President Donald Trump sent the Iranian people a Nowruz (New Year) message and blasted the regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) for funding terrorism and propping up dictators at the cost of the livelihood of their people at home.
“The history of Nowruz is rooted in Iran, where for millennia a proud nation has overcome great challenges by the strength of its culture and the resilience of its people,” President Trump said. He noted that “Twenty-five centuries ago, Darius the Great asked God to protect Iran from three dangers: hostile armies, drought, and falsehood,” but he added that “today, the Iranian regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) represents all three.”
First, the IRGC is not Iranian in name or deed. It is a hostile army that brutalizes and steals from the Iranian people to fund terrorism abroad. Since 2012, the IRGC has spent more than $16 billion of Iran’s wealth to prop up the Assad regime and support militants and terrorists in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Meanwhile, the average Iranian family is 15 percent poorer today than it was 10 years ago, and nearly 30 percent of Iran’s youth are unemployed. Ordinary Iranians struggle economically and find it difficult to celebrate holidays like Nowruz.
Second, the IRGC’s corruption and mismanagement have exacerbated the effects of an on-going drought and created an ecological crisis. Unregulated dam construction by its companies like Khatam al-Anbia has dried rivers and lakes and helped create unprecedented dust storms that threaten Iranians’ jobs and lives.
Third, deceit has become official state policy. The IRGC employs propaganda and censorship to hide the fact that the Iranian regime plunders Iran’s wealth and abuses its people. To hide the truth, Iran’s rulers suppress their own citizens’ rights to free assembly, access to information, and equal opportunity.
The president also said the Treasury Department would issue statements of guidance “reaffirming America’s support for the free flow of information to the citizens of Iran.” Trump added that the United States would hold the Iranian regime accountable for cyberattacks abroad and for “suppressing Iranian citizens who are protesting the oppression of their government at home.”
He finished his statement by saying, “On behalf of the American people, may light prevail over darkness in this New Year, and may the Iranian people soon enjoy a new day of peace, prosperity, and joy,” signing off with the traditional saying, “Nowruz Pirouz (Happy Nowruz).”
Nowruz marks the start of spring.
The State Department on Monday issued a much milder Nowruz message. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan wrote:
Today, I offer my best wishes to all of the communities here in the United States, as well as in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Georgia, India, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Russia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and around the globe as they gather around the Haftsin, cooking, feasting, dancing, singing, and spending time with family and friends.
Nowruz is a time to take stock of recent events. In the past year, I have drawn inspiration from the Iranian people who are making their voices heard by protesting for freedom, dignity, and respect for human rights. The United States supports those seeking to reclaim their fundamental freedoms of expression, religion, and peaceful assembly.
Trump’s message this year stands in stark contrast with his message last year, which did not mention politics.
This message arrived just days after Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was supportive of the United States’ remaining in the Iran nuclear deal, a strong point of contention between the men, as the president maintains a vehement opposition to the nuclear accords and wants the United States to withdraw.
Iran has warned that it will no longer abide by the terms of the deal if the United States pulls out. However, many reports indicate Iran has already, and consistently, been cheating and violating the terms of the accord.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo has been appointed to replace Tillerson. Pompeo is awaiting confirmation.