With Support of Prominent Americans, Iranian Opposition Movement Calls for Regime Change

By Fayçal Benhassain | July 16, 2019 | 7:38pm EDT
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Democratic senator Joe Lieberman speak to NCRI leader Maryam Rajavi at the weekend event. (Photo: NCRI)

Paris (CNSNews.com) – An exiled opposition Iranian movement that enjoys support from some prominent Americans held its annual “Free Iran” gathering in Albania at the weekend, calling once again for the overthrow of the clerical regime in Tehran.

The regime, National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) leader Maryam Rajavi told the meeting, “does not have the capability to negotiate, to abandon its terrorism and meddling in the region.”

She said the regime counts on the inaction and tolerance of the international community, as it continued with its “terrorist operations and warmongering in the region.”

Guest speakers at the event included longstanding NCRI supporters like former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican and attorney to President Trump, and former Democratic senator Joe Lieberman, chairman of the advocacy group United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI).

Giuliani called the Tehran regime “the biggest sponsor of terrorism in the world” and a dictatorship that could no longer be tolerated.

Giuliani is a regular participant at NCRI events, and was at last year’s “Free Iran” rally in Paris which was allegedly the target in an Iranian regime bomb plot.

After that event, an Iranian diplomat and five other people were arrested in different European countries, suspected of involvement in the plan to attack the rally. Tehran denies the charges, and has been demanding the release and return of its diplomat, Assadollah Assadi.

Assadi, who was based at Iran’s embassy in Vienna, is in custody in Belgium, facing trial for his alleged role in a bomb plot.

The annual rally is usually held in France, but this year it was located in a camp in Albania known as Ashraf 3, the new headquarters of the NCRI’s main component, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).

In 2013, the U.S. struck an agreement the Albanian government to resettle several hundred members of the MEK who had been exiled from Iran to Iraq as they could no longer stay safely in that country. Since then, the number of exiles has climbed, and Ashraf 3 is today home to some 3,000 people.

The NCRI/MEK was designated by the U.S. government as a foreign terrorist organization until delisted by the State Department in 2012, citing its renunciation of violence and “the absence of confirmed acts of terrorism by the MEK for more than a decade.”

In his speech at the rally, Lieberman said that his wife, whose parents were survivors of the Holocaust, “sees echoes of that with what’s happening in Iran.”

“Survivors said ‘never again’ will a regime like the one ruling Iran be allowed to commit these atrocities,” he said.

Recalling the history of the MEK, which he said opposed the Shah’s dictatorship and has stood up to the Islamic republic’s leaders as well, to said, “We don’t want hereditary leadership nor religious dictatorship. We want a leader like Mrs. Rajavi.”

Other prominent American supporters attending the event included former FBI Director Louis Freeh and former U.S. Army chief of staff Gen. George Casey.

They voiced support for the NCRI and called for an end to the Tehran regime.

NCRI foreign affairs committee member Shahin Gobadi said a total of 300 public figures from more than 45 countries attended the event, including lawmakers from Britain and France and a former Canadian foreign minister.

Rajavi told the gathering the NCRI has concrete plans and programs that would enable it to replace the regime in Tehran peacefully and ensure that free elections would be held to usher in a democratic government.

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