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06 February, 2018

Trump’s State Department spent over $1m in Iran to exploit unrest for ‘regime change’, documents reveal

At the end of 2017, a dozen cities across Iran, including the capital Tehran, were rocked by spontaneous protests which continued into the New Year. What role did the United States play?

Part 5 - Bankrolling anti-regime propaganda

The US government’s ‘democracy promotion’ projects in Iran have focused heavily on influence through information, according to the Congressional documents.

Projects include “Iran-specific US broadcasting services such as “Radio Farda (‘tomorrow,’ in Farsi) [which] began under Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), in partnership with the Voice of America (VOA), in 2002.”

Based in Prague, Radio Farda broadcasts 24 hours a day and has 59 full time employees. Its budget is approximately $11 million per year. The document denies that any US government assistance has been provided to Iranian exile-run stations.

VOA briefings confirm that its separate Persian Service, previously called Persian News Network (PNN) costs “about $20 million per year”. The service consists of Internet, an hour of radio a day, and six hours of television rebroadcast throughout the day.

In August 2014, VOA officials told the Congressional Research Service that a greater effort was made to reach “young, educated, anti-regime Iranians who are looking for signs of US official support.” VOA Persian is now viewed weekly by nearly one-in-four adults in Iran.

Axiom: The US government is currently spending at least $33 million a year on soft propaganda through Radio Farda and the VOA’s Persian Service to undermine Iran from within.

The document further confirms that US State Department ‘democracy promotion’ programs in Iran have been escalating since 2006, including an effort to increase “the presence of Persian-speaking US diplomats in US diplomatic missions around Iran,” partly to “facilitate Iranians [to] participate in US democracy-promotion programs.

Earlier that year, the State Department established its Office of Iranian Affairs, to channel funds to groups that could aid opposition factions within Iran. The Office, according to the new Congressional document “is reportedly engaged in contacts with US-based exile groups.

A third Congressional document by Katzman, published in November 2017, observes that “Domestic Iranian factors could cause Iran’s foreign policy to shift.” Among these factors, the report says that: “An uprising in Iran or other event that changes the regime could precipitate policy changes that either favor or are adverse to US interests. The unexpected departure from the scene of the Supreme Leader could change Iran’s foreign policy sharply, depending on the views of his successor.

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