The David Project Center for Jewish Leadership support for Green Movement in Iran

Pursuing regime change in Iran: US backed 2009 riots

The Green Movement was formed based on allegations which called the 2009 Iranian Presidential elections as 'fraudulent'; the movement, however, failed to gain momentum and washed out.

By Ali Farhadi*

Many independent, international organizations carried out polls before and after Iran’s 2009 presidential election, all concluding unanimously that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the clear-cut winner in this election. One of the polls cited by Reuters and BBC was carried by Terror Free Tomorrow[1] from 11 to 20 May and held that Ahmadinejad would win 34% of votes and Mousavi would receive 14%. The survey was funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and was conducted in Farsi by a polling company whose work in the region for ABC News and the BBC has received an Emmy award (1).

A fraudulent claim: Election Fraud

The pollsters, Ken Ballen of the nonprofit Center for Public Opinion and Patrick Doherty of the nonprofit New America Foundation, published the results of the poll in the June 15 edition of the Washington Post (2). The poll was conducted three weeks before the Election Day on June 12, 2009. There was criticism on the basis that the presidential campaigns started 30 days before the Election Day, while the poll was conducted just one week into the campaigning. Later, other post-election polls by other international organizations confirmed the results of the joint poll by Terror Free Tomorrow and New America Foundation.


World Public Opinion, which is an affiliate of the University of Maryland, conducted a poll from August 2 to September 10, 2009 that revealed 55% of those surveyed voted in favor of Ahmadinejad. The GlobeScan survey was conducted June 19-24, 2009, asserting a 56% victory for Ahmadinejad and an 86% turnout in the election, which confirms the official figures considering a 3% margin of error (3). An analysis of these two polls, plus a poll conducted by the University of Tehran, were offered by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland (PIPA). According to these polls, 8 out of 10 Iranians support the current system of government in Iran. Based on the analysis, Steven Kull, director of PIPA, commented in 2010 that:


"Our analysis suggests that it would not be prudent to base US policy on the assumption that the Iranian public is in a pre-revolutionary state of mind." (4)


This analysis also points to the fact that Iranians endorse the ‘Islamic character’ of the government in Iran (5). To address the claim that the data by polls may have been fabricated, PIPA compared the patterns of responses in data collected inside and outside of Iran. Steven Kull comments:


"The patterns of responses at many levels are so similar, whether the data was collected inside Iran or by calling into Iran,  that it is hard to conclude that these data were fabricated."

The other issue considered by this analysis is that Iranian respondents may have not answered honestly, fearing some kind of punishment from the government. The analysis holds that:

“… on some questions majorities expressed views that were less than fully laudatory of the government” (6).

However, it should be noted that respondents did have the option of declining to answer questions rather than proffering false statements” (7).

For a close scrutiny on the issues raised with the fraud allegations regarding Iran’s 2009 presidential election, you can also refer to a self-published, well-documented analysis by Eric A. Brill (8).

Despite all the evidence brought to light by numerous polls carried out by neutral international organizations, using familiar and widely accepted polling techniques, the Western main stream media (9) preferred citing the UK-based Chatham House’s baseless allegations about “irregularities” in Iran’s official results, thus simply ignoring all the methodical polls that were carried out earlier (10). This is despite the fact that Chatham House’s preliminary analysis did not engage in any direct polling and does not go further than assumptions.


US to those involved in the unrest: we got your back


The US government which has a record of toppling democratically elected governments and replacing them by puppets who would serve the interests of the United States, once again took advantage of the situation to turn the turmoil to her own benefits by hook or crook.


One famous example was the case where the US supported the opposition in Iran by ordering Twitter manager, Jack Dorsey, to prevent Twitter from undergoing a scheduled maintenance shutdown on the third day after Iran’s election. Dorsey and Twitter complied, so that there would be no interruption for the so-called green movement to arrange protests via the social network. This move by Hilary Clinton is placed in line with a series of other attempts made by the US earlier in 2005.


