Washington, DC, March 25, 2022 – Distinguished policy and national security experts called for maintaining Iran’s IRGC on the list of Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) of the U.S. Department of State, argued for no sanctions relief, and highlighted the prospects for change in Iran, during a conference organized by the U.S. Representative Office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI-US). The speakers included several cabinet members, undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, U.S. military generals, academics and scientists, and experts from various think tanks including the Heritage Foundation, the Atlantic Council, the Stimson Center, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, National Institute for Public Policy, JINSA and INSA.
The NCRI-US conference held on March 25, 2022, coincided with the ancient Iranian new year, Nowruz.
One of the conference speakers was Amb. Mitchell Reiss. Amb. Reiss was the former Director of Policy Planning at the State Department.
Transcript of Remarks by Amb. Mitchell Reiss
It is always a great pleasure and privilege for me to speak to you, especially as it coincides with Nowruz, traditionally marking a “New Day.” I want to wish all of the Iranian people a very happy and healthy new year.
All of you are gathered in your homes, with friends and family, to celebrate this time of rebirth and renewal. But we cannot ignore what has been happening inside Iran and elsewhere around the world.
Since 2018, there have been 8 major uprisings in Iran involving 200 cities and hundreds of thousands of people. The protests have continued in 2022. Resistance Units, organized by the main Iranian opposition, the MEK, and consisting of all sectors of the Iranian society, have been leading the protests and targeting symbols of repression all across Iran. They torched and destroyed the statue of Qassem Soleimani the same day it was erected. They publicly burned pictures and posters of the Supreme Leader and Ebrahimi Raisi, who is directly implicated in the mass murder of 30,000 political prisoners in 1988.
These protests have been cheered and hailed by the Iranian people. They give hope to all Iranians that the long nightmare of the ayatollahs is almost over, and that we can see a new Iran based on the principles of “freedom, democracy, and equality.” The opposition leader, Madame Rajavi has used these three words to express her hopes and dreams for a brighter future for all the Iranian people.
Since 2018, there have been 8 major uprisings in Iran involving 200 cities and hundreds of thousands of people. The protests have continued in 2022. Resistance Units, organized by the main Iranian opposition, the MEK, and consisting of all sectors of the Iranian society, have been leading the protests and targeting symbols of repression all across Iran.
The courage and bravery of the Resistance, in service to these principles, promise brighter days ahead. But the United States also has an important role to play. Other speakers will address the possible revival of the nuclear deal, the JCPOA, and its dangers. For me, the bottom line is that the criminal regime in Tehran can never be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.
There also should be no debate over removing the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) designation for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (the IRGC). First, there is no indication that the IRGC has halted its support for terrorism. In fact, the IRGC took responsibility for a dozen missiles fired into Erbil, Iraq, near the U.S. consulate, just a few days ago. Second, delisting the IRGC would send exactly the wrong message to Tehran and only lead to more terrorism in the region, and perhaps beyond.
And third, delisting the IRGC would rehabilitate Iran across the region at exactly the wrong time. The Iranian regime has never been less popular in the Middle East. Recent public opinion polls show that nearly 2/3rds of young Arabs now view Iran as an adversary; that a majority of all Arabs want Iran to withdraw its support for its regional proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah; and that more than half of Arab Shiites hold an “unfavorable” view of Iran. And, of course, the Iranian regime has alienated its own population through economic mismanagement, corruption, hostility to the United States, adventurism across the region, and brutal repression.
It should surprise no one then that Tehran is supporting Russia in its invasion and bombing of Ukraine, while the Iranian Resistance has sided with the Ukrainian people and their resistance. The brave men and women of Ukraine are being cheered and supported by everyone around the world. They have become living symbols of resistance to aggression.
The freedom fighters in Ashraf 3, the symbol of Resistance for the Iranian people, have been in the same situation for decades. Whether in Ukraine or Iran, the cause is the same — the fight is for freedom, for democracy, and for equality. In both Ukraine and Iran, these brave men and women are showing the world that these principles are worth fighting and even dying for.
These principles of freedom, democracy, and equality are enshrined in Madame Rajavi’s platform for Iran, which calls for the universal right to vote, free elections, and a market economy, and advocates gender, religious, and ethnic equality, and a foreign policy based on peaceful coexistence. As we celebrate the start of a new year, we hope to see Madame Rajavi and these principles triumphant in a new Iran for all the Iranian people.
Thank you and a very Happy Nowruz.