The 70th United States Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo was received at Ashraf3 in Albania by NCRI’s President-elect Maryam Rajavi, on Monday May 16. Mr. Pompeo spoke to Ashraf 3 residents on the current state of affairs in Iran and the prospects. Excerpts of his speech follow:
It is a rare opportunity indeed to be able to speak before so many patriots who have given so much for the nation that they love. I know and saw at the museum over 1,000 former political prisoners of the theocratic regime are gathered here today. And I want to say to you, from a former Secretary of State, a now unemployed diplomat, that I respect you and deeply appreciate all of the work that you have done.
The things you have suffered in the name of freedom remind us of what our country was founded on to defend and secure so many years ago. And it’s special, it’s special to be with you. I want also like to recognize President-elect Maryam Rajavi. It is under her leadership, that the National Council of Resistance of Iran is laying the groundwork for a free, sovereign, and democratic republic in Iran. Bless you, madam.
I last had the chance to speak with you all at that Free Iran summit about a year ago. Much has changed since then, sadly not enough, but thanks to the efforts of so many in this room, it seems clear to me that the Iranian regime is truly weak. I think you can see it. I think you can feel it. I pray that the protesters inside the nation can see it as well. And while there are challenges that lie ahead, and I know we will need to work together if we are to see the end of the tyrannical regime in Iran, I am confident, I am confident that change, change in that regime is in front of us.
First, the conflict between the Iranian regime and Israel and the Great Satan, the United States of America; the conflict between the Iranian regime and the Gulf State Sunni Arabs; and, of course, the conflict between the Iranian regime and modernity, and the people of Iran. We must understand each of these three conflicts. But one conflict that you have to appreciate in order to restore Iran to its rightful place in history. It is the conflict between Iran and its people.
This central fight, this central fight is the one in the streets, in the mosques, and in the minds of the Iranian people – it is the divide between the people and the opposition seeking freedom and democracy on one side, and the entirety of the regime on the other. Make no mistake. That opposition is real – the people in this room today are a testament to that fact. And I am proud as I said a year ago that we have been with you, I have been with you the entire time.
What, I said, what has the Iranian Revolution given to the Iranian people? The regime reaps a harvest of suffering and death in the Middle East at the expense of its own citizens. Iran’s economy today is stagnant. It’s without direction, it loots, and I think it’s about to get worse. The regime, of course, is headed by the ayatollah, Raisi, and the IRGC. And for a moment let me just say it would be abhorrent to not reflect the IRGC as the terrorist organization that it is and remains. I pray that our government will not make such a mistake in the decision. The IRGC and its revolutionary zeal are brutal. Many of you and your families have suffered from it. It is theocratic. It is, of course, craven and kleptocratic, as well.
And I saw in the museum today and I have known for years, that its leaders have killed thousands of their own, and they choose those who committed such massive atrocities to lead their terror organization and their regime because they are willing to kill thousands more. Its leaders can shoot down a civilian airliner killing hundreds of civilians and think nothing of denying responsibility and hiding that little black box from the world. I remember that night. I remember those innocent people killed.
Soleimani played the warrior-hero role. But he was anything but this, as so many in this room today know and suffered at his hand. You should know that there were friends of mine that were killed by Qassem Soleimani as well. For years, you were his number 1 target. You are not only survivors of Soleimani’s cruelty, but you are also working towards real change in Tehran.
Ebrahim Raisi, the butcher who orchestrated the 1988 massacre, is now President of Iran. But he is not truly the President of Iran. They – all of them – will keep the show going, despite the audience wanting their run continue and to never end.
They are prepared to use the IRGC, the Basij, and any tool to keep their grip on the people. It’s this understanding of the regime — as counter-revolutionary and largely unchangeable – that informed the work we did in the Trump Administration. Our mission was really really simple. I presented it in May of 2018.
On top of this, we demanded that the regime simply complies with twelve basic ideas, twelve simple requirements that we ask of every nation in the world. And we made clear that if they failed to do so we would apply every American pressure to deny the regime the power to kill its own people and to foment terror around the region and around the world. We didn’t do this alone. We formed alliances to achieve these very ends and we supported Israel’s efforts to enhance our pressure campaign as well.
Our mission was purposeful.
We have isolated Iran in a way that it had never been isolated before. First, our program made clear the most important fact: that the Iranian people must be supported in every way possible – acknowledged as being held in contempt by the counter-revolutionary regime, and provided every tool possible to even the relative power between the people and the regime. But this was new: the previous administration—the one before ours—had propped up the regime at the very expense of the people and when, in 2009, they had a chance to support the Iranian people’s uprising, they simply walked away.
Second, leveling the power differential between the people and the regime relied on eliminating the power of the regime to the maximum extent possible. We used every tool. The most obvious was economic. We worked also to reduce the external capabilities of the Iranian regime everywhere and on all fronts. We went after proxy forces. We went after them through information warfare, and their efforts to use their nuclear program to coerce and extort people all across the world.
We placed thousands of sanctions upon the regime. We built out teams, and coalitions, of which the Abraham Accords are a central part, that made clear that making peace with Israel is good for the people of the Middle East broadly just as it would be good for the people of Iran.
The destruction of the regime that resulted was real, but its application lasted sadly for just under two years, and this time was insufficient to fully achieve our end objectives. The regime was clearly at its weakest point.
You could see it in the value of the rial. You could see it in the reduction of the number of foreign exchange reserves. With no ability to sell more than a few hundred thousand barrels of oil per day, no money, no foreign exchange reserves. Facilities blowing up all over – not only inside of Iran but also at sea and abroad. The IRGC-conquering-hero Soleimani was erased from the face of the earth, no longer able to serve the regime and keep down the patriots at home and abroad. The Rial tanking to unprecedented weakness.
