WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a series of tweets on Wednesday and Thursday describing growing unrest in Iran and suggesting the reasons for it.
Pompeo’s tweets come as many, including in the US Congress, look to the Trump administration to clarify its strategy and objectives in Iran following its decision six weeks ago to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal.
Pompeo’s anti-Iranian tweets appeared as Mustafa Hijri, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI), and Abdullah Mohtadi, head of the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan, completed an extended visit to Washington which included meetings that Hijri held at the State Department.
Pompeo’s two tweets on Wednesday began with the question, “Can this be explained?”, as he noted that over the past year, “protests in Iran are growing.”
Pompeo’s next tweet offered one explanation: lousy economy. “Nearly 30% of #Iran’s youth are unemployed,” he stated.
Of course, it is the avowed intent of the Trump administration to increase the economic pressure on Iran through the reimposition of tough sanctions.
Pompeo’s two tweets on Thursday again began with the discontent in Iran. “5,000 Iranians arrested in January’s protests.”
“30 women jailed for protesting the hijab. Hundreds of Sufi dervishes, dozens of environmentalists, 400 Ahwazis, 30 Isfahan farmers— all imprisoned by #Iran’s criminal regime.”
“Iranian people deserve respect for their human rights,” Thursday’s first tweet concluded.
5,000 Iranians arrested in January’s protests. 30 women jailed for protesting the hijab. Hundreds of Sufi dervishes, dozens of environmentalists, 400 Ahwazis, 30 Isfahan farmers – all imprisoned by #Iran’s criminal regime. Iranian people deserve respect for their human rights. pic.twitter.com/evH3lmfSjl— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) June 21, 2018
Pompeo’s second tweet on Thursday took on Qasim Soleimani, head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and the costly aggression that he directs.
“#Iran’s corrupt regime has enriched #IRGC, #Hizballah and #Hamas, and plundered the country’s wealth on proxy wars abroad while Iranian families struggle,” it stated.
Asked on Thursday about the significance of Pompeo’s tweets and, specifically, whether he sent them himself, State Department Spokesperson, Heather Nauert, responded, “Yes,” affirming, “the Secretary closely follows his Twitter account.”
“As we look at the situation in Iran,” Nauert said, expanding on Pompeo’s statements, “we see the frustration that regular Iranians feel and are expressing.”
“We’ve seen so many protests over the past year,” she added. “We have seen the Iranian population tremendously concerned with their lack of economic progress.”
“Iranians appear to be increasingly frustrated, and I think he’s merely pointing that out.”
However, Pompeo’s tweets appeared to some journalists as if they could signify more than that, and they asked, “Does [Pompeo] believe that Iranians would be better served by a different government?”
“We are seeking a change in the regime’s behavior,” Nauert replied.
At the State Department, Hijri met with two officials: one from the Iran office and another from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. It was the first time that Hijri met the head of the Iran office, Al-Monitor reported.
Under the Obama administration, the US adopted a policy of accommodating Iran. During the course of Donald Trump’s 17 months in office, he has been moving away from that position, particularly since April, when Pompeo became Secretary of State and John Bolton became National Security Advisor.
David Schenker, who has been nominated to be Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, is also a relative hawk on Iran. At his Senate confirmation hearing last week, he affirmed that Iran was destabilizing the region.
Schenker also spoke strongly about the challenge posed by Iranian influence in Iraq, telling the senators that, if confirmed, he would work “with the government in Iraq to try to establish a government that is inclined towards good relations with Washington and not a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tehran.”
Given the new, tougher US position on Iran, Kurdistan 24 asked Nauert whether the US would support Iran’s restive ethnic minorities, including the Kurds, as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R, California) recently suggested.
However, the State Department seems as committed to a one-Iran policy, as it is to a one-Iraq policy.
“Underscoring and highlighting the rights of minority groups is something that’s important,” Nauert replied, “whether it’s in Iran” or Iraq, or even China.
Nonetheless, Arash Saleh, KDPI representative in Washington, told Kurdistan 24 that the Iranian Kurdish leaders had been very satisfied with their visit.
“The current policy of the US toward Iran, which is to put more pressure on the regime, is the right path,” they believe.
Saleh emphasized they were not asking for “US boots on the ground,” but “what we want is for the US to see and hear the Iranian people, who are asking for the overthrow of this regime.”
Meanwhile, he concluded, “Kurds can strongly contribute to the new approach of the US in containing Iran.”
Editing by Nadia Riva