Sunday Telegraph: In a shadowy White House briefing room hung with maps of the Persian Gulf, Senator John McCain is meeting a perfidious cabal of spies and businessmen, including the international financier George Soros, to plot regime change in Iran. The Sunday Telegraph
By Angus McDowall
In a shadowy White House briefing room hung with maps of the Persian Gulf, Senator John McCain is meeting a perfidious cabal of spies and businessmen, including the international financier George Soros, to plot regime change in Iran.
“Our military presence no longer has the impact it used to have,” grumbles a CIA official.
“This can be seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. We need to find alternative methods.”
The CIA’s covert operations in the Middle East have not, sadly, been opened to public scrutiny.
The conversation was in fact featured in an animated cartoon being aired on Iranian television, warning against foreign conspiracies and advertising 113, the Intelligence Ministry’s anti-spy hotline.
Taking aim at such betes noir of Iran’s security apparatus as intellectuals and emigre satellite channels, the film goes on to tell the story of Manuchehr, a young political activist who accepts American money and arms in the hope of winning a visa to the United States.
Reported to the hotline by his sister, Manuchehr is followed by the secret police and arrested.
After questioning, his interrogator praises him for spilling the beans on his fellow conspirators and promises he will be treated leniently.
“Today, global arrogance and international Zionism, with the help of their spy and satellite networks, are planning regime changes,” says a voice-over in the six-minute film, which was translated by Memri, an American centre that translates Arabic and Persian media broadcasts.
“In order to achieve this filthy goal, they will not shy away from any conspiracy. Each and every member of the brave and honourable Iranian nation must remain vigilant, and report any suspicious activity to the 113 hotline of the Intelligence Ministry, throughout the country. We are the guardians of your information.”
Since the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005, Iran’s government has grown increasingly suspicious that civil society groups and Iranians with links to the West are trying to foment a “velvet revolution”.
They point to a US Congress decision in 2006 to push more than £35 million towards an Iranian “democratisation” programme, with around £10 million earmarked for unnamed groups inside the country and a much larger amount going to anti-regime broadcasters.
A string of arrests last year targeted Iranians working with Western think-tanks and media.
One of these was Kian Tajbakhsh, a scholar working for the Open Society Institute set up by Mr Soros, who is described in the film as “a Jewish tycoon and the mastermind of ultra-modern colonialism”.
On February 2 Parvin Ardalan, a women’s rights activist who was interviewed in The Sunday Telegraph last week, was forbidden from leaving the country to collect a Swedish political prize.
She is appealing a three-year suspended prison sentence, passed last year for her role in equality protests and non-governmental organisations.
“We should co-operate closely with the NGOs that share our goals,” says the animated Mr Soros to Mr McCain.
“Satellite television networks have a great impact and play a very important role. Bombarding people with propaganda has always been effective. We must expand the cultural warfare, which we have had on the back burner in Iran for years.”
With elections to Iran’s parliament due on Friday, the authorities are worried that their uncompetitive nature will prompt a low turnout, opening a new front in the propaganda battle with the West.
“The behaviour of the Iranian people in the elections will be against the expectations of American officials,” forecast the interior minister Mostafa Pour Mohammedi when he announced the start of official campaigning on Thursday.