New US focus on promoting democracy in Iran
By Guy Dinmore in Washington
-- -- The US State Department has created an office
dedicated to Iran to reflect the Bush administration’s new focus on
promoting democracy in the Islamic republic, officials said on
Establishment of the Office of Iran Affairs follows the request to
Congress made by Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state, last month
for an additional $75m this year to spend on influencing democratic
change in Iran. The proposed spending has already triggered an
internal struggle over who will control the $50m designated for a
new Farsi-language television station.
The new office will come with posts in Europe and Dubai for
Farsi-speaking diplomats as well as extra personnel in Washington
working on human rights and public diplomacy.
Within the state department bureaucracy Iran was previously lumped
together with countries of the Arabian Peninsular Affairs Office.
Its separation, with extra resources, reflects a new emphasis by the
Bush administration and the challenge posed by the regime’s recent
behaviour, a spokesman said. Only a few countries merit their own
office within the state department.
The director of the new office has not been named. David Denehy, a
special advisor on the Middle East, declined to comment on
suggestions that he would head the office.
Mr Denehy is involved in the $50m project to create the first
24-hour Farsi television station to broadcast into Iran.
Elizabeth Cheney, who is leading the state department’s “broader
Middle East and North Africa initiatives”, has been placed in charge
of the television project rather than Karen Hughes, one of the
president’s closest advisors who heads US public diplomacy.
Officials told the FT there was a debate within the state department
over whether the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), an
independent federal agency, should be given responsibility for the
proposed new television station.
BBG’s mandate covers “all US government and government sponsored,
non-military international broadcasting”, and includes Farsi
broadcasts by Voice of America radio and television and Radio Farda.
“It’s possible the BBG will not get the money,” one official
The officials said Ms Cheney wanted the new Farsi station to be kept
separate from the BBG so that she could exert more direct control.
Ms Cheney is said to be among those who were not satisfied with the
oversight role played by the BBG regarding alHurra, the
Arabic-language television station which is now the subject of state
department and congressional inquiries into its programming and
AlHurra says the inquiries are routine.
Mr Denehy and Ladan Archin, a Pentagon official assigned to the
state department, recently visited private Farsi television and
radio stations run by exiled Iranians in Los Angeles that broadcast
into Iran. Editors said they were seeking information on their
operations, setting off excitement among Iranian-Americans that the
state department was looking for a suitable private vehicle for its
new propaganda effort.
© Copyright The Financial Times Ltd 2006
Click below to post a comment on this article
(In accordance with Title 17
U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to
those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the
included information for research and educational purposes.
Information Clearing House has no affiliation whatsoever with the
originator of this article nor is Information Clearing House
endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)