Brownback: U.S. must fund Iran groups
United Press International:
A top Republican lawmaker Thursday called for a tenfold increase in U.S. aid to support democratic change and human rights inside Iran.Bloggers, you can support this effort now, click here. Faster Please!
In a speech at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., called for U.S. aid to be increased from $10 million to $100 million this year.
"This is a pittance compared to the problem," said Brownback, "This Iranian government, even without nuclear weapons, is a viscous tyrant." READ MORE
The comments come as the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna looks likely to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council for its nuclear program. The West fears Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, Tehran denies the charge.
In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Bush called on Iranians to "win your own freedom."
On Thursday, Brownback called the idea of U.S. military intervention not feasible and emphasized the importance of supporting Iranians willing to stand up to their leadership.
"Regime change can happen from within in Iran and I am confident that the Iranian people can champion their own future if given half a chance," he said.
Brownback said the United States must support independent human rights groups in Iran who have denounced terrorism and the regime. He said Washington - with U.N. and European Union help -- should send a special envoy to Iran to discuss human rights. He also said the World Bank should stop lending money to Iran.
"There is a two-track solution to the crisis in Iran -- external and internal -- and we have a strong role to play in both," he said.
Brownback said the United States would have to work creatively to fund Iranians while minimizing the danger of those working to promote democratic change in Iran.
Lorne Craner, president of the International Republican Institute, told United Press International getting money into Iran would require the assistance of the Iranian expatriates the world over.
"There is no shortage of people who want to see things move forward in Iran and there is no lack of means," he said.