WASHINGTON: It’s time for a regime change in Iran, say two of America’s most influential leaders.
The new US policy towards Iran includes regime change, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told a key congressional hearing.
It is driven by relying on “elements inside of Iran” to bring about “peaceful transition of that government,” he said.
Exiled Iranian Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi was invited to the congressional session where he asked about the administration’s policy on Iran.
Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Senator John McCain echoed Secretary of State Tillerson’s view, saying it’s time the Iranian people had a free and open society and a functioning democracy.
Senator McCain was speaking after meeting Prince Reza Pahlavi, who is in Washington to bring matters important for the Iranian people to US leaders’ attention. Reza Pahlavi also met Congressmen Steve King and Brad Sherman.
Senator McCain said Iran has established a corridor that goes all the way from Tehran to Lebanon.
“This is dangerous.”
“My message is change takes place all over the world. It’s time the Iranian people had a free and open society and a functioning democracy.
“One of the world’s oldest civilisations, it’s time they got into the 21st century.”
“We now have a new administration,” he said.
“Yes, it’s unpredictable. But the last administration unfortunately was predictable.
“In other words, it failed to stand up for democracy and freedom.”
Senator McCain said the new US administration will work with everyone on this, and will succed.
He said: “Right now Iran has established a corridor that goes all the way from Tehran, all the way to Beirut. That is dangerous. So we have a lot of work to do but I believe the Iranian people are sophisticated, they are knowledgeable and they want to be free.
“Our message is help is on the way,” he said.
“We have a lot of work to do and I cannot always predict what President (Donald) Trump will do but I can predict that he’s got the best people around him that I have seen in many, many years.”
Reza Pahlavi said the US can play a crucial role.
“It is a little bit awkward that in all these years the dialogue with Iran has been limited to the current regime and its representatives,” he pointed out.
Most of the Iranian people are against this regime, he stressed.
He said the world must have a channel of communication with those who can represent the people of Iran.
Testifying during a hearing on the 2018 State Department budget before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Secretary of State Tillerson was asked by Representative Ted Poe about US policy towards Iran, including whether the US government would sanction the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and whether the US supported “a philosophy of regime change.”
“They are doing bad things throughout the world, on behalf of terrorism and destroying human rights of many people,” Poe said, referring to the IRGC. “I’d like to know what the policy is of the US toward Iran. Do we support the current regime? Do we support a philosophy of regime change, peaceful regime change? There are Iranians in exile all over the world. Some are here. And then there’s Iranians in Iran who don’t support the totalitarian state. So is the US position to leave things as they are or set up a peaceful long-term regime change?”
“Well our Iranian policy is under development,” Tillerson replied. “It’s not yet been delivered to the president, but I would tell you that we certainly recognise Iran’s continued destabilising presence in the region, their payment of foreign fighters, their export of militia forces in Syria, in Iraq, in Yemen, their support for Hizbollah. And we are taking action to respond to Iran’s hegemony. Additional sanctions have been put in place against individuals and others.”
“We continually review the merits both from the standpoint of diplomatic but also international consequences of designating the IRGC in its entirety as a terrorist organisation,” he added.
“As you know, we have designated the Quds (Force). Our policy towards Iran is to push back on this hegemony, contain their ability to develop obviously nuclear weapons, and to work toward support of those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government. Those elements are there, certainly as we know.”