The State Department urged the Iranian people in a press briefing Tuesday to take it upon themselves to see that a free and thriving democracy prevails in their country, ruled by a hardline Islamic regime since the fall of the late shah in 1979.
Asked by a member of the mainstream media if Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was advocating for regime change in Iran – which is not the U.S. policy and for which Pompeo never directly advocated – during the daily press briefing at the State Department on Tuesday, spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, “Our policy is not regime change; but if the Iranian people were to choose somewhere down the road to make their views known, they’re certainly welcome to do so. But that is not our policy.”
Just prior to that, Nauert stated:
I think what he’s saying is this is up to the Iranian people. The Iranian people for far too long have lived under a regime that has mistreated its people. We’ve seen the human rights abuses, we’ve seen the clampdown on the media, we’ve seen the clampdown on freedom of expression. That continues to happen each and every day. People are imprisoned; we don’t always know where they are, including Americans who are being held there as well. So I think the Secretary was very clear about concerns that the Iranian people have themselves – the Persian people, a very proud people. And we’ve seen a certain level of frustration and anger at their own government for promises that the government has not fulfilled. That government, back when the JCPOA was put into effect said, effectively, “We will share this money with you. You will see the fruits of this.” The people have not seen that. Those promises were not fulfilled, and so we see an increasing level of frustration by their own people.”
A reporter from the Washington Post asked Pompeo to respond to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s statement that the United States is in no position to tell Iran or the world what to do.
Rouhani, in response to Pompeo’s speech at the Heritage Foundation on Monday, said, “Who are you to decide for Iran and the world? The world today does not accept America to decide for the world, as countries are independent.” He reportedly added, “That era is over. … We will continue our path with the support of our nation.”
Pompeo replied, “Yeah, I didn’t see those remarks. The Iranian people get to choose. The Iranian people get to choose for themselves the kind of leadership they want, the kind of government that they want. They get to choose the individuals who lead their country and then they get to live with the choices that those leaders make.”
Pompeo later went on to tell the Voice of America reporter in the audience he believes the Iranian people want their leadership “to behave the way normal, non-belligerent” governments do.