Peter Ackerman’s International Center for Non-violent Conflict (ICNC) participated in training sessions held in Dubai that instructed Iranian dissidents on the techniques used in “successful popular revolts in places like Serbia.” “This was like a James Bond camp for revolutionaries,” one participant said (11). And in 2006, Congress openly approved large sums of money destined for interfering in Iran.  (12)


The then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a major policy address at Georgetown University in December 2009 noted:


 “We can help change--agents gain access to and share information through the internet and mobile phones, so that they can communicate and organize. With camera phones and Facebook pages, thousands of protestors in Iran have broadcast their demands for rights denied, creating a record for all the world, including Iran’s leaders, to see. I’ve established a special unit inside the State Department to use technology for 21st century statecraft".

In March 2010, the Treasury Department lifted sanctions on various mass-market software to Iran, Cuba, and Sudan. Although sanctions were hurting ordinary citizens in Iran, the measure was made to increase the power of dissident groups in Iran, in order to enable them to fulfill US interests (13).


U.S. Administration: Let's take it to Honduras too


Almost at the same time, on June 28th, the US staged a coup to topple the democratically elected government of Manuel Zelaya in Honduras- who happened to take an anti-US stance- over false claims that he sought to extend his term in office (11). The US State Department denied any involvement in the coup (12) (13).

However, in 2014, Hillary Clinton admitted America’s role in the 2009 Honduran coup (14). The US had a history of backing oppositions in Honduras and had trained, funded (14) and armed the Honduran army that staged the coup (15). Although, initially, President Obama condemned the June coup in Honduras, he announced support for it later (16).


To this day no US official has explained why the US administration encouraged the people to participate in an illegitimate election (17) by the coup government (18) in Honduras, Why the outcome of this illegitimate process (19) did not receive more scrutiny, despite wide popular opposition against the coup (20) and the sham election results (21), (22)


Such protests and demonstrations are still in place, which show a continued resentment of the Honduran people against US interventionist policies in Honduras (23) (24) (25).


Who set the scene first?


A Brookings Institute report reveals that the think-thank has admitted that the government of the United States orchestrated the so-called Green Movement in Iran in the year 2009 via civil society and NGOs with the aim of provoking violence through regime change operations, exploiting domestic dissent


Chapter 6 of the report titled as "The Velvet Revolution, Supporting A Popular Uprising" defines the goal of the think-thank as "The true objective of this policy option is to overthrow the clerical regime in Tehran and see it replaced, hopefully, by one whose views would be more compatible with U.S. interests in the region." (26p. 103)

The report offers means of achieving the goal of toppling the elected government and inspiring an insurgency inside the country (26p. 113) , however, it also admits that "the Islamic Republic has survived every calamity short of the plague: war, isolation, instability, terrorist attacks, leadership transition, drought and epic earthquakes." (26p. 111)


Furthermore one should bear in mind that "the Green movement did not lose its struggle with Iran’s established order because of brutal repression; the movement lost because, even at its height, it did not represent anything close to a majority of Iranians." (27)


*Ali Farhadi has an M.A. in Political Science at Imam Sadiq University. He has also a good understanding of European politics and is trained in Public Relations. He authored some books on International Relations.




1. Ballen, Ken and Doherty, Patrick. Polling in Iran Shows Real Support for Ahmadinejad. [Online] 06 15, 2009. [Cited: 10 15, 2015.]

.2 Ibid.

3. [Online]

 4. Analysis of Multiple Polls Finds Little Evidence Iranian Public Sees Government as Illegitimate. [Online] 02 03, 2010. [Cited: 10 15, 2015.]

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. Kull, Steven, et al. An Analysis of Multiple Polls of the Iranian Public. [Online] 02 10, 2010. [Cited: 10 16, 2015.] p.5.

8. Brill, Eric A. Did Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Steal the 2009 Iran Election? Brill Law. [Online] 10 07, 2010. [Cited: 10 16, 2015.]

9. Ansari, Ali. Preliminary Analysis of the Voting . Chatham House. [Online] 06 21, 2009. [Cited: 10 16, 2015.]

10. Naiman, Robert. U.S. Media Fail in Honduras Coup Reporting. [Online] [Cited: 10 16, 2015.]

11. The Honduras Coup: Is Obama Innocent? [Online] 2009. [Cited: 10 16, 2015.]

12. Honduran Coup Regime Erects Superficial Reality Around Elections . [Online] 12 10, 2009. [Cited: 10 16, 2015.]

13. Allison, Michael. U.S. Can’t Solve Central America’s Problems With Money Alone. [Online] 02 2015, 2015. [Cited: 10 16, 2015.]

