Protests in Iran called for: A people’s revolution or “color revolution”?


“Colored revolutions always occur in a nation with strategic, natural resources: gas, oil, military bases and geopolitical interests. And they also always take place in countries with socialist-leaning, anti-imperialist governments. The movements promoted by US agencies in those countries are generally anti-communist, anti-socialist, pro-capitalist and pro-imperialist.”

~Eva Golinger

by BJ Murphy

On February 13, 2011, what is resembling the beginning stages of a “mass protest” in Iran two years ago after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won his second term in office, Iranians had gathered themselves on their rooftops, chanting “God is great” and “Down with the dictator.”1

It is being said that the revolutions taking place all across the Arab region of the world are what’s inspiring these calls for protest in Iran. The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt were most certainly formulated through the oppressed people’s of both countries. What is instead being called for in Iran is something entirely different.

According to Al Jazeera, “Monday’s protests have been called at the behest of Mir Hossein Mousavi,” a popular dissident to the upper class minority in Iran who ran as a presidential candidate back in 2009.2 He and his supporters were also the main oppositional forces that led the so-called “Green Revolution”, calling for the overthrowing of President Ahmadinejad with claims of the election being rigged.

Despite compelling evidence that President Ahmadinejad was the clear victor of the 2009 election,3 the pro-Mousavi forces persisted on with their “Green Revolution”. This, of course, made mainstream headlines around the world, including the United States. What didn’t make to mainstream headlines all-too-well was on who exactly was funding the pro-Mousavi forces.

Hossein Mousavi and the NED

Kenneth Timmerman: The National Endowment for Democracy has spent millions of dollars promoting ‘color’ revolutions. Some of that money appears to have made it into the hands of pro-Mousavi groups, who have ties to non-governmental organizations outside Iran that the National Endowment for Democracy funds.

According to The Muslim Observer, the day before the 2009 election in Iran, neoconservative Kenneth Timmerman had stated that “there’s talk of a ‘green revolution’ in Tehran.” He continued further by stating “the National Endowment for Democracy has spent millions of dollars promoting ‘color’ revolutions […] Some of that money appears to have made it into the hands of pro-Mousavi groups, who have ties to non-governmental organizations outside Iran that the National Endowment for Democracy funds.”4

Be warned, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and Kenneth Timmerman are no strangers to one another. Timmerman is also executive director to the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI), which is a US based Iranian dissident organization who advocate regime change in Iran. According to the NED’s Democracy Projects Database, in 1995 the FDI had received funds of up to $50,000 by the NED, and also another $25,000 in 1996.5

To better understand the NED, according to Bill Berkowitz (writer for progressive media outlet AlterNet), it “provides money, technical support, supplies, training programs, media know-how, public relations assistance, and state-of-the art equipment to select political groups, civic organizations, labor unions, dissident movements, student groups, book publishers, newspapers, and other media. The organization’s aim is to destabilize progressive movements, particularly those with a socialist or democratic-socialist bent.”6

One could also say the NED is one of many CIA-fronts. “A lot of what we [NED] do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA,” says Allen Weinstein, co-founder of the NED.7

According to foreign policy analyst Stephen Gowans, “The ICNC and NED are fronts for Western ruling class interests.”8

The ICNC and NED

Stephen Gowans: The ICNC and NED are fronts for Western ruling class interests.

So how are the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) and NED in comparison? According to Venezuelan-American attorney Eva Golinger, “Protests and destabilization actions are always planned around an electoral campaign and process, to raise tensions and questions of potential fraud, and to discredit the elections in the case of a loss for the opposition, which is generally the case. The same agencies are always present, funding, training and advising: USAID, NED, IRI, NDI, Freedom House, AEI and ICNC.” She continues by stating the “strategy seeks to debilitate and disorganize the pillars of State power, neutralizing security forces and creating a sensation of chaos and instability.”9

So, between the ICNC and the NED, was the “Green Revolution”, led by pro-Mousavi forces, orchestrated by the West? Well, “even if you could show the uprising was caused by Washington’s attempts to orchestrate it, or arose solely from internal factors, what difference would it make? The fact remains that Washington did try to meddle in the internal affairs of Iran, to overthrow the government for reasons related to its politics and economic policies, and that it did, is intolerable,” says Gowans.10

But what internal affairs is Gowans talking about? In 2006, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice requested “$75 million to promote democracy in Iran, which she said would be added to $10 million already appropriated for that purpose.” But why? “American officials […] said the election last year of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose actions and statements have alarmed the West, had strengthened the hands of those who want to promote internal change in Iran.”11

Only a few months after of that same year, the ICNC held “training sessions every three months or so on civil disobedience, hoping to foment a nonviolent revolt in Iran,” which were secretly held in Dubai, because they “wanted to find a place where we were safe, where they [Iran] can’t send paramilitaries to gun you down, and where large numbers of Iranians go.”12

Three years later and after the 2nd election won by President Ahmadinejad, in order to keep support of the “Green Revolution” alive, a United4Iran rally was organized. United4Iran, who played itself as a so-called “human rights organization,” was being funded “by the US National Endowment for Democracy, an organization established by the US government to do overtly what the CIA used to do covertly (i.e., funnel money to groups and organization working, often unknowingly, toward US foreign policy goals.)”13

Is history repeating itself?

