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By Yusof Abdullah
Despite US President Barack Obama’s claims of non-involvement in Iran’s affairs, few people believe that the US was an innocent bystander in the recent riots in Tehran.The US not only has a long history of interfering in Iran’s internal affairs, these intensified during former President George Bush’s era. The one-week riots following the June 12 presidential elections were neither spontaneous, nor without outside instigation whether all the participants were aware of this fact or not. One of Obama’s staffers at the White House intervened with Twitter to keep the service functioning when it is daytime in Tehran so that people there could send messages to organize rallies. Undergoing maintenance, Twitter shuts its service at night but because of time difference between the US and Iran, it is daytime there. This is only one, although minor, example of US involvement at orchestrating an uprising that has now all but withered away.Only a small percent — about 28 percent — of people in Iran are connected through the Internet and Twitter; many are university students, the kind one witnessed during the recent protests in north Tehran. Bloggers on the Internet discovered their strange connection to rightwing Israeli interests. Those using Twitter between June 13 and 20 would know that Iranian elections were the most popular topic. Yet, only a handful of people that created Twitter accounts only on June 1 3— a day after Iran’s elections — were responsible for more than 30,000 Iran-related tweets. Another curious fact about these twitters was that while they had only a handful of friends — the normal method of twitting — they had extremely high number of Tweets. Were they legitimate tweeters or acting for some propaganda organ? And why, like the opposition rallies in Tehran with signs in English, were all these twitter messages in English? Surely, anyone familiar with Iran would know that even English savvy Iranians prefer to speak in Farsi.
This was clearly the work of an organized group of people determined to create chaos leading to instability in Iran. Even the Jerusalem Post gave them coverage on its front page. There were three spammers involved: @StopAhmadi, @IranRiggedElect, and @Change_For_Iran. Why would Jerusalem Post give prominence to three individuals that only a few hours earlier had joined Twitter? And why would that be such a newsworthy story, especially when they have a tiny number of friends and a sudden mass following that did not exist barely two days earlier?
The issue, however, is much larger than the twittering crowd in north Tehran. While there is ample evidence of US attempts to destabilize Iran through a campaign of sabotage despite a written agreement signed in Algiers in January 1981 not to do so, there is even more specific evidence dating back to May 2007. Two correspondents — Brian Ross and Richard Esposito — working for the American television network, ABC, revealed on May 24, 2007 that president Bush had signed an executive order authorizing $400 million for the Iran destabilization program that included propaganda and disinformation. The ABC story was preceded by a similar report in the rightwing British daily, The Daily Telegraph on May 16, 2007. A year later, Seymour Hersh reported in the New Yorker magazine (June 29, 2008) that late last year, Congress had agreed to a request from Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations in Iran.
The US moves came in the wake of the emergence of Jundullah, an al-Qaeda linked terrorist group, based in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. In early 2007, a member of al-Regi family was killed by Iranian border guards during operations against drug smuggling. The Regis are notorious drug smugglers. His other brothers twisted his death and turned it into a sectarian conflict in an attempt to arouse people against the Islamic government in Tehran. Since there is a large Sunni population in Baluchistan, this was a clever but dangerous ploy; they started calling themselves Jundullah (the army of God). Their terrorist activities caught the attention of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that quickly recruited them. It is revealing that while the US claims to be fighting terrorism, it has no qualms, like the French that are backing the terrorist outfit, MKO, about using terrorists to advance its own nefarious agenda.
Earlier this year, the Jundullah kidnapped a number of Iranian Revolut-ionary Guards in Baluchistan and later murdered them. Then on May 28, they planted a bomb in a mosque in Zahedan, capital of Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan province in which 26 worshippers were killed and dozens injured. Three days later, they bombed the campaign offices of President Ahmedinejad. Iranian authorities were quick to arrest the criminals and three of them were publicly hanged a few days after the mosque bombing. On June 13, Iran’s news agency, IRNA reported that Pakistan had handed over four Jundullah terrorists to Iran under a security pact between the two countries. The handover included Abdolhamid Regi, brother of Abdolmalik Regi, the ringleader of Jundullah. Abdolhamid Regi has admitted under questioning that he and his brother have met American officials several times in Quetta and have received US funding and training. IRNA also reported that Abdolhamid Regi was in jail in Quetta, Pakistan, for more than a year. He had presented himself along with 15 others as being Pakistani nationals but when the Iranian authorities presented evidence that they were Iranians and were wanted in connection with terrorism charges, the Pakistanis handed them over.
This, however, has not prevented the terrorist outfit from continuing its criminal activities. Saleem Shahid, a reporter for Pakistan’s daily, Dawn, reported from Quetta on June 14, that Jundullah claimed responsibility for kidnapping dozens of Iranian security personnel. It threatened to kill them if its members, arrested in Iran, were not released within two weeks. A spokesman for Jundullah, identifying himself as Maulvi Rauf, told newsmen on June 13 that 12 of the 28 Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards) had been released. “Sixteen Pasdaran are still in our custody,” he added.
There is growing suspicion that the CIA may have funnelled funds to some Tehran protesters through Jundullah. While the organizers may not be aware of the activities and links of all the rally participants, the manner in which attacks were carried out against buses and government buildings points to an organized group of agents provocateurs. It was only because of the security forces’ careful handling of the situation that matters did not escalate. The extreme restraint frustrated attempts by American agents to whip public anger or garner support from other sectors of society.
It was not for lack of trying as Kenneth Timmerman, a neocon masquerading as director of The National Endowment for Democracy (NED), has admitted. The NED is a government-funded body whose ostensible aim is to promote “democracy” but it does exactly the opposite of what its name implies. It has close links with the CIA and was instrumental in bringing about the so-called “Orange revolution” in Ukraine and the unsuccessful attempt against Russia in Georgia that was put down by swift action from Moscow. How many Americans are even aware of NED and its subversive activities? It was set up in the early 1980s under President Ronald Reagan in the wake of revelations about the CIA’s murderous activities in the latter part of the 1970s. The NED has even established a separate wing, called the Foundation for Democracy in Iran. It was this group that hoped to bring about a “green revolution” in Iran.
The authorities’ careful handling of the situation in Tehran prevented the protests from escalating. The CIA had hoped that their agents would provoke a severe response from the security forces that would be used to mobilize people against the government. The CIA-engineered ‘green’ revolution wilted away before it could blossom.