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08 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 6 - The National Endowment for Democracy and the subsidising of revolt

In addition to the tens of millions of dollars a year supporting information influence operations through some of these various media and broadcasting efforts, US government funding documents provide further information on funding for ‘democracy promotion’ efforts in recent years.

USAID and State Department records reveal that the Trump administration provided at least $1,146,196 to various opposition NGOs in Iran, from 2016 through some of 2017. The funds were provided by the State Department through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Full data for the year 2017 is not yet available.

For context, this is considerably more than what Russian-linked actors reportedly paid Twitter, Facebook and Google combined to influence the American elections (a maximum total of around $447,100).

The NED is a non-profit organization funded by US Congress via the State Department, founded in 1983 originally to support anti-Soviet foreign political movements.

Declassified documents released by the Reagan Presidential Library confirm that then CIA director William Casey played a lead role in the NED’s establishment, seeing it as a way to provide legitimate cover to fund groups that would undermine or overthrow foreign governments inimical to US interests.

As of January 2017, the NED has been chaired by Dr Judy Shelton, who served on Trump’s economic advisory team during the 2016 presidential campaign.

For the vast majority of the projects funded in Iran, the recipient NGOs supported have not been disclosed.

The Trump administration ‘democracy promotion’ funding continues a seamless policy pursued by successive Democrat and Republican administrations. The Obama administration spent a total of $1,802,537 from 2014 to 2015.

Axiom: From 2014 to 2017, the Obama and Trump administration spent a total of nearly $3 million (precisely, $2,948,733) through the State Department to fund opposition activists in Iran promoting a vision of ‘democracy’ aligned with US strategic interests.

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