Covert U.S. regime change actions

Covert U.S. regime change actions

The United States has underaken many covert regime change actions.


According to a variety of sources, [] [] [] the United States of America government has forcibly overthrown, and attempted to overthrow, foreign governments perceived as hostile to its interests, and replaced them with new ones, actions that has become known as regime change. [] [] [] [] It has been noted that governments targeted by the U.S. have included democratically-elected governments, thus the target "regimes" are not necessarily authoritarian governments or juntas, but in some cases are replaced by such dictatorships. In other cases dictatorships have been replaced by democracies.

This article covers regime change actions "by" the United States government, not regime change actions in or against the U.S. (see, e.g., the Business Plot of 1933 to overthrow the U.S. government, or the conspiracy to assassinate President Lincoln and members of his cabinet).

Regime change has been attempted through direct involvement of U.S. operatives, the funding and training of insurgency groups within these countries, anti-regime propaganda campaigns, coup d'états, and other, often illegal, activities usually conducted as operations by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The U.S. has also accomplished regime change by direct U.S. military action, see List of United States military history events, instead of by covert means.

It has been argued that non-transparent United States government agencies who work in secret and sometimes mislead or do not fully implement the decisions of elected civilian leaders has been an important component of many such operations.cite book | author=Weart, Spencer R. | title=Never at War | publisher=Yale University Press | year=1998 | id=ISBN 0-300-07017-9 p. 221-224, 314.]

For example the historian Spencer R. Weart has argued that the US has more supported coups against democracies that it perceived as nondemocracies, such as Communist states, or turning into such. Weart1998]

Notwithstanding a history of U.S. covert actions to topple democratic governments and installing authoritarian regimes in their places (see, e.g. Iran 1953, below), some U.S. officials have publicly expressed support for democray as best supporting US national interests: "democracy is the one national interest that helps to secure all the others. Democratically governed nations are more likely to secure the peace, deter aggression, expand open markets, promote economic development, protect American citizens, combat international terrorism and crime, uphold human and worker rights, avoid humanitarian crises and refugee flows, improve the global environment, and protect human health." [] Former President Bill Clinton of the Democratic Party: "Ultimately, the best strategy to ensure our security and to build a durable peace is to support the advance of democracy elsewhere. Democracies don't attack each other." [ cite web | author=Clinton, Bill | title=1994 State Of The Union Address|url=|accessdate=2006-01-22 ] In one view mentioned by the US State Department, democracy is also good for business. In this view, countries that embrace political reforms are more likely to pursue economic reforms that improve the productivity of businesses. Accordingly, since the mid-1980s, there has been an increase in levels of foreign direct investment going to emerging market democracies relative to countries that have not undertaken political reforms. []

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, launched by China and Russia and later joined by other Asian governments, has been seen as an attempt to stop regime changes that would establish a world of market democracies arbitrated by U.S. power. []

During the Cold War

Communist states 1945-1989

The United States supported the overthrow of the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. One example is the counter-espionage operations following the discovery of the Farewell dossier which some argue contributed to fall of Communism. [] [] The National Endowment for Democracy supported pro-capitalist movements in the Communist states and has been accused of secretly supporting regime change, which it itself denies. [] [] [] Many of the Eastern European states later turned to capitalism and joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Iran 1953

In 1953, the CIA worked with the United Kingdom to overthrow the democratically-elected governmentFact|date=September 2008 of Iran lead by Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh who had attempted to nationalize Iran's oil, threatening the interests of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Declassified CIA documents show that Britain was fearful of Iran's plans to nationalize its oil industry and pressed the U.S. to mount a joint operation to remove the prime minister. citation
journal = New York Times
title = Special Report: Secret History of the CIA in Iran
url =
year = 2000
] In 1951 the Iranian parliament voted to nationalize the oil fields of the country. Anti-Communism had also risen to a fever pitch in Washington, and officials were worried that Iran might fall under the sway of the Soviet Union, a historical presence there. "The aim was to bring to power a government which would reach an equitable oil settlement, enabling Iran to become economically sound and financially solvent, and which would vigorously prosecute the dangerously strong Communist Party."NYTsr2000] Prime minister Mossadegh had dissolved the parliament, claiming massive support for the measure in a plebiscite and accepted the support of the Communist Tudeh party for his government, leading to U.S. fears of a Communist overthrow. [ cite web | title=Country Studies: Iran| work=Library of Congress | url= | accessdate=March 7 | accessyear=2007 ]

The coup was led by CIA operative Kermit Roosevelt, Jr. (grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt). With help from British intelligence, the CIA planned, funded and implemented Operation Ajax. [ National Security Archive,, citing "Muhammad Mosaddeq and the 1953 Coup in Iran," Edited by Mark J. Gasiorowski and Malcolm Byrne, Syracuse University Press 2004] The U.K. and U.S. boycott and other political pressures by both governments, together with a massive covert propaganda campaign in the months leading up to the coup created the environment necessary for success. The CIA hoped to plant articles in American newspapers saying that Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi's return to govern Iran resulted from a homegrown revolt against a Communist-leaning government. This attempt to manipulate the U.S. media largely failed, although the CIA successfully used its contacts at the Associated Press to put on the news wire a statement from Tehran about royal decrees that the C.I.A. itself had written.NYTsr2000] The CIA hired Iranian assets who posed as Communists, harassed religious leaders and staged the bombing of one cleric's home to turn the Islamic religious community against the government.NYTsr2000] See false flag operation.

