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    Middle East
     Jul 6, 2005
SPEAKING FREELY
The American hand in Iran
By Trish Schuh

Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing.

Like the color-coded terror alert system, the technicolor "velvet invasions" blink a warning. Despite receiving an ugly bruise in Uzbekistan, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)and its non-governmental organization (NGO) regime-change industry hope to stage another cardboard coup in Iran. But it could be a black and blue revolution.

Citing a "mission accomplished" in Iraq, President George W Bush told 25,000 soldiers in Fort Hood, Texas: "The establishment of a free Iraq is a watershed event in the global democratic revolution. That success is sending a message from Beirut to Tehran."

Tasked by the Bush administration with sending that message from America to Tehran, and "winning hearts and minds" is author and "Swiftboat Veterans for Truth" member Jerome Corsi. On May 16, Corsi's NGO, the Iran Freedom Foundation (IFF), inaugurated a 12-day "Iran Freedom Walk" from Philadelphia's Liberty Bell to Washington, DC.

Dipping two fingers in red paint, Corsi waved a peace sign in solidarity "with the blood of oppressed Iranians" and called on "the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King". He declared, "I love the Iranian people. America does not hate the Persian people. We love the Persian people. We want peace and we love the Persian people." Corsi's voice then dropped to a whisper; "We stand here today and we pray in the name of the gods. I embrace Jesus Christ as my savior - and we also pray in the name of Allah, Zoroaster and the B'hai."

But Corsi has expressed very different opinions on Islam in the past. According to his own postings on FreeRepublic.com, on November 18, 2001 Corsi used a racial slur to define Arabs: "Ragheads are boy-bumpers [sodomizers] as clearly as they are women haters - it all goes together."

Using the incendiary style he perfected for "Swiftboat veteran" television attack advertisements, Corsi declares, "Islam is a peaceful religion as long as the women are beaten, the boys buggered and the infidels killed." Comparing Islam to a disease, he added, "How's this for an analogy? The Koran is simply the 'software' for producing deviant cancer cell political behavior and violence in human beings' and Islam is like a virus. It affects the mind. Maybe even better as an analogy: it is a cancer that destroys the body it infects. No doctor would hesitate to eliminate cancer cells from the body." In April 2004 Corsi said, "Let's see why it isn't the case that Islam is a worthless, dangerous, Satanic religion. Where's the proof to the contrary?"

Surrounding Corsi at his walk were three dozen Los Angeles Iranian dissidents and pro-monarchists interviewed by an Orthodox Jewish journalist and by the CIA-backed Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Farda. The Los Angeles Times of March 20 revealed that "Tehrangeles" has become a crucial recruiting ground for Iranian expatriates who gather information for the US intelligence community. Also providing assistance are various Farsi language media which broadcast messages against the Iranian government into Iran.

According to the March 4 Los Angeles Times, the US currently spends US$14.7 million a year on Farsi "opposition broadcasts" into Iran. The Voice of America's Farsi service reaches an estimated 15 million Iranians with news programs and websites, and the Bush administration has recently requested an additional $5.7 million for 2006 to expand the hours of transmission.

Los Angeles Farsi radio station KRSI noted the similarity between current US efforts and the CIA's 1953 overthrow of Iran's democratically elected premier Mohammed Mossadeq. When asked if he was CIA-affiliated, Corsi replied: "No, I'm not. I've never held a government position, never had any government position at all. I've been in universities. I'm an author. I'm in business. I'm not related to the CIA. It's just not true."

But when later asked how he became so committed to Iranian liberation, he explained, "When I was a young man I was an expert in antiterrorism and political violence. I had a top secret clearance when I was in universities and I worked to assist the State Department and the government." Corsi's publisher, Cumberland House, states in his biography that Corsi's top secret clearance came from the government agency US Agency for International Development (USAID). USAID has often served as a conduit for American covert operations funding, under humanitarian auspices.

This writer asked Corsi about the Iran Freedom Foundation's funding. He said the money came from sales of his book Atomic Iran and from private donations, adding that the IFF would apply for government funding when it became available.

That funding may be on the way. On February 11, a promoter of the IFF, Worldnetdaily.com, announced that Corsi had helped Republican Senator Paul Santorum write the Iran Freedom and Support Act of 2005. The legislation was to authorize $10 million in assistance to pro-democracy NGOs that challenge the Iranian regime. Corsi called that figure a "starting point".

It was an accurate projection. In a May 5 Financial Times article, "US offers grants to help oppose clerics", Guy Dinmore reported that lawmakers demanded a bill aimed at overthrowing the Iranian government be increased to $50 million. This did not include the millions of dollars provided by the State Department's Middle East Partnership Initiative. "We have turned opposition into a profession," commented Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations. "This money is going to go up."

