US cuts funding to Iran opposition

BBC News: “In an apparent shift from the Bush administration’s efforts to foster regime change in Iran by financing opposition groups, the Obama White House has all but dismantled the Iran Democracy Fund. While the move has been criticised by neo-conservatives in the US, it has been welcomed by Iranian human rights and pro-democracy activists. The controversial program was initiated by the Bush administration in an effort to topple the clerical regime in Tehran by financing Iranian NGOs. While heralded by some in Washington, reactions in Iran to the program were overwhelmingly negative.  Critics like Iranian dissident and journalist Akbar Ganji have maintained that the program made virtually all Iranian NGOs targets of the hardline government in Iran: ‘The US democracy fund was severely counterproductive. None of the human right activists and members of opposition in Iran had any interest in using such funds, but we were all accused by Iran’s government of being American spies because a few groups in America used these funds.’ The secretiveness around the program – the recipients of the funds remain classified – has added to the dilemma, Iranian human rights groups maintain. They say it has enabled the Iranian authorities to accuse any Iranian NGO of having received funds from the US.”

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