The coup initially seemed to fail and the Shah (monarch) Mohammad Reza Pahlavi fled the country. After four days of rioting pro-shah army units and street crowds defeated Mossadeq's forces and the Shah returned. According to the 1906 constitution he was a constitutional monarch who should rule together with the democratically elected parliament, but after the coup he who ruled autocratically, with little concern for democracy. [ CNN Insight, transcript of April 19, 2000 Insigt ] [ cite web | title=Country Studies: Iran:Chapter 1 - Historical Setting| work=Library of Congress | url= | accessdate=March 7 | accessyear=2007 ]

The Shah was one of the most brutal dictators of his era.Foreign Policy in Focus, vol. 2, no. 42, Iran, August 1997, ] The Shah's brutal regime included a secret police, the SAVAK, allied and trained by the CIA, which routinely used torture, and is claimed to have destroyed any real possibility of the survival of an Iranian democratic counterforce to the ayatollahs' ensuing clerical tyranny bred by the Shah's blundering, martyring repression. citation
journal =Asia Times
author = Morris, Roger
title = The Gates Inheritance: The tortured world of US intelligence
date=June 23, 2007
url =
] However, partially due to US pressure, he also attempted to modernzie Iran and introduced many social reforms (See the White Revolution).

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, in a speech on March 17, 2000 before the American-Iranian Council on the relaxation of U.S. sanctions against Iran, finally acknowledged:

"In 1953, the United States played a significant role in orchestrating the overthrow of Iran's popular prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh. The Dwight D. Eisenhower administration believed its actions were justified for strategic reasons, but the coup was clearly a setback for Iran's political development and it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America in their internal affairs.

Moreover, during the next quarter century, the United States and the West gave sustained backing to the Shah's regime. Although it did much to develop the country economically, the Shah's government also brutally repressed political dissent.

As President Bill Clinton has said, the United States must bear its fair share of responsibility for the problems that have arisen in U.S.-Iranian relations. Even in more recent years, aspects of U.S. policy toward Iraq during its conflict with Iran appear now to have been regrettably shortsighted, especially in light of our subsequent experiences with Saddam Hussein." [ Alexander's Gas and Oil Connection: Speeches, ]

Italy 1953-1980s

Guatemala 1954

Cuba 1959-

The largest and most complicated coup effort, approved at White House level, was the Bay of Pigs operation. Under initiatives by the Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations, CIA trained Cuban anti-communist exiles and refugees to land in Cuba and attempt to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro. Plans originally formed under Eisenhower were scaled back under Kennedy.

The CIA made many attempts to assassinate Castro, often with White House approval, as in Operation Mongoose.

Democratic Republic of the Congo 1960

Patrice Émery Lumumba, an African anti-colonial leader and the first legally elected Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, after he helped to win its independence from Belgium in June 1960, was deposed in a US CIA-sponsored coup during the Congo Crisis.Larry Devlin, "Chief of Station Congo", 2007, Public Affairs, ISBN 1-58648-405-2] He was subsequently imprisoned and assassinated under controversial circumstances.

Iraq 1963

See CIA Iraq Covert Ops.

In 1963, the United States is claimed to have backed a coup against the government of Iraq headed by General Abdel Karim Kassem, who five years earlier had deposed the Western-allied Iraqi monarchy. The CIA helped the new Baath Party government in ridding the country of suspected leftists and Communists. [Reuters, April 20, 2003, citing former National Security Council official and State Department foreign service official Roger Morris, ] [New York Times, March 14, 2003, ] [ Asia Times, June 26, 2007, ] [ A People's History of Iraq: 1963-2005, by Bob Feldman, September 22, 2005, ]

To pave the way for the new regime, the CIA is claimed to have provided to the Baathists lists of suspected Communists and other leftists. The new regime is claimed to have used these lists to orchestrate a bloodbath, systematically murdering untold numbers of Iraq's educated elite--killings in which Saddam Hussein himself is said to have participated. The victims included hundreds of doctors, teachers, technicians, lawyers and other professionals as well as military and political figures. [New York Times, March 14, 2003, ] ["The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq", Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978; Peter and Marion Sluglett, "Iraq Since 1958" London, I.B. Taurus, 1990] [Regarding the CIA's "Health Alteration Committee's work in Iraq, see U.S. Senate's Church Committee Interim Report on Assassination, page 181, Note 1 ] According to an article in the New York Times, the U.S. sent arms to the new regime, weapons later used against the same Kurdish insurgents the U.S. supported against Kassem and then abandoned. American and U.K. oil and other interests, including Mobil, British Petroleum and Bechtel, were once again conducting business in Iraq. [ New York Times March 14, 2003 "A Tyrant 40 Years in the Making", free archived article at: ]

Brazil 1964

Greece 1967

The Greek military junta is claimed to have been supported by the US.

Iraq 1968

The leader of the new Baathist government, Salam Arif, died in 1966 and his brother, Abdul Rahman Arif, not a Ba'athist, assumed the presidency.Morris2007] citation
journal = New York Times
date=March 14, 2003
title = A Tyrant 40 Years in the Making"
url =
first1 = Roger | last = Morris
] Said K. Abuirsh alleges that in 1967, the government of Iraq was very close to giving concessions for the development of huge new oil fields in the country to France and the USSR. PBS reported that Robert Anderson, former secretary of the treasury under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, secretly met with the Ba'ath Party and came to a negotiated agreement according to which both the oil field concessions and sulphur mined in the northern part of the country would go to United States companies if the Ba'ath again took over power.citation
journal = PBS Frontline
first1 = Said K. | last1 = Aburish
url =
title = "Saddam Hussein, The Politics of Revenge"
] In 1968, with a claimed backing of the CIA, Rahman Arif was overthrown by Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr of the Baath Party, bringing Saddam Hussein to the threshold of power.Morris2007] Morris2003] [Reuters, April 20, 2003, citing former National Security Council official and State Department foreign service official Roger Morris, ] [ A People's History of Iraq: 1963-2005, by Bob Feldman, September 22, 2005, ]

Roger Morris in the "Asia Times" writes that the CIA deputy for the Middle East Archibald Roosevelt (grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt and cousin of Kermit Roosevelt, Jr.) stated, referring to Iraqi Ba'ath Party officers on his payroll in the 1963 and 1968 coups, "They're our boys bought and paid for, but you always gotta remember that these people can't be trusted"Morris2007] General Ahmed Bakr was installed as president. Saddam Hussein was appointed the number two man.AburishRev] Morris2007]

Chile 1973

The role of the US in the coup and the events before this is disputed.

