SIMI VALLEY, California – United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed some of the most powerful members of Iran’s expatriate community on Sunday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, during which he said, “Iranians should not have to flee their homeland to find a better life” and countered the “fake news” narrative of Iran’s regime.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced Pompeo to the crowd of approximately 1,000 Iranian Americans and Americans.
“When Mike Pompeo stands with you, you will never stand alone,” Cotton said, after noting that during his travels with America’s top diplomat, the duo became aware of secret side deals the previous administration had been conducting with the Iranian regime.
“Mike Pompeo will tell plain truths to friend and foe alike,” he said, adding that “the ayatollahs crave legitimacy but the Iranian people will not give it to them, and the United States will not confer it so long as Mike Pompeo is our secretary of state.”
Pompeo thanked the Iranians present in the crowd and said he looks “forward to hearing from you this evening, learning more about the situation in Iran, and understanding what your loved ones and friends are going through” living in Iran. He added, “Not all Iranians see things the same way. But I think everyone can agree that the regime in Iran has been a nightmare for the Iranian people … and it is important that your unity on that point is not diminished by differences elsewhere.”
He said, “I want you to know that the Trump administration dreams the same dreams for the people of Iran as you do, and through our labors and God’s providence, they will one day come true.”
Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of the Iranian regime’s seizure of power from Iran’s last Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Pompeo noted that the so-called “fruits from that Revolution have been bitter.”
Pompeo stated that subsidies provided to the regime’s cronies have provided the average Hezbollah combatant with roughly two to three times the monthly salary of what the average firefighter makes in Iran today.
“Regime mismanagement has led to the rial plummeting in value,” Pompeo said. “A third of Iranian youth are unemployed and a third of Iranians live below the poverty line. The bitter irony of the economic situation in Iran is that the regime lines its own pockets while its people cry out for jobs, reform, and opportunity.”
Thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets of Iran, particularly in cities outside of the nation’s capital city, to protest against inflation. Shouts of “Death to the dictator!” and “Death to Rouhani” were prominent throughout at least eight cities where protests took place against the regime.
“The bitter irony of the economic situation in Iran is that the regime lines its own pockets while its people cry out for jobs, reform, and opportunity,” Pompeo said. He pointed out that “the Iranian economy is going great – but only if you’re a politically connected member of the elite.”
On Sunday, shortly after Pompeo’s speech, President Donald Trump tweeted a warning to Rouhani and the Iranian regime:
To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2018
Trump’s statement came in response to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s saying on Sunday, “War with Iran is the mother of all wars.”
Pompeo noted on Sunday that Seddiq Ardeshir Larijani, the head of Iran’s Judiciary, has a net worth of $300 million dollars “from embezzling public funds into his bank account.” The Trump administration sactioned Larijani in January for human rights abuses and corruption.
America’s top diplomat further noted that “former IRGC officer and Minister of the Interior Sadeq Mahsouli is nicknamed ‘the Billionaire General’ [and went from being a poor IRGC officer at the end of the Iran-Iraq war to being worth billions of dollars” by winning “lucrative construction and oil trading contracts from businesses associated with the IRGC. Being an old college buddy of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad just might have had something to do with it.”
Pompeo also noted that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has his own personal, off-the-books hedge fund called the Setad, which is worth $95 billion dollars.
“Call me crazy, but I’m a little skeptical that a thieving thug under international sanctions is the right man to be Iran’s highest-ranking judicial official,” Pompeo said.
He said America is not afraid to “spread our message on the airwaves and online inside Iran. For forty years the Iranian people have heard from their leaders that America is the Great Satan. We do not believe they are interested in hearing that fake news any longer.”
“The level of corruption and wealth among regime leaders shows that Iran is run by something that resembles the mafia more than a government,” he said.
He noted that Iran’s support for President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Israel, Shia militant groups in Iraq, and the Houthi rebels in Yemen all “feed on billions in regime cash while the Iranian people shout slogans like ‘Leave Syria. Think about us!'”
During his speech, Pompeo also mentioned the oppression against members of Iran’s Arab population, namely the Ahwazis. Pompeo also mentioned the reimposition of sanctions on Iran and the November 4 deadline by which all nations must stop importing Iranian oil.
The November deadline is likely symbolic.
From November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981, 51 American diplomats were held hostage for 444 days in what became known as the Iranian hostage crisis.
He highlighted three Iranian Americans who have made an impact on their society–namely, Goli Ameri, who has served at the State Department and the U.N.; Susan Azizzadeh, who heads the Iranian American Jewish Federation; and Makan Delrahim, who currently serves as the assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice (DOJ).
In closing, Pompeo quoted President Ronald Reagan during his Westminster address.
“Freedom is not the sole prerogative of a lucky few, but the inalienable and universal right of all human beings.” He added, “Now we call on everyone here in the audience and our international partners to help us shine a spotlight on the regime’s abuses and support the Iranian people.”