TEL AVIV – President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani said Saturday that freedom for Iran was “around the corner” and indicated that the administration intended to prompt the ouster of its “dictatorial ayatollahs” by forcing Tehran into economic isolation.
The former New York mayor made his remarks at a conference of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an umbrella coalition of opposition groups that seek an end to the Islamic Republic’s clerical regime.
“I can’t speak for the president, but it sure sounds like he doesn’t think there is much of a chance of a change in behavior unless there is a change in people and philosophy,” Giuliani told Reuters in an interview.
“We are the strongest economy in the world … and if we cut you off then you collapse,” he said.
“The mullahs must go, the ayatollah must go, and they must be replaced by a democratic government which Madam Rajavi represents,” Giuliani told the crowd of 4,000. “Freedom is right around the corner … Next year I want to have this convention in Tehran!”
National Security Adviser John Bolton made similar comments at an NCRI rally last year, saying that they would be out of exile and ruling Iran before 2019, the report said.
However, when Trump announced his withdrawal in May, Bolton said the administration was only interested in ensuring Tehran did not obtain nuclear weapons and was not seeking a regime change.
Meanwhile, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Trump would never succeed in turning the Iranian people against him or the clergy.
“They bring to bear economic pressure to separate the nation from the system … but six US presidents before him (Trump) tried this and had to give up,” Khamenei said on his website.
In his Paris address, Giuliani said Europe should be “ashamed” of itself.
“Anybody who thinks the Ayatollahs are honest people is a fool. They are crooks and that’s what Europe is propping up … murderers and sponsors of terrorism. Instead of taking an opportunity to topple them they are now left propping them up,” Giuliani said.
The NCRI is mostly controlled by the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, which was once labelled by the U.S. and Europe as a terrorist organization, mostly for clashing with U.S. troops during the 2003 Iraq war. However, the group have since renounced violence.
“Regime change in Iran is within reach as never before … The wheels of change have started turning,” Maryam Rajavi, who heads the group, told reporters.