Afghanistan 1973-74

Roger Morris, writing in the Asia Times, argues that as early as 1973-74, the CIA began offering covert backing to Islamic radical rebels in Afghanistan premised on the claim that the right-wing, authoritarian government headed by Mohammed Daoud Khan, might prove a likely instrument of Soviet military aggression in South Asia. Morris argues that this premise was without basis in fact; Daoud had always held the Russians, his main patron when it came to aid, at arm's length, and had savagely purged local communists who supported him when he overthrew the Afghan monarchy in 1973. The Soviets had also shown no inclination to use the notoriously unruly Afghans and their army for any expansionist aim.Morris2007] Morris claims that during this period U.S. foreign policy leaders saw the Soviets as always being "on the march." This apprehension resulted in a rash of U.S. secret wars, assassinations, terrorist acts and manifold corruptions. U.S. secret backing of radical Islamic rebels ceased following an abortive rebel uprising in 1975.Morris2007]

The Black Book of Communism argues that Daoud relied on Communist army officials in order to carry out the coup. After the coup, at the instigation of Communists a wave of repression was unleashed. However, he got rid of the Communists in the government in 1975 and after that his days were numbered. The Soviet Union had no intention of letting Afghanistan escape from Soviet influence. [Black Book of Communism. p. 709-710]

Argentina 1976

Afghanistan 1978-1980s

Roger Morris, writing in the Asia Times, states that in April 1978, the crackdown by the regime of Daoud on Afghanistan's small Communist Party provoked a successful coup by Communist Party loyalists in the army. The coup occurred in defiance of a skittish Moscow, which had stopped earlier coup plans.

According to Morris, by autumn 1978, an Islamic insurgency, armed and planned by the U.S., Pakistan, Iran and China, and soon to be actively supported, at Washington's prodding, by the Saudis and Egyptians, was fighting in eastern Afghanistan. U.S. planners continued funding the radical Islamic insurgency to "suck" the Russians into Afghanistan.Morris2007] According to the "Progressive South Asia Exchange Net", claiming to cite an article in _fr. Le Nouvel Observateur, U.S. policy, unbeknownst even to the Mujahideen, was part of a larger strategy "to induce a Soviet military intervention." National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski stated:

"According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise." "That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Soviets into the Afghan trap.... The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. "We now have the opportunity of giving to the Soviet Union its Vietnam War."cite web
title=How Jimmy Carter and I Started the Mujahideen (Interview of Zbigniew Brzezinski)
publisher=Le Nouvel Observateur

The Black Book of Communism instead puts the blame on the Soviet Union who feared that Afghanistan was escaping its domination. There was little Muslim extremism before the Communist coup. After the coup, according to the Black Book, several antireligous campaigns by the Communist regime, as well as the harsh repressions, soon caused a fierce insurgency. The director of the infamous Pol-e-Charki prison stated "We'll leave only 1 million Afghans alive - that's all we need to build socialism." [Black Book of Communism. p. 709-713] The claim in the Black Book that there was little Islamic insurgency before the coup is not necessarily inconsistent with the notion that the U.S. government organized the Islamic insurgency to lure in the Soviets to quell the instability in the country.

With instability and bloody civil strife raging in a country on their border, the Soviets invaded in December 1979, according to the Asia Times report, fulfilling the hopes of Washington as expressed by National Security Adviser Brzezinski.Morris2007] [Cold War International History Project Bulletin Issue 14/15, 2003, p. 139,]

The Black Book of Communism states approximately 100,000 people had been killed by the Communists before the Soviet Invasion. It argues that one of the primary reasons for the Soviet Invasion and murder of the Communist President Hafizullah Amin was that he had began to show signs of independence from Moscow's control. [Black Book of Communism p. 713-14]

The CIA provided assistance to the fundamentalist insurgents through the Pakistani secret services, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in a program called Operation Cyclone. Somewhere between $3–$20 billion in U.S. funds were funneled into the country to train and equip troops with weapons, including Stinger surface-to-air missiles.cite news
title=How the CIA created Osama bin Laden
publisher=Green Left Weekly
] cite web
title=1986-1992: CIA and British Recruit and Train Militants Worldwide to Help Fight Afghan War
publisher=Cooperative Research History Commons
] On July 20, 1987, the withdrawal of Soviet troops from the country was announced pursuant to the negotiations that led to the Geneva Accords of 1988. [ [ UNGO

The people of Afghanistan suffered enormously in the war, with one and a half million died during more than a quarter-century of war and unrest. Morris claims that this was a continuing catastrophe beyond any other in the history of nation-states. Morris2007] [ [ Death Tolls for the Major Wars ...] ] Five million Afghan people, one third of the prewar population of the country, were made refugees in Pakistan and Iran, and an additional two million Afghans were forced by the war to migrate within the country. In the 1980s, one out of two refugees in the world was an Afghan. [Kaplan, "Soldiers of God" (2001) (p.11) ] The Black Book of Communism states that the Communists were the side most responsible for the deaths and that such high death tolls were not unusual in Communist regimes. For example the Khmer Rouge killed proportionately more than of the population than was the case in Afghanistan. [The Black Book of Communism. p. 4, 705-725] The Black Book of Communism is controversial and has been criticized for being one-sided in its review of Communist regimes, and for attributing victims to Communist regimes that were not victims of Communism at all so that the Book can arrive at a set target of total victims. [The Atlantic Monthly, Mar 2000. Vol.285, Iss. 3; pg. 113, 4 pgs ] [Le Monde Diplomatique, December 1997, ] [ The Nation, November 25, 1999, ] [ Spectrezine, Book Review of the “Black Book of Communism,” ]

