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Joseph Lieberman: A Legacy of Political Leadership, Support for Iranian Resistance

Senator Joseph Lieberman (1)

The untimely and shocking passing of former U.S. Senator and vice-presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman at the age of 82 marks a significant loss of principled leadership and patriotism in American politics. Lieberman, who served Connecticut in the Senate for nearly a quarter of a century, leaves behind a legacy of principled leadership, bipartisan collaboration, and unwavering commitment to his beliefs.

His political career was marked by numerous milestones, including his historic nomination as the first Jewish politician to join a major party U.S. presidential ticket in 2000, when Al Gore selected him as his running mate.

Lieberman’s activism transcended domestic politics, reflecting a broader foreign policy vision. His perspective vis-à-vis the Iranian regime distinguished Lieberman from many of his contemporaries. His advocacy for the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) went beyond mere rhetoric, demonstrating his broader commitment to global democratic ideals and human rights. Lieberman’s support was rooted in a deep-seated belief in their mission to bring about change in Iran, a stance that earned him respect and recognition among his peers and colleagues.

Furthermore, Lieberman’s engagement with the Iranian resistance movement underscored his understanding of the strategic importance of Iran in Middle Eastern politics and the global fight against religious dictatorship and extremism. By aligning himself with the NCRI and PMOI/MEK, he sent a clear message about the United States’ commitment to supporting democratic movements and opposing oppressive regimes. This alignment also highlighted his foresight in recognizing the potential of the Iranian opposition to play a pivotal role in Iran’s future.  His active engagement involved speaking at international conferences, meeting with opposition members, and using his platform to draw attention to the plight of those fighting for freedom in Iran.

In a political landscape often dominated by short-term interests and regional biases, Lieberman’s steadfast support for the Iranian resistance movement marked him as a principled leader willing to stand up for democratic values, even when it conflicted with official government policy.

His speeches, which repeatedly underscored the legitimacy, preparedness, and democratic vision of the NCRI and MEK, aimed to inspire confidence in both Iranian and international audiences that a free and democratic Iran was within reach. While his passing marks the end of an era, his words will continue to resonate with those who share his vision for Iran’s future.

One of the central figures in Lieberman’s support for the Iranian resistance was his endorsement of NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi’s 10-point plan for the future of Iran, which envisions a secular, democratic, and non-nuclear republic of Iran.

Lieberman emphasized the existence of a viable alternative to the Iranian regime, praising the NCRI and MEK for their enduring struggle against both the Shah and the Ayatollahs.

In his speech at the Free Iran World Summit 2023, he said, “Is there an alternative to the regime in Iran? Of course, there is. It is the overwhelming majority of the people of Iran who want to be free again and live lives equal to those in the rest of the civilized world. And is there an organization ready to lead the transition to power by the people of Iran? Of course, there is. It’s the NCRI and MEK. There are other opposition organizations to the regime. But I ask you, is there any one of them or gathering of any group of them that could bring together the world leaders who are in this room, the leaders of the parliaments who are just up here? Is there any other organization that has and has had… No, right, for years the Resistance fighters were on the ground in Iran.

“The NCRI and MEK have earned the right through the leadership of Massoud Rajavi to Maryam Rajavi, decades of fighting against the Shah, against the Ayatollahs to lead the transition to freedom. They have earned it, but I will tell you this, they are ready for it. We have talked a lot today, as we should always, about the Ten-Point Plan of Mr. Rajavi. It’s a great plan, a plan for freedom, equality, and opportunity for the people of Iran. It’s one that every civilized democratic nation in the world should enthusiastically support.

“But the NCRI and Mrs. Rajavi have something else. They have a transition plan. It is out there for everybody to see. And it is a selfless plan that shows that this organization is not about seizing power. It is about making sure that the people of Iran seize power when this regime falls. It’s a plan that begins with a transition to early elections, to have a constituent assembly from the people in Iran that will then adopt the constitution, hopefully very much like the Ten-Point Plan, and will elect leaders of the country.

“I’ve been over this plan. I’ve been over it with Mrs. Rajavi. I will tell you, in my opinion, in the history of uprisings, and rebellions, for freedom in the world against dictatorships, there has never been a group of revolutionaries that are prepared to avoid chaos and provide a smooth and peaceful transition to freedom than this group, NCRI, MEK, and the people of Iran. So, there is an alternative.”

Senator Joseph Lieberman's speech at the Free Iran Global Summit, 2023

He likened the struggle of the NCRI and MEK to the civil rights movement in the United States, invoking Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous assertion that the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice and freedom.

