On Friday, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani predicted that Ayatollah Khamenei’s regime in Iran would fall soon and suddenly, just like when the Berlin Wall came down. He insisted that “regime change in Iran is within reach,” and hailed the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK) as the only viable challenge to the Islamic Republic’s government.
“Regime change in Iran is within reach! Don’t listen to the pessimists and don’t listen to the Iranian apologists,” Giuliani declared at a global summit of Iranian dissidents organized by the MEK and NCRI.
Giuliani described the situation in Iran as similar to the rising opposition to Soviet Communism during the final days of the U.S.S.R.
“Things are happening in Iran that have happened numerous times in other countries, when we wake up one morning and we’re surprised and we find out, oh my goodness, the Berlin Wall is coming down. Oh my goodness, the Soviet Union’s is no more. Poland is becoming free,” he argued. “It happened with the same conditions we’re seeing now.”
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While the liberation of Poland, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the collapse of the Soviet Union slowly built up over a long period of time, “when it happened it happened like that,” Giuliani said. “It’s teetering right now.”
He hailed Persian civilization as “one of the great civilizations that goes back to time immemorial,” and insisted that the MEK and NCRI revolution would bring freedom to Iran, restoring its ancient heritage.
“The goal is not to impose anyone on the Iranian people, the goal is regime change,” Giuliani insisted. Among other things, he said the NCRI and MEK opposition plan to bring about a government in which “all of you are free to practice your religion as you see fit — or to not practice it.”
The former mayor insisted that Ayatollah Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani had repeatedly admitted that the “only organization that has any chance to put together a government to replace them is the NCRI and the MEK.”
The MEK has a history of terrorism, but the party has insisted that terrorist acts the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) attributed to it were really perpetrated by a Marxist-Leninist faction called Peykar. In 2012, the State Department removed the MEK from its list of terrorist organizations. A 2011 State Department report on terrorism cited eyewitness accounts showing that MEK members participated in and supported the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and that the MEK argued against the early release of American hostages. The MEK denies this.
The MEK and NCRI organized the summit to coincide with the trial of a senior Iranian diplomat who allegedly attempted to bomb a previous summit in 2018. The summit aimed to rally the West against the mullahs, exposing the Iran regime’s terrorism and its horrific response to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, which the opposition claims has killed nearly 70,000 in Iran (the regime’s reported count is 12,000). The summit also aimed to energize “Resistance Units” in Iran, building the movement from inside, as well as outside, the country.
Protests indeed broke out in Iran later this week. The regime appears increasingly unstable after the assassination of Quds Force General Qasem Soleimani, the regime’s primary leader of terrorist acts outside the Islamic Republic.
Iran’s retaliatory missile strikes infamously shot down a Ukrainian airliner by mistake, killing 176 people on board. Persians took to the streets in cities across Iran, condemning Soleimani and chanting, “Death to Khamenei!”
This unrest followed protests last November, as Iran reduced fuel subsidies by 50 percent and instituted rationing, in part due to pressure from the Trump administration after America withdrew from the Iran deal.
Then the coronavirus pandemic came, just before parliamentary elections. Tehran appears to have suppressed information about the coronavirus in order to avoid a low turnout in the elections. Voting fell to the lowest level since 1979, and Khamenei accused the country’s enemies of exaggerating the threat of the coronavirus right before the election.
The outbreak appears to have begun in Qom, the mullahs’ spiritual center. Satellite images from space showing mass graves appear to have confirmed the opposition’s claims that Tehran has vastly under-reported the death count from the coronavirus pandemic. This past weekend, Iran recorded its highest number of deaths from COVID-19 in a 24-hour period, at 163. The true number is likely higher.
It remains unclear whether or not Giuliani’s hopes in the MEK are well-placed, but the opposition is rallying — and that is a positive sign for regime change in Iran.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.