The United States role in arming, training, and supporting the radical Islamic terrorist group, the Mujihadeen of Afghanistan in the 1980s, has been called the model for state-sponsored terrorism, and led to a new generation of regime change actions around the world by this group and its off-shoots. This guerrilla movement, initially intended to oust the Soviet Union from Afghanistan, gave rise to terrorist groups in nations such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Chechnya, and the former Yugoslavia, with a view to bring about regime change along Islamic lines. [Demokratizatsiya, Spring 2003, re-published at Find Articles,] The early foundations of al-Qaida were built in part on relationships and weaponry that came from the billions of dollars in U.S. support for the Afghan mujahadin during the war to expel Soviet forces from that country. [Tom Paine, October 27, 2006, ] Some of the Afghan-trained "freedom fighters" were later involved in terrorist acts against the U.S., the very government that had given them support in the early days of their organization, to change U.S. policy in the Middle East. The initial bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the attack on the USS Cole, and the attacks of 11 September all have been linked to individuals and groups that at one time were armed and trained by the United States and/or its allies. [Demokratizatsiya, Spring 2003, re-published at Find Articles,] The perpetrators of the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 used a manual written by the CIA for the Mujihadeen fighters in Afghanistan on how to make explosives. Sheik Abul Rahman, one of the conspirators in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was allowed to come to the U.S. to recruit Arab-Americans to fight in Afghanistan against the Soviets. [Demokratizatsiya, Spring 2003, re-published at Find Articles,; "Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism," by ABC News correspondent John K. Cooley]

Iran 1980

Anarchist "Z magazine" claims that in June 1980, students in Iran revealed a 1980 memorandum from U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance recommending the "destabilization" of the Iranian government by using Iran's neighbors. The U.S. has denied that it gave Iraq a "green light" for its September 22 1980 invasion of Iran. Five months before Iraq's invasion, on April 14 1980, Zbigniew Brzezinski, signaled the U.S.'s willingness to work with Iraq: "We see no fundamental incompatibility of interests between the United States and Iraq... we do not feel that American- Iraqi relations need to be frozen in antagonisms." According to Iran's president at the time, Abolhassan Banisadr, Brzezinski met directly with Saddam Hussein in Jordan two months before the Iraqi assault. Bani-Sadr wrote, "Brzezinski had assured Saddam Hussein that the United States would not oppose the separation of Khuzestan [in southwest Iran] from Iran." Journalist Robert Parry states that in a secret 1981 memo summing up a trip to the Middle East, then-Secretary of State Alexander Haig wrote:"It was also interesting to confirm that President Carter gave the Iraqis a green light to launch the war against Iran through Prince Fahd" of Jordan." [ZNet, September 5 2002, ] The "Financial Times" reported that the U.S. passed satellite intelligence to the regime of Saddam Hussein via third countries, leading Iraq to believe Iranian forces would quickly collapse if attacked. [As reported on ZNet, September 5 2002, ] Z magazine therefore argues that it is likely therefore that the U.S. helped push Saddam Hussein to attack Iran, causing a long and bloody war. [ZNet, September 5 2002, ]

Author Kenneth R. Timmerman and former Iranian President Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr argue separately that Brzezinski met with Hussein in July 1980 in Amman, Jordan, to discuss joint efforts to oppose Iran. According to Hussein biographer Said Aburish however, at the Amman meeting Saddam Hussein met with three CIA agents, not Brzezinski personally. Former Carter official Gary Sick denies that Washington directly encouraged Iraq's attack, but instead let "Saddam assume there was a U.S. green light because there was no explicit red light." [Pacific News Service, December 17 2003, ]

A review of thousands of declassified government documents and interviews with former U.S. policymakers shows that U.S. intelligence and logistical support played a crucial role in arming Iraq. The administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush authorized the sale to Iraq of numerous dual use items that had both military and civilian applications, including poisonous chemicals and deadly biological viruses, such as anthrax and bubonic plague. Opinions differ among Middle East experts and former government officials about the pre-Iraqi tilt, and whether Washington could have done more to stop the flow to Baghdad of technology for building weapons of mass destruction. "Fundamentally, the policy was justified," argues David Newton, a former U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, who runs an anti-Hussein radio station in Prague. "We were concerned that Iraq should not lose the war with Iran, because that would have threatened Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. Our long-term hope was that Hussein's government would become less repressive and more responsible." Although U.S. arms manufacturers were not as deeply involved as German or British companies in selling weaponry to Iraq, the Reagan administration effectively turned a blind eye to the export of "dual use" items such as chemical precursors and steel tubes that can have military and civilian applications. According to several former officials, the State and Commerce departments promoted trade in such items as a way to boost U.S. exports and acquire political leverage over Hussein. "Everybody was wrong in their assessment of Saddam," said Joe Wilson, Glaspie's former deputy at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, and the last U.S. official to meet with Hussein. "Everybody in the Arab world told us that the best way to deal with Saddam was to develop a set of economic and commercial relationships that would have the effect of moderating his behavior. History will demonstrate that this was a miscalculation." [Washington Post, December 30 2002, as archived at:]

