Tuesday, 13 January, 2009

Iran Arrests Four Over “CIA-Backed Plot”

January 13th, 2009
Michael van der Galien
Iranian government said Tuesday it had arrested four individuals; the four are suspected of being part of a group that wants to bring about regime change in the Islamist country. Such arrests occur quite frequently in Iran; what makes this arrest different, however, is that Tehran says that the four were on the payroll of the CIA, the American intelligence organization.

Alireza Jamshidi, a spokesman for Iran’s judiciary, said the four had tried to recruit others but neglected to say what the group was planning to do exactly and how.

“The group was trying to recruit more people by setting up a network and training new agents,” the semi-official Iranian Labor News Agency quoted Jamshidi as saying.

“The network was funded and guided by the Bush administration, the State Department and the CIA, with the objective of bringing about a regime change in Iran,” Jamshidi said, according to another semi-official news agency, Mehr.

The announcement came shortly after reports surfaced saying that the U.S. had refused to aide Israel when it wanted to attack Iranian nuclear facilities last year. Bush told the Israelis that he could not give permission for an air strike. Instead of using force, he said, he had recently stepped up covert operations in Iran.

Normally one would expect Tehran’s accusations of a group being paid by the CIA to be propaganda. In this particular case, however, Tehran’s explanation for the arrests could very well be correct.

The U.S. has, logically and rightfully, stepped up covert operations in Iran in an attempt to bring about regime change and, of course, to potentially sabotage the country’s nuclear energy project or, at the very least, to keep an eye on it.

Obviously, the arrests mean quite a blow to U.S. operations in Iran but they are also a sign that the U.S. is indeed stepping up its efforts to remove the Ayatollah and his followers from power and to replace them with more pragmatic, possibly even secularist individuals and groups.

And that is a good sign for those of us who worry about Iran’s extremism, support for terrorism, influence in the region and, lastly, its nuclear program.


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