Of course, with the Mousavi-backed protest still yet to be held, we can only speculate whether or not the US is helping fund this protest as a means of fomenting another color revolution.

Though, given our knowledge of Mousavi’s past dealings with various US-backed CIA-fronts who advocate regime change in Iran, and with the Arab world now revolting against US-backed dictatorships all across the region, one cannot but rationally signal the alarms of a counterrevolution in our midst.

Red Love & Salutes!


1. “Tehran 13 Feb 2011 / تهران 24 بهمن- 4- یوسف آباد”,

2. D. Parvaz, “Iran opposition planning protests”, Al Jazeera, February 13, 2011.

3. Stephen Gowans, “Behind Washington’s Iran policy: Myths and reality”, what’s left, February 26, 2010.

4. Paul C. Roberts, “Is This the Culmination of Two Years of Destabilization?”, The Muslim Observer, April 8, 2010.

5. National Endowment for Democracy.

6. Bill Berkowitz, “NED [National Endowment for Democracy] Targets Venezuela”, Third World Traveler, May 2004.

7. Blum, William. Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower. Common Courage, 2000. 180. Print.

8. Stephen Gowans, “The Revolution Will Not Be Assisted By The ICNC (The Counter-Revolution Is Another Matter)”, what’s left, March 12, 2010.

9. Eva Golinger, “Colored Revolutions: A New Form of Regime Change, Made in USA”, Venezuela Analysis, February 15, 2010.

10. Stephen Gowans, “A sober view of Iran”, what’s left, July 1, 2009.

11. Steven R. Weisman, “Rice Is Seeking Millions to Prod Changes in Iran”, The New York Times, February 16, 2006.

12. Hassan M. Fattah, “U.S. keeps finger on pulse of Iran from Dubai – Africa & Middle East – International Herald Tribune”, The New York Times, October 20, 2006.

13. Stephen Gowans, “United4Iran: Financial and Corporate Interests Mobilize the Left”, what’s left, July 24, 2009.


4 responses »

  1. Hello!
    I just got a link to your blog from a friend of mine and I have to say that I think it’s really sad to see a fellow commie turn against his own, meaning the “lower class” or the poor. Your point of view seems to be that a puppet regim or a more liberal regime funded by America will be bad for the main population of Iran while thinking the Iranian regime is a friend rather then a foe in fight against the monetary system and the upper class.

    My father was in the 1979 revolution. He was a communist. His friends were communist. Almost all of them got hung. My dad was put in solitary for 8 weeks with guards trying to scare him in to thinking they were going to shoot them every night. He was shot in the foot and the only reason why he got out was because my grandma was a radio journalist with connections in the conservative muslim community.

    See the Iranian regime for what it really is. A faaaar right CONSERVATIVE regime which harbors hate for communists, but salutes them ONLY because of the anti-americanism. In my opinion, capitalism is a MUCH lesser evil then a conservative regime in the case of Iran because it does not oppress its people in the same way. Iran currently lacks internet (leading to isolation), textbooks that include social studies such as economy, other religions and political beliefs (leading to isolation, ignorance and the strengthening of the elite), a medical system (killing the poor), a structured tax system (leading to corruption) and free communication including freedom of speech.

    If the only reason that we do not support the protests in Iran right now is that it MIGHT be or MIGHT become another puppet regime then we are no better then the Americans who condemned the protests in Egypt because it MIGHT become another anti-amnerican stronghold. !

    • Hello Comrade S,

      First off, we’ve gotta understand that Iran, economically, is far better off where it stands today, than it would be under a US-backed free market economy. If you’re here advocating a US-backed Iranian regime where all its State-owned enterprises would be privatized in order for the US to start accumulating massive profits out of Iran, then you’re obviously no Communist, or at least a very misguided one.

      My sympathies, of course, go to you and your family, especially your father for his bravery during the 1979 Iranian Revolution. I can’t say that my parents were the same, unfortunately. And, of course, I do not support Khomeini’s acts during the 1979 revolution against the Communists. They fought with him and his supporters, and collectively brought down the US-backed Shah regime. Yet, Khomeini then betrayed the Communists. This was a very ruthless act, one that I’ll never support.