According to reports of the U.S. Senate's Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, the U.S., under the successive presidential administrations sold materials including anthrax, VX nerve gas, West Nile fever and botulism to Iraq right up until March 1992. The chairman of the Senate committee, Don Riegle, said: "The executive branch of our government approved 771 different export licences for sale of dual-use technology to Iraq. I think its a devastating record."Sunday Herald (Scotland) September 8 2002, archived at]

The U.S. also claimed to have provided critical battle planning assistance at a time when U.S. intelligence agencies knew that Iraqi commanders would employ chemical weapons in waging the war, according to senior military officers with direct knowledge of the program. The U.S. claimed to have carried out the covert program at a time when Secretary of State George P. Shultz, Secretary of Defense Frank C. Carlucci and National Security Adviser General Colin L. Powell were publicly condemning Iraq for its use of poison gas, especially after Iraq attacked Kurdish villagers in Halabja in March 1988. U.S. officials publicly condemned Iraq's employment of mustard gas, sarin, VX and other poisonous agents, but sixty Defense Intelligence Agency officers were secretly providing detailed information on Iranian deployments, tactical planning for battles, plans for airstrikes and bomb-damage assessments for Iraq. It has long been known that the U.S. provided intelligence assistance, such as satellite photography, to Saddam's regime. Carlucci said: "My understanding is that what was provided" to Iraq "was general order of battle information, not operational intelligence." "I certainly have no knowledge of U.S. participation in preparing battle and strike packages," he said, "and doubt strongly that that occurred." "I did agree that Iraq should not lose the war, but I certainly had no foreknowledge of their use of chemical weapons." Secretary of State Powell, through a spokesman, said the officers' description of the program was "dead wrong," but declined to discuss it. His deputy, Richard L. Armitage, a senior defense official at the time, used an expletive relayed through a spokesman to indicate his denial that the United States acquiesced in the use of chemical weapons. [New York Times, August 18 2002,]

Others have instead claimed U.S. intelligence agencies manipulated both sides in the Iran-Iraq war, providing each country with "deliberately distorted or inaccurate intelligence data". One method mentioned was altering satellite photos. In "Veil," his study of CIA covert operations in the 1980s, Bob Woodward found that some CIA officials were "doling out tactical data to both sides" to engineer a stalemate. [Pacific News Service, December 17 2003, ]

Turkey 1980

Turkish coup d'état is claimed to have been supported by the US

Nicaragua 1981-1990

1981-90: CIA directs exile (Contra) revolution, plants harbor mines and sinks civilian ships to overthrow the democratically-elected Sandinista government of Nicaragua. After the Boland Amendment was enacted, it became illegal under U.S. law to fund the Contras; National Security Adviser Robert MacFarlan, Deputy National Security Adviser Admiral Poindexter, National Security Council staffer Col. Oliver North and others continued an illegal operation to fund the Contras, leading to the Iran-Contra scandal.

The U.S argued that "The United States initially provided substantial economic assistance to the Sandinista-dominated regime. We were largely instrumental in the OAS action delegitimizing the Somoza regime and laying the groundwork for installation for the new junta. Later, when the Sandinista role in the Salvadoran conflict became clear, we sought through a combination of private diplomatic contacts and suspension of assistance to convince Nicaragua to halt its subversion. Later still, economic measures and further diplomatic efforts were employed to try to effect changes in Sandinista behavior.""Nicaragua's neighbors have asked for assistance against Nicaraguan aggression, and the United States has responded. Those countries have repeatedly and publicly made clear that they consider themselves to be the victims of aggression from Nicaragua, and that they desire United States assistance in meeting both subversive attacks and the conventional threat posed by the relatively immense Nicaraguan Armed Forces." []

Republic of Ghana

On February 24, 1966, Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah of the Ghana was overthrown by a claimed CIA-backed coup. [Interview with John Stockwell in "Pandora's Box: Black Power" (Adam Curtis, BBC Two, 22 June 1992)] . [,,,,On Nkrumah assassination by CIA: Gaines, Kevin (2006) American Africans in Ghana, Black expatriates and the Civil Rights Era, The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill.]

ince the end of the Cold War

Iraq 1992-1995

According to former U.S. intelligence officials interviewed by "the New York Times", the CIA orchestrated a bomb and sabotage campaign between 1992 and 1995 in Iraq via one of the insurgent organizations, the Iraqi National Accord, led by Iyad Allawi. The campaign had no apparent effect in toppling Saddam Hussein's rule.cite news
author =Joel Brinkley
title=Ex-C.I.A. Aides Say Iraq Leader Helped Agency in 90's Attacks
publisher=New York Times

According to the Iraqi government at the time, and former CIA officer Robert Baer, the bombing campaign against Baghdad included both government and civilian targets. According to this former CIA official, the civilian targets included a movie theater and a bombing of a school bus and schoolchildren were killed. No public records of the secret bombing campaign are known to exist, and the former U.S. officials said their recollections were in many cases sketchy, and in some cases contradictory. "But whether the bombings actually killed any civilians could not be confirmed because, as a former CIA official said, the United States had no significant intelligence sources in Iraq then." The Iraqi government at the time claimed that the bombs, including one it said exploded in a movie theater, resulted in many civilian casualties. In 1996, Amneh al-Khadami, who described himself as the chief bomb maker for the Iraqi National Accord, recorded a videotape in which he talked of the bombing campaign and complained that he was being shortchanged money and supplies. Two former intelligence officers confirmed the existence of the videotape. Mr. Khadami said that "we blew up a car, and we were supposed to get $2,000" but got only $1,000, as reported in 1997 by the British newspaper The Independent, which had obtained a copy of the videotape. The campaign was directed by CIA asset Dr. Iyad Allawi, [The American Enterprise Institute, Short Publications,,filter.all/pub_detail.asp republishing The Wall Street Journal, November 12, 1997] later installed as interim prime minister by the U.S.-led coalition that invaded Iraq in 2003.

