Tuesday, August 25, 2009

US-Iran battle for public opinion

From the Washington Post Foreign Service, Monday, August 24, 2009, by Thomas Erdbrink:

Iranians Seek Out Abuses By U.S.
Funding Passed In Retaliation, Lawmakers Say

TEHRAN, Aug. 23 -- Iranian lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on Sunday for a bill creating a $20 million fund intended in part to expose human rights violations by the United States....

...Passage of the bill suggests the depth of mistrust that remains between the nations as Iran faces a September deadline to respond to President Obama's offer for talks.

Iranian lawmakers said the legislation was in retaliation for what they consider similar action by the United States.

The U.S. Senate passed a bill in July that would allocate $30 million for technologies to allow the U.S. government's Farsi-language satellite and radio stations to bypass Iranian government efforts to jam their broadcasts. An additional $20 million would be set aside for developing Web sites and other technologies that will improve Iranian access to censored information. An additional $5 million is authorized for documenting information about human rights in Iran.

...Iran has accused the United States of organizing a popular uprising against the nation's leaders in the aftermath of Iran's disputed June presidential election, which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad officially won in a landslide but which the opposition claims was stolen. The United States denies it played a role in the uprising.

The passage of the bill comes as international controversy swirls over Ahmadinejad's decision to appoint as defense minister a man who is wanted by Interpol in connection with the bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina in 1994. The attack killed 85 and wounded more than 300 others.

...Also on Sunday, Iran's Revolutionary Guard forces killed 26 members of Iranian-Kurdish insurgent groups, said Brig. Gen. Mohammad Pakpour, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. The groups operate mainly from Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, and Iranian officials often accuse the United States of supporting them with weapons and money.
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