Pompeo vows support to Iranian 'people's voice' against 'mafia' leaders
Pompeo delivered a scathing speech on the Iranian leadership, addressing the country's diaspora at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, on Sunday.
While the US top diplomat fell just short of outright calling for an uprising against the Iranian government, which he likened to the "mafia," he instead resorted to Washington's favorite weasel words, promising that the US "will support the long-ignored voices of the Iranian people."
Supporting the will of the people is what the US claimed to have done in Libya and Syria. The former is still lying in ruins years after the 2011 NATO-led military intervention, which saw the country plunge into political and economic chaos. The latter has been ravaged by infighting between Western-backed rebels, hardline extremists the likes of Al-Nusra and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), and government troops for the past six years.
In order to achieve that overarching goal, the US has launched a 24/7 channel that would reach out to the people in Iran and beyond through all means of communication available, including on television, radio, digital and social media, Pompeo formally announced.
Ahead of the announcement, it was reported that “more than half a dozen” former and incumbent US officials will be engaged in the effort to fan anti-government sentiment in Iran within the wide-ranging communications campaign.
Reuters reported, citing officials, that the campaign would effectively be aimed at demonizing the Iranian leaders, since the information presented to the viewers and readers will “at times” be “exaggerated."
The US previously denied that it was striving for a regime change in Tehran. While Pompeo implied that it was still the case, saying that “it is up to the Iranian people to determine the direction of their country,” the massive propaganda campaign spearheaded by the US State Department, has invoked Tehran’s ire.
"You are not in a position to incite the Iranian nation against Iran's security and interests," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday, warning Washington against provoking Iran unless it’s eager to spark “the mother of all wars.”
Washington has been ramping up ideological and economic pressure on Iran, urging its allies in Europe, who pledged to stay committed to the Iran deal, to sever business ties with the Iranian government. The US is intent on removing Iran from the global oil market by November 4, warning the countries who refuse to cut off oil imports that they might face secondary US sanctions. Pompeo reaffirmed the timeline on Sunday, saying that Washington is working to "get imports as close to zero a possible” by November 4.
Iran has been rocked by two waves of protests so far this year. In late December and early January, unrest erupted over soaring prices, mass unemployment and an overall economic slump. The demonstrations, which continued for several weeks, claimed the lives of some 20 people among protesters and law enforcement. In June, a surge in the US dollar exchange rate triggered another round of economy-driven protests, with rioters reportedly vandalizing government property. Iran has blamed external enemies, in particular, Washington, for inciting the violence, accusing it of increasing “pressure [from] outside the country with the aim of igniting protests inside.” After quitting the Iran nuclear deal in May, the US has been gradually reimposing sanctions on the Islamic Republic it lifted in 2015 after Iran agreed to cap its nuclear program in return for economic relief.