Guatemala 1993

In 1993 the CIA helped in overthrowing Jorge Serrano Elías. Jorge then attempted a self-coup, suspended the constitution, dissolved Congress and the Supreme Court, and imposed censorship. He was replaced by Ramiro de León Carpio. [ [ Report on the Guatemala Review] Intelligence Oversight Board. June 28, 1996.]

Zimbabwe 2000s

Robert Mugabe accused the United States of trying to remove him in a potentially illegal regime change. [,,2-11-1662_1875483,00.html] [] []

Serbia 2000

The United States is alleged to have made secret effort to topple the dictator Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia. The 5 October Revolution removed Milošević and installed a democratic government. [] []

Venezuela 2002

In 2002, Washington is claimed to have approved and supported a coup against the democratically-elected Venezuelan government, acting through senior officials of the U.S. government, including Special Envoy to Latin America Otto Reich and convicted Iran-contra figure and George W. Bush "democracy 'czar'" Elliott Abrams, who have long histories in the U.S. backed "dirty wars" of the 1980s in Central America, and links to U.S.-supported death squads working in Central America at that time. [The Observer, April 21, 2002,,6903,688071,00.html] Top coup plotters, including Pedro Carmona, the man installed during the coup as the new president, began visits to the White House months before the coup and continued until weeks before the putsch. The plotters were received at the White House by the man President George W. Bush tasked to be his key policy-maker for Latin America, Special Envoy Otto Reich. [The Observer, April 21, 2002,,6903,688071,00.html] It has been claimed that Reich was the U.S. mastermind of the coup. [VHeadline, June 24, 2004, ]

Former U.S. Navy intelligence officer Wayne Madsen, told the British newspaper the Guardian that American military attaches had been in touch with members of the Venezuelan military to explore the possibility of a coup. "I first heard of Lieutenant Colonel James Rogers [the assistant military attache now based at the U.S. embassy in Caracas] going down there last June [2001] to set the ground," Mr. Madsen reported, adding: "Some of our counter-narcotics agents were also involved." He claims the U.S. Navy assisted with signals intelligence as the coup played out and helped by jamming communications for the Venezuelan military, focusing on jamming communications to and from the diplomatic missions in Caracas. The U.S. embassy dismissed the allegations as "ridiculous". [ The Guardian, April 29, 2002,,3604,706802,00.html ]

The U.S. also funded opposition groups in the year leading up to the coup, channeling hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to U.S. and Venezuelan groups opposed to President Hugo Chavez, including the labor group whose protests sparked off the coup. The funds were provided by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), [ The Guardian, April 29, 2002,,3604,706802,00.html ] a nonprofit organization whose roots, according to an article in "Slate" trace back to the late 1960s when the public learned of CIA machinations to covertly fund parties and activists opposing the Soviets. Congress created the NED in 1983 which disburses money to pro-democracy groups around the globe and do so openly. [ Slate, Jan. 22, 2004,] The State Department is now examining whether one or more recipients of the NED money may have actively plotted against the Venezuelan government. [ The Guardian, April 29, 2002,,3604,706802,00.html ]

Bush Administration officials and anonymous sources acknowledged meeting with some of the planners of the coup in the several weeks prior to April 11, but have strongly denied encouraging the coup itself, saying that they insisted on constitutional means. [] Because of allegations, Sen. Christopher Dodd requested a review of U.S. activities leading up to and during the coup attempt. A U.S. State Department Office of Inspector General report found no "wrongdoing" by U.S. officials either in the State Department or in the U.S. Embassy. [ Inspector General Report]

Georgia, 2003

There are allegations from Russia that the United States supported the Rose Revolution, which installed a pro-US government. [] []

Ukraine, 2004

There are allegations from Russia that the United States supported the Orange revolution, which installed a pro-US government. [] []

Equatorial Guinea 2004

Zimbabwe has accused the United States of involvement in a 2004 attempted coup against Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, dictator of Equatorial Guinea. []

Lebanon 2005

The Cedar Revolution is claimed to have been supported by the US. []

Palestinian Authority, 2006-Present

An Asia Times Online article by Mark Perry and Alastair Crooke states that since at least January 2006, the United States has supplied guns, ammunition and training to Palestinian Fatah group (which won the Palestinian presidential election, 2005) in order to overthrow the Hamas government elected in the Palestinian legislative election, 2006. Apparently headed up by Elliott Abrams, the U.S. supply of rifles and ammunition, which started as a mere trickle, has become a torrent and a large number of Fatah men have been trained at two West Bank camps to attack Hamas supporters in the streets. The Israeli daily newspaper Ha'aretz reported that the U.S. has designated an astounding US$86.4 million for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' security detail. The article states that U.S. arming of Fatah continued even though some officials predicted that it could lead to a Palestinian civil war, which would be an unwelcome development by most countries of the region. An anonymous official stated: "Who the hell outside of Washington wants to see a civil war among Palestinians?" Also according to the article, Elliott Abrams had also publicly advocated a "hard coup" against the newly elected Hamas government, but U.S. spokesmen later dismissed these remarks as due to momentary frustration. CIA, the US military, and Israel have been critical. Officially the support is for "assist [ing] the Palestinian Authority presidency in fulfilling PA commitments under the roadmap to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism and establish law and order in the West Bank and Gaza"Asia Times, January 9, 2007,]

Hamas Foreign Minister Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahar has called the arming of Fatah by the United States an "American coup d'etat" against the democratically-elected Palestinian government. [ Washington Post, April 17, 2008, "No Peace Without Hamas" ] Hamas is listed as a terrorist organization by many Western nations.

