Nafeez Ahmed: Trump’s State Department spent over $1m in Iran to exploit unrest

by Nafeez Ahmed at InsurgeIntelligence


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. The protests drew attention to the country’s deteriorating economic conditions, along with the regime’s abysmal human rights record.
They also paved the way for President Donald Trump’s announcement on January 12th that this would be a “last chance” for waiving US nuclear sanctions under the Iran nuclear deal for a further 60 days, after which the US would withdraw if its “disastrous flaws” cannot be fixed.
A range of recent official documents, from Congressional research to US foreign aid funding reports, throw new light on the Trump administration’s approach. The documents reveal the US government’s continued interest in triggering major political change in Iran to pull the country into the orbit of American interests. This includes the possibility of exploiting political unrest and other crises — including a worsening water crisis — to turn popular opinion against the regime.
Iran’s unrest has mostly been driven by a convergence of domestic ecological, energy and economic crises. The State Department has sought to exploit these crises to undermine the legitimacy of the regime, by funding opposition groups as well as anti-regime broadcasting to the tune of tens of millions of dollars a year.
One State Department funding document, for instance, refers to a project to use Iran’s growing water crisis to drum up public anger against regime “mismanagement”. To date, US government records show that the Trump administration has spent over $1 million, at least, since 2016, on financing anti-regime activism within Iran.
The policy is not new, though. Altogether, since 2006, successive US administrations have invested tens of millions of dollars a year on ‘democracy promotion’ efforts in Iran, serving as cover for longstanding ‘regime change’ aspirations.
Much of the media programming funded by the State Department has focused on glorifying the reign of the Shah of Iran, the brutal US-UK backed dictator who was deposed by the 1979 revolution. The propaganda appears to have worked, with many participants in the latest protests calling for the Shah’s exiled son, Reza Pahlavi, to return to power in Iran.

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uncle tungsten
uncle tungsten
Jan 21, 2018 11:00 PM

Thank you Big B, i loved your vehemence. I reckon Bibi got the US president he so richly deserved. Well so far that is. The Iranian mosquito effort might have been more effective had Bibi and MBS not left it to Nikki and the Donald to fully fund and organise.

Den Lille Abe
Den Lille Abe
Jan 21, 2018 7:58 AM

So Trumps team spent a million… We have not and never will have a clue on what was spent behind the scenes on this. That the US want to take down Iran should be beyond doubt to anyone still breathing. But it will take more than that to do it, Iranians resilience, and for us Westerners, strange mix of politics and religion, which we don’t understand, seems to be very well anchored. Grievances can always be found, but if they are not deep running, they cant be exploited.

Jan 20, 2018 11:18 AM

Only a measly $Million? No wonder they failed. Obama and Biden allotted Victoria Nudelman-Cohen a cookie budget of $5Billion to destabilize the Ukraina — and they succeded brilliantly. Another sign of Trump’s business incompetence. “If you pay peanuts you get monkeys”.
Back in the Shah’s days of course a $Million was a lot of money.

Big B
Big B
Jan 19, 2018 6:37 PM

LMFAO! Trump and Nikki Haley stand in solidarity with Iranian working class protesters against Khameini and Rouhani – the oppressive Iranian bourgeois theocracy! WTF: is Washington is overtly Marxist-communist now? Do they not recall that the CIA installed both the Monarchy (the Shah) and the Theocracy (Khomeini) as an anti-communist bulwark in Iran? Apparently not?
I’m not suggesting for one second that there was a Marxist revolution in Iran. There was not; not even close. Despite the grandstanding and astroturfing from the West: neither was it a regime change movement. I wanted to highlight the political illiteracy and hypocrisy of the Trump regime. In their desperation to promote Bibi’s and MBS’s “wet dream” of regime change: they would cheer on anything that vaguely resembles it. Even if the policies being protested are similar in nature to the doctrinaire “Washington Consensus” they would themselves impose? By far the greatest irony – lost on political morons like Haley and Trump – is that the protests were against the neoliberal policies of Rouhani, which were designed to attract foreign investment. So in this case, “Democracy Promotion” is against the wrong kind of neoliberalism?
The fact not being recognised here is that Rouhani recognised the problems as genuine and in need of reform. So is he the wrong kind of dictator: a relatively politically astute one? And also, it may be why Trump is in danger of becoming isolated on regime change. Haley took this to the UN and got nowhere, Worse than that, they got dressed down by France. Is that because Total stands to gain from the exploration of the South Pars supergiant gasfield? For some: particularly other European energy giants: it might be the right kind of neoliberalism? Just a guess?
Yet the recent unrest was far a more socio-economically authentic and dialectically grassroots uprising than many in the West want to recognise. A fact that Nafeez finally gets round to acknowledging about 12 mins into his 14 min read [links to “protests not guided by foreigners”: my understanding is that social media networks were quickly shut down.]. Having spent the entire previous 12 min trying to turn the recent unrest into something it was not. Why?
It is axiomatic that US neocon imperialists want to change the regime: yet this article highlights to me just how clueless and ineffective those efforts will be. $1mn: $12-13mn – or even (at least) $33mn …spent on a population of 81mn? So even if the “reactionary dissenter” element of Iranian society listen to an hour of Radio Farda a day: will the social fabric if Iran break down and Reza Pahlavi return from exile on a white charger? What imperialist bullshit is this? Denying of the real engine of social change; and insulting of the people of Iran to boot?
In pushing the imperialist narrative (whilst taking a swipe at Russia and Trump too) – Nafeez displays his pseudo-left-liberal credentials. Linking to the Torygraph to cite the “pro-Shah” nature of the riots is disingenuous and completely mis-characterises their nature, IMHO. The oppressed people of Iran need insightful recognition and honouring – leading to international solidarity and support (at least moral). Not bandwagoning by reactionary Western imperial regime-change leadership …trying to leverage cheap political capital? Or anyone else who wants to go along for the ride?

Big B
Big B
Jan 19, 2018 6:54 PM
Reply to  Big B

Link to UN report on meeting, and Haley’s “solidarity” quote.