| A man carries an American flag at an anti-war rally in London, protesting against US policy on Iran. (AP)
Washington, Feb. 25: America is secretly funding militant ethnic separatist groups in Iran in an attempt to pile pressure on the Islamic regime to give up its nuclear programme.
In a move that reflects Washington’s growing concern with the failure of diplomatic initiatives, CIA officials are understood to be helping Opposition militias among the numerous ethnic minority groups clustered in Iran’s border regions.
The operations are controversial because they involve dealing with movements that resort to terrorist methods in pursuit of their grievances against the Iranian regime.
Last year, there has been a wave of unrest in ethnic minority border areas of Iran, with bombing and assassination campaigns against soldiers and government officials.
Such incidents have been carried out by the Kurds in the west, the Azeris in the north-west, the Ahwazi Arabs in the south-west, and the Baluchis in the south-east. Non-Persians make up nearly 40 per cent of the 69-million population.
Funding for their separatist causes comes directly from the CIA’s classified budget but is now “no great secret”, a former senior CIA official told The Sunday Telegraph.
Fred Burton, a former US state department counter-terrorism agent, said: “The latest attacks inside Iran fall in line with US efforts to supply and train Iran’s ethnic minorities to destabilise the Iranian regime.”
Although Washington officially denies involvement in such activity, Tehran has long claimed to detect the hand of both America and Britain in attacks by guerrilla groups on its internal security forces.