BBC states that after months of street fighting in which hundreds of Palestinians were killed and the Gaza Strip were seized by the Hamas armed forces, (see Battle of Gaza (2007)), Palestinian Authority President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas dismissed the Hamas-led government in June 2007, and a new unelected "emergency cabinet," led by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, was sworn in in place of the Hamas government in the West Bank. [BBC News, June 17, 2007,]

omalia 2006-2007

Although the United States has had an ongoing interest in Somalia for decades, in early 2006 the CIA began a program of funding a coalition of anti-Islamic warlords. [New York Times, December 27, 2006,] This involved the support of CIA case workers operating out of the Nairobi, Kenya office funneling payments of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism. As the power balance shifted towards this alliance, the CIA program backfired and the militias of the Islamic Court Union (ICU) gained control of the country. Although the ICU was locally supported for having restored a relative level of peace [Washington Post, June 17, 2006,] to the volatile region after having defeated the CIA-funded Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism in the Second Battle of Mogadishu, concerns about the growth and popular support for an Islamic country during the United States' War on Terror led to a new approach of the intervention of CIA, the United States military and Ethiopia's dominantly Christian government.

In late December 2006 a United States-trained [Stars and Stripes, December 30, 2006,] and funded Ethiopian Military force attacked militias of the ICU in a series of battles known as the War in Somalia.

The use of the Ethiopian Army was seen by the United States as an awkward, but necessary way to prevent Somalia from being ruled by an Islamic government unsympathetic to American interests. In December 2006 State Department officials were issued internal guidelines and talking points such as “The press must not be allowed to make this about Ethiopia, or Ethiopia violating the territorial integrity of Somalia...” [New York Times, December 27, 2006,] Because of Ethiopia's known human rights abuses such as the massacre of 193 protesters after the 2005 presidential elections, there is conflict between the strategic interest Ethiopia's army and leadership provides in the War on Terror and the human rights this war is allegedly addressing. This conflict has manifested itself in the United States Congress where the [ Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007] , calls for the millions of foreign aid to Ethiopia only be delivered if there are significant improvements in the democracy and human rights in that country. The Bush Administration and Samuel Assefa, Ethiopia’s ambassador to the US are strongly opposed to the bill. [The Financial Times, October 3, 2007,]

Venezuela 2007

Venezuela claims that a confidential memorandum from the US embassy to the CIA revealed and circulated by the Venezuelan government on November 26, 2007 provides details on the activity of a CIA unit engaged in clandestine action to destabilize the forth-coming national referendum and to coordinate the civil and military overthrow of the democratically-elected government of Venezuela. According to the Venezuelan government, the memo, entitled "Advancing to the Last Phase of Operation Pincer," was sent by Michael Middleton Steere addressed to the Director of CIA, Michael Hayden, and outlines covert Operation Pincer (OP) (Operación Tenaza).Counterpunch, November 28, 2007, James Petras, "Counterattack as Fateful Referendum Looms: CIA Venezuela Destabilization Memo Surfaces,"]

According to these claims, Operation Pincer entails a two-pronged strategy of impeding the upcoming national referendum of December 2, 2007 on important changes to the Venezuelan constitution urged by the government of President Hugo Chavez, rejecting the outcome, and at the same time calling for a 'no' vote. In the run up to the referendum, OP includes running phony polls, attacking electoral officials and running propaganda through the private media accusing the government of fraud and calling for a 'no' vote. Contradictions, the report emphasizes, are of no matter.CP]

According to these claims, the most dangerous threats to Venezuelan democracy urged by the US Embassy memo are the mobilization of students at private university, backed by top administrators, to attack key government buildings including the Presidential Palace, Supreme Court and the National Electoral Council. The US Embassy provided $8 million dollars in propaganda alone, according to the Embassy memo, to shape the university students' views; the right-wing opposition and the business elite through free air time on the private right-wing media, have organized a majority of the upper middle class students from the private universities, backed by the Catholic Church hierarchy. The Embassy is especially full of praise for the ex-Maoist group for its violent street fighting activity. Ironically, small Trotskyist sects and their trade unionists join the ex-Maoists in opposing the constitutional amendments.CP]

According to these claims, the ultimate objective of Operation Pincer as outlined in the memo is to seize a territorial or institutional base with "massive support" of the defeated electoral minority within three or four days, presumably after the elections, backed by an uprising by oppositionist military officers principally in the National Guard. The Embassy operative concede that the military plotters have run into serous problems as key intelligence operatives were detected, stores of arms were decommissioned and several plotters are under tight surveillance. Apart from the deep involvement of the US, the primary organization of the Venezuelan business elite (FEDECAMARAS), as well as all the major private television, radio and newspaper outlets have been engaged in a campaign of fear and intimidation campaign against the referendum and any results thereof.CP] POV|date=January 2008

The US has called Venezuelan accusations of a CIA conspiracy "ridiculous". [cite news|url=|title=Venezuela waits for reform result|publisher=BBC News|date=December 3 2007|accessdate=2007-12-04] According to the "International Herald Tribune", Benjamin Ziff, an embassy spokesman said:"We reject and are disappointed in the Venezuelan government's allegations that the United States is involved in any type of conspiracy to affect the outcome of the constitutional referendum."

A CIA spokesman called the memo "a fake", while some independent analysts and researchers doubt its authenticity.cite news|url=|title=In Chávez territory, signs of dissent|author=Romero, Simon|date=November 30, 2007|work=International Herald Tribune|accessdate=2007-12-04] Jeremy Bigwood, an independent researcher in Washington, said:"cite news | first=Simon |last=Romero |title=In Chávez Territory, Signs of Dissent |url= |work=New York Times |date=November 30 2007 |accessdate=2007-12-01] "I find the document quite suspect. There's not an original version in English, and the timing of its release is strange. Everything about it smells bad."