14. Hodge, James and Cooper, Linda. U.S. continues to train Honduran soldiers. [Online] 14 07, 2009. [Cited: 10 16, 2015.]

15. Carroll, Rory. History of US intervention in Honduras . [Online] 10 27, 2009. [Cited: 10 16, 2015.]

16. Joyce, Rosemary A. Legitimizing the Illegitimate: The Honduran Show Elections and the Challenge Ahead. [Online] [Cited: 10 16, 2015.]

17. Kelly, Ian. Honduran Election; Press Statement. [Online] 11 29, 2009. [Cited: 10 16, 2015.]

18. U.S. accepts outcome of disputed Honduras election. The Dallas Morning News. [Online] 10 26, 2010. [Cited: 10 16, 2015.]

19. Carroll, Rory. Protesters demand return of ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya. [Online] 07 29, 2009. [Cited: 10 16, 2015.]

20. Carlsen, Laura. The Sham Elections in Honduras. The Nation. [Online] 12 14, 2009. [Cited: 10 16, 2015.]

21. The Sham Elections in Honduras. Foreign Policy. [Online] 10 25, 2009. [Cited: 10 16, 2015.]

22. Fernandez, Belen. The Honduran meltdown: Made in USA. Aljazeera. [Online] 06 28, 2015. [Cited: 10 16, 2015.]

23. Reuters. Honduras protesters stage biggest march yet to demand president resign . The Guardian. [Online] 07 03, 2015. [Cited: 10 16, 2015.]

24. Lee, Brianna. Honduras And Guatemala Anti-Corruption Protests Spur Hope For Change For The First Time In Decades. International Business Times. [Online] 08 03, 2015. [Cited: 10 16, 2015.]

25. Kenneth M. Pollack, Daniel L. Byman, Martin Indyk, Suzanne Maloney,Michael E. O’Hanlon,Bruce Riedel. WHICH PATH TO PERSIA? Options for a New American Strategy toward Iran. Washington D.C. : The Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, 2009.

26. Responding to the New York Times About Going to Tehran. Going to Tehran. [Online] March 26, 2013.






[1] Terror Free Tomorrow’s surveys have been cited by President Barack Obama, former Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, in the US Congress (on the Senate Floor, by key Senators and Congressmen, and in both House and Senate testimony), at the United Nations, and by the US Department of State and Department of Defense, as well as prominent leading think-tanks such as the New America Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, the Brookings Institution, the Nixon Center, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Council on Foreign Relations, the Carnegie Endowment and the Clinton Global Initiative. TFT is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative. TFT findings have also been cited in important books on foreign policy, such as President Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope; Benazir Bhutto’s posthumous Reconciliation and Peter Bergen’s The Osama bin Laden I Know, among others.


[2] According to Foreign Policy Journal, U.S. interferes in the internal political affairs of other nations is the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a quasi-governmental agency with funding from both Congress and private individuals whose purpose is to support foreign organizations sympathetic to U.S. foreign policy goals. NED is also active in Iran, granting hundreds of thousands of dollars to Iranian groups. From 2005 to 2007, NED gave $345,000 to the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation (ABF). The group claims “no political affiliation” on its website, but is named for the founder of the National Movement of the Iranian Resistance (NAMIR), an opposition group to the Iranian government founded in 1980. The group’s website claims that Boroumand was murdered by agents of the Iranian government in Paris, France, in 1991.The website is registered to the Boroumand Foundation, listed at Suite 357, 3220 N ST., NW, Washngton, D.C. Another recipient of NED grants is the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), which received $25,000 in 2002, $64,000 in 2005, and $107,000 in 2006. The 2002 grant was to carry out a “media training workshop” to train participants representing various civic groups in public relations. The 2005 money was given in part to “strengthen the capacity of civic organizations in Iran”, including by advising Iranian groups on “foreign donor relations.” The 2006 grant was similarly designed to “foster cooperation between Iranian NGOs and the international civil society community and to strengthen the institutional capacity of NGOs in Iran.”