Covert Operations Against Iran
The United States undoubtedly had some type of covert operation underway against Iran after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Soon after entering office in 2001, the Bush Administration almost certainly initiated a much larger CIA directed and organized effort to destablilize the Islamic Republic of Iran. This effort almost certainly included, but was not limited to efforts to provoke political unrest among non-Persian ethnoliquistic minorities. The long running goal of these initiatives was to instigate a "Color Revolution" that would overthrow the Islamic Republic. In the interim, it provided a means to retaliate against Iranian mischief-making in Iraq and elsewhere.
Iran had actively supported numerous terrorist groups over the years and had attempted to undermine the peace process between the Palestinians and Israelis. Iran funded suicide bombers and militant organizations that were seeking to kill and maim Israelis, including civilians. Iran was still seeking weapons of mass destruction, and had deceived the international community in the past about its intentions.
Iran's national security aims appeared to include the destruction of the state of Israel and a desire to threaten the United States. There was no appreciable gap between the views of the so-called moderates in Iran and the so-called hard liners on these issues. Each call for the destruction of Israel. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khahmeni, called Israel a ''cancerous tumor.'' Iran's parliament, in the hands of the moderates, hosted conferences where terrorists were featured. The "moderate" former President Khatami recently told Yasser Arafat that "All of Palestine must be liberated."
The Iranian people do not have the right to elect a leader who would move them away from the current policies of the Islamic republic. Their ability to change their government is circumscribed by the clerics who historically defended the existing order. The regime was a repressive one that often stifled dissent and killed or imprisoned members of ethnic and religious minorities.
Two Executive Orders signed by President Clinton in early 1995 prohibited US companies and their foreign subsidiaries from conducting business with Iran. They also banned any "contract for the financing of the development of petroleum resources located in Iran." As a result, US-based Conoco had to abrogate a $550-million contract to develop Iran's offshore Sirri A and E oil and gas fields.
The Khobar Towers terrorist bombing on 25 June 1996, in which 19 US airmen perished, was a cold-blooded act of murder. Iran's fingerprints were all over the Khobar Towers housing complex bombing, with Saudi Hezbollah acting for Iran.
Following the Khobar Towers attack, in August 1996 President Clinton signed the Iran Foreign Oil Sanctions Act of 1996 into law. This legislation imposed mandatory and discretionary sanctions on non-US companies that invested more than $40 million annually in the Iranian and Libyan oil and gas sectors. The threat of secondary US sanctions has deterred some multinationals from investing in Iran. In August 1996, Australia's BHP pulled out of a proposed $3-billion pipeline project to transport Iranian natural gas to Pakistan and India. Since late 1996, Iranian government officials have expressed differing views on whether or not US sanctions adversely impacted on the country's economy.
In 2000 Secretary of State Madeleine Albright offered new hope for improvement in relations between the United States and Iran by announcing an easing of sanctions against Iran, including the lifting of the ban on caviar and carpet imports. Iranian caviar began arriving in the US in May of 2000 and Iranian carpets had the potential to earn hundreds of millions of dollars for the Iranian people every year. In September of 2000, Secretary Albright and President Clinton personally attended speeches at the United Nations of Iranian President Khatami and the US quietly reached to Iran through many different channels. Given the litany of concerns regarding Iran's destabilizing behavior in the international community, these were extraordinary signals that the United States was prepared for a new chapter in our relations with Iran. The easing of sanctions and other goodwill gestures did nothing to make relations between Washington and Tehran better. The Iranian regime did not reciprocate with a similar level of good faith gestures of its own, nor did it give any indication of wanting to reverse its ways.
The Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA), renewed in 2001, was intended to change unacceptable Iranian behavior by reducing or making more expensive Iran's access to its energy resources. It was the intent of the supporters of the bill and its authors in 1996 that either Iran would change its behavior so that it would gain access to investments from around the world or that, absent a change in behavior, it would be hampered in its efforts to promote terror and obtain weapons of mass destruction. Iranian behavior did not change for the better. In fact, it seemed to be getting worse, in its training of terrorists, its production of chemical and biological weapons, its production of long-range missiles and pursuit of the development of nuclear capabilities.
The Iran Freedom Support Act [H.R. 282] was approved 14 April 2005 by the House Middle East Subcommittee. The Act declared it should be US policy to support human rights and pro-democracy forces in the United States and abroad, opposing what it calls the non-democratic government of Iran. The Iran Freedom Support Act would repeal the sunset of ILSA, close some loopholes in ILSA, provide assistance to pro-democracy organizations in Iran, and require ILSA to remain in effect until the President certified to Co0ngress that Iran permanently and verifiably dismantled its weapons of mass destruction programs and committed to combating such weapons' proliferation. The legislation strengthened existing US sanctions on Iran and put more pressure on Iran's government on the issue of weapons of mass destruction, while providing greater support for Iranian democracy groups. The legislation would authorize funding for groups pressing for democratic reform, human rights, and civil liberties in Iran. However, it required that such groups also oppose the use of terrorism, a provision linked to the Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, officially listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|