Such "soft power" opposition activities are escalating. The May 29 New York Times quoted Nicholas Burns, under secretary of state for political affairs, as saying the Bush team was "taking a page from the playbook" of colored revolutions where US-funded pro-democracy NGOs helped nonviolently overthrow noncompliant governments.

The IFF lists several such activities on its website. Corsi's book, Atomic Iran, is being translated into Farsi for clandestine distribution in Iran, there is an online petition targeting the mullahs, IFF university associations are mobilizing college students, and a national speakers bureau to educate Americans on Iranian atrocities has been deployed.

The IFF is also filming a documentary and has begun running TV ads entitled; "An Atomic 9-11: When Evil is Appeased", accusing Iran of plans to detonate a 150 kiloton nuclear bomb in New York City. (When Corsi was reminded that it was the US that began Iran's nuclear program in the 1970s, and that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld sat on the board of ABB, which sold North Korea its nuclear reactors in the 1990s, he refused to address the issue.)

The IFF's efforts are supplemented by an array of related sister organizations, such as Regime Change Iran, Alliance for Democracy in Iran, Iran of Tomorrow Movement, the Iranian Opposition Council, and The 70 Million People of Iran, which are organizing an election for a secular interim government in exile "ready to assume Iran's governmental functions". The group has also issued an ultimatum letter to world leaders, demanding they void all contracts with Iran. (Halliburton contracts in Iran were not mentioned). This small US-backed group, presuming to speak for 70 million Iranians, even borrowed the State Department lingo by urging "the removal of the Islamic republic to win the war on terror".

The goal of these strategies, Corsi announced at his event, was to incite mass protests against Iran's June 17 presidential elections and thus try to destabilize the regime.

As early as 2003, Reuters printed allegations that the US had infiltrated several million dollars into the country to bribe officials and pay protesters. The Economist of June 13, 2003 headlined; "More unrest on the streets of Tehran. Is America pulling the strings?"

America is pulling strings, with Israeli assistance. The former head of Mossad's foreign intelligence division, Uzi Arad, told Worldnetdaily.com: "Support of Iranian opposition by the international community could be an effective way to handle the current regime" and that "its stability can be greatly reduced by the people themselves." Pro-Israel lobbyist Michael Ledeen wrote for the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute, "Mr Bush is correct that we should actively help the brave Iranians who are leading demonstrations against the regime ..."

Israel's Student Solidarity Movement and The Jewish Agency recently staged protests at Iranian embassies worldwide. The Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reported the "AIPAC [American Israel Political Action Committee] spurring Congress to pass a sanctions bill against Iran". AIPAC is also pressuring the US to support the Iranian Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) for use against Iran's mullahs.

MEK has been legally designated a terrorist organization since 1997 for killing US citizens, for its role in the 1979 seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran and for attacking coalition troops in Iraq. Human Rights Watch recently condemned them for use of torture, bombings and assassinations. Nevertheless, 150 congressmen have petitioned Bush to remove them from the terrorism list, and several lawmakers spoke at their 2005 convention in Washington, DC.

The Israeli Communication Ministry's R R Sat provides transponder capability to the MEK to broadcast programming on its two channels. Iran-interlink.org even hints that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon personally approved funding for the broadcasts, because of his alliance with the MEK's influential Maryam Rajavi.

On May 28, the IFF's walk reached the White House. The closing rally featured Richard Perle, former assistant secretary of defense and pro-Israel architect of Bush's Middle East policy. Corsi then phoned the White House, where Bush congratulated the marchers and offered support. Vice President Dick Cheney's office also thanked the IFF. Corsi vowed, "If we can find sufficient monetary resources, we plan to send funds inside Iran to support those oppressed."

In response, USA Today reported that Iranian ambassador to the UN, Mohammad Javad Zarif, denounced these types of US measures as a violation of the Algiers Accords. The accords freed 52 American Embassy hostages in exchange for a US promise "not to intervene directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran's internal affairs". Iran may file a complaint with the International Court of Justice in the Hague to stop US interference.

According to Reuters, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi threatened: "Iran has always defended its interests with full power and will continue to do so. It won't hesitate even for a fraction of a moment to defend itself" and Iran's government has pledged harsh resistance. If the CIA and its associated regime change NGOs succeed, it could be very bloody black and blue coup.

Trish Schuh has worked with ABCnews, al-Arabiya, Tehran Times, MehrNews, Syria Times, Iran News Daily and Muslim's Weekly. She studied Arabic and Islam in Palestine, Syria and Lebanon, and recently observed the presidential elections in Iran.

(Copyright 2005 Trish Schuh)

Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing.


Revisiting the Iranian revolution (Jun 29, '05)

Faded hopes for Iranian exiles (Jun 29, '05)

The ayatollah's new reign (Jun 28, '05)

 
 



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