The final prong of our effort was about the people. It was about you, about the people inside Iran. As much as our economic pain, as much as our military efforts put pressure on the Iranians, the thing that troubled them the most, the thing that worried them the most was our effort to support the Iranian people.
Our policies supported the Iranian people at every turn.
When there were labor strikes or product price boycotts, we made clear that these were the result of counter-revolutionary incompetence, not failures of the Iranian people, and we did our best to provide support to those who wanted to be lifted out from the yoke of the regime.
You can see the effects of this effort. You saw it in the election that took place. Turnout was the lowest since 1979, marking a total rejection of the regime and its candidate. It was, in fact, a boycott of the regime – and you can be sure that the regime knows it. They can publish whatever numbers they want, whatever numbers they choose, but the turnout was insignificant and the fact that this is a “show” laid bare for the entire world to see.
This election was heavily impacted by a series of major social upheavals, including 2017, 2018, and 2019 uprisings, whose main slogan was: “Hardliners, reformers, the game is over now.”
These slogans included “Death to the dictator,” shaking the foundations of the regime in its entirety. These uprisings demonstrated the Iranian people pin no hope on elections overseen by the Ayatollah as a conduit for substantive change.
The regime is indeed weak, at its lowest point in 40 years. Iranians from every corner of the nation can see the failure of the regime to deliver on simple promises that it made. You see it even as we are here today, in May 2022.
The regime’s epic incompetence and the quest for nuclear power have made it a pariah even among its fellow Muslim nations. Its epic incompetence is simply ruining the nation and has made food and gas and basic staples unaffordable. The nation’s ability to respond to floods, natural disasters, and earthquakes is relatively non-existent today.
As for President Raisi, he is not the President of the people of Iran. He is the President simply appointed by the Ayatollah. His mission is clear. Inflict pain. Frighten, continue to loot, and plunder. But you should know Raisi has already failed. He has failed to crush uprisings in Iran or break the noble spirit of dissent within the Iranian people. And the resistance is part of making that happen.
I remind my friends who sometimes forget the simple fact that it may be the case that Iran is the greatest breaker of treaties in the history of the world. Unfortunately, some in the West, including the current administration want to keep the regime on life support. Their devotion, and their commitment to reviving the failed nuclear deal present real risks to the work that the people of Iran are trying to achieve. We watched the regime just in the
Even as Iran has doubled its efforts to enrich uranium and develop facilities that someday will be used to build nuclear weapons, President Biden has decided that it is more urgent to cut a deal with them, rather than hit them with even tougher sanctions. I don’t have to tell the folks in this room – President Biden and his team are being played. Even worse, they have subcontracted their negotiations to the Russians, whose ambassador in Vienna has been doing all the face-to-face discussions with the Iranians “on our behalf.”
We also know, based on a seizure of a trove of Iranian nuclear weapons documents, that the regime was keeping a reference library for future weapons development. We know that Iran is currently enriching uranium at its Fordow facility, a location forbidden by the JCPOA – the agreement which Iran says it is still honoring. Let’s be clear: Iran has never honored its deals. It has every intention of developing nuclear weapons.
This must not be. As a group with a real political voice in Washington and around the world, we need you to represent to world leaders the destructive capabilities of the theocratic dictators in Tehran. Show leaders like President Biden who they are dealing with, and make clear to them the misery they will be contributing to by empowering them.
This brings me to my final point. A serious missing factor in U.S. policy towards Iran has been the lack of political support for the organized opposition. The regime in Tehran went to the extreme to massacre 30,000 political prisoners, whose main targets and a majority of victims were the MEK.
The threat of attack extends far beyond Iran’s borders, with the regime having waged terror plots throughout Europe and the U.S. against the leaders of this movement. Now, to correct the Iran policy, no matter who is in the White House, it is a necessity for the U.S. administration to reach out to the Iranian Resistance and take advantage of its tremendous capabilities. Ashraf 3 is one such place to focus on.
It’s one of the reasons I’m so excited to be here at Ashraf 3 because actions supporting our love of the Iranian people are many. They should begin by holding Ebrahim Raisi accountable for his crimes against humanity back in 1988. I know there are those in the audience who have families that were killed in this massacre.
The U.S. speaks a great deal of human rights. There are few places in the world in which the violations of human rights are committed with more frequency or with more depredation than inside Iran. We should never forget this as part of America’s policy or the policy of the West.
We cannot shower the Ayatollah with money and economic benefits in the hopes that they won’t be used to inflict terror and oppression because we know the evidence is in. Even Secretary Kerry had to admit that when resources are provided to this regime, they will be used to inflict terror and horrors.
The world has learned much about this theocracy in the past few years. And it’s not that we didn’t know it before, but we were frankly a little afraid to address it squarely. In Washington, D.C. there is much consensus as evidenced by the overwhelming support for the sanctions regime that we put into place. And indeed, you can see it around the world now, too. You can see that even in Europe the tide of tolerance of the regime is diminishing. I can feel it turning.
We all must continue to support the Iranian people as they fight for a freer and more democratic Iran. We must do so in every way we can. There is so much good work that the American civil society can do to further this goal. And its works with your organization to be actively engaged, to keep up this fight.
I get asked often that one question that I cannot answer for you today. The question of when, when will it be the case that the Iranian people get the government that they so richly deserve and which they are all demanding. I can’t answer that. I don’t think any of us in this room can answer this today.
We know, however, that in the end, the Iranian people will have this democratic, non-nuclear Republic. I pray that it will come soon.