Nowruz celebration held at the senate building in Washington D.C. Picture shows a few of the speakers at the ceremony, from left Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield, General James Jones, Governor. Tom Ridge, and Senator Joe Lieberman, being welcomed by organizers of the gathering.
In an event ahead of the Persian New Year celebrations, US senators gathered in the John F. Kennedy Hall in Washington D.C. to participate in a discussion on Iranian human rights abuses and the future of democracy in Iran.
Senators from both sides of the political aisle came together with dignitaries to discuss the necessity of offering support for the Iranian pro-democracy opposition. The People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK) and the leader of the Iranian opposition, president-elect Maryam Rajavi, are the only viable democratic alternative to regime rule in the country. Rajavi’s ten-point plan for restoring democracy to the country following the fall of the clerical regime has drawn international support and attention.
The senators also discussed the regime’s ruthless demonization campaign and dissemination of misinformation in an attempt to turn public opinion against the influential opposition group.
Among those at the meeting calling for increased support for Ms Rajavi and the MEK were Senator Jeanne Sheehan of the Foreign Affairs, Armed Forces and Budget committees, John Boozman of the Subcommittee on Military Construction and the Veteran Affairs committee, Former National Security Advisor General James Jones, former Vice-Presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman, Governor Tom Ridge, and Lincoln Bloomfield, the former director of the State Department Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.
Think tank fellows, Middle East experts and a slew of reporters from mainstream media outlets were also in attendance.
Promoting Normalised Regional Relations
Jeanne Sheehan made the case for supporting the MEK to normalise Iran’s relations with other states in the region. The Iranian regime has systematically funneled weapons and finances to militia groups and terror cells across the Middle East.
Its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and Quds Forces have been involved in the civil wars in Syria, the Yemen, Lebanon, and Iraq. Its financial support for terror groups like Hezbollah and Hamas have undermined regional security. Sheehan called for the peaceful coexistence with other nations in the Middle East.
When Senator Boozman took the floor, he highlighted the growing support and popularity of the MEK and the Iranian resistance as a major reason why the US government should lend its support to Ms. Rajavi and her opposition to the clerical regime.
For General James Jones, the regimes continued terrorist plots against the Iranian opposition abroad were a major factor in his decision to call for increased MEK support. In 2018, the regime coordinated terror attacks against MEK members in Albania, France, and the US. In one of the highest-profile attacks, a Belgian Iranian couple was arrested en-route to the MEK’s annual Grand Gathering event in Paris with a car laden with explosives. More than 100,000 supporters attended the event. Had the plot been carried out, the loss of life could have been catastrophic.
Senator Lieberman highlighted the importance of lending US support to the opposition at this moment. He described how the regime is in decline. Factional infighting, US sanctions, and a growing internal protest movement within Iran are putting the regime under immense pressure. The cracks are appearing and the MEK is ready to fill the void when the regime buckles.
General James Jones delivered a speech at the Iran Uprising Summit, held on September 22nd at the Sheraton Hotel in New York, calling for a tougher stance towards the clerical regime. The event, which took place at the end of September, was organized by the Iranian opposition and featured speakers from around the world.
Jones was President Barack Obama’s National Security Adviser between 2009 and 2010 and helped form foreign policy under the Obama administration.
An “Existential Threat to Peace and Stability”
Jones began his speech with a damning assessment of the Iranian regime. He told the crowd that he believes the Iranian regime remains the globes biggest “existential threat to peace and stability”.
He described the regime’s behavior as “unrelenting” in its quest to “undermine our values, our freedom, and our prosperity”.
He criticized the regime’s human rights abuses and the manner in which it flaunts international law. Jones specifically referred to the regime’s attempts to undermine the Middle East peace process and its financing of terror and militia groups in Syria, Yemen, and Iraq.
The regime actively promotes Sharia-Sunni conflict in the Middle East, with the goal of “establishing a land bridge from Tehran to Beirut via Iraq and Syria”.
Jones asserted that the United States, along with its allies, “must do everything necessary to prevent these territorial ambitions from being realized”. He went on to warn of “grave” implications if the regime succeeds in its ambitions.
“The result will be more death and suffering, more destruction [of] the kind that the regime and its proxies have been inflicting across the region”, he said.
The MEK’s Sacrifices
Jones also referred to the heavy losses inflicted on the Iranian opposition, including the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK). He mentioned the attacks on Camp Liberty and Camp Ashraf which left 140 dead, 7 abducted, and more than 1300 wounded refugees.
“We must no longer accept passivity and weakness in the face of this tyrannical regime,” he said, adding that one of his greatest regrets was that the United States did not act faster or more decisively in the wake of the regime attacks on Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty.
“The outrageous delay in coming to their aid resulted in an innocent loss of life”, he said, “frankly I regard that chapter as a glaring, and I hope atypical, failure in America’s leadership of the international human rights movement.”
Jones was adamant that the challenges he describes are not things of the past. 1,900 MEK members are living in exile in Albania, but the Iranian regime still pursues them.
Jones described the arrest of regime agents in Albania this summer, who had nefarious designs against the MEK. “We must do what’s necessary to ensure the dissidents… are not made to become the subjects of the Iranian regime’s plots in Albania.”
The General also drew attention to the foiled terror plot in June, where the regime orchestrated an explosive attack against the MEK in Paris. It was foiled by Belgian authorities in the late stages.
A Bipartisan Issue
General Jones also alluded to the fact that there was general bipartisan support for a tougher stance against the Iranian regime. He cited the current National Security Adviser under President Trump, John Bolton, who, Jones said, “has remained steadfast in his support” for the Iranian opposition.
