Pompeo Speech At Reagan Library: Freedom For Iran [VIDEO]
Pompeo Speech At Reagan Library: Freedom For Iran [VIDEO]
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a speech on Sunday evening at the Reagan Library, which was titled “Supporting Iranian Voices.” The preview was given a few days ago to the press, but now the full speech has been delivered.
Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) was also in attendance with Secretary Pompeo.
Tom Cotton to the Iranian people: when Mike Pompeo stands with you, you are not alone, pic.twitter.com/wrHSXHmwY9
— Alireza Nader (@AlirezaNader) July 23, 2018
The speech ran a little under a half hour, and covered several points.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday called the religious leaders of Iran “hypocritical holy men” who amassed vast sums of wealth while allowing their people to suffer, part of a highly critical broadside issued as the republic approached the 40th anniversary of its Islamic revolution and the U.S. prepared to reimpose economic sanctions.
“Sometimes it seems the world has become desensitized to the regime’s authoritarianism at home and its campaigns of violence abroad, but the proud Iranian people are not staying silent about their government’s many abuses,” Pompeo said in prepared remarks for a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.
“And the United States under President Trump will not stay silent either. In light of these protests and 40 years of regime tyranny, I have a message for the people of Iran: The United States hears you. The United States supports you. The United States is with you,” he said.
Pompeo castigated Iran’s political, judicial and military leaders, too, accusing several by name of participating in widespread corruption. He also said the government has “heartlessly repressed its own people’s human rights, dignity and fundamental freedoms.”
Pompeo also pointed out how the ayatollahs have enriched themselves.
America’s top diplomat was particularly barbed in his remarks about “the Ayatollahs,” saying they “are in on the act, too.” He said Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi has generated more than $100 million for himself in the illicit trade of sugar; that Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani is worth millions after the government transferred several lucrative mines to his foundation; and that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has an off-the-books hedge fund, Setad, worth $95 billion.
“The level of corruption and wealth among regime leaders shows that Iran is run by something that resembles the mafia more than a government,” he said.
Pompeo’s remarks were aimed in part at Iranian-Americans and Iranians living in the U.S. He assured them that the Trump administration shared their dreams for the people of Iran. He also expressed support for those Iranians who have protested their government’s actions and called its response “brutal.”
“The specific grievances differ. But all those voicing dissatisfaction share one thing: they have been ill-treated by a Revolutionary regime. Iranians want to be governed with dignity, accountability and respect,” he said.
One only has to look at pictures of Iran pre-revolution to realize just how much the Iranian people have lost in nearly 40 years. But what happens now? Pompeo’s speech is all too true, and clearly a focal point of his tenure as Secretary of State, but the people of Iran have been rioting over the lack of drinking water. The Obama administration squandered a once-in-a-generation opportunity in 2009 to support a real revolution for democracy in Iran. Are Pompeo’s words now, coupled with incoming sanctions, too little, too late?
The Trump administration’s strategy appears simple: to exploit the already growing tensions within Iranian society that are being exacerbated by renewed U.S. sanctions that have forced some foreign firms to leave.
There have been a series of anti-government protests in Iran in recent months, prompted by an array of different issues and concerns.
The State Department briefer said Pompeo plans to support “the legitimate demands of the Iranian people, especially their economic demands for a better life.”
But how far will he and the administration go?
“That’s the key question,” Behnam Ben Taleblu of the conservative pressure group Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), told the French news agency AFP. “Pompeo and the administration can do more than just rhetorical support to the Iranian protester.”
Several Iranian dissidents have written to Pompeo to urge him to re-establish punitive measures against the state-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting network, which they accuse of abetting human rights violations.
Word of Pompeo’s planned speech has fanned speculation on Washington’s precise intentions.
The State Department insists that the U.S. seeks merely a “change in behavior” by the regime.
But some senior members of the Trump administration – notably national security advisor John Bolton – have made it clear in the past that they would like to see the Tehran regime topple, and Pompeo himself said in May that “the Iranian people get to choose for themselves the kind of leadership they want.”
To Behnam Ben Taleblu, “genuine regime change can only come from inside.”
With an upsurge of “Iranians of all different social classes protesting,” he said, the Trump administration will have to decide whether it wants to “support elements that actually want to change the regime.”
Could lightning strike twice and Iran actually get a real chance at an internal regime change within ten years of the last attempt? We already know, given Pompeo’s focus and the Trump administration’s markedly different stance, that a naturally occuring revolution in Iran would be met with the support that was shockingly absent in 2009. Whether it happens now, is completely up to the Iranian people, who have so much to lose and the bitterness of the recent past hanging over their heads. Pompeo’s words offer support, but words alone, spoken from the safety of a speech given in California, mean little to those under the thumb of the Iranian leaders.
Addressing a gathering of Iranian diplomats, Rouhani said: “Mr Trump, don’t play with the lion’s tail, this would only lead to regret,” the state new agency IRNA reported.
“America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars,” Rouhani said, leaving open the possibility of peace between the two countries, at odds since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
“You are not in a position to incite the Iranian nation against Iran’s security and interests,” Rouhani said, in an apparent reference to reported efforts by Washington to destabilize Iran’s Islamic government.
You know who else was paying attention to them paying attention?
To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2018
You may disagree with Trump’s use of Twitter, and his use of all caps here, but if nothing else, it’s a clear signal to the people of Iran that the era of Obama appeasement is dead and buried with a stake through its heart. Whether or not it’s the right signal to send at this moment… only the Iranian people can answer that.