accused the US
and European Union of appeasing the Iranian
regime, and she demanded recognition of her
cult-like group as a government-in-exile.
Several US legislators attended this
event. Representatives Filner, Dennis Moore
(Republican, Kansas), Ted Poe (Republican, Texas),
and Tancredo were there, as were staff members of
Kay Bailey Hutchinson (Republican, Texas) and
James Talent (Republican, Missouri).
surprisingly, Tehran has reacted angrily to these
developments. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei said on April 14 that US statements about
promoting democracy in Iran revealed that
Washington had a specific timetable in mind, IRNA
reported. Khamenei said anonymous "certain
individuals" should not be allowed to help what
IRNA termed an "interventionist conspiracy".
Supreme National Security Council
Secretary Hassan Rohani also spoke dismissively
about the pro-democracy initiatives in the US.
"There is sufficient democracy in Iran," he said
in an interview that appeared on the Financial
Times website late last year. "Whenever we have
wanted to extend democracy, the Americans have
Copyright (c) 2005, RFE/RL
Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio
Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW,
Washington DC 20036
All material on this
website is copyright and may not be republished in any form without written
© Copyright 1999 - 2005 Asia Times
Office: Rm 202, Hau Fook Mansion, No. 8 Hau Fook St., Kowloon, Hong
11/13 Petchkasem Road, Hua Hin, Prachuab Kirikhan, Thailand 77110