Iran 2001-present

The United States targeted Iran and several other Muslim countries for regime change starting at least in 2001. The book "War and Decision" written by Undersecretary of Defence for Policy Douglas Feith quotes a high level government policy memorandum written after September 11, 2001, stating that the United States should " [c] apitalize on our strong suit, which is not finding a few hundred terrorists in caves in Afghanistan, but in the vastness of our military and humanitarian resources, which can strengthen the opposition forces in terrorist-supporting states." [Inter Press Service, May 5, 2008, "Pentagon Targeted Iran for Regime Change after 9/11" also archived at ] The memorandum outlined a list of military actions to be undertaken against some of these states. Undersecretary Feith and Gen. Wesley Clark confirmed that Iran is on this list. [Inter Press Service, May 5, 2008, "Pentagon Targeted Iran for Regime Change after 9/11" ; also archived at ]

The Asia Times cites a New Yorker Magazine's investigative report, according to which the U.S. has military commando units operating inside Iran. [Asia Times, February 24, 2007, ] That same article in Asia Times reported that U.S. policy is one of lighting "the fire of ethnic and sectarian strife" to destabilize and eventually topple the government of Iran. "The Washington Quarterly" magazine as cited by the Asia Times article, reported:

"the Sunni Balochi resistance could prove valuable to Western intelligence agencies with an interest in destabilizing the hardline regime in Tehran.... The United States maintained close contacts with the Balochis till 2001, at which point it withdrew support when Tehran promised to repatriate any U.S. airmen who had to land in Iran as a result of damage sustained in combat operations in Afghanistan." [Asia Times, February 24, 2007, ]

ABC news reported, citing U.S. and Pakistani intelligence sources, that U.S. officials have been secretly encouraging and advising a Pakistani Balochi militant group named Jundullah that is responsible for a series of deadly guerrilla raids inside Iran. The Jundullah militants "stage attacks across the border into Iran on Iranian military officers, Iranian intelligence officers, kidnapping them, executing them on camera," This militant group is led by a youthful leader, Abd el Malik Regi, sometimes known as "Regi." The U.S. provides no direct funding to the group, which would require an official presidential order or "presidential finding" as well as congressional oversight. Tribal sources tell ABC News that money for Jundullah is funneled to Abd el Malik Regi through Iranian exiles who have connections with European and Gulf states. A CIA spokesperson said "the account of alleged CIA action is false," and reiterated that the U.S. provides no funding of the Jundullah group. [ABC News Exclusive: The Secret War Against Iran, April 3, 2007, ] Regi and Jundullah are also suspected of being associated with al Qaida, a charge that the group has denied. Jundullah "is a vicious Salafi organization whose followers attended the same madrassas as the Taliban and Pakistani extremists,” sccording to Professor Vali Nasr, “They are suspected of having links to Al Qaeda and they are also thought to be tied to the drug culture." [The New Yorker, July 8, 2008 "Preparing the Battlefield, The Bush Administration Steps Up Its Sectret Moves Against Iran," ] Regi "used to fight with the Taliban. He's part drug smuggler, part Taliban, part Sunni activist," said Alexis Debat, a senior fellow on counterterrorism at the Nixon Center and an ABC News consultant who recently met with Pakistani officials and tribal members."Regi is essentially commanding a force of several hundred guerrilla fighters that stage attacks across the border into Iran on Iranian military officers, Iranian intelligence officers, kidnapping them, executing them on camera," Debat said. Most recently, Jundullah took credit for an attack in February that killed at least 11 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard riding on a bus in the Iranian city of Zahedan. [ABC News Exclusive: The Secret War Against Iran, April 3, 2007, ]

The Baluchis militants accuse the government of discriminatory and repressive policies. Hossein Ali Shahriari, the representative from Zahedan in Parliament, said the attack had been carried out by “insurgents and smugglers who are led by the world imperialism,” a common reference to the United States and Britain. [ Car bomb in Iran destroys a bus carrying Revolutionary Guards] The New York Times]

Another claimed US proxy inside Iran has been the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PEJAK). "The New Yorker" reported in November 2006 that a U.S. government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon civilian leadership leaked the news of secret US support for PEJAK for operations inside Iran, stating that the group had been given “a list of targets inside Iran of interest to the U.S.”.cite news | first=Seymour M. | last=Hersh | pages= | title=The Next Act |date=2006-11-20 | publisher=The New Yorker | url= |accessdate=2006-11-19]

Myanmar (Burma), 2007

Myanmar's junta has stated that nationwide monk protests, which took place in August and September, were the results of timely collaborated plots of "a Western power" and antigovernment groups aiming to install a puppet government in the country. The Myanmar junta used to refer to the United States as "a Western power". [Myanmar junta accuses Western powers of encouraging anti-junta protests]


See also

* Overthrow (book)
* Overthrow of the Hawai'ian Monarchy
** Covert operations, coups, military advisors etc.
* William Walker (soldier) (1824 - 1860)
* Australian constitutional crisis of 1975
* NSC 5412/2 Special Group
* 40 Committee
* Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories

External links

* [] A Map of U.S. Foreign Policy
* [ U.S. Offensive in Latin America: Coups, Retreats, and Radicalization]
* [ Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq. Amy Goodman interviews Stephen Kinzer.]
* [ "Part II...Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq"] May 8th, 2006 "Democracy Now!"
* [ A paper that analyses the nature and maintenance of what it argues is a U.S. empire.]


* Stephen Kinzer "", Times Books, 2006, ISBN 0-8050-7861-4
* Robert Fisk "The Great War for Civilisation - The Conquest of the Middle East"; (October 2005) London. Fourth Estate, xxvi, 1366 pages. ISBN 1-84115-007-X
* William Blum 2003 "Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II", revised edition (Common Courage Press) ISBN 1-56751-252-6

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