      Having said that, Iran still won its independence from the United States and Britain. Yes, the ruling leader Khomeini was a very anti-communist, authoritarian figure. There’s no doubt about that. What we need to realize is that, as a primary antagonism such as imperialism, that must always come first within our struggle – national liberation. From there, if an internal social-revolution would’ve taken place, I would support it 100%! The problem is that this wasn’t the case. The Communists in Iran didn’t have popular support in Iran at the time. The popular support went to the Khomeini ruling leadership and his anti-imperialist stance against the West.

      What was a reality then is a reality now. The revolutionary left is VERY slim, if not almost nonexistent within Iran. Popular support has gone out to President Ahmadinejad, clearly, as both elections have shown. Those who do consider themselves of the revolutionary left are siding with people like Mousavi, who is clearly being funded by US-backed CIA-fronts. Their goal: regime change, free-market exposure.

      You say: “capitalism is a MUCH lesser evil then a conservative regime in the case of Iran because it does not oppress its people in the same way.”

      But is this really true? Again, what the US seeks is a free-market economy in Iran that invests into Western interests. Where Iran stands today is similar to that of China – an economy predominantly run by State-owned enterprises with strong Labor Union holdings. For you to show your support in a US-backed Iranian regime, rather than where Iran stands today, is not a step forward, but a step backwards.

      Like it or not, Iran treats its workers a lot better than that of the US. In Iran, through the State-owned enterprises, workers are only to work a certain amount of hours per-week, as means of safety regulations. Also, the firing of workers is not determined by capital like here in the US, but instead “requires approval of the Islamic Labor Council.”

      If Iran were to fall into a “western democracy”, where its economy is predominantly run under free market principles, then the workers of Iran will suffer more greatly than they may be today. So I find your call for a US-backed Iran as being highly reactionary, if not morally irresponsible.

      And to make something clear, in response to your comment about the Egyptian Revolution, there’s a distinctive difference between an Egyptian Revolution with no fundings by Western-backed corporations, and a Mousavi-led revolution in Iran that is being directly funded under Washington class interests. Yes, the Egyptian Revolution might be overturned, and an American stronghold could erupt in Egypt, but this will only be so not due to the revolution itself. Whereas, the “color revolution” in Iran, its very intention is to do just that: regime change in Iran, free market exposure to its economy.

  2. The system in Iran serves the Elite, JUST like in capitalism. The difference is the oppression is far greater and as it’s a theocracy, the system is not meant for long term progression like growth (like in a capitalist system) nor is it made for the well being of it’s people (like in a non-monetary system or a socialist system). Look at the 12% unemployment and the low wages. Are they really looking out for the little guy?

    So, what’s good about the medical system in Iran? What’s good about the school system in Iran? What’s good about the elder care in Iran? That’s what you are saying is going to be privatized, right? The system DOESN’T work. I’ve been there. I’ve seen my cousins and aunts get beaten by police. I’ve been to 3 major hospitals. I’ve talked to teachers, looked through their textbooks and tested their math skills. Basically, I don’t believe it could get any worse. That’s not really the case in China, is it? Their system works..

    Don’t tell me it was a real election, it was rigged. And even if it wasn’t rigged, the High Council has to approve all candidates. I believe that in a democracy or in a more liberal Iran, people can be educated in the idea that is socialism. It is only through knowledge the left movement in Iran can grow and that will NEVER happen in the current regime.

    • Yet, what you’re advocating is a US-backed Iran. You’re wanting Iran to get worse than it is now. Though, of course, you advocate such because you BELIEVE that it can’t get worse. Though, it was much worse during Shah rule. That was a free-market oriented US-backed ruling. So you want Iran back to where it was during Shah rule?

      You can point out the various flaws in Iran all you want. The problem at the present moment isn’t essentially an internal structure. That’s up to the Iranian people to decide their own fate. If they can actually construct a real social-revolution within Iran, then I’ll be all for it. But if they, instead, advocate a US-backed regime like the Shah-rule and will take fundings from Washington in order to do so, that’s not a step forward whatsoever.

      I also find it ignorant of you to think that the election was rigged, when the evidence that it wasn’t massively outweighs the contrary. Sure, it’s not exactly a real democracy, but neither is that of the so-called “democracy” in the US. Here in the US, whoever has the most money and most corporate support is elected. That’ll definitely be a big step for Iran, wouldn’t it? Not really.

      Fact of the matter is that, like in 2009 when the “Green Revolution” tried toppling the Iranian regime through US-support, the real people of Iran stood up and flooded the streets in opposition against the green movement. The Iranian people know that they’d rather have an independent Iran than a US-backed Iran. Maybe you should join them and actually start a real social-revolution, instead of one that is being helped developed through the CIA.

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