Retired Navy SEAL Erik Prince criticized the brutality of Iran’s response to recent demonstrations and warned about Iran’s growing regional influence on Friday’s edition of Breitbart News Tonight with SiriusXM host Rebecca Mansour.
Prince said he does not have a “current feel” on the state of the protest movement in Iran, but called it “unprecedented” and “certainly the biggest protest movement since 2009.”
“At least the president, President Trump, came out and supported people who were standing up for their freedom at great risk,” he said.
“I would tell you that many more than the 20 people or so that have been announced have been killed. It’s in the hundreds,” he asserted. “Hundreds of protesters that have been killed by the Tehran terror regime.”
“The protests spread like wildfire. It’s the first time the people have been saying, ‘Death to the dictator, death to Khamenei.’ They want freedom. The people of Iran feel that really the Iranian revolution of ‘79, when they protested and they wanted a republic, they wanted freedom, they wanted to live and work as they wanted. They did not want to live under a religious Shia dictatorship, which is what they have now,” said Prince.
“The problem is, the Tehran regime feels perfectly comfortable killing their way to success – meaning they will incarcerate and kill enough of the protesters to suppress it,” he warned. “In 2009 they actually had to bring in Lebanese Hezbollah, because the protests were so large they didn’t even trust the Iranian security forces.”
“I think there’s a wedge to be driven between the Iranian army versus the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which kind of performs like the SS did in Nazi Germany,” he suggested. “Those are the guys that really surround the mullahs of the Guardian Council that run the country. The idea that Iran is a democracy is a complete sham. It’s Khamenei and the 12-member Guardian Council.”
Prince said the pullout of American troops from Iraq in 2011 opened the door not only to the Islamic State, but to “Shia abuse and dominance by Iran against the Sunnis living in Iraq and eastern Syria.”
“Basically the Sunnis sided with these other radical guys, these ISIS guys, and that’s what caused the explosion,” he said.
Prince said those parts of Iraq are now dominated by “popular mobilization units” which are “effectively an all-Shia militia supplied and led by Iran, but also paid by the Iraqi army.”
“It’s kind of like they set up in Lebanon with Hezbollah. It’s kind of a religious army within the country. And that will cause even more grief and more outrage. It is guaranteeing perpetual civil war in that area, because the Shias are abused and abused and abused, and they’re just not going to take it. Until you diminish or remove Iranian hegemony over Iraq, I fear this problem will continue, and it will continue to export refugees and terrorists,” he predicted.
Prince saw a great gap in U.S. policy toward Iran between “diplomats and embassies and international conferences,” versus “the nuclear triad, conventional army divisions with tanks and ships and all the rest.”
“In the middle are the dark arts of statecraft, to include exactly what the intelligence community should be doing. It is political warfare. It is subterfuge. We should be doing to the regime exactly what the CIA and the Catholic Church did to the communists in Poland in 1980 that caused communism to collapse, by empowering alternate centers of power against the regime,” he advised.
“In the case of Poland, it was the labor unions, student groups, the Catholic Church itself. In the case of Iran, again there are students, there are labor unions. Remember, Persians are actually not a majority of the country. They’re basically a minority within their own country. So you have Persians, and Baloch, and Azeris, and the Kurds, and Ahwazi Arabs, and all those people are kind of sick of getting abused by the mullahs in Tehran. Empowering those folks and getting them to band together to stand against the regime is exactly what the CIA should be doing, but I doubt that they are,” he said.
Prince found this inaction frustrating because “the CIA exists to prevent and to avert wars.”
“Remember, whether it’s North Korea with its nuclear program, it is also the Iranian nuclear program. A big part of the North Korean nuclear program is funded by the Iranians,” he noted. “Believe me, there are Iranian observers every time Kim Jong-un cranks off a nuke or a missile test.”
“Working quietly against these regimes with a robust, risk-taking intelligence service that’s willing to try, and fail—you have to be able to do that. You have to be a wildcatter at heart to do that. But the bureaucratization of the CIA causes a risk aversion which is bad. Big ops, big problems; little ops, little problems; no ops, no problems. We have to get away from being risk-averse, because it will prevent a conventional war and all the carnage that comes with it,” Prince urged.
Breitbart News Tonight airs Monday through Friday on SiriusXM’s Patriot channel 125 from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern (6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific).