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09 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 7 - Mobilizing a citizen uprising?

NED records describing these projects show that State Department funding has gone to projects working with a range of Iranian groups on the ground.

One describes its mission being to “engage members of the Iranian intelligentsia in public deliberation on the social, economic, and political prospects of a democratic Iran”. Another refers to the instrumentalization of human rights activism to “enhance communication and information access for Iranian activists.

One project aims to develop and consolidate a network of “democratically minded jurists in Iran.” A further project says its objective is “to galvanize citizens to press for greater transparency and accountability,” and yet another explains that the Iran-based grant recipient “will build the capacity of Iranian citizens to conduct community-level political process monitoring through a focused training program.

Insight: The consistent pattern with all State Department-funded ‘democracy promotion’ projects in Iran is that they target genuine issues facing Iranian citizens, but exploit them to undermine the legitimacy of the regime.

One NED project funded by the State Department in 2016, for instance, seeks to exploit Iran’s escalating water crisis to ramp up hostility toward the government. According to the NED, the project’s goal is:

To mobilize public participation in initiatives aimed at ending widespread water mismanagement by national and local authorities. Project activities will raise civil society and public awareness of the role that authorities’ mismanagement of water has played in Iran’s current drought conditions, endeavoring to elevate the issue for debate in the public political sphere.

The US foreign policy establishment has closely watched the impact of Iran’s water crisis over the last few years. A recent Scientific American piece, for instance, reports the observations of senior US policy wonks from the Atlantic Council and Brookings Institution, which have significant influence on high-level US foreign policy discourse.

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