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 speakers of the conference was Amb. Paula Dobriansky, former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, a Senior Fellow at Harvard University Belfer Center, and Vice-Chair of Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at The Atlantic Council.
Transcripts of Remarks by Amb. Paula Dobriansky
Thank you so much, Alireza. Thank you and Happy Nowruz. Happy Nowruz to you and also I’d like to say Happy Nowruz to all those Iranian families celebrating this jubilant holiday. I hope that this new day brings health, happiness, and prosperity to each of you, your families, and your loved ones.
And on this special occasion of Nowruz, I hope for a new day. That’s certainly the term that is used. A new day in Iran that is built on those foundational principles and facts of human rights, freedom, and democracy. There is an ancient Persian poet by the name of Saadi Shirazi who once wrote, “Thank God the pleasant Nowruz breeze returned and freed us from the cold.” I wanted to share and remind you of that quote because, however, your ancient beloved country is still held in the cold captivity of the Ayatollah’s brutal regime.
The IRGC is responsible for countless merciless attacks on American civilians and allied forces throughout the Middle East. Furthermore, they also have been very responsible for the killings of thousands in Syria and Lebanon. So, here is my message? My message on this is that IRGC should not be delisted from the State Department’s foreign terrorist organization designation.
And I’d like to first say a few words about the human rights situation in Iran today. The Iranian regime continues severe repression of the Iranian people. Iranians who seek economic rights, fight corruption as we know, and have protested the brutal regime, have been persecuted, they’ve been imprisoned, and sometimes executed as well. Last year Iranian security forces killed hundreds—hundreds!—and they arrested thousands in a series of anti-government protests that took place to really protest against, particularly, corruption and also the suppression of rights. Now, according to the United States State Department, the annual human rights report, this is a quote: “The government of Iran severely restricted freedom of speech and the press and used the law to intimidate or prosecute persons who directly criticized the government or raised human rights problems.”
You know, another area that really stands out as egregious in terms of human rights violations is that of women’s rights and dignity. They’re also heavily restricted in Iran. Married women cannot get a passport or leave the country without their husband’s permission. And a woman considered disobedient or for no reason at all could be beaten and injured. Her children could be taken away from her. The regime has really failed miserably also in addressing the epidemic, truly epidemic of domestic violence. So, human rights violations have been systemic in Iran.
And let me finally mention in this area Freedom House also talked about how non-governmental organizations that track human rights violations are also very much suppressed by the regime. One, for example, the Center for Human Rights Defenders, is closed and some of its members are imprisoned.
Now I’d also like to say a few words about some other very current topics. Today it has also been reported that the Biden administration is considering the removal of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the IRGC, as a terror organization in return for a public commitment from Iran to pursue a de-escalation in the region. Now, the possible removal obviously comes at a time when these JCPOA negotiations are ongoing. The IRGC is responsible for countless merciless attacks on American civilians and allied forces throughout the Middle East. Furthermore, they also have been very responsible for the killings of thousands in Syria and Lebanon. So, here is my message? My message on this is that IRGC should not be delisted from the State Department’s foreign terrorist organization designation.
I also want to say a word about JCPOA. The administration also seeks to revive the JCPOA. It is a bad deal. And actually, I think it could be said that it’s worse in many respects than the original JCPOA. Although the original JCPOA was bad. It will not prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons or engaging in terrorism, or for that matter, regional aggression.
Finally, I’d like to start with the point that you asked me, Alireza, and asked me about, and that’s Ukraine, being of Ukrainian descent. The global community is witnessing in fact Russia’s war on Ukraine and the ongoing massacre of Ukrainians. The Iranian regime has absolutely supported the revisionist narrative of Vladimir Putin, as well as supporting the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a scorched earth attack on innocent civilians. And in fact, one of Putin’s first phone calls was in fact to the Iranian president after he ordered the invasion. And this comes also right after Iran asserted earlier this year its commitment to boost and strengthen its ties to Russia in a new long-term bilateral cooperation agreement.
So, as we come together to celebrate the new year, let us be reminded of the strength of those freedom-loving peoples in Iran and around the world, and that very hope for a new day. Happy Nowruz.