“Remember the famous phrase of Dr. Martin Luther King: ‘The moral arc of the universe bends slowly, but it always bends toward justice and freedom.’  But then, when Dr. King was asked later, he said, ‘We here on earth have an obligation to bend the arc ourselves, by our action, so that we will achieve justice and freedom sooner…And I want to say here, that there is no more effective force for bending the arc toward freedom for the Iranian people than the National Council of Resistance in Iran under Mrs. Mariam Rajavi and the MEK inside the country.’”

He also highlighted the regime’s efforts to suppress the MEK, revealing the regime’s fear of the impact and effectiveness of the organization in bringing about regime change in Iran.

In his calls for recognition of the NCRI and MEK’s efforts, Lieberman’s words were both a tribute to the past and a beacon for the future. He saw the organization’s persistent struggle as a light of hope that had been kept alive through dark times and that was now being taken up by millions of Iranians.  In a speech in December 2022 at Washington, DC, he said, “And let me say first that we have a responsibility, historic, and moral to look back and to pay tribute to all who have held this hope of a free Iran alive for decades now, courageous Iranian patriots, both inside and outside the country.

“I will say in this regard that no organization has done, to light candles of hope and freedom through the darkest days of repression and mass murder in Iran that the National Council of Resistance in Iran led by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, and real history must note that, but we can it by noting it and expressing our appreciation itself. Somebody once said to me long ago, comparing, fire and water, that if you pour water from a pitcher, there’s less water in the pitcher. If you take a light on a candle and light another candle, the first candle burns, uh, as brightly as ever. The lights that NCRI, MEK, and organizations of Iranian American communities have been fighting for decades, are now being held high. They have been spread by millions of Iranians.

“What is true is that the torches that the NCRI held up for years and have now been lighting the candles throughout the country have not diminished at all. The torch of the NCR and the MEK grows brighter in my opinion, with each passing day. The organization gives us confidence that the current regime will be overthrown, and most importantly, that when it is there, there will be leaders ready to guide Iran smoothly into its free and democratic future.”

Lieberman also noted the significant role of women in the Iranian resistance, particularly praising Mrs. Maryam Rajavi’s leadership, which he described as “brilliant, strong, principled, patriotic,” and instrumental in making “every difference for the people of Iran.”

In a Senate briefing on March 16, 2023, he said,  “It strikes me that there was a role model for this uprising in Iran today led by women. It was a unique model over the years and that was the leadership of Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, a woman of principle and effectiveness…But really the fight for freedom in Iran goes much further back than that decades in the courageous effort of so many people inside Iran with the support of the Iranian Diaspora, both in the time of the Shah, protesting that authoritarian and brutally repressive regime, and of course, in the time of the mullahs. And there is no organization, no movement, that has done so more courageously and with principle over that period of time than the MEK and NCRI led by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi.

“This is a movement that has had the courage to take on absolute power and not be afraid of it. And it’s more than that. It’s a movement that is based on a vision for the future: a secular, democratic, and non-nuclear republic of Iran.

“If you read Mrs. Rajavi’s Ten-point Plan, you think in part you’re reading the Bill of Rights from the American Constitution. And I think it’s important as we look back and say, thank you to the MEK and the NCRI. Thank you for all your heroism, persistence, stamina, and resolve, and for the work that you have done. We’re here to stand with you today as we have for years and to support the NCRI.”

Senator Joe Lieberman

Lieberman called for a historical and moral responsibility to “pay tribute to all who have held this hope of a free Iran alive for decades.” He celebrated the NCRI and MEK for keeping the flames of hope burning, noting that their efforts have not only persisted but have now been “spread by millions of Iranians.” He expressed confidence that the “torch of the NCR and the MEK grows brighter” with each passing day, ensuring that when the current regime is overthrown, there will be leaders ready to guide Iran into a “free and democratic future.”

His enduring words and valiant actions will continue to resonate as a testament to the unwavering spirit of the Iranian people and their rightful struggle for a democratic nation. As he concluded his speech at Free Iran 2019 with the declaration, ‘We are ready,’ his message of hope and determination lives on.

“So, let me once more say in conclusion, to others in the world who would preach appeasement, who would disillusion themselves, who would allow themselves to be entrapped in foolish, wasteful discussions with the mullahs, it’s time to stand firm against the regime. It’s time to stand with the people of Iran. It’s time to stand for the people’s freedom. It’s time to bring a government to Iran that will reject claims of leadership based on heredity or religion. The people of Iran deserve a government that is accountable to them, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. And together, yes, we can. We are ready. (Hazzer, Hazzer, Hazzer). We are ready.”

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