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Though the Bush administration denies it has any designs on changing Iran's theocracy, members of Congress are planning ways to assist in a possible "regime change."
On Thursday, the State Department denied that the administration has any plans to help depose the Muslim clerics who run the country. The United States has been very clear. It's officials have been very clear that we do not have a policy of regime change toward Iran. The United States has also been very clear that we support the aspirations of the Iranian people for freedom," he said.
the "Iraq Liberation Act," passed in 1998 and revived before the current war — resulted in U.S. support of exiles like Ahmad Chalabi (search) and the Iraqi National Congress (search). The exiles have been blamed, in part, for providing hyped-up evidence of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction program. Skeptics say they don't want to find out after a heavy investment of cash and lives that Iran wasn't the threat it was being made out to be nor do they want to be bogged down in anything resembling a "quagmire."
But not everybody thinks the Americans would be unwelcome, said Stephen Schwartz, author of "The Two Faces of Islam: The House of Sa'ud from Tradition to Terror." He said regime change led by the United States in Iraq will no doubt have a domino effect of democracy across the region, beginning with Iran.
"We cannot have a replay of Iraq for several reasons," he said, noting that military force might very well spark nationalism in Iran, turning the reformers against the United States. "I'm no fan of the hard-line ayatollahs, but they are not hated the way Saddam Hussein was in Iraq."
Another question posed is which opposition group would be eligible for the help. The Mujahhedin e-Khalq (search), which has been fighting in exile against the ayotollahs since 1979, primarily from their base in Iraq, are supported by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (search), also in exile. Lawmakers like Ros-Lehtinen have expressed support for the MEK in the past.