Bolton later thanked the General over Twitter for his “kind words and leadership on Iran”. Bolton, a staunch Republican, and Jones, a Democrat, personify the bipartisan agreement on the Iran issue in the US.
Protests in the Street
As evidence for a tougher Iran policy in the US, Jones went on the describe the domestic situation within Iran. He echoed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comments, who described the protests as “the most enduring and forceful protests since 1979”.
Jones told the audience that the regime has imprisoned thousands of its own citizens, but he celebrated the “courage and passions” of the people who continued to demand their right to liberty.
He described the economic climate of rising inflation and a collapsing rial. “Some will point to the sanctions, old and new, as the culprit. But ladies and gentlemen the true culprit is the regime that rejects the international norms of behavior on which orderly relations, global trade, and economic engagement are based,” he said.
Jones defended Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. “Could Tehran really have been surprised given the lack of trust produced by its relentless reception, history of non-compliance and deadly support of terrorism?”, Jones asked.
In another gesture of bipartisan cooperation on Iran, Jones also praised Mike Pompeo’s economic sanctions.
Ten Point Plan
Finally, Jones drew attention to the MEK and Maryam Rajavi’s Ten Point Plan, describing them as “Jeffersonian principles that every freedom-loving member of the human race can embrace and every form of tyranny fears”.
He acknowledged the role of the United States and its allies in bringing Maryam Rajavi’s ten principles to fruition. He suggested that the US monitor the regime’s nuclear development program and prevent it from realizing its nuclear goals.
He also urged the United States to make progress on bringing peace to Syria to prevent Iran from using it as a proxy.
But the first step, Jones acknowledged, is to “support the Iranian people who hunger for democracy and a government worthy of their hopes and dreams.”
General James Jones, former United States National Security Adviser, addressing the Free Iran Summit in New York (supporters of the MEK) – September 22, 2018
General James Jones, former National Security Adviser under President Obama, and the interim Chairman of the Atlantic Council addressed the Iranian opposition movement at its 2018 Iran Uprising Summit. He was greeted to the stage by a standing ovation amid cheers and applause from all in attendance.
Jones has been outspoken in his disdain for the Iranian regime. He recently told The National that he has little hope of the regime abandoning its export of state-sponsored terrorism and called the regime, “an existential threat to the region”.
A “Threat to Peace and Stability”
Jones began his speech by echoing these comments. He said that today, “the Iranian regime remains mankind’s most existential threat to peace and stability”.
In support of his statement, he referred to the regime’s systematic violation of human rights and interference in regional affairs.
“Tehran remains a chief antagonist of democracy and liberalization across the Middle East”, he continued. “We see the regime’s aspirations of regional hegemony graphically on display in countries like Syria, Yemen, and Iraq”.
He condemned the regime’s spread of “radical ideology” through “force and intimidation” across the Middle East. He also decried its financial support of militant and terrorist groups, including Hezbollah.
The US “Must do Everything Necessary” to Curb Tehran’s Territorial Ambitions
Jones was unequivocal in his belief that the US must check Tehran’s ambitions. “If the regime succeeds, the strategic implications will be grave”, he said. “The result will be more death and suffering”, he explained. He urged the United States government to remove “passivity and weakness” from its Iran policy.
Jones spoke about his time in government as the National Security Adviser. He lamented that despite his best efforts, the US government did not act quicker in coming to rescue of the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK) when the regime committed crimes against its membership.
“Frankly, I regard that chapter as a glaring, and I hope atypical, failure in America’s leadership of the international human rights movement”, he said.
James Jones stressed the importance of responding to today’s challenges. He described “new obstacles”, referring to the regime’s terrorist plots against the MEK in Europe. “The regime is keeping up its efforts to silence dissidents”, he said.
Jones took the opportunity to praise those in the US government who are working to support the Iranian people. He named the current National Security Adviser to President Trump, John Bolton, and praised him for remaining “steadfast in his support” of the Iranian opposition.
He praised Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, calling it the “correct measure”, which prompted applause from those in attendance.
“The Most Enduring and Forceful Protest Since 1979”
Jones went on the praise the brave people of Iran, that have taken to the streets to express their frustration at the Iranian regime.
“We know that Iran is suffering deep economic pain… some will point to the sanctions, old and new, as the culprit but ladies and gentlemen, the true culprit is the regime”.
He also went on the describe the similarities between President-elect of the MEK, Maryam Rajavi’s ten-point plan, and the principles that America was founded on. “These are Jeffersonian principles”, he said, “that every form of tyranny fears.”
“This is what the regime fears the most and we look forward with great anticipation to the day when its fears are realized”. He acknowledged the role of the US and its allies in bringing to fruition “the kind of future that the ten-point plan promises”.
It was in this context that Jones laid out his own five strategic imperatives. The first imperative, he said, is to extensively monitor the Iranian regime’s nuclear missile program.
The second imperative is to bring an end to the conflict in Syria and end the ongoing human rights crisis that has engulfed that part of the Middle East. “Nothing would strengthen Tehran more than to maintain Syria as a proxy”, he warned.
The third strategic imperative, Jones said, is to support the Gulf community in its creation of an alliance against the Iranian regime. The fourth is to “reinvigorate the Middle East peace process”.
Jones’ final imperative is to “support the Iranian people who hunger for democracy and a government worthy of their hopes and dreams”. “That is the future we are entering”, he said, the regime’s days are numbered because the Iranian people “will not stop in their demand for a government that reflects their hopes, their dreams, and their aspirations… That is a future worth creating”.